Hello all! Welcome back to our review of the races of Eberron that came out with the newest source book Eberron: Rising From the Last War. In our previous article we talked about the Changeling and the Kalashtar, and today we are going to be talking about the Shifter! The Shifter has four, count them, FOUR subraces, so this is going to be a meaty article!
Humans that have grown and evolved towards a more bestial nature, Shifters – often called the weretouched – manifest animalistic features that set them apart from regular humans. Shifters are unique in that they are the only Eberron race to have subraces. Even more unique, their ASIs completely change based off which subrace you choose, unlike all Elves which get a +2 to Dexterity, or all Dwarves who get a +2 to Constitution. Common to all Shifters is Darkvision out to a range of 60 feet, and their signature ability, Shifting. As a bonus action, you can assume a more bestial appearance for a minute or until you spend another bonus action to revert. When you do so, you gain temporary hit points equal to your level + your Con modifier as well as another bonus from your subrace. Once you use this feature, you can’t do so until you finish a short or long rest. I think this ability is super cool, which is a trend you’ll see with all of the Eberron races. I personally am a big fan of these racial abilities that define the race more than say, Elven Weapon Training or Stonecunning. I think they give a lot more depth to your character and allow you to do some truly amazing things in game, both in combat and in social situations.
The first subrace introduced is the Beasthide, noted for their durability and strength. They receive a +2 to Constitution and a +1 to Strength, proficiency in the Athletics Skill, and an additional 1d6 temp HP when they shift as well as a +1 bonus to their Armor Class. This race excels at tanking hits, so it’ll usually lend itself to classes that benefit from both the Con and Str increases, the likes of Barbarians, Fighters, Clerics (though they miss out on a Wis increase), and Paladins. Furthering the ideals of a big and burly character, free Athletics opens up a free slot for an extra knowledge/face skill, considering Athletics is almost always picked up as a skill for these classes.
The second subrace is the Longtooth, a much more aggressive subrace. Their ability score increases net them a +2 to Strength and a +1 to Dexterity, proficiency in the Intimidation skill, and allows the Shifter to make a bite attack as a bonus action, dealing 1d6 + your Strength modifier. This attack deals piercing damage as opposed to the normal bludgeoning damage of an unarmed strike. This ability opens up great options for classes like Fighters and Barbarians, who tend to not have a very active bonus action economy compared to the likes of a Rogue or a Cleric. The ability scores are great for any strength based class that plans on using medium armor, and works great with the Barbarian’s Unarmored Defense. Finally, a free face skill – even if it’s the bully one – is never frowned upon!
The third subrace is the Swiftstride, the most graceful and lithe of the subraces. They boast a great +2 to Dexterity and a +1 to Charisma, proficiency in the Acrobatics skill, a 10 feet walking speed increase while shifted, as well as the ability to move 10 feet as a reaction when a creature ends its turn within 5 feet of you, not provoking opportunity attacks. This subrace is immediately attractive to the likes of Rogues, but also works surprisingly well with Charisma casters such as the Bard, Sorcerer, and Warlock. The additional movement while shifted allows for a tiny bit more breathing room in terms of positioning for spells, and being able to use your reaction to get away from an enemy as opposed to using shield can help you reposition without consequence. Proficiency in Acrobatics opens up another skill and helps you escape grapples, which is always a pleasure to have.
The final subrace is the Wildhunt, the sharpest and most insightful of all Shifters. Wildhunt Shifters receive a +2 bonus to Wisdom and a +1 to Dexterity, proficiency in the Survival skill, advantage on Wis checks while shifted, and no attack from within 30 feet of you can be made with advantage against you. This subrace is crazy good, being only the third race to provide a +2 to Wis (preceded by the Firbolg and the Kalashtar) and having the pleasure of a solid second stat increase. Classes like the Cleric (if they’re going for light armor), Druid, Ranger, and ESPECIALLY the Monk all greatly benefit from these stat increases. Survival is an important tracking skill, and getting it for free in combination with a high Wisdom is always helpful for the party when searching for enemies. Additionally negating advantage on attacks against you is an extremely strong ability and should not be underestimated, especially when abilities like Pack Tactics, Blood Frenzy, and other advantage-granting abilities exist in many of the games monsters.
While I wanted to cover all of the races in only two articles, I got a bit carried away talking about this awesome race. I believe shifters can make some incredible characters, whether they want to exude their animalistic qualities or do their best to hide them. While the UA Shifter was a bit more restrictive in its stat increases, the official release of this race creates quite possibly one of the most versatile races, allowing it to fit nearly any class almost as well as the variant human, which is quite the feat (Ha, get it? Because variant humans get a feat?). Personally I plan on playing a shifter VERY soon after seeing all of these awesome changes. Have you played a shifter? Do you have a character idea for one? Let us know down below or in the forums, or if you’d rather tweet at us or message us on instagram feel free to! We’d love to hear your feedback on this race and I promise that with the next article we’ll finish covering the Eberron races!