I'm really liking the Adaptive Shifter


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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Or should I say, Unchained Shifter? We asked for Shifter to be better and so it is. This archetype is great~


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I love the potential for flavor and role play as well, by leaving your adaptations intentionally vague aside from crunch. Are you an Android with specialized nanites that can alter your form at Will? Or a fleshwarp experiment gone horribly right, able to manifest mutated tendrils and creepy quills. It looks like it could be a lot of fun, without sacrificing any power.

Dark Archive

This looks way better than standard shifter


Where is this shifter?


It's interesting, but still worse at shapeshifting than a druid. Though I'm guessing that if Paizo had a do-over, they'd nerf druid wild shape to be more like the adaptive shifter's "unfettered" (haw) version. Still, I could certainly play this archetype.


The NPC wrote:
Where is this shifter?

Distant Realms.


blahpers wrote:
The NPC wrote:
Where is this shifter?
Distant Realms.

*Looks over archetype* Oh yeah, this is a lot better.


Actual wild shape, that's an improvement at least.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's great, the forms are kinda what people really wanted out of the shifter. I just got a minor and major complaint. My minor complaint is why no elemental wild shape? It fits the theme of a planar archetype. What's it hurting? But whatever the plant and animal forms are fine. My major complaint is the length of time for wildshape. It went from level+wis modifier in hours to half level in hours. So you get 3 hours of wild shape when get it and it never caps out to at-will, at most it goes is 10 hours. Can't cut the shifter any slack huh?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Painful Bugger wrote:
My major complaint is the length of time for wildshape. It went from level+wis modifier in hours to half level in hours. So you get 3 hours of wild shape when get it and it never caps out to at-will, at most it goes is 10 hours. Can't cut the shifter any slack huh?

In the 15-minute adventure day reality of Pathfinder, that's absolutely not an issue after first few levels.


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That moment when Archetypes fix in a splat book the base class which also came from a splat book. That is just everything that is wrong with Pathfinder in one example.

Let’s hope they do not do the same in PF2.

But yeah the archetype seems solide, decent and fun.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
In the 15-minute adventure day reality of Pathfinder, that's absolutely not an issue after first few levels.

You and I play very different games. Duration of abilities matter quite a bit and just because you run out abilities doesn't mean you are out of danger and get to take a break. Such a character would quickly run out of wild shape uses during the first half of an adventuring day and for remainder of the day be a really weird warrior. Maybe he can fly or be really big but he won't be any kind of animal or plant. Hate to make a comparison to the druid but even when the druid is out of spells he can solidly be in a combat form that commands battlefield respect.

I just don't care for the time limit. Maybe if it was half level + wis modifier it wouldn't sting so much. It wouldn't need to reach at-will, just like for the posibility for a 6 to 14 hour day instead of a 3 to 10 from 6th level to 20th.


blahpers wrote:
It's interesting, but still worse at shapeshifting than a druid. Though I'm guessing that if Paizo had a do-over, they'd nerf druid wild shape to be more like the adaptive shifter's "unfettered" (haw) version. Still, I could certainly play this archetype.

This has always been our problem with the class; if you're going to give up 9th-level spellcasting just to go up from d8/.75 BAB to d10/full BAB, then the class needs to offer *BETTER* wild shape, not worse.

We came up with this archetype for our home games. We still haven't had anyone play it, but the napkin math has checked out for us.


Gulthor wrote:
blahpers wrote:
It's interesting, but still worse at shapeshifting than a druid. Though I'm guessing that if Paizo had a do-over, they'd nerf druid wild shape to be more like the adaptive shifter's "unfettered" (haw) version. Still, I could certainly play this archetype.

This has always been our problem with the class; if you're going to give up 9th-level spellcasting just to go up from d8/.75 BAB to d10/full BAB, then the class needs to offer *BETTER* wild shape, not worse.

We came up with this archetype for our home games. We still haven't had anyone play it, but the napkin math has checked out for us.

I was working on something similar, but with selecting form branches instead of just getting all of them. There is a wierd split where both beast shape and monstrous physique have four levels, but vermin shape (the other one that has entries at spell level 3 and 4) only has 2. I attempted to standardize Vermin Shape so you could have a truly equivalent third choice.


Oh I didn't notice the reduced duration on wild shape to cap out at 10 hours.

That's bad. The Druid is still a better wildshaper which is just unacceptable.


I'd still prefer a non-nature based shifter. The shifter should at the very least have archetype access to all the forms available to druids through archetypes. Give them an aberrant>ooze>construct path an animal>Fey>Dragon path a Human>Monsterous-Human>Outsider path and a Vermin>undead>swarm path.

To make up for the lost spell casting, I'd give them access to spell like abilities of forms they take provided they are twice the level of the spell.


I'm really happy with the Adaptive Shifter. It's got the flexibility that I wanted from the main class, and I *love* the Reactive Form ability. The only downside of it is the reduced time for Wild Shape and late entry. I'm not really sure why that was necessary, but if the Archetype were strictly better than the base class I suppose that would be a problem.

I'm helping one of the people in my group stat one up right now, he's taking a Druid's Vestment to help with that particular limitation. We seem to think that the Vestment will just add another hour to his total usage, going by the wording between Unfettered Wild Shape and the Vestment.

Overall I think this is a marked improvement over the base class, but the delayed access to Wild Shape hurts as it means fewer overall Wild Shape feats (since you lose the level 5 slot).

I still can't understand why the Shifter can't be better at Wild Shape than a Druid.


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MR. H wrote:
The Druid is still a better wildshaper which is just unacceptable.

As I read it, an adaptive shifter can totally combine wildshape and reactive aspects. At level 15 it's five simultaneous aspects on top of wildshape.

And even if druid is still better at wildshape, you could see it the other way: Druid is brokenly powerful, shifter is well-balanced. The game rather needs well-balanced classes than broken ones, so a shifter is a good addition. Depends on your priorities, of course.


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Convict #24601 wrote:
I still can't understand why the Shifter can't be better at Wild Shape than a Druid.

It wouldn't surprise me the least if the nerfs to wild shape weren't done by the writer but done by the developer.

Unlike the vanilla Shifter, this archetype is written by someone who actually understands class design - selectable class features (i.e. character shaping choices™), class features that prevent every combat from being the same, and the ability to actually do what the class advertises ("the shifter can take on the forms of nature and even fuse them together with devastating effect"). Still based on a bad chassis, obviously.

Most days, three hours of wild shape should be enough. Plus, flying dinosaur at 9th level!

All in all, with adShifter and Chaois Reigns, this is a good book for natural attack lovers! (Which kinda sounds like a dating site for Druids, come to think of it.)

@ErichAD: Well, the archetype does trade out most of the Druid abilities that should neaver have been there in the first place. There's also the Metamorph Alchemist for a Monstrous Physique based polymorph character (which is pretty powerful thanks to Deathsnatcher), the Agathiel Vigilante if you like an animal in (possibly metal) armor, the Mooncursed Barbarian for lycanthropic flavor, and the Beastkin Berserker Barbarian for angry beast shaping.

@The Sideromancer: I proposed a Shifter wherer you select a spell to base your wildshape on every other level:

Spoiler:
Shifter get's Wild Shape based on Alter Self at 3rd level. At 5th level, and every 2 levels afterwards, the Shifter can select a "shifting form", a spell to base WS on in place of Alter Self. Higher humbered forms require the respective lower numbered forms to be possessed first. At 5th level, the Shifter can choose between Beast Shape I, Monstrous Physique I, and Undead Anatomy I. At 7th level, she can choose between Beast Shape II, Elemental Body I, Monstrous Physique II, Vermin Shape I, and Fey Form I. And so on for higher levels, with the level prereq being equal to when a Wizard can first cast the spell. For example, a Shifter with Beast Shape I+II and Vermin Shape could use wild shape to change into humanoids as Alter Self, tiny to large animals as Beast Shape II, or small to medium vermin as Vermin Shape I.
Other forms are Magical Beast Shape (requires Beast Shape IV), Form of the Dragon, Giant Form, Ooze Form, Fey Form, Adjustable Polymorph, and Frightful Aspect (requires Adjustable Polymorph).
Of course, limiting some of these options to archetypes would be possible, and the abilities could be moved to even levels. There could also be options that modify an existing form rather than grant a new one.


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I agree with Sheep here. I love the Adaptive Shifter, even if you cannot shift as often as a base shifter or druid you have those adaptive aspects that make the wild shape far more interesting.

Sometimes less is more.

EDIT: Ninja'd by Derk on a good point as well, this class was clearly done by a good designer. Having actual choices built into it is huge, especially since you are not limited in the forms you can wild shape into like the traditional shifter.

I'd love to see the Swashbuckler and Gunslinger get a similar treatment that replaced deeds with selectable talents.


Gorbacz wrote:
Painful Bugger wrote:
My major complaint is the length of time for wildshape. It went from level+wis modifier in hours to half level in hours. So you get 3 hours of wild shape when get it and it never caps out to at-will, at most it goes is 10 hours. Can't cut the shifter any slack huh?
In the 15-minute adventure day reality of Pathfinder, that's absolutely not an issue after first few levels.

Not this again.

/bag of trolling ; )

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
blahpers wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Painful Bugger wrote:
My major complaint is the length of time for wildshape. It went from level+wis modifier in hours to half level in hours. So you get 3 hours of wild shape when get it and it never caps out to at-will, at most it goes is 10 hours. Can't cut the shifter any slack huh?
In the 15-minute adventure day reality of Pathfinder, that's absolutely not an issue after first few levels.

Not this again.

/bag of trolling

Why? It's the same as people going on about rage rounds per day and how there are too few and whatnot, while *in practice* rage rounds cease to be an issue around level 5. I'm happy that PF2 realised that.

Of course, it takes some actual gaming to find that out, not just smashing your built-in armchair keyboard.


The unlimited rage thing really depends on your group. I find that with a well optimized group and wands of CLW, there is little reason to stop if the narrative does not demand it. Sometimes you need to assault the fortress of EVIL and you can't just run away and rest until you've killed the 5 lieutenants and banished the dark lord; and suddenly you find yourself rationing your rage rounds.

Its not something that will come up often, but once or twice per campaign is pretty relevant. Especially as it is likely to happen during a character-defining story arc.

Plus from a verisimilitude perspective, I like to imagine that a character who is a shape-shifting master can use shape-shifting for fun. You can't, for example, entertain children at a fair by changing into all the different exotic animals you've seen if you are limited to 3 shifts a day...


ShroudedInLight wrote:
I'd love to see the Swashbuckler and Gunslinger get a similar treatment that replaced deeds with selectable talents.

Oh yes, so very much! Reading some blog post (?) about the deed system triggered my thinking about the whole character shaping choices thing. It's crazy how much weakness and lack of character shaping choices are connected.

Knight Magenta wrote:
Sometimes you need to assault the fortress of EVIL and you can't just run away and rest until you've killed the 5 lieutenants and banished the dark lord; and suddenly you find yourself rationing your rage rounds.

Or you use magic to teleport, fly, burrow, walk-through-walls, or sneak past most enemies. Which you can do after a few levels.

Also, every increment of wild shape duration is 600 rounds, so that's not really a limitation unless you have longer combats than Dragonball Z.

Shadow Lodge

Balancing limited-use abilities can be challenging given varied playstyles.

My group tends to have very few combats per day, so abilities that last one combat like the Inquisitor's Judgment don't run out as much as in other groups. However, I've been in at least one session in which my ~10th level bloodrager used all their rage rounds in a single fight. And of course things like Smite or Challenge that apply to one enemy, but last indefinitely, are much more useful in boss fights than against multiple moderately strong foes.

In the case of Adaptive Shifter, I could see the limited number of hours being a pain in at least one type of campaign I've been in - we did a lot of exploration and there was a high risk of random encounters, so if you couldn't stay in Wild Shape all day you might end up spending the first round of combat shapeshifting instead of attacking.


I was thinking something similar - in such a game, investing in Shifter's Rush would probably be wise.

Grand Lodge

Gorbacz wrote:

Why? It's the same as people going on about rage rounds per day and how there are too few and whatnot, while *in practice* rage rounds cease to be an issue around level 5. I'm happy that PF2 realised that.

Of course, it takes some actual gaming to find that out, not just smashing your built-in armchair keyboard.

I agree that you never run out of rage past low levels but also don't have the 15 minute adventuring day come up very often in my games.

It really isn't this universal reality you're making it out to be.


Gorbacz wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Painful Bugger wrote:
My major complaint is the length of time for wildshape. It went from level+wis modifier in hours to half level in hours. So you get 3 hours of wild shape when get it and it never caps out to at-will, at most it goes is 10 hours. Can't cut the shifter any slack huh?
In the 15-minute adventure day reality of Pathfinder, that's absolutely not an issue after first few levels.

Not this again.

/bag of trolling

Why? It's the same as people going on about rage rounds per day and how there are too few and whatnot, while *in practice* rage rounds cease to be an issue around level 5. I'm happy that PF2 realised that.

Of course, it takes some actual gaming to find that out, not just smashing your built-in armchair keyboard.

Gorbacz is going all out today!

Goalpost moving aside, running out of rage rounds is frightfully easy to do in the games I play in and run.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
blahpers wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Painful Bugger wrote:
My major complaint is the length of time for wildshape. It went from level+wis modifier in hours to half level in hours. So you get 3 hours of wild shape when get it and it never caps out to at-will, at most it goes is 10 hours. Can't cut the shifter any slack huh?
In the 15-minute adventure day reality of Pathfinder, that's absolutely not an issue after first few levels.

Not this again.

/bag of trolling

Why? It's the same as people going on about rage rounds per day and how there are too few and whatnot, while *in practice* rage rounds cease to be an issue around level 5. I'm happy that PF2 realised that.

Of course, it takes some actual gaming to find that out, not just smashing your built-in armchair keyboard.

Gorbacz is going all out today!

Goalpost moving aside, running out of rage rounds is frightfully easy to do in the games I play in and run.

Everybody's table is a unique snowflake of possibilities.

Except the ones where stuff is real.

*snorts a line*

We're all diviners and travel domain.

No martial homies here, maybe a CG Paladin, or a rage cycle bat-mounted lance pounce Barb, if we feel like hard mode.

*Kanye's Black Skinhead through a boom box *

Full nova.

rope trick

Rinse, repeat.

That's how you D&D, everything else is just cops and robbers.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'd like to play in games where you don't run of rage rounds but it happens in my games. Thing though is that Rage is much easier to ration out then Wild Shape. People keep forgetting that Wild Shape isn't just a combat ability but also a utility ability as well. Sometimes you need to be big enough to carry the entire party for extended periods of time, sometimes you need to be really small so you can hide on someone else's person for a variety of reasons, sometimes you want to do something clever and interesting but find yourself severely limited by time constraints.

I hate for a player to be a mouse for a few hours but be completely unable to change into a big bruiser like a bear or gorilla if the situation calls for it.

blahpers wrote:

Gorbacz is going all out today!

Goalpost moving aside, running out of rage rounds is frightfully easy to do in the games I play in and run.

Oh don't take him seriously. I was the first to speak out about the issues with the shifter and him and others were strident naysayers. We saw who was right in the end. ;)

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Painful Bugger wrote:
I'd like to play in games where you don't run of rage rounds but it happens in my games.

You can play in my games, no probs.

Painful Bugger wrote:
Sometimes you need to be big enough to carry the entire party for extended periods of time

Why would you have to? Are they tired and have no wand of lesser restoration to whisk that tiredness away? Did they all suffer some movement-impairing wounds in a game that abstracts damage and has no "your tendons got severed" effects?

Painful Bugger wrote:
sometimes you need to be really small so you can hide on someone else's person for a variety of reasons

Why would you, you can just Earth Elemental and earth glide, nobody can detect you short of lifesense or some other weird ability. Do you even Druid, bro?

Painful Bugger wrote:
sometimes you want to do something clever and interesting but find yourself severely limited by time constraints.

I always say that when my Wizard runs out of reality-warping spells per day and we all get to rope trick.

Painful Bugger wrote:
I hate for a player to be a mouse for a few hours but be completely unable to change into a big bruiser like a bear or gorilla if the situation calls for it.

My theory about all the Shifter people being Animorphs fans is rolling along nicely.

Painful Bugger wrote:
Oh don't take him seriously. I was the first to speak out about the issues with the shifter and him and others were strident naysayers. We saw who was right in the end. ;)

What exactly made you right in the end? Please elaborate. By the way, are your fears expressed in this post still valid? It seems you did bother to read a section in a future book after all.


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Gorbacz wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
blahpers wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Painful Bugger wrote:
My major complaint is the length of time for wildshape. It went from level+wis modifier in hours to half level in hours. So you get 3 hours of wild shape when get it and it never caps out to at-will, at most it goes is 10 hours. Can't cut the shifter any slack huh?
In the 15-minute adventure day reality of Pathfinder, that's absolutely not an issue after first few levels.

Not this again.

/bag of trolling

Why? It's the same as people going on about rage rounds per day and how there are too few and whatnot, while *in practice* rage rounds cease to be an issue around level 5. I'm happy that PF2 realised that.

Of course, it takes some actual gaming to find that out, not just smashing your built-in armchair keyboard.

Gorbacz is going all out today!

Goalpost moving aside, running out of rage rounds is frightfully easy to do in the games I play in and run.

Everybody's table is a unique snowflake of possibilities.

Except the ones where stuff is real.

*snorts a line*

We're all diviners and travel domain.

No martial homies here, maybe a CG Paladin, or a rage cycle bat-mounted lance pounce Barb, if we feel like hard mode.

*Kanye's Black Skinhead through a boom box *

Full nova.

rope trick

Rinse, repeat.

That's how you D&D, everything else is just cops and robbers.

Don't ever change. X D


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For funsies I did up a Adaptive Shifter class and class table so people don't have to refer to the original shifter and the splatbook. They can just read this version for convenience sake. Gonna post this in Archmage Variel's thread. Adaptive Shifter Class

Gorbacz wrote:


My theory about all the Shifter people being Animorphs fans is rolling along nicely.

The most I know about that series is the terrible covers and the joke one with Hank Hill turning into a propane tank. That one is pretty good.

Gorbacz wrote:
Please elaborate.

Nah. I already got unchained shifter at this point.

Edit: Ah you dug throw my old posts in an attempt to soothe your butthurt. On that note I'll say that a friend of mine shoved that book in my face and pretty much went "READ *****! READ!" and I was pleasantly surprised.

Silver Crusade

With adaptive shifting's Lasting Adaptation the need to wild shape for utility is very, very significantly reduced. I think it is going to be quite rare (depending on campaign, of course) for a shifter to run out of wild shaping.

I DO agree that it would be really nice to allow cosmetic shifting for free. It would be hard for Paizo to phrase this in a manner that all the rules abusers wouldn't abuse. But many a GM would allow it as a house rule in their campaigns. In my campaign, you want to entertain the children you can do it for free :-)

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