Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Class: The Shapeshifter

There are those who wander the world practicing a craft older than the most ancient of spells painstakingly researched by the wizards in their colleges and lonely towers, whispered in reminsices by the oldest patron deities of the clerics in their temples, nearly forgotten by even the elves in their timeless glades and the dwarves in their deep delves.

This craft has its roots in the primordial first drumbeats of creation, when no living thing had settled into its final form.

It is a simple magic, almost instinctual in its practice, that allows these gifted individuals the power to change shapes as if casting off an old cloak and donning a new one.

They are known, if such can be truly known at all, as the Shapeshifters.

Hit Dice: d8

The primary power of the shapeshifter is the ability to assume the form of any normal animal of equal Hit Dice to their level. They gain the movement, armor class, and attack forms of that creature, as well as any special attacks or abilities of a non-magical or spell like nature, with the exception of poisons, the webbing of spiders, and the ink of octopi and squids.

Thus, a 4th. level shapeshifter transformed into a black bear might gain the bear's hug attack. A 2nd. level shapeshifter transformed into a camel gains the beast's ability to carry 300 lbs. of baggage and go for days without water. Etc.

A shapeshifter cannot speak in animal form unless they are one level higher than the chosen creature's Hit Dice.

The shapeshifter can transform into composite, "mythic" creatures if they have sufficient levels to encompass the hit dice of the component creatures.

The shapes of creatures with a bilateral human component, like satyrs, minotaurs, lizard men, gnolls, or centaurs, are gained at their listed Hit Dice level. In creatures with a human component among multiple other composite animals, like a manticore, gain the human part for an additional level.

For example, a shapeshifter would have to be 8th. level to become a gryphon (3 for the giant hawk, 5 for the lion).

However they cannot gain any sort of magic like effects or breath weapons. A 13th. level shapeshifter could assume the form of a chimera (2 for giant bat, 2 for goat, 5 for lion, and 4 for giant serpent) but would not gain the beast's fiery breath. A 12th. level shapeshifter becoming a manticore (2 for giant bat, 5 for lion, and 4 for giant scorpion, 1 for human) would gain the tail spikes, however.

Demi humans and humanoids without a distinct animal component cannot be transformed into, so orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, ogres, etc. are off limits.

A shapeshifter is forbidden by ancient and inscrutable laws to assume the form of a ki rin or unicorn, regardless of level.

They may assume something akin to the shape of a dragon at 18th. level or higher, gaining all the attack forms save a breath weapon, but this is an action fraught with risk as it tends to uncannily draw the attention of true dragons who might be in the area. They cannot assume the color of any of the chromatic or metallic types, tending toward scales that match their normal skin and hair coloration.

It's up to the Labyrinth Lord's final discretion what components contribute to a creatures' Hit Dice.

The shift from one shape to another takes as much time in rounds as the target form's Hit Dice. Thus, it would take a high level shapeshifter 9 rounds to become a chimera, but only a single round to transform into a house cat. They may revert to their human form at will.

Shapeshifters are completely immune to the curse of lycanthropy.

In exchange for this mastery over the many forms of the animal world, the shapeshifter forgoes the tools of man, and can wear no armor and wield no weapons. Due to their protean nature, they tend to carry little beyond what can fit in a pack, and wear clothing that is easily cast off and replaced, should they choose to wear any at all.

As far as treasure is concerned, they are still quite happy to claim their fair share, as gold and jewels buy creature comforts, and can be laid aside for a rainy day. Individual tastes may vary from shapeshifter to shapeshifter. Some may favor abiding in nature, away from the hurlyburly of civilization, while others are perfectly happy in the warm conviviality of a tavern or inn.

When it comes to magic items, they favor jewelry that may be worn in many forms like bracelets and necklaces, and potions always come in handy. They have no use for scrolls, wands, armor, or weapons.

A shapeshifter is ostensibly a human, although there is usually something odd about them that marks them out as different even when they're wearing their human shape.

Roll 1d20 on the following table every 5 levels.
01: Animal like eyes. Roll 1d4 1: Cat-like 2: Sheep-like 3: Faceted 4: Dog-like
02: Fine patterned scales
03: Feathers instead of hair
04: A tail Roll 1d8 1: Fox 2: Cow 3: Lizard 4: Monkey 5: Swallow 6: Horse 7: Dog 8: Cat
05: Raccoon like mask on face
06: Mobile, animal like ears. Roll 1d4: 1: Dog-like 2: Cow-like 3: Rabbit-like 4: Bat-like
07: Striped or spotted patterns on skin
08: Short, downy fur matching hair color
09: Dog like pads on feet and palms.
10: Odd teeth Roll 1d4 1: Fangs 2: Huge buck teeth 3: Small tusks 4: Insectoid mandibles
11: Completely hairless
12: Spiny ridge starting at forehead and extending down the spine.
13: Digitigrade legs
14: Odd face Roll 1d4 1: Beak 2: Muzzle 3: Reptilian 4: Huge Nose
15: Mute. Can imitate animal sounds flawlessly, but must communicate in sign language.
16: Unusual diet Roll 1d4
1:Obligate Carnivore 2: Obligate Herbivore 3: Carrion 4: No cooked food of any kind
17: Make random animal noises if Save vs. Spell failed in stressful situations.
18: Talons on hands and feet do 1d4 in combat
19: Arms are vestigial wings (fully functional as arms, but oddly formed and proportioned)
20: Completely different human appearance each time the human shape is resumed. Gender is maintained, but descriptors such as looks, hair and skin color, and the like change radically. Re-roll Charisma each time.

Upon reaching 9th. level, a shapeshifter may choose to claim a hex of wilderness that becomes their domain. Usually, this area will center on some striking natural feature, like a distinctive rock outcropping or a waterfall. All the animals of less than 9 HD found there pay him or her fealty, and develop the ability to speak in a language that the shapeshifter alone can understand.

The shapeshifter must come to amicable terms with more powerful creatures in their neighborhood, or defeat them in battle and drive them away. As they gain levels, the shapeshifter may command the loyalty of the more powerful creatures who co-exist in their territory.

In return, the shapeshifter is expected to defend the land and its denizens from external threats, but they may freely negotiate hunting or logging rights with more civilized neighbors.

Shapeshifters use the elf table for level advancement, and use halfling saving throws.

This class is hereby designated as Open Game Content via the Open Game License.