Hi! We got a player with an interesting idea, but were not sure if it is wise :-) instead of gaining a companion the ranger gets the ability to change into his companion animal at will. Progression of the animal is as normal. If defeated the ranger shifts back into his normal form. Stats are all of the animal companion. Will this break the game? Or is this fine to go allong with?
Present the alternative to him of getting wild shape with a single animal and treating his ranger level as his druid level.
If he is still in on that idea, then possibly expand it to 10 minute increments up to the normal time limit instead of hours, and definitely not at will.
He is giving up the ability to have 2 characters on the board, for the trade off of having only one character to spend money on.
I would allow it myself with the above restrictions, but not at will.
It seems reminiscent to the 5e D&D druid's wild shape, which is EXCEEDINGLY powerful.
Overall, I think you're probably overthinking things, OP. Just let him wild shape as a druid of his level, limited to small or medium animals, possibly only 1 that he can change every 24 hours. Functions as Beast Shape I. Done.
|Bob Bob Bob|
Honestly, it's definitely possible to abuse it. Am I right in assuming that they get full health every time they change? Because then there's no reason not to change and never take HP damage in your real form. They also only have to buy magical items for one person, not two. Players can also make much better use of feats than animals so there's some abuse potential there too. No need to train them to do stuff in combat, etc. etc. I agree with everyone else, just give them Wild Shape into one specific creature. That lets them transform but doesn't come with a whole bunch of extra side effects.
There's no healing I know of that is part of Wild Shape.
Having a 2nd character to help you flank and who gets their own attacks is a great ability, and it's more powerful than being able to shapechange like the druid. One great benefit of the druid's wild shape is the versatility of choosing a form based on your present needs, in additiion to natural a armor and natural attacks. For example, being able to climb, swim, fly, use scen, gain darkvison, etc.
I guess I would have him choose an animal from the companion list and let him change into that, but following the rules of the beast shape spells, as appropriate foe his ranger level. In additional, I would let him change the chosen animal form in the same manner that a ranger would select a new animal companion, including performing the 24-hr ritual and choosing one appropriate for the terrain.
|Bob Bob Bob|
By healing I didn't mean Wild Shape, I meant the line in the OP: "If defeated the ranger shifts back into his normal form." They're not talking about Wild Shape in the OP, they're talking about something more like synthesist. And unless their animal form kept damage, changing into it would grant a free full heal. One they could immediately reuse after having it killed, since that's what at-will means. And that's pretty abuseable.
I would allow him to trade the animal companion for the wild shape ability of a druid, but limited to a single animal chosen when he gains the ability. His effective level of druid would be equal to his ranger level -3, the same as it is for animal companion. In all other ways it would be wild shape.
An Eberron campaign I was in allowed a similar stunt for Changeling Rangers. It was Medium animals at start and cost feats (based on level) to get nifty things like size changes and special abilities. I remember a healing feat that up to healed your character level HP/day when you shifted (max of Ranger/Changeling feats each time.
The GM was big on 'race-based' feats for Shifters, Warforged, Elves, etc., with the po' Humies getting the shaft. (lol) I played a Changeling Wizard that specialized in Transmutation. Fun, but I only had the mandatory starting Changling feat (actually a choice of 3-4). I took Changling Familiar!
Rule wise, your option is weak, but I don't think it is dangerously so. I can see a few minor problems requiring GM rulings, but grafting on the Druid version solves a lot of them. Of course, he would take the 'natural weapons' style. Having played in a game with a 'noble beast' from a 3pp, I enjoyed watching him struggle with being a wolf 24/7. The GM had serious personal issues with the wolf, but never really fed into the problems a 150 lb wolf would face in a medieval society.
Read 'the Dragon and the George' for a well done if subtle literary example.
This would probably best be represented as a single-form alteration of Wild Shape. You get slightly better milage out of the straight-up buffs, since you get better armor and better BAB than the Druid, but you would lose a bunch of versatility. I'd say that is a fair compromise, especially since you're cutting your action economy in half to do so.
If you changed form into an animal, with its static statistics, that would be a nerf.
If You changed into an equal level of animal companion, that would still be a nerf as youre halving the amount of characters that you can fight with. Also most character equipment doesnt carry over in animal forms.
If you mean "wearing" an animal companion like an extra set of hit points and stats that is exploitable and is why the Synthecist Archetype for the Summoner is often banned.
The Druid is much better as a shapeshifter as it can use spells with or without being in animal form(with a feat) that trumps a Ranger that could shapeshift. For additional redundancy the Druid can have its own Animal Companion.
Since rangers get weaker animal companions than a druid it makes sense that the rangers wild shape should also follow the same progression. Also since rangers have a limited scope of animal companions it makes sense a ranger wild shape would be similarly limited.
This also allows you to use your skills and other abilities in animal form so would be more useful. If you gain the physical stats of the animal you should gain the mental stats as well. That means that your INT drops to 2 and are no longer sentient. This creates a huge problem with being able to change back or even wanting to. If you don’t keep your class abilities how are you changing back?
You might check out the Skin-Changer, an alternate Spell-less Ranger class that does pretty exactly what the original poster is proposing!
You can find the class in the New Paths Compendium from Kobold Press
Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you know the Expanded and Updated New Paths Compendium Hardcover is now available right here on Paizo.com!!
Features the Skin-Changer plus 11 other new classes (plus archetypes, spells, feats, and more)
Hope you check it out :)