“Animal Mask” is a generic term used in Order record-books for innumerable spells in which the caster takes the form of… a wild animal. To prepare for this spell, the caster must first venture into the Dreamlands (in physical or dream form) and supplicate the lord of the type of animal in question. A Mask is usually granted in return for an oath to aid, and never harm, animals of that type. Supplicants who have had trouble with animals or honesty in the past may be tested, or rejected outright.
After the magician is given the Mask (carried by the caster’s dream and shadow selves, but seldom manifesting in the mortal world), they may freely cast the spell to transform into that type of animal. Breaking the oath earns the wrath of all animals of the betrayed type, both in the waking world and in Dream, and if an oath-breaker ever uses the mask again they are usually cursed, unable to resume their original form.
While under the influence of a Mask, the caster gains the physical form of its animal type while retaining his or her own mind. Spellcasting is difficult or impossible in animal form, naturally, but the caster may return to their original form at will. The spell ends of its own accord at some set time each day, such as sunrise or sunset – the exact time varies according to the animal. Many Masks allow a variety of shapes to be assumed; a Dog Mask would allow the caster to take the form of any breed of dog (or, in high-power campaigns, any species of canid).
It is possible to gain and use many Masks, although spiritual politics come into play: the bearer of a cat Mask will likely receive a chilly reception from the lord of mice, for example. On the other hand, magicians who have devoted themselves to one chosen sort of animal may wake (or return from Dream) to find that they have brought the Mask with them physically. In this case, the mask-wearer may remain in animal form indefinitely. These lucky few are expected not only to abide by their oaths, but to champion and protect the animals of their totem wherever they go. Such devotion usually precludes the ability to gain other Masks.
Casting the spell requires a brief invocation, base difficulty d6, and costs six strain (or d4 and two strain, with a physical Mask, but it must be put on as part of the casting). Shifting into an animal body more powerful than one’s own increases the difficulty by at least one step: using a Cat Mask to take the form of a puma instead of a housecat or lynx might be difficulty d8, a tiger might be d10, and so on. Increasing the difficulty by another step allows the caster to mimic the appearance of individual animals.