101 Ways to abuse "Shapechange"


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm building a villain who has been blessed/cursed with a permanent Shapechange spell. It will not be possible to remove it via magic. I need creative ideas as to what he could do with this. The more creative the better.


How evil is he? Does he really want the PCs dead, or is he fine with toying with them first?


Toying with them would definitely suit the character.


Be something diminutive, then turn into a dragon.
Go and become their pet, and then mess with them.
The biggest thing about it is that nobody knows what you look like for reals. And you'd never have to take the exact same shape more than once.

Sovereign Court

I see the original post and I can't help it.. I have to make some reference to the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

He could establish a "theme", like usually showing up with a certain eye color. Take care to describe the eye colors of every NPC the PCs meet from then on.

"What?! The innkeeper has blue eyes?! I ATTACK!"
"No, wait, that's a common—s$$!, this better not add to our tab."

He could occasionally show up as a trusted NPC or pet, just kinda hanging out, not making any trouble. Then, out o nowhere, he reveals himself and teleports away (if he has teleport) or starts burrowing/flying away (thus likely initiating a chase scene). Just to make the PCs insanely paranoid about talking and planning in front of any NPC. They'll quickly start casting true seeing on everyone they meet, which could itself make things awkward at times.

NPC Knight: "Introducing...The Royal Holy Popeking! We are honored to..."
PC Wizard: "I cast true seeing.
NPC Knight: The mage is casting a spell! It's an assassination! ATTACK!"

During combats, he could cycle through rapidly every turn. Boom! Dragon. Boom! Treant. Keeps them off-balance. Form a list of handy combat forms and use then when applicable—T-rex when he has to charge, full attack monster when he's in melee, dragon when the party's bunched up for a breath weapon. Use elemental forms to attack whenever the party is particularly vulnerable—such as on an airship, exploring a sunken city, plumbing the Darklands, or getting ready to fight a white dragon.

"Alright, guys, we're ready for this. I've got my fireball wand."
"I've got my flaming burst flame blade!"
"I've cast resist cold on everyone!"
*Fire elemental appears*
"G~~##~mit."


Anyone else have ideas?

Dark Archive

Don't be too evil though, always try to be perceptive on whether or not the players are having fun. If you get two crazy they could perhaps rebel and an argument can start. That and while in doses the paranoia that would grow within the party, too much and the party wont be able to have any healthy or positive interactions with NPCs.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

If you want to abuse shapechange, usually it involves the abusing elemental resistance and regeneration. Being able to shapechange at will, means that he can usually safely withdraws from battle to heal, transforming into a troll for example, while just waiting into another room, 5 hp every 6 sec, only 1 min for 50 hp! By the time, the pc manages to reach the other room, your boss should be back to full hp.

Those kinds of fight are usually frustrating tho, but well, there comes time where your players manage to surprise you or knock you unconscious...and you know what, it's fine, if it happens well that's it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Perhaps he is like any of the actors that enjoy portraying multiple roles in the same film: you could make an adventure where every non-combat encounter the party has ends up being this same villain.

He could have multiple haunts that he owns. On first meeting the PCs, he sees an opportunity for fun: He engages them to track down a fictitious missing person/item, and directs them to the first of the places he owns. He beats the PCs to the place, changes, and is the encounter they meet there, directing them on and on down whatever rabbithole adventure he desires. Maybe he uses this as a way to gain their trust while simultaneously setting them up to take down his enemies. He doesn't have to limit himself to humanoid forms while doing this, either.

If he's a BBEG, then he's running his own recon on the party at the same time; finding quirks of personality he can exploit, gathering information. Maybe he tails the party on combat encounters to learn vulnerabilities, as well... you know, in case they 'catch on' to being used as pawns, and turn against him.

Dark Archive

Actually Mousmous... that sounds a lot like the idea I had for an NPC for an adventure I had planned.


Great minds, Jonathon ;)

One caveat, Soilent, if using what I outlined- be sure to drop hints and clues as to the true nature of their foe. It would seem forced to have a villain that does all this without the party having that "Aha!" moment where they realize who they've been dealing with the whole time, and how they pulled it off. That reveal is an important part of making the adventure fun for them.

Other ideas I have would only mimic Eltacolibre's suggestion- why have such a cool and powerful magic in a villain and not show it off? Maybe even a mix of suggestions if the villain feels they can easily survive a faked combat with the party in order to gain more information about them. A troll's fast healing ability would make any npc I played pretty cocky.

Dark Archive

I would say mix in illusions, to better help in the fact that this NPC will be reasonably good at deception. That and in the hands of the highly imaginative illusions can be wonderfully fun.


Actually ... this reminds me a little of Genie from Aladdin. What if your villain constantly changes shape to reflect his mood?


I like the idea of a villain who begins as a low-mid level mook, who gets in over his head and is somehow cursed with this ability.

Perhaps over the course of time, his ability to control the changes is diminished, while the power itself increases.

While having his own mind and agenda, maybe taking new forms begins to infect his mind with the "nature" of the things he imitates?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87SrpyIBSIQ (Relatively NSFW, not bad though)
This scene from Akira illustrates something similar to what I have in mind, but with the mutation relating to the creatures and people whose forms the villain may have taken.


Did a space station lose it's chief of security...ok I'll stop now...


Be an Oracle of the Dark Tapestry. Get Demonic Obedience to Haagenti. Profit.

If you really wanted to f~~* up your party members, make him a Gestalt with an Anti-Paladin 12/Demoniac 8.

As an ally to warn your party members about him, consider a Life Oracle with Deific Obedience to Iori. He can even be Gestalted with a Paladin 12/Monk 4/ Champion of Irori 4 build.

Both happen to be estranged brothers, equivalent in power, opposite in outlook. One looks outwards beyond the veil for power unimaginable, while the other cultivates the power within himself. Both use one half of an Amulet of Mighty Fists. The shapechanger uses it for natural attacks, while the Paladin Monk uses it for unarmed strikes. It is the symbol of their brotherly bond; broken, yet still existent.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / 101 Ways to abuse "Shapechange" All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.