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Thread: Alter Self

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    Default Alter Self

    I don't understand what makes alter self so good. It restricts you to the same type as your original form, keeps your ability scores, HP, and gives you none of the special qualities of the creature (except movements which is good I get that). What makes this spell such a big selling point to Wiz?

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Various humanoids grant all of the movement forms you might want, at pretty good speeds. Avariel gets a pretty quick average flight speed IIRC, which can be priceless in low level fights. Arcanists I play prepare the spell mostly for the movement forms, which I generally find quite useful.

    Various humanoids, such as Troglodytes, grant natural attack forms and a substantial natural armor bonus, which can be very useful for early gishes and any wizard who wants to pump AC.

    And then if you're a race with a weird type like Dragon (see: Kobold) or Outsider (see: Otherworldly feat, Planetouched) you get to turn into things with crazy natural armor and very good natural attack forms.
    Hello milky way...

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Also size and racial skill bonuses. Turn a human into whisper gnome and get +8 hide (+4 size, +4 race) and +4 move silently (race) bonuses.

    It's pretty good for disguise too.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    You know how the chameleon class is OMGWTFH4XBBQ because it has that floating feat you can change 1/day to anything you qualify for?

    With that in mind, you know how humans gain a racial bonus feat that can be any feat they qualify for, as well as 3 skill points + 1/level, and how Alter Self gives you the racial bonus feats and racial skills of the creature you turn into?

    How OMGWTFH4XBBQ is Alter Self when it gains you a floating bonus feat AND skill points of a human every time you cast it?

    Need to be really good at stealth? Go human for Darkstalker and ranks in Hide. Need to be really good at encrypting documents? Go human for Skill Focus and ranks in Forgery. You're a sorcerer and need access to a spell you don't have? Go human for Extra Spell and ranks in Craft: Basketweaving. Need an animal companion STAT and you're not a druid? Go human for Wild Cohort and ranks in Handle Animal. Need to disable something using negative levels but you're not high enough level for Enervation? Go human for Fell Drain. Need an obscure skill, such as Lucid Dreaming? Go ahead and just imagine what you could use Alter Self for here.
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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Quote Originally Posted by Rubik View Post
    How OMGWTFH4XBBQ is Alter Self when it gains you a floating bonus feat AND skill points of a human every time you cast it?
    Um, I'm pretty sure human bonuses aren't racial skill points or feats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubik View Post
    You know how the chameleon class is OMGWTFH4XBBQ because it has that floating feat you can change 1/day to anything you qualify for?

    With that in mind, you know how humans gain a racial bonus feat that can be any feat they qualify for, as well as 3 skill points + 1/level, and how Alter Self gives you the racial bonus feats and racial skills of the creature you turn into?

    How OMGWTFH4XBBQ is Alter Self when it gains you a floating bonus feat AND skill points of a human every time you cast it?

    Need to be really good at stealth? Go human for Darkstalker and ranks in Hide. Need to be really good at encrypting documents? Go human for Skill Focus and ranks in Forgery. You're a sorcerer and need access to a spell you don't have? Go human for Extra Spell and ranks in Craft: Basketweaving. Need an animal companion STAT and you're not a druid? Go human for Wild Cohort and ranks in Handle Animal. Need to disable something using negative levels but you're not high enough level for Enervation? Go human for Fell Drain. Need an obscure skill, such as Lucid Dreaming? Go ahead and just imagine what you could use Alter Self for here.
    Not that while RAW this MAY work, not all DMs will allow this use.

    But overall, yes, movement modes are nice. If you wanted to cast Fly on yourself (a third level spell), Alter Self does that 2 levels/1 spell level early with 10 times longer duration....

    But unlike fly, if you suddenly realize you need swim this day instead, it can be that too!

    Free attacks, natural armor, etc. has been mentioned. For a second level spell, it adds a TON of flexible options.
    Last edited by Rebel7284; 2014-04-07 at 02:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Add to that: you can be whomever people want you to be. Do not underestimate this in a non-combat environment, when you're good you can infiltrate any bad boy's club and as an evil person you can walk around without being recognised for your notoriety. Just like the Warlock's Baleful Utterance and undead minions; if you can't find a use for it you simply are not trying creatively enough.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    The movement modes and NA make it decently useful. It really comes into its own however if you have Outsider type, in which case you can turn into crazy stuff like the Dwarven Ancestor.

    If you're undead type by contrast, the spell is all but useless. AFAIK, there's only three forms you can even turn into and the best you can get is a small swim speed.

    It's also a good spell to stack on Polymorph since it doesn't change your stats or type. Polymorph into a War Troll, Alter Self back into a skinny human, and challenge the Barbarian to an arm wrestling contest.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Quote Originally Posted by Story View Post
    snip
    It's also a good spell to stack on Polymorph since it doesn't change your stats or type. Polymorph into a War Troll, Alter Self back into a skinny human, and challenge the Barbarian to an arm wrestling contest.
    I smell a story here, you can't have come up with this without some form of experience...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Z3ro View Post
    Um, I'm pretty sure human bonuses aren't racial skill points or feats.
    There's a pretty strong case that Alter Self doesn't give human skill points. It's a racial skill POINT bonus, not a racial bonus to a skill check, which are different things.

    On the other hand a human bonus feat is a bonus feat that's granted to you because of your race. I'd be hard pressed to argue that alter self doesn't give you it.

    Still, it's some pretty aromatic cheese.

    For non-abusive stuff, alter self gives you access to flight a level earlier than an actual flight spell, with the added bonus of not being just flight. Need a climb or swim speed instead? Alter Self. Need AC? Alter Self? More attacks than the fighter? Alter self.

    It is incredibly versatile for a single spell, which makes it excellent on prepared casters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zanos View Post
    It is incredibly versatile for a single spell, which makes it excellent on prepared casters.
    Even better on sorcerers, since they need the most flexible spells they can get, due to the limited nature of their spellcasting.
    Last edited by Rubik; 2014-04-07 at 03:13 PM.
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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Case in point: My bardsader has it as one of his (few) spells. It's a swiss army knife of sorts, always the go-to spell for various situations. As a fighting form it grants him an additional +8 NA, or Large size (and NA), or ridiculous land speed, or flight, or swim speed, etc.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Wands at CL 5 (or even 3) are great, since they give amazing benefits as a buff. This is a spell you'll want to use all the time, even once Polymorph and its ilk become available, just because of how crazy-good it is compared to most other buffs. The only benefit you gain beyond level 5 is increased duration, though 50 minutes of Alter Self is still quite long enough to be getting on with.
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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Quote Originally Posted by Rubik View Post
    You know how the chameleon class is OMGWTFH4XBBQ because it has that floating feat you can change 1/day to anything you qualify for?

    With that in mind, you know how humans gain a racial bonus feat that can be any feat they qualify for, as well as 3 skill points + 1/level, and how Alter Self gives you the racial bonus feats and racial skills of the creature you turn into?

    How OMGWTFH4XBBQ is Alter Self when it gains you a floating bonus feat AND skill points of a human every time you cast it?
    The Feat Slot is a racial bonus, but you don't actually get to select that bonus feat. Or Skill Points. By RAW, assuming it was hand waived that it could, you could only take feats normally available at 1st level, as the typical human is 1HD, and doesn't have Spellcasting, so cannot select things like that. There are so many ways to actually break down this reading with a bit of a) logic, b) RAW, that it doesn't work.

    Sorry.

    One good thing is that you can break the HD limit with Reserves of Strength and (possibly combined) with something unusual like Outsider, Undead, or even (more rarely), Dragon, and Assume Supernatural Ability, you can get some stupid results. I have a particular favourite.
    Last edited by Vaz; 2014-04-07 at 03:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaz View Post
    The Feat Slot is a racial bonus, but you don't actually get to select that bonus feat.

    Sorry.
    So you get the human racial bonus feat, but you don't get to select the feat like the feat entry itself says you can? What do you get, then?

    Is there a RAW reason for your statement, or is it a houserule?
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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Alter Self states;

    You acquire 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.
    Checking the MM on Bonus feats;

    Sometimes a creature has one or more bonus feats, marked with a superscript B^B.
    There is no entry for a human to check in the MM, but an example, the Aranea;
    Feats: Improved Initiative, Iron Will^B, Weapon Finesse
    And in the PHB for Bonus Feat;
    1 extra feat at 1st level, because humans are quick to master specialized tasks and varied in their talents
    And for Elves;
    Weapon Proficiency: Elves receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the longsword, rapier, longbow (including composite longbow), and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats. Elves esteem the arts of swordplay and archery, so all elves are familiar with these weapons.
    Human has no mention of Bonus Feats any where, related, whether or not to racial. Racial is something that's common to all the race; and what's common to all human is the additional at 1st level. However, no actual FEAT itself to select.ld select

    The only thing that might work is if you can include feats as one of the following bolded;

    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 [b]height, weight, and gender[b])
    YMMV, of course, and many people tend to ignore that, like Drown Healing and that being "Dead" has no mechanical penalties, though. Never said it made sense.

    If of course you WERE to select a feat with your DM ruling otherwise, it would have to be one that ANY human, irregardless of class could select at 1st level; so one without prerequisites of any kind. Darkstalker, as mentioned, could work, but Extra Spell wouldn't, as it would require something that a typical human wouldn't have.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Thank you all for your help with this topic it is becoming a lot more clear as how to make this spell work to it's fullist.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Read this handbook:

    http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=2811

    I especially like Tren form. Mmmm. Tren.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Tren is my favored combat form, and to quell DM objections about turning into all manner of creatures I've also picked up the collector of stories skill trick (and a bunch of knowledges). RP-wise, you can have your character visit libraries and sages from time to time, or simply chat with the locals to learn more about the fauna.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Socratov View Post
    I smell a story here, you can't have come up with this without some form of experience...
    Actually I did. I seriously considered doing it with Treant to get early immunity to mind-effecting, but I've never actually did.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Actually AFAIK the human bonus feat and skill points do not apply because the human entry specifically says something along the lines of humans only advance by character class. Making the bonus feat only applicable with a class level. Also even if it were to work ,the very wording you are reading it by would also lose you your bonus feat which could make it so you no longer qualify for other feats/Prc. I had thought of this very idea for the mountebank challenge but after days of research I found it wouldn't work. I am afb at the moment and will see if I can find the reference.
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    Default Re: Alter Self

    List of potential forms here. My faves include tren, skulk, avariel, and asabi.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Quote Originally Posted by arkangel111 View Post
    Actually AFAIK the human bonus feat and skill points do not apply because the human entry specifically says something along the lines of humans only advance by character class. Making the bonus feat only applicable with a class level. Also even if it were to work ,the very wording you are reading it by would also lose you your bonus feat which could make it so you no longer qualify for other feats/Prc. I had thought of this very idea for the mountebank challenge but after days of research I found it wouldn't work. I am afb at the moment and will see if I can find the reference.
    Where is this fabled human entry?

    (It should probably also be noted that Advancement: By Character Class does not mean only by character class, since templates and even HD advancement are usually still possible. Bugbears, ogre mages, centaurs, troglodytes, lizardfolk, and various others all are eligible targets for alter self but advance by character class.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Story View Post
    Actually I did. I seriously considered doing it with Treant to get early immunity to mind-effecting, but I've never actually did.
    Well, now I'm disappointed...

    Another disappointment, warlock's don't get Alter Self as an invocation (as opposed to the Dead Walk and Edvard's Black Tentacles of freezing forced intrusion amongst other things). Though It would be very strong...

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    The other key point about Alter Self is that it's only second level. Yeah, a spell that lets a wizard fly is fine-- There's a spell just for that... Except it's third level. Yeah, a spell that lets a wizard change form is fine... Except that's fourth level. And so on for heavy natural armor, and water breathing, and so on. No single effect is overpowered, except that you can choose from any of them when you cast the spell, and many of them you get earlier than you would from the corresponding single-purpose spell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    The other key point about Alter Self is that it's only second level. Yeah, a spell that lets a wizard fly is fine-- There's a spell just for that... Except it's third level.
    Nitpick: Swift Fly is level 2. If you mean long duration flight, the point stands though.

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    Default Re: Alter Self

    @tuggy

    The argument was that the entry says:

    "1 extra feat at 1st level." SRD humans

    instead of:

    "Weapon Proficiency: Gray elves receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the longsword, rapier, longbow (including composite longbow), and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats." SRD gray elves

    Notice the wording for humans specifically calls out 1 extra feat at x level and elves say gain x feats as bonus feats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TuggyNE View Post
    Where is this fabled human entry?

    (It should probably also be noted that Advancement: By Character Class does not mean only by character class, since templates and even HD advancement are usually still possible. Bugbears, ogre mages, centaurs, troglodytes, lizardfolk, and various others all are eligible targets for alter self but advance by character class.)
    Minor nitpick: If an entry says Advancement: By Character Class, then HD advancement is almost always impossible, unless it also lists a value for HD advancement. But yeah, agreed with the general point.
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    Default Re: Alter Self

    Quote Originally Posted by arkangel111 View Post
    @tuggy

    The argument was that the entry says:

    "1 extra feat at 1st level." SRD humans

    instead of:

    "Weapon Proficiency: Gray elves receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the longsword, rapier, longbow (including composite longbow), and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats." SRD gray elves

    Notice the wording for humans specifically calls out 1 extra feat at x level and elves say gain x feats as bonus feats.
    OK. And?

    I'm not sure how this disqualifies them. Finish your argument, please.

    (Note, too, that that isn't even slightly what was mentioned before, so something is up. )
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    Default Re: Alter Self

    He is correct in that the human feat at first level isn't actually ever called out as a Bonus Feat, and so cannot be selected, but I have no idea where the whole advances as a character comes in at all.

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