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Realms of Chaos
2010-11-20, 01:35 AM
The Protean

Who could know the grace of a gazelle? Who could reach the majesty of dragons? Who could seek the strength of the strongest giants? Who could steal the taint of the undead? Who could claim the purity of angels? Who would seek the formlessness of ooze? Who could ever say they had it all?
In a world filled with beasts both great and mysterious, many have come to envy the power that other creatures possess. While some respond to this envy with reverence and respect, others have responded with simple imitations. Most famous among them are the proteans, beings who have taught themselves how to adopt the forms of others.

Alignment: Any
Hit Die: d6

Class Skills:
All skills are treated as class skills by the Protean.
Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) ◊ 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier


The Protean
{table="head"]Level|BAB|Fort|Ref|Will|Special |
Essence Points

1st|+0|+2|+0|+2|Learn Essence, Shapeshift|
10

2nd|+1|+3|+0|+3|Protean Rejuvenation, Channel Magic|
20

3rd|+1|+3|+1|+3|Wondrous Transformation|
30

4th|+2|+4|+1|+4|Protean Weaponry +1|
40

5th|+2|+4|+1|+4|Quickened Shapeshift|
50

6th|+3|+5|+2|+5|Protean Rejuvenation|
60

7th|+3|+5|+2|+5|Wondrous Transformation|
70

8th|+4|+6|+2|+6|Protean Weaponry +2|
80

9th|+4|+6|+3|+6|Quickened Shapeshift|
90

10th|+5|+7|+3|+7|Protean Rejuvenation|
100

11th|+5|+7|+3|+7|Wondrous Transformation|
110

12th|+6/+1|+8|+4|+8|Protean Weaponry +3|
120

13th|+6/+1|+8|+4|+8|Quickened Shapeshift|
130

14th|+7/+2|+9|+4|+9|Protean Rejuvenation|
140

15th|+7/+2|+9|+5|+9|Wondrous Transformation|
150

16th|+8/+3|+10|+5|+10|Protean Weaponry +4|
160

17th|+8/+3|+10|+5|+10|Quickened Shapeshift|
170

18th|+9/+4|+11|+6|+11|Protean Rejuvenation|
180

19th|+9/+4|+11|+6|+11|Wondrous Transformation|
190

20th|+10/+5|+12|+6|+12|Protean Weaponry +5|
200

[/table]

CLASS FEATURES:
The following are class features of the protean.

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A protean gains proficiency with all natural weaponry and four simple weapons of its choice but with no armor or shields.

Shapeshift (Su): A protean possesses the ability to transform themselves into a large variety of creatures. This ability functions like the polymorph spell, except as noted here. Changing form is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity.
A Protean can transform into a creature of any creature type (even becoming incorporeal and/or gaseous) so long as its CR does not exceed its class level. The protean retains their own Constitution score and gains all extraordinary qualities and supernatural abilities of the desired form. Assuming a new form does not heal the Protean.
In order to gain and maintain a transformation, a Protean must spend essence points. A Proteanís base allotment of essence points is given on the table above and they gain 5 extra points per point of wisdom modifier that they possess. Assuming a new form costs a number of essence points equal to the creatureís CR x 5. To become a swarm or incorporeal creature, the cost is doubled (or tripled in the case of incorporeal swarms). These forms are flighty, however, and easily fade way under stress. At the start of each encounter, a protean using this class feature must either pay their current formís cost in essence points once more or lose their current form. After eight hours of sleep (or rest if the protean doesnít sleep) in their natural form, a protean regains all essence points that they may have spent.
At 1st level, a protean starts play with knowledge of three creatures that they can transform into. At each additional class level, a protean learns of two new forms through raw experimentation. Additional forms can be added to the Proteanís repertoire through their learn essence class feature. Whatever the case, a protean can never learn the form of a creature with CR above their class level and may not learn the forms of unique creatures (Illurien, Adamantine Clockwork Horror, Tarrasque, Demonic or Infernal Lords/Princes, Gods, Etc.). Unless an advanced version of a creature has unique abilities from its advancement (as is the case with barghests and vasuthants), learning the form of an advanced creature only results in gaining the basic form for that creature. Likewise, trying to learn the form of a creature with a template results in learning the base creature instead.

Note: I know that there is an entire planet of Tarrasques in planescape and that different campaign worlds will differ in matters of creature population. For the purpose of this ability, however, any creature being described as completely unique by any official source (or the source itís found it, if not coming from WotC) is automatically off-limits for this purpose even if another source directly contradicts it. A DM is free to ignore this condition on a case-by-case basis if they do so desire, however.

Learn Essence (Su): Within 1 round of personally witnessing the death of a creature, a protean can spend a swift action to memorize its essence. The Protean may instantly make a knowledge check regarding the creature (even untrained or if they have made another such check earlier and failed) with a bonus equal to their class level and learn that creatureís form for the purposes of their Shapeshift class feature. A Protean may not attempt to learn the essence of a creature whose form they already know.

Channel Magic (Sp): Starting at 2nd level, proteans possess a bit of talent at using the spell-like abilities of creatures that they imitate. By spending 1 essence points per spell level (1 points for a 0-level spell), a protean can use a spell-like ability of the form that they have acquired. If a single spell appears on different spell lists under different levels, use the highest spell level among them to determine the cost. Proteans use the caster level of the creature that they imitate and use their Wisdom modifier to calculate save DCs.
No matter how often a Protean adopts or abandons a given form, they may not use its spell-like abilities more frequently than that creature. Furthermore, spells with expensive material components, a focus (other than a divine focus), or an XP cost canít ever be imitated in this way. A protean may only imitate a spell of a spell level up to half of their class level.

Protean Rejuvenation (Su): Starting at 2nd level, proteans learn how to clear away their injuries whenever they transform into a different creature (other than their base form). When transforming, they regain hit points equal to their class level.
Starting at 6th level, proteans are cleansed of the sickened, nauseated, fatigued, exhausted, shaken, panicked, frightened conditions when transforming.
Starting at 10th level, proteans are cleansed of all ability damage as well as all poisons and diseases when transforming.
Starting at 14th level, proteans are cleansed of all ability drain and negative levels and mind-affecting abilities when transforming.
Starting at 18th level, proteans are cleansed of all magical effects active on their person with a duration longer than instantaneous when transforming.

Wondrous Transformation (Su): At 3rd level and every 4 levels afterwards, a protean learns the secret of templates. They may select any template with a level adjustment (whether inherited or acquired) equal to or less than their class level. A protean may either add one or more templates to a form (including their base form) at any time or add them to a form as they transform into it. Either way, adopting the template requires the use of the shapeshift class features and costs 5 essence points per point of level adjustment (in addition to the cost of a new form, if adopting a new one).
At the beginning of an encounter, the protean must pay this cost again or lose the benefit of the template (this decision is made separately from choosing to maintain another form). If a proteanís form is not applicable with a chosen template, that template can still be added but it will add no benefit. Any number of templates may be applied to a given form but the sum of a formís CR and the level adjustment of all templates added to it may not exceed the proteanís class level. If it would ever pass this limit, the protean immediately loses their form or enough templates of their choice to lower them beneath this threshold. A single template may only be chosen once and cannot be applied to the protean more than once at a time, even if the template normally stacks with itself.

Protean Weaponry (Su): Starting at 4th level, a protean learns how to channel a bit of power through their every attack. All natural weapons that the protean possesses are treated as magical weapons and gain a +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls for every four class levels that they possess. By spending 1 essence point per point of effective enhancement bonus, a protean may add a special weapon ability to all applicable natural weapons they possess until the end of the encounter. No ability added may possess an enhancement bonus higher than one fourth of the proteanís class level.

Quickened Shapeshift: Starting at 5th level, a protean learns how transform with greater ease. The protean may use their shapeshift class feature as a standard action.
Starting at 9th level, a protean may use their shapeshift class feature as a move action.
Starting at 13th level, a protean may use their shapeshift class feature as a swift action.
Starting at 17th level, a protean may use their shapeshift class feature as an immediate action.


Regarding My Claim of Tier 1:I know very well that claiming to have created a tier 1 class is a very tough thing to verify unless it has full casting and can be directly compared to pre-existing tier 1 classes and that the number of agreed upon tier one homebrew classes in this forum is pretty darn small. That said, here is my reasoning behind it.
Simply put, this guy can overcome literally any problem come in front of it and derail a campaign at any time, pretty much the definition of tier 1. Even if the DM is careful to avoid putting certain monsters in front of the player, the automatic creatures gained leveling up are sufficient to seek out the creatures that you do with to gain. While you could argue that a DM could continue to work against the player who has the means to seek out creatures, that might come across as being comparable to another DM who refuses to let wizards obtain scrolls or spellbooks and thus reach their full potential.
Much as the wizard can gain endless spells, it is possible for this class to imitate every creature up to CR 20 by the time it reaches 20th level (as proteans need not gain experience from a creatureís death to gain their form). Through a combination of convenient forms and spell-like abilities, this class can do whatever it wants at basically any time that it wishes.
Although it canít continue using its full potential all day long, I donít believe that this has ever been formerly added as a prerequisite to being a tier 1 class (According to the original class tier post, the only prerequisite is being able to handle any situation put before you and being able to break the game at a whim), though it's arguable that it should be. It would take less DM fiat to challenge a protean than other tier one classes but its ability to simply end whatever adventure youíre on (if well built, at least) would seem to secure this class firmly in tier 1 territory (if at the ďlower endĒ of tier 1, should such a thing actually exist).

Then again, I just wrote this up in the past 90 minutes and I've been up for 48 hours so I'm probably talking the crazy talk. Feel free to inform me how and where I've messed this up. :smalltongue:

Edit: Also, just so everyone knows, I'm not looking for a prize or anything. Giving an I-Win button to a character is surprisingly easy and I wanted to see if I could make a class like that which would actually be balanced in low-optimization campaigns (or in games with new players) much like a blaster wizard, making this class both intentionally tier 1 and still playable pretty much universally. Probably not that important but I wanted to put it out there.

Pyromancer999
2010-11-20, 03:33 PM
Actually, I'd say this would be more a tier 2 class, with a little adjustment, and possibly a Tier 3 with a little bit more. However, as-is, I'd probably have to say that this class is, more likely than not, broken. The reason I say this is because of Wondrous Transformation and Protean Rejuventation. With Wondrous Transformation, you can get a +3 LA template when you first get it, then get almost any other template you want after that, as there are few +7 or higher LA templates. This can give players enormous advantages in the game, more than I'd like to list here. Also, Protean Rejuvenation....where do I begin? It's not broken as first gotten, but as the levels stack up, the benefits become more and more powerful, essentially restoring you to almost full health and erasing almost all bad effects, doing this for even a CR 1 form, allowing you to rejuvenate yourself easily by only expending 5 essence points.

So, in my opinion, this class is more broken than tier 1.

However, I think it's a really great class and class concept, so I'd probably just tweak it a little bit before putting it in my campaign as a tier 2 or 3 class, but that's just me.

Realms of Chaos
2010-11-20, 04:02 PM
Actually, I'd say this would be more a tier 2 class, with a little adjustment, and possibly a Tier 3 with a little bit more. However, as-is, I'd probably have to say that this class is, more likely than not, broken. The reason I say this is because of Wondrous Transformation and Protean Rejuventation. With Wondrous Transformation, you can get a +3 LA template when you first get it, then get almost any other template you want after that, as there are few +7 or higher LA templates. This can give players enormous advantages in the game, more than I'd like to list here.

How is this broken? If you're talking about ghosts, I could explicitly spell out that gaining incorporeality in that way takes twice as many Essence points as normal if you want.
Also, keep in mind that this class is exceedingly limited by essence points. If a level 7 Protean wants to apply a +7 LA template to themselves, they can't have any other forms or templates applied to themselves at the same time and they can only maintain the form for 3 encounters (2 if they activate the ability outside of an encounter) before becoming entirely useless for the rest of the day. Unlike other shapeshifters, this guy can't really assume a single form for 1 round to gain a specific benefit before switching to a new form for other benefits as each shapeshift takes up vital, vital essence points.




Also, Protean Rejuvenation....where do I begin? It's not broken as first gotten, but as the levels stack up, the benefits become more and more powerful, essentially restoring you to almost full health and erasing almost all bad effects, doing this for even a CR 1 form, allowing you to rejuvenate yourself easily by only expending 5 essence points.

So, in my opinion, this class is more broken than tier 1.

There are 2 points that I'd like to direct you to.
1. You can only shapeshift 1/round.
2. Shapeshifting costs vital essence points.

This guy can heal itself well by spending 5 essence points but this is pretty unusable in combat as that would mean stranding yourself in combat as a weak creature for a full round. If you want to transform into something else that can actually survive the round, you have to pay more essence points and push yourself closer to depletion, making yourself utterly useless.
In reality, the true use for this is to let your previous form wear away at the beginning of combat (rather than paying points to keep it) and use the points that would've been spent keeping it to instead assume that form (or another one) all over again, simply healing you at the beginning of combat. Using it between or in the middle of combat only serves to waste your points.



However, I think it's a really great class and class concept, so I'd probably just tweak it a little bit before putting it in my campaign as a tier 2 or 3 class, but that's just me.

I fail to see how this is only tier 2 as you say.
This guy can theoretically copy a good 90% of all creatures by level 20, thus gaining all of their unique abilities and access to all of their SLAs. So long as you are absolutely ready to deal with any problem put before you, that makes a class tier 1 (at least from what I understand). Unlike a sorcerer or psion, this guy does not "choose" abilities. Instead, it can conceivably gain access to all of them like a wizard, archivist, and erudite.

Pyromancer999
2010-11-20, 05:15 PM
How is this broken? If you're talking about ghosts, I could explicitly spell out that gaining incorporeality in that way takes twice as many Essence points as normal if you want.
Also, keep in mind that this class is exceedingly limited by essence points. If a level 7 Protean wants to apply a +7 LA template to themselves, they can't have any other forms or templates applied to themselves at the same time and they can only maintain the form for 3 encounters (2 if they activate the ability outside of an encounter) before becoming entirely useless for the rest of the day. Unlike other shapeshifters, this guy can't really assume a single form for 1 round to gain a specific benefit before switching to a new form for other benefits as each shapeshift takes up vital, vital essence points.


Yeah. To just heal yourself of almost everything at higher levels, when you can definitely spare that much, and also at lower levels if you have a high enough Wisdom modifier




There are 2 points that I'd like to direct you to.
1. You can only shapeshift 1/round.
2. Shapeshifting costs vital essence points.

This guy can heal itself well by spending 5 essence points but this is pretty unusable in combat as that would mean stranding yourself in combat as a weak creature for a full round. If you want to transform into something else that can actually survive the round, you have to pay more essence points and push yourself closer to depletion, making yourself utterly useless.
In reality, the true use for this is to let your previous form wear away at the beginning of combat (rather than paying points to keep it) and use the points that would've been spent keeping it to instead assume that form (or another one) all over again, simply healing you at the beginning of combat. Using it between or in the middle of combat only serves to waste your points.


Trust me, you don't even need to do it 1/round. Also, Essence Points do not appear (to me, at least) to be as vital as one would think. A protean need not assume the most powerful(or even the next to most powerful) forms they can. A template can do almost as good, as can any creature with a CR of around 3-4 CR less than your max.



I fail to see how this is only tier 2 as you say.
This guy can theoretically copy a good 90% of all creatures by level 20, thus gaining all of their unique abilities and access to all of their SLAs. So long as you are absolutely ready to deal with any problem put before you, that makes a class tier 1 (at least from what I understand). Unlike a sorcerer or psion, this guy does not "choose" abilities. Instead, it can conceivably gain access to all of them like a wizard, archivist, and erudite.

Re-read what I said earlier. It's not tier 2, it's broken, at least it appears to be that way to me. If not, then congrats, you have your tier 1 class. However, to me it seems to be broken, so after tweaks I think should be made, it would be a tier 2 or 3 class. Major difference from saying that it is a tier 2 or 3 class.

Also, this guy both chooses his abilities (automatically gets 2 forms each level and starts out w/3), and learns them. Conceivably, could it gain all forms? Yes. However, except for your automatic forms each level, you're essentially leaving the forms you get up to your DM, which, if he has a narrow preference for a certain creature type or two, does limit your form versatality. Also, on the SLAs, correct me if I'm wrong, but that also costs essence points, which ramps down its ability to assume other forms, so it's not like you'll legitimately be using all of the SLAs of all your forms.

Soulblazer87
2010-11-20, 05:28 PM
Really, it depends on how it's played.

A wizard, if he/she focuses on damage-dealing spells is in fact not a game-breaking class. On the other hand, should a wizard, and quite rightly so, focus on other means of combat (see save-or-die, summons, gate etc), then the game balance is beaten with a warhammer, disintegrated and summarily thrown out of a window into a black hole.

Similarly here. Should a protean focus on the more 'normal' monsters, or as normal as it can get at the high levels, then yeah, it's not a gamebreaker. But, if it focuses on alternative means of combat, such as, say, an Iron Golem with a mage ally casting Anti-magic Area on them, or a dragon... well, things start getting messed up.

I may personally not like the class as is, but that's more due to the lack of realism in it, as well as the potential of game-breaking. Instead, if its shapechanging is limited, even a bit, it can be modified for lower tier gaming.

As is, it is definitely a tier 1 I think. Especially since Tier 1 games tend to have 15-minute workdays, which ensure that the protean will not run out of power. A more extended workday? Depends on the DM. After all, what works for the PCs, can work against them as well.

Eurus
2010-11-20, 05:51 PM
It probably is tier 1, since you've basically got "Shapechange+" in class form, but... that's not really a good thing. My view (and, as far as I know, the general consensus) is that tier 1 classes (when played as tier 1 classes) are extraordinarily difficult to DM for due to the difficulty of actually challenging them in any meaningful way without resorting to metagaming and fiat, and more or less incompatible with the majority of non-tier-1 classes.

Realms of Chaos
2010-11-20, 06:56 PM
Pyromancer999: You know, you might be right about that healing... let me do some quick math regarding that ability. :smallconfused:
Assuming 36 wisdom at 20th level (18 +2 racial +5 levels +5 inherent +6 enhancement... somehow), we end up 265 essence points.

If you want to remain at least CR 15 in all 3.33 encounters of the day, you use up a total of 225 essence points. That gives you 40 points leftover that can indeed be spent to get 8 more heals (for a total of 11 potential heals per day, about average for hit point regeneration purposes and far too much for others). Then again, using these points in this way means that you're doomed if the 3.33 rounds up to 4 on this particular day and that you only have those 40 points to spend if you need to get anything done before the first encounter (where you'll need to pay your first increment of 75 just to be a CR 15). Sooo... potentially far too much healing but potentially dangerous to self as well.
Would this be less broken in your opinion if it cost 5 extra EP to get the healing, 10 EP to get healing + status removal, 15 EP to get healing + ability healing + status removal, etc (25 extra to get the whole shebang).

As for templates being broken, I still don't see it. I'm thinking of mineral warriors, dark creatures, ghosts, winged creatures, multiheaded creatures (can only be applied once), necropolitans, evolved undead (also only once), vampires, feral creatures, liches, saints, half-dragons, half-celestials, half-fiends, half-farspawn, phrenic, and half-fey creatures but I'm still not seeing any problems with any of these, even mixed or matched. I'm not doubting that you may see some broken combinations here but I'm not seeing them. Mind pointing them out to me?

As for finding creatures, don't forget that you can select one that teleports, meaning that you can choose to abandon the plot at any time to search for a monster that you want. Also, I had never claimed that this guy can use every spell, only that it can use any spell. I always thought that tier 1 means having speak with dead during a murder mystery and forcecage during a climactic encounter, not having both spells simultaneously in both cases.

Soulblazer87: That's more or less what I tried to say in the opening post (and failed horribly to communicate). Interestingly, though this class can be broken through optimization, neither of your examples actually work (Antimagic Aura is focused on the caster rather than a target and the protean doesn't mimic actual spellcasting ability so mimicing a dragon just turns you into a flying beefstick with a breath weapon; good but not broken).
I understand not liking the potential to be broken. This was more of a thought experiment to see if I could mimic the basic aesthetic of tier 1 classes (broken if you know what you're doing but somewhat balanced for most campaigns). This is the only class above tier 3 that I have ever created and I honestly don't plan on doing so again any time soon.
That said, can you think of any way to improve the fluff or slightly alter the crunch that would aid the believability factor? No sense in leaving a job half-done.

Eurus: As I've said in my first edit, I'm really not expecting a prize for this and I'm not really expecting any praise either. I've seen a few posters on these boards try to create tier 1 classes before and I figured that I wanted to see if I could make one in more of the WotC style and less in the "here's a win-button" style. Most campaigns could probably use it with little problem but problems emerge when people have memorized several monster manuals and aren't afraid to show it.

Also, haven't seen hide nor hair of you for awhile. Hi! :smallsmile:

Pyromancer999
2010-11-20, 08:26 PM
Pyromancer999: You know, you might be right about that healing... let me do some quick math regarding that ability. :smallconfused:
Assuming 36 wisdom at 20th level (18 +2 racial +5 levels +5 inherent +6 enhancement... somehow), we end up 265 essence points.

If you want to remain at least CR 15 in all 3.33 encounters of the day, you use up a total of 225 essence points. That gives you 40 points leftover that can indeed be spent to get 8 more heals (for a total of 11 potential heals per day, about average for hit point regeneration purposes and far too much for others). Then again, using these points in this way means that you're doomed if the 3.33 rounds up to 4 on this particular day and that you only have those 40 points to spend if you need to get anything done before the first encounter (where you'll need to pay your first increment of 75 just to be a CR 15). Sooo... potentially far too much healing but potentially dangerous to self as well.
Would this be less broken in your opinion if it cost 5 extra EP to get the healing, 10 EP to get healing + status removal, 15 EP to get healing + ability healing + status removal, etc (25 extra to get the whole shebang).


It's not so much the amount of essence points as how easy it is to heal. Confining each improvement to a certain CR would probably be good enough. After all, if you're spending a lot of EP to transform into a creature just for the encounter, might as well throw in the healing. Just don't make it easy to get all that for just a few EP.


As for templates being broken, I still don't see it. I'm thinking of mineral warriors, dark creatures, ghosts, winged creatures, multiheaded creatures (can only be applied once), necropolitans, evolved undead (also only once), vampires, feral creatures, liches, saints, half-dragons, half-celestials, half-fiends, half-farspawn, phrenic, and half-fey creatures but I'm still not seeing any problems with any of these, even mixed or matched. I'm not doubting that you may see some broken combinations here but I'm not seeing them. Mind pointing them out to me?


While those are the templates that come to mind, mostly, there's a few that are a bit powerful (ex. Paragon and it's spell-like abilities and +15 boost to all scores), and a few that are way powerful for their LA(Dragonspawn: can range from +1 to +4, but is overpowered at all its LAs, especially +1. grants breath weapon, +7 NA, a level of sorcerer casting, pretty decent ability score boosts, just for starters). There could even be a few I can't think of at the moment.



As for finding creatures, don't forget that you can select one that teleports, meaning that you can choose to abandon the plot at any time to search for a monster that you want. Also, I had never claimed that this guy can use every spell, only that it can use any spell. I always thought that tier 1 means having speak with dead during a murder mystery and forcecage during a climactic encounter, not having both spells simultaneously in both cases.

Trust me, if there's a spell, there's a good chance a monster has it as a SLA. There's even a decent enough chance that if there's a combination of spells you like, there's a creature with just that combination as SLAs.

Soulblazer87
2010-11-21, 05:30 AM
Even if Anti-Magic is centered on the caster, said caster can get on the protean's back. Or, it would be just as easy to edit the spell via research and, say cut duration down to one quarter, to give some range, even close. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the Dragon's caster levels a supernatural effect due to their blood? So, turning into a dragon would in fact give access to the required caster levels. Of course, the available spells (since they are sorcerers) would be selected at the time of creation of that form, but meh, who cares.

Fluff-wise... well, I can't do much but I'll give it a try. *Ahem*

Magic was always known to be mutable, an eternal force subject not only to higher forces but those weaker than it too, if they but grasped the basics of its laws. Just the same, it was always known that certain individuals, places and items were infused with a much greater amount of power than others. That touch, though some would just as readily call it taint, of magic would grant them new, wondrous and often unheard of abilities.

The greatest of them is what has come to be known as the Protean. Named after the namesake legendary figure, Proteans flow and ebb like water, their form altered to match their environment or whatever problems they may have to face. Be it dragons, oozes or even undead, a Protean has the ability to mutate their body into whatever needs to be done. Usually instinctive, much like sorcerers, Proteans make their way in the world with flair. Though that is mostly due to how rare they are, rather than an actual sentiment; after all, how many can claim to have seen the world as a mighty dragon, a powerfull celestial or ancient Treant?

Proteans are not made, nor are they born. For one to exist, a very specific list of prerequisites must be fulfilled, and even then it is not definite. It is known that lineage has at least some effect on the coming of a Protean, as evident that most of the admittedly few are of magical or outsider descent, even if it was once in a hundred past generations. Additionally, the prospective Protean must be exposed to immense magical energies, enough to tear down the body and reconstruct it from scratch, be it soon after birth or within the womb. Others believe that a magical artefact of sufficient power must be destroyed and its mystical essence infused within the unborn child to provoke this reactio, while others still theorize that a very specific astral formation must occur for the birth, or making, of a Protean.

Whatever the reason, Proteans are rarer than almost any other being, they themselves rarely meeting another of the same 'occupation'. So rare in fact, that most believe that Proteans are powerfull arcane casters extremely specialized in transmutation magic, or foreign aberrations. Both theorems have caused the death and breeding of countless Proteans so that the secret to their power be revealed. Nothing so far has worked, though it has helped give birth to artificial half-breeds, which however only bear a single candle to their true counterparts.

Considered by many to be boundary beings, Proteans are either hated or loved, often both. Depending on the shapes taken, and their actions while in said shapes, Proteans can be worshipped as being one step before god-hood or tormented for supposedly besmirching the name of a patron. Both cases, as well as the Protean's uncertainty of what exactly they are, has caused most, if not all of them, to adopt a nomadic lifestyle, coming to a city, staying there as long as they care, before moving on to the next.

Above all Proteans are mysteries, like an ever-changing puzzle that won't stay still for the time required to properly study, let alone actually solve.

*Takes a big gulp of air* Yes, well, did the best I could, thinking it up as I wrote it. Take what you will, edit it and throw the rest out of a window into a black hole. Hope you liked it, my muse definitely smacked my head around.