What do YOU want to see in a Shifter


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Liberty's Edge

PossibleCabbage wrote:

Honestly, I think there might be more creative and mechanical space available for "Primal Martial" than there is for "shapechanging person- the class."

Since it's hard, for me at least, to figure out how a Shifter would work at very low levels where battle forms aren't really available and weapons are better than claws, than to just build the martial chassis around things like "eventual shapechanging, primal focus spells, etc."

So I would venture it might be better to lean into the "Primal Martial" angle and away from the "shapeshifting a lot" angle.

Could you expand on this concept of "Primal Martial" ?

If you mean something like a Martial who could access the Focus spells of the various Druid orders, and so sling elemental attacks and shapechange later on if desired, I feel it is less interesting to me than all the potential I see in a Shifter, aka the Martial who uses shapeshifting to play their role in combat.
With some out of combat utility also based on shifting.

Liberty's Edge

One angle that could be worth exploring is what the Shifter MC Dedication would provide that the Wild Druid MC Dedication or the Animal Barbarian MC Dedication do not provide.


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I think playing around with focus point outside of your core mechanics could be a very good solution.

Before I try that, let me establish the baseline. For the core mechanic I'd expect Change Shape which at least gives us one or more decent unarmed attacks. AC could be done via expert in unarmored or one of the "you have natural armor which is [insert armor type]" deals. Building on that, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a class feature that grants a minor damage boost (or something to that effect) when you are in your "combat form" or affected by a polymorph or morph effect. Or they just make it legendary in unarmed attacks, which would also work rather well (in which case starting expert in unarmored is probably not happening). Lastly, feats and features that cover speed types, senses and "special actions" of certain creature types are essentially a given.

Now to the actual proposal.

Focus points would give us a resource to play around with, which is great for both gameplay and potency. After all, these abilities can be more powerful because they are limited. Theme-wise, you are temporarily supercharging your shapeshifting.

Taking that and applying the principles behind the psychic's amp system should make for an interesting result. Essentially, many feats and features could have two stages - a decently powerful base stage and an improved one when using a focus point to boost this specific ability. A different take on the inventor's unstable system, though that principle could be applied instead as well. I'd prefer the slightly greater flexibility of focus points and the fact that you are using magic to get a leg up, even if your regular shifting isn't a spell. It seems more thematic to me.

As an example, you are a dragon shifter. You can do your breath weapon normally (with the 1d4 rounds cooldown), but it will be pretty damn mediocre. Martial aoe, after all. When you spend a focus point, though, you get something that is actually impressive such as a (probably better) version of the dragon breath focus spell. Based on your shifter DC ofc.


Btw, what would you like more - the legendary track for unarmed attacks or a more complex kind of damage booster mechanic?

I think legendary would preferable for both simplicity and reliability.


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Karmagator wrote:

Btw, what would you like more - the legendary track for unarmed attacks or a more complex kind of damage booster mechanic?

I think legendary would preferable for both simplicity and reliability.

I think I might like the damage booster mechanic be more tied into the shifts. Otherwise, you get the weird feature that the shifter is going to seriously consider archetyping into monk for stance and flurry, and if they do they'll actually be better at monk-punching than the monk is. It would also mean that the shifter might be inclined to pick their ancestry to get ancestry unarmed attacks, and I feel like shifters in particular are the sort who should be less concerned with their ancestry, rather than more.


Sanityfaerie wrote:
Karmagator wrote:

Btw, what would you like more - the legendary track for unarmed attacks or a more complex kind of damage booster mechanic?

I think legendary would preferable for both simplicity and reliability.

I think I might like the damage booster mechanic be more tied into the shifts. Otherwise, you get the weird feature that the shifter is going to seriously consider archetyping into monk for stance and flurry, and if they do they'll actually be better at monk-punching than the monk is. It would also mean that the shifter might be inclined to pick their ancestry to get ancestry unarmed attacks, and I feel like shifters in particular are the sort who should be less concerned with their ancestry, rather than more.

Many martial classes that can incorporate unarmed attacks well can beat the monk at punching with a modicum of investment. Rogue, fighter, barbarian and magus are the main examples, imo. And any contest that was going on before ends the moment one of those classes gets their hand on Flurry at 10. After all, the monk's damage is incredibly mediocre by virtue of having only the equivalent of slightly improved one-handed weapons and no damage booster (and often lower Strength). To get anything done, they rely on Flurry. So it's kinda weird that the archetype gives that out. Anyway, this is not a unique problem and will always be the case for any unarmed-focused build. I'm not saying that this shouldn't be addressed, I'm simply stating that this hasn't stopped anyone before.

As for the ancestry unarmed attack - why? A shifter would be guaranteed to have decent unarmed attacks in their combat form anyway. I can see an argument for some stances, as the unarmed attacks would likely be somewhat weaker than some of the best stances. But ancestry unarmed attacks are almost universally bad. The Iruxi can get a good one via a heritage + a feat, basically a shortsword minus versatile s. But given Seifters work, we can reasonably assume that that would be only the base. That was without a class that could spend some of its budget on that part. So it isn't impossible that they are as good or even slightly better than the unarmed attack part of stances.

But yeah, the monk multiclass archetype problem will almost certainly be on Paizo's radar from the start. Writing such a class without that in mind is just inviting unnecessary problems.

Vigilant Seal

I'd like to see it was a wave caster with some limited spell casting or around the level of a spellcaster multiclass but the ability to be a meaningful martial with stuff like Rogue debilitations like bleeds and being able to be a medium sized animal up to level 20.

Like a feral druid in WoW. I basically want a feral druid in WoW: Bleeds and direct damage with some ability to shift out and apply an entangling roots, or a heal or an emergency battle-rez real quick, then back into cat form and back to doing DPS. 80% DPS, 20% spellcaster.


The Raven Black wrote:
Could you expand on this concept of "Primal Martial" ?

So like the basic idea of the Champion as "Martial Class, but with divine focus spells bolted on" could probably be extended to the other traditions and the Primal one seems like the most natural thing.

So like what I want is a nature warrior that fights not by turning into birds and tigers and stuff, but a nature warrior that fights by leveraging nature. Think about stuff that the Elementalist Shifter got that didn't involve actually changing your form- you could kick up a dust storm to get concealment, you could make make the ground around slippery to make it difficult terrain for others, etc. Let me grapple/trip from a distance since I can encourage the roots to cooperate. I don't really want to shapechange so much as I want to be a big tough guy with a sword and nature powers.

Focus on defense but in more of a "resistance/healing" sense than the Champion's high AC. Since it's not hard to like "hit a tree" but it's hard to "hurt a tree."


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Trixleby wrote:

I'd like to see it was a wave caster with some limited spell casting or around the level of a spellcaster multiclass but the ability to be a meaningful martial with stuff like Rogue debilitations like bleeds and being able to be a medium sized animal up to level 20.

Like a feral druid in WoW. I basically want a feral druid in WoW: Bleeds and direct damage with some ability to shift out and apply an entangling roots, or a heal or an emergency battle-rez real quick, then back into cat form and back to doing DPS. 80% DPS, 20% spellcaster.

I want that as a different thing that is not the shifter. Specifically, I want it as a major class archetype on the druid. Downshifts the casting to wave caster in return for getting various bonuses to wild shape, specifically including further combat buffs. Give the people who really like battle forms something to seriously sink their teeth into that isn't the shifter, so they stop trying to get their icky spell slots all over the nifty thing.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Karmagator wrote:

Btw, what would you like more - the legendary track for unarmed attacks or a more complex kind of damage booster mechanic?

I think legendary would preferable for both simplicity and reliability.

Once you give a class the legendary track you cosign it to having very little else going on in its core profile, which is the opposite of where the Shifter should be, imo.


Squiggit wrote:
Karmagator wrote:

Btw, what would you like more - the legendary track for unarmed attacks or a more complex kind of damage booster mechanic?

I think legendary would preferable for both simplicity and reliability.

Once you give a class the legendary track you cosign it to having very little else going on in its core profile, which is the opposite of where the Shifter should be, imo.

Fair point. However, keep in mind that the type of proficiency also has a substantial impact on this. The fighter has literally all martial weapons in its repertoire at level 1, so you could feasibly pick both a ranged and melee weapon at the same time. That is apparently a major point to consider, given the gunslinger playtest.

So maybe the fact that a shifter would only have unarmed attacks, which would probably not include ranged option at level 1 or at least only bad ones (based on stuff we have seen so far), would make a difference. After all, the gunslinger chassis has some decent meat on its bones.

At the end of the day, though, you're probably right. Damn :/


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Could you expand on this concept of "Primal Martial" ?

So like the basic idea of the Champion as "Martial Class, but with divine focus spells bolted on" could probably be extended to the other traditions and the Primal one seems like the most natural thing.

So like what I want is a nature warrior that fights not by turning into birds and tigers and stuff, but a nature warrior that fights by leveraging nature. Think about stuff that the Elementalist Shifter got that didn't involve actually changing your form- you could kick up a dust storm to get concealment, you could make make the ground around slippery to make it difficult terrain for others, etc. Let me grapple/trip from a distance since I can encourage the roots to cooperate. I don't really want to shapechange so much as I want to be a big tough guy with a sword and nature powers.

Focus on defense but in more of a "resistance/healing" sense than the Champion's high AC. Since it's not hard to like "hit a tree" but it's hard to "hurt a tree."

This is definitely a completely different class. Or a druid class archetype, realistically. There is more than enough space for this and a shifter to exist at the same time.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Karmagator wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Could you expand on this concept of "Primal Martial" ?

So like the basic idea of the Champion as "Martial Class, but with divine focus spells bolted on" could probably be extended to the other traditions and the Primal one seems like the most natural thing.

So like what I want is a nature warrior that fights not by turning into birds and tigers and stuff, but a nature warrior that fights by leveraging nature. Think about stuff that the Elementalist Shifter got that didn't involve actually changing your form- you could kick up a dust storm to get concealment, you could make make the ground around slippery to make it difficult terrain for others, etc. Let me grapple/trip from a distance since I can encourage the roots to cooperate. I don't really want to shapechange so much as I want to be a big tough guy with a sword and nature powers.

Focus on defense but in more of a "resistance/healing" sense than the Champion's high AC. Since it's not hard to like "hit a tree" but it's hard to "hurt a tree."

This is definitely a completely different class. Or a druid class archetype, realistically. There is more than enough space for this and a shifter to exist at the same time.

Yeah, it strikes me as a total non-sequitur.


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A fighter has legendary in weapons, 2 flexible feats, AoO, Raise Shield, some of the best feats in the game.

I don't see why a Shifter could not get legendary in their shifted attack, 2 feats, 2 general feats, and some very good feats for shifting.

Vigilant Seal

Sanityfaerie wrote:
Trixleby wrote:

I'd like to see it was a wave caster with some limited spell casting or around the level of a spellcaster multiclass but the ability to be a meaningful martial with stuff like Rogue debilitations like bleeds and being able to be a medium sized animal up to level 20.

Like a feral druid in WoW. I basically want a feral druid in WoW: Bleeds and direct damage with some ability to shift out and apply an entangling roots, or a heal or an emergency battle-rez real quick, then back into cat form and back to doing DPS. 80% DPS, 20% spellcaster.

I want that as a different thing that is not the shifter. Specifically, I want it as a major class archetype on the druid. Downshifts the casting to wave caster in return for getting various bonuses to wild shape, specifically including further combat buffs. Give the people who really like battle forms something to seriously sink their teeth into that isn't the shifter, so they stop trying to get their icky spell slots all over the nifty thing.

Sure, I'll take it.


Temperans wrote:

A fighter has legendary in weapons, 2 flexible feats, AoO, Raise Shield, some of the best feats in the game.

I don't see why a Shifter could not get legendary in their shifted attack, 2 feats, 2 general feats, and some very good feats for shifting.

This mostly sells me. Do you think the possibility of having flight in-class might tip the balance a bit? I can see things shaking out similar to the Thaumaturge where we have a flex-build martial with in-class flight.

I personally don't actually value flight that high, but it seems like it figures into their balancing. May as well consider it.


Saedar wrote:
Temperans wrote:

A fighter has legendary in weapons, 2 flexible feats, AoO, Raise Shield, some of the best feats in the game.

I don't see why a Shifter could not get legendary in their shifted attack, 2 feats, 2 general feats, and some very good feats for shifting.

This mostly sells me. Do you think the possibility of having flight in-class might tip the balance a bit? I can see things shaking out similar to the Thaumaturge where we have a flex-build martial with in-class flight.

I personally don't actually value flight that high, but it seems like it figures into their balancing. May as well consider it.

Just make it a feat at the proper level. It's not that hard.


Temperans wrote:

A fighter has legendary in weapons, 2 flexible feats, AoO, Raise Shield, some of the best feats in the game.

I don't see why a Shifter could not get legendary in their shifted attack, 2 feats, 2 general feats, and some very good feats for shifting.

The fighter is also trained in all armor, including heavy armor, which is a big deal. Bravery as a sort of "expert+" saving throw upgrade is also not to be forgotten about. My group has gotten a lot of value out of it. And lastly, expert-> master in perception with a major bonus to initiative.

Add that to the stuff you mentioned and there is quite a bit to work with. Hence why "the fighter doesn't get a lot, because they are legendary in attack rolls!" is a very frequent joke in my group.

Would that be enough to work with? I honestly don't know. Even the basic chassis of a shifter as I have outlined it would need a lot and need it at level 1. Much of it, such as built-in armor or a decent unarmed attack, shouldn't have much of a cost involved, as they are mostly not an actual improvement, but mostly just make things actually work. On the other hand, those costs will still stack up.

It'll be interesting if Paizo decide they can make it work.


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Karmagator wrote:
Temperans wrote:

A fighter has legendary in weapons, 2 flexible feats, AoO, Raise Shield, some of the best feats in the game.

I don't see why a Shifter could not get legendary in their shifted attack, 2 feats, 2 general feats, and some very good feats for shifting.

The fighter is also trained in all armor, including heavy armor, which is a big deal. Bravery as a sort of "expert+" saving throw upgrade is also not to be forgotten about. My group has gotten a lot of value out of it. And lastly, expert-> master in perception with a major bonus to initiative.

Add that to the stuff you mentioned and there is quite a bit to work with. Hence why "the fighter doesn't get a lot, because they are legendary in attack rolls!" is a very frequent joke in my group.

Would that be enough to work with? I honestly don't know. Even the basic chassis of a shifter as I have outlined it would need a lot and need it at level 1. Much of it, such as built-in armor or a decent unarmed attack, shouldn't have much of a cost involved, as they are mostly not an actual improvement, but mostly just make things actually work. On the other hand, those costs will still stack up.

It'll be interesting if Paizo decide they can make it work.

So, basic martial class design: every martial class gets 6-10 things. And by "things" I mean non-proficiency additions to their chassis. The swashbuckler is on the high end, as they need multiple small abilities working in concert to pull off their concept. Fighters and Gunslingers are on the low end, as they get more proficiencies than most classes (and get them early).

When running this analysis, I tend to use the crude metric of "feat" or "feat+" to rate these class abilities. You want to limit the amount of feat+ stuff to maybe 1-3 per class. The bonus weapon proficiency is arguably feat++, which is why all other fighter and gunslinger abilities are a bit wimpy.

The armor proficiency and HD manipulation mostly gets traded off to more skills.

Might be fun to play with your proposal, see how much of it you'd realistically get at level 1. Change Shape, an unarmed augment (I agree bonus proficiency might actually work well), and a bonus ability while shifted all seem reasonable. Armor augment and bonus shift feats as your higher level abilities, plus the ability to add onto your shift via a focus spell or Lunacy (unstable), am I missing anything?


AnimatedPaper wrote:

So, basic martial class design: every martial class gets 6-10 things. And by "things" I mean non-proficiency additions to their chassis. The swashbuckler is on the high end, as they need multiple small abilities working in concert to pull off their concept. Fighters and Gunslingers are on the low end, as they get more proficiencies than most classes (and get them early).

When running this analysis, I tend to use the crude metric of "feat" or "feat+" to rate these class abilities. You want to limit the amount of feat+ stuff to maybe 1-3 per class. The bonus weapon proficiency is arguably feat++, which is why all other fighter and gunslinger abilities are a bit wimpy.

The armor proficiency and HD manipulation mostly gets traded off to more skills.

Might be fun to play with your proposal, see how much of it you'd realistically get at level 1. Change Shape, an unarmed augment (I agree bonus proficiency might actually work well), and a bonus ability while shifted all seem reasonable. Armor augment and bonus shift feats as your higher level abilities, plus the ability to add onto your shift via a focus spell or Lunacy (unstable), am I missing anything?

[Before I actually start, I want to say that is a cool system of analysis you have there. I'll have to keep that in mind for later!]

Honestly, the entire shapeshifting part could be a single feature. That's very likely, even. That's like a feat+(+) right there, so it would be really close. Change Shape and the unarmed attack(s) are inextricably connected, so they'd come as a package regardless.

The natural armor package is directly connected as well, but is a little trickier to handle due to the range of light-heavy armor. If heavy armor is a feat upgrade - which I think is likely - then there'd be no problem to folding it into the overall feature. Or you go whacky and do something unprecedented like starting at expert in unarmored and finishing at master at level 13. At least I think that'd work out (?) and it's honestly be pretty interesting. It's a bit more abstract than "heavy scales = good AC", tbf. Either way, the AC solution cannot wait for later levels, even level 3. If you want STR-focused playstyles to be viable without feat taxes, it has to be level 1. Monk-style MADness between DEX and STR is kind of expected anyway, but we don't need to import the rest of its problems along with it.

The focus point/lunacy system could be pretty lightweight in the chassis itself. Probably fairly early, so level 3. The chassis version could just offer minor-ish but still useful boons, e.g. sharpening your senses for a bonus to Seeking, a status bonus to athletics checks to climb/swim or the like. From level 4 onward, feats could offer stronger and even combat-related options.

The only thing that I could see missing are special senses. Alternative Speed types are heavily restricted so I would expect them to be feats like with the summoner, but stuff like low-light vision or scent is a bit more... interesting. As you are basically likely to pay for the same thing twice in case of low-light vision (many ancestries have this or even darkvision), I can see them throwing it in basically for free. Imprecise scent is more of an RP thing with really limited mechanical impact, so with some pleading and squeezing we might get that as well. Or we do the variant of simply copying Expanded Senses. But while that is kinda ok for an eidolon, when that's your full character that likely already has some of it... that feels bad. Alternatively, this is a dedicated shapeshifter so we could also literally just say that they keep all senses from their ancestry. Them adjusting their combat form based on their original body would make sense, after all.

But yeah, that's it as far as I can see.

P.S.: Btw, what does "HD manipulation" refer to?

Liberty's Edge

I think Armor should grant its benefits and drawbacks to the Shifter even when polymorphed. This would help the class work a lot better within the framework shared by all classes.


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Karmagator wrote:
Btw, what does "HD manipulation" refer to?

The HD trade off between more health and more skills. It’s possible there’s a power budget thing going on there, but I haven't specifically looked for it.

Actually, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t. I know for a fact (from tidbits developers have mentioned over the years) that ancestries have a base 8 hp and deviations from that are factored into an ancestry’s power budget. Probably something like that for classes, but I haven’t nailed down the exact numbers.


The Raven Black wrote:
I think Armor should grant its benefits and drawbacks to the Shifter even when polymorphed. This would help the class work a lot better within the framework shared by all classes.

They could make some form of "your armor transforms with you, possibly serving as the base for your form's natural armor" kind of deal. Just granting the benefits? That is one thing I'm 100% sure will never happen in 2e. While it is mechanically neat, it unavoidably clashes with immersion. Hard. It is just too obviously a game mechanic.

They could also make just regular armor adjusted to your polymorphed form an option, but that can never be the only solution. Because if there isn't a really significant part of the target group that will want to go purely vanilla, I'll eat my hat.

So yeah, I don't see that happening, sorry :/


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I don't really see what the issue is. You wear armor, you get that AC, and the class has some clause that lets you use your normal AC while shifted in the same way you can use your normal attack modifier.


Squiggit wrote:
I don't really see what the issue is. You wear armor, you get that AC, and the class has some clause that lets you use your normal AC while shifted in the same way you can use your normal attack modifier.

I might be massively overthinking this, but basically, the connection between the armor and it's effect is both a narrative problem and a mechanical one.

Narratively, it'd have to be magic. However, this produces a disconnect between the object and effect. It makes sense when plate armor is sturdier than cloth. It makes a lot less sense when the magic is the same, but somehow the non-magical properties of the armor make a difference - why would heavy armor slow you down or offer greater protection when it doesn't currently physically exist? I think people underestimate how much Paizo worry about things like this. That is before even thinking about the clash with the shifter's polymorphed form itself - when my high-level shifter turns into a massive purple worm with scales the thickness of tank armour, why isn't that making a difference compared to the guy who turns into a moderately angry chihuahua?

On the mechanical side, it would either have to do much more than that or close too many avenues. Because when you are not wearing your armor, you cannot activate it, it's runes or any items placed on it. That talisman rework? Completely irrelevant. Active rune abilities, which are at least somewhat relevant? Not anymore. Specific magic armors? Even less useful than they already are. Spellhearts? Purely passive. Weird new armor traits? Weird. There is probably more, but I think you can see my point. And then we are to the first point again. The magical stuff isn't a huge problem, but everything that is related to an item's physical characteristics makes no sense. Rules text could be phrased to accommodate that, but I don't think they will.

Things like this came up during the (obviously unrepresentative, but still) dragons playtest as well, so I'm not talking completely out of the blue here. The fact that we have seen nothing even remotely in this direction, while not conclusive evidence, is at least a hint.

So, after the wall-of-text-syndrome I cannot seem to shake, I think you can see why I believe Paizo would explore essentially every other avenue first.

Liberty's Edge

Actually, the problem I see with the Shifter and their armor is how will they spend their wealth ?

I do not think they should get the equivalent of high-level armor for free.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:

Actually, the problem I see with the Shifter and their armor is how will they spend their wealth ?

I do not think they should get the equivalent of high-level armor for free.

On the converse, they shouldn't have to pay for high-level armor for it to be completely worthless.


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I'm thinking some Shifter will be fighting in monstrous bipedal forms too, like a werewolf or just "gal who alters body parts as needed", so having one basic concept for their armor works simplest. That is wearing it.
Trouble naturally is what about Battle Forms and their given AC?
Are those currently fine? And yeah, the free armor issue. Hmm.


The Raven Black wrote:

Actually, the problem I see with the Shifter and their armor is how will they spend their wealth ?

I do not think they should get the equivalent of high-level armor for free.

They wouldn't get anything but the equivalent of level 0 or 1 armor for free. Technically they even spend part of their class budget on those.

The existing solutions would be the monk or something like the automaton's Reinforced Chassis. Both of which have no difference in cost from regular armor.

The problems come with other magic items. Can't exactly Activate via interact action without hands. And the polymorph trait's weird phrasing isn't helping either.


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Some of the Polymorph and Armor Potency weirdness could be addressed in Remastered, so it might not even be an issue.


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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Actually, the problem I see with the Shifter and their armor is how will they spend their wealth ?

I do not think they should get the equivalent of high-level armor for free.

On the converse, they shouldn't have to pay for high-level armor for it to be completely worthless.

Have it work like an Eidolon: gain item bonuses from invested armor/weapons in alternate forms.


2 feats one of 8th and one of 14th level.
Master or legendary in you main atrack.
Master or legendary in armor.
2 General feats.
1 1st level feat.
Master in 2 saves.
1 or 2 extra stuff based on what your other things are.

That is the space available. So the chassis I see is something like this:
Level 1- 1st level feat, Trained in Unarmed and Shifted Attack, Expert in Fort saves, Basic shifting (Trade 2 general feats for basic utility or a bit of extra damage).
Level 5- Expert in Unarmed and Shifted attacks.
Level 7- Weapon Specialization Shifted Attacks.
Level 9- 1st Shifting upgrade.
Level 11- Expert in armor.
Level 13- Expert in Unarmed and Shifted attacks.
Level 15- 2nd Shifting upgrade, Greater Weapon Specialization.
Level 17- Master in armor.
Level 19- Legendary in unarmed and shifted attacks.

****************

For wielded armor/weapons well there are three possible ways to handle that.

1st: The armor/weapon merges (disapears) and you get no benefit from it, instead you get a preset bonus. This is effectively the boring and more conservative approach.

2nd: The armor/weapon merges (disapears) and you get their bonuses as if you were wearing it. This makes it less wordy and opens up more variability, which is why I assume they wont do it.

3rd: The armor/weapon conforms and/or merges to fit your new shape giving you all the bonuses as normal. This is solution 2 but you can keep using the armor/weapon, naturally this is the best most versatile option which is why Paizo would never do it: If they do it then it will be a feat tree.

Liberty's Edge

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Actually solution 4 could happen : have a magic item that allows the PC to get benefits similar to those a weapon or armor would get, and for a similar price.

We already have this for weapons (Handwraps of Mighty Blows), so we just need a similar item, but for armor.


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Golurkcanfly wrote:
Some of the Polymorph and Armor Potency weirdness could be addressed in Remastered, so it might not even be an issue.

That's definitely what I expect to see. Polymorph and Change Shape don't fit together neatly, so that'll get smoothed over.

---

As far as the weapon solution goes, Handwraps of Mighty Blows are an existing solution that works fine. No need to complicate things. In case of armor, I would heavily bet on the Reinforced Chassis route. Your "natural armor" being armor for all intents and purposes is very easy to understand and sidesteps many potential issues. It also allows for a slightly stronger inherent theme.

Speaking of theme, I think it would be good to repurpose at least those extra 2 feats into some form of subclass system like the gunslinger does, rather than leaving them completely free by default. That could still be a subclass focused on versatility. My approach so far has been a little too light on that front, for my taste. Having a completely built-your-own-character class chassis is fine for the largely inherently flavorless fighter. But a class with more inherent differences between members like the shifter would need a little more than that.

Liberty's Edge

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It is my understanding that people want mostly 2 different things from the Shifter :

Some want the ability to turn into a terrible beast in combat, and maybe other forms outside of combat. And maybe even switch between forms during combat (which sound like a fair use of a Focus point). This is basically what Polymorph effects do.

Others want to be able to mix shapes as needed to adress their current needs. Which, to me, feels closer to the Morph effects.

I think the class should enable both, either as subclasses (that I call the Changer for the first and the Chimera for the second) or through feats.


The Raven Black wrote:

It is my understanding that people want mostly 2 different things from the Shifter :

Some want the ability to turn into a terrible beast in combat, and maybe other forms outside of combat. And maybe even switch between forms during combat (which sound like a fair use of a Focus point). This is basically what Polymorph effects do.

Others want to be able to mix shapes as needed to adress their current needs. Which, to me, feels closer to the Morph effects.

I think the class should enable both, either as subclasses (that I call the Changer for the first and the Chimera for the second) or through feats.

Definitely, though I'd go even further. The mechanical overlap is honestly quite limited, as all the necessary additions to the polymorph shifter isn't even remotely as necessary for them. A morph shifter can use conventional weapons or armor just fine and many will probably even want to. Instead they will want more budget spend on cool and varied morph effects, which the polymorph shifter has more limited interest in. The theme and many feats, on the other hand, will have very large overlap.

I'd say this is the best opportunity for a meaningful class archetype I've ever seen. That way both types can live out their full potential without any potentially unfortunate compromises.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
The Raven Black wrote:

It is my understanding that people want mostly 2 different things from the Shifter :

Some want the ability to turn into a terrible beast in combat, and maybe other forms outside of combat. And maybe even switch between forms during combat (which sound like a fair use of a Focus point). This is basically what Polymorph effects do.

Others want to be able to mix shapes as needed to adress their current needs. Which, to me, feels closer to the Morph effects.

I think the class should enable both, either as subclasses (that I call the Changer for the first and the Chimera for the second) or through feats.

I think you're missing the people who want to be able to change into a variety of animal shapes frequently in order to solve problems. Able to turn into a rhinoceros at the start of combat, switch to a tiger midway, turn into an eagle to fight in the air, then coming back down to fight as a bear. All in one combat, reliably.

Having one primary combat form is inflexible and pretty much the horse dookie we got in PF1.


The Raven Black wrote:

Actually solution 4 could happen : have a magic item that allows the PC to get benefits similar to those a weapon or armor would get, and for a similar price.

We already have this for weapons (Handwraps of Mighty Blows), so we just need a similar item, but for armor.

Idk you would effectively be charging them double if they want to not shift.

Also you are saying handwraps would still apply, but if the items merged then those would be gone. 1 solution is to only allow the paasive effect of merged items, limiting but can still use and benefit from armor.

Liberty's Edge

WatersLethe wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

It is my understanding that people want mostly 2 different things from the Shifter :

Some want the ability to turn into a terrible beast in combat, and maybe other forms outside of combat. And maybe even switch between forms during combat (which sound like a fair use of a Focus point). This is basically what Polymorph effects do.

Others want to be able to mix shapes as needed to adress their current needs. Which, to me, feels closer to the Morph effects.

I think the class should enable both, either as subclasses (that I call the Changer for the first and the Chimera for the second) or through feats.

I think you're missing the people who want to be able to change into a variety of animal shapes frequently in order to solve problems. Able to turn into a rhinoceros at the start of combat, switch to a tiger midway, turn into an eagle to fight in the air, then coming back down to fight as a bear. All in one combat, reliably.

Having one primary combat form is inflexible and pretty much the horse dookie we got in PF1.

To me, this is the last part of the first need I detailed : "switch between forms within combat". It gives so much versatility though that I would see it as something for higher level Shifters and likely requiring the expenditure of a focus point.

I could see low-level Changer Shifters having only a few shapes in their repertoire and acquiring more through feats. They would be able to start the combat with one shape and could shift to another one during the combat.

Higher-level Changer Shifters would have more choice in the shapes they can take and could shift from one to another during combat more often.

And those who want only a single powerful shape might instead take feats and focus spells that boost their attacks.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I want shifting to work more like stances than focus spells, and you should be able to actually shift forms quite a lot even at low levels. Higher levels should remove action costs for shifting, unlock forms with more abilities and movement types, and provide options to focus on empowering a particular form if that's someone's jam. Focus points are too few and inflexible.

Liberty's Edge

WatersLethe wrote:
I want shifting to work more like stances than focus spells, and you should be able to actually shift forms quite a lot even at low levels. Higher levels should remove action costs for shifting, unlock forms with more abilities and movement types, and provide options to focus on empowering a particular form if that's someone's jam. Focus points are too few and inflexible.

Action expenditure then ?

That might be the answer too. It will depend on how the designer of the Class see things as balanced.

I guess being able to change more often will bring lesser benefits than being able to change only a few times during combat.


The Raven Black wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
I want shifting to work more like stances than focus spells, and you should be able to actually shift forms quite a lot even at low levels. Higher levels should remove action costs for shifting, unlock forms with more abilities and movement types, and provide options to focus on empowering a particular form if that's someone's jam. Focus points are too few and inflexible.

Action expenditure then ?

That might be the answer too. It will depend on how the designer of the Class see things as balanced.

I guess being able to change more often will bring lesser benefits than being able to change only a few times during combat.

Sort of like how Impulses work? I could see that, and depending how the final kineticist design landed would likely be in favor of it over focus points.

Edit:

Temperans wrote:
Level 1- 1st level feat, Trained in Unarmed and Shifted Attack

I started to reply that this was not a good idea, but you know, I'm going to need to think about this one. My knee-jerk need for simplicity says "no" to splitting the proficiency up like this, and didn't really care for your idea of a whole new proficiency for elemental blasts, but this could work. For one, it pretty solidly solves the problem of the monk MC without losing too much or adding too much complication. I could even see being 1 proficiency higher while shifted, to give a damage boost without adding damage numbers, and not letting Shifter MCs access that proficiency.

Liberty's Edge

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1 proficiency higher while shifted reminds me of the +2 status bonus from Wild Shape when your attack modifier is higher.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
I want shifting to work more like stances than focus spells, and you should be able to actually shift forms quite a lot even at low levels. Higher levels should remove action costs for shifting, unlock forms with more abilities and movement types, and provide options to focus on empowering a particular form if that's someone's jam. Focus points are too few and inflexible.

Action expenditure then ?

That might be the answer too. It will depend on how the designer of the Class see things as balanced.

I guess being able to change more often will bring lesser benefits than being able to change only a few times during combat.

Sort of like how Impulses work? I could see that, and depending how the final kineticist design landed would likely be in favor of it over focus points.

Over the course of this thread, I've been thinking more and more about the universal/dual/dedicated gates from the Kineticist playtest. You could probably do something similar for Shifter.

One Form/Dual Form/Unbound Form (or whatever) and, instead of elements, you pick from Animal/Aberrant/Planar/Construct/Draconic/Etc.

One Form could let you trade form versatility for being more punchy in that form. Dual Form gets you the ability to cover multiple damage types, movement modes, or control features. Unbound Form could cover the "mix-and-match without fully changing form" ask.

It might be a similar complexity to the Kineticist, at least in terms of page count, so only one class for that book? Maybe a second class if their playtesting process has been iterated on to tackle those more complex projects.

Liberty's Edge

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The Shifter is, in my view, prime real estate to be implemented as a Druid Class Archetype that trades out all of their non-Focus Spell Spellcasting for additional Aspect and Wildshape functionality.

Heck, the PF1 Class Description even just literally says it outright, it's a "druidic discipline."

It could force the Wild Order, trade out Spellcasting for Martial Proficiencies, and grant Focus Cantrips to allow for at least minor all-day/at-will Wild Shape functionality and they could be done with it. There is just simply not enough meat on the Shifter concept to make it an entirely new Class without copying/pasting half of the Druid in the first place.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

The Shifter is, in my view, prime real estate to be implemented as a Druid Class Archetype that trades out all of their non-Focus Spell Spellcasting for additional Aspect and Wildshape functionality.

Heck, the PF1 Class Description even just literally says it outright, it's a "druidic discipline."

It could force the Wild Order, trade out Spellcasting for Martial Proficiencies, and grant Focus Cantrips to allow for at least minor all-day/at-will Wild Shape functionality and they could be done with it. There is just simply not enough meat on the Shifter concept to make it an entirely new Class without copying/pasting half of the Druid in the first place.

What exactly do you need from the druid? A class archetype only makes sense when there is some overlap in the mechanics and you still want the feats to be shared. The only feature the druid has that could be useful is Wild Empathy. The number of feats that would be interesting to a martial of that type is maybe in the single digits.

I really don't see how this view holds any water.

Edit: Also, Wild Shape is simply a terrible basis for a primary shapeshifting mechanic. It would have to be changed so dramatically that it would be easier to simply make a new mechanic. Or we, I don't know, just use the mechanic that is explicitly made to represent actual shapeshifting...


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

There's also quite a lot of dissatisfaction with the way it was linked to druids so strongly in PF1. Shifters never needed to be druidic, and they shouldn't be again.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

The Shifter is, in my view, prime real estate to be implemented as a Druid Class Archetype that trades out all of their non-Focus Spell Spellcasting for additional Aspect and Wildshape functionality.

Heck, the PF1 Class Description even just literally says it outright, it's a "druidic discipline."

It could force the Wild Order, trade out Spellcasting for Martial Proficiencies, and grant Focus Cantrips to allow for at least minor all-day/at-will Wild Shape functionality and they could be done with it. There is just simply not enough meat on the Shifter concept to make it an entirely new Class without copying/pasting half of the Druid in the first place.

Big old disagree with that one

For one thing, a lot of people very vocally didn’t like that.

And the shifter concept has all the werewolf/were whatever themes tied into it where you partially shift, it has the idea of only changing an arm. Or your legs or whatever, a different kind of partial shifting. And shifting into anything other than an animal or plant. Like an ooze or dragon or demon or angel.

All of which is pretty distinct from a druid.


I strongly disagree with having to do it that way. I could imagine a shifter done that way, especially if “warpriest” with all the proficiency modifications became a class archetype instead of cleric doctrine, but having to copy over half the Druid class?

Not most feats, including order feats. Not spellcasting. Maybe wild empathy? Even that I’d want rewritten though to cover more base creature types.

I’m just not seeing it.

If anything, I could see shifters as a Monk class archetype, or hell just a series of class feats/focus stances. Much fewer moving parts and also eliminates worries about MC. Reflavor flurry as multi attack, some stances that transmute you, and you might scratch a lot of itches.

I’d still prefer an entire class though.


Themetricsystem wrote:

The Shifter is, in my view, prime real estate to be implemented as a Druid Class Archetype that trades out all of their non-Focus Spell Spellcasting for additional Aspect and Wildshape functionality.

Heck, the PF1 Class Description even just literally says it outright, it's a "druidic discipline."

It could force the Wild Order, trade out Spellcasting for Martial Proficiencies, and grant Focus Cantrips to allow for at least minor all-day/at-will Wild Shape functionality and they could be done with it. There is just simply not enough meat on the Shifter concept to make it an entirely new Class without copying/pasting half of the Druid in the first place.

There's plenty of meat, especially if the class isn't limited to Druid's flavor. Arcane shapeshifting is a thing too. Impersonation subclass to get earlier imitation of individuals and better duration, eventually getting detection protection. Battle form subclass that gets to add weapon traits to forms like Inventor improves weapons, eventually getting improvements to temporary hitpoints or even healing some on transformation. Chimeric subclass that can't pass as natural but gets a menu of movement and other unique features like a frog tongue to add onto various forms, eventually getting expanded options.

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