The skinchanger started out as my own take on the druid, but has gradually shifted towards being its own unique class. There are still a lot of similarities with the druid, but I’ve also tried to make the skinchanger stand out on its own. I created this class for my wife to use and she has really enjoyed it. It is still very much a work in progress, so please provide any constructive criticism in the comments below. The stats provided are intended for Old School Essentials by Necrotic Gnome, but it should be easy to adapt this class to the system of your choosing.
Prime Requisite: WIS
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 14
Weapons: Club, sling, spear, staff
Languages: Common, the secret druidic tongue
The skinchanger is a type of druid who has learned the ability to transport their minds into and possess other creatures. These can be either animals or monsters, but not humanoids or other intelligent beings. Skinchangers’ bodies are generally very frail, and it is believed that nature has granted them the ability to skinchange in order to compensate.
Skinchanger Level Progression
|Saving Throws ||Spells|
|Level ||XP ||HD ||THAC0 ||D ||W ||P ||B ||S ||1 ||2 ||3 ||4 ||5|
|* Modifiers from CON no longer apply.|| D: Death / poison;|
P: Paralysis / petrify;
B: Breath attacks;
S: Spells / rods / staves.
Like the druid, the skinchanger must be neutral in alignment.
Skinchangers may not use or wear anything metallic, as it interferes with their abilities. Since the skinchanger is able to control animals at will, they will more often choose to try to force their will on an animal or simple minded monster to defend them rather than join in combat themselves.
Unlike druids, the skinchanger is not required to carry a holy symbol, but they do need to be faithful to the tenets of their alignment and religion. Their abilities are granted to them by nature and therefore they must not offend nature or incur penalties. The skinchanger does not gain spells through research, but through a process known as a “spirit walk”. A skinchanger can also use magic scrolls for spells on their spell list as well as items that may only be used by divine spell casters.
Skinchangers have the innate ability to transport their consciousness into animals which gives them control over that animal. While using this ability, the skinchanger’s body enters a state of torpor, to an observer they appear asleep. The skinchanger is completely unaware of anything happening to or around their own body unless they are observing through the senses of the animal they have taken control of. This ability can be used at will, but is not guaranteed success. Use the table below to determine success. If the skinchanger has failed to take control of an animal, then they are unable to attempt another skin change for 1 hour and may not attempt control of the same animal for 24 hours unless that animal is willing. Attempting to skin change to a willing animal always succeeds unless a failed attempt was made in the last hour. If the animal the druid is possessing dies, the druid immediately returns to their body and is shaken by the experience, unable to take any action for the next round. If the skinchanger’s body is killed, the skinchanger’s consciousness may remain within the possessed animal. If a skinchanger spends more than 24 hours within an animal, they will forget their humanity. Even if their mind is returned to their original body, they will behave as that animal would, although they will eventually regain their humanity over time. The length of time is up to the GM’s discretion and should be based on how long the skinchanger lived as an animal. This is true even if the skinchanger’s body is killed and and then resurrected. Any time spent within the body of an animal should have an effect on the skinchanger’s mind, affecting their behavior upon returning.
Skinchange Success table
-: The skinchange fails
Number: If the 2d6 turning roll is higher
or equal, the skinchange attempt succeeds.
S: The skinchange succeeds
|Creature Hit Dice†|
|1 ||7 ||9 ||– ||– ||– ||– ||–|
|2 ||S ||7 ||11 ||– ||– ||– ||–|
|3 ||S ||S ||9 ||11 ||– ||– ||–|
|4 ||S ||S ||7 ||9 ||11 ||– ||–|
|5 ||S ||S ||S ||7 ||9 ||11 ||–|
|6 ||S ||S ||S ||S ||7 ||9 ||11|
|7 ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||7 ||9|
|8 ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||7|
|9 ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S|
|10 ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S|
|11+ ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S ||S|
* monsters with a special ability
(i.e. with an asterisk next to their HD
rating, in the creature description) increase the level to roll against by 1. ex. 2* becomes 3, 5** becomes 7.
† At the referee’s option, the table may be
expanded to include more powerful
types of creatures.
A Spirit Walk occurs while the skinchanger is asleep and involuntarily skin changes into a nearby animal. During a spirit walk, skinchangers don’t have full control over the possessed animal as they would during a skin change. Unlike a skin change, they will also immediately return to their body if it is disturbed. The effect is more of a dream like state rather than a full voluntary possession. Skinchangers cannot willingly perform a spirit walk, they must be initiated by the GM and at the very least should occur every time the skinchanger gains a level. While possessing an animal during a spirit walk, the skinchanger can learn new spells, interesting lore, be alerted of danger to self or to the party, or anything else the GM deems important. GMs should try to describe the spirit walk in detail and include how the new information is learned. Skinchangers are aware that when they find themselves involuntarily possessing another creature they are about to learn something important. Common skinchanger lore is that while they may gain great control over nature, it is ultimately nature that controls them.
A skinchanger cannot speak with animals in any language, howeer beginning at 3rd level, they are able to use their mental bond with an animal to communicate thoughts and emotions. The animal will not understand projected words, but the skinchanger can try to describe concepts by sending images and emotions telepathically.
Reaching 12th Level and Above
There can only be nine druids of 12th level, and since skinchangers are druids, this applies to them as well. When a skinchanger has enough experience to reach 12th level, they must challenge an existing 12th level druid. The character only advances to 12th level if the other druid is defeated. Such challenges may take any form that is agreed by both parties, including combat (which need not be fatal). Likewise, there can only be three druids of 13th level and a single druid (known as the arch-druid) of 14th level. Druids who attain 12th level or above may build a stronghold integrated into a natural setting.