Author Topic: Shapeshifter track (1.0 update)  (Read 9504 times)

Mystify

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Shapeshifter track (1.0 update)
« on: April 03, 2012, 12:13:08 PM »
Shapeshifter

1.0 version
Spoiler
As a shapeshifter, you have access to a variety of different forms, each with their own strengths. These forms fall into one of several categories- what a specific form means is up to you, and can even vary between each individual transformation if you so wish, but the mechanical impact of the change remains the same.  You may switch between forms as a move action. Shape changing is a supernatural ability, but all other abilities of this track are extraordinary.
Each form also has an associated attribute. When you transform, you may use your KOM in place of that attribute for determining your skills bonuses and saves.
You have access to 1 form initially, and learn a new form at 3rd, 5th, and 7th circles. You must pick which form to learn next.
This track is only available with group approval. It is recommended to have a different character sheet for each available form for speed of play.

Circle 1-Essential aspect
You gain the Shitfer's Tool natural weapon. It is a melee weapon with 3 weapon properties of your choice other than [Barbed] or [Quick-draw]. These properties can be changed whenever you shift.
Brute -  STR
You gain a +1 fury and item bonus to attack rolls. You gain another +1 for every odd shapeshifter circle you possess, to a maximum of +4 at 7th circle.
Stalker -  DEX
You gain a +1d6 [precision] damage on attacks vs. flat footed opponents for every shapeshifter circle you posses, to a maximum of 7d6 at 7th circle. Only once source of precision damage may be applied to each attack.
Defender - CON
you gain a+1 item and deflection bonus to AC, which increases by 1 for every shapeshifter circle you possess.
Navigator - DEX
You gain a 5ft bonus to your movement speed for every odd circle of shapeshifter you posses. You gain the Swim movement mode.

Circle 2-Negation aspect (Perfect save)
Once per [Encounter], if you make a successful save against an effect that would normally have a lesser effect on a successful save (such as a spell with a save of “Fortitude half”), you instead ignore the effect entirely. Which save this works on depends on your current form:
Brute - Fortitude
Stalker - Reflex
Defender - Fortitude
Navigator – Reflex

Circle 3-Shifter's endurance
Your ability to change form allows you to mend your broken body. You gain [Fast healing] equal to your KDM, and you heal an amount equal to your KDM when you shift forms.

Circle 4- Mighty Aspect
Your various forms gain new abilities
Brute - Your size becomes[Large] (if you are not already [Large] or [Huge],you gain the normal +5 ft bonus to your movement speed, +2 bonus to saves against combat maneuvers, and 5 ft bonus to your  [Melee] range associated with the [Large] size). You do not suffer any of the normal penalties of being [Large], even if you’re normally [Large].. You also gain +3 fury bonus to attack rolls and fortitude saves, and 3 temp hp/level. These bonuses stack with other fury bonuses from the Brute form.
Stalker – Your size becomes [Small] (If you are not already [Small], you gain the normal +1 bonus to your attack rolls and ac). You do not suffer any of the normal penalties of being [Small], even if you're normally [Small] You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls and reflex saves, 1 temp hp/level, +15ft movement speed, and +5ft [Melee] range
Defender - You gain 3 temp hp/level, and a +3 bonus to all saves. 
Navigator - You gain the flight movement mode, +15ft movement speed, and 1 temp hp/level
 
Circle 5- Dominate aspect
You may use these abilities a total of once per [Encounter] for every circle of shapeshifter you posses.
Brute - You may add your level in damage on a charge attack
Stalker - You can strike your blows to gouge out an opponents eyes. Once per [Round], a foe subject to your precision damage must make a reflex save (DC 10+1/2 level + KOM) or be [Blinded] for 3 [Rounds]
Defender - You may take 1 extra attack of opportunity in a round.
Navigator - You may make an attack of opportunity against anyone taking an attack of opportunity against you for moving out of a threatened square.

Circle 6 -Deadly Aspect
Brute As a swift action, you can reel back for a might blow. Any opponent hit by your next attack is [Blown away] and [Stunned] for 1 [Round]. A fortitude save(10+1/2 level + KOM) negates the [Stunned] condition
Stalker – As a swift action, you can ready your next attack with poison. The next attack you make with natural weapons will deal 2x level damage and causes the target to be [Sickened] for the rest of the [Encounter], a fortitude save(DC 10+1/2 level +KOM) halves this damage and negates the [Sickened] condition.
Defender –As a swift action, you can remove all of the following conditions from yourself: [Battered], [Bleeding], [Blinded], [Confused], [Cowering], [Dazed], [Dazzled], [Deafened], [Entangled], [Exhausted], [Fatigued], [Frightened], [Nauseated], [Panicked], [Paralyzed], [Petrified], [Shaken], [Sickened] or [Stunned]. You may not remove any conditions not listed here with this ability. You may use this ability even if the status would otherwise prevent you from activating it.
Navigator – As a swift action, you may become Immune to [Binding] effects for one [Round] and move up to your speed.

Circle 7 (easier shifting)
You may shift forms with a swift or immediate action.


Edit: The track is now updated to 1.0 The below discussion is kept so you can see the logic behind the design process.

----------------------------------------
Right now, lets just discuss the general way the track should work, then we can try nailing down specifics.

I think the most sensible way to do it would be to offer several different forms, which have their own options. Say, each circle does something different based on what form you are in. You could spend a (standard?) action to switch between forms. The tradeoff for this flexibility is that each form will be worse at what it does than a track devoted to it.

For example, we could have a stalker form:
Precision damage
stealth and tracking abilities

And a Brawler form:
Offers fury bonuses
Utter-brute lite
size increase

Perhaps a Defender form:
AC bonuses
save increases

Maybe an agility form
speed bonuses
early flight
teleportation

The exact nature if each form would be left up to the player to fluff as they wish

One interesting mechanic could be a floating KOM. Each form would have its own associated KOM, and when you take the form, your base KOM replaces your normal attribute for it, leaving the old stat in your original KOM. Combatively, this means that your KOM is always the same number, even as it changes stats. But secondary attributes  could change with form, such as your saves or your skills. Say that the brawler uses STR as KOM, and the stalker uses Dex. And lets say the track's KOM is WIS.  I'll use the folllowing stat array
STR 12
DEX 10
CON 14
WIS 16
INT 14
CHAR 10

So in their base form, they are using WIS as KOM, and have a +3 attack from it. Then they shift into stalker form, and DEX becomes KOM. Stats change to the following

str 12
dex 16
con 14
wis 10
int 14
char 10

They retain the +3 to attacks, but now they have a better reflex save, and are more skilled at acrobatics and the like. Then they shift into brawler form:

str 16
dex 10
con 14
wis 12
int 14
char 10

and now they are better at athletics, and are getting the extra STR as KOM damage.

Then there could be some abilities which are universal, regardless of form. For instance, fast healing. Fast healing makes a lot of sense for a shapeshifter in my book. Perhaps also have a reduced action cost to shapeshift.

So, does these seem like a workable concept? any ideas on forms or abilities?

Edit:
Changed the natural weapons to fit with the new weapon system.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 08:23:18 PM by Mystify »
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Narsis

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2012, 01:10:51 PM »
that is...pretty much exactly what i was thinking of (and whenever i had free time after finals was going to post up and get some ideas)

although that floating KOM wasn't the way i planned on doing it, (i was just going to give flat bonuses to related skills) it works as well if not better, although would be a tad more difficult to understand.

and

one big thing is it all comes down to options.  flexibility is the key to the track.  in addition to what you already have i'd consider things like By Will Sustained, climb speed, swim speed, extra attack(although gotta be really careful with that one), natural weapons, etc.
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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 01:20:05 PM »
One important point to pay attention to are feat requisites.
We don't want to stop qualifying for feats every time we change forms. Floating KOM could lead to such situations.

Valixes

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 01:54:40 PM »
Making a class balanced that has shifting stats would be quite difficult. You don't want to make them powerful enough in their individual forms to be on par with others who just took appropriate tracks for being an utter brute rather than actually being an utter brute. On the other hand, lowering this power means that a person would be a jack of all trades and a master of none - generally it'd be very hard to balance properly.

Wait hold up. Why are we stopping at one track? Wouldn't an entire class be better to encapsulate a "shapeshifter" - and divide three tracks into different ways that shapeshifters generally use their abilities? Just a single track to cover all the versatility the stigma "shapeshifter" brings is far too much for one track to handle. This way we can cover all the versatility without spreading abilities too thinly, or packing too much power via freely switchable options into a single track.

That way there can also be a shapeshifter chassis (CON as KDM, obviously) that would allow for variable KOM by way of a clause that says, "Treat ____ as the KOM of this track for external purposes." Or something like that - I'm just throwing ideas at a dart board.

EDIT: Another benefit of making it a class would to have multiple different "Styles" of offense, defense, and utility to correspond with what form you are in. Offense could be split between fury abilities and [Precision]/attack # abilities - defense between HP/AC and Miss chance/evasion (With a static fast healing bonus on a circle without multiple abilities, as you said) - and utility could be split between movement utility and some other form of utility.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 02:02:17 PM by Valixes »

Mystify

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2012, 02:10:33 PM »
that is...pretty much exactly what i was thinking of (and whenever i had free time after finals was going to post up and get some ideas)

although that floating KOM wasn't the way i planned on doing it, (i was just going to give flat bonuses to related skills) it works as well if not better, although would be a tad more difficult to understand.

and

one big thing is it all comes down to options.  flexibility is the key to the track.  in addition to what you already have i'd consider things like By Will Sustained, climb speed, swim speed, extra attack(although gotta be really careful with that one), natural weapons, etc.
a flat bonus to related skills is iffy, since you could have a good stat for it anyways, and end up better at the skill than you should be. Switching KOM keeps them within the normal range, just shifts the focus of which ones you are good at.
By will sustained doesn't feel like a good track feature, but the others would work. Natural weapons would be common.
One important point to pay attention to are feat requisites.
We don't want to stop qualifying for feats every time we change forms. Floating KOM could lead to such situations.
I think it would be up to the player to decide not to take feats that they only qualify for occasionally. Looking through, I see:
Livers need not apply(con requirements, but I doubt switching your KOM into CON will drop it below 14)
Ruinous charge

Livers need not apply will only disqualify in really edge cases, so I think we can leave it to player discretion to avoid that.
Ruinous charge is the only feat with a KOM requirement, and I think that is more interesting to allow. It becomes "I can charge through mundane objects... when I am a rhino". Less value than if STR is always your KOM, but  don't think its really a problem.
The bigger issue is what to do when you have rage as a track, or if you have KDM as the relevant stat. For the later, a basic "unless it is already your KDM" clause should work well enough, but Rage is iffier. Yet another reason I think rage shouldn't have that limit.

Making a class balanced that has shifting stats would be quite difficult. You don't want to make them powerful enough in their individual forms to be on par with others who just took appropriate tracks for being an utter brute rather than actually being an utter brute. On the other hand, lowering this power means that a person would be a jack of all trades and a master of none - generally it'd be very hard to balance properly.
That is the challenge, yes. You have to figure out what is the value of having the right tool instead of a very nice hammer. In D&D, people tended to consider jack of all trades character more powerful than their less flexible counterparts, so there is considerable value in flexibility. Where the proper tradeoff exists against brute force is hard to say. The ease of switching impacts this balance point as well. But don't think that being a jack of all trades and a master of none makes you a weak character, as long as you are competent enough in the individual trades.
Wait hold up. Why are we stopping at one track? Wouldn't an entire class be better to encapsulate a "shapeshifter" - and divide three tracks into different ways that shapeshifters generally use their abilities? Just a single track to cover all the versatility the stigma "shapeshifter" brings is far too much for one track to handle. This way we can cover all the versatility without spreading abilities too thinly, or packing too much power via freely switchable options into a single track.

That way there can also be a shapeshifter chassis (CON as KDM, obviously) that would allow for variable KOM by way of a clause that says, "Treat ____ as the KOM of this track for external purposes." Or something like that - I'm just throwing ideas at a dart board.

EDIT: Another benefit of making it a class would to have multiple different "Styles" of offense, defense, and utility to correspond with what form you are in. Offense could be split between fury abilities and [Precision]/attack # abilities - defense between HP/AC and Miss chance/evasion (With a static fast healing bonus on a circle without multiple abilities, as you said) - and utility could be split between movement utility and some other form of utility.
Making it multiple tracks becomes even more iffy. Are you going to have tracks that are nonfunctional because you are not in the right form?How does that interact with multiclassing?
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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2012, 02:13:43 PM »
how about things like "Freakish Transformation: whenever you switch forms, enemies within (radius) must make a will save (DC) or be [shaken] for (duration). this is a [fear] effect."?

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2012, 02:18:34 PM »
Tracks wouldn't grant "Forms" in itself - but "characteristics." For example - a shapeshifter with all three shapeshifter tracks, would take a form that is a selection between three separate characteristics. Say they choose to take a form with utter-brute style offense, defense, and utility in the form of movement aid - they wouldn't become a lion or something - their form would simply be described as "Brutish, sinewy, and swift." This way the player may flavor their alternate form however way they wish - simply keeping those "characteristics" to it. Make forms not be defined as "forms" - but the different "qualities" those forms have.
As for multiclassing, say they have but one of the three shapeshifter tracks - the offensive one. They wouldn't select to switch into a form that has three "qualities" - just one. They'd chose between being "Brutish" and "Precise (Or whatever you could call it)" - and nothing more.
This also allows a shapeshifter to turn into any combination of the previous - taking on forms that are "Precise, agile, and swift" or such.

Grue

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2012, 02:22:45 PM »
Tracks wouldn't grant "Forms" in itself - but "characteristics." For example - a shapeshifter with all three shapeshifter tracks, would take a form that is a selection between three separate characteristics. Say they choose to take a form with utter-brute style offense, defense, and utility in the form of movement aid - they wouldn't become a lion or something - their form would simply be described as "Brutish, sinewy, and swift." This way the player may flavor their alternate form however way they wish - simply keeping those "characteristics" to it. Make forms not be defined as "forms" - but the different "qualities" those forms have.
As for multiclassing, say they have but one of the three shapeshifter tracks - the offensive one. They wouldn't select to switch into a form that has three "qualities" - just one. They'd chose between being "Brutish" and "Precise (Or whatever you could call it)" - and nothing more.
This also allows a shapeshifter to turn into any combination of the previous - taking on forms that are "Precise, agile, and swift" or such.
then "whenever you change at least (number) of your characteristics" would be better?

Valixes

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2012, 02:24:25 PM »
If it ends up being made in a way that addresses characteristics/qualities of forms rather than forms itself, yes, Grue. :P

Oh and one of 7th circle abilities has to be named "One Winged Angel" or something similar. It's necessary.

Mystify

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2012, 02:42:10 PM »
Tracks wouldn't grant "Forms" in itself - but "characteristics." For example - a shapeshifter with all three shapeshifter tracks, would take a form that is a selection between three separate characteristics. Say they choose to take a form with utter-brute style offense, defense, and utility in the form of movement aid - they wouldn't become a lion or something - their form would simply be described as "Brutish, sinewy, and swift." This way the player may flavor their alternate form however way they wish - simply keeping those "characteristics" to it. Make forms not be defined as "forms" - but the different "qualities" those forms have.
As for multiclassing, say they have but one of the three shapeshifter tracks - the offensive one. They wouldn't select to switch into a form that has three "qualities" - just one. They'd chose between being "Brutish" and "Precise (Or whatever you could call it)" - and nothing more.
This also allows a shapeshifter to turn into any combination of the previous - taking on forms that are "Precise, agile, and swift" or such.
I don't really want it to consume all of your character to be a shapeshifter. If spellcasting is only 1 track, then shapeshifting shouldn't be more than 1 track either. The flexibility will exist whether it is 1 track or 3, so a brutish offensive track still has to be weaker than an utter brute, and a precise offensive track still needs to be weaker than other precision tracks. Only, now you have 3 tracks to balance instead of 1. More options are available at one. Its not "I have a 1st and a 3rd circle ability to  swap", its "I have a 3 1st level traits to pick, one from each track, and 3 3rd level traits...".
The trait idea may be workable. It is one of the ideas I came up with brainstorming. Each circle offers several traits that you can pick, and you can rearrange your combinations. The problem with that is it becomes much more a matter of "which is my favorite ability at this circle", than "which form do I want right now". The form method still leaves them generic and refluffable to what you want, without becoming a "pick your favorite options", with occasionally swapping out an ability or two as you see fit. You end up as "Precise, agile, and swift", then when needed, become "Precise, agile, and hardy". You wouldn't be taking on new forms so much as shifting traits as needed.
It also becomes more difficult to balance; instead of 5 forms, you now have a few hundred combinations. Similar to why its better to have tracks with clear abilities, than being able to choose any 1st circle ability from anywhere, then any 2nd circle ability, etc.
---------------
One ide aI thought of for a circle is a variable evasion. Basically, its evasion, but which save it relates to is dependant on your form. It only has one use per encounter, regardless of which form you are in when used. That would give you the flexibility to match your save to the opponent, and emphasis the flexibility.
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Valixes

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2012, 04:08:54 PM »
I'm not saying that it will consume your entire character - I'm just saying that no track should be a "jack of all trades" track. Even spellcasting works in a similar way in Legend, with spellcasting being put into very specific rolls that rarely deviate from those rolls in a meaningful way. In order to make shapeshifter a meaningful decision-making class, in which you have multiple abilities that are better than one another in certain situations, you need to make sure those abilities fall into specific categories that are indeed geared - if not directly, indirectly - towards specific situations.
To that end selecting which trait you are currently using would not be a circle-by-circle choice - but a track would have say, three or two traits, and selecting a trait for that track would make all variable abilities fall in line in other circles. That way you don't have to inter-balance between abilities of other traits of the same track. More importantly, this specifies certain categories the abilities are meant to fall into rather than having a hosh-posh of different traits per circle. On the offense shapeshifter track "Precise" and "Brutish" would be the only two choices - and later abilities would all fall into one or the other (Or be a passive, universal bonus). The combinations would not be hundreds - with three tracks with two traits each, you're not left with a horrendous number of combinations to concoct a form out of.

Think of 1st circle: You can select between "Precise and Brutish" when you shapeshift. This selection determines the abilities you have active at this moment from each circle for the rest of this track.

Within traits there should be clear weaknesses and strengths appropriate for dealing with different situations to give incentive players to choose between them at all. Developing the Offense shapeshifter track, "Brutish" might give more points into pure damage, and lack chance to hit, while "Precise" might be something along the lines of the opposite - more precise attacks that deal less damage. All in all though, those are just specifics.
The point of these traits is to shift between them. "Forms" are the product of different traits. Every shapeshifter is going to choose their favorite form regardless of whether it's by a "form" system or by a "trait" system - because there are still feats, items, and other tracks to consider in the making of a character. The goal is to make track(s) that have a definite number of abilities that vary in usefulness from situation to situation that are flexible enough to allow proper reactions.
The goal is to make sure that the track(s) encourage both playstyles of shape shifting - having one form that is your favorite that you beef up a lot and focus on ( A la bear warrior) but whilst keeping versatility as a clear, present, and viable option. To do this, shapeshifting has to be flexible but have definitive rolls it fills - just like spellcasting in legend.
Although I like the idea of variable evasion. If the trait system is used, the defensive track will be between "Sinewy and agile" - and that ability would fit right in and switch between some form of evasion and hard to break.

EDIT: I suggest we go ahead and write up our ideas so we can come to a physical conclusion.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 04:30:54 PM by Valixes »

Mystify

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2012, 05:40:47 PM »
I really don't want to spend 3 tracks to get proper shapeshifting. I want each form to give abilities that are in line with a single track. I mean, all of the racial tracks are 1 track. Changing your form shouldn't be more relevant than a racial track. All putting it in seperate tracks does is make it so each aspect needs the full power of a track. This one track is not going to make you capable of everything. Its not going to give you skills, only shift how good you are at the skills you do have. Its not going to give you any spellcasting.

And one big difference between traits and forms is that if you switch forms, it is a drastic change. If you switch traits, you only need to switch out one or two traits. Switching forms means everything changes.

I think you are right about posting something more concrete. I'll add a prototype to the first post
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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2012, 06:19:17 PM »
We're also probably going to need an iconic feat that covers shapeshifting of a type that is basically cosmetic (such as with a succubus' Alternate Form ability from 3.5).
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Mystify

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2012, 06:29:45 PM »
We're also probably going to need an iconic feat that covers shapeshifting of a type that is basically cosmetic (such as with a succubus' Alternate Form ability from 3.5).
That sounds good. It would thematically fit well with this track, without being actually linked.
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Mystify

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Re: Shapeshifter track
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2012, 09:21:20 PM »
I've added a basic outline of the class. It needs fleshing out and a lot of work still, but its something to look at.
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