Spellborn: Shift – Master Skinshifter

At one point during TCOS development we created the Discipline Masters, a set of the Enclave's greatest heroes and prime examples of what to expect from the Disciplines, our class system. While they were put in the game, they never got the attention I wanted them to have, nor were all assets used. I envisioned them as a band of contemporary heroes the players could fight alongside to in specific scenes.

Marlon Kromodikoro, Dennis Zoetebier and yours truly created a bio for each of the Discipline Masters and this series is meant to showcase each of them. The game itself only contained minor bits and pieces.


People don’t know where “Shift” comes from, or who or what it is. The problem with that is that Shift doesn’t know itself. Shift is probably the most accomplished Skinshifter within the Red Rim, save for the fact that it doesn’t know what its original form is. This turned into a major problem for Shift when its own personality got so mixed up that it caused a severe form of schizophrenia within Shift.

This mental disorder became apparent (just like Shift) when Shift was seen crawling on the ground, fast blinking between various shapes in Oracle District in 984 AC. It was such a curious event that it quickly gained its own audience. At that moment Har Graza intervened, broke up the masses and brought it to the Palace to rest, where he cared for it. He called it Shift and ever since it’s the name Shift listens to.

In the years that followed Har Graza arranged for Shift to walk amongst various peoples of various Houses and Disciplines in the hope of sparking a memory that would allow it to remember its past. It proved unsuccessful. Fortunately, as Har Graza did provide counselling, it did spark something else and allowed Shift to extend its control over its form. It has made it far more confident of its own abilities and ‘self’. Interestingly, it also allowed a deep insight into the Skinshifter Discipline and eventually Har Graza called for various Skinshifters to train together with Shift.

This proved a tremendous success with Shift being able to relate to these other persons in different shapes, while feeling useful. Shift was no longer in search of its past, but instead stood firmly in the present. When the Enclave decided after the Arcane Surge that the Enclave Militia needed a group of Discipline Masters, Har Graza made an official request to consider Shift based on its already established training. The Council agreed and Shift became the first appointed Discpline Master for Hawk’s Eye Academy. With a new life before it, Shift set out for Parliament and has revelled in the experience ever since.


Shift is unstable. It is not as bad as when it was ‘discovered’, but one can never know what happens to Shift and its personality seems to redefine the term ‘mood swing’. It can talk in a variety of ways taking on mannerisms at a whim and in the same vein can also do that with its appearance. Though ever since arriving at Parliament Shift seems to prefer two forms when talking to recruits: a female human form and a male daevi form. It still isn’t the most forthcoming personality to talk to, but at least Shift knows exactly what others should learn from it. And as long as Shift can be useful, Shift will be happy.

In a way Shift was a cop-out. It's probably the easiest concept to come up with considering the skill at display, but at the same time I needed it. I wanted a balanced group of Discipline Masters and having 4 humans, 4 daevi, 4 males and 4 females, I was left with a ninth character. It was only logical to make this character all aspects at once and thus Shift was born.

But while Shift was made out of leftovers, Marlon made the character shine through its artwork and that made me far more enthusiastic about the character. It was quite a shame we didn't have the tech available to make Shift change at the spot, though we did look into it. I had a lot of fun writing Shift's dialogue. Its weird form of speech, meant Shift spoke in four different styles. Quite a challenge, but also a pleasure at the same time. Kind of fitting.