Shifters, also sometimes called the weretouched, were a race of humanoids descended from interbreeding between lycanthropes and humans. Fierce and wild-spirited, shifters were feared by many as much as their shapeshifting brethren.
Shifters resembled humans, their close brethren, but with distinctively bestial features such as sharp teeth, claws, pointed ears, or fur. Compared to humans, shifters were somewhat short, the average height range being 5.6–6.0 feet (1.7–1.8 meters), though shifters were lithe and strong and, as a result, were slightly heavier for their size, weighing 130–180 pounds (59.0–81.6 kilograms) most commonly. In many other ways, however, shifters looked like humans.
However, to a human's eye, the resemblance was less obvious than the differences. Unlike humans, shifters had flat, animal-like noses, larger than usual eyes that allowed them to see better in low light, heavy eyebrows, pointed ears, skin that was often of a brownish shade, and much more hair, also commonly brown, than was typical for the common human. Because of this, shifters, to a human, more closely resembled their lycanthrope ancestors, which was sometimes confusing and shifters were sometimes mistaken for true lycanthropes, but a shifter could avoid this by shifting minor parts of their body to look like a normal human. Like their more feral brethren, shifters were capable of minor shapeshifting and could manifest animal-like traits when under stress, such as a tail, fangs, claws, wings, gills, and more. They adapted to whatever environment they were in.
Shifters lived to about as long humans did on average.
Shifters were commonly self-reliant and free-spirited. However, they were restrained in their actions by a fear that they might become lost in the savagery that dwelled in their blood. This fear of losing control made many shifters confrontational and reclusive. Some shifters overcame this self-doubt, however, becoming true friends to those they fought beside. However, this feral predatory nature could be to the shifter's advantage, and they made excellent rangers or druids.
Shifters were often feared wherever they went, much like their lycanthrope ancestors. This was due to a common misconception that all lycanthropes were invariably and irreversibly evil, including shifters. Though false, this conception shaped the lives of shifters, who rarely achieved a prominent status in civilized society. Instead, shifters preferred either a nomadic lifestyle or living close to the edges of society, supporting it as fishers, trackers, hunters, guides, or scouts. Others took up the call of an adventurer's life while yet others gave in to the expectations of society, letting their primal bloodlust fuel them in a life of crime.
Shifters favored gods of nature, the moon, and primal strength.
Just like lycanthropes, shifters could be found scattered throughout Faerûn in the late 15th century DR, but a few gathered in larger communities. The Werewoods near Baldur's Gate and the Glimmerwood in Luruar were two such locations where lycanthropes were found in larger numbers and hence, as a result, so were shifters. However, most shifters, even in these regions, stayed away from the dark influence of their ancestors. Other large shifter communities were found in the Great Dale and the Forest of Lethyr, as well as Dambrath, where the local culture was xenophobic and had a hatred for drow.
- Longtooth shifters
- Longtooth shifters were athletic and durable, while remaining wise to the world around them.
- Razorclaw shifters
- Razorclaw shifters were agile and subtle, with a high degree of perception to aid them in their hunts.
- Cliffwalk shifters
- Cliffwalk shifters became agile and gained a much-improved climbing ability.
- Beasthide shifters
- Beasthide shifters were tough and resilient, making them hard to bring down. While they shifted, they became tougher still.
- Longstride shifters
- Longstride shifters became fleeter of foot and were able to increase their speed for a time while shifting.
- Wildhunt shifters
- Wildhunt shifters gained the extraordinary ability to smell as well as a predatory animal, allowing them to track by scent, as well as increased resilience. Wildhunt shifters made for exceptional trackers thanks to their enhanced sense of smell.
- Dreamsight shifters
- Dreamsight shifters were the rarest of all. While shifting, they gained a bonus to their Wisdom as well as the ability to speak with animals in a supernatural manner, increasing their ability to manage animals.
- Gorebrute shifters
- Gorebrute shifters gained a pair of horns that could be used in a natural charge attack, as well as enhanced strength.
A shifter could have all of these abilities and more, as they increased their shapeshifting powers.
- Matt Sernett (December 2010). “Born Under a Violent Moon: Shifters in the Forgotten Realms”. In Steve Winter ed. Dragon #394 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 60–64.
- Keith Baker (May 2010). “Winning Races: Shifter, Shifters of the Cities”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #387 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 47–49.
- Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 233. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- Andrew Finch, Gwendolyn Kestrel, Chris Perkins (August 2004). Monster Manual III. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 150–151. ISBN 0-7869-3430-1.
- Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16. ISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
- Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 17. ISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
- Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 20. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 16–17. ISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
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