Friday, April 12, 2013

Fighter (Changeling)

Fighter (Changeling)

This is an alternate progression for the 3.5 D&D/Pathfinder fighter.

Most people have heard the tale of Tam Lin, how he was taken by the fey, and how he learned the strange ability of transforming himself. He is not the only man taken by the fey.

They fey pact fighter has spent time among the fey, those strange people who live in and around the world. Their minds and souls have been touched by the fey’s power. This pact may only be chosen by a level 1 character beginning as a fighter.

They fey fighter is more appropriate for a very social game where raw fighter ability is less important.

Replace fighter bonus feats with the following abilities:

  • The changeling fighter is proficient in all fey and elven weapons and armor. The fighter gains sylvan as a language.
  • Charming and Frightful (Ex) - Once per day, the changeling fighter may add his fighter level to a check on Diplomacy, Intimidate, Sense Motive, or Gather Information.
  • Enchanted Soul (Su) - When under the effect of a mind-affecting spell, the changeling fighter may make one saving throw every round to break its effect.
  • See Fey (Su) - You recognize all fey in any form.
  • Inexplicable Knowledge (Ex) - The warrior has learned many strange things among the fey. Once per day, he may add his fighter level to any knowledge roll.
  • Changeling (Su) - You gain the ability to change your form, as detailed below.

Changeling (Su) - You are a changeling. Your form can change at any time. You do this as a swift action.

  • You may assume the form of any medium or small size humanoid, fey, animal, magical beast or vermin. The HD of that creature may not exceed your fighter level.
  • You gain no (Su) or (Sp) abilities that the creature may have. You do gain its (Ex) abilities. However, you never gain fast healing. The DM may also restrict any (Ex) abilities as makes sense.
  • You gain the use of any feats that the creature may possess.
  • You gain any racial bonuses that the creature may possess.
  • You gain any advantages/disadvantages of being larger or smaller in size.
  • When using your ability to disguise yourself, you gain a +10 on your disguise skill checks.
  • Your movement modes become that of the chosen creature.
  • None of your stats change except as indicated.
  • You retain your armor class, but if you choose an animal shape, lose the use of your shield. Any movement penalties to armor remain.
  • You gain the natural attacks of the creature that you imitate appropriate to its size and hit die. You use the damage dice of the creature, but not any bonus damage. For example, a rhinoceros does 2d6+13 damage. The +13 is due to the creature’s strength, so you would do 2d6+ your strength bonus in damage.
  • You may either use iterative attacks, as granted by your BAB, or you may use multiattack if the creature has multiple attacks. The player may choose whichever method is most favorable.
  • Any magic weapon bonuses that you have apply to one of the creature’s attacks, along with any properties that the weapon may possess. One weapon is associated with one attack. You merely need the weapons on you to gain those bonuses.
  • At 4th level, you may assume the size of a large or tiny creature. You may also assume the form of a giant.
  • At 10th level, you may assume the size of a huge or smaller creature.
  • At 15th level, you may assume the size of a gargantuan creature.

Design Notes

When designing this class, I had every intention of using Shapechange, Polymorph, and other type spells to create the class abilities. That fell apart once I learned how those abilities acted. They worked against the fighter class as much as for it, and required very strange tactics in character design to produce a workable character. Instead, I have attempted yet another form of changing shape, this one tailored to the fighter class.

This design is more powerful than the base fighter class. This is intentional. My goal is to bring the class closer to tier 3, rather than leaving it at tier 5.

Although the design contains many dead level, it actually contains no dead levels at all. Each level opens up new or improved forms that the fighter can use. While a low level fighter can become an orc or a dog, a 20th level fighter can change into a kraken or a roc.

A prominent design goal of this class was to make shape changing easier to implement. For a changeling fighter, a form is a weapon as much as a sword or a bow.

Because all equipment remains functional at all times, the ordinary acquisition of equipment should satisfy the class’s needs. The class does not need spells or magical equipment to function.

The essence of all equipment is never changed. It is only the form of the equipment that changes.

Changing forms is a swift action. In a fight, every round counts. If a fighter must give up his attacks to use an ability, that ability costs too much. I’ve designed other fighter variants, and through playtesting, have learned the value of this maxim. The fighter is already among the weakest of core classes. To give the class more power, only to try to balance that against the already weak base fighter, is to work against yourself. The goal here is to kick the fighter up a tier or two in a way that keeps the fighter feeling like a fighter.

There are abusive choices available. I did a survey of creatures and found that some forms are better choices than others. Restricting a form to is (Ex) abilities goes a long way to minimizing abuses, but some (Ex) abilities are just too good to ignore. If there is an (Ex) which can’t be easily imitated (such as the cold of a Frost Worm or fast healing of a hydra), then that ability should not be gained. I could try to write detailed rules about that, but in the end I can’t cover everything, so I leave that final judgement to the player and the DM.

I have not playtested this design, so buyer beware. The design certainly needs tweaking.