Author Topic: [WIP] Power's Guide to the Shifter class  (Read 134 times)

Offline Power

  • DnD Handbook Writer
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • Rolling a boulder up a hill
    • View Profile
[WIP] Power's Guide to the Shifter class
« on: February 19, 2018, 05:22:04 PM »
Introduction

Welcome to my guide for the Shifter class. I know what you're thinking: "Isn't the Shifter just a Druid minus? Wait, that's the Hunter. Okay, isn't it just a Druid minus minus? Wait, that's the Ranger. Okay, so is the Shifter just a Druid minus minus minus?" And the answer is "kinda, sorta, more or less, pretty much, yeah." Still, the Shifter has a few advantages on the Druid. For one, he has full BAB instead of 3/4 BAB and a d10 hitdie instead of a d8. For another... uhhh... he gets beast shape II stats and options at level 4 instead of level 6. And he gets Planar Wild Shape two levels early thanks to the new errata. Anyway, pay no attention to the fact that the Druid gets a ton of better shapeshifting options than the Shifter whose sole class feature is basically shifting or the fact that the Druid's large amount of self-buffs improve his wildshaped combat in ways the Shifter cannot. The point is that even a severely neutered Druid whose sole class feature is an extra super neutered Wild Shape is still a potent martial class, played right.

The basic idea: There are really just two ways to play a Shifter. One, you pounce from level 4 onwards, and collect Two-Weapon Fighting feats to do a massive amount of damage. Two, you are going Ape Shifter with a reach build.

Your stat needs don't really vary whichever of these two routes you pick. Basically Str, Dex, and Con are your most important stats. I'd say dump all your mentals to -7 (seriously, you need combat stats), but the new errata makes it slightly more unpleasant to dump wis unless you're starting on high levels, since it will reduce your duration and cost you more levels to perma-mode your wild shape. Anyway, for Wis there are 3 options on your wisdom. Option 1: 14 wisdom (enough for +1 to AC and +2 hours, on top of +2 will). Option 2: 10 wisdom (hey at least you avoided losing hours of wild shape or taking penalties to your will and wisdom). Option 3: 7 wisdom (or lower). The thing is that you should consider adjusting your point buy for lower or higher wis depending on whether you are playing a race with a wis bonus. You don't want to end up with 12 wis or 16 wis since the benefits are too marginal, and if you have 18 wis, you're probably squandering the combat stats you need.

You might have noticed I only count 1 AC for 4 wis. That's because fighting naked is for idiots. Always wear armor. You want that AC. Get a set of barding (animal-shaped armor, you have all the armor options humans do) to put on when you're wild-shaped. Wild shape out of combat and have your party members equip it on you.

So, a Shifter's stat array:
10 point buy: 16 str - 14 dex - 12 con - 7 int - 10 wis - 7 cha
15 point buy: 16 str - 16 dex - 13 con - 7 int - 10 wis - 7 cha
20 point buy: 16 str - 16 dex - 13 con - 7 int - 14 wis - 7 cha
25 point buy: 16 str - 16 dex - 14 con - 9 int - 14 wis - 7 cha

Expect to put all your favored class bonuses into bonus health. The alternate favored class bonuses are all terrible. However, you should probably shift around stats a bit depending on your racial modifiers. Post-racial, you generally want at least 14 str, 16 dex (18 dex if large size), and 12 con (and don't forget what I said about wisdom - post-modifier 7, 10, or 14 only). Use a point buy calculator if you need to figure it out. You could dump str lower if you're planning on going weapon finesse with shifter's edge and use piranha strike, but Weapon Finesse will cost you an extra feat and Shifter's Edge now requires you to use str for damage (no agile AoMF) and the pounce builds will be spending their feats on TWF, Power Attack, and Planar Wild Shape. This means you will be picking up Shifter's Edge rather late, which is when it will give you more damage to be worth the investment anyhow.

A Shifter's Favorite Races

Core Races

Human: Your shifter is a martial with as many feats as a bard, druid, or cleric (fewer, depending on the archetype/domain options used). A bonus feat goes a long way and with 7 int the extra skill ranks are not bad either. You can also trade the Bonus Feat for Adoptive Parentage (get another race's weapon familiarity trait) or Military Tradition (get two martial or exotic weapon proficiencies, but GM may require you to fluff it to your local culture - I guess you make up a shifter culture for your character), and you could swap Skilled for Heart of the Fey (+1 racial bonus to reflex and will saves). It's always a good pick, especially if you're feeling feat-starved. There are ways to use Traits for weapon proficiencies (more on that later), but an extra feat is always welcome on a Shifter.

Half-Elf: Similar to human but with worse feat options. You can also trade the Skill Focus for Dual-Minded (+2 Will saves) or a weapon proficiency. Multitalented perk is thoroughly useless and as such I recommend swapping it out for Fey Thoughts and picking up Sense Motive and something else as class skills or taking Blended View for darkvision. Failing that swap it for Jungle Affinity.

Dwarf: The big question is whether you lose your racial +2 bonus to all saves vs spells and poisons while shapeshifted. If you do lose it, skip playing dwarf. If not, then it's a decent pick. +2 racial bonus to all saves vs spells and poisons is great, especially when you add the Glory of Old trait (+1 trait bonus to all saves vs spells and poisons), and Steel Soul feat (another +2 racial bonus to all saves vs spells and poisons). You can also use Heirloom Weapon to gain proficiency in a Dwarven Longhammer/Longaxe for ape reach builds, although having a large size longhamer/longaxe as your heirloom weapon will be interesting to explain (family of shifters and/or wizards who are fond of enlarge person, I guess?). Swapping languages for Xenophobic for another +1 vs mind-affecting saves is also recommended, but you'll be stuck speaking Dwarven only until you have reached level 2 and invested 2 skill ranks of linguistics. Better have a party member pick up Dwarven as a bonus language from his int bonus at level 1 or invest a rank into linguistics so he can play translator. Replacing Defensive Training and Hatred for Slag Child is not a bad call either.

Non-Core Races

Aasimar: Your options are to go Archon-Blooded (+2 Con, +2 Wis / Intimidate, Sense Motive / continual flame) or Garuda-Blooded (+2 Dex, +2 Wis / Acrobatics, Fly / see invisibility). The +2 Dex from Garuda-Blooded has some use for Combat Reflexes build (bear in mind pouncing Shifter with Tiger shape still has a 10 foot reach for a spare Combat Reflexes feat). If your GM would rule you lose your Celestial Resistance trait when Wild Shaped, definitely replace it with Deathless Spirit. If not, Deathless Spirit is still not a bad given Planar Wild Shape (esp. if you're going to pick up the celestial template instead of fiendish). You should probably also replace Darkvision with Halo which you can use while wild-shaped and if Archon-Blooded, replace your spell-like ability with Incorruptible for the Corruption Resistance spell-like ability. Continual Flame is redundant when you have Halo.

Tiefling: You would want Hungerseed (+2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Cha / Disguise, Intimidate / alter self). Mostly a pick if you want the Smite Good alternate racial trait, I suppose.

Other races
You don't want them.

Question: What about Skinwalker? It's so thematically fitting!
Awful idea. You can only have 1 polymorph effect at a time. The Change Shape racial cannot be used while Wild Shaped. Losing your change shape perks makes the race trash.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 07:22:28 PM by Power »