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By Skip Williams

The ability to change forms has been part of fantastic lore since the dawn of time. From the werewolf to the doppelganger to wizard, creatures that can assume another guise and masquerade as something they're not are justifiably admired and feared. So, it's no surprise that the D&D game allows for several different modes of shape shifting. Dealing with a monster or character in a different form can get confusing; exactly what happens when a wizard polymorphs into a bluebird? Just what can a druid do when wildshaped into wolf? If you get a feeling of impending doom whenever someone even mentions the polymorph spell, read on and fear polymorphing no longer.

The Basics of Polymorphing

Polymorphing is just one of a set of related magical effects in the D&D game in which the subject creature assumes a new physical form while retaining its essential identity and abilities. These effects include the alter self spell, polymorph spells (polymorph, baleful polymorph, and polymorph any object), the shape change spell, the wildshape class feature, and the alternate form special quality. The rules that govern these effects are similar.

Polymorphing Terminology

Though the game lacks terms that deal specifically with polymorphing, the rules for polymorph effects make repeated use of several basic game terms, and it pays to know them:

Special Attack: A unique or unusual ability a creature can use to harm or hinder other creatures.

Special Quality: A unique or unusual ability a creature has that is not offensive in nature.

Extraordinary Ability: Extraordinary abilities are nonmagical. They are, however, not something that just anyone can do or even learn to do without natural talent or extensive training. Effects or areas that negate or disrupt magic have no effect on extraordinary abilities.

Extraordinary abilities often depend on particular physical adaptations that a creature has. Changing form often strips the recipient of some extraordinary abilities, but grants some extraordinary abilities that the assumed form has. In general, when you assume a new form, you lose any extraordinary special attacks and special qualities you have unless you get them from a character class. You usually gain any extraordinary special attacks your assumed form has, but not the assumed form's extraordinary special qualities. That's because most extraordinary special attacks are based off gross physical features (such a big, nasty claws and teeth) while extraordinary special qualities tend to be subtler and largely derived from a creature's essential nature.

Spell-Like Ability: Spell-like abilities are magical. (They're also the subject of an earlier installment in this series.) A creature usually retains its spell-like abilities when it assumes another form because spell-like abilities are primarily mental in nature. You don't gain an assumed form's spell-like abilities when polymorphing or even when using the very powerful shape change spell.

Supernatural Ability: Supernatural abilities are magical but not spell-like. Some supernatural abilities depend on specific parts of the user's body, but most are derived from a creature's essential self. When polymorphing, you retain most of your own supernatural abilities, but you don't gain the assumed form's supernatural abilities unless you're using the shape change spell.

When a supernatural ability depends on part of your body that your assumed form does not have, such as a mouth for a breath weapon or eyes for a gaze attack, you lose that supernatural ability when in the assumed form.

Natural Ability: This term is a catch-all for just about anything a creature can do (or characteristic that it has) that is not extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural. Natural abilities include most speed ratings (some very high speeds are not "natural," see the section on the alter self spell), mode of breathing (lungs, gills), natural armor and weaponry, general appearance, body type, and the presence or absence of the five basic senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, pain). When polymorphing, you generally lose your own natural abilities and gain those of your assumed form.

PART II

The spell alter self provides the baseline for all other polymorph effects in the game. Once you understand how alter self works, you're well on your way to understanding how any similar effect works. Here are the essential features of the alter self spell:

  • Personal range spell with a target entry of "you."
You can't use alter self to change anyone or anything other than yourself. If you have a familiar, mount, or other companion with the share spells ability, you can change both yourself and your familiar or companion. Your familiar or companion must be within 5 feet at the time of casting to receive the effect, and it stops affecting the familiar or companion if it moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the familiar or companion again even if it returns to you before the spell's duration expires. You choose a form for yourself and for your familiar or companion. The forms you choose don't have to be the same. In fact, in most cases, they cannot be the same because alter self allows the subject to assume a form of the same type as itself only (see the next point).
  • The form you assume must be a creature of the same type as yours.
You can't use this spell to assume the form of an object, or of any kind of creature type other than your own. There's no limit to the subtypes you can assume, so long as the base type is the same as your own. For example if you're a human, your type and subtype is humanoid (human), so you can assume the form of any other humanoid creature, such as an orc, goblin, dwarf, or elf. Note that the monstrous humanoid type is different from the humanoid type. If you're a human, you can't use alter self to assume the form of a monstrous humanoid creature such as a sahuagin or minotaur.

When you share an alter self spell with a familiar or companion, the familiar or companion assumes a form of the same type as its own. While an animal becomes a magical beast upon becoming a familiar, such a creature must assume the form of an animal when sharing an alter self spell. For example, a cat familiar is a magical beast; when it shares an alter self spell, it assumes the form of an animal, such as a dog, a bird or a bat, not the form of a magical beast.

  • You remain in your assumed form until the spell ends.
The spell is dismissible; if you are the spell caster, you can end the spell during your turn with a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If you share the spell with a familiar or companion, the recipient cannot dismiss the effect, though the effect still ends for the familiar or companion if it moves farther than 5 feet away from you.
  • The form you assume can't have Hit Dice of more than your caster level, to a maximum of 5 Hit Dice.
A form's Hit Dice refers to its racial Hit Dice -- the Hit Dice it has before adding any class levels. See the assumed form's creature description (in the Monster Manual or other publication) for its Hit Dice. In some cases, the limit of 5 Hit Dice might keep you from using alter self to assume the form of your own kind. For example, if you're a spell casting stone giant, you technically cannot use alter self to assume the form of another stone giant because stone giants have 14 Hit Dice. As an unofficial rule of thumb, you should always be able to use alter self to assume the form of your own kind.
  • The assumed form you choose must have a size that is within one size category of your own.
Even if the form you choose falls within the spell's Hit Dice limit, its size might preclude you from assuming that form with alter self. If you're size Medium yourself, you can assume forms of Small, Medium, or Large size only. If you're size Small, you can assume forms of Tiny, Small, or Medium size only
  • You retain your own ability scores when in your assumed form.
You might appear strong or agile in your assumed form, but none of your ability scores change when you use the alter self spell.
  • You retain your class and level, hit points, alignment, base attack bonus, and base save bonuses when in your assumed form.
You're still your same old self -- just in body that has changed superficially. Though not specifically mentioned in the alter self spell description, you also retain everything else that your class and level gives you, including skill ranks and feats.
  • You retain the supernatural and spell-like special attacks and qualities of your normal form, except for those requiring a body part that the new form does not have.
As noted in Part One, you lose breath weapons if the assumed form doesn't have a mouth, and you lose gaze attacks if your assumed form doesn't have eyes.
  • You retain all extraordinary special attacks and qualities derived from class levels.

As noted in Part One, extraordinary special attacks or qualities from class levels are primarily a function of the mind (you acquired them through experience and training), so you can keep right on using them when you're in an assumed form.
  • You lose extraordinary special attacks and qualities not derived from class levels.

Also as noted in Part One, extraordinary special attacks and qualities are assumed to be largely a function of your body. When you change your body with the alter self spell, you lose the special physical adaptations that make those extraordinary special attacks and qualities.
  • You retain your ability to speak if your assumed form has that ability.
Speech is a natural ability (see Part One); however speech has a mental aspect (your brain's ability to handle language) and a physical aspect (working vocal apparatus). You have to have both to speak in an assumed form. Furthermore, your assumed form must be able to speak naturally. If you assume the form of a creature that cannot speak or use language during the normal course of its life, you still lose the ability to speak. This distinction doesn't often come up with the alter self spell (because it doesn't let you assume a form with a type different than your own), but it can with other polymorph effects.
  • You retain your spell casting abilities, but your assumed form might limit what you can do.

You can use spells with verbal components only if you have retained the ability to speak. You can use somatic and material components only if your assumed form has limbs capable of dealing with them.
  • You have the physical qualities of the assumed form.
Physical qualities include natural size, mundane movement capabilities (such as burrowing, climbing, walking, swimming, and flight with wings. Physical qualities also include natural armor bonus, natural weapons (such as claws, bite, and so on), racial skill bonuses, racial bonus feats, and any gross physical qualities (presence or absence of wings, number of extremities, and so forth).

Your size becomes the same as a typical example of the creature whose form you assume, as noted in the creature's description. You cannot assume a larger or smaller size even if the creature's advancement entry lists other possible sizes. If for example, you change into a lizardfolk, you become Medium size -- you could not turn into a Small or Large lizardfolk.

Your maximum speed in any assumed form, however, is 120 feet for flying or 60 feet for nonflying movement; faster speeds are considered extraordinary qualities, even when they are not so listed in the creature's description. In most cases, racial skill bonuses depend on your body and your mind. So, you get to keep your own racial skill bonuses and feats while gaining those of your assumed form. Your DM might want to make certain exceptions. (For example, a dwarf's skill bonuses related to stonework are arguably cultural in origin and don't just appear when you're in dwarf form.)

  • A body with extra limbs does not allow you to make more attacks (or more advantageous two-weapon attacks) than normal.
Many DMs and players find this rule puzzling. Essentially, it means that if you suddenly find yourself with two extra arms you can't just pick up four weapons and wade into melee, use a four-handed weapon, fire and reload a heavy crossbow (even a repeating heavy crossbow) in the same round, or perform any other combat tricks that come to mind. You can make attacks that are "normal" for you or normal for your assumed form, but you can't combine them.
  • You do not gain any extraordinary special attacks or special qualities not noted above under physical qualities, such as darkvision, low-light vision, blindsense, blindsight, fast healing, regeneration, scent, and so forth.
Your new body might look and feel like the genuine article, but it's not the genuine article.
  • You do not gain any supernatural special attacks, special qualities, or spell-like abilities of the new form. Your creature type and subtype (if any) remain the same regardless of your new form.
By and large, you remain yourself, but you occupy a slightly different body.
  • You cannot take the form of any creature with a template, even if that template doesn't change the creature type or subtype.
When you choose a form to assume, you're limited to a typical specimen of that form.
  • You can freely designate the new form's minor physical qualities (such as hair color, hair texture, and skin color) within the normal ranges for a creature of that kind. The new form's significant physical qualities (such as height, weight, and gender) are also under your control, but they must fall within the norms for the new form's kind. As a rule of thumb you can vary the assumed form's weight or dimensions up or down by 10% unless a greater variation is allowed among typical specimens. For example, if you assume the form of an elf or halfling, you can choose any height allowed on Table 6-6 in the Player's Handbook.

  • You are effectively disguised as an average member of the new form's race. If you use this spell to create a disguise, you get a +10 bonus on your Disguise check.
To any casual viewer, you are a typical specimen of the kind of creature whose form you have assumed. If someone is paying close attention to you, the character can attempt a Spot check to note something odd about your appearance, as noted in the description of the Disguise skill. Use the +10 modifier on your Disguise check rather than the modifiers shown on the first table in the skill description. The Disguise check you make reflects how accurately you have reproduced your assumed form. If you use alter self to masquerade as a particular individual, anyone studying you might also get a Spot bonus as noted in the Disguise skill description.
  • When the change occurs, your equipment, if any, either remains worn or held by the new form (if it is capable of wearing or holding the item), or melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional.
Since alter self allows you to assume forms only with a type the same as your own, you usually can count on keeping your equipment functioning. If a piece of your equipment winds up subsumed into your new form, it's temporarily nonfunctional, but it's unharmed. When you revert to your true form, any objects previously melded into the new form reappear in the same location on your body they previously occupied and are once again functional. Any new items you wore in the assumed form and can't wear in your normal form fall off and land at your feet; any that you could wear in either form or carry in a body part common to both forms at the time of reversion are still held in the same way. Any part of the body or piece of equipment that is separated from the whole reverts to its true form.

An Alter Self Example

Anlion, a half-elf sorcerer, uses alter self to assume the form of a lizardfolk. In his normal form, Anlion has the following statistics:

Anlion (Normal Form): Male half-elf sorcerer 4; CR 4; Medium humanoid; HD 4d4; hp 10; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 13, touch 12, flat-footed 11; Base Atk +2; Grp +1; Atk +1 melee (1d6-1, quarterstaff) or +5 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); Full Atk +1 melee (1d6-1, quarterstaff) or +5 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SQ half-elf traits, low-light vision; AL N; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +5; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 16.

Skills and Feats: Concentration +7, Diplomacy +5, Gather Information +5, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Listen +1, Search +2, Spellcraft +10, Spot +1; Dodge, Extend Spell.

Half-Elf Traits: Anlion is immune to magic sleep spells and effects, and he has elven blood (for all effects related to race, he is considered an elf). Anlion also has a +2 racial bonus on saves against enchantment spells or effects, a +1 racial bonus on Listen, Spot, and Search checks, and a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy and Gather Information checks (already figured into the statistics given above).

Sorcerer Spells Known: (6/7/4; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- daze, detect magic, flare, mage hand, prestidigitation, resistance; 1st -- burning hands, color spray, magic missile; 2nd -- alter self.

Possessions: Bracers of armor +1, cloak of resistance +1, quarterstaff, masterwork light crossbow, 10 bolts, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of protection from elements, 2 scrolls of eagle's splendor, scroll of protection from arrows, scroll of scorching ray.

In lizardfolk form, Anlion's statistics don't change much. He gains the lizardfolk's natural armor, natural weaponry, and racial skill bonuses. He loses his low-light vision (an extraordinary special quality). He retains his half-elf racial skill bonuses. He also gains the lizardfolk's racial skill bonuses to Balance, Jump, and Swim checks, and the lizardfolk's natural ability to hold its breath. His equipment keeps functioning in his assumed form, as is usually the case with alter self.

Anlion (Lizardfolk Form): Male half-elf sorcerer 4; CR 4; Medium humanoid (half-elf, reptilian); HD 4d4; hp 10; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 16; Base Atk +2; Grp +1; Atk +1 melee (1d4-1, claw) or +1 melee (1d6-1, quarterstaff) or +5 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); Full Atk +1 melee (1d4-1, 2 claws) and -4 melee (1d4-1 bite), or +1 melee (1d6-1, quarterstaff) and -4 melee (1d4-1 bite), or +5 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SQ half-elf traits, hold breath, low-light vision; AL N; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +5; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 16.

Skills and Feats: Balance +6, Concentration +7, Diplomacy +5, Gather Information +5, Jump +3, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Listen +1, Search +2, Spellcraft +10, Spot +1, Swim +3; Dodge, Extend Spell.

Half-Elf Traits: Anlion is immune to magic sleep spells and effects, and he has elven blood (for all effects related to race, he is considered an elf). Anlion also has a +2 racial bonus on saves against enchantment spells or effects, a +1 racial bonus on Listen, Spot, and Search checks, and a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy and Gather Information checks (already figured into the statistics given above).

Hold Breath: In this form, Anlion can hold his breath for 44 rounds before he risks drowning. (This is a natural ability for a lizardfolk.)

Sorcerer Spells Known: (6/7/4; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- daze, detect magic, flare, mage hand, prestidigitation, resistance; 1st -- burning hands, color spray, magic missile; 2nd -- alter self.

Possessions: Bracers of armor +1, cloak of resistance +1, quarterstaff, masterwork light crossbow, 10 bolts, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of protection from elements, 2 scrolls of eagle's splendor, scroll of protection from arrows, scroll of scorching ray.

PART III

Part Two covered some fundamental aspects of polymorphing by examining the alter self spell in detail. This time, we'll look at the polymorph spell. As noted in the Player's Handbook, polymorph works much like alter self, with a few changes. The polymorph spell allows for a much greater degree of change than alter self, and it also introduces a few new twists and complications. Here's an overview of the polymorph spell:

  • Touch range spell with a target entry of "willing living creature touched."
You can use polymorph to change yourself or another living creature you touch. The creature must be willing to receive the spell. The recipient can declare a willing target any time (even when flat-footed or during another creature's turn). Unconscious creatures are automatically considered willing, but a creature that is conscious but immobile or helpless (such as one who is bound, cowering, grappling, paralyzed, pinned, or stunned) is not automatically willing.

You can share a polymorph effect you cast with a familiar, mount, or other companion with the share spells ability, as noted in Part Two.

  • You choose the form the subject assumes.
Unlike in earlier versions of the game, the spell allows only one change in form. As with alter self, the subject remains in the assumed form until the spell ends.

The spell is dismissible; if you are the spell caster, you can end the spell during your turn with a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If you place the spell on another creature, it cannot dismiss the effect and it must remain in the assumed form until the spell ends. As with alter self, you can't use the polymorph spell to make the subject assume the form of an object. Unlike alter self, you can choose almost any kind of living creature for the assumed form. You can choose any of the following creature types: aberration, animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, ooze, plant, or vermin.

As with alter self, there's no limit to the subtypes the subject can assume, so long as the base type is on the list given above.

The subject cannot assume an incorporeal or gaseous form.

  • The form the subject assumes can't have Hit Dice of more than your caster level, or the subject's own Hit Dice (whichever is lower) to a maximum of 15 Hit Dice.
A form's Hit Dice refers to its racial Hit Dice, as noted in Part Two.
    The assumed form's size can be anything from Fine to Colossal.
The kind of creature you choose for the assumed form determines the size. The subject becomes the same size as an average member of its kind. For example, if you turn the subject into a troll, the subject becomes size Large, which is the standard size for a troll.
  • The subject temporarily gains the type and subtypes of the assumed form.
The subject also temporarily gains the augmented subtype for its original type. The subject loses any subtypes it has in favor of the assumed form's subtypes. For example, a human turned into a troll gains the giant type and the augmented humanoid subtype. The subject retains the features of its own type. It gains the traits of the assumed type -- except for any extraordinary qualities included in those traits. If you're having trouble deciding which type of traits you gain, here's a list of what you get and what you don't.

Aberration Type

You get the following:

-- Proficient with the form's natural weapons. If generally humanoid in form, proficient with all simple weapons and any weapon the form is described as using.

-- Proficient with whatever type of armor (light, medium, or heavy) the form is described as wearing, as well as all lighter types. Aberrations not indicated as wearing armor are not proficient with armor. Aberrations are proficient with shields if they are proficient with any form of armor.

-- Aberrations eat, sleep, and breathe.

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet. (You don't gain this because it's an extraordinary special quality.)

Air Subtype

You get the following:

-- Air creatures always have fly speeds and usually have perfect maneuverability. You gain the assumed form's fly speed (subject to the limits noted in Part Two) and maneuverability.

Angel Subtype

You get the following:

-- Immunity to acid, cold, and petrifaction. (Immunity is a natural ability.)

-- +4 racial bonus on saves against poison. (Another natural ability.)

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. (Extraordinary special quality.)

-- Resistance to electricity 10 and fire 10. (Extraordinary special quality.)

-- Protective Aura. (Supernatural ability.)

-- Tongues. (Supernatural ability.)

Animal Type

You get the following:

-- Proficient with natural weapons. A noncombative herbivore uses its natural weapons as a secondary attack. Such attacks are made with a -5 penalty on the creature's attack rolls, and the animal receives only 1/2 its Strength modifier as a damage adjustment. (You become proficient with your natural weaponry. You don't forget what you know, but most animal forms don't allow you to wield weapons. You keep your own mind, but you don't keep your full attack capability when you assume the form of a noncombative herbivore because that's a natural limitation for the forms. Noncombative herbivores include creatures such as domestic cows and sheep.)

-- Proficient with no armor unless trained for war. (You don't forget what you know, but you don't pick up any armor proficiencies. In most cases, any armor you wear will meld into your assumed form.)

-- Animals eat, sleep, and breathe.

You don't get the following:

-- Intelligence score of 1 or 2 (no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher can be an animal). (You usually keep your Intelligence score when changing forms; the baleful polymorph spell can be an exception.)

-- Low-light vision. (Extraordinary special quality.)

-- Alignment: Always neutral. (You usually keep your alignment when changing forms; the baleful polymorph spell can be an exception.)

-- Treasure: None. (You keep your stuff, though chances are most things you hold or wear would meld into your form if you changed into an animal.)

Aquatic Subtype

You get the following:

-- Water creatures always have swim speeds and thus can move in water without making Swim checks. You gain the assumed form's swim speed (subject to the limits noted in Part Two).

-- An aquatic creature can breathe underwater. It cannot also breathe air unless it has the amphibious special quality.

Archon Subtype

You get the following:

-- Immunity to electricity and petrifaction. (Natural ability.)

-- +4 racial bonus on saves against poison. (Natural ability.)

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. (Extraordinary special quality.)

-- Aura of Menace (Su): A righteous aura surrounds archons that fight or get angry. (Supernatural ability.)

-- Magic Circle against Evil (Su): A magic circle against evil effect always surrounds an archon. (Supernatural ability.)

-- Teleport (Su): Archons can use greater teleport at will. (Supernatural ability.)

-- Tongues (Su): All archons can speak with any creature that has a language. (Supernatural ability.)

Chaotic Subtype

You get the following:

-- Any effect that depends on alignment affects a creature with this subtype as if the creature has a chaotic alignment, no matter what its alignment actually is. The creature also suffers effects according to its actual alignment (a natural ability).

-- A creature with the chaotic subtype overcomes damage reduction as if its natural weapons and any weapons it wields were chaotic-aligned. (Another natural ability.)

Cold Subtype

You get the following:

-- A creature with the cold subtype has immunity to cold. It has vulnerability to fire, which means it takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from fire, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure. (A natural ability.)

Construct Type

Constructs are not alive, so you usually can't assume a construct form (but see Part Four).

Dragon Type

You get the following:

-- Immunity to magic sleep effects and paralysis effects. (Natural ability.)

-- Proficient with its natural weapons only unless humanoid in form (or capable of assuming humanoid form), in which case proficient with all simple weapons and any weapons mentioned in its entry. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to dragon form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with no armor. (You don't forget any armor proficiencies you know, but most armor you wear will meld into the assumed form.)

-- Dragons eat, sleep, and breathe.

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. (Extraordinary special quality.)

Earth Subtype

You get the following:

-- Earth creatures usually have burrow speeds, and most earth creatures can burrow through solid rock. (You get the assumed form's speed, subject to the limits noted in Part Two.)

Elemental Type

You get the following:

-- Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, and stunning. (Natural ability.)

-- Not subject to critical hits or flanking. (Another natural ability.)

-- Proficient with natural weapons only, unless generally humanoid in form, in which case proficient with all simple weapons and any weapons mentioned in its entry. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to elemental form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with whatever type of armor (light, medium, or heavy) that it is described as wearing, as well as all lighter types. Elementals not indicated as wearing armor are not proficient with armor. Elementals are proficient with shields if they are proficient with any form of armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to elemental form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Elementals do not eat, sleep, or breathe. (A natural ability.)

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet. (Extraordinary special quality.)

-- Unlike most other living creatures, an elemental does not have a dual nature -- its soul and body form one unit. When an elemental is slain, no soul is set loose. Spells that restore souls to their bodies, such as raise dead, reincarnate, and resurrection, don't work on an elemental. It takes a different magical effect, such as limited wish, wish, miracle, or true resurrection, to restore it to life. (If you had a soul before changing, you still have one after changing.)

Evil Subtype

You get the following:

-- Any effect that depends on alignment affects a creature with this subtype as if the creature has an evil alignment, no matter what its alignment actually is. The creature also suffers effects according to its actual alignment. (A natural ability.)

-- A creature with the evil subtype overcomes damage reduction as if its natural weapons and any weapons it wields were evil-aligned (Another natural ability.)

Extraplanar Subtype

You gain this subtype when changing form only when the form you assume would have it. The subtype has no traits, but certain spells and other magical effects work in special ways against extraplanar creatures.

Fey Type

You get the following:

-- Proficient with all simple weapons and any weapons mentioned in its entry. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to fey form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with whatever type of armor (light, medium, or heavy) that it is described as wearing, as well as all lighter types. Fey not indicated as wearing armor are not proficient with armor. Fey are proficient with shields if they are proficient with any form of armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to fey form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Fey eat, sleep, and breathe.

You don't get the following:

-- Low-light vision. (Extraordinary special quality.)

Fire Subtype

You get the following:

-- A creature with the fire subtype has immunity to fire. It has vulnerability to cold, which means it takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from cold, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure. (A natural ability.)

Giant Type

You get the following:

-- Proficient with all simple and martial weapons, as well as any natural weapons. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to giant form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with whatever type of armor (light, medium or heavy) it is described as wearing, as well as all lighter types. Giants not described as wearing armor are not proficient with armor. Giants are proficient with shields if they are proficient with any form of armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to giant form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Giants eat, sleep, and breathe.

You don't get the following:

-- Low-light vision. (Extraordinary special quality.)

Goblinoid Subtype

You get the following:

-- All goblinoids speak Goblin. (You don't suddenly speak Goblin just by changing form.)

Good Subtype

You get the following:

-- Any effect that depends on alignment affects a creature with this subtype as if the creature has a good alignment, no matter what its alignment actually is. The creature also suffers effects according to its actual alignment. (Natural ability.)

-- A creature with the good subtype overcomes damage reduction as if its natural weapons and any weapons it wields were good-aligned. (Another natural ability.)

Humanoid Type

You get the following:

-- Proficient with all simple weapons, or by character class. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to humanoid form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with whatever type of armor (light, medium, or heavy) it is described as wearing, or by character class. If a humanoid does not have a class and wears armor, it is proficient with that type of armor and all lighter types. Humanoids not indicated as wearing armor are not proficient with armor. Humanoids are proficient with shields if they are proficient with any form of armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to humanoid form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Humanoids breathe, eat, and sleep.

Lawful Type

You get the following:

-- Any effect that depends on alignment affects a creature with this subtype as if the creature has a lawful alignment, no matter what its alignment actually is. The creature also suffers effects according to its actual alignment. (A natural ability.)

-- A creature with the lawful subtype overcomes damage reduction as if its natural weapons and any weapons it wields were lawful-aligned (Another natural ability.)

Magical Beast Type

You get the following:

-- Proficient with its natural weapons only. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to magical beast form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with no armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to magical beast form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Magical beasts eat, sleep, and breathe.

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. (Extraordinary special qualities.)

Monstrous Humanoid Type

You get the following:

-- Proficient with its natural weapons only. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to monstrous humanoid form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with no armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to monstrous humanoid form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Magical beasts eat, sleep, and breathe.

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet. (Extraordinary special quality.)

Native Subtype

You get the following:

-- These creatures have mortal ancestors or a strong connection to the Material Plane and can be raised, reincarnated, or resurrected just as other living creatures can be. Creatures with this subtype are native to the Material Plane (hence the subtype's name). (Natural ability, not that you're likely to need it.)

-- Unlike true outsiders, native outsiders need to eat and sleep. (Natural ability.)

Ooze Type

You get the following:

-- Blind, with immunity to gaze attacks, visual effects, illusions, and other attack forms that rely on sight. (Natural ability.)

-- Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, polymorph, and stunning. (Natural ability.)

-- Not subject to critical hits or flanking. (Natural ability.)

-- Proficient with its natural weapons only. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to ooze form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with no armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to ooze form doesn't get you any armor proficiency. Most armor you wear melds into your assumed form.)

-- Oozes eat and breathe, but do not sleep.

You don't get the following:

-- Mindless: No Intelligence score, and immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). (You usually keep your Intelligence score when changing forms; the baleful polymorph spell can be an exception.)

-- Blindsight (Extraordinary special quality.)

-- Some oozes have the ability to deal acid damage to objects. In such a case, the amount of damage is equal to 10 + 1/2 ooze's HD + ooze's Constitution modifier per full round of contact.

Outsider Type

You get the following:

-- Proficient with all simple and martial weapons and any weapons mentioned in its entry. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to outsider form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with whatever type of armor (light, medium, or heavy) it is described as wearing, as well as all lighter types. Outsiders not indicated as wearing armor are not proficient with armor. Outsiders are proficient with shields if they are proficient with any form of armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to outsider form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Outsiders breathe, but do not need to eat or sleep (although they can do so if they wish). Native outsiders breathe, eat, and sleep. (Natural ability.)

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet. (Extraordinary special quality.)

-- Unlike most other living creatures, an outsider does not have a dual nature -- its soul and body form one unit. When an outsider is slain, no soul is set loose. Spells that restore souls to their bodies, such as raise dead, reincarnate, and resurrection, don't work on an outsider. It takes a different magical effect, such as limited wish, wish, miracle, or true resurrection to restore it to life. An outsider with the native subtype can be raised, reincarnated, or resurrected just as other living creatures can be. (If you had a soul before changing, you still have one after changing.)

Plant Type

You get the following:

-- Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). (Natural ability.)

-- Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, polymorph, and stunning. (Another natural ability.)

-- Not subject to critical hits. (Another natural ability.)

-- Proficient with its natural weapons only. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to plant form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with no armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to plant form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Plants breathe and eat, but do not sleep. (A natural ability.)

You don't get the following:

-- Low-light vision. (Extraordinary special quality.)

Reptilian Subtype

This subtype has no traits; it merely designates certain kinds of humanoids.

Shapechanger Subtype

You get the following:

-- Proficient with the natural weapons, with simple weapons, and with any weapons mentioned in the creature's description. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to shapechanger form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with any armor mentioned in the creature's description, as well as all lighter forms. If no form of armor is mentioned, the shapechanger is not proficient with armor. A shapechanger is proficient with shields if it is proficient with any type of armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to shapechanger form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

Swarm Subtype

You can't become a swarm by changing form.

Undead Type

Undead creatures are not alive, so you usually can't assume an undead form (but see Part Four).

Vermin Type You get the following:

-- Proficient with their natural weapons only. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to vermin form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with no armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to vermin form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Vermin breathe, eat, and sleep.

You don't get the following:

-- Mindless: No Intelligence score and immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). (You usually keep your Intelligence score when changing forms; the baleful polymorph spell can be an exception.)

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet. (A natural ability.)

Water Subtype

You get the following:

-- Creatures with the water subtype always have swim speeds and can move in water without making Swim checks. A water creature can breathe underwater and usually can breathe air as well. You gain the assumed form's swim speed (subject to the limits noted in Part Two).

  • Upon changing, the subject regains lost hit points as if it had rested for a night.
The subject regains 1 hit point per character level. Character level includes racial Hit Dice and all class levels. The subject does not heal any temporary ability damage or get any other benefits of resting. Changing back does not heal the subject further. If slain, the subject reverts to its original form, though it remains dead.
  • The subject gains the Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores of the new form but retains its own Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores.
The subject retains its own mind, but its body is transformed into a semblance of the assumed form. Unlike previous versions of the D&D game, the subject's hit points change according to his new Constitution score. The subject's Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores revert to normal when resuming its normal form, which may prompt another change in hit points.

A change in ability scores might render some of the subject's feats unusable. If a feat has an ability score prerequisite that the subject no longer meets, the subject still has the feat, but cannot use it so long as the prerequisite is not met. If the subject has a prestige class that depends on an unusable feat, the subject cannot use any features of the class but retains any Hit Dice, base attack, and base save bonuses from the class and also retains weapon and armor proficiencies from the class.

  • The subject's class and level, alignment, base attack bonus, and base save bonuses remain unchanged in the assumed form.
As noted in Part Two, the subject also retains all class features, as well as all skill ranks and feats derived from class levels.
  • The subject retains the supernatural and spell-like special attacks and qualities of its normal form, except for those requiring a body part that the new form does not have.
As noted in Part One, the subject loses breath weapons if the assumed form doesn't have a mouth and loses gaze attacks if the assumed form doesn't have eyes.
  • The subject retains all extraordinary special attacks and qualities derived from class levels.
As noted in Part One, extraordinary special attacks or qualities from class levels are primarily a function of the mind.
  • The subject loses extraordinary special attacks and qualities not derived from class levels.
Also as noted in Part One, extraordinary special attacks and qualities are assumed to be largely a function of the body.
  • The subject retains its ability to speak if the assumed form has that ability, as noted in Part Two.

  • The subject gains all extraordinary attacks of the assumed form, but no supernatural or spell-like attacks. The subject gains no special qualities of the assumed form at all.
As noted in Part One, extraordinary special attacks derive largely from the physical body, while extraordinary special qualities prove more subtle.
  • The subject retains spell casting abilities, if any, just as noted in Part Two.

  • The subject has the physical qualities of the assumed form as noted in Part Two.
Physical qualities include modes of breathing as well as modes of movement. If the assumed form has gills but no lungs it can breathe underwater but it cannot breathe out of the water and will begin to suffocate if stranded on dry land.
  • The subject cannot take the form of any creature with a template, just as with the alter self spell.

  • You can freely designate the assumed form's minor physical qualities (such as hair color, hair texture, and skin color) within the normal ranges for a creature of that kind, just as with the alter self spell.

  • The subject is effectively disguised as an average member of the assumed form's race, as noted in Part Two.

  • When the change occurs, the subject's equipment, if any, either remains worn or held by the new form (if it is capable of wearing or holding the item), or melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional.
For purposes of most polymorph effects, one can divide creatures into types that have basically humanoid shapes and those that do not, as follows:

Humanoid Shapes
Fey
Giant
Humanoid
Monstrous Humanoid
*Outsider
---
Nonhumanoid Shapes
Aberration
Animal
Dragon
Elemental
Ooze
Vermin

*Most, but not all outsiders have humanoid shapes.

In general, a change from one form that has a humanoid shape to another form that has a humanoid shape leaves all equipment in place and functioning. The subject's equipment changes to match the assumed form. It becomes the appropriate size for the assumed form and it fits the assumed form. The spellcaster can change minor details in your equipment, such as color, surface texture, and decoration.

When a subject changes from a form with a humanoid shape to a form with a nonhumanoid shape (or vice versa) most of his equipment is subsumed into the new form and becomes nonfunctional. Items the subject could conceivably wear in an assumed form remain functional. For example, most items worn on the body, such as armor, cloaks, boots, and most other items of clothing made for a humanoid body won't fit on a nonhumanoid body. Some items can fit on just about any kind of body. For example, a ring fits just about any form that has digits of some kind (the limit of two rings applies no matter how many hands or similar appendages a creature has). Likewise, a necklace fits on just about any form that has a neck.

A Polymorph Example

Our friend Anlion (from Part Two) is now an 8th-level sorcerer. Let's see what happens when he uses a polymorph spell to assume the forms of a lizardfolk and a troll.

Anlion (Normal Form): Male half-elf sorcerer 8; CR 8; Medium humanoid; HD 8d4; hp 20; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 12; Base Atk +4; Grp +3; Atk +3 melee (1d6-1, quarterstaff) or +7 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); Full Atk +3 melee (1d6-1, quarterstaff) or +7 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SQ half-elf traits, low-light vision; AL N; SV Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +8; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 17.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +11, Concentration +9, Diplomacy +7, Gather Information +5, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Listen +1, Search +2, Spellcraft +11, Spot +1; Dodge, Empower Spell, Extend Spell.

Half-Elf Traits: Anlion is immune to magic sleep spells and effects, and he has elven blood (for all effects related to race, he is considered an elf). Anlion also has a +2 racial bonus on saves against enchantment spells or effects, a +1 racial bonus on Listen, Spot, and Search checks, and a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy and Gather Information checks (already figured into the statistics given above).

Sorcerer Spells Known (6/7/7/6/3; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- arcane mark, daze, detect magic, flare, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, resistance; 1st -- burning hands, color spray, magic missile, shield, true strike; 2nd -- alter self, scorching ray, see invisibility; 3rd -- fly, lightning bolt; 4th -- polymorph.

Possessions: Bracers of armor +1, ring of protection +1, cloak of resistance +2, quarterstaff, masterwork light crossbow, 10 bolts, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of invisibility, 2 scrolls of eagle's splendor, wand of magic missile (3rd-level caster, 48 charges).

In lizardfolk form, Anlion's statistics change significantly. He gains the lizardfolk's natural armor, natural weaponry, and racial skill bonuses; he also gains the Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores of a typical lizardfolk (as noted in the Monster Manual). The ability score changes give him a few more hit points and improve his melee combat abilities, but his reduced Dexterity score makes his Dodge feat unusable. He loses his low-light vision (an extraordinary special quality). He retains his half-elf racial skill bonuses. He gains the lizardfolk's racial skill bonuses to Balance, Jump, and Swim checks, and the lizardfolk's natural ability to hold its breath. He loses his half-elf subtype and gains the reptilian subtype. His equipment keeps functioning in his assumed form (because it's another humanoid form).

Anlion (Lizardfolk Form): Male half-elf sorcerer 8; CR 8; Medium humanoid (reptilian); HD 8d4+8; hp 28; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 17, touch 11, flat-footed 17; Base Atk +4; Grp +5; Atk +5 melee (1d4+1, claw) or +5 melee (1d6+1, quarterstaff) or +5 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); Full Atk +5 melee (1d4+1, 2 claws) and +0 melee (1d4, bite) or +5 melee (1d6+1, quarterstaff) and +0 melee (1d4, bite) or +5 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); SQ hold breath; AL N; SV Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +8; Str 13, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 17.

Skills and Feats: Balance +4, Bluff +11, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +7, Gather Information +5, Intimidate +5, Jump +5, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Listen +1, Search +2, Spellcraft +11, Spot +1, Swim +5; Dodge (unavailable due to reduction in Dexterity score), Empower Spell, Extend Spell.

Hold Breath: Anlion can hold his breath for 52 rounds before he risks drowning. (This is a natural ability for a lizardfolk.)

Sorcerer Spells Known: (6/7/7/6/3; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- arcane mark, daze, detect magic, flare, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, resistance; 1st -- burning hands, color spray, magic missile, shield, true strike; 2nd -- alter self, scorching ray, see invisibility; 3rd -- fly, lightning bolt; 4th -- polymorph.

Possessions: Bracers of armor +1, ring of protection +1, cloak of resistance +2, quarterstaff, masterwork light crossbow, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of invisibility, 2 scrolls of eagle's splendor, wand of magic missile (3rd-level caster, 48 charges).

In troll form, Anlion's statistics change dramatically. He gains the troll's natural armor, natural weaponry, and the troll's deadly rend attack; he also gains the Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores of a typical troll (as noted in the Monster Manual). The ability score changes give him many more hit points and improve his melee combat abilities. He loses his low-light vision (an extraordinary special quality). He retains his half-elf racial skill bonuses. He does not gain the troll's darkvision or regeneration abilities (also extraordinary special qualities). He gains the giant type, loses his half-elf subtype, and gains the augmented humanoid subtype. His equipment keeps functioning in his assumed form because a giant has a basically humanoid body. He gains the troll's Large size, which increases his space and reach and affects his combat abilities -- particularly his grapple bonus. Because his equipment remains functional, it changes size along with him.

Anlion (Troll Form): Male half-elf sorcerer 8; CR 8; Large giant (augmented humanoid); HD 8d4+48; hp 68; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 16; Base Atk +4; Grp +14; Atk +9 melee (1d6+6, claw) or +9 melee (1d8+9, quarterstaff) or +6 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); Full Atk +9 melee (1d6+6, 2 claws) and +4 melee (1d6+3, bite) or +9 melee (1d8+9, quarterstaff) and +4 melee (1d6+3, bite) or +6 ranged (1d8/19-20, masterwork light crossbow); Space/Reach 10 ft./10 ft.; SA rend 2d6+9; AL N; SV Fort +10, Ref +6, Will +8; Str 23, Dex 14, Con 23, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 17.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +11, Concentration +15, Diplomacy +7, Gather Information +5, Hide -2, Intimidate +5, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Listen +1, Search +2, Spellcraft +11, Spot +1; Dodge, Empower Spell, Extend Spell.

Rend (Ex): If Anlion hits with both claw attacks, he latches onto the opponent's body and tears the flesh. This attack automatically deals an additional 2d6+9 points of damage.

Sorcerer Spells Known: (6/7/7/6/3; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- arcane mark, daze, detect magic, flare, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, resistance; 1st -- burning hands, color spray, magic missile, shield, true strike; 2nd -- alter self, scorching ray, see invisibility; 3rd -- fly, lightning bolt; 4th -- polymorph.

Possessions: Bracers of armor +1, ring of protection +1, cloak of resistance +2, quarterstaff, masterwork light crossbow, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of invisibility, 2 scrolls of eagle's splendor, wand of magic missile (3rd-level caster, 48 charges).

PART IV

Parts Two and Three covered some fundamental aspects of polymorphing by examining the alter self and polymorph spells in detail. This time, we'll look at additional polymorphing and shape changing effects.

Baleful Polymorph

This spell is intended for offensive use. It works much like polymorph, except as follows:

  • The spell works on any creature within range (close).
The target need not be willing or living.
  • The spell has a permanent duration.
A subject under the effects of the spell has a moderate aura of transmutation magic (see the detect magic spell) while the spell lasts. The effect can be dispelled according to the normal rules for doing so.
  • The caster changes the subject into a Small or smaller animal of no more than 1 Hit Die.
The caster must choose an animal species whose typical size is Small or smaller.
  • The subject is allowed a Fortitude save to resist the spell; if the form chosen would be fatal to the subject, it gains a +4 bonus on the save.
The chosen form is "fatal" if it cannot survive in the current environment. For example, if you choose to turn the subject into a goldfish on dry land it will suffocate.
  • If the Fortitude save fails, the subject must then make a Will save to avoid taking on the mental characteristics of the assumed form.
If the Will save succeeds, the subject merely takes the assumed form, exactly as if subjected to the polymorph spell (see Part Three).

If the Will save fails, the subject loses all its extraordinary, supernatural, and spell-like abilities. It loses its ability to cast spells (if it had the ability), and gains the alignment, special abilities, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores of its new form in place of its own. It still retains its class and level (or HD), as well as all benefits deriving from class and level (such as base attack bonus, base save bonuses, and hit points). It retains any class features (other than spell casting) that aren't extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like abilities.

  • Incorporeal or gaseous creatures are immune to being polymorphed, and a creature with the shapechanger subtype can revert to its natural form as a standard action.
Polymorph Any Object

A general purpose spell, polymorph any object is similar to both polymorph and baleful polymorph. It works on any creature or object, and it can turn the subject into any other creature or object (but not an incorporeal or gaseous creature or object).

A creature turned into another creature with this spell is affected just as if transmuted with a polymorph spell, except that the subject also gains the Intelligence score of the assumed form. The change in Intelligence doesn't affect the subject's skill points.

A creature turned into an object has no Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma scores. It has no senses and cannot perceive its surroundings in any way. It is considered unconscious, just as a petrified creature is. If the subject cracks or breaks, but the broken pieces are joined with the body as the subject returns to flesh, the subject is unharmed (also like a petrified creature). If the subject's body is incomplete when it returns to its normal form, the body is likewise incomplete, with the appropriate disability.

The spell's duration depends on how radical the change between the subject's original form and its assumed form as shown in the spell description. Regardless of the spell's duration, the subject has a strong aura of transmutation magic (see the detect magic spell) while the spell lasts. The effect can be dispelled according to the normal rules for doing so.

Because this spell can allow the subject to assume unliving forms, you can use this spell to turn the subject into a construct or undead creature.

You can use polymorph any object to duplicate the following transmutation effects: baleful polymorph, polymorph, flesh to stone, stone to flesh, transmute mud to rock, transmute water to dust, or transmute rock to mud. (Baleful polymorph was added to this list in the Player's Handbook errata file.)

Construct Type

You get the following:

-- No Constitution score. (A natural consequence of not being alive.)

-- Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). (Natural ability.)

-- Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and necromancy effects. (This stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Cannot heal damage on their own, but you often can be repaired by exposing yourself to a certain kind of effect (see the creature's description for details) or through the use of the Craft Construct feat. A construct with the fast healing special quality still benefits from that quality. (This also stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage, ability drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or energy drain. (A natural ability.)

-- Immunity to any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects, or is harmless). (This also stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Not at risk of death from massive damage. Immediately destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points or less. (This also stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Because its body is a mass of unliving matter, a construct is hard to destroy. It gains bonus hit points based on size, as shown on the table in the Monster Manual glossary. (A natural consequence of not being alive.)

-- Proficient with its natural weapons only, unless generally humanoid in form, in which case proficient with any weapon mentioned in its entry. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to construct form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with no armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to construct form doesn't get you any armor proficiencies.)

-- Constructs do not eat, sleep, or breathe. (A natural ability.)

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. (Extraordinary special qualities.)

-- Since it was never alive, a construct cannot be raised or resurrected. (If you were once alive you can be raised or resurrected even if you're killed while in construct form.)

Undead Type (Polymorph Any Object):

You get the following:

-- No Constitution score. (A natural consequence of not being alive.)

-- Immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). (A natural ability.)

-- Immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, and death effects. (This stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain. Immune to damage to its physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution), as well as to fatigue and exhaustion effects. (This also stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Cannot heal damage on its own if it has no Intelligence score, although it can be healed. Negative energy (such as an inflict spell) can heal undead creatures. The fast healing special quality works regardless of the creature's Intelligence score. (You get this trait, but, since you retain your Intelligence, you can heal damage)

-- Immunity to any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless). (This also stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Uses its Charisma modifier for Concentration checks. (This also stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Not at risk of death from massive damage, but when reduced to 0 hit points or less, it is immediately destroyed. (This also stems from your lack of a Constitution score.)

-- Not affected by raise dead and reincarnate spells or abilities. Resurrection and true resurrection can affect undead creatures. These spells turn undead creatures back into the living creatures they were before becoming undead. (If you were once alive you can be raised or resurrected even if you're killed while in construct form.)

-- Proficient with its natural weapons, all simple weapons, and any weapons mentioned in its entry. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to undead form doesn't get you any weapon proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Proficient with whatever type of armor (light, medium, or heavy) it is described as wearing, as well as all lighter types. Undead not indicated as wearing armor are not proficient with armor. Undead are proficient with shields if they are proficient with any form of armor. (You don't forget what you know, but a change to undead form doesn't get you any armor proficiency that's not listed here.)

-- Undead do not breathe, eat, or sleep. (A natural ability.)

You don't get the following:

-- Darkvision out to 60 feet. (Extraordinary special quality.)

Shapechange

This spell represents the ultimate polymorph effect. It works much like polymorph, except as follows:

  • The spell works only on the caster.
The spell has a personal range and a target of "you," so you can share it with your familiar or other companion with the share spells ability.
  • You can choose any form except that of a unique creature.
You can choose a form of any type, even a gaseous or incorporeal form.
  • You gain all extraordinary and supernatural abilities (both attacks and qualities) of the assumed form, but you lose your own supernatural abilities.
As with the polymorph spell, you don't retain supernatural abilities that depend on a body part you do not have (such as a mouth for a breath weapon or eyes for a gaze attack). You keep your spell-like and extraordinary abilities, provided your new form has the requisite body parts; for example, you can't retain a rend ability if your assumed form does not have claws.
  • You can change form once a round as a free action.
Changing form does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
  • When you assume an incorporeal form with this spell, you get all the traits of the incorporeal subtype.
Incorporeal Subtype

-- Immune to all nonmagical attack forms

-- Even when hit by spells or magic weapons, it has a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source (except for positive energy, negative energy, force effects such as magic missile, or attacks made with ghost touch weapons). Although it is not a magical attack, holy water can affect incorporeal undead, but a hit with holy water has a 50% chance of not affecting an incorporeal creature.

-- An incorporeal creature has no natural armor bonus but has a deflection bonus equal to its Charisma bonus (always at least +1, even if the creature's Charisma score does not normally provide a bonus).

-- An incorporeal creature can enter or pass through solid objects, but must remain adjacent to the object's exterior, and so cannot pass entirely through an object whose space is larger than its own. It can sense the presence of creatures or objects within a square adjacent to its current location, but enemies have total concealment (50% miss chance) from an incorporeal creature that is inside an object. To see farther from the object it is in and attack normally, the incorporeal creature must emerge. An incorporeal creature inside an object has total cover, but when it attacks a creature outside the object it only has cover, so a creature outside with a readied action could strike at it as it attacks. An incorporeal creature cannot pass through a force effect.

-- An incorporeal creature's attacks pass through (ignore) natural armor, armor, and shields, although deflection bonuses and force effects (such as mage armor) work normally against it.

-- Incorporeal creatures pass through and operate in water as easily as they do in air.

-- Incorporeal creatures cannot fall or take falling damage.

-- Incorporeal creatures cannot make trip or grapple attacks, and they cannot be tripped or grappled. In fact, they cannot take any physical action that would move or manipulate an opponent or its equipment, and they are not subject to such actions. Incorporeal creatures have no weight and do not set off traps that are triggered by weight.

-- An incorporeal creature moves silently and cannot be heard with Listen checks if it doesn't wish to be.

-- It has no Strength score, so its Dexterity modifier applies to both its melee attacks and its ranged attacks.

-- Nonvisual senses, such as scent and blindsight, are either ineffective or only partly effective with regard to incorporeal creatures. Incorporeal creatures have an innate sense of direction and can move at full speed even when they cannot see.

Wild Shape

This class feature works like the polymorph spell, except that wildshape is a supernatural ability that works only for the druid using it. It cannot be shared with the druid's animal companion (or other creature with the share spells quality) because it's a supernatural ability.

The duration is 1 hour per druid level or until the druid resumes her normal form. Changing form (to animal or back) is a standard action and doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity.

At 11th level and below, the druid can assume only animal forms; the size of the animal form to be assumed depends on the druid's level, as noted in the druid class description. Since the power duplicates the polymorph spell, the druid gains the assumed form's extraordinary special attacks, but not its extraordinary special qualities. For example, a druid wildshaped into a wolf gains the wolf's trip attack but not its scent ability. The druid's level determines what size animal form the druid can assume.

At 12th level and above, a druid can assume plant forms of the same sizes as the animal forms the druid can assume.

At 16th level and above, a druid can assume elemental forms, with the druid's level limiting the size as noted in the druid class description. A druid that takes elemental form retains her own creature type, but gains all the elemental's extraordinary, supernatural, and spell-like abilities (both special attacks and special qualities), and also gains the elemental's feats. Since the druid does not gain the features and traits of the elemental type, the druid does not gain the elemental's immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, and stunning. The druid also does not gain immunity to critical hits or flanking. On the bright side, the druid retains the ability to be raised or resurrected, provided that the druid could be raised or resurrected in the first place.

Alternate Form

This supernatural special quality works much like the polymorph spell; here's an overview, with the differences between the alternate form ability and the polymorph spell called out.

  • Unlike polymorph, the creature is limited to the assumed forms specified in the creature's description.

  • Unlike polymorph, the creature retains the type and subtype of its original form. It gains the size of its new form.

  • The creature loses the natural weapons, natural armor, movement modes, and extraordinary special attacks of its original form. The creature gains the natural weapons, natural armor, movement modes, and extraordinary special attacks of its new form.

  • Unlike polymorph, the creature retains the special qualities of its original form. It does not gain any special qualities of its new form.

  • The creature retains the spell-like abilities and supernatural attacks of its old form (except for breath weapons and gaze attacks). It does not gain the spell-like abilities or supernatural attacks of its new form.

  • The creature gains the physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution) of its new form. It retains the mental ability scores (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma) of its original form.

  • Unlike polymorph, the creature retains its hit points and save bonuses, although its save modifiers may change due to a change in ability scores.

  • Unlike polymorph, the creature does not regain any lost hit points from changing form.

  • The creature retains any spell casting ability it had in its original form, although it must be able to speak intelligibly to cast spells with verbal components and it must have humanlike hands to cast spells with somatic components.
See Part Two for other notes on spell casting when in an assumed form.
  • The creature is effectively camouflaged as a creature of its new form, and it gains a +10 bonus on Disguise checks if it uses this ability to create a disguise.
See Part Two for other notes on using an assumed form as a disguise.

Page Last Updated Feburary 15th, 2005

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