The world of Sole Shifter is much like our own - a sphere, spinning through the vacuum of space, revolving around a star at the right proximity to support life. Covered mostly in water, this planet does, indeed, support human life, and has borne witness to the full extent of human history. A sordid tale much like our own, with the same general twists and turns of events, the same kindnesses and injustices, the same ideas and actions playing out through men and nations. A bit more aged than our own world, the humans here are perhaps slightly further along in their understanding of the fundamentals of the universe - a fact evident in the technologies at one's disposal here. Tentatively adapting to trans-human philosophy, many people have enhanced themselves through cybernetics to keep the ever-rising flood of data manageable. Their written culture exerting a great deal of influence on their scientific community, bipedal robotic war machines known as mechs have strode onto the battlefield. Mastery of the photon has led to vast communication networks snaking through the various nations of the world, as well as the most sensitive detection equipment mankind has ever seen. Explosions are bigger and more controlled, shells are faster and deadlier, attacks more precise and efficient. The technologists reign supreme - or, at least, they do now.

There was a time before, however, when technology did not rule. Once the world was controlled by those who were adept at magic. But magic was not for the masses. Magic required innate talent and years of full-time training in its use, and drains the body's vital energies with repeated applications - that which keeps the heart pumping, the mind crackling with electricity, the intellect and muscles fueled. One’s own vital energy pours directly into the Fount of Mana, from whence all will-dominated energies hail to replenish the worldly stock. It is even possible to burn what remains of one's tentative grip on the living, breathing world. Such a death is a death from magical burnout, and bodies that die of it show no external signs of failure - they simply fail.

Mankind knew the risks involved with pursuing the arcane. No one knew where their own limits were without exceeding them, at which point, they were dead. As science and technology emerged as viable tools, mankind turned to them to control and manipulate the natural laws, rather than simply overriding them. Governments found technology easier to control than magic and forbade its use. Magic became outdated.


Human culture, however, is one of the most naturally cyclical environments in all of existence. Magic's own cyclical period seemed to fall at around eight thousand years. Roughly forty years before our adventures begin, magic was rediscovered. Redeveloped alongside the floppy drive's first run, mankind found out once again how to impose one's will directly upon the universe. The first deaths from magic overuse started twenty years later. Magi simply collapsed, and no one knew why. The deaths started coming faster and faster. The media latched onto the stories, and soon the world was once again in an uproar over magic.

For a full year, no governmental action was taken. No one knew why these deaths were happening, so no single course of action would guarantee that it would stop. After a year of careful observation, however, scientists noticed the patterns - heavy magic users died when some unknown and essentially impossible to measure threshold of magical exertion was passed. The thing was, 'heavy' varied from person to person, and not just in opinion. Some people were simply not capable of as much magic as others before their lives were at risk. Some thought themselves immortal, with boundless pools of magical energy at their disposal. Others simply decided not to gamble, and stuck with the known methods, the safe methods. It was an era with sharply divided public opinion, with egocentric, ambitious, vivacious risk takers on one side, and conservative, practical, cautious individuals on the other. Politics swung back and forth on the issue for a while, until several national coalitions banned the use of magic by private individuals and governments alike. Studying the patterns of magical use produced some basic means of protection, and, between the illegality and the potential deadliness of the use of magic, its use died down quickly. Being a powerful tool, however, its study continued on in black labs sponsored and concealed by most of the major powers. It never fully stopped being practiced by the public, either, as the direct power it offered was simply too tempting. It was in this environment that Gavrillo Sabran ascended to power.

Gavrillo was quite firmly a member of the first group - a highly ambitious individual, a political fixer, who loved to be in control and wasn't above manipulation to keep it that way. When he discovered the continued use of magic in the State's black labs, he knew his next move. He had a close friend in Ergan Bakres, a military officer he met at a young age. Using Ergan as his connection, Gavrillo put money in the right pockets and threats and suggestions in the right ears to cause Ergan to rise to control of the black labs. With the added political clout this provided, Gavrillo maneuvered Ergan into position to ascend to the head of the civilian government. All it took was a political spark. Sowing dissent at the black labs among already discontented mages, a number of them left the state in an exceedingly violent way - sparking simultaneous riots in various locations across the country. Leading the quelling operations, Ergan became politically untouchable and became the governmental head. To keep civilian magic use and abuse under control, Ergan formed the Mundane Police to find and apprehend suspected magi. The 'danes, as the public called them, were usually very brutal and suspicious officers, and their establishment set the tone for the remainder of Ergan's rule - that of a police state perpetually on the edge of revolution.

Ergan's rule was becoming extremely unpopular. What riots he quelled indicated the growing discontent with the laws Gavrillo had him pass. He was at his personally least popular after three years in office, and it was at the end of his third year that he had an attempt on his life. The assassin was quite thorough and almost successful - Ergan was a bloody mess, sustained only by his friend Gavrillo, who wasn't finished using him as his political puppet. Gavrillo, through the use of magic, kept him alive long enough for Ergan to receive the extensive medical attention he required. Many of Ergan's internal organs had outright failed, and the only chance he had at survival was cyborg conversion. Now mostly a mechanical shell, and even more firmly under Gavrillo's thumb, Ergan rules the State as a hated dictator. Gavrillo's ambition and greed grow by the week as the laws he passes through Ergan become more and more severe, and his plans are starting to turn towards conquest.

Game Plot:


Emir Niemand was a clone. Lab-spawned, speedgrown and submitted to rapid imaging education, he was a forerunner of the State's new controlled leadership project, also known as Project Wiseman. His original was a warlord several hundred years ago a brilliant tactician and ruler for several decades before the collapse of his regime - a warlord named Shaka. Shaka had a reputation for being a just ruler, and Project Wiseman, initiated by Gavrillo and Ergan, selected his body as a first run template for his reputation for upholding law above all else, hoping to use whatever genetic predisposition may exist for that mindset. They obtained a sample from his tomb in the Red Sands Desert, and set to work creating Emir. Emir was completely the State's ward - everything he was educated about, was told, was permitted to read, all of it was carefully filtered to tailor his mind to their needs. Everything, with one major exception.

Emir had a friend in the system. This friend was Dr. Thovis. Dr. Thovis was not one of the friends that was part of Emir's indoctrination plan - Dr. Thovis was a wildcard. He was, in fact, a spy for an organized resistance to Bakres's rule. Meeting with Emir when he came to change the modules on the Rapid Imager, he slipped him news articles and datafiles from the outside world from time to time, small papers running on the outskirts of Bakres's rule. They detailed the State's brutal treatment of its own, and was intended to turn Emir against them. This counter-indoctrination, however, was simply not substantial enough on its own to alter Emir's opinion enough for an outright betrayal. Thovis needed someone with an already defined moral base, someone who could make an evaluation separate from the State-fed information. Looking into imbuing an individual with the spirit or soul of another, he found that one's soul is always drawn to one's own body. Altering a spell used to revive coma victims, he managed to create an effect that would draw Shaka's own soul into Emir's body.

The end of Emir's indoctrination was fast approaching. Thovis needed to draw Shaka back before Emir was activated as the primary tactical officer for Bakres's new army. Getting Emir alone for a brief window, he apologized, not knowing what would happen to Emir's own spirit, and cast the spell.

Shaka gasped in the regrown body, and remembered seeing everything Emir had seen - as well as flashes of his old life. He knew a deception when he smelled one, and these State sponsors stank of it. After a few more weeks playing along, Bakres came to finalize his position and have him take his command position in the armed forces. Shaka accepted, knowing what repercussions would likely follow if he declined. He could not work for or with someone he could not trust, be they the law or not, however, and he set to work planning an escape with Thovis. Shaka's planning leaked, however, and Bakres was baffled when he caught Shaka attempting escape. Emir's environment had been totally controlled - he should have produced the anticipated response, assuming the emotional shaping had gone correctly. That a different response was given meant these scientists had failed in their indoctrination duties. He ordered Emir's body to be disposed of. They would try the conditioning again.

Dr. Thovis wasn't about to let that happen. He, however, could not get access to the room without blowing his cover. Watching from outside, he saw Shaka's body shot and shoved onto a wash station to bleed out. Waiting for the cyborg Bakres to leave, he rushed in afterwards to Shaka's rapidly dying form. He ordered the guards back to their posts outside the lab room, and quickly set to work attempting to fix Shaka's wounds. Nothing he was doing was working - he would need magic again, and this time he would need to use healing magic, one of the most consuming effects known. In a desperate gambit, he attempted to heal Shaka's form. The healing magic reacted strangely with the speedgrown flesh, however, and Shaka - for lack of a better word - exploded. Covered in blood and confronted by his failure to save Shaka's life, Thovis began washing himself off - when he noticed a faint form hovering in the doorway. Could that be…?

The Facility

"What just happened in heEAARGH!"

The guard who had come in to check on the doctor convulsed as he passed through the floating form. The form seemed to settle on him, and the guard glanced down, patting at his equipment with a surprised expression. He looked up.

"Is that… me? What's left of me?"

Hearing the scream, the other guard outside raises the alarm before he investigates. Dr. Thovis glances at Shaka's corpse, and realizes he's standing next to a huge piece of evidence of his own use of magic - a death sentence. He tells Shaka a radio frequency to monitor, and that he should escape the base before they manage to capture him. He, however, needs to retrieve some information before they rendezvous with his associates. Dr. Thovis leads Shaka through the complex, towards an important information center which holds answers for them both. From events through the radio, it seems Thovis is managing to evade capture within the building. Ultimately reaching the info center, Shaka finds information on the location of another building and informs the doctor. That's when an air raid siren joins the noise of the base alarm.

"What? They couldn't b… Damnit, they're launching the raid NOW!? GET TO A STABLE ROO-"

Thovis is cut off by a massive explosion that shakes and collapses the entire facility, with Shaka inside.

The Red Sands

Upon the complex's collapse, Shaka is trapped amidst its debris, in the desert of The Red Sands. A few soldiers rush over, seeing what has happened and looking for survivors. Shaka abandons his pinned body, and seizes one of the free searchers. He then fights through soldiers, traveling the desert. What happened to the scientist, and why did they bomb their own complex? Shaka comes across ruins in the desert – his tomb. Fighting still, Shaka comes across prisoners being held by soldiers. He frees them, and they thank him for his evident work as a spy, then take their leave mentioning the resistance will rendezvous in the forest. Further through the Red Sands, Shaka meets the arrogant General. Challenging you, and demanding you identify yourself, Shaka tells the General his name, and the General laughs, saying Shaka died years and years ago. Consistently taunting and underestimating you, he is defeated by Shaka's powers. Shaka moves shortly on to find more prisons- only to find them empty and to receive a blow to the back of the head from someone freed. A resistance fighter with company, they leave mentioning the forest. Shaka quickly possesses the body of the prisoner who hit him, secretly tagging along for the ride.

The Gilean Forest

Shaka, disguised, arrives at the forest. Here, he and the player finally see the first use of overt magic, and it is revealed that the resistance is a unified gang of magic users. Present is the leader of this group, as is the scientist. Shaka, revealing himself and meeting with the scientist, is given an explanation:

Having run the insurgency against the dictator, and placed spies in the black lab, they are using magic as well as technology to rebel from Bakres. They led the riots Bakres used as political fodder to rise to power, and they intend to bring him down.

The scientist's true allegiance is with his people, and has become one of the magic users. Long ago turning against the State as a spy, the scientist aimed to sabotage Project Wiseman. Intending to introduce an unknown variable into the process, the scientist educated the first clone in real world events, which had not been intended by the conditioners. He failed to persuade the original clone, however, and so used improvised magic to bring Shaka's soul into the body – thinking that Shaka, himself, who the project was based on, would never agree to the State's means or ends. He was correct in this, which led to Shaka declining Bakres's offer and Shaka's own subsequent execution.

Several experienced magi from the black labs are present among Bakres's forces, former co-workers of Thovis's, and it is likely they will simply be executed at the end of the current conflict to keep the association of the State and magic use from getting out. The resistance tell him he should not hold back against these slaves and pawns of the State.

Before he can continue, the resistance camp is met by an invasion. Shaka joins the resistance, fighting through the forest against both invading soldiers and mages. Eventually, he encounters Bakres killing mages. Realizing the soldier rebelling from his forces must be Shaka, he leaves for the Scagarai Islands, intending to bait him there. At the end of the level, Shaka is told to defend a mage who is crafting a golem to defend the mages' evacuation. The mage collapses mysteriously during the instructive section of the spell, and a raging golem is unleashed. Shaka must put it down to avoid it destroying both sides. Seeing the mages as too shortsighted and rebellious for the sake of rebelliousness, Shaka rejects them. While he wants further answers from the Dr. , must evade their fervent attempts to capture him. He continues on alone in pursuit of Bakres.

Scagarai Islands

In the islands, Shaka pursues Bakres. The enemies here (both Mages & Tech) have new weapons which can force Shaka out of the body he possesses; ultimately, it turns out this entire island is a trap! The black labs mages have studied the reports of how Shaka behaves, and have realised his methods of subverting the brain. The magi simply will him out of the body, while the technologists electrocute him to throw off his control. Fighting through the islands, Shaka is confronted by a powerful State-controlled mage called the Master of the Poison Viper (MPV). The MPV is capable of forcing Shaka out of his host without harming them, and attempts to isolate and capture Shaka. Shaka manages to kill the MPV, however, foiling the State's first plan. Falling onto a backup plan, the Tech military orders the Poison Viper's arena gassed with a sleeping gas. Choked off, surprised, confused, and alone, Shaka passes out.

Skyscraper Facility

Awakening in a complex similar to the one in the Red Sands, Shaka is captive, guarded by Bakres, who he can attempt to possess, but cannot due to the cyborg's extensive electronic components. Shaka is of even greater use now than he was before, he is told. Bakres mentions the scientist is also captive within the facility, and he could provide some answers. He exits to go retrieve him. Familiar sirens blare - Mages are attacking the building in an attempt to free the scientist, take Shaka and destroy the holding facility all in one swoop. By some effect of their attacks on the facility, Shaka is freed. Soon, he discovers the facility is mass producing thousands of Shaka clones to use as grunt soldiers, and plans to destroy it. Reaching the scientist, Shaka only finds him half dead from his own attempts to escape. He had burnt himself out from magic overuse. He further explains Shaka's powers and transition to his soul form.

Trying to use his magic to bring Shaka's soul into the body, Thovis actually… failed. Or, so he thought. The spell that supposedly brought Shaka's soul into Emir's body, in fact, only imbued memory and personality - not sense of self or identity as well, which it did. It took longer to work than it should have, which was the first sign not all was operating normally. He didn't know if Shaka was Shaka or Emir. After Shaka was ordered killed, Thovis rushed in to try and preserve his life. Medical science couldn't work fast enough - he had to use magic. The magic he tried to use to sustain Shaka's life only sustained the spirit. Now Shaka has a power even greater than he imagined, and Thovis grimly informed him the State may make use of him yet. He tells him there's someone pulling the cyborg's strings, that there's someone who keeps calling the cyborg around to different locations. He used him as bait at the islands and called him away from this facility. He's the one Shaka needs to bring down. Thovis dies.

At such an inopportune moment, Mages rush in only to accuse Shaka of killing the scientist. After moving on, Shaka ultimately encounters rows of familiar clones, and then 4 guards. They are his teammates back when he was under the military's control, now equipped with extra armaments, fully trained and with their own troops. These former teammates, it turns out, were in a similar situation to Shaka's - they were clones of historical generals, all indoctrinated in the current struggle between magic and technology, and all trained to command the troops in the upcoming war. Shaka defeats them, obtaining information on a large battle between the Mages and the State, occurring in the Baltean Plains. The State has chased the escapees from the forest down, and intends to stamp out the last of the resistance.

The Baltean Plains

Shaka arrives on a battlefield. The Mages have almost been defeated by the State's sheer power. Shaka makes his way through the State ranks. Throughout the level, Bakres swoops down and fights with Shaka periodically. Retreading and harassing different parts of the line to draw Bakres in, Shaka fights a war of attrition, eventually damaging Bakres too much for his ruined body to continue operating.

Shaka is horrified to realize there is a powerful figure greater than the Cyborg pulling the strings - the Cyborg's master, the Ruler Gavrillo Sabran, who reveals himself with a badge of a licensed magic user - the troops turn to follow him. The Ruler laughs, and reveals that Shaka is in the worst possible place he could be right now - next to the only living mage left in the entire world. He now can channel magic without fear, since no other may cast and draw his vital energy from the Fount. Unleashing everything he's got in a bid to destroy Shaka, Shaka fights and eventually defeats him.

The Ruler, about to be defeated, names Shaka a nobody, a non-entity. He isn't even really Shaka, just a ghost of a copy of an ancient warlord. Even that warlord was, himself, flawed. He brought people together under his rule, true, but his empire didn't last – it fell back into chaos merely years after his death. What does he know about anything? The empire of the State has accomplished more than Shaka had ever dreamed. It has provided electricity, built hospitals, libraries, schools.
Shaka, standing over the Ruler, relaxes his weapon briefly.

"I may be a clone. I may be Shaka. I may be only an insane soldier, simply this outer shell and nothing more. But I know this much: I am myself. And as myself, I despise the State you have established. You have done nothing but grab at personal power, let your friend's public image suffer for your sake, raised yourself far above the populace, and ground the rights of the individual into the dirt all to secure your might. But see this - you are the one at my feet now. Now, you strike out in desperation at my sense of identity in one last bid to preserve your disgusting life. You, Sabran, are a worm."

He fires. The Ruler dies.

"It is fitting that you feed them."

The screen fades to black. Fading in, it shows the cloning facility smoldering, and tells the player of the subsequent fall of the State, after a hasty repeal of the antimagic laws by Sabran's successor and partly successful disarmament. Shaka himself blended into the background and took to observing the rise of a new government. Whether or not the spirit was Shaka or Emir is never outright stated.

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