I'm fully acknowledging the numerous big advantages of sticking with druid, while also trying to find ways to minimize the damage.
Correct on Lepidstadt Shifter; I've recently moved and am building from SRD not books these days.
My problem with building wizard was always prepared casting, not the lack of exploits. I feel like the entire idea of playing a shifter character is being able to adapt to situations and adjust accordingly, and having a prepared list doesn't bode well for that. I get that delaying spellcasting is near-suicide in builds, but I have a hard time imagining the ability to predict every morning how to balance how many morphs, and WHICH ones you need, ahead of time (without even considering the need for everything that non-morph spellcasting can do). I'll take it into consideration though.
I was not aware of Energy Attunement, and that...is amazing. Halving the duration of short buffs is painful (I'd be throwing in Extend if not for the delayed progression), but the feat is still solid. My build isn't terribly feat-intensive so far (Dimensional was thrown in as an afterthought), so I'll definitely consider this as a strong add. Thanks!
Note: I will fully admit copy/pasting this entire thing from a late-night facebook conversation, so pardon the poor formatting.
So, a bit of a project I've had for a while is working on a shapeshift-focused character with more versatility than the Druid's wildshape. In 3.X this was not a hard lot. My original was a 3.0 doppleganger transmuter, then I went with a Master of Many Forms...etc. But they were all...kinda broken. Pathfinder fixed a lot about polymorph, but made this style of play a LOT harder.
My most recent pondering has been Eldritch Knight: arcane polymorph versatility, martial combat capability to make use of it. But I haven't quite been able to make it work yet. I think Advanced Class Guide has given me some leeway though. Arcanist has that remarkable blend of prepared/spontaneous caster that balances the difficulty between wizard relying on what morphs they have prepared and sorc having significantly fewer spells known. Advanced Class Origins added Shift Caster, which is just...incredible. And Altered Shifting, which is nifty but not as great. So I've been toying with that.
My thought currently is a hobgoblin, mainly because I like them. The two bonuses to physical stats with no penalty is icing on the cake, and the concept can just as easily work with a number of other races. Drawing strongly on lessons from playing Severina, my Barbarian 1/Scarred Witch Doctor X, I like the idea of martial at first level. I'm leaning towards Ranger (Trapper, Trophy Hunter, Wild Hunter), mainly to get Animal Aspect as a little "mini shift" to allow the character to fit concept from level 1 (albeit for a mere 1 minute per day), and net a few extra interesting benefits while keeping strongly in theme. I'm envisioning something of a hunter turned "naturalist" who studies and emulates animals, then after entering "polite" society picks up a spellbook and discovers himself a quick study (probably taking that exploit at 1st).
To analyze viability, I wanna do some comparisons to a core druid, assuming both will have similar stat buys and item selections. By 5th, a Ranger 1/Arcanist 4 will have the same BAB, comparable saves, worse special abilities (picking up Shift Caster before any polymorph spells is wonky, but allowable by rules; this is one reason I archetype'd-out at level 1), be behind the ranger on shifting (druid gets wild shape at 4th whereas arcanist can just start casting alter self), and awful spells per day (a couple 2nd when druid is getting a 3rd), but with a better list and prep mechanic. By 10th, our Ranger 1/Arcanist 6/EK 3 will still be at equal BAB, skewed but comparable saves, Druid's wildshape keeps growing but most of his abilities are oddities while EK gains a bonus feat and access to Fighter feats (...ehh...), and spellcasting is still falling behind (2 4th vs 2 5th). Flash forward to 15th level. R1/A6/EK8 finally pulls ahead in BAB, saves still comparable, Druid is getting largely useless things (even extra wildshape by this point) while EK has picked up...another feat, and this is the killer: Druid is a full TWO SPELL LEVELS ahead of EK!
So this seems like a crap shoot. But I have to throw in comparison on forms. Druid gets the early strong start. By 6th, they're getting beast shape II and elemental body I without expending spells, whereas a Ranger 1/Arcanist 5 is still stuck with beast shape I from their flexible spell slots. At 8th, druid upgrades again and adds plant shapes, which I'm probably just going to ignore because they're utterly pointless. R1/A6/EK1 gets no spell advancement, so mostly gets druid's last tier, plus adds Monstrous Physique and Undead Anatomy, which may be useful at lower levels when you're still relying heavily on gear, but not if you're already unarmored and investing in an Amulet over weapons. At 10th, druid is stuck at beast 3 but gains elemental 3 and plant 2; EK catches up on beast and elemental and adds Monstrous 2 and Vermin 1 (and Adjustable Polymorph...'meh, especially considering Altered exploit). At 12, druid gets their last upgrade: elemental 4 and plant 3; EK is up to druid capability with beast 3 but behind with elemental 2, but monstrous, undead, and vermin grow and plant comes online and you get...Geniekind (as well as...actual polymorph). At 14th Druid is capped and I realize that EK has been getting magical beast options it hasn't all this time as he graduates to 4, elemental 3, Form of the Dragon 1 (NOW WE'RE TALKING!), monstrous 4, plant 2, undead 3 (where it actually starts to get good).
So, here's what I'm gonna do. I'mma build this character. In doing so, I'm going to ignore gear but also assume he's still getting a couple spells known per level in EK levels (that ruling is bad and I don't know a single GM who uses it). I know he won't be optimal anyway, so I'll stick to standard array, but I wanna know: can he be *viable*?
Malgrim the Lettered
Double Barrel Pistols + TWF + Rapid Shot + Quick Draw + Gun Twirling = 10 attacks at 9th level Trench Fighter?
Not only are you not proficient, but you also don't have the prerequisites for or grit to fuel Gun Twirling.
I'd lean towards good on utility through skills and spells, but definitely weak on save DCs and straight combat. Go buffer primary, maybe an animal companion to help in melee and possibly Eldritch Heritage for an improved familiar if you really want to cheese action economy (i.e. ask your GM). Half-elf will give you Skill Focus for this, as well as a great number of options on FCBs, primarily half elf for low bard levels, plus human spells known if you advance more. Elf's A.C. when wildshaped is somewhat tempting, but I can see wanting human's druid bonus if you want to use that charisma (and perhaps versatile peeformance...keyboard?) or half-elf's domain spamming if you just dabble on that side and want to go more casty and don't want to allot for Boon Companion. I'd also ask your GM about your ability to perform while wildshaped, and build accordingly. Archaeologist may be your go-to build otherwise. A Menhir Savant Archaeologist sounds basass (and Place Magic generically buffs "caster level": also check your GM's ruling on that). But we're getting thoroughly away from John Lenon here.
@bbt: I've been wanting to build a spiked armor bull rush/overrun warrior for some time now and that sounds way better than anything I came up with. Any other build recommendations? I would lean s Ranger/Slayer for easy early access to Shield Slam/Mastery, but would likely want to pick up a lot of the prerequs anyway. Brawler seems tempting on the Fighter end but I'm always loathe to give up armor training.
The reason is...plot? I'm not entirely clear on why this is such a huge issue. It could be anything from the local Inquisitor was busy to the priest likes the Asmodean better. Yes, it could be an Inquisitor of Abadar. It could also easily be an inquisitor of Asmodeus. And since the big bad sounds like a diabolical force, and is placing the agent to further its plot, then why not?
Edited a numerical autocorrect. Be prepared to be shut down. "Wishing for more wishes" tends to be a no-no. My first thought for a monster collector was a special shiny bound outsider of your own. But given the fact that you're being granted this boon for UN-binding a genie, that just seems counter-intuitive. So maybe investing a parcel of his power into one of your own might be more appropriate.
Let's try to establish a baseline here. Immortality alone is a high-level ability for a few classes, usually in the 20th level range. I'm not sure what your Death Star plan involves, so let's stick with that one. Arcane discoveries (as well as the Alchemist capstone) would put this at somewhere around a 20th level ability. By the same token, a 10th-15th level wizard could learn the True Name of any number of different noble genies, granting access to wishes aplenty. By that token, would granting your token summon beastie something along the lines of limited wish 1/day really be out of the question?
"For the purpose of level requirements for rage powers or astral suit customizations, add your levels of barbarian and aegis together." I may be wrong here, but the feat doesn't seem to be worded to grant you EXTRA rage powers or customizations, or change the rate at which you gain them. So, for example, you could take 6 of barb, then 2 of aegis, then 2 of barb and still qualify for a rage power that requires you to be barbarian level 10. But going, say, 8 barb then 2 aegis will not suddenly give you a rage power from an aegis level, because aegis 2 does not grant the "rage power" class feature. Does that make sense?
This is something I've toyed with for years before Occult Adventures came out. My first Pathfinder character was a Court Bard who made liberal use of ghost sound, silent image, and even summon monster during performances (primarily comedy and oratory, with some acting and singing). More recently I've been strongly toying with a Raksasha-blooded sorcerer swindler in the vein of a travelling Carney. Planned tricks included everything from selling potions of disguise self at an inflated cost ("with just one draught, you will be transformed into your ideal self") to real lif e hypnotism routines ("now what I'm going to do is put you in a deep trance that makes you suggestive to my every whim" with a bluff of +20 while encouraging actual casters to scan for any magical auras). There's nothing wrong with having more than one way to take a mark.
D&D has been toying with this since at least as far back as 2nd Ed. I think it was a wise decision not to tackle a class builder in ACG (and agree that the race builder is clunky and far from balanced). But I do rather like a number of the new "modular" archetypes that trade out a standard class ability for one of co parable power from another class.
How is it hard to picture a race that personifies impetuous destructiveness born into polite society (Ifrit) in a role that combines a violent spirit with a veneer of civilization (Skald)? I'd say it sounds like a perfect fit to me. If there's some bit of fluff that's not sitting well, like the Arabic versus Nordic feel, just remember that it's Pathfinder and reflavor to taste. A dwarven descendent of the Azer whose mere presence on the battlefield enhances the weapons of his brethren (fire-forged racial variant, spell warrior archetype) SCREAMS classic D&D, and gets rid of the rage mechanic that your GM seems not to like.
This os the kind of question that will get you asked to politely walk away from the table in most circles. Obviously "additional" would be a better wording than "third," but then would probably have to be worded to "stack" with the extra attack granted by ITWF. The fact that the intent seems clear to everyone save one is somewhat telling in situations like these.
Not familiar with p sionics, but at a glance your rage powers appear to be off. Rage powers come from even barbarian levels, not odd ones, and you seem to even have one coming from an Aegis level. If this has something to do with Raging Hulk, it only states that levels stack for level requirements (prerequisites), not for the number of powers you have or when you gain them.