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5E Shapeshifter question

Tom Bagwell

Villager
I'm going to be using D&D for an existing setting. So far I've found analogs for the various races and professions, except for one. The setting has a race of Lycanthropes. They're the result of a magical war ages past and have become their own race. They don't cause lycanthropy in those they attack. They have heightened senses, an ability to understand animals, and 20% retain the ability to shift (either into a were-shape or fully into their animal shape.) They tend to be...'rougher' around the edges than most humans. They can lose control and shift if provoked an unable to successfully resist.

Has anyone done a race I could use for a template? Or how would you recommend building this race?
 

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MarkB

Legend
Have you looked at Shifters from the Eberron campaign setting? They're lycanthrope descendents who take on aspects of animals. They don't fully shapechange, but they Shift into a more bestial form that grants them extra abilities - fangs, or increased speed, or enhanced senses, dependent upon which subrace you choose.
 

I'm going to be using D&D for an existing setting. So far I've found analogs for the various races and professions, except for one. The setting has a race of Lycanthropes. They're the result of a magical war ages past and have become their own race. They don't cause lycanthropy in those they attack. They have heightened senses, an ability to understand animals, and 20% retain the ability to shift (either into a were-shape or fully into their animal shape.) They tend to be...'rougher' around the edges than most humans. They can lose control and shift if provoked an unable to successfully resist.

Has anyone done a race I could use for a template? Or how would you recommend building this race?
In a different context, shamans projecting into an animal form, I am dealing with the same challenge.

I havent worked out the mechanics, but concept is simple enough. Create a race trait, worth about a half-feat, or a feat if a flying creature.


Beast Form
You gain an alternate Beast Form. Pick one natural Beast, such as a wolf, bear, or eagle. After each rest, you can spend one action, to take the form of this Beast, or to revert back to your original Humanoid Form, or to be a Transitional Form, in between Beast and Humanoid.



Gaming balance has the following concerns.
• Gaining flight, if the Beast has wings.
• Gaining physical abilities.
• Probably always retain current hit points (no new hit points, nor healing).
• Shifter is probably a good model for mechanics for the Transitional Form.
• The benefit of Beast Form and Transitional Form needs to be worth about a slot level 2 spell, thus like Misty Step, be cast per rest, and worth a half-feat.
• The Beast Form spell can be taken multiple times, each one for a different kind of animal.
 

Have you looked at Shifters from the Eberron campaign setting? They're lycanthrope descendents who take on aspects of animals. They don't fully shapechange, but they Shift into a more bestial form that grants them extra abilities - fangs, or increased speed, or enhanced senses, dependent upon which subrace you choose.
Most concepts require full transformation, making Shifters less useful.
 

MarkB

Legend
Most concepts require full transformation, making Shifters less useful.
Sure, but it's a good start that will work for the 80% that don't shapechange. For the other 20%, something along the lines of your suggested racial feat would be a good implementation.
 


I was not aware of the Eberron shifters, I'll take a look. I like the race trait as well...certainly something I might be able to use. Thanks.

Maybe we can use this thread to work out the mechanics for the Beast Form? It is something I would like to do myself, and many eyes for the sake of balance, is always appreciated.
 

Tom Bagwell

Villager
Maybe we can use this thread to work out the mechanics for the Beast Form? It is something I would like to do myself, and many eyes for the sake of balance, is always appreciated.

I might take a stab, but I'm new to 5e. What I'm likely to do is come up with something that works knowing how this particular player plays...but I doubt it will be considered "balanced" for general use.
 

I might take a stab, but I'm new to 5e. What I'm likely to do is come up with something that works knowing how this particular player plays...but I doubt it will be considered "balanced" for general use.
Would you create it as two subraces, the one with the ability to shift, and the ones without?
If so, what benefits would the non-shifters have do you think?

Alternatively have it as a single race and have racial feats granting shifting. Thus the member that are able to shift are the ones who have picked up those feats.
What animals are these people based off? That would allow you to limit issues like flying.
Natural attacks aren't often a large bonus since they generally do less damage than weapons do. Likewise animals generally have very poor armour classes. About the greatest benefit to shapeshifting without class features to back it up would be the ability to pass as a normal animal. This can be a very powerful ability if you have full shapeshifting into anything, but if these are predator or vermin forms, you can't use them for spying like you could a housecat or horse.
 

Tom Bagwell

Villager
I actually like the Eberron Shifter race for the 80% who can't totally change form, so I'll probably go with that. I just need to add a total shifting ability for the other 20% and a way to balance it.
 

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