“Terrifying Skinwalker Sightings: Real Encounters with Shapeshifting Beings!”
Skinwalkers are malevolent shape-shifters with origins in Navajo folklore. In their natural form, they resemble gaunt, humanoid creatures with sharp teeth and clawed hands. Their appearance is often described as unsettling, with pale, almost translucent skin, and sunken, dark eyes.
What sets skinwalkers apart is their ability to assume the form of any animal or human they choose. They use this power for malicious purposes, often impersonating loved ones to sow discord and fear among communities. When transformed, they retain their malevolent nature, making them incredibly dangerous adversaries.
In human guise, they are known to wear animal hides or clothing made from human remains, emphasizing their connection to death and decay. Legends say that the only way to defeat a one is to discover their true identity while they are in animal form.
They are creatures of darkness, dwelling in remote areas, haunted canyons, and desolate landscapes. They are feared and respected in Navajo culture, and their name is rarely spoken aloud for fear of attracting their attention.
Encountering a skinwalker is a harrowing experience, as they are known for their supernatural speed, cunning, and malevolence. In Navajo tradition, protection rituals and blessings are often used to ward off these malevolent beings, as they are believed to possess powerful dark magic.
Medium Humanoid (Shapechanger), Chaotic Evil
Armor Class 15 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 120 (16d8 + 48)
Speed 40 ft.
|18 (+4)||16 (+3)||16 (+3)||14 (+2)||12 (+1)||20 (+5)|
Skills Deception +9, Insight +4, Perception +4, Stealth +7
Damage Resistances Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 14
Languages Common plus any languages it knew in previous forms
Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)
Shapechanger. It can use its action to polymorph into a Medium humanoid or Medium beast, or back into its true form. Its statistics are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.
Supernatural Speed. Its base walking speed is 40 feet.
Multiattack. It makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.
- Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage.
- Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) slashing damage.
Malevolent Trickery. It is proficient in Deception and gains advantage on Deception checks made while in a disguise.
Shapechanger’s Deceit. When it makes an ability check or saving throw that uses Charisma, it can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to the ability check or saving throw. It can do so after the roll but before any effects of the roll occur.
Unsettling Presence. Each creature of the skinwalker’s choice that is within 30 feet of it and aware of it must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to its Unsettling Presence for the next 24 hours.
Charm. It targets one humanoid it can see within 30 feet of it. If the target can see the skinwalker, the target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or be charmed by the skinwalker. The charmed target regards the creature as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn’t under the creatures control, it takes the skinwalker’s requests or actions in the most favorable way it can.
Each time the skinwalker or its allies do anything harmful to the target, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 24 hours or until the skinwalker is killed, is on a different plane of existence from the target, or takes a bonus action to end the effect.
It can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time, and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The skinwalker regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
Move. It moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks.
Shapechange (Costs 2 Actions). It changes form into a Medium humanoid or Medium beast.
Terrifying Gaze (Costs 3 Actions). It targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. If the target can see the creature the target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or become frightened for 1 minute. The frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if the skinwalker is visible to it, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the skinwalker’s Terrifying Gaze for the next 24 hours.
D&D 5E Epic Monsters: Skin-Walker (5E)
Supernatural hunters that walk amongst humanity unseen: Skin-Walkers.
The most prominent legends regarding this creature come from the Navajo and they’re said to roam only the North American continent (predominantly in deep wilderness forests). Once it has chosen a victim it can stalk them for days or longer, waiting for a target to be isolated. They are nightmarish creatures able to mimic the voice of any human or animal, even shifting their shape when wearing the skin of their prey. Traditionally it’s taboo to speak of, write down, or even think about skin-walkers so specifics about them are sparse. One resource I found claimed that skin-walkers were once the most respected and capable warriors of the tribe, donning the skins of coyotes and other animals to better spy on enemies, and it was only after the Great Dying that they began to turn against their own. There’s also a condition known as clinical lycanthropy which bears some thinking about too, although ultimately, it’s much more interesting for our purposes for these monsters to be more than mentally disturbed.
Medium monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 90 (12d8+36)
Speed 30 ft.
|18 (+4)||17 (+3)||16 (+3)||13 (+1)||17 (+3)||18 (+4)|
Skills Deception +10, Nature +4, Perception +6, Stealth +9, Survival +6
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
Exceptional Stealth. The skin-walker has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks and its passive Stealth score is 24.
Keen Hearing and Smell. The skin-walker has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Magic Resistance. The skin-walker has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Mimicry. The skin-walker can mimic animal sounds and humanoid voices. A creature that hears the sounds can tell they are imitations with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check.
Shapechanger. The skin-walker can use its action to polymorph into another humanoid or a beast, or back into its true form, which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its AC, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.
Skinsuit. When the skin-walker has the skin of a creature it is using Shapechanger to assume the form of, it has advantage on Charisma (Deception) and Charisma (Persuasion) checks made to maintain its disguise.
Multiattack. The skin-walker makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its claws or spear.
Bite (Beast or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage.
Claws (Beast or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) slashing damage.
Spear (Humanoid Form Only). Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or reach 20/60 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) piercing damage or 8 (1d8+4) piercing damage if wielded in two hands.
Gore Stench (Recharge 5-6). The skin-walker summons the blood and effluent from corpses that have died nearby creating a powerful gas in a 60-foot radius sphere centered on a point it chooses within 60 feet. Creatures in the area make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or are sickened. A sickened creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks, it cannot take reactions, and on its turn it can only take a bonus action or action (not both). The gas dissipates at the end of the skin-walker’s turn. At the end of each of its turns, a sickened creature can make another Constitution saving throw. If it succeeds, the effect ends. On a successful saving throw, the creature is immune to the skin-walker’s Gore Stench for 24 hours.
Screeching Echoes (Recharge 6). The skin-walker summons the voices of the creatures and warriors that have died nearby, creating a malicious cacophony all around it. Each creature within 120 feet of it that can hear it and that isn’t a monstrosity must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of the skin-walker’s next turn.
Skinwalker CR 1/2 (Ranger 1)
Male skinwalker ranger 1
N Medium humanoid (shapechanger, skinwalker)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +6
AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 13 (+3 armor, +2 Dex)
hp 12 (1d10+2)
Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +2
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +4 (1d4+3)
Ranged longbow +3 (1d8/×3)
Special Attacks favored enemy (human +2) Skinwalker Spell-like Abilities (CL 1st; concentration +3)
1/day—speak with animals
Str 17, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB +4; CMD 16
Feats Power Attack
Skills Climb +7, Handle Animal +5, Perception +6, Survival +6, Swim +7; Racial Modifiers +2 Handle Animal
SQ change shape, track +1, wild empathy +2
Change Shape (Su)
A skinwalker can change shape to a bestial form as a standard action. In bestial form, a skinwalker gains a +2 racial bonus to his choice of Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. While in this form, a skinwalker also takes on an animalistic feature that provides a special effect.
Each time a skinwalker assumes bestial form, he can choose to gain two claw attacks that each deal 1d4 points of damage, 60 foot darkvision, or a +1 natural armor bonus.
These benefits last until the skinwalker returns to his humanoid form as a swift action. A skinwalker must first return to his humanoid form before changing to bestial form again to change benefits. The skinwalker presented here is currently in bestial form, and has claw attacks and a +2 racial bonus to Strength.
Environment any forests, hills, or mountains
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3–12)
Treasure standard (studded leather armor, longbow, other treasure)
Most people believe that skinwalkers are half-breeds of lycanthropes, or that they possess a weaker version of the curse of lycanthropy. However, skinwalker shamans claim that their people were chosen by the gods as a bridge between humanity and animals. Either way, skinwalkers resemble humans much of the time, but they have the uncanny ability to transform into bestial humanoids with powerful and fearsome aspects of animals.
Section 15: Copyright Notice
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 5 © 2015, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, John Bennett, Logan Bonner, Creighton Broadhurst, Robert Brookes, Benjamin Bruck, Jason Bulmahn, Adam Daigle, Thurston Hillman, Eric Hindley, Joe Homes, James Jacobs, Amanda Hamon Kunz, Ben McFarland, Jason Nelson, Thom Phillips, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Alistair Rigg, Alex Riggs, David N. Ross, Wes Schneider, David Schwartz, Mark Seifter, Mike Shel, James L. Sutter, and Linda Zayas-Palmer.