View Full Version : Open-ended shapeshifting idea

2014-01-14, 10:12 PM
The Pathfinder Summoner's Eidolon (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/base-classes/summoner/eidolons), and the evolution point system therein, make for a pretty fun game of "build-a-monster." What if, I wonders, we took that same system, the same list of evolutions, and used it for a shapeshifter class?

So you'd have, oh, 5 points in your evolution pool. As a full-round action or whatever, you could spend them on whatever evolutions you wanted, morphing yourself wings, extra arms, and scent. A bit later, you might take another action to remove the wings but grow claws on both sets of arms. Later still, you might dump both arms to grab blindsight.

Does that seem like it'd be worth building a class around?

2014-01-14, 10:25 PM
I've actually been meaning to develop something along those lines. I would contribute.

2014-01-14, 10:27 PM
So in essence a synthesist summoner that could change around its eidolon-armor-thing at will? Sounds like fun to me. Plus then you could put together "recommended builds" to mimic certain creatures, like scales, wings, claws, a bite, and a breath weapon for a dragon or something.

2014-01-14, 10:32 PM
Here's a nice place to look for ideas. (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=10901)

2014-01-14, 11:35 PM
Quellian-dyrae (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=201021) also did some work on Evolutions for use by players. Mostly through LA or HD, but with his expansions and limits it should also offer many great insights.

The numbers aren't too far off either. EP for LA is broken is snot in gestalt though, but thats not really an issue here.

Tanuki Tales
2014-01-15, 12:15 AM
I actually had an idea for this as well, but had put it on the backburner.

Milo v3
2014-01-15, 07:26 AM
Sounds like a mutator class (www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=240717&page=1) to me...

Just make a base class around having a few Forms, with each form having an allotment of mutations. Then u can change between the forms and your natural one a few times per day or something.

Or you could just have say one "Shapeshifted" form and a natural form, but you can change the mutations of the Shapeshifted form daily or something.

2014-01-15, 05:20 PM
Modifying the Synthesist would probably require the least work, and it's something I plan to do for a homebrew campaign of mine.

The Synthesist as written is poorly worded, it is unclear whether or not you retain your own form or the form of the Eidolon, it lets you ignore your physical stats, and many evolutions were simply not meant to be applied directly to a PC, such as Spell Resistance or Skilled (or extra limbs, for that matter).

It would be pretty easy to go over the evolutions and make them more appropriate for a PC, however.

2014-01-16, 12:21 AM
Hey, why not try building a little something here?

We can use the basis of the class as being a shapeshifter. Bonuses to resist shapechange magic, yada yada yada. Now, my imagining of such a class would be that the shapechanger can assume new forms on the drop of a hat, assuming their bodies can take it. Rather than making it a simple point-based system, let's add some skill to the mix. We have that fun Control Shape skill that no one ever uses, so let's make it the center of our class.

The major ability of the Changer is that they can shapeshift. Anything they want, anything they can imagine, on the fly. You want wings? Shift. Claws? Shift again. A giant prehensile tongue? You got it; shift.

The problem is, a mortal body can only take so much shapechanging before it starts experiencing problems. Every Morph requires a certain level of skill, as well as an associated body part. While it is possible to shapechange a Morph without the associated body part, it is difficult, because the associated body part offers up a template to build off of.

For instance, a Human Changer wants to get a swim speed. It's not a huge difference, the hydrodynamic form is pretty easy to think about, and mostly involves changing the arms and legs into fins while streamlining the body and adjusting the way the muscles work. However, this makes walking on land fairly hard, reducing (or outright removing) the Human's land speed. The Human could change into a form which still possessed a land speed, perhaps by forcing a particularly large arm-transformation, shifting the focus on total streamlining to something more muscle based, but that will cause penalties in other areas.

The point is, any transformation is going to carry some drawbacks as well as benefits. Even worse, if the Changer needs to shift again on the fly, the difficulty in retaining their shape increases.

Let's assume each Morph has an associated DC for Control Shape. A Changer can shift back into their natural form without too much trouble, and this removes most of the strain on their body, but it also takes time; a full-round action to shift back, and then a further action (probably a move action) to take advantage of a new Morph.

However, let's say they don't have the time or desire to shift back into their natural form. The Human Changer, while fighting off a vicious wolf, realizes that he needs an advantage. The wolf is too strong to simply fight hand to hand, so the Changer increases his muscle mass to help fight it off (+Str). But, the wolf is still dangerous, tearing out chunks of his flesh. To fend it off more, he Morphs some thicker skin onto himself (+Natural Armor). This is helpful, but any time he tries to get close to the wolf it trips him, then goes for his throat while he's down. To get around that, he widens his legs, making it harder to trip him. But, even now, the wolf is too fast for him. He needs something more, and decides to grow some spines to stab the wolf if it attacks him.

This is too much. The Changer's body simply cannot stand this large number of consecutive Morphs, and at this point the Changer's body resists, not only causing the spines not to form, but twisting his body into a painful, difficult to maneuver form (-Dex, hp damage). The wolf, however, gets freaked out by the Changer's body making horrible squishing sounds, and runs off.

With that out of the way, we have the basic system in place. We can go through the Eidolon's Evolutions and assign some DCs to them later. For now, let's make an interesting class.

The ability to shapeshift is the core ability, but there should be some more interesting things. High resistance to shapechanging magic, some favored Morph's which don't impose on their bodies because they are so natural to perform, maybe a way to detect other shapechangers by noticing weird flaws in their bodies. Another interesting ability would be a series of "common forms" which the Changer takes so often that they can quickly shift into them, in essence making a list of Morphs which compose the form and can be treated as the Changer's natural form, meaning the Changer can assume that form as a single full-round action.

And with that, I think we have a pretty solid, interesting class. Could probably throw some more things in there, but for half an hour of brainstorming, I'm pretty happy with that.

2014-01-16, 12:30 AM
@Domriso-- I... cannot in good heart support that approach. It seems to marry the difficulties of skill check-based class features (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214115) with a decision to punish players for using their class features.

2014-01-16, 01:24 AM
@Domriso: that sounds a lot like that rod of tongues from Book of Vile Darkness.

The largest issue I can think of is that many of the things you mentioned are extremely specific. You'll have to create a morph for every conceivable situation or else use a very general rule which will be abusable.

2014-01-16, 01:25 AM
Using Truenaming as an example for all skill-based casting is a poor choice. I've used several such systems before, and most work quite well, so long as the DCs are balanced well.

As for punishment... I like punishment-based systems. It might not be everyone's favorite, but I like built in restrictions, especially when they offer up interesting roleplaying opportunities.

So, while I understand your objections, I respectfully disagree.

2014-01-16, 01:43 AM
Using Truenaming as an example for all skill-based casting is a poor choice. I've used several such systems before, and most work quite well, so long as the DCs are balanced well.
While inventing a new skill helps, skill checks are... one of those really awkward optimization-sensitive things. If you set the DCs to something reasonable at low-op (ie, for a new player), moderate optimization will walk all over it. If you set 'em to be a challenge for mid-op, non-optimizers will struggle. There's not really a way to win, short of using a system that can't be cheesed (ie, class level checks)

As for punishment... I like punishment-based systems. It might not be everyone's favorite, but I like built in restrictions, especially when they offer up interesting roleplaying opportunities.
Fair enough. I respect your respectful disagreement.

2014-01-16, 12:07 PM
@Anachronity - The concept of the Changer would be to place a varied list of Morphs in front of the character. You don't necessarily need to create a list of every conceivable transformation, you just need a reasonable list and let the DM decide if the player can do things outside of that.

@Grod_The_Giant - Part of the implement of the possibility to overwhelm themselves with Morphs was to counteract the potential for abuse by the skill-based system. Sure, you can massively over-inflate your skill, but that won't save you from trying to use too many transformations on a single form. Still possible to build interesting combinations of Morphs, but more difficult to achieve a completely overwhelming option.