I mentioned early on that, as far as logically possible, all persona options will be open to all personae at all times in Kannagara. That means that a persona who starts as a male human can become a female human, or a male kami, or a yuki-onna (snow maiden). It may be more difficult for a persona who starts with no blood relationship to any shinshoku to become the scion of line going back centuries, but changing the past is something that might come into the game at some point. At first, however, the “logically possible” limit is that personae cannot change their established past. They can certainly discover things about their past, and even discover that they were mistaken about their past, but the past itself cannot be changed.
That still leaves a wide range open. How does a male human become a snow maiden? Magic is obviously part of the answer, and will also be part of the answer as to how a male human becomes a female human, or an old human becomes a young one.
These transformations will not be easy, because I want a setting in which most people do not go through them. I want a setting, in fact, that looks, on the surface, like present-day Japan, and in present-day Japan men do not often change into women, or vice versa, much less into foxes. However, part of what makes the transformations rare will be that most people have no idea that they are possible, much less what to do to achieve them, and personae, of course, will learn that in the course of play.
Fundamentally, a transformation will be a kind of creation. The rules will be the same as those for creating a poem, or a table. The transformation may require high abilities, and will always require access to certain elements. Without those elements, the persona simply does not know how to achieve the transformation. The quest for the elements necessary to achieve a desired transformation is an obvious source of stories, requiring investigation and the solution of mysteries. Some transformations will also require other creations, as part of the process of transformation, and those creations also inspire stories. A transformation could also require the persona to form particular relationships.
Transformation will always be self-driven. That is, the kami cannot transform a human being into a kitsune, although they might be able to temporarily turn a person into a fox, under certain conditions. Other personae may help a persona with her transformation, and in some (maybe most) cases it will be necessary to get help, but the persona who will be transformed must be an active participant, and the driving force, if the transformation is to succeed.
Some transformations may have other transformations as prerequisites. For example, it may be impossible for a male human to transform directly into a yuki-onna. First, he must become a female human, and then he can undergo further transformation. I think I will want to make it impossible to reach “kami” quickly, as a matter of narrative pacing as much as anything else. That is, a human will probably have to pass through at least two other states before becoming a kami. You can make a case for this based on historical Shinto belief, but really this would be a modification to make things work better in a game.
In fact, at the moment I plan to have one transformation, from ordinary human to kannagi, be the prerequisite for all transformations. That will be the topic for the next post.