Shifters are a playable race in 5e Dungeons and Dragons. Shifters form bonds with an animal at a very young age. The animal each Shifter chooses affects their appearance and behavior.
Shifters don’t exactly change into their chosen animal. In their normal state, Shifters may have features such as flattened ears or noses or fun that emulate their personal animal. When they use their racial feature, Shifting, they embody more of their totem animal. They may grow longer fangs or thicker skin.
Similar to how a Barbarian Rages, a Shifter 5e receives a temporary buff when they enter their Shifted state.
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What is a Shifter 5e?
Shifters were introduced in the Eberron: Rising from the Last War sourcebook. Eberron describes a world where magic touches every aspect of life. All who dwell in this world have learned to live and build with magic. Many Artificers originate in Eberron.
Eberron focuses on the continent of Khorvaire. This continent is where the Shifter race came to be. Shifters have mixed lineages with Humans and Lycanthropes, but they differ entirely. They are a separate race in the 5e DnD multiverse, with distinct features and traits.
Shifter 5e Traits in DnD
Shifters, known as Weretouched, do not fully transform as werewolves do. They always show evidence of their bestial nature. They have large eyes, flattened noses, pointed ears, and elongated canines.
Shifters also reflect their totem animal in looks and personality. A Shifter with a feline totem may act cool and distant. They may also be more agile and sneaky. A Shifter with a canine totem may prefer to run with a pack or value loyalty.
Shifters reach maturity after ten years and rarely live past 70. They are Medium in size and have a movement speed of 30ft. Their subrace and totem animal may enhance them.
Shifters tend to be neutral in alignment. They are rarely evil. Shifters are focused on their personal freedoms and do not like to be bound by rules. They will often help but are reluctant to form lasting bonds with new people.
Shifters also don’t have a specific culture as a race. Shifters often take names that are common in their region of origin. They often integrate into the community. Because of their fragmented culture, they only speak Common.
Shifter 5e Abilities & Features
There are some abilities and features that all Shifters share regardless of subrace.
Darkvision: Like many creatures in 5e DnD, Shifters have Darkvision. Darkvision is the ability to see in complete nonmagical darkness as if it was low light. This is a very common attribute and is not a reason to choose to play as a Shifter.
Shifting: A Shifter can take a bonus action to take on more of their bestial attributes. The Shift lasts for one minute unless the character dies or chooses to use another bonus action to end the Shift. All Shifters gain temporary hit points equal to their level + their CON modifier while Shifting. Other benefits of Shifting are connected to the subrace of a particular Shifter.
Subraces: There are four main types of subraces for Shifters in 5e DnD. Each subrace has unique abilities and features. Each subrace is connected to an animal type, though players are not limited to a set of animals when choosing a subrace. Players can choose any animal they want their Shifter character to align with and decide which subrace best suits that character.
Shifter 5e Stats
|Ability Score Increase||+1 DEX|
|Keen Senses||Proficiency in Perception|
|Languages||Common, Quori, +1 extra|
Shifter 5e Subraces
There are four main subraces of Shifter that are discussed in Eberron. There are more subraces introduced in other sourcebooks. Players can adapt these four subraces to fit most animal types. These are the subraces introduced in Eberron.
Beasthide Shifters have a totem animal known for its toughness, like a boar or a bear. They embody strength. These Shifters gain +2 to CON and +1 STR. They are also proficient in Athletics.
When Beasthide Shifters use the Shift bonus action, they gain an additional 1d6 of temporary hit points. This type of Shifter would be great for any tank character.
Longtooth Shifters embody pack animals. They tend to be very loyal to their friends. They have canine features that become more pronounced when they Shift. They often take on the traits of hyenas, dogs, and other predators.
Longtooth Shifters gain +2 to STR and +1 DEX. They also have the Fierce ability. This ability automatically grants proficiency in Intimidation. This increase in STR is perfect for Barbarians. Remember that Rage is also a bonus action, so a player cannot use Rage and Shift simultaneously.
While Shifting, the size of the Longtooth Shifter’s canines increases. They can use these knife-like teeth in an unarmed strike. This bite attack causes 1d6 + STR modifier piercing damage. This unarmed attack is interesting because it is a bonus action. Because players attack with their teeth, a character can still wield a sword and shield and perform this attack. A Longtooth Shifter Fighter could perform three attacks in one turn from an early level.
Swiftstride Shifters are the loners of the party. They tend to keep to themselves. Their feline attributes make them quick and graceful. They have the Graceful feat, which grants them proficiency in Acrobatics.
Swiftstride Shifters also have an ability score increase. They gain +DEX and +1 to CHA. While Shifting, they can move an extra 10 ft. They can also move 10 ft as a reaction to a melee attack without triggering an attack of opportunity. This means the Shifter can disengage without using a full action.
Wildhunt Shifters do not have an associated animal type. They are insightful hunters and have a close connection to nature.
Wildhunt Shifters are natural trackers and have proficiency in Survival. When they Shift, they get a buff to their WIS. Shifted Wildhunt Shifters have an advantage over WIS checks. Additionally, no creature within 30ft of the character can gain an advantage on the Shifter.
Which Class is Best for a Shifter?
Beasthide and Longtooth Shifters would make excellent Fighters. Longtooth Shifters have a +2 to STR which makes them excellent melee fighters. Longtooth Shifters also have an extra unarmed attack that doesn’t require them to disarm. A STR-based Longtooth Shifter could wield a heavy weapon like a Greatsword and make an unarmed deal an unarmed strike.
Beasthide, Shifters have +2 to CON, which makes them excellent tanks. Beasthide’s extra 1d6 of temporary hit points on top of the level + CON modifier temporary hit points are granted to every Shifter. Their additional +1 to AC, while Shifted makes these Shifters excellent damage sponges on the battlefield.
Longtooth Shifter Paladins can use their massive strength to deal damage for their noble cause. These Shifters would make excellent up close and personal damage-dealing Paladins.
How to Play a Shifter in 5e DnD
A Shifter’s inner beast affects both personality and appearance. It is essential for a player to choose which animal they would like to embody to determine how that will affect fighting style and roleplay.
A Swiftstride Shifter may embody the traits of a rat. They could move around crowded spaces quickly and have increased flexibility. In appearance, they would have elongated noses and pronounced teeth. They may have hoarder tendencies and would be able to slip away quickly into their nest-like home.
How to Use a Shifter 5e as a DM
Making a Shifter NPC would add another level of lore and magic to your campaign. The world in which the Shifters developed may differ greatly from those of your campaign characters. They would offer depth and diversity. Shifters would make an excellent short-term companion for a party.
Shifter 5e FAQs
What can 5e Shifters do?
Shifters’ main race feature is their ability to Shift. They don’t fully take on the form of an animal but rather embody the traits of their aligned animal. This gives the Shifter a variety of different abilities depending on their subclass.
What is the lifespan of a Shifter?
Shifters have a short lifespan. They mature by age 10 and rarely live past 70.
What can a Shifter shift into?
Shifters don’t entirely change their appearance. They transform by enhancing their already animalistic attributes.
What’s the difference between a Shifter and a Changeling in 5e DnD?
Shifters are more martially inclined than Changelings. Changelings gain buffs to CHA, while different subclasses of Shifter favor STR, CON, and DEX ability score bonuses.
Jillian started learning Dungeons & Dragons in 2014. After being encouraged by a friend to make a character, she became fully involved in character creation and later became an awesome Dungeon Master. Jillian strives to use her creativity to spread her knowledge of DnD and interpret the ruleset.