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I’m writing a Splatoon fanfic, and I was hoping to make it a bit more science-based than the minuscule information we’re provided in-game.

The two primary features of Inklings are their ability to shoot ink and refill by diving into their ink, as well as their ability to switch between squid and kid. For the former, we are given much more information:

  • Instead of a heart pumping blood like us humans, Inklings’ hearts pump ink.
  • Somehow some of this ink can be transferred into a pack strapped to their back, which powers a plethora of splatting weapons.
  • By submerging themselves in ink, the Inklings can refill their tanks. This seems to work through something like diffusion.

The problem comes with the kid-squid transformation. Somehow they can switch near-instantly between a smallish squid-like form and the normal-sized humanoid form. In squid form, they are able to swim quickly in their own color of ink, move through metal grates, and fly to a different place on the map. Their clothing and weaponry are also preserved during transformations: they don’t wear them while they’re a squid but do while they’re a kid. The games strongly imply that there’s no magic in this universe, so handwavium shapeshifting isn’t an option.

The last feature is that when killed, their body explodes into ink, and their “spirit” returns to their team’s spawn point, where a replica of their original body is recreated, and their spirit is placed into that body.

The questions I have are:

  • How would you go about designing a creature that can transform between a squid with these properties to a kid with these properties?
  • How would a squid be able to do things like moving through metal grates and launch itself in a parabolic arc across the map?
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    $\begingroup$ "Questions" is likely going to cause a lot of "too broad" questions. I recommend you split this into two separate questions. $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental Jun 20 '18 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry to say it, but I think you'd be better off ignoring the explanation and just making the scope of their powers and limitations very clear to the reader. If you show the consequences of their weirdness, the reader will accept it without further questions. After all, have you even seen a werewolf story that makes the cause of the transformation realistic? It just bogs the story down. Also, this is unrelated, but I'd avoid having giving your version of squids blood-powered weapons. That just raises a whole mess of questions. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion Jun 20 '18 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ @PinionMinion The part with the blood-powered weapons is entirely canon. $\endgroup$ – DonielF Jun 20 '18 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ @FoxElemental I’m tempted to say that whatever is allowing them to shapeshift would explain both of those: allowing a kid to turn into a squid and allowing a squid to deform around grates. Maybe not the flying squid part, but otherwise I think they’re related enough to merit keeping them together. $\endgroup$ – DonielF Jun 20 '18 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ @PinionMinion Actually I'm writing a fantasy novel that contains some werewolfs in parts of it. Currently just for myself, I'm trying to write down and explain several of the different fantasy creatures in it in another text in order for me to make sense and not to handwavium most of them with "magic", including werewolves. The thing is, I'm writing it down in a fashion as if a wizard in this world went out to collect all kinds of information about different species and wrote down a bestiary. It will not be included in the story itself but maybe released as an addition for the curious. $\endgroup$ – Otto Abnormalverbraucher Jun 20 '18 at 13:44
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Point 1: The ink is alive

The "ink" is actually a form of colonial microbe. This microbe is capable of forming a biofilm-like network with microscopic muscular and neural structures. The battle between inklings is actually a conflict between different "ink colonies".

Point 2: An Inkling body is basically a suit that the ink can use to move in a coordinated manner

An Inkling's "kid" form, while superficially human, is anatomically nothing like humans. It is an environmental suit - perhaps artificial, perhaps a living symbiote - for the microbe swarm. It is controlled using an ink-based hydrostatic skeleton. When "transforming", it basically turns inside out - expelling the ink that supports its body and covering its deflated shell with a layer of microbes, creating the "squid" form. It is able to move much faster in this form while within its own colony - the surrounding ink creates a peristalsis-like muscular motion to shove the "suit" along. The "kid" form is used when the microbes need to travel outside of their biofilm.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. It is canon that specialized bacteria clean up the turf after matches, so this could be a plausible theory. $\endgroup$ – DonielF Jun 20 '18 at 13:08
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There is no 'human' form - its an illusion / a disguise of the squid-like inkling.

The squid can increase its size (maybe it sucks in air, so this only works on land) and has very fine control over how and where these changes happen in its body, so it can change its form to that of a human kid. Basically this is like a 3D/shape version of colour-changing skills that some squids/octopuses have. (Of course, it also needs the color-changing skin to simulate clothing and the whole appearance thing).

In the squid-form the Inklings don't need to put any energy into maintaining this disguise. This allows them to use their 'ballooning' and fine control over the body to generate a strong (albeit short) tension in their body, which can be used to fling them whereever they want to go.
As for moving moving through objects: squids are good at that - they're about as liquid as cats (it doesn't work the 'human' form since upholding that requires a sort of tension in the whole body).

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  • $\begingroup$ While this would fit with the canon that Inklings can’t touch water without dying, the game does seem to imply that their main form is the human one... $\endgroup$ – DonielF Jun 20 '18 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ It's established canon that inklings can only sustain their humanoid form once they reach puberty. Transforming into a humanoid could be an autonomic brain function that becomes 'second nature' to them after reaching a certain age. $\endgroup$ – mm201 Jun 27 '18 at 21:08

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