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Polymorphing in an hydra

Al'Kelhar

Explorer
My 8th level wizard wants to polymorph into an hydra for combat. I have a few questions about this:

1. Can a Medium creature polymorph in a Huge one? The spell description for polymorph states that it works like alter self and that the form assumed cannot be smaller than Fine. Alter self only permits change in size up to one size smaller or larger than the caster's natural size.

2. An hydra is an unusual creature in that its standard attack is multiple attacks, one with each head (this is also its full attack). Does my wizard polymorphed into 8-headed hydra form have a standard attack of 8 bites, and if so:
(a) can he both bite 8 times and undertake a move action in the same round;
(b) can he charge and end the charge with 8 bites; and
(c) does each of his attacks of opportunity (noting that he gets two per round because of the bonus Combat Reflexes feat and a Dex of 12) comprise 8 bites?

Thanks in advance, Al'Kelhar
 

Al'Kelhar

Explorer
Further to my initial questions:

3. The common way to deal with an hydra is by sundering its heads:
(a) Is it possible to sunder the heads of a wizard polymorphed into an hydra? [My assumption is "Yes", even though it is not possible to sunder the head of the wizard in his natural form]
(b) If so, and the wizard-hydra has one one of his heads sundered (chopped off), what effect does this have on the wizard (apart from the obvious reduction in attacks)? [My assumption - none, until the last head is sundered, at which point the wizard dies, decapitated].

Cheers, Al'Kelhar
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
From Alter Self: "A body with extra limbs does not allow you to make more attacks (or more advantageous two-weapon attacks) than normal."

So if your BAB as a wizard is +6, you're limited to two attacks, even with 8 heads.

Since the ability to move and attack is not defined as Ex, Su, or Sp, or as a Special Quality, it's presumably a physical quality - so the above wizard could move or charge and attack with two heads.

Likewise the regrowing of heads is not a Special Quality, so it's not prohibited by the Alter Self limitations.

As far as AoOs go, there is much debate as to how hydras and AoOs work.

-Hyp.
 

Al'Kelhar

Explorer
Hypersmurf said:
From Alter Self: "A body with extra limbs does not allow you to make more attacks (or more advantageous two-weapon attacks) than normal."
So therefore I should stick with the old polymorph/wild shape stalwarts of brown bear/polar bear/dire bear, and forget the hydra and girallon...
 

Nail

Villager
Al'Kelhar said:
So therefore I should stick with the old polymorph/wild shape stalwarts of brown bear/polar bear/dire bear, and forget the hydra and girallon...
Yup.

Besides, you can't polymorph into a size Hige creature if you start out as size medium.

I wonder, can a druid wildshape into a size large creature, cast animal growth on herself, then was polymoprphed...could it be a Gargantuan sized creature?

:D
 

jgsugden

Explorer
Polymorph has many different interpretations. A lot of people state conflicting opinions as facts. Unfortunately, many of these conflicting opinions have been backed up be conflicting custserv@wizards.com answers.

As a result: For now, if you have any questions about polymorph that are nto clearly answered by the book, the only thing to do is to talk to your DM and ask for a ruling. If you are the DM, you won't get a consistent answer about anything message boards unless it is ultraclear in the PHB.

As for how I'd rule the questions:

1.) Polymorph's size limitations overwrite the alter self limitations. You can adopt any size that is fine or larger. The key limitation is the hit dice limitation. A small creature could be polymorphed into a gangantuan creature if the new form falls within the HD criteria.

2.) Polymorph does not override the alter self restrictions on attacks from extra limbs. This would apply to heads as well, IMHO, even though heads are not limbs.

These restrictions generally limit you to two limb attacks and one bite attack (though extra attacks from horns, a tail, etc ... are also possible). You *are not* limited to a number of attacks indicated by your base attack because you are using the natural weapon rules (like a monster) instead of the manufactured weapon rules (like a PC or orc).

A PC in octopus form could make two tentacles attacks and one bite attack because he normally has two arms and one set of teeth. A PC in hydra form would get 1 natural bite attack because it has one set of teeth in its natural form. An Ettin polymoprhed into a hydra would get two bite attacks.

The basis for this view has been given a limited endorsement by Andy Collins. ("Looks reasonable to me. ")
(http://pub36.ezboard.com/fgameschat19968frm12.showMessage?topicID=214.topic)
 

Iku Rex

Villager
Al'Kelhar said:
1. Can a Medium creature polymorph in a Huge one? The spell description for polymorph states that it works like alter self and that the form assumed cannot be smaller than Fine. Alter self only permits change in size up to one size smaller or larger than the caster's natural size.
Nobody knows. By the letter of the rules, no. Note that "smaller than Fine" is nonsense, as Fine is the smallest size possible.
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
jgsugden said:
These restrictions generally limit you to two limb attacks and one bite attack (though extra attacks from horns, a tail, etc ... are also possible). You *are not* limited to a number of attacks indicated by your base attack because you are using the natural weapon rules (like a monster) instead of the manufactured weapon rules (like a PC or orc).

A PC in octopus form could make two tentacles attacks and one bite attack because he normally has two arms and one set of teeth. A PC in hydra form would get 1 natural bite attack because it has one set of teeth in its natural form. An Ettin polymoprhed into a hydra would get two bite attacks.
A human has one set of teeth, but he doesn't have a natural bite attack. So if you're basing things off natural attacks in natural form, gaining a bite attack is gaining an attack.

A human, in fact, has no natural weapons. His unarmed strike does not use the natural weapon rules.

Why can a human polymorphed into a minotaur use the gore attack when he has no horns in his natural form? If a creature with no mouth polymorphs into a hydra, can it make any bite attacks under your rules?

This interpretation doesn't make a lot of sense to me with the explanation you've given so far.

-Hyp.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
Hypersmurf said:
A human has one set of teeth, but he doesn't have a natural bite attack. So if you're basing things off natural attacks in natural form, gaining a bite attack is gaining an attack.

A human, in fact, has no natural weapons. His unarmed strike does not use the natural weapon rules.

Why can a human polymorphed into a minotaur use the gore attack when he has no horns in his natural form? If a creature with no mouth polymorphs into a hydra, can it make any bite attacks under your rules?
As I mentioned, if you're looking for 100% consistency, give it up. The rules are inconsistent, contradictory and vague.

The key difference, I think, in your view and the view I presented above, is that the above view focuses on body parts while your view focuses on attacks.

In the above view, a human polymorphed into a wolf can have a single bite attack because he has the capability to bite in his normal form with one set of teeth, even though that bite is not capable of being used as an attack in D&D terms. If he polymorphed into a hydra, he would only be able to use one set of teeth to make a bite attack because he only has one set of teeth in human form, even though those teeth can not be used to make a meaningful bite attack.

The confusing part of this view is in regards to making attacks with body parts that are not part of the natural form of the creature (minotaur's gore attacks, scorpion stings, etc ... for a polymorphed human). The explanantion that I have been given (which certainly work, but is not clear in the books - at all) is that you may not gain additional attacks for extra]/i] limbs of a type you normally possess, but you can gain an extra attack (per relevant body part) for gaining a new type of extremity (like a horn or tail) that can make an attack. I was also told to count humanoids as only having 2 limbs instead of 4 and to count any limb (other than a tail) as being equivalent (ie; an arm is equivalent to a tentacle).

In most cases, this can be simplified down to: When polymorphed into a creature that normally makes natural attacks, you make natural attacks as if you were that creature (using your BAB and special modifications from feats, etc ...), but you may make no more than one bite attack and two limb attacks (unless that form grants extra attacks via an extraordinary attack like pounce), though tail attacks are gained.

After exhaustive searching, that seemes to be the rule with the greatest concensus behind it from designers (when I could pull it out of them), custserv and the board gurus. I've used it for a little while now and it seems to be as balanced as anything else out there (I've had no significant problem with it). It has enough support and works well enough for me to adopt it until WotC gets off their butt and rewrites polymoprh again to deal with all these issues fully.
 

Camarath

Pale Master Tarrasque
jgsugden said:
2.) Polymorph does not override the alter self restrictions on attacks from extra limbs.
I think that one could reasonably count all Natural Attacks possessed by a form as Extraordinary Special Attacks this would mean that Polymorph section that grants all Extraordinary Special Attacks would override the Alter Self prohibition that gaining extra limbs does not allow you to make more attacks.
 
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jgsugden

Explorer
Camarath said:
I think that one could reasonably count all Natural Attacks possessed by a form as Extraordinary Special Attacks this would mean that Polymorph section that grants all Extraordinary Special Attacks would override the Alter Self prohibition that gaining extra limbs does not allow you to make more attacks.
Reason leads in many directions under the vague polymorph rules. Hundreds of conflicting arguments about polymorph could be made, all of which have some support in the rules and nothing that clearly opposes them. I think most people would not come to your conclusion, but beyond the fact that it opposes a vague endorsement of another view by the lead designer of the PHB and it violates what custserv has said, I can't say you're wrong.
 

Nail

Villager
jgsugden said:
As I mentioned, if you're looking for 100% consistency, give it up. The rules are inconsistent, contradictory and vague.
Well.....I'd agree they could have been written:
  • a) all in one spot, and
  • b) after play-testing the 3.5e rules.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about 3.5e is the huge problems with interpreting the alter self/polymorph/wildshape rules.

As for whether or not a size medium creature can be polymorphed into a size huge creature:

I'd say no. The polymorph description says "You can’t cause a subject to assume a form smaller than Fine,...", and that statement does not revoke the Alter Self description: "The new form must be within one size category of your normal size." Since the polymorph spell may be cast on creatures other than the caster, and those other creatures might be size Fine, it stands to reason that the polymorph size clause was put in so you couldn't make creatures into miniscule bacteria, or some such. (shrug)

I mean, come on; this is only a 4th level spell we're talking about here.
 
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Nail

Villager
As an aside: has anyone thought through a re-written polymorph spell list? Something like: Lesser Polymorph, Polymorph, Greater Polymorph? End the sequence with a Shapechange like spell.
 
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jgsugden

Explorer
Nail said:
As for whether or not a size medium creature can be polymorphed into a size huge creature:

I'd say no. The polymorph description says "You can’t cause a subject to assume a form smaller than Fine,...", and that statement does not revoke the Alter Self description: "The new form must be within one size category of your normal size." ...

I mean, come on; this is only a 4th level spell we're talking about here.
It is your opinion that the polymorph size restriction doe snot override the alter self size restriction. That is far from clear. I tend to lean the other direction, as a clause saying that you can not turn something into something smaller than fine would only be applicable in situations where you began with a creature of fine size if the alter self 'within 1 size category' rule were applied.

The concern you're worried about (turning unimportant creatures into colossal monsters) is covered by the hit dice cap rule.
Nail said:
As an aside: has anyone thought through a re-written polymorph spell list? Something like: Lesser Polymorph, Polymorph, Greater Polymorph? End the sequence with a Shapechange like spell.
I have toyed around with a different set of polymorph spells, but they are far from being worthy to place in a game. The basics of it would be that instead of having a multipurpose polymorph spell, there would be hundreds of polymoprh spells, each set to a different form. For instance, one spell would be Polymorph: Centaur. Casting it would turn the target into a centaur. Which special abilities, special attacks, natural weapons, etc ... could be used would be hand selected for a given form to keep it in balance for the spell level. That seems to me to be an expansive approach, but it also seems to me to be the only one that leads to a balanced sewt of abilities for the spell. The spell is too broad to be balanced when it allows such a variety of forms to be adopted.
 

Nail

Villager
jgsugden said:
It is your opinion that the polymorph size restriction doe snot
I was rolling around on the floor for a while after this one. Heaven knows that I, too, have typos, but the funny ones.....

jgsugden said:
...override the alter self size restriction. That is far from clear.
It seems clear enough to call, I'd say. It's true there is also the HD cap, but that is an additional restriction, not an over-riding one. In fact, given that what there should be is a "CR cap" (or perhaps an ECL cap) on this silly spell, having a size and a HD restriction on this fourth level spell is reasonable.


jgsugden said:
I have toyed around with a different set of polymorph spells....(snip).... The basics of it would be that instead of having a multipurpose polymorph spell, there would be hundreds of polymoprh spells, each set to a different form.
Hmm. I'm not sure that necessary. We're in house rule territory here, I know, but I'd be tempted to go with 3 versions:
  • Lesser Polymorph (Wiz/Sor 3) Can polymorph into the same type, limits on size and HD
  • Polymorph (Wiz/Sor 6) Can polymorph into any type, limited to HD and size.
  • Greater Polymorph (Wiz/Sor 9) replaces/renamed shapechange

...or something. Hmmmmmm.
 

Iku Rex

Villager
Nail said:
Since the polymorph spell may be cast on creatures other than the caster, and those other creatures might be size Fine, it stands to reason that the polymorph size clause was put in so you couldn't make creatures into miniscule bacteria, or some such. (shrug)
There's a "miniscule" size category? Is that new in 3.5? Where can I find this rule?
 

jgsugden

Explorer
Nail said:
It seems clear enough to call, I'd say. It's true there is also the HD cap, but that is an additional restriction, not an over-riding one. In fact, given that what there should be is a "CR cap" (or perhaps an ECL cap) on this silly spell, having a size and a HD restriction on this fourth level spell is reasonable.
Again: I tend to lean the other direction, as a clause saying that you can not turn something into something smaller than fine would only be applicable in situations where you began with a creature of fine size if the alter self 'within 1 size category' rule were applied. It would just be silly to have that rule in polymorph if the alter self rule were meant to carry over to polymorph. There is also no need for a size rule in polymorph - the HD cap takes car of the balance issues.

Oh ... btw: doe snot.
 

Iku Rex

Villager
jgsugden said:
It would just be silly to have that rule in polymorph if the alter self rule were meant to carry over to polymorph.
It's a silly rule no matter how you look at it. Like I said, there's no such thing as "a creature smaller than Fine".
 

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