Zoans are a humanoid race of shapeshifters in the Beasts of Legend series, and are a major focus. They are spread all throughout the land of Aria, remaining a secret to humanity.
Appearance & Biology
In their “default” form, a typical Zoan resembles a human in almost every way, except for noticeable animalistic traits. For example, a canine or feline Zoan would have animal ears and a tail, and any bird Zoan would have leg scales, talons for feet and tail feathers. Of course, belonging to a race capable of therianthopy, Zoans can alter their appearance at any time to look more or less animalistic.
Biologically, Zoans are similar to humans in their default form, however, only mammal Zoans give live birth - most others lay eggs. Some types of Zoans can also be cold-blooded, such as reptiles, amphibians and fish.
Zoan species are divided into several different classes. The most notable classes are:
Mammalians are Zoans with the traits and the ability to shapeshift into a species of mammal, a warm-blooded animal, often covered in hair or fur that gives live birth and nourishes its young by producing milk. In their default humanoid form, most species of Mammalians are distinguishable from normal humans with their visible animal ears and tails (if any).
Avians are the common name for Zoans that can turn into birds, warm-blooded, bipedal animals covered in feathers that possess beaks, wings, and reproduce by laying eggs. An Avian in their default form has all the features of a human, but with bird talons in place of normal feet, leg scales and tail feathers.
Avians, even in their default form, have a naturally hollow bone structure and light frame for flight, and often look younger than they really appear to be.
Reptilians are the name given to Zoans that have the traits of and can turn into a species of reptile, a cold-blooded egg laying animal with a body covered in scales. Like their animal counterparts, Reptilians are poikilothermic, and their default forms have them resembling humans but with pointed scale-covered ears, reptilian tails and scales scattered on their bodies.
Amphibians are, obviously, Zoans that can transform into a species of amphibian, a cold-blooded, egg laying animal that breathes both water and air. Like animal amphibians, these Zoans require moisture to breathe and survive, and as such their skin secretes a kind of mucous to keep them moist. They are also born as fully aquatic larvae, and will be able to fully breathe on both land and water by the time they mature, which is usually around teenage years.
’Icthyoid’ is the name given to the type of Zoan that can turn into a fish, a cold-blooded, egg laying aquatic animal that breathes water and has no digits on its limbs. Icthyoids, despite being mostly aquatic, can actually also breathe in air as long as they are in mostly or fully humanoid form. In their default form, Icthyoid Zoans are distinguishable with scales peppered on their skin, gills of the sides of their neck, webbing between their fingers and toes, two small fin-like appendages emerging from the sides of their head, and a fish tail.
Arthropod Zoans can, of course, transform into any kind of arthropod, an invertebrate animal with a chitinous exoskeleton. They are divided into four main subtypes:
Insectoid Zoans are those that can transform into insects, six-legged arthropods with antennae. In their default form, Insectoids commonly have chitinous plating on their skin (centered mainly on their backs, some on their chest, and their arms and legs being fully covered), chitin claws, small mandibles on either side of their mouth, four arms, antennae protruding from their heads, compound eyes, and an insectoid abdomen protruding from just above their rear end.
Arachnoid Zoans can transform into arachnids, eight-legged arthropods that lack any antennae. Default Arachnoids share similarities to Insectoids, with chitin plating on their bodies, claws and multiple eyes, but they can also have six arms instead of just four. Since horseshoe crabs and sea spiders are relatives of actual arachnids, their Zoan counterparts are also considered Arachnoids.
Crustacean Zoans have the ability to, of course, transform into a certain species of crustacean. Their default form has thicker chitin plating which covers more of their body. Like their animal counterparts, Crustacean Zoans are mostly aquatic.
Myriapods Zoans have the traits of and can turn into a certain species of long-bodied, many-legged arthropod known as a myriapod, such as a centipede, millipede, or related species. In their default form, they look similar in appearance to both Insectoids and Arachnoids, but without antennae, abdomens or wings.
Molluscans are Zoans with the traits of Mollusks, soft-bodied invertebrates that live in aquatic or damp habitats. Like Arthropods above, they are divided into subtypes:
Cephalopod Zoans are those that can turn to either a certain species of octopus, squid, cuttlefish or nautilus, all of which are aquatic and cannot survive on dry land for a long time. The appearance of a Cephalopod Zoan in humanoid form can vary, with tentacles either in place of arms, in place of legs, or emerging from the back. Their hair also resembles a mass of tentacles to a varying degree.
Of course, there are more types of Zoans than just all the ones listed above, such as Echinoderm Zoans, Cnidarian Zoans, Ctenophora Zoans, Worm Zoans (which includes all types of creatures considered to be worms), etc. However, all these classes are less common among the Zoan population, and as such are less notable.
Special Zoan Types
Primal Zoans are a special type of Zoan that can transform into a species of prehistoric or extinct animal, such as dinosaurs and whatnot. Primals are said to live far longer than normal Zoans, and are extremely rare in nature.
Mythic Zoans (or Mythical Zoans), on the other hand, have traits of creatures that normally only exist in myth, such as dragons, phoenixes, unicorns, gryphons, and more. While far from as rare as Primal Zoans, Mythics are still uncommon. Mythic Zoans are often placed into their own class, due to that some species exhibit traits of multiple different types of animals.
Dragonids are an extensive and more notable type of Mythic Zoan with their own class name, and they are Zoans with the ability to transform into dragons or dragon-like creatures. There are many different kinds and species of dragons; some breathe fire, some breathe ice, some have prehensile tails, some have feathers. Dragonids also include drakes, wyverns, wyrms, amphitheres, lindworms, cockatrices, hydras, eastern dragons, and sea serpents.
Zoans think, feel and behave very similarly to humans. However they also do retain a few animalistic behaviors, and while they technically can digest both meat and plants, they instinctually have an appetite for the diet of the animal whatever they can transform into.
They also have a heterosexual attraction to the same species as their own by pure instinct, however there are also a few cases of same species, same gender attractions. However, sexual attraction to a *different* species from one’s own is very rare.
The Zoans are very heavily divided as a species, being separated into various tribes, villages and small kingdoms all over the lands of Gemina, most of which are very indifferent towards one another. Some Zoans are also nomads, wandering the lands either alone or in groups.
The culture and beliefs of Zoans depend largely on what region or tribe they come from, and they speak the same languages as humans with the addition of ‘Zoanese’, but not much is known about this language.
They usually live in total isolation from human settlements, however most of them aren’t even aware of the existence of humans, but they do have the myth of ‘Hunters’, which are Zoan-like creatures that were rumored to have hunted, captured and/or killed Zoans on sight, which is why they avoid contact with those outside of their homes regardless and make their territories in the middle of nowhere.
Powers & Abilities
All Zoans share the common ability, if it wasn’t blatantly obvious until this point, to either partially or fully transform into a species of animal. They can also shapeshift specific parts of their bodies, such as their head, arms, etc. In addition to that, a Zoan also has all of the abilities of the animal they can turn into. For example, a spider Zoan can make webs, a fox Zoan has enhanced hearing, and a dragon Zoan has invulnerable scales and the ability to breathe fire.
Some species of Zoans also have the ability to not just turn into an animal, but to also disperse into an entire swarm of the animal they have the traits of, however this unique power is only accessible to Insectoid, Arachnoid and Myriapod Zoans, as well as some Crustacean species. Zoans who have more than 4 limbs in their animal forms can also make said additional animal appendages grow in place of their arms and/or legs, as additional arms and/or legs, or make them sprout from their back.
Zoans are also capable of zoolingualism; which pretty much just means they can talk to and understand animals. However this just means they can only *communicate* with animals, not command them to obey their will like mindless drones (though they can persuade them to obey them willingly).
The Zoans are far less advanced than humans, having mostly medieval technology. However, they also have large airships and even have even created metal automatons, though they are rather primitive.
Notes & Clarification
- I feel It should be noted that an individual Zoan can only have the traits of, and be able to turn into, a SINGLE species of animal, not two or more.
- Zoans that can turn into purely water-breathing animals can also breathe in air, but only if they are fully or mostly in humanoid form, and even then they can only survive for about a week without breathing water.
- While a Zoan *can* mate with another Zoan of a different species, the offspring will often be sterile and have a number of genetic defects unless the species of the two parents are compatible enough. For example, a dog Zoan and a wolf Zoan would be compatible enough to have healthy fertile wolfdog babies, while the offspring of a fish Zoan and a snake Zoan would be born with any number of genetic abnormalities and would be unable to pass on their hybrid genes.
- Humans and Zoans can also have healthy, non-deformed children, but the offspring will almost *always* be a Zoan.
- There are no Mythic Zoans with the traits of half-human mythical creatures (such as centaurs, harpies, mermaids, etc), only the traits of purely animalistic creatures (such as gryphons, dragons, and unicorns).
- While Zoans technically *can* shapeshift to fully resemble a human without any visible nonhuman traits whatsoever, almost none have tried, mainly because there are barely any Zoans who have actually encountered - or even know of - humans.
- Staying true to anatomy, Zoans cannot shapeshift additional limbs/body parts than either of their forms (humanoid and animal) have. For example, an avian Zoan cannot have both human arms and bird wings on their back; they can only shapeshift their arms into wings and back. And a wolf Zoan cannot simultaneously have both a humanoid head AND a wolf head.
- This especially extends to cephalopod Zoans, who can shapeshift tentacles on their humanoid bodies from their backs or in place of normal limbs. They generally cannot have more limbs on their humanoid body than their cephalopod anatomy allows, be it tentacle, or arm, or leg. For example, an octopus Zoan in humanoid form can’t have all 8 tentacles emerging from their back, and their human arms and legs simultaneously.
- Zoans who have both four limbs and wings in their animal form cannot shapeshift wings in place of their arms in humanoid form.
- All female Zoans, in their default humanoid form, have visible breasts. However, apart from those belonging to Mammalian females, the breasts are only vestigial in nature and as such, neither male nor female non-Mammalian Zoans have nipples. (I apologize if this is too NSFW and I don’t mean to come across as a perv, but I mention this because quite frankly I feel the need to clarify as only mammals (and some birds like pigeons and doves) actually produce milk.)
- Zoans can also shapeshift humanoid traits on their animal form, but they generally don’t do this, because they think it’s weird.
- If a Zoan were to be a species of creature who’s larval form differs in anatomy from its mature form (EG, a butterfly), a Zoan child belonging to that species will also have traits of that larval form. For example: a young butterfly Zoan will only be able to turn into a caterpillar until they reach puberty. Also, adult butterfly Zoans cannot turn back into caterpillars.
- Zoans can’t eat chocolate. It makes them sick. Only toucan Zoans can safely eat it.
- When a Zoan shapeshifts into their animal form, their clothes will disappear, and reappear when they turn back into humanoid form.
- Predatory Zoans will still eat animals, but not other Zoans.
- They are named after the Zoan Devil Fruit from One Piece, which grants whoever eats it the ability to turn into an animal. Before being named Zoans, they were called Bestia, which was Latin for ‘beast’.