Shifters (Escarnum)

This is a variant of the shifter race originally published in the Eberron Campaign Setting. Since Eberron is not covered by the ogl, they will not be described here except for how they differ from those found in Eberron.

Amongst the bestial races that once dominated Alm, an old legend pervades of ancient creatures called zoanthropes - shapeshifters such as werewolves, who bore supernatural powers and changed between the form of beast and human. This tale has caused much speculation amongst the land's current human population - the idea that zoanthropes once existed in Alm, it is thought, means that humans must have once existed there too. After all, why would such a creature disguise itself as a human if they evolved on different continents? Others wonder if such creatures were in fact the discarded result of the Overseers' experimentation, an early attempt to hybridise humans and animals.

In any case, the only evidence now existing to support either theory is the presence of shifters. These human-like creatures cannot completely change shape, like the zoanthropes of legend, but they can take on animalistic traits for short amounts of time - a state they call "shifting". Although many of Alm's beast-kin races share the traits of humans and beasts, shifters alone bear this racial ability, and are certainly a unique race which breeds true.

Personality

Akin to the shifters of Eberron, Escarnum's shifters have personalities influenced by their animal heritage. However, Escarnum's shifters hail from a much wider variety of zoanthropic stock, featuring many less predatory animals in addition to the usual hunter species.

Physical Description

Unlike Eberron's shifters, those of Escarnum owe more of their visual nature to the particular animal found in their ancestry. While a wolf-descended shifter usually carries many of the typical Eberron shifter's traits, others might take on the visual of anything from rats to bats, hares to horses, birds to alligators. A shifter's appearance is as unique as her ancestry.

Relations

The shifters of Alm are split into two major factions, each having its own allies and enemies. The highland shifters view themselves as wild animals, and have little but scorn for civilisation; in favour of humans, they consort with the magical beasts and fey who share their home in Deepwood. They have few relations with other races, though they have been known to have contact with various beast races in the past.

The lowland shifters are a much more sociable kind, dealing regularly with the Grasslands' other major races, the equitarn and the centaurs, as well as with humans from bordering provinces and various beast races. Sharing their lands and their lifestyle, lowland shifters often band together with their equine neighbours to form one herd.

Alignment

Shifters, even the lowlanders, have a tendency to be leery of any significantly complex system of laws, and prefer a more simple, personal view of such things. They tend toward chaotic alignments.

Lands

The highland shifters roam the forests of Deepwood, while the Lowland shifters populate the Grasslands alongside equitarn and centaurs. Others, normally those who identify with savage predator animals, have also found acceptance in Beasthome. Shifters seldom form townships or permanent places of residence, regardless of the faction with which they are aligned - instead, they opt for a nomadic lifestyle, usually following wherever their food supply takes them.

Language

Due to their origin as a race of hybrids, shifters have never developed a language of their own. Instead, they usually adopt the language of those around them - Common for lowland shifters, Sylvan for highland, and Bestial for those who have found a place amongst the beast races.

Names

Like equitarn, shifters prefer rustic, tribally-inspired names that bear personal significance. Shifter tradition is to be called by a nickname until coming of age, at which time she chooses her adult name herself. Many choose to include, or hint at, the source of their animal heritage in their names, as a mark of pride.

Adventurers

With their nomadic lifestyle and rugged self-sufficiency, most shifters are only a step removed from being adventurers already. Although for some, it can be hard to find something which could draw them from the pack or herd, most will eagerly join a campaign to protect their group. Others, particularly wanderers, actively seek adventuring parties to find a new place for themselves.

Game Rule Information

Shifter Racial Traits

Shifters have the same racial traits as noted in the Eberron Campaign Setting, except as noted below:

  • Racial Skills: Shifters receive a +2 racial bonus on acrobatics and athletics checks. These replace the racial skill bonuses normally granted to a shifter.
  • Languages: One of Common, Sylvan or Bestial.

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