Help (dis)confirm my understanding of alter self


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have someone who's playing a 1st level character in PFS play tomorrow and is playing an aasimar with the angelkin heritage, which grants alter self. She wants to turn into a troglodyte (ick). Her understanding of what happens in this case differs from my own. Here's what I think will change mechanically based on the spell description and polymorph entry in the CRB:

- Her darkvision 60 ft. will remain the same (troglodytes have 90 ft., but the spell description is 60 ft. (the "listed benefit") so this is what she gets, not 90 ft.
- +2 to her usual Strength
- Since she is changing into another humanoid, she keeps all of her gear
- She does not get the stench aura or the +6 natural armor bonus
- She gets to keep any of her own held weapons, but also gets the claw and bite attacks of the troglodyte
- No scent, low-light vision, or swim 30 ft. on the troglodyte so she doesn't get any of those. Plus her base speed is the same so no change there.

Am I mistaken on any (or all!) of these?

Also, I'm not sure if she loses her Celestial Resistance race feature, which is extraordinary. What makes me unsure is that on p. 212 it says that "you lose all extraordinary and supernatural abilities that depend on your original form (such as keen senses, scent, and darkvision)... While most of these should be obvious, the GM is the final arbiter of what abilities depend on form..." Since the examples above are sensory abilities, I'm inclined to say she would keep her energy resistances. Thoughts?

Thanks!


I think you have it pretty under control.

Dark Archive

I'd go so far as to say she loses her resistances, since I'd consider it a physical attribute depending on her being-an-aasimar, not a mental one.

And I'd say you're spot on with the rules.
Keep in mind that if she attacks with a held weapon all natural weapons become secondary (-5) and that she can't use the claw she's holding the weapon with.


Sounds like you've pretty much got it under control.

Not sure which way to rule in regard to her Celestial Resistances. Mechanically I'd have a little pity on her since I'm slowly being convinced that the effectiveness of Tieflings' and Aasimars' special abilities don't really hold up that well against those of the other races in mid- to high-level play.

Grand Lodge

Thanks for the quick and helpful replies!


Basically she's gaining +2 strength and some natural attacks at the cost of looking like a trog (which isn't as bad as smelling like one). I'd say remove the celestial resistances simply for balance sake. Just think of the resistances as being an aura radiated from her skin, which doesn't work when she's wearing a different skin.

Also for natural weapons, it is a full attack action to strike with a weapon and the claw/bite. If she forgoes a weapon, she can do one bite or claw on a standard attack (no penalty) or all three on a full attack (also no penalty if she's not using a weapon).

Scarab Sages

Doug Maynard wrote:
- Since she is changing into another humanoid, she keeps all of her gear

Polymorph spells do not change your creature type. She is an Outsider not a humanoid, so she is only assuming the form of a humanoid, while remaining an outsider.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber

The resistances of Aasimar and Tieflings are associated with their type, since their type doesn't change I would allow them to keep their resistances. This may be a difference between form which changes and type which doesn't, IMHO.


Now the question begs, would she have "proficiency" with the natural weapons. Especially bite...

Scarab Sages

Yes. You always have proficiency with natural weapon.

Unless your also ruling druids lack proficiency with natural attacks.


JustKhaos wrote:
Now the question begs, would she have "proficiency" with the natural weapons. Especially bite...

Yes.

From the "Polymorph" section of the Magic chapter: "In addition to these benefits, you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature, including proficiency in those attacks."


As far as the energy resistances are concerned, I think you are all wrong. Here is why. The other spells that allow you to change into something else have the ability to give you resistances because those things normally have those resistances. I am not aware of any humanoids that have resistances. I spent the last 10 minutes looking for some. Now there are alternate racial traits that do it, but those are not natural. If there were humanoids that came with resistances then I think that would be included in the spell.

Here is another reason why you do not retain your resistances. Say you have resistance to cold normally. You cast elemental body II and turn into a fire elemental. I guarantee that you get to keep your resistance to cold and gain vulnerable to cold. That is just stupid.

Having a resistance is a extraordinary ability based on your race. Alterself changes your race. resistances disappears.


Alter self does NOT grant natural weapons. The spell mentions no such thing. You get the listed benefits and nothing else.


IQuarent wrote:
Alter self does NOT grant natural weapons. The spell mentions no such thing. You get the listed benefits and nothing else.

The general rules for spells of the polymorph subtype grant natural weapons.

Quote:


A polymorph spell transforms your physical body to take on the shape of another creature. While these spells make you appear to be the creature, granting you a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks, they do not grant you all of the abilities and powers of the creature. Each polymorph spell allows you to assume the form of a creature of a specific type, granting you a number of bonuses to your ability scores and a bonus to your natural armor. In addition, each polymorph spell can grant you a number of other benefits, including movement types, resistances, and senses. If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead. Your base speed changes to match that of the form you assume. If the form grants a swim or burrow speed, you maintain the ability to breathe if you are swimming or burrowing. The DC for any of these abilities equals your DC for the polymorph spell used to change you into that form.

In addition to these benefits, you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature, including proficiency in those attacks. These attacks are based on your base attack bonus, modified by your Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, and use your Strength modifier for determining damage bonuses.

This applies to all polymorph type spells, including alter self, polymorph, baleful polymorph, et cetera.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
IQuarent wrote:
Alter self does NOT grant natural weapons. The spell mentions no such thing. You get the listed benefits and nothing else.

The general rules for spells of the polymorph subtype grant natural weapons.

Quote:


A polymorph spell transforms your physical body to take on the shape of another creature. While these spells make you appear to be the creature, granting you a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks, they do not grant you all of the abilities and powers of the creature. Each polymorph spell allows you to assume the form of a creature of a specific type, granting you a number of bonuses to your ability scores and a bonus to your natural armor. In addition, each polymorph spell can grant you a number of other benefits, including movement types, resistances, and senses. If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead. Your base speed changes to match that of the form you assume. If the form grants a swim or burrow speed, you maintain the ability to breathe if you are swimming or burrowing. The DC for any of these abilities equals your DC for the polymorph spell used to change you into that form.

In addition to these benefits, you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature, including proficiency in those attacks. These attacks are based on your base attack bonus, modified by your Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, and use your Strength modifier for determining damage bonuses.

This applies to all polymorph type spells, including alter self, polymorph, baleful polymorph, et cetera.

eh, works for me. I forgot to check the polymorph spell description. It's hard to know what to believe with so much conflicting info on the threads.

Edit: Then again, I was wondering why it is only minutes per level, as disguise self is 10 minutes per level and is a first level spell; alter self just seems like the next step. If you get additional abilities such as natural attacks without losing your original abilities, then minute per level does actually seem balanced.

wait, time out; the polymorph description says you get it's ability bonuses and nat. armor? so I could use alter self to change into a lizardfolk and get +5 nat armor?


The armor bonus would be dictated by the spell. The alter self spell grants no natural armor bonus. This could be bad for some races that have natural armor normally and change form using this spell, losing their innate NA (as it is one of those abilities that would be dependant on gross physical attributes) while under the effect.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
IQuarent wrote:
Alter self does NOT grant natural weapons. The spell mentions no such thing. You get the listed benefits and nothing else.

The general rules for spells of the polymorph subtype grant natural weapons.

Quote:


A polymorph spell transforms your physical body to take on the shape of another creature. While these spells make you appear to be the creature, granting you a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks, they do not grant you all of the abilities and powers of the creature. Each polymorph spell allows you to assume the form of a creature of a specific type, granting you a number of bonuses to your ability scores and a bonus to your natural armor. In addition, each polymorph spell can grant you a number of other benefits, including movement types, resistances, and senses. If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead. Your base speed changes to match that of the form you assume. If the form grants a swim or burrow speed, you maintain the ability to breathe if you are swimming or burrowing. The DC for any of these abilities equals your DC for the polymorph spell used to change you into that form.

In addition to these benefits, you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature, including proficiency in those attacks. These attacks are based on your base attack bonus, modified by your Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, and use your Strength modifier for determining damage bonuses.

This applies to all polymorph type spells, including alter self, polymorph, baleful polymorph, et cetera.

My understanding was that Polymorph spells DO grant the Natural Armor bonuses. This was the crux of my original debate with GM Doug. Kinda went off on the Resistances discussion, but Natural Armor was the attribute I was primarily concerned with.


Natural Armor bonuses are only granted by the polymorph spell itself. If the spell does not grant you Natural Armor bonus then you do not get one.

- Gauss

Shadow Lodge

MurphysParadox wrote:
Basically she's gaining +2 strength and some natural attacks at the cost of looking like a trog (which isn't as bad as smelling like one). I'd say remove the celestial resistances simply for balance sake.

+2 Strength and one or two bonus abilities like natural attacks would be the benefit of Alter Self. It's a 2nd level spell that can be used as a buff. It's supposed to make you stronger.

Rogar Stonebow wrote:
Having a resistance is a extraordinary ability based on your race. Alter self changes your race. resistances disappears.

Alter self does not change your race because it does not change your type (and presumably subtype). An elf polymorphed into a dwarf is affected by Bane (elf), not Bane (dwarf). A vampire polymorphed into a human is still of the undead type and thus still lacks his Con score and still has the immunities of the undead type.

Rogar Stonebow wrote:
Here is another reason why you do not retain your resistances. Say you have resistance to cold normally. You cast elemental body II and turn into a fire elemental. I guarantee that you get to keep your resistance to cold and gain vulnerable to cold. That is just stupid.

Why not? You can cast Resist Energy (Cold) on something vulnerable to cold.

Rogar Stonebow wrote:
As far as the energy resistances are concerned, I think you are all wrong. Here is why. The other spells that allow you to change into something else have the ability to give you resistances because those things normally have those resistances. I am not aware of any humanoids that have resistances. I spent the last 10 minutes looking for some. Now there are alternate racial traits that do it, but those are not natural. If there were humanoids that came with resistances then I think that would be included in the spell.

Why should it matter whether humanoids came with resistances? The character isn't trying to gain resistances, they're wanting to keep their own innate resistance. That makes about as much sense as saying that a vanilla aasimar who is casting Alter Self loses her Daylight SLA because no humanoid offers a divine SLA.

Now the fact that polymorph spells can give you resistances might suggest that resistances are physical qualities that are lost, but I don't think that's well-defined.

Shouldn't PFS have more specific guidelines about what abilities are lost when polymorphing?


Apocalypso wrote:


Quote:


A polymorph spell transforms your physical body to take on the shape of another creature. While these spells make you appear to be the creature, granting you a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks, they do not grant you all of the abilities and powers of the creature. Each polymorph spell allows you to assume the form of a creature of a specific type, granting you a number of bonuses to your ability scores and a bonus to your natural armor.

My understanding was that Polymorph spells DO grant the Natural Armor bonuses. This was the crux of my original debate with GM Doug. Kinda went off on the Resistances discussion, but Natural Armor was the attribute I was primarily concerned with.

Individual spells grant different bonuses. Elemental Body 1 grants no armor bonus, 2 grants up to +5, 3 and 4 grant up to +6.

The bonus is granted by the spell so it may be less than the creature's bonus (just as the fly speed may be less).

Alter Self grants no armor bonuses.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I would argue that anything A gains by transforming into B should be lost by B if it transforms into A. E.g, if a troglodyte transformed into a bear, it would gain scent -- so if a bear transformed into a trog, it should lose scent.

If transforming into an aasimar granted you resistances (it doesn't), transforming out of an aasimar should lose them.

Since this isn't the case, I'd say he keeps his resistances.

Shadow Lodge

Unfortunately, you do lose Resistances when you use Polymorph spells.

Polymorph Subschool wrote:
While under the effects of a polymorph spell, you lose all extraordinary and supernatural abilities that depend on your original form (such as keen senses, scent, and darkvision), as well as any natural attacks and movement types possessed by your original form.
Universal Monster Rules wrote:
Resistance (Ex) A creature with this special quality ignores some damage of the indicated type each time it takes damage of that kind (commonly acid, cold, electricity, or fire). The entry indicates the amount and type of damage ignored.

It's an Extraordinary ability, and so it is lost.

The only reason why Alter Self does not grant you the resistances possessed by an Aasimar (assuming that you could transform into one) is that resistances are on the "can grant" list of benefits, meaning that they may not be. Alter Self does not call out that resistances are granted, so they are not. As a note, you can't transform into an Aasimar with Alter Self because Aasimar aren't humanoid.

The same thing applies to Natural Armor. Polymorph subschool grants a natural armor bonus, but that bonus can be 0. You would lose any pre-existing natural armor bonus you possessed, because it is a form-dependent ability. You wouldn't gain any benefit of the target species' natural armor from Alter Self.


jlighter wrote:


It's an Extraordinary ability, and so it is lost.

Doesn't follow. Only extraordinary abilities "based on form" are lost. Which is the whole point of the discussion; to determine which are and are not "based on form." Something for which there are EXPLICITLY no rules as it's left to the GM's judgement.


I'd agree with Orfamay Quest. It's based on your form, so winged flight and claws don't work when the new form doesn't have them. resistance pretty much just needs a form/body.

Does a orc shaped aasimar lose something that prevents resisting cold? Not by the way I look at it.

Shadow Lodge

It's not an illogical inference, given that polymorph spells can grant resistance (as they can other body functions), that it could take them away as the same. It would depend on what's causing the energy resistance. If it's a function of having the skin of an Aasimar, it would be lost. I see nothing to indicate that energy resistance isn't an ability that is based on form. Planetouched races have energy resistance, while the common humanoids do not. When you Alter Self into a humanoid, you're no longer have the form of an Outsider who has those resistances. Those humanoid races that can sub out abilities to get them all call out that they are based on a physical trait.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
graystone wrote:

I'd agree with Orfamay Quest. It's based on your form, so winged flight and claws don't work when the new form doesn't have them. resistance pretty much just needs a form/body.

Does a orc shaped aasimar lose something that prevents resisting cold? Not by the way I look at it.

Aasimar is not a valid choice for the Alter Self spell.

They are not Humanoids. They are Outsiders with the Native subtype.

Shadow Lodge

blackbloodtroll wrote:

Aasimar is not a valid choice for the Alter Self spell.

They are not Humanoids. They are Outsiders with the Native subtype.

But an Aasimar can use the Alter Self spell to turn into an Orc. I believe that is what Graystone was attempting to indicate. Her question being, rephrased, "Does an Aasimar shaped like an Orc lose her cold resistance?"

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

The resistance is not a class granted ability, or anything like that.

It is a racial ability, and it seems dependent on form.


blackbloodtroll wrote:
graystone wrote:

I'd agree with Orfamay Quest. It's based on your form, so winged flight and claws don't work when the new form doesn't have them. resistance pretty much just needs a form/body.

Does a orc shaped aasimar lose something that prevents resisting cold? Not by the way I look at it.

Aasimar is not a valid choice for the Alter Self spell.

They are not Humanoids. They are Outsiders with the Native subtype.

Scion of humanity would disagree...

And the way I read it, it's looking at shape not form. It's to prevent kobolds from using their tail in the shape of a Halfling IMO. There is no real way to resolve this issue until they define what they mean by "depend on your original form". It means that there are abilities that don't rely on form but they don't tell you which are which.

Would you take a drows imm to sleep and SR? Or an orcs darkvision? An orc doesn't lose orc subtype and that gives you darkvision NOT shape.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

You actually would take an Orc's darkvision. It's explicitly called out as taken. Dependent on form of an Orc, as in the structure of orc eyes. Drow immunity to sleep or SR, probably. Both are the right ability type to be taken, and nothing indicates that it isn't form dependent.

As for Scion of Humanity, that raises another question. By default, I would assume that alternate racial features wouldn't be an option for the purposes of polymorph spells.

That said, can you use Alter Self and other polymorph spells to transform into variant versions of races, like Catfolk with climb speed, or Aasimar with Scion of Humanity feature?


But you also get the light sensitive from orc blood along with that darkvision and that's NOT listed. Also not it has nothing to do with the eyes and everything to do with the blood. A sorcerer with the orc bloodline gets darkvision with no change in form but by having orc blood.

My question would be you say that "nothing indicates that it isn't form dependent". What indicates that it IS form dependent? I'm not seeing either. I see form = shape in the meaning and nothing in the new shape/form stops resistance from working.

As to variant versions, I don't see why not. That assumes the caster knows of the variant (roll know:Local).

Second question: A tiefing changes into a aasimar. Does it keep it's resistances then? And why wouldn't he get the aasimars resistances if it's all based on form if he can't keep his own?


graystone wrote:
Second question: A tiefing changes into a aasimar. Does it keep it's resistances then?

That's pretty much what the whole argument has been about. No consensus has been reached. However, as far as I know, there is no spell allowing you to assume the form of an outsider, so turning into an aasimar is more or less impossible RAW.

graystone wrote:
[Third] question: And why wouldn't he get the aasimars resistances if it's all based on form if he can't keep his own?

If, for the sake of this question, we assume that you are able to change into an aasimar with Alter Self, then he doesn't get the aasimar's resistances because polymorph-type spells only give specific attributes of the creature being turned into. Alter Self doesn't list energy resistance as one of the granted abilities, so you don't gain it.


bodhranist wrote:
graystone wrote:
Second question: A tiefing changes into a aasimar. Does it keep it's resistances then?
That's pretty much what the whole argument has been about. No consensus has been reached. However, as far as I know, there is no spell allowing you to assume the form of an outsider, so turning into an aasimar is more or less impossible RAW.

Well, Shapechange won't do it, and Wish will do anything by GM fiat.... but how about Polymorph Any Object?


A aasimar with scion of humanity IS a humanoid. I was following the question "That said, can you use Alter Self and other polymorph spells to transform into variant versions of races, like Catfolk with climb speed, or Aasimar with Scion of Humanity feature?". Some aasimar ARE humanoids so I see no reason alter self couldn't take their form. Their also being outsiders is meaningless as long as they are also humanoid.


graystone wrote:
A aasimar with scion of humanity IS a humanoid. I was following the question "That said, can you use Alter Self and other polymorph spells to transform into variant versions of races, like Catfolk with climb speed, or Aasimar with Scion of Humanity feature?". Some aasimar ARE humanoids so I see no reason alter self couldn't take their form. Their also being outsiders is meaningless as long as they are also humanoid.

Seeing as you cannot do templated creatures, in essence you are limited to ''stock' creatures (as written in the bestiary, etc), variants of a base creature should be excluded as well.

Shadow Lodge

The variant races are one of the issues that will always come up when you go back to the core content. Core wasn't written with any of the variations in mind because they didn't exist. Likewise, the variations couldn't study, in depth, every possible rule interaction, which is part of what the Rules Question section is for.

In response to Orc-Blood Sorcerers: You get Darkvision from being a Sorcerer, not from having the form of an Orc. As the polymorph rules say, you may lose certain class features that are form dependent, but that particular class feature does not appear to be. Contrary to that, the Light Sensitivity and Darkvision of a true Orc is dependent upon being an Orc. It's an Extraordinary ability of the race. Thus, when you stop being an Orc, you stop having that racial feature. What you wouldn't lose would be a weapon familiarity from being an Orc. But there is a world of difference between being an Orc and having the Orc Sorcerer Bloodline.

Re: What indicates it IS form dependent: As far as I can tell, all racial features stem inherently from being a member of that race. My assumption would be that anything physical (not just shape, mind, but everything physical) stems from being a member of that race, and so qualifies for being "form-dependent." Something that wouldn't qualify would be a mental ability, which is mind-related as opposed to body-related. Weapon training is a good example, or many skill bonuses. But regarding resistances, again I say, what if it's a skin quality? Every reference of resistances in a Humanoid-type creature indicates that it is a function of skin or scales, just like Natural Armor. Just because they didn't have the space to indicate the source of the resistance doesn't mean that it doesn't function the way most of the others do.

Form dependent means, in essence, that it is dependent on you being what you are. An Aasimar has celestial resistances, an Orc does not. It's not like a bonus to Diplomacy/Perception or a familiarity with certain weapons. Resistances stem from being that thing. When you stop being that thing, even temporarily, you lose much of the benefit of being that thing.

graystone wrote:
And the way I read it, it's looking at shape not form.

The problem with this is that you're throwing a limitation in that is explicitly not there. It does say "form dependent," not "shape dependent." Form means the entire form, not just the physical shape. Otherwise, an Elf would suffer no penalty from changing into a Human or a Dwarf, and we know explicitly that they do.

Re: Variant versions: I wouldn't think that variant versions would be legal as an option, same as the templated versions. Again, that would require a Dev ruling, though, and I'd recommend that people hit the FAQ button on that question.

BUT Assuming that variant versions of races are legal as target states for spells such as Alter Self, then a Scion of Humanity Aasimar would be a legal target. Please note the assumption, as I don't believe that it is a legal one.

Re: Tiefling turn into Aasimar: Assuming that there were a spell that permitted the change, I'd say that the Tiefling loses his own resistances in that case. If the spell in question grants resistances possessed by the new form, then he'd gain those. Otherwise, he wouldn't. Alter Self wouldn't grant them. Sucks, but it's the truth. Same as if a Kobold (has a natural armor bonus) turned himself into a Halfling. He loses his Nat Armor bonus. Sucks for him.


Eventually they're going to have the fix the "aasimar = outsider" issue. I've seen these arguments every time an aasimar character turns up at a table, over and over. "Charm Person doesn't work", "what's my subtype?", "only humanoids get that", etc. etc.

A PC race should be the same creature type as every other PC race.


I don't believe they're going to "fix" it -- There have been comments made by the developers more than once about this issue -- and, further, I think the whole notion of changing the "native" subtype *was their fix for the "being an outsider" thing -- as it addressed a lot of the issues (including the ability to be resurrected).

Realistically, being an outsider is a tradeoff -- there are strengths and a drawbacks -- and I'm rather certain that the devs (based on comments) like it that way -- playing one of the planetouched races is a rather different proposition than being a half-orc.

Also, I'm really not sure why there *are* arguments at the table -- basically, the "short" version is that you can't be the recipient of any spell that ends in person (since they target humanoids), so while that means you're harder to charm or hold (unless they use charm or hold monster), it also prevents happy useful spells like enlarge.... also, getting smote is extra-painful (because you're a good outsider), and you have extra issues with the spells that have additional effects for outsiders.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

When you play an Outsider race, you have to accept that your type is not Humanoid.

Even an Aasimar, with the Scion of Humanity alternate racial trait, is only treated as a humanoid (human) for any effect related to race, including feat prerequisites and spells that affect humanoids.

They are still, Outsiders.

Accept it, or play something else.

Shadow Lodge

Calybos1 wrote:

Eventually they're going to have the fix the "aasimar = outsider" issue. I've seen these arguments every time an aasimar character turns up at a table, over and over. "Charm Person doesn't work", "what's my subtype?", "only humanoids get that", etc. etc.

A PC race should be the same creature type as every other PC race.

It's not exactly a "fixable" issue. They can't go back and make them humanoids because they're far too established in their current status as Outsiders (pre-dates Pathfinder). Making them not a playable race doesn't really work, either (unless they make both Aasimar and Tiefling unavailable for Society play). They can't go back and delete them, they're too established in the APs and the lore of Golarion.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Rules Questions / Help (dis)confirm my understanding of alter self All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.