This week we take another look at the shifter, focusing less on the idea of shifting into things, and more on the idea of gaining new abilities which modulate the shifter’s base form. The living weapon archetype focuses on the shifter’s claw attacks and other abilities inherent to her natural form, at the expense of the ability to transform into other creatures. While these shifters are less versatile, they are more gifted combatants, making them a more natural fit for those who want to fight with tooth and claw.
New Shifter Archetype
Living weapons are shifters who use their connection to the natural world to augment their bodies, becoming more bestial and dangerous. While lacking the ability to truly assume the shape of another animal, their unique gifts allow them to permanently alter their form to become the ultimate predator. Living weapons have access to a greater variety of natural combat options and can enhance their claws far beyond the abilities of other shifters.
Claw Augmentation (Ex): A living weapon can improve her natural claw attacks in various ways, granting her new and more powerful combat options. At 1st level, the living weapon must select one of the following abilities. At 5th level, and every 5 levels thereafter, she may either choose to gain the improved version of a claw augment she possesses, gain the greater version of a claw augment she already possesses the improved version of, or gain a new claw augmentation. Claw augmentations are always active.
Elemental Claws (Ex): The living weapon’s claws are suffused with an elemental energy. When the living weapon gains this augmentation, choose acid, cold, electricity, or fire damage. All of the living weapon’s natural attacks do an additional point of damage of the chosen type. This additional damage is multiplied in the case of a critical hit.
Greater Elemental Claws (Ex): The living weapon’s claw attacks deal an additional 1d6 points of energy damage, of the same type chosen for the elemental claws claw augmentation. This damage is not multiplied in the case of a critical hit.
Greater Mystic Claws (Ex): The living weapon's claw attacks become suffused with a potent magical energy, causing them to deal an additional 1d4 points of damage.
Greater Quills (Ex): The living weapon can make 4 attacks with quills whenever she chooses to use quills in place of making claw attacks. If she does, she suffers a –4 penalty on all attacks until the beginning of her next turn. These attacks can be made against the same target or different targets.
Greater Relentless (Ex): The living weapon may make a full attack action whenever she charges. If she does, she suffers an additional –2 penalty to AC for each attack she makes beyond the 1st.
Greater Venomous (Ex): The living weapon’s natural venom can devastate her foes. Whenever she confirms a critical hit with her claw attack, she deals 1d6 points of Strength and Dexterity damage to the target. A successful Fortitude save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the living weapon’s level + the living weapon’s Wisdom modifier) reduces the damage to 1. Creatures immune to poison are immune to this effect.
Improved Elemental Claws (Ex): The living weapon can transform her claw attacks into pure energy. As a free action, the living weapon can choose to have all the damage dealt by her claw attacks deal damage of the type chosen for the elemental claws augmentation.
Improved Mystic Claws (Ex): The living weapon’s claw attack gain an additional +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls, to a maximum enhancement bonus of +5.
Improved Quills (Ex): The living weapon can make 2 attacks with quills whenever she chooses to use quills in place of making claw attacks. If she does, she suffers a –2 penalty on all attack for the round. These attacks can either be made against the same target or different targets.
Improved Relentless (Ex): The living weapon can make an additional claw attack whenever she successfully kills a creature with one of her claw attacks. The living weapon may make a 5-foot step before making this additional attack, provided she has not yet moved that round. She may only make one additional attack in this way each round.
Improved Venomous (Ex): The living weapon’s natural venom becomes more potent. Whenever she confirms a critical hit with her claw attack, she deals 1 point of Strength and Dexterity damage to the target. Creatures immune to poison are immune to this effect.
Mystic Claws (Ex): The living weapon may add her Wisdom modifier rather than her Strength modifier on attack rolls made with natural attacks granted by her shifter claws class feature.
Quills (Ex): The living weapon can launch quills at a creature within 30 feet, in place of making claw attacks with her shifter claws class feature. Treat these quills as a thrown weapon that deals damage equal to the living weapon’s shifter claws (including any augmentations)
Relentless (Ex): The living weapons strikes with greater speed and ferocity. Whenever she hits a single creature with 2 or more claw attacks in a single round, she may choose to rend that creature, dealing an additional amount of damage equal to the damage dealt by one of her claw attacks.
Venomous (Ex): The living weapon’s claws become coated in a vicious venom. Whenever she deals damage to a creature with her claw attacks, the target must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the living weapon’s level + the living weapon’s Wisdom modifier) or be sickened for 1d6 rounds. A creature that succeeds on its saving throw is immune for 1 minute.
This ability replaces the shifter aspect, second aspect, third aspect, fourth aspect, and final aspect class features.
Eldritch Claws (Su): At 4th level, a living weapon can suffuse her claws with magical energy. As a free action, a living weapon can tap into this energy in order to enhance her claws for a short time, dealing an additional amount of damage equal to her Wisdom modifier. Additionally, she can choose a single weapon special ability that could be applied to a melee weapon, and applies it to all of her natural attack. This weapon special ability must have an enhancement bonus equivalent of less than or equal to 1/4 the living weapon’s level. The living weapon can use this ability for a total number of rounds each day equal to her character level + her Wisdom modifier; these rounds need not be consecutive.
This ability replaces the wild shape class feature.
Twin Claw (Ex): At 9th level, a living weapon who chooses to make iterative attacks with one of her natural weapons may choose a second natural weapon she possesses to make additional attacks with. That natural weapon does not count as a secondary natural weapon, benefits from the shifter claws class feature, and can make a second iterative attack at a –5 penalty, just as if it were a manufactured weapon.
This ability replaces the chimeric aspect class feature.
Coordinated Strike (Ex): At 14th level, a living weapon can make a 2nd iterative attack with a weapon chosen by her for her twin claw class feature. Additionally, if the living weapon successfully hits a creature with a natural attack 5 times in a turn, the fifth attack is automatically a critical threat.
This ability replaces the greater chimeric aspect class feature.