Your race is the heart of your character. It is who they are at their core. Their thoughts, feelings, and upbringing are influenced by their race. In this series we’ll be taking a look into the races of D&D and how they shape your character. Today we’ll be talking about those weretouched, the shifters.Shifters are perhaps the most bestial race of Eberron. Shifters are humanoids that at some time have been infused with animalistic energy. While they are similar to lycanthropes, they are distinct in that they don’t fully transform into animals. Rather, they shift into a form with more bestial qualities. These animalistic aspects differ from shifter to shifter. They may take on the tough hide of a rhino, or the speedy steps of a panther, or the keen eyes of an eagle. The possibilities are only limited by the number of animals you can think of.
Along with the obvious physical influences a shifter’s animal totem grants them, a shifter’s animalistic nature affects their nature as well. Your personality as a shifter may not be defined by their animal, but it can certainly influence it. A shifter may be wise like an owl, proud as a lion, or even sneaky like a rat. When building your shifter’s personality, consider how their animal side has impacted their life, and what effects that’s had on their mentality. A wolf-like shifter may have an instinct to form a pack, but other kids they grew up with may be a too afraid of a wolf child to make friends. What sort of effect do you think this sort of unrequited friendship would have on a person? Particularly when that need for companionship is so ingrained into their core? The possibilities for these scenarios are endless. You just need to look at the animal’s influence on the shifter’s life and follow the effects that would take.
Shifters come in a variety of animal-like shapes, but those shapes can be sorted into four categories. Animals have different aspects that can fit into more than one archetype, so you don’t have to be bound by your choice. For example, a dog shifter may be a longtooth shifter with strong jaws, or they might be a wildhunt shifter due to their keen senses. The four types of shifters are:
Beasthide: Shifters of this form are more hearty, taking on the thick hides or scales of their animal.
Longtooth: Shifters of this form take on the aggressive nature of their animal. They form fangs that can strike faster than most can swing a sword.
Swiftstride: Shifters of this form become as dexterous as their animal counterpart. They can outrun nearly any creature when shifted.
Wildhunt: Shifters of this form adopt their animal’s senses. When shifted, there is nothing that escapes your notice.
Shifters are one of the most diverse races in Eberron. There’s a ton of ideas that can come from the different animals they can emulate. This race is truly a treasure trove of ideas for player characters. What character will you create? Will it be a shifter, or one of the other races that we’ve covered? Let me know in the comments below.