Like I mentioned, the basic idea was a wild shape warrior. I started by smooshing the druid and ranger specials together, but, obviously, I wound up changing a lot of things. Here, I'll discuss some of my rationale behind the changes.
I italicized the biggest change- the more limited duration. Ideally, I think I'd apply this change to the druid as well, in any campaign where both classes were used, but... as written, with its obscenely long duration, wild shape isn't something you use, as such. It's something you turn on and leave on. You turn into something big and scary and stay there. You use up one per day usage and you're done. Maybe a few more if you need to change into a bird, say, but that's it.
I want to see more drama to things. This is a primitive, barbaric class, after all, with a direct, brutal combat style. Here, wild shape becomes almost like a barbarian rage, a flurry of animalistic fury and rapid changes of shape. Or, alternately, a state of perfect communion with nature.
The duration should be long enough to support legitimate long-term wildshape uses, such as long-distance flight, while still forcing you to spend a substantial time in human form. I suppose by high levels you can spend half the day as a bear, but by that time it's legitimate. Tenth level, not so much.
Not sure why I decided to lump the bigger/smaller sizes together, but I kind of like it now. Without spellcasting, tiny forms are really only good for scouting.
Becoming a plant seemed kind of silly for a warrior class, all things considered. Vermin are sufficiently different biologically to be a separate category, but seem much more in line with a nature warrior.
As for magical beasts, well... I needed a good capstone ability, and it makes more sense to turn into a hydra then a giant pillar of fire anyway.
Other class features:
- The moderate BAB was something I went back and forth on a great deal. On the one hand, the druid gets much the same wild shape, and the same BAB. This is a primary melee class, and it shouldn't be totally useless in human form. On the other hand, druids are broken, and most warrior-with-special-combat-ability classes use a moderate BAB.
- The d12 HD was chosen to reflect that this class is a front-line warrior in the barbarian school. It's never going to have a high AC. The idea in my mind is a bear tearing through enemy lines, heedless of his own injuries. Thus, high health.
- The claws are largely so that he can be viable at lower levels, when he can't spend a long time in wild shape. I had trouble justifying martial weapon proficiencies- this isn't a trained warrior, this is a guy who literally goes ape-****.
- I wound up removing almost all the ranger stuff, as the beastman changed from a hunter to a heavy warrior, but the tracking stayed in, largely because of how well it went with scent.
- Resistance/immunity to transmutation was largely thrown in at the last minute to avoid dead levels, but I think it fits thematically. I'm open to suggestions for replacement.
These, well... by all accounts, warriors need magic items at high levels to stay balanced. Here I tried to throw in a couple of different ways to do it. The amulets are just upgraded versions of the Amulets of Mighty Fists and Natural Armor, with the prices bumped up to match. As for the claw sheaths (and a better name would be welcome there)... less excuse. I wanted a weapon equivalent of Wild armor, and this was the best I could think of.