This is an initial foray into sorting out my thoughts on the mechanics of shapeshifting.
Shapeshifting is when the individual you are observing changes appearance, whether as camouflage or observing a being shift from one species into another.
Shapeshifting is grounded in a number of concepts that often get muddled. As always, it is useful to define the terminology before beginning a discourse.
1. Changing outer appearance, with props, while remaining as current species.
2. Changing outer appearance, without props, while remaining as current species.
3. Changing species where the physical form alters from current to another.
4. Body Snatching
5. The ILLUSION of change, where the perceptions of witnesses are manipulated. This is known as THRALLING. The illusions are known as GLAMOUR.
6. Shapeshifting by shifting dimensions.
These can be drilled down even further, but this will do for the time being.
Some forms of shapeshifting can be done by most humans, while other forms can be done by humans with expanded capacities (either trained or natural).
Non-earth races have a wider range of shapeshifting options, some of which are biologically inherent, while others rely on technologies.
Shapeshifting with props
Professional deceivers, like actors, spies, and criminals, are a good example of the first kind of shapeshifters. They create different characters and present different personas to deflect awareness of who they really are.
This kind of shapeshifting requires time to implement, but with props such as hypermasks, the time is greatly reduced.
Shapeshifting without props
The second type relies a lot on your body language and level of energy and how well you consciously control these to either draw or avoid the attention of others. Like controlling your breath or heartbeat, you can control the reach and intensity of your aura, your field.
You can charge it up with vitality so that you radiate charisma that draws people's attention to you.
The sustainability of this depends on your default life-force settings. Extraverted happy people will find this easier, while melancholic people will find this exhausting and won't be able to maintain this state for long. Your overall health and wellbeing also factor in to how successful you are with this process.
Think on how easy it is for a healthy person to wear a mask of illness, but not so easy it is for an unhealthy person to wear a mask of vitality.
On the flip side, if you're seeking to avoid someone's intention, you can pull your aura close to you and adopt the demeanour of unremarkableness and blend in with your environment. Octopuses are good examples. And actors. Actors are superior shape-shifters.
Use the following two videos as starter guides if you need them.
Changing into one other species - Were's
Many who study human consciousness speak about our dual natures - Angel and Devil, Spiritual and Animal, Jekyll and Hyde, and so on. Some say these dualities are metaphoric, while others consider them to be very real.
Okay ... think werewolves or other were-creatures. [Were is old German for man.]
Also, think of the Transformer series.
So transformations can be organically based, or technologically based. Or a fusion of the two via femto-technology or something similar.
Femtotech is smaller than nanotech. A femtometer is 10 ⁻¹⁵m while a nanometer is 10 ⁻⁹m. Femto-technology is used at sub-cellular level, and is spoken about in hypothetical terms in mainstream sources as if it's not a thing yet. However, James Rink, from Super Soldier Talk, indicates that femto-tech is what is used to turn someone into a cyborg.
The most common inter-species transformation is among were's. Were's only change from man to only one other creature, the most commonly known being the wolf. Bears are another creature which has man-bear tales. Movies, such as The Crow, also show the shift of a man into one particular creature.
There are also many tales of an inner Beast that is constrained and held back for the most part. But the Beast is released with High Emotion, specifically anger. Anger fuels aggression. The Beast's justice is simple, free from ethical and moral considerations that constrain human actions.
Were-beings could be considered a fusion of two species, a hybrid, where the surface dominance of one or the other species - man or creature - is present.
Assuming that such creatures exist, and I don't doubt that they do, muscular and bone structures are altered in the transition. Which would be painful or at least uncomfortable. Unless done frequently, I suppose, in which case the body could become habituated and increasingly flexible. Like any human who pushes their bodies to extremes for athletic or performance purposes. Performance not being limited to the stage, but in the ability to carry out extreme actions when required.
Changing into multiple species - Trickster Beings
Now, let's look at a situation where a being can change into a multiple range of species, a skill often attributed to tricksters.
Fables are rife with tales of tricksters changing swiftly from one creature to another usually with the goal of escaping a predator.
Whereas Were's transformations are usually triggered by anger, the trickster's transformations are usually more conscious and may be intended to deceive rather than destroy, or to utilise a quality that is unavailable in human form, such as flying or slipping into tiny spaces.
That is to say, Trickster transformations are not emotionally driven and could be considered cold-blooded. Tricksters use this ability to either prey upon, spy upon, or to evade someone.
Shamans and their cohorts such as Wizards, may also use these abilities to expand their empathy and wisdom.
If a shapeshifting species takes the form of a lesser life-form, a rodent, for instance, they risk losing their cognitive faculties to the level of that rodent if they inhabit that form for any length of time. Many get trapped in the form of lesser life-forms, either forgetting who they were, or not being able to generate enough oomph [technical term 😉] to return to their original state. because the lesser-life form they are stuck in hasn't the bio-electric capacity to generate the 'charge' to shape-shift into any other form.
There's a delicate set of parameters that allow a shapeshifter to return to its original form after changing into a lesser life form. Unwary shapeshifters stay trapped through miscalculation of these parameters.
The illusion of shapeshifting
This is probably the least complicated type of shapeshifting for those with the capacity to do it, as little effort is required beyond the pushing of specific thoughts into the mind of another.
Some beings, including some humans, have mental capabilities beyond what the mainstream society acknowledges. Although, I'm not sure whether to call these mental capabilities, because I see it more in terms of imposition of WILL or other coercive force. But I guess because it emanates from thought and intention, we may as well stay with calling Thralling a mental capability.
First up, let me define dimensions in terms of wavelength frequencies, and density.
Human visual perception is limited to a narrow waveband of frequencies. Anything outside that range is imperceptible to us. With the use of technology, our range can be expanded at both the large end, as with space telescopes, and also at the small end, as with microscopes.
However, these tools are not available to us in everyday life (unless you're in a special military unit, which you're probably not).
So, in similar fashion that humans can move through different mediums such as air and water, and how some of our behaviour can be easier in one than the other ... ever considered that movements of swimming might be similar to flying? Who hasn't had dreams of flying?