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Polymorph revisions

nharwell

Explorer
I posted my house rules regarding the various polymorph-type spells to the old forums. Since then I've had more time to playtest them (as have some other DMs I shared these rules with) and have cleaned up the spell descriptions a little. The reasoning for my changes to polymorph self (and other) are two-fold:

(1) WOTC has errata'd polymorph to weaken it substantially. I find that their revisions, however, have made the problem worse. The current version of the spell is undeniably weaker than in the PHB; most of the "weakening", though, comes from reducing the flexibility of the spell (you are limited to only one form for the duration) -- thus emphasizing the "combative" aspects of the spell. So a spell that in 1st and 2nd edition was useful for movement and escape is now simply a combat enhancer -- and a terribly effective one. Compare this 4th level spell with Tenser's Transformation (assuming only a 7th level caster, an Annis Hag would probably be the best form):

Polymorph (7th level caster)
Str 25 (effectively a +15 unnamed bonus for many wizards)
Dex 12 (maybe lower than wizard's own)
Con 14 (no hit point bonus or penalty, so no big deal)
+10 natural armor
a claw attack for 1d6+7 (perhaps a 2nd if BAB is high enough)
10 foot reach
40 foot speed
horrific appearance (easily covered with Change Self or Hat of Disguise)
lasts 7 hours
can still increase stats with Bull's Str, Cat's Grace, Endurance
verbal-only component

Tenser's Transformation (at least 11th level caster)
Str +2d4 (enhancement bonus, so no Bull's Strength)
Dex +2d4 (much better than Polymorph, admittedly)
+11d6 temporary hit points (another large bonus)
+5 BAB
+5 bonus on Fortitude Saves
weapon proficiency
*must attack with weapons
*only lasts 11 rounds
requires a potion of Strength

Is there 2 levels of difference between these spells? And that's not even considering that you can choose other forms when casting Polymorph to "customize" yourself for a given situation. Annis Hag simply provides the best overall choice at 7th level.

(2) I consider Polymorph Self as part of a "chain" of spells from Alter Self to Shape Change. Currently Polymorph Self is closer to Shape Change in combat power while limited to a single form like Alter Self. I preferred to reverse this -- allow multiple forms like SHape Change but limit the combat effectiveness of the spell. Moreover, both Alter Self and Shapechange allow the caster to disguise himself as another individual. Polymorph does not do this -- you are restricted to becoming an "average" member of the race.

Overall, I wanted a flexible spell for disguise, movement, and adaptability rather than a spell that made a wizard a frightening melee combatant. I took the Sage's suggestions for Alter Self ( http://homepage.mac.com/guyf/DnD/Sage/PolymorphAlterSelf.html ) and elaborated on them -- and then used that as the basis for my revised polymorph self. Following are my adaptations of the various spells.
 

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nharwell

Explorer
Alter Self (revision, PHB p.172)
Transmutation


Level: Sor/Wiz 2
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Personal
Target: The character
Duration: 10 minutes/level (D)

The character can alter his or her appearance and form -- including clothing and equipment -- to appear up to taller or shorter, thin, fat or in between. Height may be changed by up to one foot and weight can be changed up to one-half. The assumed form must be corporeal and the character cannot change his or her body type. For example, a human caster could look human, humanoid, or like any other generally human-shaped bipedal creature. The caster can freely choose secondary characteristics such as gender, race, age, skin/hair/eye color, etc. Ability scores are not altered, however.

The character's body can undergo a limited physical transmutation, including adding or subtracting one or two limbs. Extra limbs do not allow you to make more favorable multiple attacks; any additional attacks use the two-weapon fighting rules (natural attacks count as light weapons). Some possible changes include:

Claws (rake for 1d4 damage)
Fangs (bite for 1d4 damage)
Fins (swim speed 30 ft)
Gills (breathe underwater)
Low-light vision
Natural armor (+2)
Tail (+2 balance and climb, can slam for 1d3 damage)
Tentacles (up to 2, may allow for constrict at 1d4 damage)
Wings (fly speed 30 ft, poor maneuverability)

Only one change of these changes may be made with a single casting of the spell.

Upon changing form, you heal 1d4 hp (if wounded). Changes to equipment do not alter their form, function, or damage. If your equipment or any part of your body is separated from you, it immediately reverts to its original form.

Once the new form is chosen, it remains for the duration of the spell. If the character is slain, the character automatically returns to the character's normal form.

If the character uses this spell to create a disguise, the character gets a +10 bonus on the character's Disguise check.
 

nharwell

Explorer
Polymorph Self (revision, PHB p.237)
Transmutation


Level: Rgr 4, Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Personal
Target: The character
Duration: 1 hour/level (D)


As Alter Self, except that the character can assume any corporeal form from Diminutive to one size larger than his normal form, and may change form at will during the duration of the spell. Each change is a full-round action. Upon the initial change of form, the caster regains lost hit points as if having rested for a day. The caster may choose to merge his equipment into the new form, in which case it is non-functional (except for continuous magic-items). Otherwise, his equipment may change to match his new form. This will only change the equipment’s properties if a size-change is involved (e.g. changing into a large creature may increase the damage of the weapon, as it changes size as well). Only equipment carried or worn during the casting of the spell will be affected – i.e. the caster can’t pick up a sword after casting the spell and have it alter with subsequent form changes.

Unlike Alter Self, the cast may add or subtract multiple features at once. The following features can be added (others may be added at DM’s discretion):

Claws (rake for 1d6 damage)
Darkvision
Extra limbs (up to 6, may allow for constrict at 1d6 damage)
Fangs (bite for 1d6 damage)
Fins (swim speed 60 ft)
Gills (breathe underwater)
Low-light vision
Natural armor (+4)
Tail (+2 balance and climb, can slam for 1d4 damage)
Wings (fly speed 60 ft, average maneuverability)

Although the caster may freely alter his appearance, his physical attributes do not change except due to size. Assuming a medium-sized caster, here are the (total) stat adjustments due to size change:

New Size Str* Dex Con NatArmor AC/Atk
Large +8 -2 +4 +2 -1
Small -4 +2 -2 same +1
Tiny -8 +4 -2 same +2
Dim -10 +6 -2 same +3

*min Str 1
 

nharwell

Explorer
Polymorph Other

Polymorph Other (revision, PHB p.236)
Transmutation


Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target: One Creature
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: Fortitude Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

Polymorph Other changes the subject into another form with effects as per Polymorph Self. Incorporeal and gaseous creatures are immune, and a natural shapeshifter can resume its natural form as a standard action. If slain, the polymorphed creature reverts to its original form, although it remains dead.
 

nharwell

Explorer
Polymorph Any Object (clarification, PHB p.236)
Transmutation


Level: Sor/Wiz 8, Trickery 8
Components: V, S, F/DF
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One Creature
Duration: Permanent
Saving Throw: Will Negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

As Shape Change, except this spell changes one object of creature into another. The duration of the spell depends on how radical a change is made. The Dm determines the duration by the following guidelines:

(*Duration Factor: add all that apply and look up the total on the second table)

Changed Subject Is: Duration Factor*
Same kingdom (animal, vegetable, mineral) +5
Same class (mammals, fungi, metals, etc.) +2
Same size +2
Related (twig is to tree, wolf fur is to wolf) +2
Same or lower Intelligence +2

Duration Example Duration
Factor
0 Pebble to human 20 minutes
2 Marionette to human 1 hour
4 Human to marionette 3 hours
5 Lizard to manticore 12 hours
6 Sheep to wool coat 2 days
7 Shrew to manticore 1 week
9+ Manticore to shrew Permanent

Unlike Polymorph Other or Shape Change, Polymorph Any Object does grant the creature the Intelligence score of its new form. If the original form didn’t have a Wisdom or Charisma score, it gains those scores of the new form. As with Shape Change, the subject gains all non-magical abilites of the new form, including extraordinary abilities.

A nonmagical object cannot be made magical by this spell. A magic item or weapon or other object can be polymorphed into another type of magic object, but it never gains abilities superior to those of the original object. This spell cannot create material of great intrinsic value, such as copper, silver, gems, silk, gold, and platinum.

This spell can also be used to duplicate the effects of polymorph other, flesh to stone, stone to flesh, transmute mud to rock, transmute water to dust, or transmute rock to mud.
 
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nharwell

Explorer
Shape Change (revision, PHB p.250)
Transmutation


Level: Animal 9, Druid 9, Sor/Wiz 9
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Personal
Target: The character
Duration: 10 minutes/level (D)

The caster can assume the form of any single creature of less than deity status or any single object. The assumed form can be no smaller than a flea and no larger than 200 feet in its largest dimension. Incorporeal and gaseous forms may also be assumed.

The caster gains all natural and extraordinary abilities of the new form, including Str, Dex, Con, physical attack modes (claw/claw/bite, etc.) and damage, natural armor, etc. He does not gain supernatural or spell-like abilities of the new form, although he does keep his own extraordinary abilities. He also gain the type of the new form (for example, “dragon” or “magical beast”). As with Polymorph, the caster may choose to absorb his equipment into his new form or change it to match his new form. Parts of the body or pieces of equipment that are separated from the caster do not revert to their original forms (thus allowing attacks such as poison bite or acid).

If changing into another humanoid form (human, elf, goblin, etc.), the caster may freely choose physical characteristics (Str, Dex, Con) that are within the normal range for that race.

The caster can become just about anything he are familiar with, changing form once each round as a free action (the change takes place either immediately before or immediately after his regular action).

If using this spell to create a disguise, the caster get +10 on his Disguise check.

Focus: A jade circlet worth no less than 1,500 gp, which must be placed on the head when casting the spell.
 

bret

First Post
After looking at the Class abilities of the Druid, we thought a limit of one change per three caster levels or less would be appropriate for Polymorph Self.

You might want to consider some sort of limit here. That or allow the Druid to get the spell as well.
 

nharwell

Explorer
Actually, I base Wildshape on Shapechange rather than Polymorph -- so Druid's in my game actually get all the abilities of the animal they become (including physical stats) whereas a wizard (using my revised Polymorph) can look like an animal but only mimic some abilities (wings, claws, etc.)
 

nharwell

Explorer
<bump>

Although I hate to bump my own message, I pointed some people to this board to look at these rules, so I thought I'd make it easier to find.
 

Magus Coeruleus

First Post
These look pretty good. Any chance you can email me these so I don't have to copy, paste, and remove the HTML?

Was it your intent that with Poly Self you can incorporate as many of those features as you want at once?

A related question is does your Poly Self allow one to assume the form of an abomination with a hodge-podge of features even if they don't belong together in any known creature (e.g. gills and wings)?

Also, the beginning of the description says you can take any corporeal form, but then the functionality is defined by your list. Does this mean that you can basically appear to be any sort of creature but have functionality as per the list?

So, for instance, if you wanted to turn into the most powerful creature possible that looks convincingly like a Troll (i.e. nothing missing, nothing taken away, from regular Troll-stuff), you'd get 1) large size; 2) Claws (rake for 1d6 damage); Darkvision (what's the range limit for your Poly?); no extra limbs (clearly not Troll-like); Fangs (bite for 1d6 damage); no fins or gills (not Troll-like); Low-light vision (no one can tell whether you have low-light vision by looking at you, and you might want to be able to see in color and twice the normal range); Natural armor (+4); no tail, no wings; right?

What are the ramifications of your Poly Self for Disguise? It would seem to me to be better than Alter Self, but not necessarily perfect. For instance, if you are mimicking a creature with claws, fangs, or natural armor, and your damage or armor bonus are lower than normal for the creature due to the maximum values on your list, or if you've chosen the values on the list even though the creature normally has values that are lower than them, that should detract from the disguise somewhat, right?

Another way of putting the question is, is the appearance of the form you can take limited in some way by the values on your list? Can you look like a creature with immense fangs even if they can only do 1d6 damage, so that they look really vicious but are not so bad, or does that actually limit how long or sharp they are?

Thanks,
 

Pielorinho

Iron Fist of Pelor
I like! I may introduce these changes into my game -- polymorph as listed seems to have perfect forms and substandard forms, and your changes seem to ameliorate that problem.

Daniel
 

Cheiromancer

Explorer
Alternatively, you could have a Polymorph be limited in the forms it can use.

It is analogous to the permanency spell: a number of spells have standard formulae to make permanent, others need to be researched separately, as if they were independent spells.

Perhaps the standard Polymorph includes a variety of small animals: bat, mouse, cat, sparrow and carp. Maybe you could even switch freely (1/round) between them.

But to get Polymorph Self: Umber Hulk, you need to research the form separately.
 

nharwell

Explorer
Magus Coeruleus said:
Was it your intent that with Poly Self you can incorporate as many of those features as you want at once?

Yes. That is the primary reason why it's called "polymorph" (they really need to change the name of the spell currently in use -- maybe to "monomorph"?).


A related question is does your Poly Self allow one to assume the form of an abomination with a hodge-podge of features even if they don't belong together in any known creature (e.g. gills and wings)?

Yes, although I reserve the right to impose penalties (-1 or -2 to rolls) to extremely "weird" forms.


Also, the beginning of the description says you can take any corporeal form, but then the functionality is defined by your list. Does this mean that you can basically appear to be any sort of creature but have functionality as per the list?

So, for instance, if you wanted to turn into the most powerful creature possible that looks convincingly like a Troll (i.e. nothing missing, nothing taken away, from regular Troll-stuff), you'd get 1) large size; 2) Claws (rake for 1d6 damage); Darkvision (what's the range limit for your Poly?); no extra limbs (clearly not Troll-like); Fangs (bite for 1d6 damage); no fins or gills (not Troll-like); Low-light vision (no one can tell whether you have low-light vision by looking at you, and you might want to be able to see in color and twice the normal range); Natural armor (+4); no tail, no wings; right?

Exactly, but don't forget the stat modifications for assuming large size. For this version, that's the only way to change one's stats.

What are the ramifications of your Poly Self for Disguise? It would seem to me to be better than Alter Self, but not necessarily perfect. For instance, if you are mimicking a creature with claws, fangs, or natural armor, and your damage or armor bonus are lower than normal for the creature due to the maximum values on your list, or if you've chosen the values on the list even though the creature normally has values that are lower than them, that should detract from the disguise somewhat, right?

Another way of putting the question is, is the appearance of the form you can take limited in some way by the values on your list? Can you look like a creature with immense fangs even if they can only do 1d6 damage, so that they look really vicious but are not so bad, or does that actually limit how long or sharp they are?

My intent is that appearance is not affected by the limitations,just like the current polymorph still gives you an effective disguise despite not being able to mimic many abilities. So your "fang" example is accurate.

<By the way, I apologize for taking so long to respond. And I would email you MS Word versions of these rules, but your address doesn't appear in your profile>
 

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