The Shifter Classification System was created by the 86th generation of Elemental royals in order to gauge the skills of the species. Though Shifters are accepted into society, at certain levels, they are considered threatening to the peace. On every town register, it is compulsory for any Shifters to regularly update their skill levels. If their abilities are in any way connected to crimes, they may be summoned to court and, in some cases, given magickal Restricts - runes that limits the influence of a Shifter's Theríon - the animal manifestation of their soul.
The process which creates a Shifter is considered by some to be a highly specialised Gift, divinely given alongside those of other magi, whilst others consider it to be a biological mutation. Shifters have been recorded to be born from magi and aos sí parents, and in rare cases, human parents. Whilst souls of non-Shifters are believed to be amorphous centres of energy which hold all the intentions and information of a person, but can only manifest through a body, a Shifter's soul is called a Theríon and manifests in animal form. The elected creature is thought to reflect something about the person, and in some circumstances, is a message of prophecy as animals can represent certain omens. Others interpret a Theríon's form to be so because of what will be most useful in the owner's future life.
The system is as follows, in order of advancement:
- E - Established: The first level of Shifting, the ability to retain their Theríon form for an indefinite amount of time. Those who cannot do so are not ranked, and these are usually pre-pubescent Shifters learning to control their abilities.
- P - Progressive: The second level of Shifting, able to Shift into a number of other forms besides their Theríon. This number can range from a few to hundreds, and most young Shifters do not reach higher than this until adulthood.
- T - Ternion: The third level of Shifting, characterised as being able to Shift into any creature from either land, sea or sky, though the time limit can be unstable and unpredictable.
- R - Resistant: The fourth level of Shifting, able to Shift and hold the form without being affected by emotion or surrounding circumstances. Signifies a strong mental grasp of the power as well as the physical manifestation. Naturally, this is the most difficult level to reach, a large jump from Ternion.
- L - Liberated: The fifth level of Shifting, able to Shift into a multitude of creatures without distraction, and most importantly, freed from the constraints of incantations or extended releases. Unlike the former levels, a single thought and intent is all that is needed to Shift.
- A - Affinitive: The sixth level of Shifting, it is the rarest level and is not often seen. It is characterised by a Theríon taking on a separate personality to the Shifter, their powers so advanced that it becomes dangerous. Masters of this level are suspected to suffer from cases of split personality, and some have been maddened by the results. Despite this danger, it is the most powerful of the levels and shows astonishing ability to Shift without incantation or difficulty, holding their form for a stable, indefinite tie.
- C - Clone: Though determined as the seventh and highest level of Shifting, it is possible to be C Class without becoming Affinitive. C Class is the mastering of copying people instead of creatures, duplicating them completely. This is incredibly rare, and although it is possible to clone with magickal incantations, only Shifting can create a perfect and unblemished copy.