View Full Version : Skinwalker (Peach)

2012-03-18, 10:19 PM
I am and always have been a fan of a variety of mythoi. I have become familiarized with Greek, Egyptian, Teutonic, Celtic, and others. There is one myth that has frequently been itching at the back of my mind, that of the skinwalker.

I have tried to replicate this in numerous ways in D&D. Lycanthropy was my first foray, then druids, then Tibbits, and just lately the shapeshifting variant for wildshape. But all of these were either to limited or too powerful or both to be what I wanted to for the characters. As such, without further ado, I present a new race:

The Skinwalker


Personality: Skinwalkers are wild souls. Not that they party animals, but rather that they do not feel at home in the cities. The buildings and the crowds and the organization all seem to press in on them. Skinwalkers usually desire a more natural setting. How they interact usually is based on their favorite animals (or it may be other way around). Skinwalkers that like the shape of the wolf tend to be communal, those that like eagles are more likely to have a proud and regal, and those that like jaguars tend to be quiet and menacing. One common denominator is they tend to be secretive about their true nature.

Physical Description: In their natural form, skinwalkers look largely human with a few small differences. The first is that they do not grow hair, but rather fur. This means that it sheds twice a year in the spring (coming in lighter) and fall (growing back thicker). The second major difference is that they have slightly sharper canines than might be expected. Even so it takes a DC 25 spot check to notice that they are not human.

Relations: Skinwalkers tend to have a hard time with the more structured lives of dwarves, preferring the freer lives of the elves. They fit in fine with most humans, enjoying the heterogeneity of the cultures. The largest problem with relations is the increased importance skinwalkers place on nature and living in harmony with it.

Alignment: Skinwalkers have no particular trend when it comes to morality. The good and the bad are equally found in their ranks. This said, they do have a distinct chaotic tint, though some do find their way to lawful, usually with their own self-imposed rules.

Skinwalker Society: Skinwalkers don't have any lands or organizations to call their own. Usually they hide in a human society, pretend to be a human in another race's town, or simply live in the forest by them selves. If a few like minded ones meet they form a small gang or pack, but the organization is loose and they often fall apart after a few weeks.

Religion: If a skinwalker has religion they often worship Obad-Hai, but most worship nothing in particular. They do however have a deep reverence of nature and have shamanistic tendencies. Often they will craft small fetishes of their favorite animal forms.

Language: Skinwalkers speak whatever language is common where they have placed themselves.

Names: Skinwalkers have no naming scheme. They generally take a name that they like or accept a moniker given to them by their associates.

Adventurers: Skinwalkers may adventure to escape societal burdens, because a friend they have is leaving, or simply as a way to move about. Their motives differ greatly from individual to individual.

Racial Traits:
Choose one physical ability score to gain +2 in, -2 Int, -2 Cha: Skinwalkers will have a a variety of physical advantages depending on what their favored form is, but always are at a disadvantage when it comes to studying or social situation.

A skinwalker has a base movement speed of 40ft

Skinwalkers are medium sized with no special advantages or disadvantages

Skinwalkers are humanoid (shapeshifters)

Skinwalkers gain forms and can begin to shift quicker as they advance in level.

At first level a skinwalker gains a predator and a travel form. The Skinwalker chooses a particular animal for each, but this does not alter game statistics at all. All feats gained by forms are gain 3 levels after the form is granted.

The predator form is as the predator form found in the Players handbook 2 under the druid variant.

The travel form is a horse or an equatable large creature. It has a base land speed of 50ft and gains the feats endurance and run. It gains a single slam attack that deals 1d8. It also gains +4 natural armor bonus to AC and a +2 to fortitude saves and an additional +2 for saves vs fatigue or exhaustion.

At seventh level skinwalkers gain an aerial form as the shapeshifting variant with these exceptions: The skinwalker's form is tiny and has its damage and stats adjusted accordingly.

At 15th level skinwalkers gain their final form which is as the ferocious slayer form in the shapeshifting variant.

When skinwalkers begin to develop their shifting powers it takes them a full round to assume a new form. This amount of time decreases as the skinwalker gains more power. When he has 5 hit dice it becomes a standard action, at 10 it becomes a move, at 15 it becomes a swift, and at 20 it becomes a free action.

skinwalkers gain scent as an extraordinary ability

LA: ?

The biggest problem I have is that I have no clue what to do for a LA on this. The best guess I have is +2 or 3 as this is strictly better than even the best of +1s but I think it is worse than Pixie (the only real reference point I have to +4. Suggestions are welcome.

2012-03-19, 01:22 AM
So the only thing special about them is they do all the Shapeshifting a Druid does? No other racial features?

It's probably a +3 LA, considering you basically get the thematic class feature of another class all the way. You see this occassionally with Rage, but it never goes beyond the most basic step, as opposed to this.

2012-03-19, 02:02 AM
Aren't skinwalkers the malevolent shapeshifting witches and sorcerers of Native American legend?

2012-03-19, 02:40 AM
Aren't skinwalkers the malevolent shapeshifting witches and sorcerers of Native American legend?

Native American, yes. Witches, yes and no. Malevolent, not so much. Skinwalkers aren't witches in the same way that the people of Salem would have thought of them, though the Navajo would have likely called those "witches" skinwalkers. They have some overlap, but skinwalkers are closer to lycanthropes than witches, the main difference being that a walker can shift into anything it wears the skin of and does so willingly. Most of the myths are about specific skinwalkers that were mischievous or mean-spirited, but that wasn't reflective of all of them. They were no more malevolent by nature than anyone else.

I do thank you for knowing of the myths though. I find that not many do, but they are some of my favorites.