PDA

View Full Version : [3.5 feat] Familiar Shape



Calmar
2009-12-09, 09:06 AM
Hi,
I'd like to know what you think about this feat. :smallsmile:

There are stories and faerietales with sorcerers who have the ability to turn themselves into one specific animal and this feat shall represent this.
Maybe the ability might also work as a substitution ability for the normal summon familiar ability.

Familiar Shape
You can turn yourself into a magical beast that resembles a small animal.
Prerequisites: Ability to summon a familiar, Spellcraft 4 ranks.
Benefit: Select an animal that appears on the list of sorcerer and wizard familiars. At will, you may change your shape to match that of the selected animal, as a standard action. This ability works as the polymorph spell. You gain the bonus to a skill or a save granted by the animal you chose and are treated as having the Alertness feat. When in familiar form, you gain the bonus to your natural armor and the special abilities of a familiar appropriate to your wizard or sorcerer level. However, you can't cast spells while in familiar form.
Special: You can only use Familiar Shape as long as you havenít summoned a familiar. Familiar Shape canít be combined with the Natural Spell feat.

edit: I've modified the wording.

Zom B
2009-12-09, 09:25 AM
You have some terminology mixup here. Familiars are wizard and sorceror (and hexblade, and probably a few others) companions. Animal Companions (what you mention in the feat description) are druid and ranger companions. You mention both in the feat text, so I'm not sure what you mean.

That being said, there are numerous problems.


Rather than acquiring an animal companion you are able to turn yourself into any one creature of your choice that is presented on page 52 of the Playerís Handbook.

I wouldn't mention page numbers, because it is going to be different from the 3.0 PHB and the 3.5 PHB and there are no page numbers at all on the online SRDs. Also, the text of the feat seems to imply that you can shapechange into this form an unlimited times per day. Just say something like "Select an animal that appears on the list of sorcerer and wizard familiars. X times per day, you may change your shape to match that of the selected animal, as the Polymorph spell."

How many rounds does the shape change last, by the way? Until dismissed? Based on a stat modifier (INT number of rounds, CON number of rounds, etc)?


You gain the bonus to a skill or a save granted by the animal you chose and are treated as having the Alertness feat, just as normal. When in animal shape, you gain all the benefits a familiar gains, except the adjustment of the Int score.

All right, do you mean you gain the skill bonus and Alertness feat only while in your Familiar Form? Or at all times? And what bonus to a save are you talking about? The one the weasel grants? When you say that you gain all the benefits a familiar gains, do you mean based on the character's level, or all of the benefits?

I think I know the answers to these questions, but I can't assume. It would be better if the feat stated them.

Also, I'd bump up the prerequisites quite a bit. Being able to turn yourself into a flying raven or a snake that can crawl into places a player can't and being able to do that at first level seems absurdly abusable, even if only once per day and even if only for a few rounds.

All that having been said, I like the idea you're going for with the feat. Maybe just change it to where you can match the form of your existing familiar, assuming all of its stats (except INT) and familiar-acquired abilities. Or maybe you transfer yourself into your familiar and control it for X rounds, and then you can transfer your body and essence back out at any time.

Calmar
2009-12-09, 09:57 AM
You have some terminology mixup here. Familiars are wizard and sorceror (and hexblade, and probably a few others) companions. Animal Companions (what you mention in the feat description) are druid and ranger companions. You mention both in the feat text, so I'm not sure what you mean.

It is supposed to be famliar. :smallredface:




I wouldn't mention page numbers, because it is going to be different from the 3.0 PHB and the 3.5 PHB and there are no page numbers at all on the online SRDs. Also, the text of the feat seems to imply that you can shapechange into this form an unlimited times per day. Just say something like "Select an animal that appears on the list of sorcerer and wizard familiars. X times per day, you may change your shape to match that of the selected animal, as the Polymorph spell."
It is at will. It's not that powerful and you can't cast in the shape of the familiar, after all.


All right, do you mean you gain the skill bonus and Alertness feat only while in your Familiar Form? Or at all times? And what bonus to a save are you talking about? The one the weasel grants? When you say that you gain all the benefits a familiar gains, do you mean based on the character's level, or all of the benefits?

Basically it works just as if you had a familiar, but instead of having the creature by your side you can transform yourself into a magical beasts similar to a familiar appropriate to your caster level.

If the chosen animal is a rat, you gain a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves, if it is a cat, you gain a +3 bonus on Move Silently checks in addition to your normal stats. Also, you are treated as having the Alertness feat (Which, admittedly, sounds a bit odd...).
When you change into the shape of your chose creature, you keep your mental stats and skills and gain the animal's physical stats, size and natural armor boni (which I think is the way polymorphing works), as well as the natural armor bonus a familiar gains plus the special abilities like Alertness, improved evasion, speak with animals of its kind, and spell resistance.

Zom B
2009-12-09, 10:15 AM
Basically it works just as if you had a familiar, but instead of having the creature by your side you can transform yourself into a magical beasts similar to a familiar appropriate to your caster level.

That's what I guessed that you meant, but don't tell me; put it in the feat description.


It is at will. It's not that powerful and you can't cast in the shape of the familiar, after all.

All right, let me put a scenario out here for you: At first level, this wizard can bypass traps and even whole sections of dungeons just by turning into an innocuous bat and flitting down the corridors and later changing back. Got a tower you need to enter at the ground floor and fight your way to the top? Nope, just bird- or bat-form and fly through a top window. Or they could have picked a raven, or owl, or hawk, and can fly across the countryside or battlefield. Even if you can't cast, the ability to spy and bypass challenges and move faster alone is amazing.

Also, if the familiar form is a raven, the wizard or sorcerer can still cast spells, even without the Natural Spell feat.


To cast a spell, you must be able to speak (if the spell has a verbal component), gesture (if it has a somatic component), and manipulate the material components or focus (if any). Additionally, you must concentrate to cast a spell.

A raven can speak and gesture and can carry a limited amount of spell components. Or just have Eschew Materials.

Moving on.


If the chosen animal is a rat, you gain a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves, if it is a cat, you gain a +3 bonus on Move Silently checks in addition to your normal stats. Also, you are treated as having the Alertness feat (Which, admittedly, sounds a bit odd...).

Again, do you only get this when in your familiar form or at all times? You don't specify.

Anonymouswizard
2009-12-09, 02:49 PM
Make it an ACF. It makes no sense otherwise:

Familiar Shape
You can turn yourself into a magical beast that resembles a small animal.
Level: wizard or sorcerer 1.
Replaces: Summon familiar.
Benefit: Select an animal that appears on the list of sorcerer and wizard familiars. At will, you may change your shape to match that of the selected animal, as a standard action. This ability works as the polymorph spell. You gain the bonus to a skill or a save granted by the animal you chose and are treated as having the Alertness feat. When in animal shape, you gain the bonus to your natural armor and the special abilities of an animal companion appropriate to your wizard or sorcerer level.

Also, does this include creatures on the improved familiar list.

Zom B
2009-12-09, 03:17 PM
animal companion
There's that phrase again.


Also, does this include creatures on the improved familiar list.

Hmm, perhaps if the person took the feat, but without looking at all the familiars something strongly tells me that that would be broken to Hades and back. Being able to shapechange into an undead at will with the Patchwork Familiars in Libris Mortis? Or a dragon with a dragon familiar from Draconomicon? Those pop into my head immediately.

Also, hexblade gets a familiar but it's understandable that the alternate class feature doesn't quite fit the flavor of the class.

Again, this seems easily abusable to me, getting the free shapechanging. Even if it's just minor forms it seems too nice. If I had the feature/feat/ability, I'd use it every chance I got to bypass traps and whole areas of a dungeon I didn't feel like going through. Like I said, not to mention spying. And spellcasting as a raven.

Calmar
2009-12-10, 09:28 AM
Again, this seems easily abusable to me, getting the free shapechanging. Even if it's just minor forms it seems too nice. If I had the feature/feat/ability, I'd use it every chance I got to bypass traps and whole areas of a dungeon I didn't feel like going through. Like I said, not to mention spying. And spellcasting as a raven.

Depends on the style of the game, I suppose. As far as my experience goes, no one ever uses the common familiar for anything other than to benefit from the bonuses it grants. No scouting, no delivery of touch attacks. Also, you still have your group left behind on the other side of the area full of monsters or trap, no matter whether you bypass it in the shape of a rat, or with one of the more advanced conjuration illusion or transmutation spells on the later levels; a low level wizard deep in a monster lair, far away from her group puts herself in serious risk.

Though my original intention was, that neither animal can cast in any case, a raven might be able to cast spells with only verbal components and maybe material components with Eshew Materials, but certainly no somatic components, since he lacks the hands to do so - at least not in my game. :smallsmile:

Zom B
2009-12-10, 10:19 AM
Depends on the style of the game, I suppose. As far as my experience goes, no one ever uses the common familiar for anything other than to benefit from the bonuses it grants. No scouting, no delivery of touch attacks.

This might have something to do with that:

If the familiar dies or is dismissed by the sorcerer, the sorcerer must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per sorcerer level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a sorcererís experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a familiarís demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and day.


certainly no somatic components, since he lacks the hands to do so

Spellcasting doesn't actually mention hands. Just that you must be able to gesture. I know it's not something you'd allow, but not every DM is you.

As you say, though, this revolves around the style of campaign. If you want to use this in home games and its understood not to abuse it, then go for it. I just thought I'd warn you of the potential problem areas.

Latronis
2009-12-10, 10:35 AM
Spellcasting doesn't actually mention hands. Just that you must be able to gesture. I know it's not something you'd allow, but not every DM is you.

Actually it does...


Components
A spellís components are what you must do or possess to cast it. The Components entry in a spell description includes abbreviations that tell you what type of components it has. Specifics for material, focus, and XP components are given at the end of the descriptive text. Usually you donít worry about components, but when you canít use a component for some reason or when a material or focus component is expensive, then the components are important.

Verbal (V)
A verbal component is a spoken incantation. To provide a verbal component, you must be able to speak in a strong voice. A silence spell or a gag spoils the incantation (and thus the spell). A spellcaster who has been deafened has a 20% chance to spoil any spell with a verbal component that he or she tries to cast.

Somatic (S)
A somatic component is a measured and precise movement of the hand. You must have at least one hand free to provide a somatic component.

But changing of shape ability's have a tendency to say something along the line of must have limbs capable of fine manipulation for somatic and material components. And realistically there is very few limbs capable of fine manipulation.