No, my father was not our god damm hunting dog. Stop asking.
Shifters, also known by many other names, are those whose bloodlines have been tainted by that of a Lycanthrope. With generations of the curse being in their family, they gained control over it, learning how to turn into their bestial forms at will. For some, this is seen as a blessing, while others just see it as a scar of a long-lasting fate bestowed upon their family.
At first hand, most Shifters look human, typically a bit more toned and taller than the average individual. However, up close bestial traits become more noticeable: sharper pupils, claw-like hands, even things like canine teeth and lots of body hair can be signs for one being a Shifter.
As part of their Lycanthrope heritage, Shifters possess a close bond to animals. As such, they understand the animal kingdom better than other mortals, downright speaking their language at times.
Many Shifters can partly transform into animals at will, exaggerating their bestial traits even more and gaining new abilities. Unlike Lycanthropes however, Shifters can return back whenever they want and don't lose control of their forms.
With avian blood in their veins, Aerieborn are said to have the eyes of an eagle alongside their sharp looks. Once transformed, their bodies sprout feathers instead of hair, talons replacing arms and legs to make them strike down upon their foes.
Due to their pointed ears and fangs, many think Bloodmarked Shifters are vampires. With their bat nature, these creatures of the night are able to move within the shadows, leaping of high places to attack from above.
ColdbornColdborn are built like a wall, embodying the might of a bear. With broad muscles and thick body hair, they are known to be simple but powerful foes, defending their homes against trespassers. And those who meet their bestial form rarely live on to tell the tale.
In the depths of the jungle, Fanglords rule supreme as a hybrid of man and tiger. With their more feline traits, they can traverse trees branches with ease, running at speeds no other human can. Combined with their ferocious claws and excellent eyesight, many become feared individuals in the regions they call home.
Not all Shifters are notorious animals, some simply are rodents living amongst city slums. Nightskulks as such resemble the tooth-bucked rat. They excel at hiding in urban life, more so fighting smart than tough. And those that dare face these slender foes quickly see what this vermin can do.
Many see Ragebred as rude, savage halfbloods that eat like pigs and are stubborn beyond belief. However, anyone who met their tusks knows not to mess with these wereboar-kin, as they trample down anyone who dares opposing them.
In the murky waters of swamps and at the shores, one can find the Scaleheart revel in their reptilian pride. With skin as tough as leather, they use their powerful jaws to drag opponents into a watery grave, if their appearance doesn't frighten them right there.
Children of sailors sometimes become the fearsome Seascarred, known for their fish-like looks and sharp teeth. With their shark forms, many become threats both on land and beneath the waves, especially when they decide to fight with tooth and nail.
One of the more common breeds, Witchwolves are children of classic werewolves. Noticeable by their canine teeth and excess body hair, their heritage has made them tough to take down. Some might even say they are the toughest breed of them all...
Dietary Needs and Habits
Since shapeshifting requires a lot of calories to burn, many Shifters do end up with large appetites. Depending on how many times they turn into their bestial forms, they can eat anywhere between 1.5 - 3 times the amount of an average human.
Many Shifters tend to have their facial features slightly exaggerated in the shapes and forms of the animals they represent: from the pointed nose of rats to visible fangs or tusks, excess facial hair or even narrow pupils like that of cats.
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
Many Shifters possess a good eyesight, capable of seeing in environments with little to no light. Some even are capable of seeing better in their animalistic form, which can range from gaining darkvision to tracking people by scent.
Civilization and Culture
Common Myths and Legends
- Shifters lose their intelligence when transformed: Some believe that Shifters regress mentally when transforming fully into their animalistic form, which is only partly true. While instincts kick in, they are fully aware of their actions and keep their intelligence.
- Shifters become hungry when transformed: Due to the burning of a lot of calories when transforming, many Shifters do require quite a lot of food and calories to transform repeatedly.
- Shifters gain animal weaknesses when transformed: Some think Shifters do gain weaknesses to things like light or high-pitched sounds, although most forms of weaknesses are simply exaggerations.
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
Shifters are often seen as a bad thing. With the taboo of Lycanthropy in many cultures, their kind is often demonised as nothing more than savage brutes or mindless beasts. In some areas of the world, many are killed for simply existing.
However, some groups actively encourage the creation of Shifters. Whether through witchcraft or willingly being bitten by a werebeast, they taint their blood with the curse. From there, they produce offspring to carry it on, letting it become part of their being over time. Whether the child accepts this curse is questionable at best, as both refusal and acceptance are common.
Shifters can live normal lives, but their heritage has led to most living a secret identity to hide their bestial forms. However, many do find their place in adventuring parties simply because they don't stand out that much between them. And besides, some strong muscle is always useful.
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The original name of Skinwalker is a result of Paizo's naming of the race. Knowing that the name is rooted in still living Navajo culture, I apologise for any material that might seem insensitive.