I'm gonna cut right to the point here, and then explain my case. I want to make a full BAB class with Wildshape at 1st level.
My argument for this being okay:
Druids are not exactly balanced, but we're accepting the fact that they exist in the game and people play them without serious issues, yes? They have 3/4ths BAB, Wild Shape, an animal companion and 9 levels of spellcasting. I'm willing to give up:
9th Level Spellcasting and a Full Progression Animal Companion
Full BAB and at will Wild Shape at some point before 20.
That 'at will', I know it sounds scary. Wildshape isn't just a stat boost or a pounce generator. It has the utility of swim speeds, flight, burrowing, earthglide, size changing, stealth mods, the list goes on. I figure that's probably not okay all day at 1st level. Even more so if it means people can dip one level and cause the same problems with another class. Any ideas on a level it would be balanced at? What sort of progression would be good if he's getting it 3 levels before Druids?
The basic idea is a martial class that is obviously magical (turning into giraffes and s%+$) and versatile (see my wildshape utility list) without actually casting any spells. No access to scrolls or wands or such, but still able to solve generally magical problems most of the day, and all day eventually.
Saves and HD are on the table, but I expect this to be a frontliner, so there is a bare minimum required. d8? d10? Reflex and Fort sounds fine.
Skills, I'm willing to concede to even the lowest point. If I have to put up with 2 + int, I will, but I think 4 + Int is justified for all non-caster classes.
Is the idea balanced? If not, why not? How do we balance it? Thanks for your help in advance.