Epic Insights
Epic Shapechangers
By James Jacobs

This month, we examine two epic level progressions for two of the most versatile and unique druidic prestige classes from Masters of the Wild: the shifter and the verdant lord.

Epic Shifter

The epic shifter has gone beyond the normal druidic ability to wildshape; no longer does she simply assume a new form when she changes shape. The epic shifter actually becomes the new creature. Epic shifters are rarely encountered in their true form; indeed, some of the most ancient and powerful shifters claim (with some pride) to have forgotten their true form entirely.

Epic shifters are generally a wild and carefree lot, and they prefer to spend their time exploring the multiverse and reveling in new forms and shapes they discover along the way. Their natural affinity with wild shape duplicates many of the epic wild feats, but a few of them, such as Colossal Wild Shape, Imbue Wild Shape (see below), and Quicken Wild Shape (see below), are quite popular choices.

Wisdom is perhaps the most important ability for the shifter, since it helps enhance any divine spells she can cast. Strength and Dexterity are often ignored by shifters since they can just turn into something with the score they require.

Other Options: Most epic shifters do not possess a fair amount of spellcasting ability, since they have chosen to focus their training on their ability to wild shape. Some shifters continue to study magic, though, and those who can qualify for feats like Epic Spellcasting and Improved Spell Capacity benefit greatly from these feats, especially if they have the Natural Spell feat.

Hit Die: d8.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Epic Wild Shape(Su): At 11th level, an epic shifter gains the ability to use epic wild shape. This functions identically to greater wild shape (see the description of the shifter in Masters of the Wild for details on greater wild shape), except that the shifter gains all of the supernatural special attacks and supernatural special qualities of the assumed form. The epic shifter is still limited to new forms that have equal or fewer Hit Dice than her own. Spell-like abilities are not granted by epic wild shape. An epic wild shape lasts for only an hour. The epic shifter can use epic wild shape an additional 2 times each day at 14th level, and two more times a day every 3 levels after that.

Bonus Feats: The epic shifter gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic shifter feats) at 13th level, and again every three levels after that.

Create Epic Infusion [Item Creation] [Epic]

You can create infusions of epic power.

Prerequisites: Create Infusion, Knowledge (nature) 24 ranks, Spellcraft 24 ranks.

Benefit: You can create infusions (see Masters of the Wild for full details on infusions) that exceed the normal limits for such items. For instance, you could create an infusion with spells greater than 9th level, or with a caster level greater than 20th.

Even this feat does not allow you to create an infusion from an epic spell. Such magic defies the power of nature and thus cannot be contained in an herb or plant.

Imbue Wild Shape [Wild] [Epic]

Your touch can grant other creatures the ability to use wild shape.

Prerequisites: Knowledge (nature) 24 ranks, Spellcraft 24 ranks, epic wild shape 3/day.

Benefit: As a full round action, you can expend one of your uses of epic wild shape for the day to grant a creature the wild shape ability. You must touch the creature. The recipient can use the druid wild shape ability once a day as a druid of its own level (maximum 20th). Though you expend a daily use of your epic wild shape ability, you imbue the recipient with the non-epic version of the ability only. The recipient retains the ability until you revoke it or until the recipient dies. You can revoke the gift any time as a free action, and you need not see or touch the recipient, or even be on the same plane. So long as the recipient retains the wildshape ability, you lose one daily use of your epic wildshape ability.

Instant Infusion [Item Creation] [Epic]

You can create infusions instantly by touch.

Prerequisites: Automatic Quicken Spell, Create Infusion, Create Epic Infusion, Quicken Spell, Knowledge (nature) 30 ranks, Spellcraft 30 ranks.

Benefit: You can create infusions as a full-round action. You must still expend the appropriate amount of gold pieces and experience points to create the infusion.

Quicken Wild Shape [Wild] [Epic]

You can change forms using wild shape as a free action.

Prerequisites: Automatic Quicken Spell, Quicken Spell, Knowledge (nature 30 ranks), wild shape 8 times/day.

Benefit: The act of changing forms using the wild shape, greater wild shape, or epic wild shape abilities is now a free action for you. You can change forms only once per round, and you cannot also cast a quickened spell or use another quickened ability during a round when you use quickened wildshape.

Epic Shifter Bonus Feat List: Colossal Wild Shape, Damage Reduction, Dire Charge, Epic Endurance, Epic Fortitude, Epic Reflexes, Epic Speed, Epic Spellcasting, Epic Toughness, Epic Will, Fast Healing, Ignore Material Components, Imbue Wild Shape (see sidebar), Improved Darkvision, Improved Low-Light Vision, Improved Metamagic, Improved Spell Capacity, Perfect Health, Permanent Emanation, Quicken Wild Shape (see sidebar), Spell Stowaway, Superior Initiative.

Shifter

Level

Special
11 Epic wild shape 1/day
12 --
13 Bonus feat
14 Epic wild shape 3/day
15 --
16 Bonus feat
17 Epic wild shape 5/day
18 --
19 Bonus feat
20 Epic wild shape 7/day

Epic Verdant Lord

The epic verdant lord protects the plants of the natural world, preventing other creatures from causing damage to the environs and wreaking terrible vengeance upon those who would abuse the forest for their own needs. Often, an epic verdant lord retires to the depths of an ancient forest in times of peace and spends decades in quiet contemplation, arising from his slumber only when he senses his world has come under attack.

Epic verdant lords are, above all else, patient. They rarely act out of haste, and as a result they tend to avoid the flashier and more frantic combat epic feats. Verdant lords prefer to acquire feats with long-term value, such as the various Craft Epic Item feats or Extended Life Span.

Wisdom is generally the most important ability for verdant lords.

Other Options: Although most verdant lords are deliberate in their actions, some headstrong lords find the traditional "lethargy" of their brothers to be a major disadvantage. These verdant lords focus more on combat, combining the potent defenses of their plant bodies with various combat-related feats to become truly dangerous guardians of the natural world.

Hit Die: d8.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Regeneration (Su): An epic verdant lord's body repairs damage to itself with shocking speed as long as he is in a natural area. At 11th level, the verdant lord gains regeneration 3; the rate of the lord's regeneration increases by +3 every three levels after that. Acid, cold, fire, and negative energy deal lethal damage to a verdant lord. In urban areas, or inside of structures, the verdant lord's regeneration does not function and he takes lethal damage from all sources; if the verdant lord later enters a natural area, any lethal damage he suffered in the non-natural region remains as damage and heals normally, but any further damage is treated as nonlethal (except for acid, cold, fire, and negative energy).

Gift of the Green (Su): As the verdant lord gains levels, he begins to manifest amazing abilities and qualities possessed by many plantlike creatures. At 13th level, and again at every 3rd level after that, a verdant lord may select one of the following:Camouflage: In a natural area, the verdant lord can use a free action to blend in with the surroundings and gain total concealment. This functions just like a greater invisibility spell except that the effect lasts until the verdant lord enters a structure or an urban environment or uses a free action to suppress it.

  • Constricting Vine: The verdant lord gains a natural melee attack in the form of a thick vine. If the vine hits, it inflicts 1d8 points of bludgeoning damage and can immediately make a grapple check without provoking an attack of opportunity. If the vine gets a hold, it constricts for 1d8 points of damage plus 1.5 times the verdant lord's Strength modifier each round the hold is maintained.

  • Natural Armor: The verdant lord's natural armor increases by +3 as his skin grows thick and barklike. This ability can be selected multiple times.

  • Poison Thorns: The verdant lord gains the ability to fire poison thorns from his flesh. These thorns have a range increment of 70 feet, deal 1d8 points of damage on a hit, and have a x3 critical multiplier. Any creature struck must make a Fortitude save (DC = 10 + half the verdant lord's level + his Constitution modifier) or suffer 1d6 points of temporary Dexterity damage (the initial and secondary damage is the same).

  • Reach: The verdant lord's arms become long like tree branches; his reach increases by 5 feet. This gift may be chosen up to three times.

  • Wild Shape (Plant): The verdant lord may wild shape into a plant creature as a 12th-level druid. Each time he gains a new gift of the green, he may wild shape an additional time each day. This wild shape ability stacks with any other uses of wild shape the character may possess.

Other gifts of the green can be designed by the player, although the DM must approve of any player-designed gifts.

Bonus Feats: The epic verdant lord gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic verdant lord feats) at 12th level, and again every three levels after that.

Epic Verdant Lord Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Augmented Alchemy, Automatic Silent Spell, Automatic Still Spell, Craft Epic Staff, Create Epic Infusion (see sidebar), Damage Reduction, Efficient Item Creation, Energy Resistance, Epic Endurance, Epic Spellcasting, Epic Toughness, Extended Life Span, Improved Spell Capacity, Instant Infusion (see sidebar), Master Staff.

Verdant Lord

Level

Special
11 Regeneration 3
12 Bonus feat
13 Gift of the green 1
14 Regeneration 6
15 Bonus feat
16 Gift of the green 2
17 Regeneration 9
18 Bonus feat
19 Gift of the green 3
20 Regeneration 12


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