Shapeless, the Martial Polymorph


Homebrew and House Rules


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Shapeless
Understanding only an instinctive use of magic, some warriors go beyond drawing on the power of creatures inhabiting the world and become true monsters taking the form and ability of anything they may know.
Role: Shapeless are obvious choices on a battlefield where they can change their form to the deadliest creatures imaginable, but they also can use small and nimble forms to be excellent scouts and spies.
Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d12.
Starting Wealth: 3d6 x 10 gp (average 175gp).

Class Skills
The shapeless’ class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Fly (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (dungeoneering), Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (planes), Knowledge (religion), Perception (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).
Skill Ranks Per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

BAB: Full progression
Good saves: Fortitude, Reflex

Class Features

The following are class features of the shapeless.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A shapeless is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with all armor (heavy, light, and medium).

Change Shape (Su): At 1st level, a shapeless can change their form a number of times per day equal to 4 + his Constitution modifier. At each level after 1st, he can change his shape 2 additional times per day. Temporary increases to Constitution (such as those gained from a barbarian rage or spells like bear’s endurance) don’t increase the total number of times a shapeless can change shape per day. The number of times a shapeless may change shape is renewed after resting for 8 hours, although these hours need not be consecutive.
This ability functions like any transmutation (polymorph) spell the shapeless is capable of using, except as noted here. The maximum level of spell the shapeless is capable of using is given on Table: Shapeless. To choose a spell, the shapeless must have a Constitution score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The caster level of these spells is equal to the shapeless’ class level. Changing shape (to another form or back) is a swift action and doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. The form must be that of a creature the shapeless is familiar with. A shapeless must only target himself with this ability. This ability counts as wild shape as the druid ability.

Instinctive Empathy (Ex): This ability functions like the wild empathy druid ability, except the shapeless may improve the attitude of any creature he is capable of taking the form of using change shape.

Instinctive Flexibility (Ex): At 2nd level, a shapeless can gain the benefit of a monster or combat feat he doesn’t possess while changing form using change shape. This effect lasts for as long as the shapeless assumes the form chosen with change shape. The shapeless must meet all the feat’s prerequisites.
The shapeless may use change shape again to maintain the same form before the duration expires in order to replace the previous feat with another choice as a free action that does not extend the Change Shape duration.
If a feat has a daily use limitation (such as Stunning Fist), any use of that feat while using this ability counts towards that feat’s daily limit.
At 7th level, a shapeless can use this ability to gain the benefit of two monster or combat feats at the same time. He may use one of these feats to meet the prerequisite of the second feat; doing so means that he cannot replace a feat currently fulfilling another’s perquisite without also replacing those feats that require it.
At 13th level, a shapeless can use this ability to gain the benefit of three combat feats at the same time. He may use one of the feats to meet a prerequisite of the second and third feats, and use the second feat to meet the prerequisite of the third feat.
At 19th level, a shapeless can use this ability to gain the benefit of a number of feats equal to his Constitution modifier (minimum 4).

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 3rd level, a shapeless can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He cannot be caught flat-footed, nor does he lose his Dexterity bonus to AC if the attacker is invisible. He still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. A shapeless with this ability can still lose his Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against him.
If a shapeless already possesses uncanny dodge from a different class, he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead

Evasion (Ex): At 5th level or higher, a shapeless can avoid damage from many area-effect attacks. If a shapeless makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. A helpless shapeless does not gain the benefit of evasion.
Multiattack: At 6th level, a shapeless gains multiattack as a bonus feat whenever he changes form using change shape into a form with three or more natural attacks. If the form does not have the requisite three or more natural attacks, the shapeless instead can make one additional attack with a natural or manufactured weapon at a -5 penalty.

Wild Animal (Ex or Su): At 7th level, the shapeless becomes more animalistic. While using change shape, a shapeless who fails a saving throw against a mind-affecting effect can attempt a new saving throw at the beginning of his next turn with a +4 circumstance bonus. If the second save succeeds, that effect ends and he instead changes shape back to his normal form.
In addition, whenever a shapeless uses his change shape ability he may spend an additional use of the ability to bolster the ability. If the ability grants a bonus to an ability score, the bonus increases by 2. If it grants a bonus to more than one ability score, only one of the ability scores gains this bonus. Increase all movement speeds of a bolstered form by 10ft.

A Thousand Faces (Su): At 9th level, a shapeless gains the ability to change his appearance at well, as if using the alter self spell, but only while in his normal form. A shapeless may bolster disguise check bonuses in this form to +20 by spending one use of his change shape ability as an immediate action. This bolster lasts for 1 minute.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 11th level, a shapeless can no longer be flanked. This defense denies rogues (or other classes with the sneak attack ability) the ability to sneak attack the shapeless by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels (or levels in the class granting sneak attack) than the target has shapeless levels.
If a character already has uncanny dodge from another class, the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack when determining the minimum rogue level required to flank the character.

Mark of the Beast (Su): At 13th level, a shapeless can target others with his change shape ability. A shapeless can expend 1 use of his change shape ability to change the form of any willing creature he can touch. This use of the ability cannot be bolstered by Wild Animal.

Improved Evasion (Ex): At 15th level, a shapeless’ evasion ability improves. He still takes no damage on successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth he only takes half damage on a failed save. A helpless shapeless does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Aberrant size (Su): Starting at 17th level, a shapeless may alter his size by one category as if under the effect of enlarge person or reduce person at will. When bolstering his change shape using wild animal, he may change the size category of his altered form as if under the effect of these spells.

Formless (Sp): At 19th level, a shapeless may expend one use of change shape to become ethereal or gaseous. While ethereal this ability functions like etherealness. While gaseous this ability functions as gaseous form, but this ability changes the spell’s damage reduction to DR 10/- and he can still attack in that form as well as gaining a fly speed of 60ft. He may only target himself with this ability. He may use this ability while in any form.

Master polymorph (Su): At 20th level, a shapeless can use all of his class abilities without expending any uses of his change shape ability and can change shape as a free action at will, as well as gaining the ability to change shape as an immediate action in combat. There is no duration limit to the form chosen using Change Shape. Whenever he uses his wild animal ability to bolster his change shape, the bonus increases to 4 instead of 2 and movement speeds increase by 30ft.

Alpha (Archetype)

For some shapeless the bond is formed with nature itself, and their abilities reflect those changes.

Class Skills: An alpha’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Diplomacy (Cha), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (dungeoneering), Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Perception (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str)

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: An alpha is prohibited from wearing metal armor. An alpha who wears prohibited armor is unable to use any of his supernatural or spell-like class abilities while doing so and for 24 hours thereafter. This ability modifies the shapeless weapon and armor proficiencies.

Animal Companion (Ex): An alpha forms a bond with an animal companion. This ability functions like the druid animal companion ability (which is part of the nature bond class feature). An alpha’s effective druid level is equal to his alpha level. If a character receives an animal companion from more than one source, his druid level stack for determining the animal companion’s statistics and abilities. This ability replaces wild animal, mark of the beast, and formless.

Speak with Animals (Ex): An alpha may speak with animals as per the spell, and may use Charisma based skills on animals and vermin even with intelligence scores below 3. This ability replaces instinctive empathy.

Wild Shape (Su): At 1st level, an alpha gains the ability to use wild shape as a druid of his level + 3. An alpha does not need to return to his original form to change forms again, and using wild shape takes a swift action. At 9th level, when an alpha changes shape they may change their animal companion to the same shape. This ability replaces change shape.

A Thousand Faces (Su): This ability no longer can be bolstered.

Aberrant Size (Su): This ability no longer requires the use of wild animal, an alpha may change size at will, or when he uses wild shape.

Pack Shape (Su): At 20th level, an alpha may create up to 1d6 copies of his animal companion when using wild shape. When using wild shape the alpha gains an aura that strengthens his pack. Each ally within 30ft gains DR10/-, a +6 inherent bonus to all physical ability scores, and increases all movement speed by 30ft. This ability replaces master polymorph.

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You're missing the table.

Liberty's Edge

I concur with Cyrad. I also believe that Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand and Disable Device should all be Class Skills, due to the class's nature of being able to change shape providing an edge in flexibility, and Handle Animal should also be a class skill; similarly, as the character levels up, they should be able to use skills like Handle Animal and Sleight of Hand without skill ranks (though not disable device)


Cyrad wrote:
You're missing the table.

Does this mean anything but Table: Shapechanger?

Seth Dresari wrote:
I concur with Cyrad. I also believe that Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand and Disable Device should all be Class Skills, due to the class's nature of being able to change shape providing an edge in flexibility, and Handle Animal should also be a class skill; similarly, as the character levels up, they should be able to use skills like Handle Animal and Sleight of Hand without skill ranks (though not disable device)

I didn't use handle animal because of the Empathy class ability. I also did this very quickly without thinking too much.

My original thought was "skills around power and knowledge of creatures".


CHANGE SHAPE
Do you mean the number of times he can change shape per day, or the number of rounds he can be shapechanged? Just how many times per day do you need to shapechange, and how long does it last? I don't see a list of spells, nor a table. As far as shapes he is familiar with, does he need to write a list of monsters he has encountered, or does he make a knowledge check? What exactly does this feature grant? This needs lots of clarifying.

INSTINCTIVE EMPATHY
Vague enough that it could work for almost any creature. It's almost free ranks in Diplomacy. You could probably toss this and replace it with something more interesting.

INSTINCTIVE FLEXIBILITY
Instead of "monster feats", you could say that he counts as a member of the race while assuming that race's form. I feel that was the intent anyways.

I'd like to see a little more flexibility in the class features. You get a string of predetermined abilities. I feel that Change Shape is supposed to provide a bunch of variety, but it's not telling me what that variety is. This class could very easily do with a bunch of rogue talent/rage power type abilites. You could recycle many of these features into such and then write another dozen or so.


Haha, OK I referenced a table I can't copy here!

Change shape is 1st level spells at 1st level, and follows wizard progression up to level 9 polymorph spells at level 18.

4+CON with 2/level additional gives as many effective castings of polymorph spells as a well made spontaneous caster using all their slots. I really should change this so the spell cast uses more uses per day.

Realistically, Change Shape is so strong that I wanted some more minor abilities to make up for dead levels. Adding a "Rage Power" type choice is certainly viable and gives room for expansion.

Google Doc


I had a similar idea a few years back for a polymorphing martial. I would suggest possibly using summoner evolution points as something this class can gain access to and apply to himself. This would allow for fun, versatile, and customizable shape changes.

Just a thought, nice idea.


Oh.... I like that. I like that a lot. I'm definitely going to modify things a bit and see what shakes out. It may goes as an archetype because I like the martial flexibility. It takes advantage of the special attacks monsters get (grab, hover, etc.) allowing the shapeless to use the form they have more effectively.

I have some more work to do, but I appreciate all the feedback!


This is actually a really cool idea. I would love to see it cleaned up a bit with some clarifications on the Change Shape and Instinctive Empathy abilities.


Suggestion: have the uses/day be the total minutes active per day just like a Barbarian's rage is rounds per day. Or increase the uses to 3/level but have it cost a number of uses equal to the spell level.


Im also very short on low level options. It is definately a back heavy class which is a bit unfun when almost everything polymorph starts at level 3. I'm going to have to restructure a bit keeping that in mind.

I don't think many martials care about looking younger ;)


I'm not sure I'm fond of the approach.

The Change Shape using polymorph spells is a neat approach, but it might be both too powerful & too weak.

First of all, are there even any 1st level polymorph spells you can use? At second, there's Alter Self, but that's not really a combat form. Mostly just disguise. And only for a couple minutes at a time.
You're 5th level before you get animal forms, right?

You've got a lot of uses, but they're all short - minutes/level usually. Great for combat, but very limited for other utility stuff, which is where I'd always wanted a martial shifter to shine.


Yeah, the back loading is a problem. There needs to be more than just the fighter-but-worse early levels. There are only a handful or spells that are 1st or 2nd level, and only 1 is a true buff (Alter Self).

As for the hours/day that's why I immediately added the archetype to use Wildshape early.

I'm expecting a second swag at this this weekend.

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I'm impressed you tried to keep the class from getting too much by limiting shapechange to the proper levels for polymorph spells. But I agree with others that it feels very weak at low levels due to the lack of 1st and 2nd level polymorph spells. The progression of uses and duration also feels very weird. I second Barnes's suggestion on Instinctive Flexibility.

I'll let you borrow one of my ideas for making something like this work. Have shapechange work like wildshape except -- until 4th level -- the class only gains a Medium animal's natural attacks and cosmetic alterations.


Making some updates

I'll post again when I get anything else significant done.


So, just a thought. If you're looking for something to fill those dead levels (gained at level 5 and every four levels after that, it looks like), I didn't see anything that provides resistance against hostile polymorph or transmutation effects. That could be a neat ability.

Lantern Lodge

THUNDER_Jeffro wrote:
So, just a thought. If you're looking for something to fill those dead levels (gained at level 5 and every four levels after that, it looks like), I didn't see anything that provides resistance against hostile polymorph or transmutation effects. That could be a neat ability.

Polymorph and Baleful Polymorph both state:

"A creature with the shapechanger subtype can revert to its natural form as a standard action"

Seems like this is even better than resistance, and would be baked into the class at level 1.


Seems like shapechanged sub-type is something that should be earned instead of being a freebie at 1st level.


Deadmoon wrote:

Polymorph and Baleful Polymorph both state:

"A creature with the shapechanger subtype can revert to its natural form as a standard action"

Seems like this is even better than resistance, and would be baked into the class at level 1.

That's an excellent point, I forgot about that. I do think an argument could be made however that a character who can shift into different forms might be better able to resist being pulled apart by spell effects (disintegrate being the big one off the top of my head) or by monster abilities that alter your form but aren't polymorph effects. Of course, I don't know if there are enough abilities like that to justify an ability off the top of my head.

Also, I think Ciaran Barnes has a point, that seems like a bit much of an ability to bake in at level 1.


A resistance to transmutation spells would be interesting. I don't think it's been done before and there are a lot of them.


Change Shape already does specific things, like not changing your ability scores, restricting you to remaining within one size category, and being unlimited in duration. If the ability doesn't follow the existing Change Shape rules, you should use a different name to avoid confusion.


QuidEst wrote:
Change Shape already does specific things, like not changing your ability scores, restricting you to remaining within one size category, and being unlimited in duration. If the ability doesn't follow the existing Change Shape rules, you should use a different name to avoid confusion.

Good catch, thanks!


hiiamtom wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Change Shape already does specific things, like not changing your ability scores, restricting you to remaining within one size category, and being unlimited in duration. If the ability doesn't follow the existing Change Shape rules, you should use a different name to avoid confusion.
Good catch, thanks!

On the other existing uses of Change Shape don't particularly follow the Change Shape rules either - or can a Gargantuan gold dragon only use its ability to assume any humanoid or animal form to take on Huge (or larger) humanoid or animal forms?


thejeff wrote:
hiiamtom wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Change Shape already does specific things, like not changing your ability scores, restricting you to remaining within one size category, and being unlimited in duration. If the ability doesn't follow the existing Change Shape rules, you should use a different name to avoid confusion.
Good catch, thanks!
On the other existing uses of Change Shape don't particularly follow the Change Shape rules either - or can a Gargantuan gold dragon only use its ability to assume any humanoid or animal form to take on Huge (or larger) humanoid or animal forms?

Yep, that's how it works. When they get old enough, they're more or less restricted to giants and dinosaurs. Anything else would have to be a full-on polymorph, not just a simple change of shape.


QuidEst wrote:
thejeff wrote:
hiiamtom wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Change Shape already does specific things, like not changing your ability scores, restricting you to remaining within one size category, and being unlimited in duration. If the ability doesn't follow the existing Change Shape rules, you should use a different name to avoid confusion.
Good catch, thanks!
On the other existing uses of Change Shape don't particularly follow the Change Shape rules either - or can a Gargantuan gold dragon only use its ability to assume any humanoid or animal form to take on Huge (or larger) humanoid or animal forms?
Yep, that's how it works. When they get old enough, they're more or less restricted to giants and dinosaurs. Anything else would have to be a full-on polymorph, not just a simple change of shape.

RAW, yes.

By intent, no way. The ability is clearly there to let dragons do the classic pose as human rulers shtick. That it doesn't work by RAW is an unintended consequence of merging a bunch of 3.5 monster abilities together for consistency.

See here among other references.
Disclaimer: Yeah, I know James isn't the rules guy.


Well Pathfinder isn't exactly famous for its consistent and flawless rules.

I would rule that by RAW, a creature with change shape (a polymorph effect) needs to use the polymorph magic rules where their base size is either increased or reduced to small or medium before the effect of the spell takes place.

SRD wrote:
If a polymorph spell is cast on a creature that is smaller than Small or larger than Medium, first adjust its ability scores to one of these two sizes using the following table before applying the bonuses granted by the polymorph spell. (see Table: Ability Adjustments from Size Changes)


thejeff wrote:

RAW, yes.

By intent, no way. The ability is clearly there to let dragons do the classic pose as human rulers shtick. That it doesn't work by RAW is an unintended consequence of merging a bunch of 3.5 monster abilities together for consistency.

See here among other references.
Disclaimer: Yeah, I know James isn't the rules guy.

Thanks for the link- good to know!


OK, reviving the thread because I've made some big changes.

Updated Sheet Link

Fills a bit more flavor in with stealing abilities or shapes, gaining new creature types, and stacking with other classes. I have a new archetype and lot of class powers. I also added a new polymorphing cantrip and the basic feats needed for the class.

Feedback appreciated!


Why isn't Disguise a class skill? Also, a "Trapfinding-esque" class feature might be in order. One that grants a +1/2 level bonus to Disguise checks and another small ability relating to Disguise. Maybe also say that it doesn't stack with a bonus from a spell like disguise self.


Well there are disguising class abilities (thousand faces, mimicry) and the skill is easy to get through traits. At later levels it can be a literal copy of a target which is very strong. It also can cast alter self starting 3rd level and there's nothing stopping the skill use. I am missing a "class levels stack with rogue levels" feature while all other non-spellcasting classes have a feature that it can stack with.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Possible altered state choices. Basic ideas will need details

Extend change:All change shape durations are doubled

Aerial adaptation: Add a fly speed to a form

Subterranean adaptation: Add a burrow speed to a form

Aquatic adaptation: Add water breathing and swim speed to a form


So, one thing I'm curious about are the altered states that stack with other classes for their class abilities (Natural Weapon, Sacred Shapeshift, Raging Animal, etc.) I'm used to the standard verbiage where an ability specifically calls out what it increases (ex. levels in X class stack with druid for purposes of wild shape). If I'm a shapeless 5/fighter 5, I can guess that I increase bravery. But do I get additional weapon training or armor training? If I took a fighter archetype that replaced those, would I get the abilities based on weapon training 1 and onward? If I'm a Shapeless 5/Paladin 1, do I get Divine Grace?

The sensible thing would be to only increase the abilities you actually possess from the other class, but that doesn't seem really clear to me right now. I would suggest changing the verbiage to specifically note what abilities it effects. (Raging Animal stacks with levels of Barbarian for determining the effects of your rage. Natural Weapon counts as the Natural Weapon weapon group of the fighter and levels of Shapeless count as fighter levels for determining the effect of Bravery or any ability that replaces it, etc.)

I hope this is helpful. You've done a great job so far and I may even have a player willing to test this at a table in the next couple of weeks.


The goal was to use some altered states to combine with another base class using their ability to change their form to have their class features align.

The intent is that when you have a class feature from one of these classes dependent on level the shapeless would stack with those class levels without granting new class features. I was trying to avoid the wording from aligned class like in evangelist, but it is a little bit stronger than the typical wording that is for a specific feature.

So a Shapeless 4/Paladin 6 counts as having 10 levels in paladin for features he gets with the paladin class - Smite damage (though not uses per day), Lay on Hands DCs (though not mercies), Divine Bond minutes/day, etc. A Monk 4/Shapeless 2 counts as having 6 monk levels for their ki pool, unarmed strike damage, slow fall, AC bonus, and fast movement.

These abilities are the "use a number of time equal to 1/2 level + X" or "increase by table:Class", but not "at X level and every Y levels after" gaining the ability again. Some things straddle the fence a bit more than others, but I can improve the wording.

EDIT

Requests:
1) Disguise based altered state before level 9
2) Distinct movement based altered state
3) Extended duration/metamagic options for shapes
4) Clarity on features that stack with other classes

EDIT2

Rage Prophet wrote:

Savage Seer

A rage prophet’s class level stacks with barbarian levels for determining the effect of his rage powers, oracle revelations, and his oracle’s curse. This does not grant additional abilities.

I think this is the key wording to use for the stacking abilities.


Okay, that's what I figured you were doing, but I wanted to make sure I was on the right track.

Since you're working this in Google Docs, do you mind if I leave comments with the comment function? It would be more direct and make it easier to point things out. Like I've mentioned before, I think this is a really cool idea and I'm going to run a mini-campaign with a few players and one is willing to try the class, so I can probably offer a lot of active feedback.


You should be able to comment with the links I gave...


Just to be sure here is a link that allows comments on the google doc.


hiiamtom wrote:
You should be able to comment with the links I gave...

Sure I can. But I didn't want to just jump in and start throwing comments from the peanut gallery everywhere without making sure that was something you wanted first.

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