Shapers are master terra-formers who reshape entire worlds for human habitation. While anyone can be a terra-former, shapers are exclusive to the Scions of Tellus Mater.
But terra-forming is just the beginning of their knowledge. The ability to reshape worlds requires a special set of skills that are useful on many inhabited worlds and in many situations. Shapers must be knowledgeable in biology, ecosystems, and a variety of earth sciences. But, perhaps most importantly, they must be able to predict the ripples of one action or change on an entire biological system. It may be this skill that earns them the most prestige.
There are far more shapers than there are worlds to terra-form, and even then, only those who have achieved the rank of Master Shaper (level 9 or better) are ever placed in charge of terra-forming an entire world. So most Shapers earn their keep in other professions. They are planetary problem solvers, tacticians, and managers. If there’s a complex problem that needs solving: hire a shaper to map the way to a workable solution.
Shapers can gain employment as colony managers, corporate CEOs, crisis management specialists, and even military strategists, detectives, politicians and, in some cases, assassins. In a role-playing campaign, players using a Shaper O.C.C. are likely to be “fixers” whose job it is to solve problematic situations (think of “the Wolf” from Pulp Fiction). NPC Shapers will often be employers, hiring characters to do jobs whose results may not be immediately obvious (and aren’t necessarily beneficial to the rest of mankind).
Shapers are widely respected, though some people tend to overestimate their abilities, believing they’ve got everything all figured out. Many Shapers allow this misconception to flourish, as it is far easier to deal with someone who believes it is impossible to fool you.
Another unique aspect of the shapers is their assistants. Most shapers have a mutant animal, their first attempt at genetic creation, as a faithful assistant and companion. These assistants are loyal, trustworthy (genetically programmed that way) and capable, and automatically defer to the shaper as a superior. Generally, shapers create these assistants from commonly domesticated animals. Cats, birds of prey and even some large cattle are not unheard of, but dogs, rodents and rabbits (yes, including the Pleasure Bunny) are most common.
For creation purposes, characters can either use the Rifts Ultimate Edition dog boys, the mutant animals in the Lone Star World Book, or After the Bomb the Role-playing game. AtB is probably the best source, if it’s available. Rifts mutant animals will have no psychic abilities except those that are species-specific (so a Dog boy would be able to sense the supernatural, but would not have any “standard” sensitive psychic abilities). Mutant animals created for Shapers should use the Vagabond or Wilderness Scout O.C.C.s instead of their native skills, with two additional skills from either the electrical, mechanical, science, medical or technical categories at +10%. Shapers will only create another such companion if their previous one dies. Mutant animal assistants level once for every other level the shaper gains (so they’ll reach level 2 when the shaper reaches level 2, but won’t hit level 3 until the shaper reaches level 4, and will attain level 4 when the shaper reaches level 6, and so on). A rogue mutant assistant will level normally, but rogues are very rare and generally result from being horrifically abused by their creator, or if the shaper is killed and they are left to fend for themselves.
Replacement assistants take three months to create and start at level one, regardless of the shaper’s level. This is mainly due to the time it takes to grow and “flash print” basic skills into their brain (a process only available for mutant animals, not usable by humans).
1. Genetic Engineering: With the proper scientific laboratory, a shaper can sit down and map out a genome for a new species in a matter of a few days. Use standard Palladium mutant animal rules, and each mutation adds eight hours of work time, with a minimum of 16 hours. BIO-E limitations apply, though cosmetic changes in coloration and personality alterations (more docile or more feral, for example) do not cost BIO-E. The subject will reach newborn status in one week (and can be nursed by a member of its original species) or can be vat-grown to maturity in four weeks. Shapers are VERY careful about this process, and all successful mutations are engineered to have no effect on the environment except the desired effect.
There are numerous reasons for making these mutations. Some worlds, for example, may need a heartier strain of cattle to survive the harsh winters, so the shaper may engineer angus with a shaggy winter coat. Alternately, a very rich heiress may want a pink puppy because it would be all the rage. Note that all such creations will have animal intelligence. Shapers only are allowed to create sentient animals for their own use, and such creations require specialized facilities only available on Protectorate core worlds (so a shaper has to return there to get a new mutant animal assistant if they lose their original). There ARE “shadowlabs” where illegal, intelligent mutant animals are created, but most such creations are not done by trained shapers, and those shapers that do such experiments are blacklisted and wanted criminals inside Protectorate territory (though not in the Free Colonies). Mutant animals in the Terran Protectorate are considered wards of the creating shaper, and have, generally, the same rights as a juvenile human, except they never have the opportunity to grow out of it. Their rights in the Free Colonies vary from world-to-world, and on some worlds, like New Tortuga and Gorgon-3 (and their respective dependent colonies) they are kept as slaves.
Please note: Shapers cannot make M.D.C. creatures, or mutations with psychic or psychic-like abilities beyond those naturally occurring in the base species (except as an accident, see below).
Base Skill: 20%+5% per level. The use of an A.I. adds an additional 15%, and each additional shaper involved adds 1% per level of the shaper. If the shaper fails, roll on the chart below:
1-40% Non-viable embryo (a dead, biological lump of yuck in a test tube)
51-60% Overmutation, 1d4 random additional mutations occurred (GM’s choice). May still be viable, but likely to be destroyed as the environmental effects are unknown.
61-70% Megafauna, the subject is 3D4 steps higher up the mutant animal size chart than was anticipated. It would definitely be a strain on the environment. What’s more, it can mate with its origin species. Best to be destroyed, though in some cases this may be a benefit.
71-80% Dwarf, subject has only half (round down) the size levels intended. Might be cute as a pet, but probably useless otherwise.
81-90% Savagely feral, the end result (no matter the species) is an aggressive predator with double S.D.C., fangs and claws, a bad attitude, and a tendency to eviscerate anything that makes a sudden movement.
91-95% Sentient mutant animal, though this will not be known until the species matures into adulthood.
96-00% Genetic fluke! Not only sentient, but with full human hands, legs and looks…and a major psychic! Results cannot be duplicated. Most shapers will not destroy these, but they will be fined 10,000 credits once (and if) the creation has been reported as not destroyed. Will generally imprint on the Shaper and treat the shaper as a parent.
2. Sixth Sense: Identical to the psychic ability, but not actually a psychic power. This ability works as needed, with no I.S.P., as long as the Shaper makes a successful perception roll of 14 or better. This should work similarly to the Detect Ambush skill. If the GM worries that players may be tipped off to a surprise by the perception roll, then the GM should be aware of the Shaper’s perception bonus and roll in secret to see if the Shaper notices anything is amiss.
3. Enhanced Pattern Recognition: This unique ability allows a Shaper to observe a complex system and pick out patterns and understand how it all fits together. Like someone who can look at the most complicated knot and quickly unravel it with one string, the Shaper can figure out how a system works, how to alter it, and how to change it, just after a short period of observation. This gives the Shaper the ability to terra-form successfully, alter ecosystems, and also adds significant bonuses to skills that involve code breaking and strategy; such as cryptography, computer programming, hacking, safe cracking and space war tactics (see bonuses to those skills below).
4. Bonuses: The Shaper receives the following bonuses: +2 to I.Q., +1D4 to M.A., +1D4 to M.E., +2 to perception rolls at levels 1, 4, 7, 10, and 13.
Attribute Requirements: I.Q. and M.E. of 14 or better. A high M.A. is recommended, but not necessary.
Starting S.D.C.: 4D6+6
Racial Restrictions: Only humans of the Scions of Tellus Mater clan may be Shapers.
Speak and Read Native Language: 98%
Speak and read two additional languages (+20%)
Wilderness Survival (+25%)
Advanced Math (+15%)
Animal Husbandry (+10%)
Medical Doctor (+10%)
Veterinary Science (+10%)
Space War Tactics (+10%)
Hand to hand: Basic
Hand to hand can be upgraded to expert at the cost of one “other” skill, or martial arts (or assassin, if evil) at the cost of two “other” skills.
O.C.C. Related Skills: Ten (10), but two must be from either the science or technical fields. Receives two additional skills at levels 3, 5, 8, 12 and 15.
Communications: Any (10%)
Electrical: Basic and Computer Repair only
Mechanical: Basic only.
Medical: Any (+15%)
Military: Camouflage, Demolitions, and Trap/Mine Detection only (+5%)
Physical: Any except acrobatics and gymnastics.
Pilot: Any non-military (+5%)
Pilot Related (Any) (+5%)
Rogue: Any (computer hacking and safe-cracking receives a +15% bonus if chosen)
Science: Any (+10%)
Technical: Any (+10%)
Wilderness Skills: Any (+10%)
Secondary Skills: Select six Secondary Skills at first level from the Secondary Skill List in the Skill Section of Rifts Ultimate Edition. These are additional areas of knowledge that do not get any bonuses, other than any possible bonus for having a high I.Q. All Secondary Skills start at the base skill level.
Standard Equipment: Traveling clothes, a set of light body armor, portable surveyor, portable field laboratory, survivor backpack (10 M.D.C., 24-hour air supply, 2 weeks ration bars, and a jetpack capable of speeds up to 50 m.p.h. with a 200-mile range), one weapon of choice (corresponding with W.P. skill, if any), two additional clips for weapon (if ranged), wrist computer and radio, environmental inflatable tent, laser distancer, portable generator, personal effects and mutant animal assistant.
Vehicle: Likely to have an STS-5 Transorbital Hopper (if they know how to fly it) either on their home world or transported by a larger ship to their current posting.
Starting Money: Shapers make a lot of money, both from working and from wise investments in the Protectorate stock market. Starts with 24Dx10,000 credits in ready cash, and an additional 3D6x10,000 credits in savings and investments. Has a good-sized house on a planet they consider home, most likely with an extensive garden, backyard, atrium or greenhouse. Also likely to have a small, but well-equipped laboratory in their home as well.
Cybernetics: None to start, but not averse to getting them, especially sensory enhancements.
Experience: Use the CS Technical Officer, CS Military Specialist and Shifter experience level chart in Rifts Ultimate Edition.