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View Full Version : [3.5] Yet another Polymorph thread (and attempted 'fix')



Myou
2010-01-24, 08:55 AM
Hi again, after discussing Polymorph spells here recently, I've been trying to get them into a form that won't horribly break the game with ease. What I've done is taken out all Polymorph subschool spells, and replaced them with two, which offer the iconic effects, while making them more costly and less common. What do you think? Are these more usable? And is anything ambiguously worded or open to abuse? (Obviously Shapechange will always be abusable, so the DM has to veto some forms as they come up.)

Shapechange
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 10
Components: V, S, F, XP
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell enables you to assume the form of any single creature (of any type). The assumed form cannot have an effective character level greater than your own.

You gain all qualities and abilities of the chosen creature, including extraordinary, supernatural and spell-like abilities, but you lose all of your natural form's qualities and abilities, retaining only your base ability scores (before they were modified by your race) and your class levels. You also gain the type of the new form in place of your own, and recalculate your ability scores based on the stat adjustments of the new form. The new form does not disorientate you. Parts of your body that are separated from you do not revert to their original forms.

You can become just about anything you are familiar with, as long as your magical powers are strong enough to recreate it. You can change form once each round as a free action. The change takes place either immediately before your regular action or immediately after it, but not during the action. If you use this spell to create a disguise, you get a +10 bonus on your Disguise check. If slain you revert to your original form but remain dead. Carried items are subsumed into your new form when you first change upon initiating the spell.

Focus: A platinum diamond ring worth no less than 5,000 gp, which you must wear when casting the spell. (The focus melds into your new form when you change shape.)

XP Cost: 1,000 XP




Polymorph
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 9
Components: V, S, XP
Casting time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One creature, or one nonmagical object of up to 5 cu. ft./level
Duration: Instantanious or 24 hours (See text)
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

This spell permanently changes one consenting object or creature into another, or temporarily changes one unwilling object or creature into another.
A consenting creature is one that genuinely wishes to be changed, and can only be changed into the form desired.

If used on a consenting creature (or consenting sentient object), the spell instantaneously and permanently changes the creature into the chosen form (which must have an effective character level equal to the creature's previous form). The creature gains all qualities and abilities of the chosen form, including extraordinary, supernatural and spell-like abilities and class levels, but loses all of its previous form's qualities, abilities and class levels, retaining only its base ability scores (before they were modified by its race or class levels). It also gains the type of the new form in place of its own, and recalculates its ability scores based on the stat adjustments of the new form. If the new form is an inanimate object then the creature's ability scores will likely be unmodified by the new form after the old form's ability modifiers have been removed, but the former creature will most likely be unable to make use of its ability scores as an object. The new form does not disorientate the creature, and feels natural to it. The creature retains its mind, thoughts, personality and memories, but if the new form has very low or non-existent mental ability scores then it may be unable to think or remember who it is until it is changed into a more suitable form.

If used on an unwilling creature (or unwilling sentient object), the spell functions in the same way, but has a duration of 24 hours, after which the spell ends and the creature is restored to its previous form.

If used on a non-sentient object that was never a creature and has no mind or soul, the spell cannot change the object into a creature, only other forms of non-sentient object.

A nonmagical object cannot be made into a magic item with this spell. Magic items that are not sentient arenít affected by this spell. This spell cannot create material of great intrinsic value, such as copper, silver, gems, silk, gold, platinum, mithral, or adamantine.

XP Cost: If used on a willing target, the spell costs both the target and caster 1,000 XP. The spell has no XP cost if used on an enemy. If you cast Polymorph on yourself the total cost is 2,000 XP.


Thanks in advance. :smallsmile:

Myou
2010-01-25, 03:56 PM
Updated Polymorph to prevent permanent de-levelling of foes.

Any thoughts?

Pharaoh's Fist
2010-01-25, 04:00 PM
XP costs are a good limiting factor. Other than that, don't have the time to go over every change.

Myou
2010-01-25, 04:52 PM
XP costs are a good limiting factor. Other than that, don't have the time to go over every change.

Thanks for the post. :smallsmile:

Saintjebus
2010-01-25, 04:58 PM
The main issue that I see is that you're using CR to have a mechanical effect on the spell. I can't help but think that that is a Bad Idea, simply because the CR system is borked.

Myou
2010-01-25, 05:02 PM
The main issue that I see is that you're using CR to have a mechanical effect on the spell. I can't help but think that that is a Bad Idea, simply because the CR system is borked.

Maybe I should be using ECL, since that's almost the same, but level adjustment and the like might help balance it?

Saintjebus
2010-01-25, 05:15 PM
That might work better, but I'm not familiar enough with the MM to find loopholes. It would prevent things like polymorphing into a solar pre-epic and the like, though.

Jergmo
2010-01-25, 05:20 PM
The Giant already did your work for you.

Pt. 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/dC21fDHZ4tK8n5OjUm9.html)
Pt. 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/PbpHATjPkec7E82kEmo.html)

Jack_Simth
2010-01-25, 05:51 PM
Shapechanging giving spell-likes is bad. Look up the Efreeti, and realize that the game is intended for a full party - which means that for 1,000 xp and a 5k focus, the Wizard with Shapechange can now spit out three wishes (for someone else). And you still have the underlying problems: The combinatorial explosion, and the great many critters that have abilities which, in the hands of the DM and/or over the course of a single encounter, are harmless - but in the hands of the player and/or over the course of several encounters, are exceedingly overpowered.

Polymorph being Instant:
2,000 xp for an almost full character rebuild? That's nuts. If the Paladin has the Charisma for it, I just change him into something with a sufficiently high ECL that he exactly loses all class levels, than change him (may not be a him at this point...) into a human ... oh, Sorcerer. Or if he has the Wis for it and I'd prefer, a Druid or Cleric. If the Rogue has the INT for it, he's now a Wizard (or Factotum, or Beguiler, or ...). All skills and feats go with it. As long as the base stats will support the new class, I've got a blank check for rebuilding characters as I feel like.

As a DM, my answer is NO. THESE ARE NOT BALANCED.

-----------------------------------------------

I'm familiar with three basic routes that have a reasonable chance of successfully making a balanced polymorph spell (note: Rich's variant is still not balanced - it's just broken differently):

Buff + Illusion: When you turn someone into a Hydra, you do not turn them into a Hydra. You give them a selection from a list of buffs (based on the spell level of the polymorph and your caster level), and make them look like a hydra. So turning the Fighter into a "Hydra" might result in... an Enlarge Person effect, +2 natural armor, and a natural weapon. Turning the rogue into a "deinonychus" might result in Pounce and two natural weapons. Each spell has a sharply limited amount of buffs, and the spells can now be balanced against other spells of their level based on what is available within the spell - and new sources don't hurt, as the caster doesn't have a blank check to use whatever new monster ability he wants.

Limited Forms: There's a fixed number of forms available for any given Polymorph spell, selected by the DM (this was WOTC's late 3.5 answer - single form polymorph spells). With a sharply limited number of options, it can be balanced based on what is available to that specific polymorph spell (almost nobody complains about Trollshape being broken, for instance). Combines well with Variant Summoning.

Variant Summoning: You came close to this one with your Shapechange attempt - it's not you, it's a beast controlled by you while you're elsewhere - but missed a step: Removing problematic abilities (anything that would have an XP component, or an expensive material component, if it were a spell). This can be balanced based on ECL or CR, and combines well with Limited Forms.

Now, don't get me wrong - there's a lot of variations on each option - but those are the only basic routes I've seen that have a reasonable chance of getting there.

Myou
2010-01-26, 11:21 AM
That might work better, but I'm not familiar enough with the MM to find loopholes. It would prevent things like polymorphing into a solar pre-epic and the like, though.

Well, I'll change it to ECL for now, I should really have used ECL to begin with but I forgot about the ECL value as I never really have need of it.


The Giant already did your work for you.

Pt. 1 (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/dC21fDHZ4tK8n5OjUm9.html)
Pt. 2 (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/PbpHATjPkec7E82kEmo.html)

I'm aware of his work, and to be honest, I don't like his 'fix' at all. :smalltongue:


Shapechanging giving spell-likes is bad. Look up the Efreeti, and realize that the game is intended for a full party - which means that for 1,000 xp and a 5k focus, the Wizard with Shapechange can now spit out three wishes (for someone else). And you still have the underlying problems: The combinatorial explosion, and the great many critters that have abilities which, in the hands of the DM and/or over the course of a single encounter, are harmless - but in the hands of the player and/or over the course of several encounters, are exceedingly overpowered.

Polymorph being Instant:
2,000 xp for an almost full character rebuild? That's nuts. If the Paladin has the Charisma for it, I just change him into something with a sufficiently high ECL that he exactly loses all class levels, than change him (may not be a him at this point...) into a human ... oh, Sorcerer. Or if he has the Wis for it and I'd prefer, a Druid or Cleric. If the Rogue has the INT for it, he's now a Wizard (or Factotum, or Beguiler, or ...). All skills and feats go with it. As long as the base stats will support the new class, I've got a blank check for rebuilding characters as I feel like.

As a DM, my answer is NO. THESE ARE NOT BALANCED.

-----------------------------------------------

I'm familiar with three basic routes that have a reasonable chance of successfully making a balanced polymorph spell (note: Rich's variant is still not balanced - it's just broken differently):

Buff + Illusion: When you turn someone into a Hydra, you do not turn them into a Hydra. You give them a selection from a list of buffs (based on the spell level of the polymorph and your caster level), and make them look like a hydra. So turning the Fighter into a "Hydra" might result in... an Enlarge Person effect, +2 natural armor, and a natural weapon. Turning the rogue into a "deinonychus" might result in Pounce and two natural weapons. Each spell has a sharply limited amount of buffs, and the spells can now be balanced against other spells of their level based on what is available within the spell - and new sources don't hurt, as the caster doesn't have a blank check to use whatever new monster ability he wants.

Limited Forms: There's a fixed number of forms available for any given Polymorph spell, selected by the DM (this was WOTC's late 3.5 answer - single form polymorph spells). With a sharply limited number of options, it can be balanced based on what is available to that specific polymorph spell (almost nobody complains about Trollshape being broken, for instance). Combines well with Variant Summoning.

Variant Summoning: You came close to this one with your Shapechange attempt - it's not you, it's a beast controlled by you while you're elsewhere - but missed a step: Removing problematic abilities (anything that would have an XP component, or an expensive material component, if it were a spell). This can be balanced based on ECL or CR, and combines well with Limited Forms.

Now, don't get me wrong - there's a lot of variations on each option - but those are the only basic routes I've seen that have a reasonable chance of getting there.

I houserule that SLAs still cost XP and require costly material components (Sus that emulate spells do too), so that's not a worry for me.

The other limit is that forms are limited to what your magical powers can reproduce, inviting the DM to say that certain (broken) forms are just beyond you for now. Obviously it is open to abuse, but I'm hoping that with DM moderation it can still be used without be overpowered.

Certainly you can rebuild a character like that, that was intended and doen't require the two castings you mention, but Pyschic Reformation does something very similar, and I don't really see how it's a bad thing. Is there a reason why it's broken?

I'm really not interested in the variant solutions you mention (sorry to waste the time you took on those), I'm still trying to make a playable verion of the spells without changing them so completely.

Jack_Simth
2010-01-26, 05:57 PM
Well, I'll change it to ECL for now, I should really have used ECL to begin with but I forgot about the ECL value as I never really have need of it.

That'll ... pretty much take care of much of it - most problematic beasts don't have an LA at all.


I houserule that SLAs still cost XP and require costly material components (Sus that emulate spells do too), so that's not a worry for me.

Handy, that.


The other limit is that forms are limited to what your magical powers can reproduce, inviting the DM to say that certain (broken) forms are just beyond you for now. Obviously it is open to abuse, but I'm hoping that with DM moderation it can still be used without be overpowered.

That deals with most abuses, actually, if the DM is paying attention.


Certainly you can rebuild a character like that, that was intended and doen't require the two castings you mention, but Pyschic Reformation does something very similar, and I don't really see how it's a bad thing. Is there a reason why it's broken?

For the same reason many Psions and virtually every Wilder picks up Psychic Reformation - it's just that useful in an extended campaign (but not so much in a short campaign). Psychic Reformation lets you update feats, skills, powers known and (under transparency) spells known. That's rather strong, particularly for anyone with limited options (such as a Sorcerer or a Wilder, and to a lesser extend, a Psion), regardless of character level - the ability scales perfectly with your character. Spending 150 xp on Psychic Reformation always lets you change out your last three levels worth of skill, feat, and powers known choices - which, for a Psion, means 4-6 powers and at least one feat. For a Wilder, it means 1-2. Class levels are not permitted.

When you're doing something that's strong, but cutting the time down to almost nothing, and ramping up the effect so that it'll do a complete rebuild, there's an issue:
Someone in your party is now optimized for whatever you're up against on negligible notice.

Normally, you'll only occasionally run into something of the same CR which you walk over - because you don't normally find something that's overly weak to however you optimized your characters. If you can arbitrarily replace a member of the party with something else, and fully optimize that someone else for the stat rolls, that happens with most critters. Does that make sense?



I'm really not interested in the variant solutions you mention (sorry to waste the time you took on those), I'm still trying to make a playable verion of the spells without changing them so completely.

Seems odd, as you're proposing about 80% of option 3.

Myou
2010-01-26, 06:44 PM
That'll ... pretty much take care of much of it - most problematic beasts don't have an LA at all.

Handy, that.

That deals with most abuses, actually, if the DM is paying attention.

Thanks! :smallsmile:


For the same reason many Psions and virtually every Wilder picks up Psychic Reformation - it's just that useful in an extended campaign (but not so much in a short campaign). Psychic Reformation lets you update feats, skills, powers known and (under transparency) spells known. That's rather strong, particularly for anyone with limited options (such as a Sorcerer or a Wilder, and to a lesser extend, a Psion), regardless of character level - the ability scales perfectly with your character. Spending 150 xp on Psychic Reformation always lets you change out your last three levels worth of skill, feat, and powers known choices - which, for a Psion, means 4-6 powers and at least one feat. For a Wilder, it means 1-2. Class levels are not permitted.

When you're doing something that's strong, but cutting the time down to almost nothing, and ramping up the effect so that it'll do a complete rebuild, there's an issue:
Someone in your party is now optimized for whatever you're up against on negligible notice.

Normally, you'll only occasionally run into something of the same CR which you walk over - because you don't normally find something that's overly weak to however you optimized your characters. If you can arbitrarily replace a member of the party with something else, and fully optimize that someone else for the stat rolls, that happens with most critters. Does that make sense?

Ahhh, indeed it does.
I hadn't really thought ot using it that way.

I'm not sure how to fix that. I don't want it to take a longer action, so making it cost the target a level comes to mind. What do you think?


Seems odd, as you're proposing about 80% of option 3.

Oh, you mean for Shapechange? I thought you meant for Polymorph. :smallredface:

Jack_Simth
2010-01-26, 07:07 PM
Thanks! :smallsmile:



Ahhh, indeed it does.
I hadn't really thought ot using it that way.

I'm not sure how to fix that. I don't want it to take a longer action, so making it cost the target a level comes to mind. What do you think?

That'd work, but suddenly it's a completely different spell, and doesn't cover the fictional characters that change forms often which many people will want to emulate.

A couple of changes that leave the flavor but might work a little better:
1) Temporary (specific duration fairly immaterial)
2) Always uses the MM version of the creature verbatim (minus problematic abilities - which you've mostly got covered with the forced XP and expensive components use for spell-likes that you use as a table rule), including having the new critter not have any of the pre-cast buff spells.
3) Does not do class levels

Part of these are for balance - but a good extent of it is for bookkeeping. Consider what happens if someone uses your earlier polymorph to rebuild someone in the middle of a battle - it's not going well vs. the Lich, so the Wizard turns the party Fighter into a Hunter of the Dead. How long will it take to stat that up? What does that do to the flow of the game at the table? Bear in mind: It's a 9th level spell, and high-level characters take quite some time to build. Using the Monster Manual entry for the critter verbatim (minus problem abilities) means you just flip to that page of the MM.




Oh, you mean for Shapechange? I thought you meant for Polymorph. :smallredface:

They're both variations on option "Variant Summoning", as you lose access to your normal abilities while in altered form with both of them.

Myou
2010-01-29, 11:15 AM
That'd work, but suddenly it's a completely different spell, and doesn't cover the fictional characters that change forms often which many people will want to emulate.

A couple of changes that leave the flavor but might work a little better:
1) Temporary (specific duration fairly immaterial)
2) Always uses the MM version of the creature verbatim (minus problematic abilities - which you've mostly got covered with the forced XP and expensive components use for spell-likes that you use as a table rule), including having the new critter not have any of the pre-cast buff spells.
3) Does not do class levels

Part of these are for balance - but a good extent of it is for bookkeeping. Consider what happens if someone uses your earlier polymorph to rebuild someone in the middle of a battle - it's not going well vs. the Lich, so the Wizard turns the party Fighter into a Hunter of the Dead. How long will it take to stat that up? What does that do to the flow of the game at the table? Bear in mind: It's a 9th level spell, and high-level characters take quite some time to build. Using the Monster Manual entry for the critter verbatim (minus problem abilities) means you just flip to that page of the MM.


They're both variations on option "Variant Summoning", as you lose access to your normal abilities while in altered form with both of them.

I've been trying to think of a solution and I can't. x_x

The Glyphstone
2010-01-29, 11:27 AM
Shapechange
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 10


Little problem here. 10th level spells don't exist...after 9th, there's only Epic Spellcasting. There are 10th level spell slots, but those are only good for metamagiced lower-level spells...no sorcerer or wizard would ever be able to actually learn this.

Myou
2010-01-29, 11:32 AM
Little problem here. 10th level spells don't exist...after 9th, there's only Epic Spellcasting. There are 10th level spell slots, but those are only good for metamagiced lower-level spells...no sorcerer or wizard would ever be able to actually learn this.

Ignore that. xD