October 4, 2010 by Jeff
The very nature of the shifter is variable. While the shifter race shares a common origin in lycanthropy, few races can claim such a wide variety of ancestors.
The great-grandchildren of cursed mortals, shifters can smell fear wherever they go, and this knowledge of their heritage has shaped the race to look out for its own. From the swift razorclaw shifter, to the unstoppable denkeep shifter, to the rare and inescapable dreamsight shifter, all are one in the eyes of their fellows.
Join us as we take a closer look at shifters and explore their varied genealogy in this five part series, Shifting Focus!
“You don’t want to be doing that, mate. Haven’t you weighed the cost? Certainly, you could run off with my coin and ring collections – you might even sell them for a few thousand gold. … But then I would have to kill you – probably in the next three or four days.
“Now, perhaps I’m overestimating, but isn’t that price a bit cheap for your life?”
Long fingers and large eyes combine with a slight, but handsome, figure in a plaguecoat shifter. Far from their wererat ancestors, plaguecoats often surprise those around them as sharp dressers. Their taste shines through in grooming, clothing, and even dwellings. Indeed, these tastes often appear obsessive in nature – a deduction that is often correct.
More than any other type of shifter, plaguecoats have a love of the city environment. The rat race of the urban setting appeals to their desire to succeed – especially over their rivals. Their veneer of civility, however, cannot hide the beast within forever. With their elevated stature in society comes a greater distance to fall when stress and injury unleashes the monstrous heart beneath the mask.
Playing A Plaguecoat Shifter
Among shifters, plaguecoats have the most sullied ancestry. Terrors of the past and present, wererats are among the most hated of urban creatures, so it is no surprise that few plaguecoats claim them as ancestors. The slanderous name of ‘plaguecoat,’ a construct of eladrin cities, is rarely claimed by these shifters. Indeed, plaguecoats more often call themselves ‘razorclaws’ or, merely, ‘shifters.’
The society and excitement of the city is the favored domain of plaguecoats. Attracted to the myriad of philosophies and businesses, plaguecoats form close relationships with people of every stripe – making them the center of many urban networks. They often maintain homes in several cities, moving from one to another as if following a herd of urban profit. This ability to form connections often leads a plaguecoat to become highly intelligent, with a vast horde of arcane facts and trivial gossip hidden away.
Plaguecoats are characterized by a calm demeanor, punctuated with small physical ticks. They tend to seek out the best clothing and groom themselves fastidiously, often speaking in high accents even when in a low station. But this mask of propriety is as thin as with any other shifter. Eventually, the rat within scratches its way through the curtain and a plaguecoat’s eyes and heart turn black. Likely the most terrifying among shifters, this transformation turns a calm, charismatic humanoid into a uncouth and bloodthirsty monster.
From the moment a plaguecoat is born, he senses that the world is out to kill him. More than mere paranoia, this characteristic is the seed that leads to some of a plaguecoat’s greatest features. An overdeveloped survival instinct makes plaguecoat shifters among the most cautious of their kind. Their relationships are also affected, with a strange combination of trust and suspicion showing in friendships and families – even among adventuring parties.
Plaguecoats feel a deep desire to be ready for anything, and the most common way this is expressed is through the Horde, a vast collection of artifacts and coin. From a young age, plaguecoats begin to amass wealth, often saving a large percentage of every scrap of money earned (or stolen). For this reason, plaguecoats tend to excel in their chosen fields. They run the gamut as master bankers, merchants, and thieves, frugally saving the most valuable pieces they obtain.
Far from greed, this Horde is actually brought about by a desire to protect their companions and themselves from whatever difficulties lie ahead. Indeed, while few people are more miserly in times of plenty, none are more generous in times of famine than a plaguecoat.
Plaguecoat Shifter Backgrounds
Lost Horde: Since your youth, you saved every copper, producing a vast Horde. Eventually, you married and had children, secure in the knowledge that your Horde would protect them if times turned hard. Recently, though, your Horde was stolen from under your nose, making your position terribly dangerous. How do you intend to refill your Horde? Do you seek the thief who took your valuables, or did you take up the mantle of an adventurer in order to discover wealth quicker than before?
Associated Skills: Insight, Streetwise
Obsessive Mastermind : Perfection is its own reward, but additional bonuses are always welcome. From a young age you shunned your bestial nature, turning obsessively to your need for cleanliness and perfection. This has allowed you to reach new heights in your chosen field, adding substantially to your Horde, which is larger than almost any other … and which you never intend to spend. What field do you specialize in? Do you solve crimes with your attention to detail, or are your clever senses turned, instead, to enormous heists?
Associated Skills: Perception, Thievery
Uncontrollable Rat : Beneath your veneer of a civilized and intelligent individual, you know that a monster lurks. At first, you ignored the reports of a serial killer who hunted by night, but the rumor followed you from place to place, and you soon realized the truth of your dual nature. How did you react to this revelation? Have you created an uneasy truce between your two selves, or do you seek to restrict or end your horrible curse?
Associated Skills: Arcana, Religion
Plague of Blood
Prerequisite: Plaguecoat shifter
Benefit : While under the effect of your plaguecoat shifting racial power, at the start of your turn you can choose to grant combat advantage until the start of your next turn. If you do, you gain a +3 bonus to damage rolls until the start of your next turn.