PDA

View Full Version : Polymorphing fixes



Yitzi
2011-06-23, 02:58 PM
A 20th level party contains a fighter, a wizard, a cleric, and a rogue. Who has the highest AC? Answer: The wizard, because he's in Pit Fiend form.

One of the biggest contributors to the caster-over-melee discrepancy is the polymorph line. Whether boosting AC via natural armor, or giving free boosts to ability scores, or PAO abuse, or Shapechange, it's seriously an overpowered school. Here's my proposal for fixing it (at least assuming only core material is available), spell by spell:

Alter Self:

Transmutation
Level: Brd 2, Sor/Wiz 2
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 10 min./level (D)

You assume the form of a creature of the same type as your normal form. The new form must be within one size category of your normal size. The maximum HD of an assumed form is equal to your caster level (or your HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 5 HD at 5th level. You can change into a member of your own kind or even into yourself.

You retain your own ability scores. Your class and level, hit points, alignment, base attack bonus, and base save bonuses all remain the same. You retain all 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 (such as a mouth for a breath weapon or eyes for a gaze attack).

You keep all extraordinary special attacks and qualities derived from class levels, as well as all racial traits that are mental in nature (such as a human's bonus feats or an elf's proficiencies) but you lose any from your normal form that are not derived from class levels except for mental racial traits.

If the new form is capable of speech, you can communicate normally. You retain any spellcasting ability you had in your original form, but the new form must be able to speak intelligibly (that is, speak a language) to use verbal components and must have limbs capable of fine manipulation to use somatic or material components.

You acquire most of the physical qualities of the new form while retaining your own mind. Physical qualities include natural size, mundane movement capabilities (such as burrowing, climbing, walking, swimming, and flight with wings, to a maximum speed of 120 feet for flying or 60 feet for nonflying movement), 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). A body with extra limbs does not allow you to make more attacks (or more advantageous two-weapon attacks) than normal. In addition, this spell cannot increase your natural armor by more than one-third your caster level.

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.

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. You cannot take the form of any creature with a template, even if that template doesnít change the creature type or subtype.

You can freely designate the new formís minor physical qualities (such as hair color, hair texture, and skin color) within the normal ranges for a creature of that kind. The new formís significant physical qualities (such as height, weight, and gender) are also under your control, but they must fall within the norms for the new formís kind. You are effectively disguised as an average member of the new formís race. If you use this spell to create a disguise, you get a +10 bonus on your Disguise check.

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. 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 canít 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.


So the big change here is that you can't use it to get a lot of natural armor at low levels. Since the whole chain is based off alter self, that'll hold throughout, removing stuff like "Pit Fiend form for +23 natural AC". It does still allow that tiefling wizard to fly with a level 2 spell...but he took a +1 LA for it, so that's not exactly overpowered.

The limitation on your own HD isn't really necessary (as by the time it becomes an issue your caster level should be more than 5 anyway), but it makes sense that it should be limited in the matter the same way polymorph is. Keeping mental racial traits is also minor, but just makes more sense.

Polymorph:

Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Willing living creature touched
Duration: 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell functions like alter self, except that you change the willing subject into another form of living creature. The new form may be of the same type as the subject or any of the following types: aberration, animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, ooze, plant, or vermin. The assumed form canít have more Hit Dice than your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 15 HD at 15th level. You canít cause a subject to assume a form smaller than Fine, nor can you cause a subject to assume an incorporeal or gaseous form. The subjectís creature type and subtype (if any) change to match the new form.

Upon changing, the subject regains lost hit points as if it had rested for a night (though this healing does not restore temporary ability damage and provide other benefits of resting; and changing back does not heal the subject further). If slain, the subject reverts to its original form, though it remains dead.

The subject's Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution change partially to match the new form: If the subject's size increases, it gets a +2 size bonus to Strength and a -2 size penalty to Dexterity for each step of size increase. If the subject's size decreases, it gets a -2 size penalty to Strength and a +2 size bonus to strength for each step of size increase. If after these changes the subject has a higher ability score (including inherent bonuses but no other bonus types) in any physical ability than the new form, the score decreases to match the new form. If the subject has a lower ability score than the new form, it gets an enhancement bonus equal to either +4 or the difference between its current score and that of the new form, whichever is less. The subject retains its own Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. It also gains all extraordinary special attacks possessed by the form but does not gain the extraordinary special qualities possessed by the new form or any 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.

If the new form has multiple limbs, the target may use those limbs to their full capability.

Material Component

An empty cocoon.


Here's another change...ability score increases, other than those which can be attributed to size, are capped at +4 and are enhancement bonuses (so they won't stack with most others.) So that Pit Fiend form won't be giving you such great ability scores either.

Polymorph Any Object:

Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 8, Trickery 8
Components: V, S, M/DF
Casting Time: 1 minute or 1 standard action; see text
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One creature, or one nonmagical object of up to 100 cu. ft./level
Duration: See text
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates (object); see text
Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

You can choose to use Polymorph Any Object in a number of ways:
1. You can polymorph any creature or nonmagical object up to 100 cu. ft/level (but not part of an object) into another object. The created object must be of a form that can be created by Major Creation, but may be larger (up to 100 cu. ft/level); creating a complex item requires an appropriate skill check just as Major Creation does. When used in this manner, the spell has a duration equal to that of a Major Creation spell creating such an item, and a casting time of 1 standard action (if the new form is less than 1 cu. ft/level) or 1 minute (if it is more).
2. You can polymorph one creature into another. This works like the Polymorph spell, except that the creature need not be willing (if it is not, it is entitled to a Fortitude save) and that the maximum enhancement bonus to physical ability scores (subject to the normal comparison to the new form's score) is +6; in addition you may choose to either change the subject's intelligence score in accordance to the rules for physical ability scores, or to set it equal to the creature's intelligence score (up to a maximum of your own intelligence score, excluding non-inherent bonuses). When used in this manner, the spell has a casting time of 1 standard action and a duration of 1 week (if the intelligence score is not changed) or permanent (if it is), but the creature's experience gain is adjusted accordingly. If the creature's intelligence score is changed (in either manner), it loses extraordinary mental racial traits just like all other extraordinary special qualities.
3. You can polymorph an object into a creature that would be an eligible choice for Polymorph. The resulting creature is like a normal specimen of its type for all purposes, but its mental ability scores cannot exceed your own. When used in this manner, the spell has a casting time of 1 standard action and a duration of 1 week.
4. You can duplicate the effects of baleful polymorph, polymorph, flesh to stone, stone to flesh, transmute mud to rock, transmute metal to wood, or transmute rock to mud. When used in this manner, the casting time and duration are the same as the duplicated spell.


Arcane Material Component

Mercury, gum arabic, and smoke.


Quite a change here...it needed it.

Shapechange:

Transmutation
Level: Animal 9, Drd 9, Sor/Wiz 9
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 10 min./level (D)

This spell functions like polymorph, except that the attained form may be up to 25 hit dice (but no more than your caster level or your hit dice), that (for the druid version of the spell only) "elemental" is added to the list of permissible types, and that you can change form once each round as a free action. In addition, the maximum enhancement bonus to physical ability scores (subject to the normal comparison to the new form's score) is +8. 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.

You do not regain hit points when changing form.

When cast by a druid, the new form must be of one of the following types: animal, elemental fey, ooze, plant, vermin. When cast as a domain spell, the new form must be of the animal type.


Focus

A jade circlet worth no less than 1,500 gp, which you must place on your head when casting the spell. (The focus melds into your new form when you change shape.)


The idea here is that the RAW Shapechange has too many boosts over Polymorph even for a 9th level spell, so I cut out roughly half of them. Of course, the lost functionality really should be available, so to provide that, there's a new spell:

Greater Polymorph:

Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 9
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Willing living creature touched
Duration: 1 round/level (D)

This spell functions like polymorph, except that it enables you to assume the form of any single nonunique creature (of any type) from Fine to Colossal size. The assumed form cannot have more than your caster level in Hit Dice (to a maximum of 25 HD). Unlike polymorph, this spell allows incorporeal or gaseous forms to be assumed. In addition, the maximum enhancement bonus to physical ability scores (subject to the normal comparison to the new form's score) is +8.

You gain all extraordinary and supernatural abilities (both attacks and qualities) of the assumed form, but you lose your own supernatural abilities. You also gain the type of the new form in place of your own. The new form does not disorient you. Parts of your body or pieces of equipment that are separated from you do not revert to their original forms.

You can become just about anything you are familiar with. If you use this spell to create a disguise, you get a +10 bonus on your Disguise check.


Essentially, this is the other half of the old Shapechange. Note that unlike the old Shapechange, it can be cast on others, making it a superior (but less game-breaking since it's a support spell) buff in some ways.

Kellus
2011-06-23, 03:14 PM
I'll be honest, your fix looks very similar to one of the many many 3.5 'fixes' for polymorph. You're still going to be dumpster diving for the best possible monster, which means that the balance of the spell depends 100% on the balance of monster sourcebooks (ie. god help you).

My favourite comment about the polymorph line, drawn from the Dungeonomicon and written by Frank and K. It pretty much sums up my thoughts entirely:


If you take part of your character Ė any part of your character Ė and part of a monster from one of the many monster books in D&D, and you put them together into a single Voltron-like body, you have broken D&D. That should be obvious, but since we are over six years into the ridiculous circus that is polymorph in 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, apparently it isn't. If it is important to you that you be allowed to dumpster dive through the monster books and find an appropriate to transform into, it is important to D&D that absolutely no part of your character be mixed and matched during that period. If you want to truly become a monster, you have to actually become that monster. Not "the monster with all my spell effects running", not "the monster with my formidable mental attributes. No. You need to become the monster exactly as it appears in the monster book or there's no chance of you getting a balanced result. Some people are going to end up as mediocre monsters with carry-over abilities that happen to synergize well and become tremendously powerful while other people are just as unbalanced in the other direction when they find that drawbacks of their character are carried over and overwrite the abilities of a monster that are supposed to make them any good at all.

And this isn't just hyperbole or doomsday predictions, this is established fact. We've all played with some of the multitude of different versions of Polymorph errata and "fixes", and the abject horror caused by every single iteration. The idea doesn't work. If you're going to replace any part of the character, you have to replace it all.

Yitzi
2011-06-26, 06:28 PM
I'll be honest, your fix looks very similar to one of the many many 3.5 'fixes' for polymorph. You're still going to be dumpster diving for the best possible monster, which means that the balance of the spell depends 100% on the balance of monster sourcebooks (ie. god help you).

I did say that I was assuming that only Core material is available. Otherwise it would indeed become far more difficult.
The other factor is that numerical bonuses (except for speed) are all strictly bounded under the new rules, which cuts down on that factor a lot (it doesn't block stuff like using Polymorph to gain situational abilities, but I see that as the way the spell's supposed to be used).