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I've read through this thread and a few others, and my disappointment with Shifter has peaked. I love Druids, my current PFS character is one, but I've been waiting for something to fill the gap of the consummate shapeshifter. If there was a full BAB spell-less, animal companion-less Druid I would play it in an instant. So, yeah, I was excited for Shifter.
My initial thoughts were, wait... That's it? I must be missing a page or two from my book. But no, that's everything. It just feels like it's missing so much flexibility that one would expect from a class that can "shape herself to overcome hardships and support those she befriends or serves".
How powerful does Paizo think a full BAB and d10 hit die really are? Really, how strong do we think they are? I looked at the number crunch threads and it seems like they're powerful enough compared to other martials in the lower levels (though 6-7), but they fall off at the higher levels. Unlike Barbarian, Paladin, or Fighter they don't receive any extra bonuses to hit or damage (well, you can get Enhancement bonuses to Strength if you pick Bull, I guess).
But the worst offender to me is that hey have so little to do outside of a fight. Why not allow for more flexible shifting? Why would that be so bad? Why can't the big class feature just be Wildshape? It's already pretty neat, great flavor, the community has been using it for YEARS. It would give the class something to do with their particular shtick during the rest of the adventuring day.
But hey, maybe this is just the base class. Some of the other base classes only really shine once you apply archetypes, and some of them become so changed as to hardly even resemble the original look/feel of the class (Alchemist and your many insane archetypes, I'm looking at you)! So I read through the Archetypes.
Why doesn't Elementalist Shifter ever get Elemental Body II or higher? Why can't you apply your Elemental Strike to your shapeshifted forms?
Why does Fiendflesh Shifter have to be evil (and still revere Nature)? It's easily the most complete feeling Archetype to me, and I won't ever get to play it unless my GM is kind enough to houserule the alignment away.
Leafshifter misses one incredibly important point: How does their Wild Shape work if they don't have the appropriate animal aspect?
Oozemorph!! I saw so much conversation about this one that I couldn't wait to make one! Wait, what's that? No new abilities after level 5?! I mean, yeah, your Damage Reduction and Fluid Body improve, and I guess you get some more natural attacks, but... Seriously? Still, the flavor is still so great I want to make one (plus the novelty of mixing strong manufactured weapon attacks with Morphic Weapons sounds pretty cool, even if it does eat all my GP for a magic weapon and AoMF). Also, why no Ooze Form spells as a part of Fluid Body?
Oh boy... Rageshaper... Didn't we learn anything from Brute Vigilante?
Verdant Shifter! Now we're talking! Looks a little niche, but great flavor! Speak with Plants, Verdant Body is pretty nice, Wild Armor looks like a nice swap with Defensive Instinct making the class less MAD, and then BAM! Plant Shape has a duration of... ROUNDS. We were so close to having something nice. Also, what happens between 4 and 6? Do you just not get Wildshape until 6, or does it function like normal Shifter Wildshape until then, but you don't have an aspect... *head explodes*
Weretouched looks functional, more functional than most of the other archetypes, but... If I'm going to be forced into a single form, I think I'd rather play a Mooncursed Barbarian.
So what happened? I was really excited for this book, and a lot of it is really fantastic. Sylvan Trickster Rogue looks freaking amazing and Green Knight Cavalier looks positively Arthurian. I still love the flavor of Oozemorph and I'd love to try one (maybe as long as we start over 5th level so I can hold regular conversations with the rest of my group).
I guess I'm just disappointed. I was really hoping this would fill a niche we've never had in the game before, but instead we got... This. Just this.
(Also, no Undead Anatomy Shifter or Form of the Dragon Shifter? I mean, c'mon!)