Shape Changers have an alternate form that they can freely (or not-so-freely) assume.
Shape changing happens in one of three ways:
Out of Battle:
The "Change Shape" task allows your Shape changing Commander
to change form.
In Battle: You can script your Shape changing Commander to Change Shape in battle. Just be mindful that you only have direct control of their first 5 actions.
Automatic Trigger: In battle, Shape changing Commanders will automatically Change Shape upon "death" if their current form has LESS maximum HP than their alternate form. For example, an Arch Mage that is actually a Dragon will flip back into their Dragon form when killed, but a Nahualli will not be able to flip into their Turkey form if killed in their Human form.
Experience, Magic paths, and Afflictions carry over between forms. If both forms have the same slot, the Item in that slot will carry over too; if not, that Item is destroyed. Sure, these Magic Items can handle size-changes, but they can't handle shape-changes.
Other Shape Changers
There are less-controllable forms of Shape Changing that aren't listed as traits in-game;
Some units transform based on the terrain
, automatically changing shape to fit their new location. Leshiy
have a Forest Shape
. Quite a few units have a Land Shape
and a Sea Shape
s and other Mermen, for example). These guys are typically amphibious
in both forms, just in case. They might falsely display as Poor Amphibians even when their Sea Shape is not.
Units with a Wounded Shape
will only take that form with the Automatic Trigger. There are three variations of what happens to them after the battle is over: They could return to their original form. This happens on troops such as the Jaguar Warrior
, and Commanders such as the Dai Oni
. Some only return to the original form after moving to the capital, such as Zhayedan
s and Black Hunter
s. This represents their mounts gaining new riders. And others are forever stuck to their new shape: Cave Knight
s cannot gain a new rider and will stay as just a drake after their rider dies. Afflictions
might heal and Experience
may be set to 0 depending on the unit when they change form.
Some units automatically Change Shape when below a certain HP threshold, such as Hydras. These units will return to their original form if their HP is brought above a different threshold, typically a point or two higher than whatever threshold gave them their current form.
Units with a Dying Shape will only take that form with the Automatic Trigger, but will disappear after the battle. This mechanic is typically used to simulate extraordinary cavalry (such as Serpent Cataphracts) being dismounted in death but their mounts continuing to fight for a while. These units all seem to keep their experience but might heal afflictions upon changing form.