Archives of Nethys

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Shifter Class Details | Aspects | Archetypes

Shifter

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 26
Whether riding on the wind as a falcon or hiding in some fetid bog waiting to strike, the shifter is a true master of the wild. Both a devoted defender of druidic circles and a fierce predator, the shifter can take on the forms of nature and even fuse them together with devastating effect and unbridled savagery. By way of the druidic discipline of wild shape, they become living aspects of the wild. At first, they are able to assume only a minor aspect, but with time and practice they can fully transform into ever more powerful forms.

The shifter class offers players a way to experience a shapeshifting character that is more martially inclined than a spellcasting druid. With each new level, the shifter’s powers grow in new and surprising ways, creating a character that thrives in battle, exploration, and stealth.

Shifters are protectors of druidic circles and avengers of nature, yet a shifter’s magic is different from that of her druidic kin. Rather than invoking spells from the natural world or forging alliances with animals, shifters focus their supernatural powers inward to gain control over their own forms. Their ability to change their forms is as varied as the wonders of the wilds themselves but always remains at least partially rooted in the natural world. There are many paths to becoming a shifter; most are trained in that role by druidic circles and have their powers unlocked via rituals of initiation. Yet some stumble upon the gift naturally, as if their blood bore the secrets of shifter transformation.

For those leaning toward the causes of law and good, the path of the shifter is one of contemplation and understanding. They become one with nature through mental and physical mimicry and gain an ever deeper spiritual understanding of the ebb and flow of the natural world. Those leaning toward the chaotic and evil teachings of druidic philosophy find such enlightenment through more violent means. These are typically quicker transformations, both brutal and painful, imparting the dark lessons of nature through its most catastrophic forms. Shifters who lean toward true neutrality are the most diverse when it comes to their command of metamorphic secrets.

Role: The shifter is so attuned to nature and the wild beasts of the world that she can call upon those powers to mystically fortify her being. Fluid in form and function, she can shape herself to overcome hardships and support those she befriends or serves.

Alignment: Any neutral.
Hit Die: d10.
Starting Wealth: 3d6 x 10 gp (average 105 gp).

Class Skills

The Shifter's class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Points at each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

LevelBase Attack BonusFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecial
1st+1+2+2+0Shifter aspect, shifter claws, wild empathy
2nd+2+3+3+0Defensive instinct, track
3rd+3+3+3+1Shifter claws increase, woodland stride
4th+4+4+4+1Defensive instinct (+1), wild shape
5th+5+4+4+1Second aspect, trackless step
6th+6/+1+5+5+2Shifter's fury
7th+7/+2+5+5+2Shifter claws increase
8th+8/+3+6+6+2Defensive instinct (+2)
9th+9/+4+6+6+3Chimeric aspect
10th+10/+5+7+7+3Third aspect
11th+11/+6/+1+7+7+3Shifter claws increase
12th+12/+7/+2+8+8+4Defensive instinct (+3)
13th+13/+8/+3+8+8+4Shifter claws increase
14th+14/+9/+4+9+9+4Greater chimeric aspect
15th+15/+10/+5+9+9+5Fourth aspect
16th+16/+11/+6/+1+10+10+5Defensive instinct (+4)
17th+17/+12/+7/+2+10+10+5Shifter claws increase
18th+18/+13/+8/+3+11+11+6A thousand faces, timeless body
19th+19/+14/+9/+4+11+11+6Shifter claws increase
20th+20/+15/+10/+5+12+12+6Defensive instinct (+5), final aspect

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A shifter is proficient with the following weapons: club, dagger, dart, quarterstaff, scimitar, scythe, sickle, shortspear, sling, and spear. She is also proficient with the natural attacks (claw, bite, and so forth) from the shifter claws class feature and of forms she assumes with wild shape.

Shifters are proficient with light and medium armor but are prohibited from wearing metal armor. A shifter can wear wooden armor that has been altered by the ironwood spell so that it functions as if it were steel. Shifters are proficient with shields (except tower shields) but must use only those crafted from wood.

A shifter who wears prohibited armor or uses a prohibited shield is unable to use her shifter aspect, shifter claws, wild shape, and other shifter supernatural or spell-like abilities while doing so and for 24 hours thereafter.

Bonus Languages: A shifter’s bonus language options include Sylvan, the language of woodland creatures, and Aklo, the tongue spoken by certain sinister fey or otherworldly denizens of reaches of the wild rarely explored by humanity. These choices are in addition to the bonus languages available to the character because of her race.

A shifter speaks Druidic, a secret language known only to druids and shifters, which she learns upon becoming a 1stlevel shifter. Druidic is a free language for a shifter; that is, she knows it in addition to her regular allotment of languages, and it doesn’t take up a language slot. Shifters are forbidden to teach this language to non-druids or non-shifters.

Shifter Aspect (Su): At 1st level, a shifter gains her first aspect—a category of animal to which her body and soul have become supernaturally attuned. She can shift into her aspect’s minor form (see Aspects on page 28) for a number of minutes per day equal to 3 + her shifter level. The duration need not be consecutive but must be spent in 1-minute increments. Shifting into a minor form is a swift action, while ending the effect is a free action that can be taken only on the shifter’s turn. Until a shifter reaches 9th level and gains the chimeric aspect class feature, she can assume only one minor form at a time. Shifting to a new aspect (or aspects, in the case of chimeric aspects or greater chimeric aspects) ends all minor forms currently manifested. The minor forms of aspects are not polymorph effects, and the shifter does not lose the benefits of a minor form while affected by polymorph effects.

As the shifter gains levels, she gains more aspects; she gains her second aspect at 5th level, a third aspect at 10th level, and a fourth at 15th level. Aspects are detailed in their own section starting on page 28.

Shifter Claws (Su): At will, a shifter in her natural form can extend her claws as a swift action to use as a weapon. This magical transformation is fueled as much by the shifter’s faith in the natural world as it is by inborn talent. The claws on each hand can be used as a primary natural attack, dealing 1d4 points of piercing and slashing damage (1d3 if she is Small). If she uses one of her claw attacks in concert with a weapon held in the other hand, the claw acts as a secondary natural attack instead.

As the shifter gains levels, the power of her claws increases. At 3rd level, her claws ignore DR/cold iron, DR/magic, and DR/silver. At 7th level, her claw damage increases to 1d6 (1d4 if Small). At 11th level, her claw damage increases to 1d8 (1d6 if Small). At 13th level, her claw damage increases to 1d10 (1d8 if Small). At 17th level, the damage die does not increase, but the critical multiplier becomes ×3. Lastly, at 19th level, the claws ignore DR/adamantine and DR/—.

While a shifter uses wild shape to assume her aspect’s major form, her natural attacks gain the same benefits granted by her shifter claws ability. If the form she takes has claw attacks, she can use either the base damage of her shifter claws or the damage of the form’s claws, whichever is greater. If the form does not have claw attacks, she can choose up to two natural attacks that would deal less damage than her shifter claw damage and have those attacks instead deal the same damage as her shifter claws.

Wild Empathy (Ex): A shifter can improve the attitude of an animal. This ability functions as a Diplomacy check to improve the attitude of a person (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 93). The shifter rolls 1d20 and adds her shifter level and Charisma modifier to determine the wild empathy check result. The typical domestic animal has a starting attitude of indifferent, while wild animals are usually unfriendly. To use wild empathy, the shifter and the animal must be within 30 feet of one another and under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time.

The shifter can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2, but she takes a –4 penalty on the check.

Defensive Instinct (Ex): At 2nd level, when unarmored, not using a shield, unencumbered, and conscious, the shifter adds her Wisdom bonus (if any) to her AC and CMD. If she is wearing nonmetal armor or using a nonmetal shield, she instead adds half her Wisdom bonus to her AC (minimum 0). In addition, the shifter gains a +1 bonus to her AC and CMD at 4th level. This bonus increases by 1 for every 4 shifter levels thereafter (up to a maximum of +5 at 20th level).

These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks and when the shifter is flatfooted. She loses these bonuses when she is immobilized or helpless. These bonuses do not stack with the monk AC bonus class feature.

Track (Ex): At 2nd level, a shifter adds half her level as a bonus on Survival checks to follow tracks.

Woodland Stride (Ex): At 3rd level, a shifter can move through any sort of undergrowth (such as briars, natural thorns, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at her normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. Briars, thorns, and overgrown areas that are enchanted or magically manipulated to impede motion still affect the shifter.

Wild Shape (Su): At 4th level, a shifter gains the ability to turn herself into the major form of one of her aspects and back again. This ability functions as beast shape II, except as noted here. The shifter can turn into the major form of only one of her aspects at a time. Using wild shape to change to a major form or back is a standard action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity. Often a particular aspect’s major form grants abilities beyond the normal effect of beast shape II. Each major form details the abilities the shifter gains with that major form and at what level; she gains these instead of the form abilities from beast shape II, but she still gains beast shape II abilities that are size dependent.

A shifter loses her ability to speak while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds that a normal, untrained animal of that form can make, but she can communicate with other animals of the same general grouping as her form. She can also communicate in nonverbal ways with allies.

A shifter can use wild shape for a number of hours each day equal to her shifter level + her Wisdom modifier. It need not be consecutive but must be spent in 1 hour increments. For abilities that function based on ‘uses of wild shape,’ each hour of wild shape counts as a use.

A shifters can take feats and other abilities that require wild shape; for the purpose of qualifying for prerequisites, her effective druid level is equal to her shifter level.

Trackless Step (Ex): At 5th level, a shifter leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked. She can choose to leave a trail if she so desires.

Shifter’s Fury (Ex): At level 6, a shifter gains the ability to make several ferocious attacks with the same natural weapon. Instead of attacking with all her natural weapons, the shifter can choose a single natural weapon and make a full attack with that natural weapon, gaining a second iterative attack at a –5 as if it was a manufactured weapon. When she does so, all her other natural attacks count as secondary attacks and don’t benefit from shifter’s claws. At 11th level, she gains a third iterative attack at a –10 and at 16th level, she gains a fourth iterative attack at –15.

Chimeric Aspect (Su): At 9th level, when a shifter uses her shifter aspect ability to take on a minor form, she can choose two aspects and assume the minor form of each aspect.

Greater Chimeric Aspect (Su): At 14th level, when a shifter uses her shifter aspect ability to take on a minor form, she can choose up to three aspects and assume the minor form of each aspect.

A Thousand Faces (Su): At 18th level, a shifter gains the ability to change her appearance at will, as if using the alter self spell, but only while in her normal form.

Timeless Body (Ex): After attaining 18th level, a shifter no longer takes ability score penalties for aging and cannot be magically aged. Any penalties she may have already incurred, however, remain in place. Bonuses still accrue, and the shifter still dies of old age when her time is up.

Final Aspect (Su): At 20th level, a shifter gains access to a fifth aspect, and when she uses shifter’s aspect, she can assume the minor forms of all her aspects and the shifter can use her major and minor forms at will.

Speaking Druidic

For the purposes of teaching and learning the Druidic language, shifters are considered to be druids—the nuances of the language are instrumental in teaching characters of both classes to use and control their abilities. While the rare druidic circle might bar shifters from its order, and while some eccentric shifters may view druids as competitors or even enemies, all shifters are assumed to speak it.

Ex-Shifters

A shifter who ceases to revere nature, changes to a prohibited alignment, or teaches the Druidic language to a non-druid or a non-shifter loses all her supernatural abilities. She cannot thereafter gain levels as a shifter until she atones (see the atonement spell description on page 245 of the Core Rulebook).

Favored Class Options

Dwarf (Ultimate Wilderness pg. 31): Add a +1/2 bonus on wild empathy checks to influence animals and magical beasts that are normally encountered in underground environments.
Elf (Ultimate Wilderness pg. 31): Add 1 to the shifter’s base speed. This has no ingame effect unless the shifter has selected this reward five times (or any multiple of five) to enhance her speed by 5 feet. For example, a 4th-level elven shifter who has selected this option four times has a base speed of 34 feet, but is treated as if she still had a base speed of 30 feet. When she reaches 5th level and takes this favored class option again, her base speed becomes 35 feet. This bonus applies only when the shifter is wearing no armor.
Ghoran (Ultimate Wilderness pg. 17): Add 1/5 to the shifter’s natural armor bonus when using wild shape to assume a major form.
Gnome (Ultimate Wilderness pg. 31): Gain energy resistance 1 against acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Each time the shifter selects this reward, increase that energy resistance by 1, to a maximum of energy resistance 10. Once the gnome reaches energy resistance 10, she can select a new type of energy to build her resistance to the next time she selects this favored class option.
Half-Elf (Ultimate Wilderness pg. 31): Add a +1/2 bonus on Survival checks to get along in the wild, to avoid getting lost, and to avoid all natural hazards.
Halfling (Ultimate Wilderness pg. 31): Increase the AC bonus from defensive instinct by 1/4 against creatures of size Large or larger.
Half-Orc (Ultimate Wilderness pg. 31): Add a +1/3 bonus on critical hit confirmation rolls when using shifter claws (maximum bonus of +5). This bonus does not stack with Critical Focus.
Human (Ultimate Wilderness pg. 31): Add 1/3 to the number of minutes the shifter can assume her minor form each day.