The latest entry in Legendary Games 'Legendary Heroes' line, Legendary Shifters is 32 pages long, of which things like the table of contents, back and front covers, and OGL leave twenty-five pages for the actual content. But they are twenty-five well-used pages.
Recently Paizo released their Ultimate Wilderness book. A major selling point to many was the promise of a martial class based around shapeshifting called the shifter. Many people had their own expectations of what the class would be and not quite all were met. In this PDF Legendary Games, which has already created and re-created some amazing classes like the swashbuckler, gunslinger, and kineticist, gives us their re-imagining of the shifter. And a very amazing and delightful re-imagining it is.
The class itself is still a martial class, but things are different from the start. It can wild shape starting at first level, and they are not limited to forms derived from their aspects. It lasts slightly longer than a druid's, as they add their wisdom bonus to hours-per-level duration. They can also shapeshift from one form directly to another wild shape at the cost of some of their per-day duration. The legendary shifter gets faster at shapeshifting as they rise in level, eventually doing it as an immediate action. They are normally limited to animal and magical beast forms with a size range of diminutive to huge, but some archetypes and feats give ways around that.
They still get aspects, and as they rise in level can combine two or even three of them. They can also combine their aspects with their wild shape forms or any polymorph effects, and they get a few more aspects as they level up.
Instead of just claws they can use fangs as well with all these natural weapons being primary attacks that ignore magical DR. If they use weapons, however, their natural attacks become secondary. They get more powerful over time in terms of both what types of DR they can penetrate and how much damage they do, topping out at 2d10 at level 20. Size has no effect on the damage they do: a shifter can become a dire bear or a mouse and they'll still do the same damage. The shifter can apply their natural weapon level benefits to whatever natural weapons they may possess in their wild shaped forms. I like that as it encourages the shifter to wild shape while permitting them to keep the improved natural weapons the class grants. It is unclear, however, if the Improved Natural Attack feat can be applied to the shifter's claws and fangs.
The legendary shifter still gets wild empathy and track, and defensive instinct. It provides an untyped bonus to AC and CMD, full Wisdom bonus if unarmored and without a shield, half the bonus if armored. The bonus increases every fourth level and applies against touch attacks and when the legendary shifter is flat-footed. They get woodland stride and trackless step at later levels.
The legendary shifter now gets bonus combat or wild shape feats starting at fourth level. And unsurprisingly, their keystone ability is the ability to shapeshift at will. They also gain the shapeshifter subtype and are only affected by transmutation affects when they allow it.
The basic class information is followed by an expanded list of aspects. The old ones are all here and the new aspects of Chameleon, Narwhal, Porcupine, and Shark are listed with their full benefits. Chameleon makes you stealthier, Narwhal provides a gore attack, Porcupine inflicts damage on anyone striking you in melee combat, and Shark increases the damage you inflict on wounded opponents.
Then comes the new archetypes, and here we get some truly glorious ones. The Bound Beastmaster gains an animal companion. She increases its natural weaponry damage rather than hers, though she still gets the base claw and fang damage, and over time can share both her aspects and her wild shape with her companion. Dragon Touched get a breath weapon in place of claws, improved senses and wings as they level up. They can also wild shape into a small dragon at first level. Their form is limited in several ways at first – not as many attacks and no flight speed. However it improves over time until they can finally become a huge dragon. They start out with one type of dragon they can become but eventually become capable of turning into three different dragons, gaining their breath weapons as well.
The Elemental Kineticist gains some of the kineticist class abilities including kinetic blast, though only when done as a kinetic fist. They can transform into elementals and gain a few wild talents as they grow in power. The Fairy Shifter can wild shape into fey. They can also cast druid and ranger spells up to 6th level at the cost of a reduced hit die and lowered BAB.
The Giant Shifter turns, well, into a giant. Very simple and straightforward but if you have the room and want to crush your enemies underfoot it works wonderfully.
The Lycanthropic Warrior gets fewer aspects and a smaller pool to choose new ones from. They also lose defensive instinct and gain DR/silver equal to half their character level as well as immunity to lycanthropy. They can also use a hybrid form of their base and alternate forms, with legs to walk on, hands to hold with, and they are able to talk. They also keep their gear. I think this archetype is going to be popular.
The Metamorphic Genius has a reduced BAB and hit die, and uses intelligence rather then wisdom for defensive instinct. In exchange they get alchemy and extracts as the alchemist class, together with a reduced level requirement for any transmutation extract the alchemist can normally use and extended duration on them all. And a limited number of times per day they can change the form granted by one extract either to another one permitted by it or to one granted by another extract of equal or lower level. I recall some people wanting a shapeshifting-focused warrior-like alchemist, here they get one.
The Mimickin turns you into a Mimic. No, really. You can secrete glue, turn into objects, and eventually swallow people whole. Plus you get improved Disguise and Stealth skills. The somewhat similar Oozeling turns you into an Ooze, allowing you to resume your normal form whenever you like. You can't become a magical beast but you eventually turn into a Huge ooze. You get other oozy abilities as you level up as well. These two are so bizarre people are going to love them.
Probably the simplest and shortest Pathfinder archetype I've ever seen is the Mystically Trained one. You lose your bonus feats and trackless step in exchange for ranger spells.
The Necromorph is as the name suggests undead-related. You lose your aspects in exchange for getting the ability to cast a few spells to create and control undead. You gain 'undead empathy' that can be used with mindless undead and can transform into vaguely humanoid shaped undead. You can eventually turn into incorporeal undead, though your duration takes a serious and game-balancing bite if you do. Creepily, instead of woodland stride you learn how to preserve the body of anyone you kill with a natural attack for later reanimation. You also can hide in plain sight and eventually become a lich.
Protean Mutants lose aspects but gain evolutions like a summoner's eidolon. He gains a small pool he can use even on his base form and a larger one he can use on his alternate form. The former points can be changed every 24 hours and the latter whenever he changes his form. A bizarre archetype that will be a big hit with everyone who ever loved the summoner.
Last comes the Polymorph Savant prestige class. If the legendary shifter can become animals and magical beasts, this can become just about anything. Vermin, monstrous humanoids, ooze, fey, plant, dragon, you name it. If you truly want to become anything and everything this is for you.
There are some new feats. Animal Spirit allows you to use Charisma rather then Wisdom to determine any shifter class effects. You can also add your Charisma bonus to your Will save instead of Wisdom, up to a limit equal to your shifter level. Basic Alteration allows you to become a Small or Medium humanoid with shifter shape, and to speak in all your forms. I love those two. Bestial Roots permits many of the archetypes to transform into animals like the base legendary shifter. Miniature Reach allows you to treat your natural reach as 5 feet even when size Tiny or smaller. The last three feats – Morphic Berserker, Morphic Lyricist, and Morphic Stalker – all allow you to combine levels in barbarian, bard (and I assume skald), or stalker with your legendary shifter levels to determine things like your defensive instinct bonus and how long you can rage, use bardic performance, or the bonus studied combat provides. Berserker also allows you to use Intimidate to demoralize as a free action when you active both rage and your shifter shape in the same round. Lyricist permits you to speak, spellcast, and use bardic performances while under a polymorph effect. And Stalker lets you use shifter shape as an immediate action whenever a studied target makes an attack roll against you.
There are also three new polymorph spells, object form I-III. They do what you think and turn you into an object. Sadly they don't let you become a golem or construct but statues count as objects too. The PDF ends with a sample character, Ines, who has a backstory and a fey-like love of mischief that can make her both a useful if fickle ally and a maddening antagonist as required.
In conclusion? I love this one. Good as the original shifter may be this is a wonderful improvement while still keeping with the simplicity of the original class design. Everything that needs to be explained is, and clearly. And it is just plain fun. Want to become an animal, a dragon, an undead, an ooze, a statue? There are options here for all of them and more besides. Legendary Shifter is an amazing improvement on the original class and leaves me hoping we may get a few more archetypes for the class from Legendary Games or someone else. A new Fiendflesh or Verdant shifter, perhaps? Maybe a Hagskin or something else monstrous humanoid focused?
Seriously though this one has you covered if you want martial or arcane or improved druidic/natural shapeshifting. It's like getting half a dozen new classes with the same central theme but all-new angles on it.
If you want shapeshifting action for your character or campaign, if you're just curious, maybe even if you don't think you'd ever need it, GET THIS ONE. Five stars and one of the heartiest recommendations I've ever given.
[5 of 5 Stars!]