Shapeshifted Skills

I'm about to play my first shapeshifting character, in this case a Bjornaer magus. So I'm looking at the rules for shapeshifting stats and such in HoH:MC, and I just noticed the thing about skills... Namely, that you use the General Skills of the animal form. The language is vague enough that I'm not really sure whether I'm just limited to using the skills the animal has available, or if I actually use the animal's skill levels too, regardless of my character's own capabilities or lack thereof. Like, if I have a character with Brawl 3 and a lion Heartbeast, would my character use his score of 3, or the lion's score of 5 (and its specializations) when fighting in the form of a lion?

There are rules in the Bjornaer chapter about reconciling a shapeshifter and their shapes. Have you reviewed them?

Unless I'm missing something big, those are the exact rules I'm reading (and am confused by some wording on). The big "Statistics of Shapechangers" page, right?

You essentially have two of every general Ability (more if you have more forms). (Non-general ones, such as knowledge and language just use the same Ability.) This is a disadvantage in that you have to advance two different Abilities, Brawl-Human and Brawl-Lion. But it's an advantage because your Brawl-Lion starts at 5 (the lion's score).

Pfft. What kind of disadvantage is that? What possible reason would you have for using Brawl in human form when you can become a lion?

But yeah, +1 to this answer for accuracy.

Thank you for the answer, callen!

I suppose it's still a double-edged sword, particularly since Concentration is yet another General Ability. It seems slightly nonsensical, but is an effective addition to the limiters on casting while in animal shape. (Whether that's really something that needs more nerfing is a different discussion.)

As someone has said, your brawl-human skill is kind of redundant when it's a case of "Oh, someone wants to fight me. And I don't want to use magic on them. RAWR biotch!"

Yes, that's it. Just didn't know what you were reading.

I played a Puissant multi-form shapeshifter for a while. He was very versatile and more directly powerful than some of our magi while they were young.

Concentration may well be one of the few that don't make as much sense. Mostly they make sense. I'm not so sure about Folk Ken, either. But a lot of it makes sense this way.

As a basic rule, it works really well. If you compare Virtues for Companions, Shapechanger is by far one of the most powerful because you select different forms for different specializations (as pointed out in TimOB's comment). This way you don't get to stack things so much more. MuCo(An) is similar.

One of the best tricks is via paying attention to Virtues carrying over (though there is some odd stuff in the rules vis-a-vis this, too). So you can get Puissant Brawl, Puissant Awareness, etc. and have them apply to all of the forms. This is even handy for a Bjornaer since you may well have three forms (human, Outer Heartbeast, Inner Heartbeast). Also, note that Supernatural Abilities carry over unchanged, so you can get some really good Characteristics to go along with some of these.

That is actually a good point. I had never thought about concentration...that ability is sorely missed by a shapeshifted magus.
I mean, the other general abilities make good sense - a wolf is a nasty fighter, a hawk has good eyes, a squirrel is a good climber etc. So in the medieval mindset if you take that shape you can fight like the wolf, see like the hack etc.
Once in animal shape you can't use crafts, professions, social skills. But knowledge like Lores and languages remain...perhaps something as mentally aspected as Concentration should have been in that group as well? I'm moving into house rule territory, but it makes sense to me.

Especially because we in my current saga have a Shapeshifter Ex Misc.

Brawl, not so much so, though Brawl is used for dodging. But what about Awareness or Concentration?

I think it makes perfect sense for Awareness and Concentration.

Animal forms means having a whole new set of senses, with different instincts that go with them and literally a different skin. So you have to re-train yourself to use those senses effectively, and to know how to quell your instincts effectively.

The alternative is to apply a penalty for 'off-form use' - but then that raises questions like why that approach doesn't also work for brawl, and it starts looking very complicated.

The current system has the benefit of keeping things nice and orderly for gameplay while capturing the essence of being in a different body.

I totally agree on Awareness. I'm not positive on Concentration. Folk Ken is the one that's toughest for me. But overall I'm good with the rules for Abilities. My above post was pointing out that Awareness and Concentration are Abilities you want in all forms, not just in your favorite form for a particular thing.

The place I have issues is with how Size, Virtues, and Flaws are handled. There are some contradictory parts to the rules in there.