The tahori are a species of shapeshifter inhabiting the Gurhai universe. They possess three distinct forms or skins and use qki, or physical energy, to change between them. Shapeshifting is nonmagical and fairly swift, taking less than a minute on a normal world and healing most wounds in the process. The first skin (hamin) is quite humanoid and may pass as a genuine human if one doesn’t look too closely and spot the tail; the second skin (sanero) is a very large beast with few visual indicators of intelligence; the third skin (emigonu) is a bipedal hybrid between the first two skins. (Please note that tahori are not shapeshifting humans, but a distinct species who happen to have a humanoid skin.) Tahori do not experience a large change in intelligence or behavioral pattern when switching between skins – they are just as bestial in hamin skin and just as intelligent in sanero skin. Though tahori usually wear clothing in hamin skin, they rarely wear shoes or metal (such as armor), and they wear no clothing in sanero and emigonu skins. All tahori retain the same coloration and pattern throughout their skins, though the colors are often desaturated in hamin skin (due to the lack of pigmented fur; their skin in other forms, beneath the pelt, is equally dull).
Tahori are striated into specific races that can interbreed in their hamin skins, but remain largely incompatible elsewise. All races but one live on Alasa Ka, a primal world similar to an prehistoric Earth with rather large fauna; the other race, keusune tahori, lives on At-lasa in a nearby sun system and are often outcast from the species by their fellow tahori.
Inlanlu tahori are lupine, living in tight-knit packs with a hierarchal structure. They’re the most populous of the tahori and hold territories in nearly every climate on Alasa Ka. Inlanlu are renowned for their physical endurance and are staunch hunter-warriors, unafraid of conflict although they don’t specifically seek it out; their trademark weapon is the double-bladed spear with a two-inch-thick shaft of hardwood with a metal core. They rarely truck with magic, although some hereditary lines have faint shamanic leanings, and usually shun technology beyond weaponsmithing. Inlanlu speak Uhjayi, which is the most common tahori language.
Atihresi tahori are feline with several markedly different breeds. Through necessity, atihresi have mimicked inlanlu pack structure and territory, though they are largely self-contained and independent individuals. They are more numerous than all but inlanlu and reside in any clime. They tend to use blades or bows and often have considerable skill with external qki, making them formidable fighters; however, few atihresi show any inclination towards magic. They speak Fulhu, the second most common tahori language. Atihresi are often rivals or outright enemies of inlanlu, and few individuals call themselves friends of the other race.
Dosa tahori are ursine. They live in small groups or alone, have a decided gift with natural and druidic magic, and are generally private people. They don’t interact or interfere much with other races. They rarely use weapons and have no love of technology of any kind, even basic smithing. They live in the coldest regions of the world, in a place where they can’t be out-competed by the more adaptive predators.
Izune tahori are avians with a wide array of breeds. They have no hair at all in hamin skin, usually refuse to wear any clothing, and tend to be vividly colored, so they rarely pass as humans, even from a distance. Renowned for their sensitivity to qki and magic, izune have keen senses and a knack for elemental magic, especially pertaining to wind and weather. They live in huge flocks, shunning technology, and are typically aloof; other races easily misjudge their calm reservation as arrogance or emotionlessness.
Ehsora tahori are equine and the least language-inclined of the tahori, often communicating solely through body language. They travel in large, nomadic herds and have nothing to do with technology or weaponry; their clothing is minimalistic and usually obtained from a hunting race. Deeply gifted with natural druidic magic with a special affinity for plants, ehsora are perhaps the most attuned to the earth of all the tahori. Being the only purely herbivorous tahori, they’re also usually wary of other races’ intentions and tend to be slightly xenophobic.
Kahashi tahori are shark-like, the only amphibious tahori – they can breathe on land and in water in both hamin and emigonu skins, but are solely water-bound in their sanero skin. They have no hair in hamin skin and most don’t wear clothing; they’re also the only tahori to have no tail in hamin skin. Kahashi scorn both magic and weaponry of all kinds, preferring to use their own bodies as the most deadly weapon at their disposals. They’re loosely social with each other but are usually viewed as dangerously unpredictable by the landlocked races. Their secondary name is sasemiyukashuh, meaning ‘death in the water’ in Uhjayi.
Keusune tahori live on At-lasa and are considered ‘Others’, having no clear zoological family (e.g. feline, canine, etc) to which they belong. Often stymying those who see them for the first time, keusunes are considered to be similar to large mammalian predators, as though a combination of bear, cat, and wolf with a long, prehensile tail. Keusunes have a more industrialized civilization than the other tahori, reaching into basic technology like machinery and refined architecture. Their trademark weapons are half-magic, half-technology: a curving blade atop a slender wooden hilt that can be folded outwards to create a double-bladed knife, then enlarged with qki to become a keusunian glaive. While some keusune communities are still very primitive, even feral, many groups are more civilized and act as merchants to non-tahori, especially k’anta, who are typically mortal enemies of the tahori; keusunes have a colony world in the same sun system as At-lasa, where most of their industry and trading takes place. Keusunes have strong inclinations towards bardic magic and are usually sound-oriented.