What Shifter Forms are OP?

One of the guys in my little gaming group is playing a dwarven Druid and has just taken his first level in the Shifter PRC. I’ve seen numerous comments that shifters are “op”, “cheesy”, etc.

Before I go merrily tweaking them, which forms do you think are OP? Choose as many as you like. I’m looking to ID the worst culprits.

  • Wyrmling (Chromatic)
  • Minotaur
  • Harpy
  • Gargoyle
  • Drider
  • Basilisk
  • Manticore
  • Dire Tiger
  • Medusa
  • Mind Flayer
  • Kobold Commando
  • Drow
  • Lizard Crossbow Specialist
  • Spectre
  • Risen Lord
  • Vampire
  • Ancient Dragon (Red/Green/Blue)
  • Rakshasa
  • Azer Chief
  • Death Slaad

0 voters

  • Stone Golem
  • Demonflesh Golem
  • Iron Golem

0 voters

If you have any comments you’d like to share, feel free.

I don’t understand the question!

OP = overpowered. Do you think that any of the shifter forms are too powerful? If yes, mark them on the poll.

If you wish to discuss further, post a comment.

From what I’ve seen looking at the various shifter forms - their powers and abilities - I think there’s some room for tweaking them to make somewhat more balanced. However, having never played a shifter, I don’t want to mess with something that may already be balanced. But given the comments about shifters I’ve seen over the years, I’m more inclined to think the greater wildshape forms need a rework.

For example, a user on Discord had this to say:

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Not played a shifter ever so I couldn’t say. As for op, surely the ruleset accommodates for this, perhaps more so in the HC 3e ruleset, though I’ve only 2e (revision), 3.5 and 5e

I’m referring specifically to how they’re implemented in NWN, not in pnp.

I am not sure this is a question that can really be answered in the abstract. Which forms (if any) are OP is very context dependent. In a high magic setting Shifters as a rule very weak, since players will have access to magic items that provide equivalent bonuses, immunities, etc., to anything a Shifter form can provide. Since shifting typically means losing at least some item bonuses, it can easily end up actually making one weaker when bonuses from items are very high.

On the other hand, for similar reasons, Shifters can indeed be quite OP in low magic settings. In that context they can provide players with all sorts of bonuses and immunities they could not get any other way. In particular, Damage Reduction can be very OP in a setting where few or no enemies have weapons powerful enough to penetrate it. Likewise, being able to shift into a form that provides complete immunity to a particular type of elemental damage could trivialize certain challenges, but very situationally. Likewise, how powerful the offensive special abilities of particular forms are depends very much on what sort of immunities the targets are likely to have.

As a specific example, if you shift into a form with DR 30/+3 that is going to be very OP if no one you are fighting has better than a +2 weapon. On the other hand, if +3 or better weapons are commonly employed by mobs in the setting, that DR is going to be pretty useless.

All of this does mean, unfortunately, that Shifters are rather difficult to balance for. They typically do end up either too powerful or too weak. I am not sure if there is a perfect solution, but making a medium magic setting with a wide variety of enemy types is probably one’s best hope of avoiding such issues.

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OP is relative to the environement, is it not? And shifters themselves are neither OP nor cheesy. On the contrary, they are quite under-powered because they tend to lack either the AC or AB to compete with other classes. It’s when they multiclass that the class begins to shine more, particularly when combined with Monk levels. One of the issues with Shifters is that Bioware didn’t implement the merging of properties quite the way they should, so as a result all forms of AC geting tossed into Deflection and cap at whatever the highest bonus is.

So by and large, none of the shifter forms are OP unless you look at them in the context of the environment. A Dragon Shape Druid/Monk would monkeystomp a low-magic environment, but probably struggle in an environment where magic gear exceeded +7.

An Epic Kobold Commando may spam HiPS as much as he wants, but many environments have ways of mitigating said spam. Rakshasa shape was nerfed by BD in one of their updates (no more empowered Ice storms), and so on.

No, Shifters are far from over-powered. Unless you look at the context and environment and then measure. Near pure Wizards and Sorcerers, in my experience, are far more powerful.

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