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D&D 3E/3.5 [v.3.5] Polymorph

Falstaff

First Post
Hello,

I know the Polymorph mechanics were overhauled in v.3.5. Were the new rules ever compiled and released? Or possibly an online article that explains the changes?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Falstaff

First Post
Okay, maybe someone else can help. The poster above only linked me to the original Polymorph spell as it appears in the first printing of the v.3.5 Player's Handbook.

What I'm looking for are the updated Polymorph rules. Am I right that WotC made significant changes to how Polymorphing worked?
 

Herzog

Adventurer
Yes, they did.They changed them several times. I think the most recent official changess are (IIRC) in the Player Handbook 2. Some of them may be in the official errata and/or in the Rules Compendium.

Going from memory, the most recent changes boil down to this:
-Spells and abilities that change your shape are based on the Alternate Form ability (MM) instead of the Polymorph spell.
-Do not use the Polymorph spell. It is broken, and no matter what they tried to do to fix it, it didn't stop it from being broken.

Of course, this is my (very short and personal) interpretation of those changes.
 

Sekhmet

First Post
No, that is the errata'd version.
Special Abilities :: d20srd.org

You gain the STR, DEX, CON, size, extraordinary special attacks, movement modes (up to 120' flying or 60' nonflying), natural armor bonus, natural attacks, racial skill bonuses, and other gross physical qualities such as extra limbs or physical appearance.

You retain your class(es), level, INT, WIS, CHA, HP, BAB, Saving Throws, and Alignment.

Your new CON score does not affect your HP, but it does affect your FORT save bonus.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
I think that PHB II introduced the "Polymorph Subschool" of spells, to completely replace Polymorph, Baleful Polymorph, Alter Self, and a whole bunch more.

I don't have that with me, but that's where to look.

I know that for RPGA events, they completely outlawed all the Polymorph spells. Just gone.

So yes, there is still a Polymorph spell in the SRD. WOTC is just hoping that it will somehow go away.
 

Falstaff

First Post
Very helpful everyone, thanks.

I hope the new Polymorph rules are included in the upcoming re-releases of the v.3.5 core books.
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
The polymorph subschool spells all have dumb restrictions and were a huge step in the wrong direction, IMO. Swift action, selfish (self-only), short duration spells with big temp hp boosts. They basically exist solely to pwn in melee better than the warrior classes and have no other use at all. That's...horrible.

I much prefer the actual Polymorph spell. Has a moderate duration for utility uses, and you can buff other PC's with it. Alter Self, Polymorph Any Object, and Shapechange are broken. IMO, the polymorph spell is not. Some later monster manuals printed creatures with outrageous stats and/or attack routines (like the cave troll, war troll, and arrow demon), but most creatures aren't that unbalanced to turn into and the polymorph spell limits you to Ex attacks, not qualities, Su, etc... And none of the really strong/exotic creature types, like incorporeal/undead, outsiders, constructs, and so forth.
 

delericho

Legend
I hope the new Polymorph rules are included in the upcoming re-releases of the v.3.5 core books.

Personally, I don't.

I don't use the errata, and while most of the changes are extremely minor, that polymorph change is a big one. That being the case, if the reprints include the polymorph errata, that will make them considerably less useful for our ongoing 3.5e campaign.

Fortunately (for us), I believe the last printing of the 3.5e PHB came after the polymorph errata was developed, and did not include that errata. I would be a little surprised, therefore, to see these reprints include the polymorph changes, especially given the extensiveness of those changes.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Polymorph was not created broken, but had brokenness thrust upon it.

As noted, when it was published the list of creatures you could change into was limited to relatively sane power levels.

As time went on and their accountants demanded that they write more books to sell, an arms race started. From the Complete books to the PHB II to the setting books, they kept including minor power ups for all the classes. To match these, they included powered up monsters for the powered up PCs to face.

If a given monster is supposed to face four powered up PCs, you need to power the monster up four times as much.

And suddenly, Polymorph has a whole new tier of target creatures available to abuse.

Now I'm not all that sure that Alter Self is all that broken. There is an implicit limit on what it can do for you, in that the DM can (and should) limit what races you have knowledge of, or which ones exist in your game world. If your character doesn't know of a race, you can't change into it, and if it isn't part of your game world you can roll Knowledge checks til the corners wear off your dice and you still won't get what you want.

And in the end, while the duration is fairly long (10 minutes per caster level), the list of abilities you can gain from the available list of Humanoids with 5 hit dice or less isn't insane.

It can give you a lot for a 2nd level spell, so it's a power-lump for 3rd level casters. By 7th level though it's pretty routine.
 

Sekhmet

First Post
[MENTION=6669384]Greenfield[/MENTION] [sblock]The sad thing is that Alter Self replaces Fly with a better version of Fly at a level lower than you get Fly, on top of being able to give you a variety of other interesting effects (burrow, swim speed, water breathing, tons of natural armor, etc).
Replacing several spells (Fly, the various +4 buff spells, spider climb, water breathing, etc) of it's or higher than it's level makes it just about the best level 2 spell a Wizard or Sorcerer can pick.

Polymorph is extremely powerful even in the core books, especially because you gain the Type of the target creature. Treants (plant) give a huge natural armor boost and a high strength, Hydras give you a decent strength with seven attacks per round. Cloakers, Remorhaz, and Wyverns (just at level 7!) are also amazing choices from the core book.[/sblock]
This is off-topic, so I put it in a spoiler block.
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
Yeah, Alter Self can give you flight at 10x duration at a lower spell level, among other tricks. And is especially exploitable if you can get outsider or dragon as your racial type. I consider Alter Self broken mostly due to its duration and spell level. It doesn't give you the combat capabilities of polymorph, but...being a big stupid fighter isn't something a caster should aspire to anyways. It gives you movement modes and natural armor, which are the biggies as far as a caster is concerned.

PAO isn't that bad except when used for the low duration factors to get insanely different changes, where it goes nuts.

Shapechange is just lolz broken.


Sekhmet: Those are definitely the powerhouse forms at level 7. But they still aren't that bad. Treant is just some big numbers and reach, if it makes melee obsolete it's because of melee not getting enough things besides big combat numbers. And besides, you're better off putting treant ON the melee guy than yourself, since it can still hold weapons and the melee guy has better BAB and hp than you and probably trip and combat reflexes feats. So that doesn't bother me at all.
Remorhaz is just...a stupidly broken monster. I never got how it was CR 7 and 7 HD. Even so, its most devastating ability, heat, is listed as a quality, not an attack. So polymorph doesn't grant it. Still a very good form.
Hydra's power level depends on two rulings, which are totally variant upon DM. For one...my group considers its ability to coordinate head movements in order to move and attack a quality, so polymorph doesn't get that. Secondly, in the "great Hydra AoO debate," my friends all consider hydra's racial bonus Combat Reflexes and text to mean that, instead of getting +0 AoOs per turn (as is RAW for its dex), it gets a number equal to its heads, so the feat's actually useful. Others claim it gets every head as an AoO PER PROVOCATION, which...is insanely stupidly overpowered broken. As a monster OR PC option. If you rule as I do, its damage per each head is pretty marginal, so it's not that bad. Using the "crazy ruling," it's...crazy.
So, Hydra is highly campaign dependent on how broken polymorphing into it is. Even ruling as I do, it's certainly a great form, but not horrifically broken, IMO.


And you looked only at level 7. The core forms don't get much better than that at higher levels, other than 12-headed hydra. I'm playing a level 17 transmuter now in a core game, and it's a struggle to find useful forms to buff the melees with via polymorph. And I have 17d4 HD, poor BAB from 3 multiclasses w/ odd levels in all, and a damn high will to live, so no way in hell am I using it on myself and wading into melee! :)

EDIT: Missed Cloaker and Wyvern. Wyvern looks very strong when you first get polymorph, but I think it becomes more reasonable after a few levels. A bit problematic, mostly for something like an E8 game. Cloakers are very problematic, I admit. That moan should probably be Su. Never noticed them before... Honestly.
 
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Sekhmet

First Post
All the things.

[sblock]After level 7, as far as combat goes, you're looking at Umberhulks, Digesters, and Dire Lions at 8, Behir or Spirit Nagas at 9, Ropers at 10, Guardian Nagas (1d10 initial AND secondary con damage at DC19 Fort? YES PLEASE) and Chuuls at 11, and Young Red and Gold dragons at 13 and 14 respectively.

As far as humanoid forms go (to utilize weapons), Treants and Girallons at 7, Mind Flayers (extractlol) and Umberhulks at 8, Cave Trolls at 9 (great form, 29 str, 27 con, pounce, rake, rend, imp grab and dazing blow [dc22 fort for daze]), Gray Renders at 10, Sun Giants at 13, Stone Giants at 14, and Sand Giants at 15. My favorite here is probably Sun Giants (37 Str) or Cave Trolls.

For utility, you've got the tried and true Rust Monsters, Will-o-Wisps, and Cloakers.

If you or your buddy are Outsiders (or take the Otherworldy feat), you can grab Avorals and Babau at 7, Hezrou [DC24 Fort/nausea], Bone Devils [DC20 Fort d6/2d6 initial/secondary poison], and Ghaele [2d12 bypasses DR ranged touch attacks] at 10, Astral Devas, Barbed Devils, and Leonals [pounce, rake, imp grab with 14 NA and 27 str, is humanoid so it can use armor/weapons] at 12, Ice Devils and Planetars [20 NA, 25STR, Fly 90, with humanoid features) at 14.


Grab Draconic Polymorph for max HD raised to 20, and net an untyped +8 STR and +2 CON while polymorphed, and suddenly you have Titans (Huge, 43 Str, 19 NA), Pit Fiends (23 NA, 37 Str, Large, Fly 60, constrict, imp grab, poison [DC 27 Fort for 1d6 Con]). [/sblock]


Polymorph remains awesome 'till 20 HD for one feat on an Outsider, or two feats without an Outsider. Otherwise, it's just awesome 'till 15. Picking up Assume Supernatural Ability makes every Outsider form that much more deadly, especially with the Angels (assume "Spells" to gain access to up to 17th level Cleric casting.) If only Solars were 2HD less.

Everything you need to know to make Polymorph your second favorite spell - http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=519.0
 
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StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
...I thought we were talking about Polymorph and core forms.

Assume Supernatural Ability is extremely broken...as is most stuff from Savage Species. Fortunately, it's 3.0, so that's seldom even an issue...

I don't know what bringing up abusing ASA, or a completely different spell (draconic polymorph), or non-core monsters has to do with polymorph and its core options. Using Otherworldly for outsider forms absolutely breaks it, no doubt.

Still don't see how that disproves anything I said.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
@Greenfield [sblock]The sad thing is that Alter Self replaces Fly with a better version of Fly at a level lower than you get Fly, on top of being able to give you a variety of other interesting effects (burrow, swim speed, water breathing, tons of natural armor, etc).
Replacing several spells (Fly, the various +4 buff spells, spider climb, water breathing, etc) of it's or higher than it's level makes it just about the best level 2 spell a Wizard or Sorcerer can pick.

Polymorph is extremely powerful even in the core books, especially because you gain the Type of the target creature. Treants (plant) give a huge natural armor boost and a high strength, Hydras give you a decent strength with seven attacks per round. Cloakers, Remorhaz, and Wyverns (just at level 7!) are also amazing choices from the core book.[/sblock]
This is off-topic, so I put it in a spoiler block.
Presuming that you're referring to the Avarial Elf (winged) Alter Self gives you a flight ability at the same speed as Fly, but doesn't allow you to hover in place, and requires a fair amount of room for wings to open.

It also requires that your DM allows that form, since the race is exceedingly rare, and known to exist in only one area of only one of the D&D worlds. I referred to that, obliquely, in my last post. Your character has to know about the creature before you can turn into one, and if it doesn't exist in the DM's game world then no number of Knowledge checks will give it to you.

The power of any of the Polymorph type spells isn't so much in the power of any given form, but in the variety of forms and abilities available.
 

Sekhmet

First Post
...I thought we were talking about Polymorph and core forms.

Assume Supernatural Ability is extremely broken...as is most stuff from Savage Species. Fortunately, it's 3.0, so that's seldom even an issue...

I don't know what bringing up abusing ASA, or a completely different spell (draconic polymorph), or non-core monsters has to do with polymorph and its core options. Using Otherworldly for outsider forms absolutely breaks it, no doubt.

Still don't see how that disproves anything I said.

I was just showing some other core forms are really good beyond 7HD, not arguing or trying to disprove anything you said.

You mentioned that I only brought up 7HD creatures and said that creatures don't get much better, and you said that you were struggling to find useful forms for your party at lv17. They were mostly just suggestions. Even at 17HD, Stone Giants are a fantastic choice (11 NA, 27 STR, Large), and so are Girallon (4 hands, large).

Also, regarding ASA, Otherworldly, and Draconic Polymorph, they were also just suggestions to make your repertoire of useful forms larger.
[MENTION=6669384]Greenfield[/MENTION] While Avarial are rarities, even in the campaign setting that they are from, the much more usable Raptoran are among the common races (according to their entry in Races of the Wild) in the standard D&D campaign setting, and they grant you 40' Fly speed. Less than Avarial, but still better than Fly.
 
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Greenfield

Adventurer
Um, Fly gives you a flight speed of 60, unless you're wearing medium armor.

That's faster than Raptoran.

Wasn't familiar with Raptoran, by the way. I'll have to give them a look.
 

Sekhmet

First Post
Um, Fly gives you a flight speed of 60, unless you're wearing medium armor.

That's faster than Raptoran.

Wasn't familiar with Raptoran, by the way. I'll have to give them a look.

60', or 40' while wearing medium or heavy armor or carrying a medium or heavy load, with Good maneuverability, and 1min/level time OR 40' with Average maneuverability regardless of load/armor and at 10min/level plus taking a maximum 1d6 falling damage regardless of distance or being unconscious/helpless.

Unless you're trying to outfly something, Raptoran is probably the better bet.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
You're lumping Overland Flight in with Fly. Separate spells.

Fly has better speed then a Raptoran, and better maneuverability than an Avarial, and it doesn't require room to open wings.

It (and Overland Flight) both allow you to fly (more slowly) while carrying a heavy load. I know of no winged flier that can can do that, including the Raptoran or Avarial forms from Alter Self.

And, as noted, the spell doesn't require DM's permission or a Knowledge check for you to know the form.
 

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