Might and Magic Wiki

An Alter, also known as a Fluctuant, is a creature appearing in Might and Magic: The Dreamwright and Might and Magic: The Shadowsmith. Alters could change their shape at will, but could also be made to do so by their handler, known as an alterman. The alterman spoke to them in a special language, known as altercant, and they were forced to obey: enlargened eyes to follow tracks, enlargened ears to listen for enemies, long limbs to carry riders, or tougher skin to survive poison. Alters could also change their gender.

Alters were fairly common in The Wheel, uncommon in Dubiel's lands further south, and absolutely unheard of in the Silent Falls. They were considered valuable commodities, and when the kings of the Wheel wanted to speak to the Dreamwright, one of Amonwelle's extravagant demands was "seven alters in good health". Welleck told Lord Grott that an alter was "worth her height in a stack of glint, as I'm sure you know".

They were capable of speaking the human language, at least to some degree, but weren't considered people. They had "graceful, unselfconscious movements", more like animals than humans. When Hitch asked why they were naked, Diligence gave him a strange look and replied: "Would you put trousers on a minnow?" Later, Diligence pretended to be an alter disguised as Diligence on their way back to the Wheel, and she would pluck at her clothing, as if it made her uncomfortable.

If they were properly prepared for it, alters could survive many things that would kill humans. When the group were trying to rescue Eil do Mer from a sinking ship, Grapple sent their alter into the water, and due to the changes she had forced on it, it was able to throw off the waterfoul's poison.

Both Hitch and Diligence were uncomfortable with the use of alters. Diligence had a distaste for it that "bordered on revulsion", due to the pitious whimpers, agonized moans, and muffled crunching they produced when they changed. Hitch found it cruel that a creature not much larger than him should be forced by the alterman to act as a mount, "even if that little dye-pated reek has stretched and angled her into his own idea of a pull-pony".

When Dubiel got his hands on the Staff of Blue Light, he was charged by the group's alter, who managed to slash his throat open before being killed by the staff's blast. Hitch looked down at the bodies, wondering why it had attacked, and Diligence answered him with tears in her eyes, "She died to save us. She died as a human being."