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Author Topic: A guide to the Shifter (PNP) class  (Read 3490 times)

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October 27, 2021, 11:42:02 AM
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PNP Shifter
        Part 1: Entry       

First, this guide will be covering the “Shifter (PNP)” class added by the PRC. The Bioware created shifter class is unrelated except in theme. I’ll be using “Shifter” throughout the document to refer to “Shifter (PNP)” throughout this guide and “Bioshifter” to refer to Bioware’s class.
Requirements to enter this class are somewhat unique and complex. I’ve pasted the requirements from the manual below and numbered them in my own fashion. You must meet **ALL 3** requirements before you can take levels in the class.
1)   Spellcasting: 3rd level spells.
2)   Feats: Alertness, Endurance
3)   Special: You must be able to assume an alternate form. See the following list:
a)   Arcane or divine classes with the ability to cast Polymorph Self. This includes:
Archivist (spell level 4, class level 7)
Hexblade (spell level 4, class level 14)
Ranger (spell level 4, class level 15)
Shaman (spell level 4, class level 7)
Sublime Chord (spell level 4)
Sorcerer (spell level 4, class level 8 )
Suel Archanamach (spell level 4, class level 8 )
Wizard (spell level 4, class level 7)
Divine classes having the Animal domain, which gives the ability to cast Shapechange at spell level 9.
b)   Classes with the ability to use one of these invocations:
Mask of Flesh, Humanoid Shape, Spider Shape, Hellspawned Grace.
c)   Classes with certain special abilities:
Bonded Summoner: Elemental Form (Level 10)
Druid: Wild Shape (Level 5)
Initiate of Draconic Mysteries: Dragon Shape (Level 10)
Ninja Spy: Thousand Faces (Level 7)
Werewolf: Alternate Form, Wolf (Level 1)
d)   Certain races:
Hound Archon
Naztharune Rakshasa
Yuan-ti Pureblood
Zakya Rakshasa

Requirement #1 is pretty straightforward. Any character that wants to be a shifter needs to be able to cast level 3 spells.  Level 3 spells means level 3 **SPELLS**. No AMS qualifies for this, shadowcasting, invoking, incarnum, psionics, and binding are all a no to this requirement.  Arcane OR divine casting of any spell labeled 3rd level.

Requirement #2 is simple.  Take those two feats. Nothing tricky here, both are general feats with no requirements. Not much else to say here, both are mostly worthless outside of meeting requirements.

Requirement #3 is where things get somewhat tricky.  There are 4 ways to meet this requirement currently, we will take them in order. 

3a is casting the “Polymorph Self” spell, this is pretty straightforward. Classes listed above can cast it at the indicated level.

3b is able to be met by 2 of the 3 base invoking classes: Dragonfire Adept (Humanoid Shape) and Warlock (the remainder).  **IMPORTANT NOTE** A character meeting requirement 3 with an invocation must still be able to meet requirement #1 (invocations =/= spells)

3c is straightforward.  Certain classes grant an ability to change shape as listed above.

3d Certain races have a racial ability that will allow you to meet this requirement.

Assuming you’ve met the requirements you are now a Shifter, welcome.

      Part 2: So What? (Description of class and abilities)   

The Shifter class will allow you to learn different shapes to shift into.  This may sound very similar to Wild Shape or Polymorph spells and it is, but there is a big difference.  Greater Wild Shape (GWS) is the class’s defining ability.  GWS will allow you to eventually take the shape of any enemy that crosses your path.  In game, you will take on the appearance of the enemy, but more importantly you will copy the target’s Physical Ability Scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution) and other characteristics.  Other characteristics includes feats, immunities, damage resistance, natural attacks, natural armor, bonus hit points, movement speed, et cetera: as far as the game is concerned you **BECOME** the target, but better.  Sounds pretty good, right? It gets better.

In Epic levels (starting at Shifter level 11) you will gain uses of Epic Wild Shape (EWS). Certain shapes that you learn will have abilities that you can use when in that shape.  Example: breathing fire while shifted into a Red Dragon. When using EWS (not GWS) you gain all of the benefits of GWS, but you will also receive an item in your inventory (pictured below) that will activate these abilities. Simply drag this item onto your quickbar and assign the commands as normal. Note: many of these abilities have a limited number of daily uses, but some are unlimited so explore.

But barmlot, you said “You become the target, but better” what do you mean, better?  Easy: you retain your characters Mental Ability Scores (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma).  You also retain any and all of your abilities granted by any other classes that your character may have, as well as your equipment including any magical bonuses from that equipment.  There are a few caveats, chief among them is that some shapes are not able to cast spells naturally. The Natural Spell feat is available and it allows you to cast spells in shapes that can normally not cast spells.

Another concern is when you can learn which shapes. The schedule is two part - it depends on both your Shifter Class level and your Hit Dice (HD). As you gain levels in Shifter you will unlock more racial type and size category.  Eventually you will be able to learn the shape of all sizes in the game and every racial type except Fey and Shapechanger.  For example, you need to have at least 8 Shifter levels to learn the shape of a golem (construct racial type). Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you can learn the shape of any golem, it is also limited by your HD. Simply put HD is the sum of all of your class levels (a druid 5/shifter 10 has a total of 15 HD).  You can only learn the shapes of up to your current character level. In other words: our level 15 druid/shifter cannot learn the shape of an Iron Golem which is 18 HD (this can vary by module) and our character is only 15 HD.

But what about custom creatures, those that exist in the module but are outside of the standard creatures in the game?  You can learn those shapes too, but with some caveats.  If the creature you are learning the shape of is custom, you can only use that shape while you are playing in that specific module.  I’ll use Loxar, that big half orc with the scythe in Chapter 1 of The Wailing Death (aka the OC) as an example.  If you learn Loxar’s shape, you will be able to use his shape so long as you are Act 1.  Once you transition out of Act 1 you will not be able to use that shape any longer.  This holds true for most custom creatures (think bosses and mini-bosses/most named enemies).  Custom creature shapes can be useful and are certainly some of the strongest available depending on the module, but I will recommend that you focus on standard shapes since they will always be available.

     Part 3: But How? (How to use the Shifter)   
After you take your first level, nothing spectacular happens immediately.  You must access your new abilities through the class radial options pictured below:
Note: Picture above includes (infinite) after Greater Wild Shape and Epic Wild Shape (x3). You will not have these options at level one, you will simply have a “Greater Wild Shape” with 1 use for now. As you gain levels you will unlock more uses, eventually getting an infinite amount.  Epic Wild Shape comes later as well; more on that…later

Greater Wild Shape (GWS) –To use this in game you would select this ability and then select a target. If you are of sufficient level to learn that target’s shape, you will polymorph after a short animation and assume the shape of the target.

Epic Wild Shape (EWS) – EWS is GWS with an additional bonus for some shapes.  The ability is used in the exact same manner as GWS above.

Shifter Options: This will open a dialog that will allow you to manage the shapes you have learned, among other things.

Return to True Form:  This will unshift you.

Quick Shift Slots:  You can assign certain shapes you know to quick shift slots through the Shifter Options dialog.

Learn Shape:  This is used the same way as GWS except that you only learn the shape of the target (provided you are eligible) and add it to your known shapes, you will not shift into the target when using this ability.

Shifter Options in depth:
When you click on shifter options you should get a dialog popup that looks like this:

Note: option 2 will only show if you have 11+ shifter levels
Options 1 and 2 will open a sub-dialog that shows a list of all the shapes that you have learned and shift you into that shape when selected.

Option 3 will show the same list but will not shift you when you select a shape.  Instead, Option 3 will print the shape’s details in the chat dialog buffer as a wall of yellow text (pic below)

This chat buffer text will also print after you change shape and when you use learn shape, it contains all of the key information about the shape.

Option 4 is where you manage your Quick Shift Slots.  Assign a shape to a slot and then you can shift into it using the class radial, without having to go through the shifter options dialog. 

Option 5 will allow you to remove shapes from your list of known shapes.  This is mostly used to remove custom shapes from previous modules that are no longer available.  You could also use this to just trim down your list if you don’t like sorting through many shapes. Note: once deleted there is no recovery, you will only be able to learn the shape again through the learn shape ability.  Delete wisely if at all.

Option 6 is a big class feature that is easy to overlook. It will get it’s own section below.

Option 7 will let you explore the packages (see package section below) to see which shapes are available to be learned without locking you in to a package type.

Option 8 has a few sub-options. Sub-option 1 will allow you to use GWS more often if you have Druid Wild Shape uses. It is a 1 to 1 trade and useful.  Recommend turning this on if you have 5+ druid levels.  If you don’t have druid levels, ignore this.  Sub-options 2-4 are for advanced studies outside the scope of this guide, feel free to explore (as always, be careful when deleting).

     Part 4: More on Packages:   

Shifter Options dialog option 6 will allow you to learn some shapes (1 per level) from a list provided as part of the class. Use this option each and every time after you gain a Shifter level.  Selecting this option at first level will bring you to a package selection. Choose whichever package you want, both have some good shapes to learn, it doesn’t really matter (you can always use the explore packages option before making a selection). Once you make a package selection you are locked in and cannot change to the other package.

The General Package is intended to provide a shape for you to learn as you unlock different racial types. You get a list of 1-3 shapes per level and can choose one of them to add to your list for free.  For levels 1-9 You can only choose one of the shapes shown to add to your list. Levels 10+ give you more flexability and allow you to choose shapes from previous levels (this is generally a bad idea as you will have unlocked better shapes by then). After selecting a package you will then be shown a menu that looks very similar to the package list menu just used.  Simply select the package you selected in the previous menu and it will list the shapes available for that level (I will use General Package #2 in this guide)

Once at the “Select shape to learn” dialog pictured on the right, choose a shape.  Once you make a selection that shape is added to your list and you are taken back to the main screen of the Shifter Options dialog.  Take note of option 4 in the picture above left.  This will skip your free shape at this level, there is no benefit to skipping unless you like to have a small list of shapes known. Skipping cannot be undone. Also, there is no display shape or confirmation in this menu, so use the explore option (option 7 above) before entering the learn new shape (option 6) menu if you want details.  This is the general process for learning shapes from packages and is relatively straightforward.  You will get new choices at each level 1-9 per the “Explanation of shape packages” below. 

Level 10 is a special level that will list many packages that you can choose from.  This is a “free bonus shape” and the only time you will get to choose from any package available, including the focus packages.  There are 2 more Focus Packages available that are not pictured: Undead and Warrior.  You can choose any shape you qualify for from these packages at level 10 dependant on your total HD.  You will choose a major and minor focus package at level 11, so the bonus choice at level 10 is best used on a unique shape from a focus package that you will not be choosing as your major or minor focus. You can also use the bonus shape from either of the general packages which will allow you to choose shapes from past level choices and also have some new options.

Levels 11-20: you choose a major focus package and a minor focus package from the list.  At these levels you will get to choose from either the General Package that you first selected or from your major/minor focus packages. You can only make 1 choice from your minor focus package and 2 total from your major focus package during these 10 class levels. That is to say you can either choose 10 General package shapes or 7 General package shapes and 2 Major Focus Shapes and 1 Minor Focus shape during levels 11-20.  Once you have used your minor focus shape you cannot access that package again.  Levels 21-30 repeat this process but reset the count limit on Major and Minor Focus packages. Use your focus package choices sparingly, but make sure you use them before level 20.  Don’t fret, the General Packages are always available and have good choices available (but not as good as the focus packages).

It is important to keep in mind that packages are only 1 of the 2 available ways to learn new shapes.  They are provided as an opportunity to access racial types that you may not normally cross paths with in whichever module you are playing.  The other way to learn shapes is the Learn Shape ability in your class radial, do not overlook this.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2021, 01:28:31 PM by barmlot »