Skinwalker Druid Wild Change Shape?


Pathfinder Society


4 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 1 person marked this as a favorite.

TL;DR Can a Skinwalker Druid use Wild Shape and Change Shape at the same time in Pathfinder Society?

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Despite its name, the Skinwalker's Change Shape ability is not the same thing as the standard monster ability. Instead of being a full-body polymorph, it merely adds some animalistic features. Actually, let me just quote:

A skinwalker can change shape to and from a bestial form as a standard action. In bestial form, a skinwalker gains a +2 racial bonus to either Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. While in this form, a skinwalker also takes on an animalistic feature that provides a special effect.

<snip out standard Skinwalker versions of this, because there are a bunch of other options>

These benefits last until the skinwalker returns to her humanoid form as a swift action. A skinwalker must first return to her humanoid form before changing to bestial form again to change benefits. Different skinwalker heritages allow skinwalker characters to select from different sets of bestial features.

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The Druid's Wild Shape works like Beast Shape, Elemental Body, and Plant Shape, all of which have the polymorph subtype. The definition of this subtype states "You can only be affected by one polymorph spell at a time. If a new polymorph spell is cast on you (or you activate a polymorph effect, such as wild shape), you can decide whether or not to allow it to affect you, taking the place of the old spell." Which means that if the Skinwalker's Change Shape is a polymorph effect (which it doesn't say one way or the other), both would not stack.

So, any ideas? The PFS FAQ does not appear to say anything about skinwalkers or polymorphing. Additional resources does have references to both, but nothing about this particular items.

The Exchange 3/5

It isn't a polymorph and isn't duplicating a spell. About as straightforward as it gets. You can use both at the same time.

5/5 ** Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht

Dotting. I always thought they didn't stack, so you'd lose your shape-related stat bonus while Wildshaped. If that is incorrect, that opens up some builds for me.

1/5 Venture-Agent, Utah—Provo

I'm pretty sure that you can get the stat buffs, but not the natural attacks when wildshaped. This animalistic form is form dependant.

The Exchange 4/5

It says under shape change ability it is a polymorph effect. With that in mind, would say no.

The Exchange 4/5

This ability functions as a polymorph spell, the type of which is listed in the creature's description,

2/5 ** Venture-Agent, Texas—Austin

Jeff Morse wrote:
It says under shape change ability it is a polymorph effect. With that in mind, would say no.

I'm inclined to agree with this; it's how I interpreted the ability anyway. It somewhat paradoxically makes a race of shape changers less mechanically inclined towards shape changing builds since they'd often conflict.

The Exchange 3/5

Sure if you reference the entirely wrong ability it says it is a polymorph effect.

This isn't even close to:

Quote:

This ability functions as a polymorph spell, the type of which is listed in the creature’s description.

change shape (wolf, beast shape I)

It also doesn't contain the polymorph descriptor like Lycanthropes:

Lycanthrope wrote:
SQ change shape (human, hybrid, and dire rat; polymorph)
Skinwalker wrote:
SQ change shape

The skinwalker change shape is entirely its own ability and isn't a reference to the change shape universal monster ability.


Jeff Morse wrote:
It says under shape change ability it is a polymorph effect. With that in mind, would say no.

Yes, it does. But, as I said in the initial post, despite the fact that it is the same name, it's NOT the same ability.

The change shape monster ability is defined as: A creature with this special quality has the ability to assume the appearance of a specific creature or type of creature (usually a humanoid), but retains most of its own physical qualities.

In short, it's a full-body change.

The change shape *skinwalker* ability is defined above. It is NOT listed as a polymorph ability. This is the primary source of my confusion. About the only niggle I can really see is the part that reads "A skinwalker must first return to her humanoid form before changing to bestial form again to change benefits." Of course, that's easy to get around -- just take 'bestial' form before wild shaping.

As near as I can tell, you CAN stack the skinwalker's change shape and the druid's wild shape. But I'm looking for some kind of "official" word on the matter so I can decide on whether I want to go this way with my next character. And, for official word, well, this is the best way for me to get it, as far as I know.

The Exchange 4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

For official you need to post in rules. Post it as a FAQ question and maybe if you get enough clicks they will answer it. Other wise expect table variation.

The Exchange 5/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Jeff, with respect, "expect table variation" can mean either (a) the rules are unclear, and the table GM needs to make a call; different folks may justly decide different ways; or else it means (b) the rules are clear, once unpacked, but obscure; some GMs just aren't up on that; expect some table GMs to make wrong rulings from ignorance.

It seems to me that, in this case, we have an example of the second situation. The rules seem clear that the two abilities can be combined. the confusion comes from misunderstanding which identically-named ability we're referencing.

The Exchange 4/5

What is clear to me is a race has shape change. You look at the rules for that. It gives you the basics of the rule. It also tells us to look at each race for any additional information. The confusion arises when you want to take out the main rule. Skinwalkers have a special abilty called shape change. And like all races that do, or most cause on phone so not looking them all up, they have further limiting factors. This is how I read the rules for this. I maybe wrong, but is how will rule it till see it differant.


here's the ability straight from the book, doesn't mention anything about polymorph effects, usually it would.

Change Shape (Su, 5 RP): A skinwalker can change shape to and from a bestial form as a standard action. In bestial form, a skinwalker gains a +2 racial bonus to either Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. While in this form, a skinwalker also takes on an animalistic feature that provides a special effect. Each time a skinwalker assumes bestial form, she can choose to gain one of the following features:
2 claw attacks that each deal 1d4 points of damage
Darkvision to a range of 60 feet.
+1 racial bonus to natural armor.
These benefits last until the skinwalker returns to her humanoid form as a swift action. A skinwalker must first return to her humanoid form before changing to bestial form again to change benefits. Different skinwalker heritages allow skinwalker characters to select from different sets of bestial features.


So the real question here is:
Is the Skinwalker's Change Shape ability a polymorph affect like other Change Shape abilities in the game?

I don't think we have an official answer. Personally, I'm inclined to say yes because it seems silly to me that it wouldn't be. Yes, the way it's currently written doesn't mention it, but that seems like an omission to me, not an intentional change.

The only proper way to resolve this will be to get it FAQ'd.

The Exchange 5/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Claxon, do you consider the Hunter's Animal Focus ability to be a Polymorph effect?

2/5 ** Venture-Agent, Texas—Austin

Chris Mortika wrote:
Claxon, do you consider the Hunter's Animal Focus ability to be a Polymorph effect?

Counterpoint: The Ranger Shapeshifter archetype's Shifter's Blessing ability specifically calls out "a ranger with shifter’s blessing in one of his shifted forms can be affected by a polymorph ability and retain his bonus and traits gained by the class feature." Unlike Hunter's Animal Focus, that ability is also tied to having the shapechanger subtype. It is, in many ways, a better comparison to what the Skinwalker is doing than Hunter's Animal focus, which makes no mention of actually being a shape changer at all.

The lack of specificity is a problem no matter how you look at it. It's reasonable to say it is or it isn't a polymorph effect based on the absence of text defining it one way or the other given the inconsistency around other such abilities.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

I've flagged this for the Rules Questions Forum, which is where it belongs if you genuinely want an answer.

If you then link to this thread in the Campaign Clarifications request thread maybe PFS can issue a temporary clarification until it gets addressed by the Rules team.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck...rules lawyery, yes it does not specifically say its a polymorph effect, but it results in many of the same effects. So, absent of any clarification, I would treat it as a polymorph effect. Like so many other things, expect table variation.

1/5 Venture-Agent, Utah—Provo

Chris Mortika wrote:

Jeff, with respect, "expect table variation" can mean either (a) the rules are unclear, and the table GM needs to make a call; different folks may justly decide different ways; or else it means (b) the rules are clear, once unpacked, but obscure; some GMs just aren't up on that; expect some table GMs to make wrong rulings from ignorance.

It seems to me that, in this case, we have an example of the second situation. The rules seem clear that the two abilities can be combined. the confusion comes from misunderstanding which identically-named ability we're referencing.

"expect table variation" and also be translated to, "choose the worse option and be always right" because if you choose that you can't change shape while your shape is changed then no GM is going to complain or stop you. And then if they allow it you can be pleasantly surprised.

The Exchange 3/5

Yeah I get a little tired of the table variation cop-out. GMs aren't empowered to contradict Pathfinder RPG rules. You can't just 'feel' it should be a polymorph when it isn't.

1/5 Venture-Agent, Utah—Provo

Ragoz wrote:
Yeah I get a little tired of the table variation cop-out. GMs aren't empowered to contradict Pathfinder RPG rules. You can't just 'feel' it should be a polymorph when it isn't.

Sure you are. Many here, and I, understand the rules to say that this doesn't work. A GM in PFS IS empowered to make rulings for their table according to their understanding of the rules. And unless you have PFS leadership or a FAQ that explicitly allows it, the GM is okay to say that's not how it works IF they feel that's not how it works.

The rules are pretty much internally consistent. When mauler was made they didn't realize the confusion it caused by not clearly saying "this is polymorph" when it was meant and WAS a polymorph. Same here, just because someone "forgot" (or didn't have the word count) to specifically say it's a polymorph doesn't magically make it be the only thing that works differently in the entire game that doesn't call out it's an exception and was intended to be an exception.

So sure, dislike the "cop-out". But in PFS they are allowed to do it. People often only give that answer when it is unclear enough that you should be able to "force" someone to accept your view and there are 2 or more views with people supporting them.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

"cop-out"?

I wasn't aware we were discussing something concrete and unambiguous.

EDIT: 49 second ninja spent more time on their post than I did.

The Exchange 3/5

When one person says they are making a decision because it feels silly to them it isn't a polymorph and someone else says it indeed isn't a polymorph but they would rule the other way anyway there really isn't much to say beyond they are contracting RPG rules which IS specifically disallowed.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

Is it not reasonable to assume that change shape is a polymorph effect?

If the ability in question clearly stated "this is not a polymorph effect", then you'd have a good argument.

It doesn't, so you don't.

The Exchange 3/5

No it really isn't reasonable to assume it does something it doesn't say it does. That would be rediculous making up rules text out of thin air. Almost as rediculous as listing every effect type it isn't. I already know it isn't a calling, creation, healing, summoning, teleportation, compulsion because it didn't say it was.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

1 person marked this as a favorite.

But it is called "change shape".

We have rules for things called "change shape".

Ergo, it is not unreasonable to assume that the two function similarly, if not the same.

You can certainly rule differently. GMs in PFS have that ability.

I won't even point out the "cop out" hypocrisy.

3/5

The thing is, effects don’t necessarily call out all of their keywords, iirc. For example, a red dragon’s fire breath is a fire effect. It doesn’t say that it is, they don’t code the abilities nicely with keywords after the name like they (more often) do with Ex, Su, Sp... and it certainly would help if they did mechanics-wise. But that consistency of format just isn’t there. As such, cases that don’t explicitly say one way or another can be ambiguous. This is, unfortunately, one of them I believe. In a home game, you can ask your GM how they will run things. In PFS, if it doesn’t come from leadership or FAQ, we don’t get that option and instead get table variation. I’ve lost far too many concepts to avoiding such things, unfortunately.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

If you build your character with a more conservative mindset, you'll be fine. Then when a GM rules with a more liberal viewpoint, it'll be a bonus.

But if you start with a more liberal mindset, you're going to feel like you've had something taken away. This contributes to the outrage at some FAQs, as well.

The Exchange 3/5

DrakeRoberts wrote:
The thing is, effects don’t necessarily call out all of their keywords, iirc. For example, a red dragon’s fire breath is a fire effect. It doesn’t say that it is, they don’t code the abilities nicely with keywords after the name like they (more often) do with Ex, Su, Sp... and it certainly would help if they did mechanics-wise. But that consistency of format just isn’t there. As such, cases that don’t explicitly say one way or another can be ambiguous. This is, unfortunately, one of them I believe. In a home game, you can ask your GM how they will run things. In PFS, if it doesn’t come from leadership or FAQ, we don’t get that option and instead get table variation. I’ve lost far too many concepts to avoiding such things, unfortunately.

It is not a fire effect. It doesn't have the fire descriptor because it isn't a spell or spell-like ability.

It DOES deal fire energy damage. While Fire descriptor spells often deal fire damage they are seperate game mechanics.

Special Attacks breath weapon (50-ft. cone, DC 22, 10d10 fire)

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