Derived from Greek Mythology - Book four of The Odyssey, wherein Menelaeus describes to Telemachus how he had heard (after hiding in seal skins and (this is the relevant part) a severely polymorphic - that is, shape-shifting - wrestling match with Proteus aka the Ancient of the Salt Sea, won by holding on regardless of what shape Proteus assumed) (pant pant) that Odysseus was being held captive on the island of Calypso.

Protean is also the vampiric discipline of shapeshifting in the Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game, and is the unique discipline of Clan Gangrel. Protean allows the user to see in the dark with glowing red eyes, grow tough claws that do aggravated damage (called wolf claws), turn into the legendary cloud of mist, or sink into the ground to escape enemies or the rays of the sun. Protean also allows one to shift into the forms of any two animals, most commonly a wolf or a bat, though some users of Protean can assume the forms of different animals (to quote the Gangrel clanbook, "you turn into what you expect to turn into").

Pro"te*an (?), a.

1.

Of or pertaining to Proteus; characteristic of Proteus.

" Protean transformations."

Cudworth.

2.

Exceedingly variable; readily assuming different shapes or forms; as, an ameba is a protean animalcule.

<-- 3. displaying great variety or versatility. -->

© Webster 1913.

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