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Cheiromancer
2013-08-06, 03:17 PM
I find polymorph highly problematic. First, it is a real chore to figure out what a new form gets you. Second, many of the forms seem highly abusive. The result is that polymorph (and its little brother, alter self) figure prominently in ban/nerf lists.

So here is an idea based on the planar exchange line of spells in the Spell Compendium (p.159). Basically a cleric replaces himself with a conjured creature, gaining full control over its actions - except the conjured creature cannot summon other creatures. The list of available creatures is extremely limited, but there are spell-like and supernatural abilities available. (You can get a bone devil with the 6th level spell version!)

So I was thinking that when you polymorph you are replaced with another creature that you control. You play the new form right out of the book, not worrying about exactly which abilities are gained or lost. Here's a draft of the spell text (compare with polymorph (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/polymorph.htm) and alter self (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/alterSelf.htm)).

edit: I've made multiple versions of the spells. The alter self analogue is automorph, and the basic polymorph spell is polymorph I. A lot of it is boiler-plate language that could be written elsewhere (as PHB II does for the polymorph subschool).


Automorph
Transmutation
Level: 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 another creature. The new form must be within one size category of your normal size and of the animal or humanoid type, and is chosen when you prepare the spell. If you do not prepare spells, choose a form when you regain spells; this choice counts for all your daily castings of this spell. The HD of the assumed form cannot exceed your caster level, to a maximum of 10 HD at 10th level. Furthermore, the CR of an assumed form cannot exceed one half your caster level, to a maximum of CR 5 at 10th level.

The spell otherwise functions as polymorph I. If the spell ends due to the death of the assumed form, you take 2d6 damage and are dazed for one round.

Dimorph I
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 3
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 hour/level (D)

You may alternate between two different forms, as if by the polymorph I spell. One form may be your natural form and the other form a humanoid or animal, or you may choose two animal forms, two humanoid forms, or both a humanoid and an animal form. The forms are chosen when you prepare the spell. If you do not prepare spells, choose the forms when you regain spells; this choice counts for all your daily castings of this spell.

You have access to your class abilities only while you are in your natural form. Damage sustained in one form does not go away if another form is assumed; track the damage and conditions affecting each form separately. Changing between forms is a standard action that provokes an attack of opportunity.

You gain low light vision and the scent ability for the duration of the spell. While you are in an assumed form you also gain DR 5/silver. If the spell ends due to the death of an assumed form, you take 3d6 damage and are dazed for one round.

Material Component: hair from a shapeshifter

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

You replace the body of a willing subject with that of another creature, while keeping the subject's mind intact. You cannot cause a subject to assume an incorporeal or gaseous form, but otherwise the assumed form may be any of the following types: animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast or monstrous humanoid.

The assumed form is chosen when you prepare the spell. If you do not prepare spells, choose a form from one of the available types when you regain spells; this choice counts for all your daily castings of this spell. The HD of the assumed form cannot exceed your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 15 HD at 15th level. Furthermore, the CR of the assumed form cannot exceed two thirds your caster level, to a maximum of CR 10 at 15th level.

The assumed form has the normal statistics for a basic creature of its kind, without hit dice advancement or templates. It is effectively a separate entity from the subject's natural form, with its own hit points, BAB and saving throws. If the form of a humanoid is chosen, you may include levels of warrior as long as the HD and CR are within the spell limits. These levels do not provide skill or feats; rather, a humanoid form has the subject's skills and feats, in addition to any racial bonus feats. Note that some of these feats may be unusable, either because they modify inaccessible class features or for some other reason.

The assumed form is not affected by spells that were previously cast on the subject, nor is the subject's natural form affected by spells or effects that target the assumed form. None of the subject's own abilities are available in the assumed form, not even feats or skills. The subject can, however, understand languages normally, and can speak them if the description of the assumed form indicates that it has a spoken language.

The subject gains all the abilities of the assumed form, except as follows. First, any assumed abilities that are usable a limited number of times are reduced to half the normal frequency, unless the ability is no more powerful than a second level spell. For example, someone in the form of an ogre mage can use charm person and sleep once each, but not cone of cold. Second, the subject does not gain class abilities (such as "cast spells as a 10th level sorcerer" or "use psionics as a 5th level wilder"). Finally, the assumed form cannot change shape or use the alternate form special ability, nor can it summon other creatures, nor use abilities related to spawning or reproduction.

You can freely designate the assumed 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. The subject is effectively disguised as an average member of the new formís race. If you use this spell to create a disguise (whether for yourself or another), you get a +10 bonus on your Disguise check.

If the assumed form's size is different from the subject's normal size, its new space must share as much of the original form's space as possible, squeezing into the available space (see PHB 148) if necessary. If insufficient space exists for the assumed form, the spell fails.

When the change occurs, the subject drops whatever it is holding. In addition the subject's equipment, if any, disappears along with the old form and becomes nonfunctional. When the subject reverts to its previous form, these objects reappear in the same location on its body they previously occupied and regain functionality. Any new items worn in the assumed form fall off and land at the subject's feet. Any part of the body that is separated from the whole vanishes when the spell ends.

Incorporeal or gaseous creatures cannot be polymorphed, and a creature with the shapechanger subtype can revert to its natural form as a standard action. You can dismiss the spell by touch with a standard action. If the assumed form is slain the spell ends, causing the subject to take 4d6 damage and be dazed for 1 round.

Dimorph II
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 hour/level (D)

As dimorph I, except the alternate form(s) may be of the following types: animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast or monstrous humanoid. If the spell ends due to the death of an assumed form, you take 5d6 damage and are dazed for one round.

Polymorph II
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Willing creature touched
Duration: 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

You cause a willing subject to assume the form of an aberration, ooze, plant or vermin. The HD of the assumed form cannot exceed your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 20 HD at 20th level. Furthermore, the CR of the assumed form cannot exceed two thirds your caster level, to a maximum of CR 13 at 20th level.

The spell otherwise functions as polymorph I. If the spell ends due to the death of the assumed form, the subject takes 6d6 damage and is dazed for one round.

Polymorph III
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 7
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Willing creature touched
Duration: 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

You cause a willing subject to assume the form of an aberration or outsider. The HD of the assumed form cannot exceed your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 20 HD at 20th level. Furthermore, the CR of the assumed form cannot exceed two thirds your caster level, to a maximum of CR 13 at 20th level.

The spell otherwise functions as polymorph I. If the spell ends due to the death of the assumed form, the subject takes 7d6 damage and is dazed for one round.

Polymorph IV
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 8
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Willing creature touched
Duration: 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

You cause a willing subject to assume the form of an undead. You may select any corporeal form of undead, subject to the HD and CR limits given below. You may even choose an undead form that is the result of a template, but the base creature must be humanoid. The base creature may have levels of warrior as long as the HD and CR are within the spell limits. These class levels do not provide skills or feats; rather, the undead warrior has the skills and feats of the subject in addition to any bonus feats from the base race and template. Note that some of the subject's feats may be unusable while in undead form, either because they modify inaccessible class features or for some other reason.

The subject does not benefit from abilities that provide alternatives to destruction, such as a lich's phylactery or a vampire's ability to assume gaseous form upon being reduced to 0 hit points. The HD of the assumed form cannot exceed your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 25 HD at 25th level. Furthermore, the CR of the assumed form cannot exceed two thirds your caster level, to a maximum of CR 16 at 25th level.

The spell otherwise functions as polymorph I. If the spell ends due to the destruction of the assumed form, the subject takes 8d6 damage and is dazed for one round.

Polymorph V
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 9
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Willing creature touched
Duration: 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

You cause a willing subject to assume the form of a construct. The HD of the assumed form cannot exceed your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 25 HD at 25th level. Furthermore, the CR of the assumed form cannot exceed two thirds your caster level, to a maximum of CR 16 at 25th level.

The spell otherwise functions as polymorph I. If the spell ends due to the destruction of the assumed form, the subject takes 9d6 damage and is dazed for one round.

Shapechange
Transmutation
Level: 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 I except as stated here. You may select any eligible form when you cast the spell and may change form once per round thereafter as a standard action. An assumed form may be any of the following types: aberration, animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, ooze, plant or vermin. You may also return to your normal form, which allows you to use your class abilities and equipment.

The HD of an assumed form cannot exceed your caster level (or the subjectís HD, whichever is lower), to a maximum of 25 HD at 25th level. Furthermore, the CR of an assumed form cannot exceed two thirds your caster level, to a maximum of CR 16 at 25th level.

The form you assume when you cast the spell shares your hit points. Your hit points change according to the damage and/or healing an assumed form receives. You perish if an assumed form dies or is destroyed, even if your true form would be immune to the damage or effect that proved fatal. Your death or destruction does not automatically end the spell.

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.)


Note that creatures do not get a special ability to polymorph into creatures of their own type: in particular, outsiders do not get to use the 4th level polymorph to turn into other outsiders. And while supernatural and spell-like abilities are available, the best of them are usable only 1/day (or less), and so are inaccessible. I would think that any other ability could already be acquired via charm monster and the like, and so if they are acquired with this spell it wouldn't be a problem. And you can't use your own feats or abilities; you are playing the monster out of the monster manual. Finally, the double limitation on hit dice and CR should keep things sane, especially with ability frequency cut in half. (edit: some broken abilities can be accessed with polymorph V. Players and DM's ought to have an understanding about such things.)

The planar exchange spells are Conjuration (calling) but I'd like to retain this as Transmutation. Although mechanically you play another creature right out of the monster manual, really you have been transformed so completely that nothing except your mind is retained from your previous form.

So... how can this spell be abused? If there are abuses, can it be further tweaked to correct them? Any wording or mechanics that need to be reworked or tweaked? Any help would be appreciated.

major edit history

edit: clarified that the subject's own abilities are not retained, tinkered slightly with wording and ordering of material.
edit2: no class levels. But as for templates- why not? Make each add an additional +1 in addition to the normal cost, so as to ensure under-costed templates aren't used. Maybe in the next edit...
edit3: tweaked wording again. Cannot gain the alternate form or change shape special abilities. Mostly because they are the sort of book-keeping nightmare that this is intended to address.
edit4: dropped aberration, ooze, plant, and vermin from possible forms. They could go into a level 5 version. Increased damage from 2d6 to 4d6 if the spell ends due to death of the assumed form; the subject is also dazed. Can dismiss the spell as a mental action. Added extra text from alter self and the polymorph spell description. Other tweaks of wording.
edit 6: Added a lower level version (which would replace alter self) and the promised 5th level version with the wacky forms. Humanoid forms are reserved for the 3rd level version.
edit 7:Added some wording about size changes.
edit 8: still worried about too much tactical flexibility. Made it so the form is chosen in the morning when spells is prepared or regained.
edit 9: Dropped the requirement that the subject be living. Adjusted levels upwards. Also added the versions for outsiders, corporeal undead and constructs.
edit 10: Added a material component. Any form that the DM wishes to control can be given an expensive (or even unpurchasable) component so that Eschew Materials won't work.
edit 11: I didn't feel right about the material component. It is better for players and DM's to know what is acceptable at the table. The following was removed from the spell description: "Material Component: An empty cocoon. Rare or powerful forms may in addition require a tiny fragment of the creature whose form will be assumed; these are usually expensive and hard to find. Check with your DM."
edit 12: I had to modify polymorph IV to allow templated undead. How else could you turn into a lich or vampire?
edit 13: The automorph variant needs to be able to include class levels for humanoids.
edit 14: Moved some spells down a level, and added a higher level version of dimorph. I think the limited flexibility and suppression of class abilities is enough. There might need to be a limitation on high level at-will abilities, but given the CR limits they shouldn't be serious. Except for the adamantine horror!

Altair_the_Vexed
2013-08-06, 03:34 PM
Ha!
Years ago - like 20 or so - some of us in my gaming group invented this daft wizard who was rubbish at polymorphing, so he just swapped objects and creatures by teleport and claimed to have polymorphed them.

I like the idea - but I'd have to say I suspect it'll still be subject to abuse, just like polymorph and shapechange.

Grod_The_Giant
2013-08-06, 05:03 PM
It certainly makes things easier from a bookkeeping standpoint, I'll give you that. I'd make sure to keep the line about not getting the subject's Su or Sp abilities, though.

Cheiromancer
2013-08-06, 06:28 PM
It certainly makes things easier from a bookkeeping standpoint, I'll give you that. I'd make sure to keep the line about not getting the subject's Su or Sp abilities, though.

Ooh. Good point. The polymorphed form is not supposed to have anything not in its monster manual entry. It is, mechanically at least, a conjured (called) creature that is under the direction of the caster, and so shouldn't have any of the caster's abilities. I wonder if I should make an exception for languages? Just for ease of play.

If this is an acceptable replacement for polymorph, I was thinking of something similar for alter self. Both maximum hit dice and CR would be half the caster's level (to a maximum of 5 HD and CR 5 at level 10), and you'd be restricted to humanoid forms. Although I don't know if there are any CR 5 humanoid races with 5 HD or less.

The tricky thing would be to extend the progression to shapechange. Theoretically the cap should be CR 15 and HD up to 25, but assuming the form of an adamantine horror gives at will disjunction. The mind boggles.

Hmmm. That reminds me: as written you can polymorph into that damn crab (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/fw/20040221a). Maybe at 7th level it would be OK.

edit: the last revision moved the level up to 5th for polymorph I. With the number of types limited and the form chosen when the spell is prepared, I think it is more balanced than the original version.

edit2: Back to 4th for polymorph I. It is an iconic 4th level spell. The reduced flexibility (form chosen at the beginning of the day from 7 types, capped by CR and HD, rather than from 11 types at the time of casting, capped only by HD) and loss of one's own class abilities more than balances the gain of special abilities. IMO at least.

Grod_The_Giant
2013-08-06, 06:52 PM
No, I'm saying that you shouldn't get everything in the monster's entry-- you shouldn't get his supernatural or spell-like abilities. They're why Shapechange is the most broken spell in the game, above and beyond what you can do with polymorph.

Cheiromancer
2013-08-06, 07:22 PM
No, I'm saying that you shouldn't get everything in the monster's entry-- you shouldn't get his supernatural or spell-like abilities. They're why Shapechange is the most broken spell in the game, above and beyond what you can do with polymorph.

What's the most broken form you could get, assuming you could get the supernatural and spell-like abilities?

Starting at level 7 (with max 7 HD and CR 4) and up to level 15 (with up to 15 HD and CR 10). Only the listed monster types, no class levels or templates (I should add that!), and so on, as per my spell description.

Amechra
2013-08-06, 08:07 PM
Question: do you get the innate spellcasting of any form you polymorph into?


If not, do you get their Extraordinary abilities?

There might be something "broken" about the Movanic Daeva's ability to make a single effect fail to affect them 1/round...

EDIT: If spellcasting is progressed, Spellweavers are on the list of "stuff that makes DMs cry". Yes, it takes until 15th level (or lower, if you have CL increasers; I think I can get a +5 by 10th level...), but, hey, 6 spell levels cast per round.

Maladaptive
2013-08-06, 08:30 PM
What's the most broken form you could get, assuming you could get the supernatural and spell-like abilities?

Starting at level 7 (with max 7 HD and CR 4) and up to level 15 (with up to 15 HD and CR 10). Only the listed monster types, no class levels or templates (I should add that!), and so on, as per my spell description.

Infinite polymorphing into anything large or smaller?
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/phasm.htm

Dimension door as a free action?
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/blinkDog.htm

Constant invisibility?
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/sprite.htm#pixie

This is all from the SRD and without really a lot of effort spent looking. Really, the biggest problem here is that you can do all of these things and more with a single spell prepared/known. As a wizard or sorc, it's hard to imagine why you would ever NOT take this spell, since it essentially lets you get dozens of other spells whenever you need them.

Edit:
To the above poster: It's worth noting that outsiders are specifically disallowed. This, at the very least, stops some of the worst offenders.

Also, you specifically lose your own spellcasting and do not gain the spellcasting of the assumed form, so spellweaver is probably not an issue.

Cheiromancer
2013-08-06, 09:16 PM
Infinite polymorphing into anything large or smaller?
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/phasm.htm

Dimension door as a free action?
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/blinkDog.htm

Constant invisibility?
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/sprite.htm#pixie

This is all from the SRD and without really a lot of effort spent looking. Really, the biggest problem here is that you can do all of these things and more with a single spell prepared/known. As a wizard or sorc, it's hard to imagine why you would ever NOT take this spell, since it essentially lets you get dozens of other spells whenever you need them.

The phasm's alternate form (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/specialAbilities.htm#alternateForm) ability makes my skin crawl. It is exactly the kind of complicated mess that I was hoping that this alternative would eliminate. And as for invisibility, I think that a will-o'-wisp (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/willOWisp.htm) would do much better. The pixie form is too fragile. Also it counts as having already used up its daily abilities (since they are all 1/day) and so is not very useful in combat.

The blink dog trick is cool, though. Cast the spell, dimension door as a free action then dismiss the spell... Wait a second. Dismissing a spell requires verbal components, which a blink dog can't manage. That's funny: the sorcerer is stuck in the form of a blink dog until the spell ends or the assumed form is killed. The same would be true of a number of other forms. (edit: fixed in a later revision)

But, yeah. The point about flexibility is very well taken. Sure, a sorcerer could charm a cloaker, or a will-o'-wisp or whatever, but it would take time to track them down, and if they died they could not easily be replaced. Meanwhile a 15th level sorcerer probably has eight 4th level slots that could all be spent on polymorph, and each could be used in a different way. Only for a few minutes each day, though. And charm monster has better action economy; you turn an enemy into an ally, and you still retain all your own abilities and actions. (edit: the spell is split; types that are immune to mind-affecting are now bundled in the 5th level version.)

Still, I really like the simplicity of being able to play a monster out of the book. I don't want to eliminate the special abilities entirely. I'd rather make polymorph a whole family of spells, each with only one form. Or maybe a couple of forms. Dunno.

@Amechra: no outsiders (even if you are one yourself), no spellcasting (neither yours nor the assumed creature), yes to the extraordinary abilities. You basically play a creature that has been snatched up more than half-way through its adventuring day (which is why its daily uses are over half used up).

Grod_The_Giant
2013-08-06, 09:25 PM
What's the most broken form you could get, assuming you could get the supernatural and spell-like abilities?

Starting at level 7 (with max 7 HD and CR 4) and up to level 15 (with up to 15 HD and CR 10). Only the listed monster types, no class levels or templates (I should add that!), and so on, as per my spell description.
The biggest issue is the massive increase in flexibility you get by copying SLA's. Polymorph could already allows you to access the right form for almost any situation; allowing you to cherry-pick new spells makes it far, far worse. If you had a spell that said "upon casting this spell, pick a handful of spells off this list, many of them higher level than this spell, and cast them three times each without expending your own resources," you'd laugh, wouldn't you? Because that's what this polymorph boils down to.

But if you want concrete examples... how 'bout all those demons and devils granting you at-will greater teleport? How 'bout all those monsters like Ogre Mages and Night Hags that are basically casters-using-SLAs? How 'bout, oh, I don't know, turning into an efreet (10HD, CR 8) for 3 free wishes/casting?

(and this is from 10 minutes with the SRD, mind you)

Cheiromancer
2013-08-06, 09:41 PM
Demons and devils are outsiders. No outsiders! And anyway, at will greater teleport is available with planar exchange.

An efreeti is an outsider. And its wish ability is 1/day. (3 wishes, mind you, but 1/day) The frequency of abilities are cut in half, rounding fractions down. So even if it were not an outsider form, wishes would not be available.

edit: I've added a 6th level version that lets you be an outsider. CR capped at 10, HD at 20. The half-frequency rule will still rule out the efreeti's wishes, and greater teleport is not an issue; it is already available with planar exchange. Still, the sixth level spell is notably superior to planar exchange and fiendform. Unless those spells are too weak for their level, this is too strong.

edit2: Outsider form was bumped to a 7th level spell, but CR is back up to 13 at 20th level. It starts at CR 8 at level 13.

Grod_The_Giant
2013-08-06, 09:53 PM
Demons and devils are outsiders. No outsiders! And anyway, at will greater teleport is available with planar exchange.

An efreeti is an outsider. And its wish ability is 1/day. (3 wishes, mind you, but 1/day) The frequency of abilities are cut in half, rounding fractions down. So even if it were not an outsider form, wishes would not be available.
Ah, missed that. Still, no spell should ever give spells for free. Which is what you're doing.

Ashtagon
2013-08-07, 05:46 AM
In order to allow some of the feel of the new form without becoming abusive, how about each activation of a SLA or spell use acquired as a result of the new form also requires the polymorphed character to burn one of his memorised spells for the day.

So a wizard polymorphed into a pixie who had not memorised invisibility could still turn invisible as a pixie, but each time he does so, he must sacrifice one of his memorised 4th level spells (as per greater invisibility spell).

Amechra
2013-08-07, 08:32 AM
Ah. There are a few easily-accessible monsters that have spellcasting as an Ex ability...

Ashtagon
2013-08-07, 08:36 AM
Ah. There are a few easily-accessible monsters that have spellcasting as an Ex ability...

Such as?

I know actual spellcasting isn't routinely labelled within the Ex/Sp/Su paradigm, but that's because it is, by definition, a spell, and the paradigm is intended to illustrate the interaction with dispel magic and antimagic effects.

Amechra
2013-08-07, 09:00 AM
Hobgoblin Warcasters and Hobgoblin Warsouls come to mind; casting as a 4th/9th level wizards as an Ex ability.

Ashtagon
2013-08-07, 09:18 AM
Hobgoblin Warcasters and Hobgoblin Warsouls come to mind; casting as a 4th/9th level wizards as an Ex ability.

Which book are they in?

(MM4 and MM5 were badly edited monstrosities that were not so much written as excreted).

Cheiromancer
2013-08-07, 09:32 AM
I respectfully request that the question of whether spellcasting is a natural or an extraordinary ability be moved to its own thread. It is irrelevant here because, in the first place, the alt.polymorph I posted does not distinguish between supernatural, extraordinary or natural abilities; and in the second place, the subject of the spell may not cast spells while in polymorphed form.

I would welcome debate on the planar exchange line of spells (Spell Compendium, p. 159).
I think they are, if anything, on the weak side, but that the exchange mechanic is an interesting one. Part of that mechanic is that the creature conjured by the caster is under the full control of the caster; the caster sees through its eyes, hears through its ears and so on. The creature has full access to all its abilities, except summoning other creatures. An evil cleric using planar exchange can assume the form of either a bone devil or a babau demon.

The bone devil's at will abilities include greater teleport (self plus 50 pounds of objects only), dimensional anchor, fly, invisibility (self only), major image (DC 15), and wall of ice. Not to mention telepathy and the ability to see in darkness. The babau's at will abilities include darkness, dispel magic, see invisibility and greater teleport (self plus 50 pounds of objects only). It also has that acidic slime.
The existence of planar exchange totally violates Grod's dictum that "no spell should ever give spells for free". I infer that Grod would object to the planar exchange spell. That's fine. But for the purpose of this exercise I am assuming that planar exchange serves as a precedent that a well-designed spell can, in fact, give other spells for free.

I can be persuaded otherwise if it can be demonstrated that this access to spell-like and supernatural abilities is broken, given the limits I have placed upon them. I don't think they are, since they can all be acquired by the use of charm monster on monsters well below the party's level. Attempts to demonstrate brokenness have thus far overlooked restrictions in the spell; no outsiders, no spellcasting, only half (rounded down) the frequency of limited use abilities.

It is true that planar exchange is very limited in the number of forms it offers. What I am doing is kind of like someone writing up summon monster III based on engulfing terror (Drow of the Underdark, p. 61) which is also very limited; rather than summoning a particular CR 3 monster (a gelatinous cube), SM III summons any being from a long list. While SM III has an enormous increase in flexibility over engulfing terror, they are both still 3rd level spells.

There are more serious issues. First is that polymorph is a minutes/level spell, while planar exchange is a rounds/level spell. Second is that planar exchange does not scale; you don't get better forms as you go up in level. Also, the 4th level version is not very good; you get a celestial or fiendish animal. A CR 5 animal, but nothing very interesting. (Your choice of a celestial brown bear, celestial griffon, fiendish dire ape, or fiendish tiger)

My thinking is that my alt.polymorph is more likely a 5th level spell than a 4th. A 4th level version would likely drop a few of the possible types; no oozes or aberrations, say. No aberrations means no will-o-wisps or phasms, and no oozes means no black puddings or grey oozes. (Incidentally, the ochre jelly's "split" ability is "an ability related to spawning or reproduction" and is not gained by the spell.) Maybe other types need to be excluded as well.

Amechra
2013-08-07, 10:28 AM
This is not a discussion; I'm pointing out that these particular monsters have an Ex ability that grants them spellcasting.

They are MM 5, so that explains that.

You could base it off the Fiend Form spell; that spell lets you take the form of any Fiendish creature, devil, or demon summonable through Summon Monster I, II, III, or IV, granting you all of their Ex, Su, and Sp abilities.

It's a 6th level spell, but since it doesn't remove the rest of your capabilities, I'd say that it could be reduced down to a 5th level spell without much trouble (if you just swapped out for that character sheet, a la Planar Exchange.)

And you can derive a few extra spells from it, such as Angelform (same spell, but with Celestial creatures, Angels, and Archons being what you can access), and higher level versions of the above two spells.

Cheiromancer
2013-08-08, 07:33 AM
This is not a discussion; I'm pointing out that these particular monsters have an Ex ability that grants them spellcasting.

Sorry. I misjudged the direction where the conversation was heading.


You could base it off the Fiend Form spell; that spell lets you take the form of any Fiendish creature, devil, or demon summonable through Summon Monster I, II, III, or IV, granting you all of their Ex, Su, and Sp abilities.

It's a 6th level spell, but since it doesn't remove the rest of your capabilities, I'd say that it could be reduced down to a 5th level spell without much trouble (if you just swapped out for that character sheet, a la Planar Exchange.)

And you can derive a few extra spells from it, such as Angelform (same spell, but with Celestial creatures, Angels, and Archons being what you can access), and higher level versions of the above two spells.

Thanks for the tip about fiend form. I am still thinking about how to polymorph into outsiders. You can really see how the designers were exploring options to replace polymorph. The polymorph subschool in the PHBII bears some uncanny similarities to my proposal, due, no doubt, to the "swap out the character sheet" model. What muddies the waters is the swift action casting & 1 rd/level duration. And the single form per spell.

I have split the original spell in two, and made an improved version of alter self in the 3rd level spell slot. If I were to use this in game, I think I would use pathfinder's alter self (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/a/alter-self) for the second level spell (but with a 10 minutes/level duration), and then automorph and the two polymorph spells. I don't know how to make a version for constructs, though. The adamantine horror and its at will disjunction is the main stumbling block; with 16 hit dice and a CR of 9, it is hard to exclude from the permitted forms.

edit: I've bitten the bullet and added the versions for outsiders (level 7), corporeal undead (level 8) and constructs (level 9). The adamantine horror is thus available at the same level that disjunction is.