Just chipping in my thoughts here:
I think 'being' is not equal to 'the sum of the things that you do.' Just like a sparrow is not defined by flying, eating seeds, singing particular songs, breeding in a particular way, etc. It IS a sparrow, with a nature suiting it for what it does. A swallow acting like a sparrow still is not a sparrow.
Likewise a shaman can _do_ things that essentially nobody else can do, because of what he or she is. But doing those things no more defines a shaman than with the sparrow.
At least as far back as RQ3 it is has been pretty clear that in becoming a Shaman there is a very real change in nature. The shaman's fetch is awakened/created/torn from his/her soul. Amongst the Hsunchen there is sometimes some changes in gender identity of one degree or another, and so on. Which is, I think, different than becoming a priest or wizard or whatever. Those things may be difficult, may require tests, quests, and refining of your nature, but they don't require going through fundamental transformations.
Which does raise the question, the transformation that a shaman undergoes, does that somehow change their runic identity? I'd assume they still are associated with the man rune and the runes of the spirit they follow, but.....it would seem that a transformation that major would be visible in more than the presence of the fetch?
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