Shifter Claws, improved Natural Attack and Damage


Rules Questions


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Shifter wrote:

Shifter Claws (Su)

At will, a shifter in her natural form can extend her claws as a swift action to use as a weapon. This magical transformation is fueled as much by the shifter’s faith in the natural world as it is by inborn talent. The claws on each hand can be used as a primary natural attack, dealing 1d4 points of piercing and slashing damage (1d3 if she is Small). If she uses one of her claw attacks in concert with a weapon held in the other hand, the claw acts as a secondary natural attack instead.

As the shifter gains levels, the power of her claws increases. At 3rd level, her claws ignore DR/cold iron and DR/silver. At 7th level, her claw damage increases to 1d6 (1d4 if Small). At 11th level, her claw damage increases to 1d8 (1d6 if Small). At 13th level, her claw damage increases to 1d10 (1d8 if Small). At 17th level, the damage die does not increase, but the critical multiplier becomes ×3. Lastly, at 19th level, the claws ignore DR/adamantine and DR/—.

While a shifter uses wild shape to assume her aspect‘s major form, her natural attacks gain the same benefits granted by her shifter claws ability. If the form she takes has claw attacks, she can use either the base damage of her shifter claws or the damage of the form’s claws, whichever is greater. If the form does not have claw attacks, she can choose up to two natural attacks that would deal less damage than her shifter claw damage and have those attacks instead deal the same damage as her shifter claws.

Since I have natural attacks in my base form, i can take improved natural attack

Improved Natural Attack wrote:

Improved Natural Attack

Prerequisite: Natural weapon, base attack bonus +4.

Benefit: Choose one of the creature’s natural attack forms (not an unarmed strike). The damage for this natural attack increases by one step on the following list, as if the creature’s size had increased by one category. Damage dice increase as follows: 1d2, 1d3, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 2d6, 3d6, 4d6, 6d6, 8d6, 12d6.

A weapon or attack that deals 1d10 points of damage increases as follows: 1d10, 2d8, 3d8, 4d8, 6d8, 8d8, 12d8.

Special: This feat can be taken multiple times. Each time it is taken, it applies to a different natural attack.

If I apply improved natural attack to my shifter claws, it would seem to increase their weapon dice for the shifter claws.

If I Wild Shape into another form I lose all of my Natural Attacks and gain new ones. Do my shifter claws retain their damage die increase?

And if so, does the form I change into use the increased damage dice for the attacks that it would normally apply to?

If they use those damage dice, then does a spell like strong jaw increase the damage dice by 2 steps since the base damage of that forms natural weapons are the shifter claw damage?


"If the form she takes has claw attacks, she can use either the base damage of her shifter claws or the damage of the form’s claws, whichever is greater"

This means improved natural attack can't affect shifters claws, as they affect "the damage of the form’s claws" and not "base damage of her shifter claws": IE the feat modifies the new forms natural attack. it'd be much the same with string jaw, as you increase the damage from the form and not the base shifter's claw damage.

The bottom line is that modifiers to form [size, feats, spells] aren't going to change the base of the ability gives but will affect the damage the new form has.


Damn, didn't realize it had that it used base damage of the shifter claws in there, but I was expecting it to not work in wild shape anyways. Just had hopes. Thanks.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Improved Natural Attack will change the base damage of your shifter claws, so I you used to to go from 1d4 to 1d6 then 1d6 would be the base damage of your shifter claws, so you could either use that (1d6) or the wild shaped forms damage.

That is presuming you could take improved natural attack at all. Technically the shifter doesn't have a natural attack, it has a power that gives it a natural attack. I'd allow it, and I think it is fully legal since the claws don't have a duration, so the '24 hours' rule for feats should apply, but I'm not positive about it being legal, while you can meet the prerequisites, you don't actually have a 'creature’s natural attack form' to choose.


The Improved Natural Attack doesn't modify base damage though, it modifies 'damage' up one step. Secondly, when the form changes, you no longer have the claws from your base form, thus the feat can no longer modify them even if you ruled that it does alter base damage: when you change shape, the feat improves your CURRENT "natural attack form" that matches the feat. How can it modify an attack you no longer have [your 'base claws' and not the claws you currently have?

EDIT: I see no issue with using claws as a prerequisite. The brawler playtest showed that temp abilities, like the two weapon fighting from brawlers flurry, could be used for feat prerequisites. As such, I see NO reason at will claws do not qualify as well.

Scarab Sages

graystone wrote:

The Improved Natural Attack doesn't modify base damage though, it modifies 'damage' up one step. Secondly, when the form changes, you no longer have the claws from your base form, thus the feat can no longer modify them even if you ruled that it does alter base damage: when you change shape, the feat improves your CURRENT "natural attack form" that matches the feat. How can it modify an attack you no longer have [your 'base claws' and not the claws you currently have?

EDIT: I see no issue with using claws as a prerequisite. The brawler playtest showed that temp abilities, like the two weapon fighting from brawlers flurry, could be used for feat prerequisites. As such, I see NO reason at will claws do not qualify as well.

The damage die is the base damage. Rose by any other name, in this case. As the claw ability is a natural attack form that belongs to the creature... this should work.

As an aside, natural attacks are very hard to increase as is and this by no means should break balance. Even if you allow the bonus to continue if the claws ability is used to adjust a natural attack that isn't claws.

Scarab Sages

From a "feat slot to damage increase" stand point, improved natural attack is a losing proposition. Given the limited feats available to the Shifter and the new feats available in Ultimate Wilderness that the Shifter can take, I can not see any reason to take INA.

Sadly, the best damage potential for the Shifter that I could find included going the Feral Combat Training route.


Lorewalker wrote:
As the claw ability is a natural attack form that belongs to the creature... this should work.

How can the feat modify an attack you no longer have? You are looking at the claws you have in your natural form but you no longer HAVE those in another form: Hence, it can't bump the 'base' while in another form though it could bump the current forms attack. It's much like trying to use a size change to your current form to bump your base damage from the form you are no longer in. That's can't be right IMO.

EDIT: The crux of the issue is that Improved Natural Attack doesn't modify specific natural weapons but a "natural attack form". As such, it's not a claw or bite but any claw or bite the character might have. So if you cast a spell and grow 2 more arms with claws, and that's your pick for the feat, they get modified. This also means that once those arms go away, they are no longer modified. The feat just can't modify an attack you no longer have.


Which brings up the question can I increase one of my major aspects damage with it instead?


willuwontu wrote:
Which brings up the question can I increase one of my major aspects damage with it instead?

Yes, you can modify "the damage of the form’s claws". That the part you can change as the feat is looking for natural weapons you currently have.


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Shifter and Improved Natural Attack Interactions

Shifter wrote:

Shifter Claws (Su)

At will, a shifter in her natural form can extend her claws as a swift action to use as a weapon. This magical transformation is fueled as much by the shifter’s faith in the natural world as it is by inborn talent. The claws on each hand can be used as a primary natural attack, dealing 1d4 points of piercing and slashing damage (1d3 if she is Small). If she uses one of her claw attacks in concert with a weapon held in the other hand, the claw acts as a secondary natural attack instead.

As the shifter gains levels, the power of her claws increases. At 3rd level, her claws ignore DR/cold iron and DR/silver. At 7th level, her claw damage increases to 1d6 (1d4 if Small). At 11th level, her claw damage increases to 1d8 (1d6 if Small). At 13th level, her claw damage increases to 1d10 (1d8 if Small). At 17th level, the damage die does not increase, but the critical multiplier becomes ×3. Lastly, at 19th level, the claws ignore DR/adamantine and DR/—.

While a shifter uses wild shape to assume her aspect‘s major form, her natural attacks gain the same benefits granted by her shifter claws ability. If the form she takes has claw attacks, she can use either the base damage of her shifter claws or the damage of the form’s claws, whichever is greater. If the form does not have claw attacks, she can choose up to two natural attacks that would deal less damage than her shifter claw damage and have those attacks instead deal the same damage as her shifter claws.

Improved Natural Attack wrote:

Improved Natural Attack

Prerequisite: Natural weapon, base attack bonus +4.

Benefit: Choose one of the creature’s natural attack forms (not an unarmed strike). The damage for this natural attack increases by one step on the following list, as if the creature’s size had increased by one category. Damage dice increase as follows: 1d2, 1d3, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 2d6, 3d6, 4d6, 6d6, 8d6,

1) Does the Shifter Claws ability granted by the Shifter class qualify for the prerequisite of Improved Natural Attack?

  • Yes
  • No (No need to look further)

2) Do the Claws granted by the Shifter Claws ability qualify as a valid natural attack form for Improved Natural Attack?

  • Yes
  • No (No need to look further)

3) Do the claw attacks benefit from being selected by Improved Natural Attack?

  • Yes, their damage dice increases as per normal. This functions as if a natural attack with those damage dice was affected by Improved Natural Attack.
  • Yes, the shifter can choose to use the initial claw damage granted by the ability (1d4) and increase it (1d6) as per normal or use the increased damage listed by the ability for a shifter of their level. (no need to look further)
  • No, the feat has no effect on the claws granted by the ability.
    (No need to look further)

4) How do Improved Natural Attack interact with the Shifter when it Wild Shapes?

  • The natural attacks that are based on the claw use the damage listed by the Shifter Claws ability as appropriate for a Shifter of their level or the base damage granted by the form as their base damage. (Improved Natural Attack has no effect)
  • The Shifter loses their claw attacks and Improved Natural Attack no longer is affecting anything. Choose a natural attack granted by the form used for Wild Shape for Improved Natural Attack to affect instead. (Improved Natural Attack no longer has a valid target so we select another one.)
  • The natural attacks that are based on the claw use the damage listed by the Shifter Claws ability as appropriate for a Shifter of their level increased by Improved Natural Attack or the base damage granted by the form as their damage. Using the damage of the claws counts as an effective size increase and is subject to the size increases and dice FAQ. (The attacks based on the claws are increased, but the damage is treated as if it were under the effects of an effective size increase for the purposes of things such as Strong Jaw)
  • The natural attacks that are based on the claw use the damage listed by the Shifter Claws ability as appropriate for a Shifter of their level increased by Improved Natural Attack or the base damage granted by the form as their base damage. (The attacks based on the claws are increased, spells such as strong jaw increase the damage dice by the amount you would expect from a natural attack of those base dice.)

That's what I should've asked the first time

My opinion is:
1) Yes
2) Yes
3) 1st yes
4) 3rd option


1) 100% yes.
2) yes
3) yes [as normal]
4) The feat is applied to any applicable natural attacks the new form has. If the Shifter's Claws normal damage [as listed in the feature] is higher than the improved damage, they may swap it. The feat stops working on Shifter's Claws when they change out of its natural form as that attack no longer exists but is applied to the new form as the feat isn't tied to a particular natural weapon but a natural weapon type. For instance, if you take Improved Natural Attack (claw) and use Mutated Shape to grow a third claw, it instantly gets the damage boost as it's boosting any claws you have but can't do anything for your natural form's claws as you do not have them anymore. In much the same way, changing your size in natural form has no affect wild shaped as it's a new form so it doesn't modify your shifter's claws either but instead either does nothing or is the size change persists, it increased the new forms attacks

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