Monday, February 10, 2014

Revised Skinwalker

Art by Ian Llanas
One of my favorite monsters is the lycanthrope (specifically the werewolf). I love how savage the creatures can be and how they represent the primal beast that lurks within us waiting to free itself. Wow, that sounded a little pretentious, didn't it?

Anyway, due to my affinity for lycanthropes, I was really looking forward to Paizo's Blood of the Moon. Like its sibling supplement Blood of the Night, the 34 page book presents information about the lycanthropes of Golarion and introduces the Skinwalker, a race of humanoids who can transform into a bestial form due to a lycanthrope heritage. Basically, they're the dhampirs of werecreatures.

It should be of no surprise that I find the idea of the skinwalker intriguing since I basically I made my own version last year. While I love the concept of the race and the flavor, I feel like the actual mechanics are somewhat lacking. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to make a revised version of the race.

While most of the race's features remain mostly the same, I did change some elements and added others. I haven't seen how this new version works at the table and I'd love some feedback so I can make this race the best it can be. I concept this cool should be mechanically cool as well.

Due to a lycanthrope ancestor located somewhere within her family tree, the skinwalker has the supernatural ability to harness a bestial nature buried deep inside her and become a hybrid between animal and human. All skinwalkers are humanoids with the skinwalker and shapechanger subtypes. They have the same random starting age, aging effects, and random height and weight as a human. Skinwalkers have the following racial traits. 

+2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, +2 Wisdom: Skinwalkers are tough individuals who rely more on instinct instead of reason. 

Medium: Skinwalkers are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size. 

Normal Speed: Skinwalkers have a base speed of 30 feet. 

Low-Light Vision (Ex): In dimly lit conditions, the skinwalker can see twice as far as humans. 

Animal Senses: Skinwalkers receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception and Survival skill checks. 

Bestial Form (Su): A skinwalker can change into a more bestial form as a standard action. They can do this a number of times per day equal to 3 + 1/2 their character level. While in this form, a skinwalker gains a +2 racial bonus to their choice of Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution and one of the following animalistic features: 1) 2 claw attacks that each deal 1d4 points of damage, 2) a bite attack that deals 1d6 points of damage, 3) darkvision to a range of 60 feet, or 3) +1 racial bonus to natural armor. A skinwalker can return to her humanoid form as a swift action. To change forms and gain a different benefit, a skinwalker must first return to her humanoid form then use her bestial form ability again. 

Skinwalker Magic: Skinwalkers with a Wisdom score of 11 or higher can use speak with animals once per day as a spell-like ability. The caster level for this ability is equal to the skinwalker's character level. 

Languages: Skinwalkers begin play speaking Common. Skinwalkers with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic).