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Shapeshifter Race, Newly Revised

Background Notes about Avlis 50 Years Ago

Shapeshifter Race, Newly Revised

PostAuthor: Orleron » Wed Feb 20, 2002 12:15 am

If anyone here remembers the campaign from a few years ago, we used to have an inherently chaotic neutral race called the Changelings. I think we should tentatively redo the name to Shapeshifters until we can come up with something more original, but more importantly I had to redo the entire race because Silk proved it to be very unbalanced during playtesting.

So here's what I'm thinking:

Shapeshifters are not as numerous as some of the other races, and most of their population is centered towards the eastern coast of the continent. Their society is extremely loose. Although gatherings are frequent, there is no organization to it, and for every sociable shapeshifter there are just as many solitary ones. Because of their very chaotic nature which tends neither toward good or evil, the shapeshifters are not known to build large permanent cities. However, temporary establishments are common during gatherings.

Shapeshifters can take many forms, but their true form is usually a mystery to non-shapeshifters. Their shapeshifting characteristics are outlined below:

Preferred Class: Rogue
Most common Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Most commonly worshipped Deity: Forian

Level 1: At first level a shapeshifter has two forms: its true form, and one other form. This form is usually their main medium for communicating with the world. Often it is that of a typical medium sized humanoid, but it could also be any medium sized animal or inanimate object. The shapeshifting ability is as per the spell Polymorph Self in terms of duration and what abilities the shapeshifter has when polymorphed. Changeling forms must be of a solid nature, but they do not necessarily have to be living material. Non-natural creatures, such as dire animals, and undead are not allowed until higher levels of mastery.
This ability is usable 3x/day. Each change counts towards the number of times per day allowed.

Level 3: The shapeshifter gains an additional medium sized form. Again, this can be any plant, animal, or object.

Level 4: At 4th level, shapeshifting ability is usable 5x/day.

Level 6: The shapeshifter gains an additional medium sized form, and an additional small sized form.

Level 8: At 8th level, shapeshifting ability is usable 7x/day, and the shapeshifter gains an additional small-sized form.

Level 9: The shapeshifter gains an additional large sized form. This form can be that of a dire creature. The transformation is as per a polymorph self spell. From this point onward, new large forms can be chosen as dire animals or magical creatures that the Shapeshifter has seen.

Level 10: At 10th level, shapeshifting ability is usable 9x/day, and the shapeshifter gains an additional medium sized form, and a large sized form.

Level 12: The shapeshifter gains an additional tiny sized form, and an additional large sized form.

Level 15: The shapeshifter gains an additional fine sized form, and an additional large sized form.

Level 16: At 16th level, shapeshifting ability is usable 12x/day.

Level 18: The shapeshifter gains an additonal form of either fine, tiny, small, medium, or large sized. This form can also be an elemental or energetic form. When in this form, the Shapeshifter gains 10/+1 damage reduction, and a 20 resistance to whatever energy the form is patterned after.

Level 20: The shapeshifter gains an additional form of either fine, tiny, small, medium, or large sized. This form can be of any energetic or enchanted creature. When in this form, the Shapeshifter gains all special attacks and abilities of the creature.
"Truth has no form."
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PostAuthor: Vanoviel » Wed Feb 20, 2002 11:20 am

You are very bored at the computer job. Aren't you?
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PostAuthor: Orleron » Wed Feb 20, 2002 1:33 pm

Doesn't matter, cuz they pay me! ;)
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PostAuthor: Vanoviel » Wed Feb 20, 2002 1:56 pm

You are already making the next series of adventures after this one. Perhaps we will be going to meet the newly designed shape shifters.
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PostAuthor: Silk » Wed Feb 20, 2002 8:54 pm

Level 1:
3x/Day
1 Medium Form that acts like Polymorph Self

Level 3:
3x/Day
2 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self

Level 4:
5x/Day
2 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self

Level 6:
5x/Day
1 Small Form that acts like Polymorph Self
3 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self

Level 8:
7x/Day
2 Small Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
3 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self

Level 9:
7x/Day
2 Small Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
3 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
1 Large Form that acts like Polymorph Self
Dire and Magical Creatures can be chosen as Large Forms

Level 10:
9x/Day
2 Small Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
2 Large Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
Dire and Magical Creatures can be chosen as Large Forms

Level 12:
9x/Day
3 Small Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
3 Large Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
Dire and Magical Creatures can be chosen as Large Forms

Level 15:
9x/Day
1 Fine Form that acts like Polymorph Self
3 Small Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Large Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
Dire and Magical Creatures can be chosen as Large Forms

Level 16:
12x/Day
1 Fine Form that acts like Polymorph Self
3 Small Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Large Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
Dire and Magical Creatures can be chosen as Large Forms

Level 18:
12x/Day
1 Fine Form that acts like Polymorph Self
3 Small Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Large Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
1 Choose: Fine, Tiny, Small, Medium, or Large Form
Dire and Magical Creatures can be chosen as Large Forms
Elemental and Energetic Creatures can be chosen for 10/+1 DR and 20 SR specific to the energy chosen

Level 20:
12x/Day
1 Fine Form that acts like Polymorph Self
3 Small Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Medium Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
4 Large Forms that acts like Polymorph Self
2 Choose: Fine, Tiny, Small, Medium, or Large Form
Dire and Magical Creatures can be chosen as Large Forms
Elemental and Energetic Creatures can be chosen for 10/+1 DR and 20 SR specific to the energy chosen. This form now includes special attacks and abilities.

----

Hmmm, something doesn't seem quite right with this.

Question, what exactly was the unbalanced issues when I tested him?... I forgot.
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PostAuthor: Orleron » Wed Feb 20, 2002 11:20 pm

What doesn't seem right with it?

The unbalance was that you could change into anything you wanted at any time as many times as you want. I mean come on?

I was never able to take anything away from you cuz you could just take it in and out of your body at will, which mean you could hide a whole mess of stuff on you. So I limited the number of times your form could be changed, and limited the number of forms you could take. Not only does it bring the race more into line with things like druids and sorcerers with polymorph, but it also forces the player to think what kind of character they want to play, i.e. what forms they choose. Do you want to be a shapeshifter that specializes in inanimate objects? Or monsters? Or humanoids?

Thanks for charting it out for me, btw.
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PostAuthor: Orleron » Wed Feb 20, 2002 11:27 pm

Not only that but you couldn't be contained since you had very little size restrictions on what you could change into.

A DM needs to be able to control his or her players. An unbalanced character is one that both out powers the other characters in the party and causes the DM to lose control of the game.

Just think about it.... even your 20th level sorcerer is balanced. He has great spells, cut he can only cast them at most 5 or 6 times maybe. Let's say you got sick of a battle and gated yourself outta there. Not a problem. I could have another mage or sorcerer who is just as powerful as you are gate you BACK to the battle? What then? You'd be under his control! So there's a price.... the DM has control of the game. But you are still free to act as you wish.

With your changeling I couldn't do shit like that because you were overpowered. There was no way within the rules of the game that I could keep your character from fudging the storyline, and if you noticed, it took a whole entire plane of monsters to do ANYTHING to you and you were only like 7th or 8th level at the time. That's just not fair.
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PostAuthor: Silk » Thu Feb 21, 2002 7:39 pm

HAHA... oh yeah. Forgot about that.

The way it is now seems too much of a nerf. It's still unbalanced but on the crappy side.

Let me help you with this, I have some good ideas that would make him balanced and make someone WANT to actually play him. I'll write it up and bounced if off you.

The Changeling is more than a race to me, I played him for a whole campaign... I have a "passion" for them.
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PostAuthor: Orleron » Thu Feb 21, 2002 8:59 pm

Alright, you got it dude. It's yours.
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PostAuthor: Vanoviel » Thu Feb 21, 2002 10:59 pm

Dangerous, very dangerous. Like a 3 year old with a bic, a gallon of gasoline, and bad attitude.
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PostAuthor: Silk » Fri Feb 22, 2002 12:27 am

Here we go. Let's discuss if this is a viable race. Where are the balance issues? We may need to add some drawbacks or costs.

---

Shapsifters, or Changelings to some, are a mysterious race of beings encountered on the East coast of Avlis. Legend whispers that they were created by the God, Forian, as a byproduct of a massive release of God magic. Little is known about their society due to the fact that they are rarely recognized as what they are.

These chaotic beings have the power to change their shape into other creatures or even objects. It is rumored that their true form can drive a man into insanity merely with a glance. However, the reality of their true form is as much shrouded in mystery as their motivations.

--

Gaming Info:

The shapchanging transmutation only effect the living tissue of the Changeling.
Changing form is a standard action. The change is a permanent real physical change and the Changeling remains in that form until he changes again or upon death. When a Changeling dies, he reverts to his natural true form.

When a Changeling has physical contact with an object or creature, he can choose to retain the form in his limited memory as a standard action. He can purge a form from memory as a standard action. The memory imprint of the form is merely a blueprint and the Changeling can make adjustments to the form during the change.

Preferred Class: Rogue
Most common Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Most commonly worshipped Deity: Forian

Ability Modifiers: +2 Dex, -2 Charisma

Level 1:
Frequency:3x/Day
Memory Slots: 2
Volume Range: +/- 1 Size
Special Effects:

If the form selected has wings, The character can fly at a speed of 30 feet with poor maneuverability. If the form has gills, the character can breathe underwater. The character's attack rolls, natural armor bonus, and saves do not change. The form does not confer special abilities, attack forms, defenses, ability scores, or mannerisms of the chosen form.

The character can freely designate the new form?s minor physical qualities (such as hair color, hair texture, and skin color). The new form?s significant physical qualities (such as height, weight, and gender) are also under the character's control.

Incorporeal or gaseous forms cannot be assumed.

The subject is effectively disguised as an average member of the new form?s race. If the character uses this spell to create a disguise, the character get a +10 bonus on the character's Disguise check.


Level 3:
Frequency:4x/Day
Memory Slots: 3
Volume Range: +/- 1 Size
Mass Range: 0
Special Effects:

Level 5:
Frequency:5x/Day
Memory Slots: 4
Volume Range: +/- 2 Sizes
Mass Range: 0
Special Effects:

Level 7:
Frequency:6x/Day
Memory Slots: 5
Volume Range: +/- 2 Sizes
Mass Range: 0
Special Effects: Polymorph Self/Other

The transmutated creature acquires the physical and natural abilities of the creature it has been polymorphed into while retaining its own mind. Physical abilities include natural size and Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores. Natural abilities include armor, attack routines (claw, claw, and bite; swoop and rake; and constriction; but not petrification, breath weapons, energy drain, energy effects, etc.), and similar gross physical qualities (presence or absence of wings, number of extremities, etc.). Natural abilities also include mundane movement capabilities, such as walking, swimming, and flight with wings, but not magical flight and other magical forms of travel, such as blink, dimension door, phase door, plane shift, teleport, and teleport without error. Extremely high speeds for certain creatures are the result of magical ability, so they are not granted by this spell. Other nonmagical abilities (such as an owl?s low-light vision) are considered natural abilities and are retained.

The creature?s new scores and faculties are average ones for the race or species into which it has been transformed. The character cannot, for example, turn someone into a mighty weight lifter to give the subject great Strength.

The subject retains its Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores, level and class, hit points (despite any change in its Constitution score), alignment, base attack bonus, and base saves. (New Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores may affect final attack and save bonuses.) The subject retains its own type (for example, "humanoid"), extraordinary abilities, spells, and spell-like abilities, but not its supernatural abilities. The subject can cast spells for which it has components. It needs a humanlike voice for verbal components and humanlike hands for somatic components. The subject does not gain the spell-like abilities of its new form. The subject does not gain the supernatural abilities (such as breath weapons and gaze attacks) or the extraordinary abilities of the new creature

The character can freely designate the new form?s minor physical qualities (such as hair color, hair texture, and skin color). The new form?s significant physical qualities (such as height, weight, and gender) are also under the character's control.

Incorporeal or gaseous forms cannot be assumed.

The subject is effectively disguised as an average member of the new form?s race. If the character uses this spell to create a disguise, the character get a +10 bonus on the character's Disguise check.

Level 9:
Frequency:7x/Day
Memory Slots: 6
Volume Range: +/- 2 Sizes
Mass Range: 0
Special Effects:

Level 10:
Frequency:8x/Day
Memory Slots: 8
Volume Range: +/- 3 Sizes
Mass Range: +/- 50%
Special Effects:


Level 12:
Frequency:9x/Day
Memory Slots: 10
Volume Range: +/- 3 Sizes
Mass Range: +/- 60%
Special Effects:

Level 14:
Frequency:10x/Day
Memory Slots: 12
Volume Range: +/- 3 Sizes
Mass Range: +/- 70%
Special Effects:

Level 16:
Frequency:11x/Day
Memory Slots: 14
Volume Range: +/- 4 Sizes
Mass Range: +/- 80%
Special Effects:

The character can now assume gaseous forms.

Level 18:
Frequency:12x/Day
Memory Slots: 16
Volume Range: +/- 4 Sizes
Mass Range: +/- 90%
Special Effects:

The character can assume the form of any single creature of less than deity status (including unique dragon types, or the like) or any single object. The assumed form can be no smaller than a flea and no larger than 200 feet in its largest dimension.

The character's new form works like a polymorph other form. The character still does not gain the supernatural or spell-like abilities of the character's new form, though the character does gain its extraordinary abilities while keeping the character's own. The character also gains the type of the new form (for example, "dragon" or "magical beast") in place of the character's own.


Level 20:
Frequency:14x/Day
Memory Slots: 20
Volume Range: +/- 4 Sizes
Mass Range: +/- 99%
Special Effects:
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PostAuthor: Orleron » Fri Feb 22, 2002 2:35 am

What do you mean by the mass change percent?

I understand the volume or size change percent.

You may be able to simplify it by saying that "the chosen form does not get any spell-like or special abilities unless they are of a biological nature."

I like the whole thing where you gotta be able to have physcial contact with the being or object in order to put its form into your memory slot. Thus, a high level changeling would need to come in direct contact with a great red wyrm if he were to get that form, thus he would need to survive the encounter, and that's only if he is able to hit gargantuan size.

As for balance, I'm not sure. We would have to play it to see. At first glance it seems to be decent, but I don't know.
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PostAuthor: Orleron » Fri Feb 22, 2002 2:44 am

Oh!! I had an idea. Tell me if you like it...

If anything, this would be a way to further customize a changeling character.

Instead of having the Size range go up every few levels, why don't we say that all changelings can choose small and medium sized forms automatically when they begin play?

Then what we can do is make a feat called extended shapechange or something where you can extend your size range by one slot bigger or one slot smaller. Let this feat be stackable so you can take it multiple times.

THEN what you could do is keep the progression of times per day and number of memory slots exactly as you have them, but add other feats that let you take even MORE memory slots or MORE changes per day.

This way you can decide whether you want your changeling to have TONS of forms over a small size range, or a moderate amount of forms over a larger size range, or a balance between the two.

I think that doing things along these lines will make it more balanced. Feats come every three levels, which is a good rate. Plus the character would have to balance his shapeshifting abilities with his character class. Imagine though if you had a fighter changeling who gets bonus feats every 2 levels. That could be interesting.

Overall, I think that would be a good design to head in that direction.

[Edited on 2/21/02 by Orleron]
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PostAuthor: Vanoviel » Fri Feb 22, 2002 11:23 am

Bonus fighter feats are only from a select list. That can't be any feat. Also what if you have shapeshifters be able to transmit creature memories to each other via physical contact. Kinda like a vulcan mind meld. I think Adam meant that your mass would change at later levels. Like if you shapechanged into a hummingbird at 3rd level. You would be hummingbord sized but weigh your normal weight. This doesn't seem to work from a physics stand point. But I guess with magic the physical rules of the universe are changed. I do know however that when dragons polymorph themselves into human they retain their normal mass. It was in on of the Dragonlance books. A dragon assumed man sized form and a rider tried to lance him and got blown back off his saddle like he hit a stone wall.
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PostAuthor: Vanoviel » Fri Feb 22, 2002 11:30 am

What about language ability? Remember when we polymorphed into nixies we got recognized because we couldn't speak the language. I think the shapeshifters should be able to learn language and normal physical skills through the physical contact. Again kind of like a vulcan mind meld. During the contact the shapeshifter probes the creatures mind--learning it's physical dimensions, language, and normal abilities. Normal abilities would included normal flight, water breathing or lung capacity (say like a dolphin or whale, the shapeshifter would know how long he could stay underwater without surfacing), natural attacks and defense (like if he changed into an armadillo he won't know how to roll into an armored ball). They would only be able to use the language when changed into that form, when in other forms they have knowledge of the language but can't use it unless in the correct form. Again like if polymorphed into a dolphin would know the chirping language.
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PostAuthor: Silk » Fri Feb 22, 2002 2:45 pm

The mass part was something along these lines:

If I turn into a bird, there's no chance in hell i'll be able to fly unless i can decrease my mass. On the same token, if i turn into a dragaon, my molecules are so spread out that a breeze could throw me miles away.

BTW: At level 16 you can turn gaseous because you can spread your molecules far enough and still maintain a form.

Van: So what your thinking of is the changeling is more like a blank template with empty slots for forms and knowledge. When he makes physical contact with something, he can put it's knowledge into a "knowledge" memory slot?

Very intersting, but could this be abused? We would have to limit the knowledge to practical knowledge or long term memory as apposed to actual memories of events and stuff. It would suck for the DM if I could just walk up to someone who's supposed to trick hook us into an adventure and just touch him and find out it's a trap. That might be over powered.

--
I don't think I like the Racial Feats idea. I think I would rather the memory slots and size limitations be lower than have to take Racial Feats. In fact, we might want to lower them simply because this IS a race and not a class.
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PostAuthor: Silk » Fri Feb 22, 2002 3:08 pm

Regarding the Mass part. I might have been thinking a little too much reality and not enough magic. This transmutation is magic in origin, so control over mass may be inherent to the transmutation. We might want to remove mass range altogether.

I definately do think we might want to lower the amounts of everything. Maybe the following would work:

*CL = Character Level

# of Memory Slots: (CL/2) + 1 ; Rounded Up
# of Knowlege Slots: (CL/4) + 1 ; Rounded Up
Frequency: (CL/2) + 2 ; Rounded Up

This would give us:
Level | Memory | Knowledge | Frequency
1 | 2 | 2 | 3
2 | 2 | 2 | 3
3 | 3 | 2 | 4
4 | 3 | 2 | 4
5 | 4 | 3 | 5
6 | 4 | 3 | 5
7 | 5 | 3 | 6
8 | 5 | 3 | 6
9 | 6 | 4 | 7
10 | 6 | 4 | 7
11 | 7 | 4 | 8
12 | 7 | 4 | 8
13 | 8 | 5 | 9
14 | 8 | 5 | 9
15 | 9 | 5 | 10
16 | 9 | 5 | 10
17 | 10 | 6 | 11
18 | 10 | 6 | 11
19 | 11 | 6 | 12
20 | 11 | 6 | 12
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PostAuthor: Vanoviel » Fri Feb 22, 2002 3:52 pm

I meant more like knowledge in the sense that you have a sense of how long your arms and legs are. So if a shape shift changed into a gorilla he would have much longer arms and shorter legs. If the SS tried to walk in his normal gait it would look weird. I meant knowledge like that not specific knowledge like What's your mother's maiden name?
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PostAuthor: Orleron » Fri Feb 22, 2002 4:35 pm

Mass: I think we should do away with the mass thing altogethor. It's an extra headache you don't need. If you change into a humingbird you weigh 1 ounce. If you change into a clydesdale, you weigh 1 ton. Drangonlance has a habit of breaking the rules occasionally. I think the polymorph spell assumes that you mass changes with you.

Slots: Adam, I like the equations and the chart you put up. It does bring it more into balance. But we may still be able to have racial feats that increase one of those parameters: memory/freqency.

Knowledge: Bad idea. You're right. It can be abused, and it complicates things. I think it should just be assumed that you have basic knowledge of your form. If you are a bird, you know how to fly. If you are an ape, you know how to swing through jungle trees, etc. But knowledge of a language is different. Not only is it another skill that you are not really paying for, and therefore unbalanced, but it is not an inherent part of your form. Just because an elf is an elf does not mean he speaks elvish. What if he were raised by dwarves?

Plus you can really abuse this. I mean what if you come across a party of orcs and goblins, and none of the PC's speaks orc or goblin. The changeling can just change into an orc or goblin and solve the language barrier right there. Now what if the PC's came across a group that had multiple races with multiple languages. He could just keep switching back and forth until he learns all the languages. Too abusive. There is no need for knowledge slots.
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PostAuthor: Vanoviel » Fri Feb 22, 2002 5:49 pm

No he would know the language only in that form. So if the SS became an orc he could speak orc, but not common. When he swithced back he could speak common but not orc. I meant he reatin knowledge of the language only in that he wouldn't need to meld with a diffirent orc to relearn the language if he changed back.
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PostAuthor: Silk » Fri Feb 22, 2002 10:26 pm

I got a cool feat.

"Shapeshifting Turd-Birth Feat"

Basically, you can take a huge crap, and then that crap can morph into the crap of any other type of creature. This way, you can fool trackers who are looking for "Elf" crap... they see the "Dwarf" crap and loose their trail. Imagine Dragon crap catapulted at a sieged castle... unlimited possibilties.
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PostAuthor: Silk » Fri Feb 22, 2002 10:30 pm

Schlong Growth Feat... for those times when Female dragons just can't feel you.
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PostAuthor: Silk » Mon May 27, 2002 3:20 pm

These are the shapeshifter race details i discussed a while ago with Josh.

---
- # of memory Slots = (Level / 2) + 1 rounded up
- # of daily changes = (Level / 2) + 2 rounded up
- It takes a standard action to purge a memory slot.
- It takes a standard action of physical contact to store a pattern in a free memory slot.
- A pattern is an exact duplicate of the target without alteration
- Changing into the "Innate Form" does not use up a daily change
- The "Innate Form" does not use up a memory slot
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PostAuthor: Orleron » Tue May 28, 2002 2:47 am

Seems fine so far, let's see how it goes as the character advances in level.
"Truth has no form."
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PostAuthor: Vroshgrak » Mon Mar 03, 2003 6:12 am

The way i see it, you could make the changeling be able to change more often ( like 4 times as often) but have a chance of a mischange, or not change at all (as they are chaotic), if they are truely creations of the god of chaos, they wouldnt have control over it, or it wouldnt be chaos.
If they have high enough Intelligence, and Wisdom, they could have bonuses on their roll to stop it from being a random change. I mean, being a changeling, and not having random changes would seem like bad RPing to me. then again, im craaaaaaaaaacked out
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