(Obsolete) Feral Animist

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"They say they have seen the wilderness; young man, I am the wilderness."

Druids and Rangers commune with nature on a daily basis. Reaching out into the realm of the supernatural, touching the vibrant force of life itself, these individuals taste the divine aspect of everything in brief moments. However, Druid and Rangers are, in this regard, generalists; the druid has no greater communion with the spirit of the bear than she does with the spirit of the thunderstorm that lurks overhead. There are those, whoever, who revere and focus on an individual totem in the most primal fashion; these people have long since abandoned the borders between creatures. Some consider themselves animals caught in the wrong form, others consider themselves a creature assisted by a spirit that is greater than any mere animal could be. All, however, tap into the aspect of divine that lies within the very idea of the animals they revere. These individuals are Feral Animists; individuals capable of tapping into this aspect, changing their very physical forms, for brief periods, and becoming terrible beasts in combat.

Adventures

A Feral Animist's motivation for adventure is often as diverse as the members of the class itself. Bat Totem Feral Animists might adventure to drive back the night horrors that have taken Night from those whose natural birthright it is. Boar Totem Feral Animists might adventure to do battle, to fight for the sheer love of it. Rat Totem Feral Animists and Wolf Totem Feral Animists may instead consider adventure the best way to protect their homes or friends, values that they might revere highly.

Characteristics

The Feral Animist is a typically combative individual who doesn't necessarily need manufactured weapons. They become capable of manifesting natural weapons from their bodies, fighting their opponents with their own bodies. They also are capable of dropping into an animal form for stealth and combat options. A Feral Animist's most defining trait is that he is, in no way a person who becomes an animal; when he changes shape into a wolf, he is a wolf as much as any wolf is. The Feral Animist moves through natural environments easily, and regardless of his form, he becomes harder to hurt, and heals quickly, perhaps even at a supernatural rate. He also gains a number of special abilities based on his choice of Totem.

Alignment

Unlike Lycanthropes, Feral Animists have no particular predilection towards an alignment. While there is a trend towards chaotic in their alignments, there are still a number of lawful Feral Animists.

Religion

Feral Animists have a connection to nature and combat. This natively edges them towards deities like Acydea, The Seafather, Seit and Vhaulun. The Feral Animist is a class that intimately connects itself to the spiritual aspect of an animal type; while they are not necessarily religious in a conventional sense, they nonetheless respect the divine.

Background

Any background is capable of producing a Feral Animist; while it is unlikely that a Feral Animist will come to revere an animal totem that he has no chance to ever see in the course of his life, it's entirely possible that a Feral Animist could see such an animal in a zoo or book somewhere, and research it more as he attempts to commune with it. Feral Animists would be more common in societies that are shepherded by a druidic force rather than a Clerical one, but that does not mean they necessarily always are.

Races

A Feral Animist's totem is often a sign of his original race. Halflings often revere the cunning possessed by rats and ferrets, and take the Rat as their totem. Elves who aspire to move as the wind, or even to fly might revere the Eagle or Leopard. Orcs, renowned for their strength and martial focus, might revere the Bear as a Totem.

Other Classes

The Feral Animist classically gets along fine with the Druid and Ranger, who both have a similar connection to nature. Paladins are a class composed entirely out of civilized constructions, and cannot feasibly exist without a society to gauge itself by, which means there is little common ground for the Feral Animist to associate on. Fighters and Rogues can often appreciate the martial prowess and skill ability the Feral Animist possesses, and the Feral Animist rarely has any issue with their overall class goals.

Role

The Feral Animist's role in a party is primarily focused on combat, with a secondary focus on wilderness travel and scouting. For this reason, the Animist is often well-suited to a role assisting Rogues or Rangers, as they can bring more combat clout and the ability to hide even more effectively in natural environments to the table.

Becoming a Feral Animist

What spurred your character to become a Feral Animist? A Feral Animist doesn't have to decide solidly on his totem choice until level 5. Furthermore, just because an animal is best represented by one type or other doesn't mean that your totem has to be from the list. A mountain lion is reasonably close to a Leopard; and the Boar Totem could easily represent a Badger.

A Feral Animist has some reason to commune with nature, even if it's an unconscious thing that has ‘been there' all his life. Some races – like Gnomes and Dwarves – are so civilized that becoming a Feral Animist is going to be rare.
Was your character an outcast in his society, an unwanted child left to be raised amongst animals? What if he was, instead, a city-dweller whose primary interest has been a particular animal of the city, such as dogs or rats?

Does your character think of himself as being of his ‘real' race, or of his animal totem's race? Does he feel he is, instead, that such labels are meaningless when applied to him? Does he view his Feralism as his birthright, or as a gift? What if he doesn't understand what's happening to him? Does your Feral Animist think of himself as being cursed and monstrous?

THE FERAL ANIMIST Hit dice: {$hitdice}
Spells Per Day
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special 1 2 3 4
1 +0 +2 +2 +0 Animalia, Wild Empathy - - - -
2 +1 +3 +3 +0 Nature Sense - - - -
3 +2 +3 +3 +1 Pass Without Trace - - - -
4 +3 +4 +4 +1 Spirit's Shape 0 - - -
5 +3 +4 +4 +1 Feralism (1/day), Nature's Armament I 0 - - -
6 +4 +5 +5 +2 Hardy Skin +1 1 - - -
7 +5 +5 +5 +2 Feralism (2/day) 1 - - -
8 +6/+1 +6 +6 +2 Feral Fortification, Hardy Skin +2 1 0 - -
9 +6/+1 +6 +6 +3 Feralism (3/day) 1 1 - -
10 +7/+2 +7 +7 +3 Nature's Armament II, Hardy Skin +3 1 1 0 -
11 +8/+3 +7 +7 +3 Feralism (4/day) 1 1 1 -
12 +9/+4 +8 +8 +4 Fast Healing1 , Hardy Skin +4 1 1 1 -
13 +9/+4 +8 +8 +4 Feralism (5/day) 2 1 1 -
14 +10/+5 +9 +9 +4 Fast Healing 2, Hardy Skin +5 2 1 1 0
15 +11/+6/+1 +9 +9 +5 Nature's Armament III, Feralism (6/day) 2 2 1 1
16 +12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +5 Fast Healing 3, Hardy Skin +6 2 2 2 1
17 +12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +5 Feralism (7/day) 2 2 2 1
18 +13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +6 Fast Healing 4, Hardy Skin +7 3 2 2 1
19 +14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +6 Feralism (8/day) 3 3 3 2
20 +15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +6 Nature's Armament IV, Fast Healing 5, Hardy Skin +8 3 3 3 3
Class Skills ({$skillslvl} + int mod per level, x4 at 1st level): {$cskills}

Game Rule Information

  • Abilities: Strength and Constitution are important to a Feral Animist; they are first and foremost a combative class that focuses on melee. Dexterity can be important, given the Animist's lack of proficiency in medium and heavy armours. Furthermore, they require a good Wisdom to cast their spells, with a Wisdom of 14 necessary to cast the highest-level Feral Animist spells. Intelligence can be important to the Feral Animist, as their skill list is extensive, but they don't necessarily get a lot of skill points a level.
  • Alignment: A Feral Animist can be any alignment.
  • Hit Die: d8

Class Skills

The Feral Animist's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).

  • Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4
  • Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the Feral Animist.

Weapon and Armour Proficiency

Feral Animists are proficient in light armour, simple weapons, and all martial weapons.

Spellcasting

Beginning at 4th level, the Feral Animist gains the ability to cast a small number of divine spells, which are drawn from the Ranger spell list. A Feral animist must choose and prepare his spells in advance.

To cast a spell, an Feral Animist must have a Wisdom score of at least 10+ the spell's level, so a Feral Animist with a Wisdom of 10 or lower cannot cast these spells. Feral Animist bonus spells are based on Wisdom, and saving throws against these spells have a Difficulty Class of 10 + spell level + Wisdom modifier.

When the Feral Animist gets 0 spells of a given level, such as 0 1st-level spells at 1st level, the Feral Animist gets only bonus spells (as per Table 1-1 on page 8 of the PHB). A Feral Animist without a bonus spell for that level cannot yet cast a spell of that level. A Feral Animist has access to any spell on her spell list, just as a cleric does.

Aminalia (Su)

A Feral Animist is considered to be an animal or a humanoid for the purpose of spells or abilities – whichever is less advantageous to him. Therefore, he cannot be the subject of an animal growth spell, but he can be fooled by an invisibility to animals spell.

Wild Empathy (Ex)

The Feral Animist isn't necessarily very good or bad at dealing with people. However, because of his slightly animal nature, it's easier for him to interact with animals. Starting at 1st level, the Feral Animist gains the Wild Empathy ability, as a Druid. When he gains the Spirit's Shape ability, he gains a +4 competence bonus to Wild Empathy checks made to interact with his Totem animal.

Nature Sense (Ex)

Intuitively, the Feral Animist carries with him some of the wisdom that animals have accrued over the ages. He can tell, with some effort, what not to eat, and what's fine to eat. To some Animists, it's a quiet, gut reaction – ‘I don't like the look of that water'. To others, it's as hearing the forest itself whisper in his ear – ‘The spirits say that this water is tainted'. Starting at 2nd level, a Feral Animist gets a +2 bonus on Knowledge (nature) and Survival checks.

Pass Without Trace (Ex)

How does one find a needle in a haystack? Even more difficult, then, is to find a needle amongst a thousand other needles? The Feral Animist is part of nature in a very real way – it's almost impossible to find a Feral Animist in his native environment, as he simply fits in so easily.

Starting at 3rd level, the Feral Animist is constantly the subject of a Pass Without Trace spell cast as a druid of his class level, except that the effect is nonmagical. Feral Animists are simply native to the wilds.

Spirit's Shape (Su)

Some Feral Animists view themselves as animals caught in the wrong form. Others still see themselves as borrowing power from a force greater than themselves. Some, such as Shifters, consider it a birthright to truly know their Spirit's Shape. And others still find a spiritual guide that urges them along their path. Whatever the reason, Feral Animists eventually achieve the capacity to take on a form respecting their totem.

Starting at 4th level, the Feral Animist gains the Shapechanger Subtype, and the ability to transform wholesale into an animal form of his totem, chosen from the following list. This ability functions as a Druid's Wild Shape ability, except as follows. The Animist keeps his own physical ability scores when he transforms. He gains any special qualities of the animal form, but not any of the special attacks. In this guise, the Feral Animist gains an additional +5 to disguise checks to appear as an animal, as he is able to shape his behaviour.

The Feral Animist chooses his Spirit Shape from the following animal forms: Bat, Black Bear, Boar, Eagle, Leopard, Monitor Lizard, Rat, or Wolf.

The Feral Animist can remain in Spirit Shape as long as he wants, and can use this ability an unlimited number of times per day. Any attempts to assert him into his ‘real' form will fail – for the purposes of spells and abilities, the Feral Animist's animal form is his true form – as is his human form.

DM'S Note: If a character's totem's Feralism abilities are already represented by another Totem animal, it is completely alright to allow them access to another, similar animal for Spirit's Shape, provided it has three or fewer hit dice as a general rule, and is no larger than the Feral Animist's normal form. Because the character does not gain the animal's ability scores, and does not gain any special attacks, this does not leave itself too open for abuse. However, a GM should always consider the player's request carefully for the campaign.

Feralism (Su)

The Spirit's shape takes precedent over the body's; the Feral Animist has already left behind the idea of a single, unified, mortal form. Changing in the swiftest of instants, the Feral Animist is able to merge his animal and normal forms and gain, for a brief while, the best of both worlds, marrying the strength of nature to his normal frame.

Starting at level 5, a Feral Animist can enable his Feralism as a Swift Action. Doing so shifts him into a hybrid form, a form defined by being both his totem, and his normal form, while being truly neither. The Feral Animist can activate this ability once per day at 5th level, and gains additional uses of it as he levels up.

When Feral, a Feral Animist visibly changes, growing natural attacks and undergoing a physical transformation that brings him closer to his totem. While in this state, a medium Feral Animist's natural armour bonus increases by +2, a boost to one or more physical ability scores (as per the table), a primary natural attack that deals 1d6 damage, and two secondary natural attacks that deal 1d4. While Feral, the Feral Animist also gains a bonus to his attack rolls equal to one-quarter of his class level. A larger or smaller Feral Animist's natural attacks scale up and down as normal.

A Feral Animist remains in his Feral form for a number of rounds equal to his class level. A Feral Animist who has multiple uses of his Feralism ability per day can choose to spend another use of the ability to double its duration. Choosing to do this is a Free action.

Feralism Abilities
Totem
Ability Score Boosts Natural Attacks Primary Secondary
Bat Dexterity +6, Constitution +2 Bite Wing Baffle
Black Bear Strength +6, Constitution +2 Bite Claws
Boar Constitution +8 Gore Slam
Eagle Dexterity +4, Constitution +4 Talons Wing Baffle
Leopard Strength +2, Dexterity +4, Constitution +2 Bite Claws
Monitor Lizard Strength +2, Dexterity +2, Constitution +4 Bite Tail Slam
Rat Dexterity +8 Bite Claws
Wolf Strength +2, Dex +4, Constitution +2 Bite Slam

At 6th level and every 3rd level thereafter, the damage dealt by each of the Feral Animist's natural attacks increases by one die.

Nature's Armament (Ex)

The Feral Animist doesn't remain dormant, however. No matter what the case may be, he is always going to be connected to nature in some fashion or another. While he may not always be feral, as he progresses in levels, the Feral Animist's nature shows through more and more, slowly shaping even his normal form with special abilities.

Starting at 5th level, and at every 5th level thereafter, the Feral Animist gains some trait that pulls him closer to his totem. These abilities incarnate both in and out of Feral form; for this reason, many Feral Animists have gross physical qualities other members of their race would not necessarily have.

Bat
  • At 5th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the inkling of preternatural sense, based on echolocation, of hearing the way sound bounces off objects. He gains Blindsense with a radius of 30 feet. This blindsense is not active in the area of a magical silence spell. The Feral Animist also gains a +3 bonus to Listen checks.
  • At 10th level, the Feral Animist with this totem sprouts large, batlike wings; while he previously had wings while Feral, enabling him to make wing baffle attempts, these wings were insufficient for unaided flight. The Feral Animist gains a fly speed equal to his land speed +10, with a maneuverability of good. These wings are not attached to the Animist's arms and can be withdrawn. They do not impose penalties on the Animist's normal movement.
  • At 15th level, the Feral Animist with this totem can hear with the most unnatural ease. His senses are so refined, so perfect, that he gains Blindsight with a radius of 30 feet. This is still affected by a Silence spell. Furthermore, his critical threat range with his natural weapons increases by one.
  • At 20th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the ability to discern truth from lies with his hearing. While still not able to perceive the lies told by people, he is nonetheless able to recognize magic with his keen senses. The Feral Animist becomes immune to language-dependant and mind-affecting spells.
Black Bear
  • At 5th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Improved Grab special ability. Whenever he makes a successful attack with a natural weapon or an unarmed strike, he may make an immediate attempt at a grapple.
  • At 10th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Powerful Frame ability. His natural weapons do not increase in their damage due to this.
  • At 15th level, the Feral Animist with this totem loses the Powerful Frame ability and becomes Large. The damage dealt by his natural weapons do increase one size category due to this.
  • At 20th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains a +4 bonus on all grapple checks.
Boar
  • At 5th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the ferocity ability of a Boar.
  • At 10th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains Damage Reduction 1/-. At each level she gets a Nature's Armament, this Damage Reduction improves by 1.
  • At 15th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains Powerful Charge as a bonus feat.
  • At 20th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains Improved Bull Rush and Greater Powerful Charge as bonus feats.
Eagle
  • At 5th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Skirmish ability as a Scout. At each level he gains a Nature's Armament ability, his Skirmish ability improves one step.
  • At 10th level, the Feral Animist with this totem sprouts large, feathered wings; while he previously had wings while Feral, enabling him to make wing baffle attempts, these wings were insufficient for unaided flight. The Feral Animist gains a fly speed equal to his land speed +10, with a maneuverability of good. These wings are not attached to the Animist's arms and can be withdrawn. They do not impose penalties on the Animist's normal movement.
  • At 15th level, the Feral Animist with this totem perceives weakness more acutely. The critical threat range for all his natural weapons increases by one.
  • At 20th level, the Feral Animist with this totem becomes a true terror of the skies. Whenever he successfully charges an opponent lower than him, the Feral Animist's natural attacks deal double damage.
Leopard
  • At 5th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the pounce special ability. However, he can only use this pounce in conjunction with natural weapons. If the Feral Animist already has natural weapons not gained while using Feralism, he can use this feature to make full attack actions with those at the end of a charge.
  • At 10th level, the Feral Animist with this totem becomes unfettered by normal movement limits. His movement speed increases by ten feet, and he gains a Climb speed equal to his base movement speed. He also gains a bonus to his Jump, Tumble, Climb and Balance checks equal to his Dexterity modifier (effectively applying his dex modifier twice to his Tumble checks).
  • At 15th level, the Feral Animist with this totem becomes a truly fearsome mobile fighter. The Feral Animist may move up to his full movement and consider it a charge for the purpose of Pounce. He doesn't have to move in a straight line, nor does he have to make his attacks from the first available position.
  • At 20th level, the Feral Animist with this totem becomes capable of the most phenomenal bursts of movement. His movement speed increases by an additional ten feet, and he can always take ten on Jump, tumble, and Balance checks. Furthermore, he can, three times a day, increase his movement speed to ten times its normal.
Monitor Lizard
  • At 5th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains a climb speed equal to his base speed.
  • At 10th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains affluence with poison. He gains the Poison use ability of an Assassin, and, when Feral or using Spirit's Shape, his bite is laced with a nerve-damaging poison that deals 1d6 Dexterity primary and secondary damage. The save DC for this poison is constitution-based.
  • At 15th level, the Feral Animist with this totem grows a tail almost as long as the trunk of his body. This gives him a Swim Speed equal to his normal speed, and a +4 bonus on Balance checks. This tail also is large and heavy, giving him a stability bonus on trips and bull-rushes as if he were a quadruped.
  • At 20th level, the Feral Animist with this totem becomes a truly ferocious evolutionary remnant. Whenever he makes a successful melee attack against an opponent with a natural weapon, he can make a grapple attempt. If the grapple attempt is successful, he deals extra damage as if his attack was a critical hit.
Rat
  • At 5th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Sneak Attack +1d6 special ability, as a Rogue. At each level he gains a Nature's Armament ability, his Sneak Attack improves by +1d6.
  • At 10th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Hide in Plain Sight special ability, as a Rogue.
  • At 15th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Opportunist special ability, as a Rogue.
  • At 20th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Defensive Roll special ability, as a Rogue.
Wolf
  • At 5th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Scent special ability.
  • At 10th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the Trip ability of a Wolf. Whenever he makes a successful attack with any natural weapon, he can make an immediate trip attack against that opponent.
  • At 15th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the ability to worry fallen foes. Whenever the Feral Animist trips an opponent, he immediately deals damage to that opponent as if he had made a successful attack with the natural weapon with which the Feral Animist made the trip attempt.
  • At 20th level, the Feral Animist with this totem gains the preternatural ability to focus on his pack. Whenever in the range of the Feral Animist's scent ability, the Feral Animist's allies each gain a +2 to attack and damage rolls.

Hardy Skin (Ex)

Feral Animists are hardened; being primarily focused on melee, they often develop hardened areas of skin, calluses, or in some rarer cases, bone spurs, thick fur, and even armoured plates, as their feral nature begins to blur into their natural form.

Starting at 6th level and improving at every even level thereafter, the Feral Animist gains a +1 natural armour bonus to his armour class. This ability applies whether he is using Feralism, Spirit's Shape, or not. This bonus does not stack with the Spirit Shape's natural armour bonus to armour class.

Feral Fortification (Ex)

The Feral Animist's form is more mutable than one might think. A fatal wound that stabs at the heart might be surprised to find that, in fact, the Animist's heart has long since moved. Aware and perceptive, the Animist's spiritual connection and own mutable form have left him resistant to wounds that would normally cripple any normal man. Starting at 8th level, whenever using his Feralism, the Feral Animist is immune to critical hits and stunning.

Fast Healing (Ex)

Adrenaline and healing enzymes flush the Feral Animist's body. His connection to the vibrant force of life itself is so great that he can ignore minor wounds, for they'll heal in a scant moment. At 12th level the Feral Animist gains Fast Healing 1. At every even level thereafter, his Fast Healing improves by 1.

Playing a Feral Animist

The Feral animist, as a class, leaves you, the player, with a lot of options. There are a number of possible choices for the roleplaying of your Animist as well. After all; it's entirely possible to play a Feral Animist who is, in fact a deep-seated lover of nature who thinks of himself as ‘truly' a Bear, and who feels no need to enter cities or wield weapons. However, while that's a fair avenue, there are a lot of other possibilities. Consider that a successful guardsman who has, for some reason, all his life, known what rats are doing, and used that knowledge to his advantage in his line of work. What if your character was once a prisoner in a tower, whose only avenue to the outside world was to watch the birds from his cell window? What if he escaped, one day, by taking the shape of a bird?

The Feral Animist does not need to be focused on a ‘nice' view of nature. A Feral Animist doesn't need to esteem nature above civilisation, either. Indeed, a Feral Animist does not need to feel that he is ‘truly' an animal that borrows a human's shape. These are possible options for roleplay, but they are by no means the only options available to the class from its flavour. A Feral Animist might feel a savage, primal connection to his animal Totem, and may fiercely defend them when he sees them. Or a Feral Animist might see himself as a ‘stealer of forms', and in fact has to kill and eat an animal of his totem before he can learn its shape.

Combat

Feral Animists are designed to be combative. Their Feralism class ability makes you, for brief periods, into a pure combat machine, with multiple attacks per round. Your armour class, ability scores, and at higher levels, damage dice all increase, and you can eventually be immune to many debilitating effects on the battlefield, like stunning, critical hits and sneak attack. For this reason, focusing on melee is a good option.

For bat and eagle totems, however, your natural weapons don't necessarily synergise with your special abilities. While not Feral, such characters may take up ranged combat, to exploit the advantages their flight gives them.

Rat totems are best when working with teams; they want to flank their opponents to maximise the use of their Sneak Attack ability. Similarly, Monitor Lizard Totems can harm multiple foes easily by using their bite on different opponents over the course of several turns, dealing their poison to numerous different opponents, lowering their armour class and reflex saves.

Boar totems and Bear totems know their role in combat quite easily; to be the biggest, nastiest, toughest thing around. Bears and Boars do the same thing, just in different ways. The Boar lasts long enough to land more hits, the Bear lands heavier hits to shorten the amount of time his opponent has to do anything about it. These two fight like brutes, and don't need much in the way of combat subtlety. Bears might consider that instead of using their claw weapons to use instead a larger, two-handed weapon to deal more damage to single targets.

Advancement

At certain levels, the Feral Animist undergoes gross physical changes. Bat Totems sprout wings, Lizard Totems grow tails, and Bear Totems physically grow, often up to double their size! These abilities offer great roleplay opportunities. Consider how you want your Feral Animist to progress. Perhaps a ‘stealer of forms' style Animist periodically undergoes fits, where he collapses and has his own ‘natural' form change, to punish him for his crime. Perhaps a similar angle could be used for a character cursed by a magical experiment.

Also, the Feral Animist does gain access to a small list of spells. He can use these spells to represent folk knowledge – it's not a cure light wounds, it's a healing salve that uses components from nature. Perhaps he could represent it by calling upon the spirits of the land, begging power from his Totem.

The Feral Animist doesn't have to be pigeonholed into a single class. It encourages you to not multiclass, but it can still handle a few levels of another class. Barbarian and Ranger both synergise well with the Feral Animist – indeed, a Feral, Raging character wielding a greataxe and finishing opponents off with a bite could be a real combat terror indeed!

The Feral Animist doesn't multiclass well with the Druid or any other full-spellcasting class. Because it has its own spellcasting list, any levels advancing in a different class don't advance the Feralist's, nor does the Feralist's levels improve upon the abilities of the other class. Druids can already Wild Shape to achieve monstrous forms – Feralism is a much more sporadic, ‘burst of power' style of combat, which Wild Shape doesn't need.

Resources

There are plenty of characters in modern media who could be represented as Feral Animists. Wolverine from the X-Men, for example, could be seen as a type of Wolf Feral Animist. The Studio Ghibli film Mononoke Hime has at least two characters who could be seen as Feral Animists – San, and the sentient animals of the woodland around her.

In books, a Bear Feral Animist, perhaps multiclassed with Fighter, could represent Barak from the David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series. Angua from the Terry Pratchett Discworld books could also be a Wolf Totem if you wanted to represent her without the large level adjustment and hit dice requirement necessary for a proper Werewolf.

Feral Animists in the World

Feral Animists are very much individuals. While some are and likely to band together – Wolf Totems, for example – there are still just as many Feral Animists who would be loners and never meet another Feral Animist in their entire life. Feral Animists gain little from the experiences of another, given the typically intuitive nature of their advancement.

Feral Animists are more likely to be the subject of folklore than they are serious study. They sound like things out of fairytales, or like monsters – humans that take on the forms of animals, in raging infernos of combat? The fox that entered the king's court in the form of a woman, masqueraded as a fine dancer, and slew the king while they danced? These are the things that a Feral Animist can do, and these are the things that stick in the mind of the superstitious. It's easier to be superstitious in a world where trolls and faeries are real, after all.

Feral Animists don't impact the world overmuch. They don't span the planet, they don't dominate countries, and they don't necessarily have much implication on their own. However, any individual Feral Animist could make a fine NPC. A Wolf Totem Feral Animist could be the head of a famous barbarian tribe, bound by honour and modeled after a real wolf pack. A Boar Totem could be the subject of a legend about a warrior who was able to hold off an entire army on her own. As with your own Feral Animist characters, the class lends itself more to the deeds of an amazing individual with a strange thematic than to anything the class itself does.

Organisation

Feral Animists aren't inclined towards organizations unless the Totem they revere is. Some Totem animals have family groups – bats move in colonies, wolves move in packs. But others are very independent and solitary. When they do form organizations, they tend to being tight and family-focused, and therefore, particularly difficult for non-Animists to approach.

However, Animism is not passed on by blood. A Feral Animist might have a family completely unconnected from his connection to nature, and this means that he might find a second family, one who do understand his primal nature. In these situations, he might strike out and find Feral Animists like himself – though this may be a long search that takes some time and never comes to fruition.

NPC Reactions

Feral Animists are, superficially, very similar to druids and rangers at low levels. Most communities that esteem such individuals highly would esteem them just as highly. However, at higher levels, many Feral Animist traits are just a bit too obvious to not be regarded as odd. Individuals with tails, wings, or who are prodigiously large are all the kinds of things that the narrowminded regard as dangerous. Feral Animists might find themselves hated and reviled in small-minded societies. However, societies that esteem nature more highly might regard these individuals as being demideities come to earth.

Ultimately, the Feral Animist provokes a lot of extreme reactions. Like Geomancers and their ilk, few people are indifferent to an individual with wings, or a tail. They are regarded as oddities, strange and powerful creatures who either must be revered, or cannot be trusted.

Feral Animist Lore

Characters with Knowledge (nature) can undertake research to find out more about Feral Animist packs that operate in an area, or just to research more about the Feral Animists in general. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following material, including the information from lower DCs.

  • DC 10: "They say that in some places, you get people who turn into animals, and animals that turn into people. It's not commonly known what they are, because there are so many things that can do that – wizards, lycanthropes, maybe even something else entirely."
  • DC 15: "Lycanthropes and wizards use external means to change their shape – but you can hear tell of some individuals who are so in tune with their own spirits, and the spirits of the animals, that they can take on their forms, changing into them wholesale. And sometimes the other way around – animals that turn into people!"
  • DC 20: "Feral Animists are individuals who can change their forms with a force of will, becoming partly animal for brief periods, to better fight or protect themselves. They're dangerous, and hard to kill at the best of times, even if they may look normal most of the time."
  • DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can find any specific local Feral Animists, knowing their totems and their typical haunts and exploits.

Feral Animists in the Game

Feral Animists start out looking normal, seeming to be just nature-oriented warriors, but over time transform into something altogether other. They fight and live hard, refusing to die by sheer force of will a lot of the time. However, for all they're ferocious and powerful, they can be very subtle; they do have a number of skills that lead them towards the role of scout and diplomat. The party could be followed by a pet animal or repeatedly see an eagle soaring overhead at significant events, but all the time be unaware that they are being warded by an ally they may never know. Feral Animists can make villainous barbarian warlords, using their supernatural powers to awe others, to put themselves in positions of power. In a more sophisticated case, a Feral Animist might be a master assassin, taking on the form of a lowly rat or bird to sneak past typical restraints, killing, and leaving as an innocent animal again.

A Feral Animist left to his own devices and raised by animals might treat the PCs as prey animals, stalking them through his homeland before striking at inopportune moments. A Feral Animist in this vein is a terrifying mix of animal and human, owning an intelligence like a man, and yet an animal's cunning.

Adaptation

The Feral Animist has few limits on it as it stands; it's a modular class that wants to focus itself on advancing its individual totems. If you wanted, you could limit it to one single totem animal and present it as a particular racial option. You could also consider making the totems based, not on player choice, but on region of origin – those who live in deserts cannot take Wolf Totems. As in any case where you remove options from the player, be sure to understand why you're doing it, and ensure that the players are comfortable with it. The Feral Animist was designed to allow a player to fill a number of possible niches, and for that reason, it's very wide open.

Making more totems isn't that necessary in many cases. Very few animals have abilities that aren't at least close to one of the existing totem animals, and those that are can simply allow a different Spirit Shape form. The Boar, for example, could represent badgers, while the Rat could represent Ferrets. A Horse totem would really look just like the Boar totem, with perhaps an increase to movement speed instead of the Ferocity ability. Rather than creating a whole new Totem when a player asks for a particular animal, consider which totems already fit the abilities of the totem you want, rather than trying to recreate the wheel.

Also, note that the Feral Animist Totems are currently very unrealistic, flavourwise. Rats in the real world do not do much in the way of Sneak Attacking, Bears do not classically pick up their opponents, and Leopards don't run up and down walls. This is because the feel of the totem is more important to the class than the realistic abilities of the animal in question. Otherwise, some Totems would receive abilities that are generally weaker. A bonus to hide checks as the leopard gets, for example, would not be very valuable to a class primarily focused on combat.

Encounters

Player characters might encounter Feral Animists when they travel to a locale they've never visited before. The local Feral Animists, if they were territorial, might be interested in seeing how these newcomers react to their kind, and how they treat their lands.

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