- [+] Spoiler
- The following article details the variants of the selkie race, including their attributes and abilities as well as their inabilities. The first section, which details the most common variant of the race, holds mostly true for all selkie variants; however, there are significant differences between one selkie variant and another.
The most commonly understood race of selkie is rather simple: a skinwalker who sheds its human form much as a snake sheds its skin. But this is not entirely accurate. A kind of innate magic exists within the body of a selkie that does not function the way most other magic does; it instead sustains a selkie much in the same way that organs, muscles, bones, and the like sustain a human body. This magic is a fluidic, semi-solid mass that can solidify its liquid shell into a physical form. Selkies believe that they were first manifested inside the bodies of seals blessed with divine wisdom, although the truth of this has been lost to history; many land-born mages, however, believe that this magic is actually a manifestation of raw aquatic mana granted thought and emotion by one or more of the old gods. Regardless of the truth of their existence, Selkies do not have souls in the same way that other races do, instead having only their natural fluid magic.
Selkies are born as seals and can only reproduce in their natural seal bodies. They do not age after their natural bodies have matured and can shift into a human form at any apparent physical age they desire; their human forms always manifest as their natural sex, although magic from an external source can be used to alter this as desired. Seals are comparably immortal; for them, time is measured more in how long they have been aware of themselves and the world around them than in how long they have actually existed. This is true regardless of the form they choose. However, selkies can only take a human form - not elves, dwarves, or any other humanoid form - when shifting from their natural form. The reason for this is not understood, though a few mages have theorized that human adaptability renders a human body the only solid form completely compatible with the fluid magic inhabiting a selkies natural body.
The surest sign that a seal is actually a selkie is that a selkie can speak in its natural form; of course, this does not mean that a selkie will speak - only that it can. So if a seal starts talking to you, dont be alarmed: its not some form of demon or dark magic; its just a selkie. Selkies typically dwell in and around large bodies of saltwater, such as the Moonsea, though half-selkies and their sub-varieties may be found in other locales. There is almost always water nearby if a selkie is present, however.
Because of their nature, selkies cannot wield magic innately. Just as they have no souls, they also have no innate mana pool; again, they have only their natural fluidic magic. Selkies can learn to cast spells, but only if they have an exterior source of mana and extensive training; spellcraft comes to selkies only with great difficulty. For this reason, those selkies who choose a less mundane path in life almost always rely heavily upon enchanted objects rather than spellcraft in and of itself; scrolls, weapons and armour, clothing and jewelry, and a myriad other things imbued with magic are never far from a magic-oriented selkie. Selkie mages guard their magical treasures jealously.
While they cannot breathe underwater in either seal or human form, selkies can hold their breath for an incredibly long time and are extremely powerful swimmers in both forms.
If a selkie dies in human form, their innate magic shifts them back into their natural seal bodies and reinvigorates them. This is effectively a self-resurrection. It is extremely draining and a selkie who has reinvigorated itself thus cannot shift into human form again for quite some time, often after a period of a week or more. Selkies who are killed while in their natural forms do not decompose the way that mortal, mundane seals do; instead, their bodies slowly liquefy and their innate magic evaporates through their liquefying bodies. This process is toxic to non-selkies but does not physically harm others; instead, the evaporating liquid magic forcibly (and painfully) disperses mana from everything it touches. This can significantly drain and exhaust even a powerful mage with prolonged exposure, and if a living being with an innate mana pool is completely drained, so too is its life force; in other words, if one is exposed to the mana-draining evaporation of the liquid magic within a dead selkies liquefying body for too long, the exposure will prove fatal. Those whose mana pools are only dense enough to provide them with life are in greater danger than those whose mana pools allow them to innately cast spells, as they essentially have no buffer against a dead selkies evaporating toxin.
Many scholarly archmages and magisters falsely consider this race the true selkies.
Unlike most Chaonic races, half-selkies are not so called due to a mixture of ancestral lineages. Rather, they are born as human children from selkies in human form and thus develop in reverse: the process of shifting is extremely easy for them but must be taught by another selkie or half-selkie, as it can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Half-selkies have been known to become trapped in a hybrid form from which they cannot shift if they do not manage to shift properly; this failure is agonizing in a way that most humans cannot comprehend and will eventually kill them, though not before hours of indescribable pain and a resultant descent into madness have been suffered.
The ability to reproduce as humans is the major distinction of this selkie variant. Interestingly, just as selkies cannot reproduce in human form, half-selkies cannot reproduce in seal form. Like selkies, they cannot breathe underwater in either human or seal form; they are extremely powerful swimmers and can hold their breath for an incredibly long time, however.
There are selkie varieties that are considered to be sub-varieties of half-selkies because they are not typical of the true selkie race (as perceived by non-selkies). Half-selkies are identical to selkies in all respects other than their manifestation, their reproduction, and how they learn to shift.
This sub-variant of half-selkies are born as humans with aquatic features. Their faces resemble those of seals and their hair grows very slowly, if it grows at all; most have some form of whiskers. Theyre almost always flat-footed and usually clumsy on land; in the water, however, they are just as powerful as selkies and half-selkies. They can also hold their breath for an incredibly long time, though they cannot breathe underwater. Sub-selkies are the most common variant to be found taking an arcane path through life, as almost all of them collect (and often hoard) objects infused with or comprised of magic. They are the only selkie variant that can actually walk on water; its actually more like bobbing than walking and they arent very graceful at it, though they certainly seem to have a better knack for it than they do walking on land.
Sub-selkies can shift into seals just as easily as selkies and half-selkies can.
These selkies are unusual among their kind because they do not shift naturally. They can breathe underwater, something neither selkies nor half-selkies can do, and they have an empathic connection with seals that has allowed them to mimic their language and behaviour flawlessly. Quasiselkies have a deeper sense of empathy than other selkie variants in general but because they appear human and cannot shift, very little is actually known about them. They are almost impossible to recognize as a selkie variant, and those who have never had an encounter with either seals or other selkie variants may not even know that theyre a selkie variant themselves.
Quasiselkies are considered a sub-variant of half-selkies.
Perhaps the most unusual half-selkie variant, walkies are often confused with half-orcs and they dont actually have a connection with seals; rather, they have a connection with walruses. Walkies have a pair of tusks of varying length per individual and whiskers around their mouths. They can grow hair, but only on their heads; their facial hair does not grow long but it is almost always tangled. They cannot breathe underwater and arent powerful swimmers, but they can hold their breath for a very long time and can walk on water naturally in the same way that sub-selkies can. They can shift into walruses but cannot speak as humans do in walrus form.