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Grod_The_Giant
2018-07-13, 09:50 AM
Conclave of the Skinwalkers

Skinhunter: Beginning at 3rd level, you learn the secrets of tapping into the powers and abilities of animals. As an action, you may consumed the body parts of an animals in order to assume one of its powers. You may gain any one ability on the following list which is also possessed by the animal you consumed. If the ability requires a saving throw, the DC is 8+Proficiency+Wisdom modifier.

1: Natural Attacks (Requirements: none): Your unarmed strikes deal 1d6 slashing damage and have the finesse quality. Even if you do not have the Two-Weapon Fighting Style, you can make an attack with a natural weapon as a bonus action and add your ability modifier to the damage.
2: Special Senses (Requirements: Any animal with special senses): You gain any of the following senses which the consumed animal also possessed: Darkvision, any Keen ____ ability.
3: Alternate Movement (Requirements: Any animal with a special movement): You gain one special movement mode normally possessed by the animal: a climb speed equal to your move speed, a swim speed equal to your move speed, a 10ft burrow speed, or a 10ft bonus to your base land speed (if the animal has a base speed of 40ft or higher).
4: Pounce (Requirements: The Pounce, Charge, Trampling Charge ability): If you move at least 20ft straight towards a target and hit with a melee attack, that creature takes an additional 1d8 damage and must make a Strength save or be knocked prone.
5: Animalistic Leaping (Requirement: any beast with the Standing Leap or Running Leap ability): You may jump up to 30ft as a long jump or 15ft as a high jump, with or without a running start.
6: Natural Armor (Requirements: Any animal whose AC entry specifies natural armor): When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 13 + your Dexterity modifier. When wearing armor, you may either use that value or your normal armor bonus +1.
7: Constrict (Requirement: any snake or octopus: If you hit with an unarmed strike, you may attempt to start a grapple as a bonus action. Once you have grappled a target, they are restrained, and you may use your reaction to deal 1d8+Str damage to them.
8: Rampage (Requirement: Hyena): If you reduce a creature to zero hit points, you may take a bonus action to move up to half your speed and make a melee attack.
9: Poison ((Requirements: Any animal with the Sting ability, or a natural weapon capable of dealing poison damage): Your unarmed strikes deal 1d4 piercing damage, and any target struck must make a Constitution save or take an additional 2d6 poison damage or gain the Poisoned condition for 1 minute.
10: Webs (Requirement: any spider): Once per minute, you may make a ranged weapon attack against a creature within 30ft. If you hit, they are restrained by the webbing until they succeed on a Strength save as an action to escape.
11: Powerful Build (Requirement: any animal larger than you, or with the Beast of Burden ability): You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift. You have Advantage on Strength checks.
12: Mimicry (Requirements: Raven or parrot): You can mimic sounds you have heard, including voices. A creature that hears the sounds you make can tell they are imitations with a successful Wisdom (Insight) check, with a DC of 8+Prof+Wis.

Powers last for one hour once acquired, and you may use this ability a number of times per Short Rest equal to your Constitution modifier. You may use it again before the first power has worn off, but doing so instantly ends the first effect.

Most Skinwalkers keep a pouch well stocked with preserved bits of the meat, fur, and other bits they use to fuel their abilities. You may assemble such a pouch with one week of downtime to hunt, or by spending 25 gp to purchase replacement parts from local hunters and merchants. As long as you have your pouch, you are assumed to have all the components you need to use your abilities, much like a spell component pouch.

However, fresher parts have more potent effects. During a long rest, you may collect three random body parts by hunting-- roll a d12 to determine which sorts you obtain. You may also obtain one fresh body part from the corpse of a Beast. When you consume a fresh body part, you gain temporary hit points equal to your Ranger level in addition to the piece's normal effects. Parts remain fresh for 24 hours, or until you complete a long rest.

(Extra Attack: If using the Revised Ranger, beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.)

Skinwalk: Beginning at 7th level, you gain the ability to assume the forms of animals. This ability works as a Moon Druidís Wild Shape, including the improved CR limits, but with the following changes: Assuming an alternate form requires a fresh or preserved pelt of the new form and takes ten minutes, but may be done any number of times per day. You retain your original hit points and hit dice, and your new form remains in place until you choose to shuck it as an action. You may talk while in your new form, though your words are garbled enough to impose Disadvantage on any checks requiring precise or persuasive speech.

Pelts can typically be purchased for between 1 and 25 gp, depending on the rarity of the animal, or may be acquired with a day's downtime in an appropriate environment. Pelts may be reused as many times as you like.

Greater Skinhunter: Beginning at 11th level, you can gain greater benefits from your Skinhunter ability.

Multiattack (Requirement: Multiattack): Your unarmed strikes deal 1d6 damage and have the finesse quality. As an action, you may make three unarmed strikes. This counts as an attack action for the purposes of two-weapon fighting and similar abilities, but does not stack with Extra Attack.
Blindsight (Requirement: Blindsight): You gain blindsight out to 30ft.
Pack Tactics ((Requirement: Pack Tactics): You have advantages on attack rolls against a creature if one of your allies is adjacent to it.
Fly Speed (Requirement: Fly speed): You grow wings and gain a fly speed equal to your walk speed.
Blood Frenzy (Requirement: Any shark or quipper): You have advantage on unarmed strikes against a target that doesn't have all its hit points.


Greater Skinshift: Beginning at 14th level, you may use your Skinwalk ability to assume the forms of Humanoids and Giants, though you must obey the normal limits on your new formís Challenge Rating. If a Humanoid or Giant form is the same size as your original one, you may keep your equipment.

jiriku
2018-11-14, 06:37 PM
In reverse order:

Greater Skinshift: Do you assume the form of the specific giant or humanoid you're wearing? That's... very gross and very Hannibal Lector, but potentially useful for infiltration. I imagine that simply knowing that some rangers can wear the skin of people will result in significant prejudice and violence against, them, especially when the local peasant mob needs someone to blame for an unexplained disappearance.

Skinhunter / Greater Skinhunter: I like the theme. Every group I've ever played in has had somebody who liked to collect body parts. This will appeal to those players. I could ask for a little flavor text to indicate the degree to which the character takes on the appearance of the consumed animal.

I agree with how you've broken up the abilities in the higher tier and lower tier.

Judging balance is weird because you're relying on two subsystems of the game that I and most of my DMs pay little attention to: tracking time in 10-minute intervals and tracking character expenditures down to the gold piece. If you were to just skin-bomb and load up 5 features at once, you'd be an unstoppable monstrosity -- but it takes 50 minutes to do that and your abilities then wear off one every 10 minutes for the next hour. And since you're eating stuff far faster than you can acquire it from encounters, you're spending 5-50 gp per short rest to maintain your powers.

I feel like this is going to be a problem for many groups. Low or high wealth infliuences the subclass power. Careful or careless tracking of time and wealth influences power. Traveling in a region without the right kind of animals or without shops influences power. This isn't the only class to be context-dependent -- far from it -- but it is the only class that can potentially become completely unable to use its class features in the wrong context. With you at the helm, I'm sure that won't be a problem -- you're an experienced DM and as the author of the class you know what it needs. But a novice DM who is only glancingly familiar with the homebrew will not be aware that this class needs a little coddling.

One possible solution is to be very generous with how much you can harvest from a single beast. Right now that doesn't seem to be defined. Another possibility might be to establish a specific downtime activity, "hunt for beast trophies" in the style of the other formal downtime activities presented in 5e. The important bit is that access to the bits required to use your class features should be a function of player agency and decision-making, not the DM providence of what ends up at the local general store or on the random encounter table.

Minor detail: the Webs skinshift is the only one that allows a save but does not list the formula for the save. You could trim the text slightly by putting the formula in the introductory block and removing it from all the individual skinshift listings.

Skinwalker: An hour to don the skin seems a bit harsh. That's long enough that everyone else gets a short rest, at a level where the wizard may say "look, we're in a hurry, can't I just polymorph you so we can get going?" Why does it take so long? I'd think that 10 minutes or even 1 minute would do, if your goal is just to make it a non-combat action.

Unarmed Strike: There is this whole brouhaha about natural weapons and unarmed strikes, and whether something is the one, the other, or both at once. It is beyond me to sort it all out. I'll just mention here that I'm surprised you can't deal slashing damage with unarmed strike while skinshifted into a form that improves unarmed strikes.

Grod_The_Giant
2018-11-15, 09:59 AM
Greater Skinshift: Do you assume the form of the specific giant or humanoid you're wearing? That's... very gross and very Hannibal Lector, but potentially useful for infiltration. I imagine that simply knowing that some rangers can wear the skin of people will result in significant prejudice and violence against, them, especially when the local peasant mob needs someone to blame for an unexplained disappearance.
Oh yeah, "creepy and gross" was very much what I was going for. Being able to turn into an Ogre or Hill Giant has some combat utility, too.


Skinhunter / Greater Skinhunter: I like the theme. Every group I've ever played in has had somebody who liked to collect body parts. This will appeal to those players. I could ask for a little flavor text to indicate the degree to which the character takes on the appearance of the consumed animal.

I agree with how you've broken up the abilities in the higher tier and lower tier.
Good, that's something I was worried about.


Judging balance is weird because you're relying on two subsystems of the game that I and most of my DMs pay little attention to: tracking time in 10-minute intervals and tracking character expenditures down to the gold piece. If you were to just skin-bomb and load up 5 features at once, you'd be an unstoppable monstrosity -- but it takes 50 minutes to do that and your abilities then wear off one every 10 minutes for the next hour. And since you're eating stuff far faster than you can acquire it from encounters, you're spending 5-50 gp per short rest to maintain your powers.

I feel like this is going to be a problem for many groups. Low or high wealth infliuences the subclass power. Careful or careless tracking of time and wealth influences power. Traveling in a region without the right kind of animals or without shops influences power. This isn't the only class to be context-dependent -- far from it -- but it is the only class that can potentially become completely unable to use its class features in the wrong context. With you at the helm, I'm sure that won't be a problem -- you're an experienced DM and as the author of the class you know what it needs. But a novice DM who is only glancingly familiar with the homebrew will not be aware that this class needs a little coddling.

One possible solution is to be very generous with how much you can harvest from a single beast. Right now that doesn't seem to be defined. Another possibility might be to establish a specific downtime activity, "hunt for beast trophies" in the style of the other formal downtime activities presented in 5e. The important bit is that access to the bits required to use your class features should be a function of player agency and decision-making, not the DM providence of what ends up at the local general store or on the random encounter table.
...crap. Caught out by my own law :/

Downtime activity is good, yeah. Maybe some minor bonus for using a really fresh part, though? I like the image of being able to make use of your kills.


Minor detail: the Webs skinshift is the only one that allows a save but does not list the formula for the save. You could trim the text slightly by putting the formula in the introductory block and removing it from all the individual skinshift listings.
Good idea.


Skinwalker: An hour to don the skin seems a bit harsh. That's long enough that everyone else gets a short rest, at a level where the wizard may say "look, we're in a hurry, can't I just polymorph you so we can get going?" Why does it take so long? I'd think that 10 minutes or even 1 minute would do, if your goal is just to make it a non-combat action.
I was thinking of the long activation time to balance the at will/no time limit nature of the ability, but 10 minutes ought to work just as well-- enough that you can't do it in a pinch, while being much less disruptive.


Unarmed Strike: There is this whole brouhaha about natural weapons and unarmed strikes, and whether something is the one, the other, or both at once. It is beyond me to sort it all out. I'll just mention here that I'm surprised you can't deal slashing damage with unarmed strike while skinshifted into a form that improves unarmed strikes.
...you're right.

jiriku
2018-11-15, 11:23 AM
Downtime activity is good, yeah. Maybe some minor bonus for using a really fresh part, though? I like the image of being able to make use of your kills.

Hmm, brainstorming freely here...


Abilities last until you complete a long rest, but add a level-based (rather than stat-based) restriction on the number active. Eating a part when you are at your maximum forces you to discard one of your currently active effects.

Abilities are gained permanently when you eat a part, but you can only have a set number active at once. You must meditate on your tummy or something to call up that which you have consumed. This shifts the class from "always be snacking" to "gotta collect 'em all!" Potentially this adds room to explore more features from other creature types to extend the list of what you can collect.

Perhaps you don't eat the parts at all, but instead collect and wear trophies. What group hasn't had that one weirdo who collects severed ears or something?

As an aside -- who doesn't want to gain power by eating the heart of a dragon? Maybe there's room for a third tier of skinshifts at extremely high level.

Vogie
2018-11-15, 01:01 PM
Perhaps you don't eat the parts at all, but instead collect and wear trophies. What group hasn't had that one weirdo who collects severed ears or something?


This is what I would lean towards. I'd basically lean it towards a "Totem Ranger" with the passive ability to Wild Shape into the selected animals. That gives you the ability to start with Bear/Eagle/Wolf/Elk/Tiger, then you can add some of your own (such as dragon, spider, snake, et cetera).

Something along the lines of:

3rd level - Animal selection & abilities

7th level - Wild Shape into selected animals

11th level - Another Animal selection & abilities

14th level - Expansion into Humanoid/Giants, maybe choose to opt out and give a 3rd animal instead.
You can also allow some wiggle room in there so it isn't exactly the same as the barbarian class. One Skinwalker's Wolf Selection may be an actual wolf, giving Pack Tactics ability, while another "wolf totem" would actually be a hyena, giving the Rampage ability. An "Eagle Totem" for one might be eagle for Keen Sight, while another may be Raven for Mimickry.

Grod_The_Giant
2018-11-15, 01:41 PM
Jiriku-- I cut back to only one ability at a time, allowed a spell component pouch (essentially) to work, and threw in a minor benefit for fresh parts.

Vogie--while a totem Ranger does sound like a neat idea, it's very much not the flavor I was looking for here.

jiriku
2018-11-15, 03:33 PM
How long does a fresh part stay fresh?

Grod_The_Giant
2018-11-15, 03:51 PM
How long does a fresh part stay fresh?
Shoot-- 24 hours, or until you complete a long rest.

jiriku
2018-11-15, 06:26 PM
Sounds good. You got any others you want me to look at?

Grod_The_Giant
2018-11-16, 11:58 AM
Sounds good. You got any others you want me to look at?
Um... got a version of the Shooting Star Ranger here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?572151-More-magical-Ranger-Archetype-Shooting-Star-Ranger)that didn't get any feedback either, though I'm not as worried about that one.