Shifter Lance Flitter ( A friend and I have been working on a new character class, a shape shifter. I think it's been refined enough that I'd like to post it and get commments back. Anyone who'd like to read it and comment can post comments or send them to me via e-mail. We tried to make the class balanced and playable. I'd like any suggestions for improvement and comments as to whether you think it's a balanced, playable class. I stuck all the charts at the end of the class description. It's fairly long so you might want to print it out and read it. Thanks in advance. Without further adieu..... the shifter: ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Character Class: Shifter Ability Requirement: Constitution 15, Wisdom 12 Prime Requisite: Constitution Races Allowed: Human, Elf, Half-elf Shifters are characters that have the ability to change their form at will. They are generally nature oriented. Only humans, elves and half-elves can be shifters. Constitution is the prime requisite of a shifter since changing ones basic matter is strenuous. Wisdom is also important as shifters must have a certain spiritual equilibrium to be able to shift. A shifter with a constitution of 16 or more gains a 10% bonus to the experience he earns. A shifter also gains bonus hit points based on constitution as a fighter does (+3 for 17, + 4 for 18.) Constitution also gives a bonus to the number of forms a shifter can assume and a bonus to the number of shift points. Shifters must be chaotic in alignment. They can be good, neutral or evil. Shifters are fairly hardy fighters though they are limited to common types of weapons (basic swords, staves, daggers, etc.) A shifter generally prefers to shift to a form to fight. Shifters generally avoid using metallic implements, preferring natural materials since they are easier to shift. For this reason, shifters almost never wear metallic armor. They will frequently wear leather, however. Shifters can use shields. Shifters make saving throws as a priest and determine their THAC0 as a priest. In addition to their shifting ability, shifters have the following abilities: * Animal empathy * Can always recognize another shifter, no matter what form is being assumed. * Has a 10% per level chance of recognizing any polymorphed entity. * Has a 10% per level resistance to being polymorphed, petrified or transformed in some other way. * A shifter can naturally heal himself when using his shifting power. Hit points are regained at the rate of X percent of the shifter's total hit points for every shift point used where X is determined by level. The healing works the same whether a form is assumed or not. * A shifter gets a saving throw bonus versus poison of +1 for every three levels he attains. * A shifter gets a saving throw bonus versus disease of +1 for every three levels he attains. * At 5th level a shifter gains the ability to "read" other beings (see below). * At 10th level a shifter can initiate another person to make them a shifter. Shifters have a certain magical nature and to become a shifter you must be initiated by a high level shifter. Shifters are not very common. A shifter starts out with the ability to shift to 2 forms (not counting constitution bonuses.) He must bond with those forms before he can shift to them. Shifting is obviously the most important ability of the shifter. There are two types of shifts a shifter can perform, a fixed-form shift and a free-form shift. In a fixed form shift, the shifter shifts to some "memorized" form and takes on all the (non-magical) attributes of that form. It is a complete transformation with the exception of the shifters mind and hit points. The shifter can use all the natural abilities of the being who's form he wears. For example, if a shifter becomes a red dragon, he would not get its breath weapon but he would get its natural attacks (bite, claws, etc.) Before a shifter can shift to a fixed form he must "bond" with that form. This is explained later. Once shifted, a shifter can maintain the form indefinitely, until another shift is performed. All shifts have a cost, including shifting back to the shifters natural form, though shifting to his natural form only costs half. A shifter has a limited number of fixed forms he can shift to based on his level and constitution bonus. A free form shift is very different than a fixed form shift. There is no "memorized" model on which the shift is based, though parts of the shift may be based on a bonded model. Free form shifting is actually more strenuous than fixed form since there is no bond to a specific form. A free form shift is limited only by the shifters imagination, and his shift point limit. A shifter could turn his hands into tigers claws and grow giant eagles wings. He could turn his arms into bone swords, harden his skin, or turn himself into a squishy pancake and slither under a door. He could also turn himself into the semblance of another humanoid or more bizarre creature. Free form shifts do not last for an indefinite time. They require a cost to maintain and, if not maintained, the shifter will revert to his natural form. The most important factor in the cost of a shift is the mass to be shifted. Both the quantity of mass and the type of mass have an effect on the cost. The cost of a shift can be found on the following table: The base cost is for a change of mass of not less than 50% of the shifters total mass and not more than 200% of his total mass. For every decrease in mass of 50% there is an additional 1 SP cost for fixed-form and 2 SP for free-form. So, if a shifter wanted to change to something between 1/8th and 1/16th his mass it would cost an additional 3 SP. The reverse is true for increasing mass for every 100% increase in total mass. There is a cost of 1 SP for each extra 20 pounds of animal material to be shifted. This is a one time cost which applies only to shifting from the shifters true form. The extra mass is counted as part of the base mass to be shifted. So, if a shifter weighed 150 lbs and was carrying 15 lbs of animal material he wanted to shift he would have to pay an extra SP for the extra animal material and his base mass would be 165 lbs. If the shifter is carrying plant matter he wishes to shift he must pay 1 SP if there is less than 10 lbs of vegetable material or 2 SP for every 10 lbs of vegetable material. The costs are doubled for free-form shifts. The cost for shifting mineral material is high which is why shifters generally don't carry much minerals and metals. If the shifter is carrying less than 1 lb of mineral he must pay 1 SP for a fixed-form shift and 2 for a free-form shift. If he is carrying 1 or more pounds the cost is 2 SP per pound for a free-form shift and 4 SP per pound for fixed-form. In addition to the type of mass being shifted there is one other consideration. Are the items to be shifted magical in nature. Shifting magic items is possible but incurs an extra cost. The shifter must pay 1 SP for every +1 the item possesses for a free-form shift and double that for a fixed-form. Shifting minor magic which doesn't possess pluses costs 1 SP per item. In addition, the shifter can incorporate the magic in the item into his new being by doubling the cost of shifting the item. Whether a shifted magic item can be used is entirely up to the DM. When performing a free-form shift, the severity of the change has an impact on the cost as well as the mass. A minor change such as changing pigmentation, hardening the skin, slightly changing features (smaller ears, bigger nose, etc.) costs 1 SP per change. Minor changes are mainly cosmetic. If there are more than two minor changes it is just considered a major change. Changing from one humanoid form to another would cost a maximum total of 6 or 7 points (not counting shifting mineral, vegetable or magic material.) A major change involves a change in the shifters basic nature. For instance growing wings or changing your arms to bone swords or tigers claws would be major changes. If there are more than two major changes it is just counted as a drastic change. A drastic change would be a change in nature to something really bizarre. For instance, turning into a squishy, flesh pancake to slither under a door is a drastic change or growing huge bat wings, tiger claws, and a lizard's tail would be a drastic change. If part of a free-form shift is to a form that is part of a bonded form for the shifter, subtract 1 SP from the cost of the change. For instance, if the shifter has a bonded form of a tiger and shifts his hands to tiger claws the additional cost would only be 2 SP (3 SP for major change - 1 SP for bonded form.) The maintenance cost of a free-form is one half the shifting cost per turn. There is no maintenance cost for the first turn. There is no cost to return to the shifters true form when performing a free-form shift. However, shifting from a fixed-form costs one half of what it would cost to shift to that form from the shifters true form. A shifter does not have to return to his true form to shift to another form. However, the cost of shifting is from whatever form the shifter is currently in. Shifting does take a certain amount of time. At first level it takes a full round to make a shift. It takes one segment less per level over first until 10th level is reached and it takes only 1 segment to make a shift. As stated above, a shifter must bond with an entity before he can perform a fixed-form shift to that creature. To bond with a being the shifter must be in contact with the being for 1 turn minus one round for every level over 1st. Once one round is reached, subtract one segment of time per level. The bonding never takes less than one segment. During the time the shifter is in contact with the being, he is in a state of meditation and is "reading" and "memorizing" the being's basic nature. In order for this to work properly, the being must be alive. The shifters animal empathy comes in very handy for this process. There is a possibility to bond with a creature that has only recently died. The creature must have been dead less than one half of an hour. If it has been dead longer than that there is no chance of bonding. If the shifter attempts to bond with a dead creature there is a chance that the bonding will not work properly. There is also a chance that the shifter will die. The chance of a successful bonding is 70% - 2% for every minute the creature has been dead. Whether the bonding is successful or not, the shifter must make a system shock check. If he fails, he dies. The shifter also loses that bonding "slot" whether the bonding is successful or not. A bonding costs the number of points it would cost to shift to the creature being bonded if it were bonded (not counting the costs of any equipment or clothes being worn.) The reading ability of a shifter is very similar to a bond. The shifter must touch the being and by doing so can "read" the being's physical nature. This new knowledge can be used in making shifts and can also be useful for informational purposes. The general health of a creature could be determined by reading it as well as specific ailments. Note that no bond is made when a reading is performed. If a shifter shifts to a form he has read it is a free-form shift. As stated before, shifting requires concentration to enact. In combat, a shift counts as the players action, just as casting a spell counts as a mages action. When shifting a shifter does not gain his dexterity bonus for armor class. In addition, if a shifter is hit and takes damage during a shift, the damage is applied to the form being shifted to. The healing ability can not reduce damage that occurs once the shift is in progress. Regardless of how quickly a shifter can shift, he can shift no more than once per round. Proficiencies: Shifters start with two weapon proficiencies and gain one every five levels. They have a non-proficiency penalty of -3. Shifters start with 3 non-weapon proficiencies and gain one every three levels. Shifters can use non-weapon proficiencies from the general, warrior, and rogue categories. CHARTS: Level Exp pts. Hit Shift Total Heal Recognize Poison Disease Dice Points forms Per & resist save save SP polymorph bonus bonus 1 0 1 2 2 2% 10% 0 0 2 1600 2 4 3 4% 20% +1 0 3 3200 3 7 3 6% 30% +1 +1 4 6400 4 11 4 8% 40% +2 +1 5 16000 5 16 5 10% 50% +2 +1 6 32000 6 22 5 12% 60% +3 +2 7 64000 7 29 6 14% 70% +3 +2 8 120000 8 37 7 15% 80% +4 +2 9 224000 9 46 7 16% 90% +4 +3 10 464000 +1 +10 8 17% 95% +5 +3 11 +240000 +1 +10 +1 +1% 99% +5 +3 Shift Costs: Fixed-Form Free-Form Base Cost 1 3 Each 50% decrease 1 2 Each 100% increase 1 3 Each extra 20 lbs 1 1 animal material Under 10 lbs vegetable 1 2 Each 10 lbs vegetable 2 4 Under 1 lb mineral 1 3 Each 1 lb of mineral 2 4 Each +1 of magic item 1 2 To use each +1 magic 1 2 Miscellaneous minor 1 2 magic Each minor change n/a 1 Each major change n/a 3 Drastic change n/a 7 Each part of change to n/a -1 a bonded form Constitution Bonus: Constitution Bonus Bonus Forms Points 15 0 0 16 1 1 every other level 17 2 1 every level 18 3 2 every level Shift Point Recovery: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Sleep 0 1 3 6 15 30 50 90 Rest 0 0 1 2 4 12 25 40 Light Activity 0 0 0 1 1 3 9 20 Moderate Act. 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 2