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Polymorphamory - The Love of Changing Form: A guide to shapeshifting


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Having made a Druid archetype that gives the Druid all of the shapeshifting spells as Wildshape options over the course of the class, I realised that I didn't actually have much idea which forms were good, which ones were bad, which had the handy utility abilities, which were incredibly mobile/fast/had great senses, and so forth.

So, I decided to fix that. And whilst looking through it for myself, I thought I might as well make a guide for others too. Here it is:

Polymorphamory - The Love of Changing Form: A guide to shapeshifting

I've gone through all of the spells where you take a specific creatures form, and gain benefits based on the abilities of that form. I've picked out the best combat forms, but also noted forms with other useful abilities. I've used the Monster DB from d20pfsrd site, my thanks to them and to Mike Chopswil, as it made doing this far easier than it would otherwise have been.

If anyone's got any feedback on this it'd be very much appreciated — anything I've missed, any mistakes, and any suggestions for improving it. I've a few thoughts on that myself, which I've stuck at the end of the document, but I'd also appreciate other people's input.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Cool. Thanks.

If you get around to including builds here are a few that might make for some good examples:

Kang Makhai (20th-level human destroyer of armies) - A magus that makes great use of the calikang form; inspired by this.

Nudel the Devourer (15th-level half orc nature gaurdian) - A barbarian druid who favors big one hit wonder chomp attacks as a behemoth hippopotamus; capable of dealing 310 damage automatically.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Well done! I do wish they'd fix Undead Anatomy, but you gave a great explanation of what is and isn't known about how it works!


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For anyone who's curious, the shapeshifting Druid archetype I mention in the first post is here.

cartmanbeck wrote:
Well done! I do wish they'd fix Undead Anatomy, but you gave a great explanation of what is and isn't known about how it works!

Thanks! I tried to work out what call I'd expect GMs to make; what you'd actually be likely to get out of the class.

At some point I plan to go through it again; firstly looking at the different templates and seeing what they're like, what levels they get certain abilities, and so forth, so I can do a guide on which templates are good if a GM allows 'em (though in terms of what they're applied to I'll probably just say 'Look at the rest of the guide'. Secondly, I'd like to note which forms get better if you get the attacks of the form stacked sensibly with the attacks the spell gives — i.e. you don't get bite just because both form and spell grant it, but if a form had a tail slap, you'd get that.


Very nice! Thanks!


Ravingdork wrote:

If you get around to including builds here are a few that might make for some good examples:

Kang Makhai (20th-level human destroyer of armies) - A magus that makes great use of the calikang form; inspired by this.

Nudel the Devourer (15th-level half orc nature gaurdian) - A barbarian druid who favors big one hit wonder chomp attacks as a behemoth hippopotamus; capable of dealing 310 damage automatically.

I'd consider eventually adding a builds section, but I'd want to do 1-20 builds (or at least 4-5 to 20 builds, as that's the level you start to get these spells), not 'here's what it is at 20'


This is quite awesome.


Bugbear should be in the list for medium alter self forms. It has good senses plus is easier to convince your GM that you are familiar with the form than a sasquach.


No Elemental Body spells?

Otherwise a decent Guide but my Dm has restrictions on certain creatures I can turn into (no Dinosaurs, but I can summon them).

My party was not happy when I mentioned my Hedgehog tank form for tanking (since we lost our Dwarven Fighter and the party has no tank now).


Lord Tsarkon wrote:
No Elemental Body spells?

At some point I'll cover it. But Elemental Body and Form of the Dragon tell you exactly what you get from them; you don't have the same need to search for creatures to take the form of.

Lord Tsarkon wrote:
Otherwise a decent Guide but my Dm has restrictions on certain creatures I can turn into (no Dinosaurs, but I can summon them).

Okay. If the list is overly dominated with creatures you're not allowed, to the extent there aren't good options you are allowed, at any level, tell me and I'll try and add some more thst you can.

Aeric Blackberry wrote:
Bugbear should be in the list for medium alter self forms. It has good senses plus is easier to convince your GM that you are familiar with the form than a sasquach.

Familiarity is only an issue for Druids, either of my homebrew archetype or who've reached the point of getting Thousand Faces, and I'm minded to remove it from the former. The spells don't require it.

I'll take a look at it though, and quite possibly add it.


A big point to consider with the guide is the effect on spellcasting and weapon, armor, magic item usage. The key being how many of your normal abilities are usable when shapeshifted and whether or not your equipment melds with the form.

For Druids natural spell clearly solves the spellcasting issue, but you are still unable to utilize magic items (metamagic rods, scrolls, etc.) which can potentially be a big handicap.

For other classes the Monstrous Physique and Giant form lines clearly get around the spellcasting limitation and allow you to retain your equipment (although this may be subject to GM oversight). For example, a alchemist should be able to continue to use bombs/extracts and a magus could continue to cast spells and spell combat/spellstrike while shifted into a four-armed gargoyle, but not while shifted into a dire tiger. This is a very big deal for these classes and really elevates the monstrous physique line in particular in my view.


In fact, it is quite an issue for the spells because you need some piece of the creature whose form you try to assume as a material component.

It is also common sense. No master wants a player repeatly shapechanging in a creature that does not exist in his campaign.


I like the idea that you have a lot. What would make the book better (And make you money in the process,) is if you take the concept of shapeshifting and perhaps add some new feats, archetypes, spells, and other such things to it. Then, offer it as a playtest to a small group of people and publish it under a 3rd party company after you get back good feedback. Seriously Draxar, people would love this stuff, as most people love the large amount of options you get with shapeshifting. As it stands, it is a very good document with lots of utility for PC and GM alike.


Lord Tsarkon wrote:
No Elemental Body spells?
draxar wrote:

At some point I'll cover it. But Elemental Body and Form of the Dragon tell you exactly what you get from them; you don't have the same need to search for creatures to take the form of.

I understand but I thought your Guide was more than what creatures to become and more how to use the creatures in combat,ect.

For example, if you need hitpoints quick and/or Fort Save increase, become a Large Water Elemental (+6 to CON).

Want a Tank? Large Fire Elemental with Druid Spells like Thorn Body, 4th level and attackers take both Fire and Piercing Damage if they hit you.

And of course, Air Elemental if you want to fly and rain down spells from above,ect.

Lord Tsarkon wrote:

Otherwise a decent Guide but my Dm has restrictions on certain creatures I can turn into (no Dinosaurs, but I can summon them).

draxar wrote:

Okay. If the list is overly dominated with creatures you're not allowed, to the extent there aren't good options you are allowed, at any level, tell me and I'll try and add some more thst you can.

I"m pretty sure my Dm would allow monsters/animals from Bestiary 1 and 2, but from other adventure Paths? Probably not.. I would segregate or color code from main books (Bestiary 1 and 2 and maybe 3) and then lesser known from other locations. No dinosaurs for me is a house rule so it would be nice to have other alternatives. Also Knowledge Nature checks DCs if figured out would be nice for DMs to know what check to use for unfamiliar animals the character might know..

Like I said.. its a decent guide that can be easily made into one of the best. Thanks for putting it up

Pawn512 wrote:

A big point to consider with the guide is the effect on spellcasting and weapon, armor, magic item usage. The key being how many of your normal abilities are usable when shapeshifted and whether or not your equipment melds with the form.

For Druids natural spell clearly solves the spellcasting issue, but you are still unable to utilize magic items (metamagic rods, scrolls, etc.) which can potentially be a big handicap.

Bold empasis is mine:

There is a Magic item in the Ultimate Equipment Guide that helps with this problem(but again because of all the errata,ect out DM does not want that book in our campaign yet) but I figured out a simple way around this.

For Example, I'm playing a Gnome Druid, and when I hit 6th level I can wildshape into a small Air Elemental (4 feet tall) About the same size as my Gnome ( 3 feet tall, or 4 feet if you include her hair)

I would drop my backpack, Wildshape into Air Elemental, pick up backpack and now I can fly with my handy haversack with scrolls,wands,potions,ect

I could not do the Whirlwind special attack because my Dm would rule the backpack destroyed (if failed save) or messed up,ect. Its not too powergamed because it limits your size ( I can't be an LARGE Elemental with a tiny backpack.... or can I? <peruses Magic Item wearing rules>

My DM is stern but Fair and I get more Nos than Yeses... but thats the way it goes sometimes.


Aeric Blackberry wrote:

In fact, it is quite an issue for the spells because you need some piece of the creature whose form you try to assume as a material component.

It is also common sense. No master wants a player repeatly shapechanging in a creature that does not exist in his campaign.

Does the material component cost anything?? No? So the standard component pouch contains what is needed to use the spell. Complete 'non issue' by core rules. If 'common sense' means ignoring the rules, I guess we have different definitions.

The vast majority of the guides online won't be nearly as much use to those players forced to play with overly controlling type GMs. They are based on the RAW of the game, imposing more limitations is something the authors cannot predict. Using the actual rules of the game can be relied upon across the board, then you can do whatever tweaking needed on your end.


Lord Tsarkon wrote:
Lord Tsarkon wrote:
No Elemental Body spells?
draxar wrote:

At some point I'll cover it. But Elemental Body and Form of the Dragon tell you exactly what you get from them; you don't have the same need to search for creatures to take the form of.

I understand but I thought your Guide was more than what creatures to become and more how to use the creatures in combat,ect.
Pawn512 wrote:
A big point to consider with the guide is the effect on spellcasting and weapon, armor, magic item usage.

At the moment, the guide is "Here are a bunch of good creatures to become", because that is something that there is no guide for, and which is relatively applicable no matter what class you are, or what you're using to take the form.

Yes, in the long run I'll be slowly adding in stuff looking at the use of forms in combat, of what other stuff synergises with shapeshifting, how to use equipment with it, etc, etc. But the reason why I made this guide is that I'd like to play a shapeshifter in Pathfinder at some point, there was no pre-existing list of suggestions for good forms, and because it was not that much harder to make it in a way that was useful to others than it was to make it just for myself.

Pawn512 wrote:

The key being how many of your normal abilities are usable when shapeshifted and whether or not your equipment melds with the form.

For Druids natural spell clearly solves the spellcasting issue, but you are still unable to utilize magic items (metamagic rods, scrolls, etc.) which can potentially be a big handicap.

For other classes the Monstrous Physique and Giant form lines clearly get around the spellcasting limitation and allow you to retain your equipment (although this may be subject to GM oversight). For example, a alchemist should be able to continue to use bombs/extracts and a magus could continue to cast spells and spell combat/spellstrike while shifted into a four-armed gargoyle, but not while shifted into a dire tiger. This is a very big deal for these classes and really elevates the monstrous physique line in particular in my view.

Monstrous Physique and Giant form are better for people that are dipping into shapeshifting, but there's some pretty good stuff in the others if you're more invested.

Aeric Blackberry wrote:
In fact, it is quite an issue for the spells because you need some piece of the creature whose form you try to assume as a material component.

AIUI, that can be sidestepped fairly easily with Eschew Components.

Aeric Blackberry wrote:
It is also common sense. No master wants a player repeatly shapechanging in a creature that does not exist in his campaign.

However 'what is acceptable to a given GM' is so massively variable a thing that I'm not sure I can be that much help with commenting on that.

Lord Tsarkon wrote:

For example, if you need hitpoints quick and/or Fort Save increase, become a Large Water Elemental (+6 to CON).

Want a Tank? Large Fire Elemental with Druid Spells like Thorn Body, 4th level and attackers take both Fire and Piercing Damage if they hit you.

And of course, Air Elemental if you want to fly and rain down spells from above,ect.

Given the abilities you get from them are listed with the forms, and it's a reasonably short list, it doesn't seem that high a priority to cover. It's on the list, just not that high.

Lord Tsarkon wrote:
Lord Tsarkon wrote:

Otherwise a decent Guide but my Dm has restrictions on certain creatures I can turn into (no Dinosaurs, but I can summon them).

draxar wrote:

Okay. If the list is overly dominated with creatures you're not allowed, to the extent there aren't good options you are allowed, at any level, tell me and I'll try and add some more thst you can.

I"m pretty sure my Dm would allow monsters/animals from Bestiary 1 and 2, but from other adventure Paths? Probably not.. I would segregate or color code from main books (Bestiary 1 and 2 and maybe 3) and then lesser known from other locations. No dinosaurs for me is a house rule so it would be nice to have other alternatives. Also Knowledge Nature checks DCs if figured out would be nice for DMs to know what check to use for unfamiliar animals the character might know.

Everything has the source listed, and the creature's stats linked. I'm wary of inflating things by adding more and more subsections or relistings, as that means you have to look in different places for the same thing.

The Silver Prince wrote:
I like the idea that you have a lot. What would make the book better (And make you money in the process,) is if you take the concept of shapeshifting and perhaps add some new feats, archetypes, spells, and other such things to it. Then, offer it as a playtest to a small group of people and publish it under a 3rd party company after you get back good feedback. Seriously Draxar, people would love this stuff, as most people love the large amount of options you get with shapeshifting. As it stands, it is a very good document with lots of utility for PC and GM alike.

I will probably add my homebrew archetype to the end of this, but I honestly don't think I'm a good enough writer to create a load of new shapeshifting content. I'm good at processing information if I myself have a desire to get something out of that information at the end. I write alright homebrew when there's a specific lack, something that I want to be able to do, that fits the setting/class/whatever, but currently is unrepresented. But the more general thing of coming up with interesting and evocative new content? Not so much my skillset.

Plus, I have serious doubts that it would make me enough money to be worth the effort in setting up myself to publish a pathfinder compatible third party PDF. If an existing company wanted me to do something, and gave me a brief? I'd consider it. But doing it on my own? No way

-----

... looking at all the various posts I'm replying to here, I am perhaps being a bit negative at times (I'm a bit tired ATM). I do definitely intend to develop the guide over time, add in more content, look at wider things around shapeshifting that I can cover.

But I also think that for combat tactics and equipment stuff, it becomes quite specific to the class you're playing as, at which point class guides may be more useful than this one, and also that the additions/expansions I've mentioned are likely to happen relatively slowly.

Sovereign Court

Excellent guide, thanks for sharing! I was always intrigued by polymorph spells but I could never be bothered to look through the entire bestiary to find good combat forms.


Don't forget about the infusion discovery: It's the only way I know of to give non-casters the effects of these spells.


Skylancer4 wrote:
Aeric Blackberry wrote:

In fact, it is quite an issue for the spells because you need some piece of the creature whose form you try to assume as a material component.

It is also common sense. No master wants a player repeatly shapechanging in a creature that does not exist in his campaign.

Does the material component cost anything?? No? So the standard component pouch contains what is needed to use the spell. Complete 'non issue' by core rules. If 'common sense' means ignoring the rules, I guess we have different definitions.

The vast majority of the guides online won't be nearly as much use to those players forced to play with overly controlling type GMs.

Yeah, I always wondered why they called "common"...

But, draxar is right. That is a requirement that could be easily sidestepped by taking Eschew Components.

In any case, some days ago I was researching which wildshape forms could be good for a dexterity based shapechanger (using Weapon Finesse and an "Agile" Amulet of Mighty Fists and, very optionaly, Agile Manauvers). I have found most of the "good" options in the guide (Eagle, Falcon, Cat...), so I suppouse that they are just damn good in any case (following strenght or dexterity route). The exceptions have been, obviously, the two best options: Fire Elemental and Air Elemental, in this order.

I agree with you that the Dragon and Elemental shapechanging spells do not have much choice and they already give you all the abilities in a list, so no reason for a "guide of forms that you should take" to list them. But probably they can be compared with other shapechanging options. So if you expand the guide to include builds and other things, they should be at least mentioned.

Excelent work, in any case.


deuxhero wrote:
Don't forget about the infusion discovery: It's the only way I know of to give non-casters the effects of these spells.

Some magic items? Like the Belt of Earth Elemental or the Hide of Giants.

Mmm... now that I am reading, I think that that Belt of Earth Elemental has a very low price. You can cast a 6 level spell and gain +4 to one stat (which is by itself a 16K object) paying only 24K. It has even an extra ability. o_0!


The big problem with it is that it takes up the belt slot and can not be combined with a str belt like Belt of Physical Might without custom items. Even with allowing costume items its going to be pricy.

So without custom items it useless to anyone that needs another physical score. With costume items it will cost them out the back side.

So seems priced about right to me.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

deuxhero wrote:
Don't forget about the infusion discovery: It's the only way I know of to give non-casters the effects of these spells.

Polymorph and greater polymorph both target creature touched. 5th and 7th level respectively.

Polymorph gets you beast shape II or elemental body I on targeted creature. (Coincidentally 1 level before the alchemist gets BS II).

Greater opens up beast shape IV, elemental body III, plant shape II, or form of dragon... again at a lower level than the alchemist can get any of those.

Sadly these spells don't get updated as new shapes have been added to the game so the alchemist is the only way to get Monstrous Physique to non-casters.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Aeric Blackberry wrote:
deuxhero wrote:
Don't forget about the infusion discovery: It's the only way I know of to give non-casters the effects of these spells.

Some magic items? Like the Belt of Earth Elemental or the Hide of Giants.

Mmm... now that I am reading, I think that that Belt of Earth Elemental has a very low price. You can cast a 6 level spell and gain +4 to one stat (which is by itself a 16K object) paying only 24K. It has even an extra ability. o_0!

There are a fair number of cloaks now that let you assume a variety of shapes also.


Stome wrote:

The big problem with it is that it takes up the belt slot and can not be combined with a str belt like Belt of Physical Might without custom items. Even with allowing costume items its going to be pricy.

So without custom items it useless to anyone that needs another physical score. With costume items it will cost them out the back side.

So seems priced about right to me.

Ey, you get +4 to Constitution, which seems quite aceptable to me. Given than the Elemental Body Form gives you a +6 to Strenght (and another +2 to Con), you will probably not lacking.

Perhaps it is because I am thinking in my summoner (Master Summoner) character that has 18 natural strenght (weird, I know) and the ability to cast Bull's Strenght, but it seems quite powerful to me. Specially comparing to the Hides that let you shapechange into a Giant.


Yes the the spell is nice but unless you run a 15min work day group (which no one really should.) A normal str or str/con belt with some potions of enlarge person will serve you better.

Yes you don't get that nice +6 NA but 1/min a lvl one a day doesn't cut it. At least not for a proper full time melee.

For a gish build or an ohh *bleep* moment on a caster it would certainly have its moments.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber

draxar,
To clarify UA for our campaign somewhat, you can take a basic undead template, so skeleton, or vampire, but only on your usual size, so probably medium. No troll skeletons unless you start out a troll.
I'd allow some of the variants as well, but not others, case by case, I'm afraid. Flaming skeletons, probably. The one that explodes on death, probably not.


Excellent stuff! We're currently in Book 2 of RotR - I'm playing my first PF wizard and my girlfriend is playing a gnome druid about to hit 6th level and you've offered some great insight here! Many thanks :)


Paul Watson wrote:

draxar,

To clarify UA for our campaign somewhat, you can take a basic undead template, so skeleton, or vampire, but only on your usual size, so probably medium. No troll skeletons unless you start out a troll.
I'd allow some of the variants as well, but not others, case by case, I'm afraid. Flaming skeletons, probably. The one that explodes on death, probably not.

Fair enough. In our campaign, I've got the Vitalist and then the godling as backup concepts, neither of which is likely to be that heavy on shapeshifting, so it's unlikely I'll be going for it there. I'd be more likely to go for it in Seamus' campaign on the off chance my homebrew archetype is allowed there, or possibly the next Pathfinder campaign

Out of curiousity though, I take it that would mean that with Undead Anatomy IV, you could turn into a Gashadokuru (a huge undead), or a ghost of your current size and general appearance (with the incorporeality that Undead Anatomy IV gives you)?

Skylancer4 wrote:
Aeric Blackberry wrote:

In fact, it is quite an issue for the spells because you need some piece of the creature whose form you try to assume as a material component.

It is also common sense. No master wants a player repeatly shapechanging in a creature that does not exist in his campaign.

Does the material component cost anything?? No? So the standard component pouch contains what is needed to use the spell. Complete 'non issue' by core rules. If 'common sense' means ignoring the rules, I guess we have different definitions.

The vast majority of the guides online won't be nearly as much use to those players forced to play with overly controlling type GMs. They are based on the RAW of the game, imposing more limitations is something the authors cannot predict. Using the actual rules of the game can be relied upon across the board, then you can do whatever tweaking needed on your end.

I've no issue with GMs making individual calls, as my GM has just done above — their game, their calls. But unless I get the impression that there's a general consensus across many GMs, then there's not much practical I can do to make the guide work better for those individual calls.

There's a few things, like adding a couple of non-dinosaurs if a particular level is full of pretty much just dinosaurs, as I know there's a few GMs that don't allow them. But I can't see that much else I can do to account for the many variant approaches to 'common sense' other than having a bit of choice at each level.

Rumtum wrote:
Excellent stuff! We're currently in Book 2 of RotR - I'm playing my first PF wizard and my girlfriend is playing a gnome druid about to hit 6th level and you've offered some great insight here! Many thanks :)

Glad to. Like some stuff I did for the game Exalted's errata (putting it into comments on PDFs) a while back, it's nice to be able to turn a resource for myself into something for other's to make use of as well. (Especially since I do really like the positive reactions it receives).


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You could do an adlet with alter self. low-light, scent, 40 speed, decent bite and the only real way you can pull off looking like a werewolf.


Undead templates now added. Have taken a slightly different approach to them, because of the fewer numbers, and the way most of them gain abilities across the different spells levels.

Paul Watson wrote:

draxar,

To clarify UA for our campaign somewhat, you can take a basic undead template, so skeleton, or vampire, but only on your usual size, so probably medium. No troll skeletons unless you start out a troll.
I'd allow some of the variants as well, but not others, case by case, I'm afraid. Flaming skeletons, probably. The one that explodes on death, probably not.

I'll note that the flaming skeletons explode on death ;)

Chainsaw wrote:
You could do an adlet with alter self. low-light, scent, 40 speed, decent bite and the only real way you can pull off looking like a werewolf.

Added. If anyone else spots stuff I've missed that seems worth adding, let me know. I don't want to cover everything, but anything that meaningfully broadens your capabilities, that has a practical use that's not covered elsewhere, I'm interested in.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

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I'm wondering, why the Giant Octopus isn't on the list. It has a land speed so it's presumably an air breather. With BS II it gets grab and with BS III it gets constrict also. Even though the tentacles are secondary attacks, with 8 of them you have a good chance of doing hitting and they have monstrous reach. The poison bite not amazing, but it's a little gravy on top. Hasted you might get 2d3 Strength damage from poison per round with a DC that scales with each failed save.

Movement is pokey so I envision using these guys in combination with magical flight.

Another nice-but slightly more cheesy option is the giant squid. It's huge, and has 30 foot reach, unfortunately the tentacles are apparently one generic "tentacles" attack, but they do prodigious damage (4d6) and have an equally brutal constrict. These are water breathers though so you need to pair it with magical flight and some sort of breathing (unless you have a way of skipping breathing)... obviously not as accessible, but it has some cool potential.

Sovereign Court

I'd like to point out the druid spell Sky Swim here. It's up to your GM whether you can cast it then transform to a huge creature, or even to allow the spell in the first place - but if they do...

Know what's scarier than a shark? A flying shark.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Nice catch, sadly Sky Swim (from Faiths of Balance FWIW) doesn't get you water breathing so it's essentially a weaker version of casting fly. It's on the cleric and druid lists so it opens up flying for them under limited circumstances which might have benefits.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I turned into a flying giant octopus once (beast shape III and overland flight) and started snatching up enemies left and right. It was glorious.


Dennis Baker wrote:

I'm wondering, why the Giant Octopus isn't on the list. It has a land speed so it's presumably an air breather. With BS II it gets grab and with BS III it gets constrict also. Even though the tentacles are secondary attacks, with 8 of them you have a good chance of doing hitting and they have monstrous reach. The poison bite not amazing, but it's a little gravy on top. Hasted you might get 2d3 Strength damage from poison per round with a DC that scales with each failed save.

Movement is pokey so I envision using these guys in combination with magical flight.

Another nice-but slightly more cheesy option is the giant squid. It's huge, and has 30 foot reach, unfortunately the tentacles are apparently one generic "tentacles" attack, but they do prodigious damage (4d6) and have an equally brutal constrict. These are water breathers though so you need to pair it with magical flight and some sort of breathing (unless you have a way of skipping breathing)... obviously not as accessible, but it has some cool potential.

Giant octopus has the aquatic subtype without the amphibious subtype, to despite its land speed, it can't breath out of water.

Which doesn't really matter to someone taking the form through spell/wildshape, as you don't gain any subtypes, but do gain the ability to breath whilst swimming if the form has a swim speed. Which means that you can breath underwater whilst shapeshifted into a snake.

To answer your question, the reason why I didn't include it was because I'd lumped it insights all the other aquatic stuff and was planning to look at them on their own. Will be starting that shortly, and will keep out an eye for any worth using on land, and make some mention of using special tricks to make 'em viable there.


Thanks a ton for the guide.

I'm currently creating a half-elf wizard 10 (transmutation - enhancement school) who will use a great-sword as his bonded item. The idea is become large, use buffs and smash things OR use one of the many shape spells to assume better forms than enlarge person/alter self offers.

I posted a thread on that here, but got one measerly reply which pointed me in the ranged attacks department, in which I'm not interested.

I start at lvl10 with 25 point buy (no going into negatives for extra points) and two traits.

Feats
1 Arcane Strike
3 Still Spell
5 Power Attack
7 Eschew Materials
9 Defiant Luck (1x reroll save or confirmed crit)
W Scribe Scroll
W Extend Spell
W Quicken Spell

Eschew Materials seems fantastic to circumvent the 'need a bit of the creature' part, but if that ain't needed, will be swapped out for toughness. Arcane Strike, Power Attack, Physical Enhancement (+3str, dex or con all day long) and or the +4 buff spells should get me far. Mage Armor, Alter Self, Greater Magic Weapon, Darkvision and Heroism are all long-lasting buffs. A bless/prayer/haste from other group-members plus an eventual flanking bonus will add to the pile of common attack modifiers.

Oddly enough you shouldn't lag behind the fighter that much (if you can use an appropriate x shape spell or enlarge), but you'll be squisher (less hp) and have fewer combat feats in exchange for versatility through spell-casting.

One BIG benefit is that you can enchant your weapon at half cost through the bonded item property.


One more thing: maybe it is already worth it to swap the great-sword to an amulet of mighty fists, but the half-elf will still let me use the weapon. I could always go human for an extra feat or some other race with good bonusses.

The weapon and race ain't set in stone. The idea is to play a viable melee wizard.


I hate to kick the tires on this thread but does anyone know if Draxar has been updating his guide? It was such a big help and a great place to start, I'd really like to see his take on feats and abilities in building a successful shapeshifter.

Shadow Lodge

One thing to remember is that any abilities you gain which have a DC (principly Poison and trample, but also other things like web) have the DC of the spell, not the DC the animal would have. This reduces the DC on some of the nastier animals, but is also means that creatures with a very easy to pass DC can become far more deadly in the hands of a high level caster — tiny vipers are a good example of this.

Hmmmm... I couldn't find this in the rules.


BigNorseWolf wrote:

One thing to remember is that any abilities you gain which have a DC (principly Poison and trample, but also other things like web) have the DC of the spell, not the DC the animal would have. This reduces the DC on some of the nastier animals, but is also means that creatures with a very easy to pass DC can become far more deadly in the hands of a high level caster — tiny vipers are a good example of this.

Hmmmm... I couldn't find this in the rules.

It also bothers me, because Wild Shape is not a Spell-like Ability, it's a Supernatural ability, so it should follow the Su rules, meaning the spell level is irrelevant.

The DC should be 10 + 1/2 HD + stat, and for poisons that specifically say its constitution based, I'd think it'd be 10 + 1/2 HD + stat. That means it's still much better than the Tiny Viper, of course, and actually generally better than treating it like a Spell-Like Ability.


While this guide is useful for the 'best' options, a lot of those options are scattered through many books and may/may not exist in a lot of campaign worlds. A list of 'best common choices' that concentrates on the most common sources (Bestiaries) would be a worthy addition.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

BigNorseWolf wrote:

One thing to remember is that any abilities you gain which have a DC (principly Poison and trample, but also other things like web) have the DC of the spell, not the DC the animal would have. This reduces the DC on some of the nastier animals, but is also means that creatures with a very easy to pass DC can become far more deadly in the hands of a high level caster — tiny vipers are a good example of this.

Hmmmm... I couldn't find this in the rules.

It's in the oft forgotten Magic Chapter in the first paragraph of the usually ignored "Polymorph" section.

"...In addition, each polymorph spell can grant you a number of other benefits ... The DC for any of these abilities equals your DC for the polymorph spell used to change you into that form."


Dennis Baker wrote:

It's in the oft forgotten Magic Chapter in the first paragraph of the usually ignored "Polymorph" section.

"...In addition, each polymorph spell can grant you a number of other benefits ... The DC for any of these abilities equals your DC for the polymorph spell used to change you into that form."

Which works for Spells and Spell-like Abilities, but what about Supernatural abilities like Wild Shape? What is the "casting stat" for Wild Shape?

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

I think most people assume Wisdom and I would go with that. Most of the newer classes explicitly say something like the Oracle: "Unless otherwise noted, the DC to save against these revelations is equal to 10 + 1/2 the oracle's level + the oracle's Charisma modifier.", but the druid was built before that wording became common. The ability does suggest it works as the spell which backs that idea up. This also would imply the DC of the ability would equal 1/2 druid level plus Wisdom bonus, but I can also see it being based on the actual spell it's emulating also.

I can also see an argument for Charisma, since Supernatural abilities are usually Charisma based.


Dennis Baker wrote:
I can also see an argument for Charisma, since Supernatural abilities are usually Charisma based.

That's pretty much my problem in a nutshell. Without the text, it should be Charisma based, but that screws Druids. I don't see why it would be Wisdom, except that Druids cast spell with wisdom--I think it makes more sense to just use the stat the ability says to use. For Poisons, I'd prefer Con, for example, or Strength for Trample.


I love this! Well done!

MA


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Nice article. Good Job.


This is really well done. I never gave much look to these spells (and I dreaded looking up forms when I get my PFS druid high enough), but you've actually gotten me interested. Good job!


Legendary Games' Cultic Cryptomancia gives us the excellent Aberrant Form spells:

Spoiler:

Aberrant Form I
School
transmutation (polymorph) [mythos]; Level sorcerer/wizard 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (a piece of the creature whose form you wish to assume)
Range personal
Target you
Duration 1 min./level
When you cast this spell, you can assume the form of any Small or Medium creature of the aberration type. If the form you assume has any of the following abilities, you gain the listed ability: all-around vision, climb 30 feet, constrict, darkvision 60 feet, grab, poison, swim 30 feet. If the creature has vulnerability to an element, you gain that vulnerability. Any gear you wear or carry merges into your new form.
Small aberration: If the form you take is that of a Small aberration, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Dexterity and Constitution and a +1 natural armor bonus.
Medium aberration: If the form you take is that of a Medium aberration, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Strength and Constitution and a +2 natural armor bonus.

Aberrant Form II
School
transmutation (polymorph) [mythos]; Level sorcerer/wizard 6
This spell functions as aberrant form I, except that it also allows you to assume the form of a Tiny or Large creature of the aberration type. If the form you assume has any of the following abilities, you gain the listed ability: all-around vision, amorphous, blood drain, climb 60 feet, constrict, darkvision 60 feet, deaf, disease, engulf, fly 30 feet (average maneuverability), grab, hibernation, leap, no breath, poison, rend, sound mimicry, swim 60 feet, web. In addition, if the form has damage reduction 10 or greater, you gain DR 5 of the same type. If the form has energy resistance to acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic damage, you gain resistance to the same energy type(s) at half the normal amount; if the creature has immunity, you gain energy
resistance 20.
Tiny aberration: If the form you take is that of a Tiny aberration, you gain a +4 size bonus to your Dexterity, a -2 penalty to your Strength, and a +1 natural armor bonus.
Large aberration: If the form you take is that of a Large aberration, you gain a +4 size bonus to your Constitution and Strength, a -2 penalty to Dexterity, and a +4 natural armor bonus.

Aberrant Form III
School
transmutation (polymorph) [mythos]; Level sorcerer/wizard 7
This spell functions as aberrant form I, except that it also allows you to assume the form of a Huge creature of the aberration type. If the form you assume has any of the following abilities, you gain the listed ability: all-around vision, amorphous, blood drain, climb 60 feet, constrict, darkvision 60 feet, deaf, disease, engulf, fly 60 feet (good maneuverability), grab, hibernation, leap, mimic object, mucus cloud, no breath, paralytic tentacles, poison, quickness, rend, slime, sneak attack, sound mimicry, strangle, swallow whole, swim 60 feet, telepathy, web, wisdom drain. If the creature whose form you assume is immune to mind-affecting effects, you also gain this immunity.
Huge aberration: If the form you take is that of a Huge aberration, you gain a +6 size bonus to your Constitution and Strength, a -4 penalty to
Dexterity, and a +6 natural armor bonus.


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Thunderfrog wrote:
I hate to kick the tires on this thread but does anyone know if Draxar has been updating his guide? It was such a big help and a great place to start, I'd really like to see his take on feats and abilities in building a successful shapeshifter.

I wish I knew. It'd also be nice if it expanded on some of the attributes the various forms have. For instance, I'd love to see the form with the best landspeed listed along with number of attacks, etc.

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