Polymorph and "activated" items


Rules Questions

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Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Weirdo wrote:
I am so glad I don't play PFS right now because I find this thread terribly confusing.

In the matter of polymorph effects, PFS isn't using any rules that aren't already present in standard Pathfinder, so I'm not sure where that's relevant.

The Concordance

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el cuervo wrote:
This is saying you cannot use the item if it requires activation, saying nothing about other bonuses it may provide that are constant and that may still continue to function. Since you do not need to use the item (only have it equipped) to gain the constant bonus, the constant bonus still functions.

This is how I run items that have constant bonuses in addition to other activated effects. I think it needs clarification though. The rules aren't clear enough about many of the finer points of polymorph.


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LazarX wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
I am so glad I don't play PFS right now because I find this thread terribly confusing.
In the matter of polymorph effects, PFS isn't using any rules that aren't already present in standard Pathfinder, so I'm not sure where that's relevant.

I think what he's getting at is that in PFS, the rules are The Rules(tm). At least in a home game the GM can quickly house rule at the table, but for PFS it can lead to a standstill since there appears to be some ambiguity about the rules for magic items when polymorphed.


That is very true. Which is why for PFS that I need a ruling. If I buy something and a GM rules that it can't be used that is wasted money. Some of the items are expensive and losing out on thousands of gold throws off the expected wealth by level. It can honestly make the difference between life and death of a character.

If it were a home game I would just ask the GM for a ruling up front, live by that ruling and move on.

That being said, having a ruling is beneficial to both PFS players and home game players (which I am both).


I think you're just going to have to expect table variation. I've generally shied away from buying any items requiring an action to activate on my fox. On the other hand, I have yet to play with a GM who disallows use-activated items.

The spirit of the rules, imho, are something like this:
1) You can't activate stuff when you're polymorphed because you lack the vocal flexibility, limb configuration, and ability to physically interact with the magic item. This is why you can't use them.
2) Constant abilities and things that trigger automatically without direction from the wearer (such as most use activated items) can still be used as long as it is realistically feasible.
3) Armor and shields go away completely and are effectively inert while melded. Armor and shield bonuses from other sources remain. (however, I just use Mage Armor on my character to avoid this possible discussion)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
el cuervo wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
I am so glad I don't play PFS right now because I find this thread terribly confusing.
In the matter of polymorph effects, PFS isn't using any rules that aren't already present in standard Pathfinder, so I'm not sure where that's relevant.
I think what he's getting at is that in PFS, the rules are The Rules(tm). At least in a home game the GM can quickly house rule at the table, but for PFS it can lead to a standstill since there appears to be some ambiguity about the rules for magic items when polymorphed.

Save that there isn't any ambiguity. If the item you want to use has to be activated, and it's melded into your form than it's simply unavailable until you resume your normal form.

Just because the rules specify something you don't like, doesn't mean a ruling "has to be made".


LazarX wrote:
el cuervo wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
I am so glad I don't play PFS right now because I find this thread terribly confusing.
In the matter of polymorph effects, PFS isn't using any rules that aren't already present in standard Pathfinder, so I'm not sure where that's relevant.
I think what he's getting at is that in PFS, the rules are The Rules(tm). At least in a home game the GM can quickly house rule at the table, but for PFS it can lead to a standstill since there appears to be some ambiguity about the rules for magic items when polymorphed.

Save that there isn't any ambiguity. If the item you want to use has to be activated, and it's melded into your form than it's simply unavailable until you resume your normal form.

Just because the rules specify something you don't like, doesn't mean a ruling "has to be made".

By that logic, NO magic items function for polymorphed creatures since every magic item is activated at some point (and thus is also not truly constant):

Magic Items wrote:
To use a magic item, it must be activated, although sometimes activation simply means putting a ring on your finger.

Clearly, this isn't intended.

The question is, is whether a magic item which triggers automatically in some situation is considered a constant bonus or not. Either:

NO: because the benefits provided are temporary
YES: because the the item is constantly looking for the trigger to happen

It's really not clear, so I'm going to have to disagree with anyone who says it's cut and dried.

Shadow Lodge

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It's the debate over what counts as "activating" or a "continuous bonus" that is utterly turning me about.

My group has always interpreted the rule to mean that an item that has a limited number of daily uses or requires an action to use needs to be activated and thus does not function. Any other effect is a "continuous bonus," whether it's a +2 Belt of Strength or Deliquescent Gloves.

We've also taken "armour and shield bonuses" to refer to properties of armour and shields as well as the actual bonuses to AC, so while a ring of acid resistance would work, acid resistance from your armour wouldn't.

Apparently there is quite a bit of debate on that point and while my group's treatment intuitively feels correct I can't conclusively prove it within the rules.

Fortunately for my home game I don't actually need to conclusively prove anything.


@Byakko: Didn't know you had a fox. We should share experiences. Regarding your reasoning about the spirit of the rules, while I generally agree some of those are easy to get around. For instance if you have a Ring of Eloquence you needn't worry about vocal components. This is one reason I think that a Jingasa should work.

Weirdo: Out of curiosity, where do you fall on +1 Bracers of Armor with Acid Resistance?

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Weirdo wrote:

item that has a limited number of daily uses or requires an action to use needs to be activated and thus does not function. Any other effect is a "continuous bonus," whether it's a +2 Belt of Strength or Deliquescent Gloves.

taken "armour and shield bonuses" to refer to properties of armour and shields as well as the actual bonuses to AC, so while a ring of acid resistance would work, acid resistance from your armour wouldn't.

+1 pretty much how I have always ruled. I'd also allowed Bracers of Armor, as it wasn't "armor" but I may have not been doing that correctly in a strict sense of RAW interpretation.

The Concordance

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@Weirdo: Deliquescent Gloves give natural attacks the "corrosive weapon special ability" which is command activated just like flaming or frost.

@Lune: the Jingasa's luck bonus is constant and should always be on, but the crit negation is activated using an immediate action. I love the Ring of Eloquence on my fox, but I don't think it allows command words since the ring only lets you speak the languages inscribed, not make humanoid sounds in general. The exception is a command word specifically in the language of one of the ring's language.


Bracer of Armor and wildshape were always confusing to me. As it was based of the mage armor spell.

see so many different ruling on weather Mage armor would or would not work for wildshape or monks. make my head spin.

.........................

Here is a good question for ya =

Ring of Feather Falling = The ring activated immediately if the wearer falls more than 5 feet. -- as in the ring is activated by itself, you do not have to activated the ring --

So if you are a Druid, wildshaped into an eagle, could you use this ring to prevent falling. Or do the polmorphed rules, just completely make this ring useless while polmorphed.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Oliver McShade wrote:

Bracer of Armor and wildshape were always confusing to me.

Ring of Feather Falling just completely make this ring useless while polmorphed.

Bracers of Armor work while Polymorphed to me, because it isn't armor in my mind but a continuous Armor Bonus.

Ring doesn't activate while polymorphed.

Yes both of these answers would experience table variance.

Shadow Lodge

Bracers of Armour work with polymorph at our table, though I think that actually is a houserule rather than RAI. They're pretty expensive compared to Mage Armour so if someone buys them they might as well enjoy them.

ShieldLawrence wrote:
@Weirdo: Deliquescent Gloves give natural attacks the "corrosive weapon special ability" which is command activated just like flaming or frost.

Ah, I forgot we have a house rule about that. We treat those weapon properties as being always on with a suppression option, or "command de-activated" instead, because we don't like having to spend a standard action to turn on a flaming sword.


ShieldLawrence: I am having trouble thinking of any reason why someone would make a command word purposefully be in a language that they do not speak and understand.


Lune wrote:

@Byakko: Didn't know you had a fox. We should share experiences. Regarding your reasoning about the spirit of the rules, while I generally agree some of those are easy to get around. For instance if you have a Ring of Eloquence you needn't worry about vocal components. This is one reason I think that a Jingasa should work.

Weirdo: Out of curiosity, where do you fall on +1 Bracers of Armor with Acid Resistance?

You should, lol! I've been replying to most of your fox-related posts these last 2 months with info I've found useful.

The Ring of Eloquence may allow you to speak, but I feel this isn't enough to use command-word melded gear. Reasoning being that you need to more closely interact with the item which is something that can't be done when it's in melded form. Perhaps it just can't hear you when it's hovering somewhere around your spleen.

At my table, +1 Bracers of Acid Resistance fully work. I imagine at many tables you won't gain the +1 AC bonus but will retain the acid resistance.

The Concordance

Lune wrote:
ShieldLawrence: I am having trouble thinking of any reason why someone would make a command word purposefully be in a language that they do not speak and understand.

Wouldn't want my flaming sword to set my gear on fire because I accidentally said "trapeze" again. Lol

Just going off of the command word description:

"A command word can be a real word, but when this is the case, the holder of the item runs the risk of activating the item accidentally by speaking the word in normal conversation. More often, the command word is some seemingly nonsensical word, or a word or phrase from an ancient language no longer in common use. Activating a command word magic item is a standard action and does not provoke attacks of opportunity."


Byakko: Ok, so what if I got a +0 Agile Flaming Amulet of Mighty Fists? Can't activate it?

Separate question: What if I activate it before changing shape and just leave it turned on? There is really no downfall to it.

...plus I really want to do this on my character because in his fox form he is a Firefoot Fennec. ;)


I'd say you could activate it before transforming, and leave it on.

Although you might start setting fire to wherever you walk, depending on the GM's mood. ;)

Actually, since your entire body is a weapon... yeah, you could be one fiery fox...


Well... it says the flames do not hurt the wielder. I guess it doesn't say anything about the flames hurting anything else.

...have you actually had GMs rule that way?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber

Keep in mind that Fox Shape doesn't have a limit on number of uses, I would imagine most of the time you could run with it off then, if going into a potential fight switch back activate it and then turn into Firefox.


Lune, I don't use any activated magical weapon properties like that, so I don't know. I imagine most GMs will just hand-waive the issue, though.

Taenia: That's certainly possible, but often you don't know exactly when combat will start. Doing that stuff at the start of a fight will use up precious actions.


Yeah, prolly going to skip it even though it is in theme, seems both fitting and fun. Even though I want to do it I probably won't just due to wanting to avoid table variation.


What about +1 Body Wraps of Mighty Strikes?
...what about if you get them enchanted with Answering?

The Concordance

Lune wrote:

What about +1 Body Wraps of Mighty Strikes?

...what about if you get them enchanted with Answering?

Hard to say. The body wraps' bonus only happens once per round, which means it isn't constant and might need to be activated.

I think an answering amulet of mighty fists will work though.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Oliver McShade wrote:

Bracer of Armor and wildshape were always confusing to me. As it was based of the mage armor spell.

see so many different ruling on weather Mage armor would or would not work for wildshape or monks. make my head spin.

.........................

Here is a good question for ya =

Ring of Feather Falling = The ring activated immediately if the wearer falls more than 5 feet. -- as in the ring is activated by itself, you do not have to activated the ring --

So if you are a Druid, wildshaped into an eagle, could you use this ring to prevent falling. Or do the polmorphed rules, just completely make this ring useless while polmorphed.

Or you could remember that eagles have this neat invention... called wings.

Feather Fall rings are a special case as they don't require activation by their user but automatically kick in if the user falls more than 10 feet.

The Concordance

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LazarX wrote:
Oliver McShade wrote:

Bracer of Armor and wildshape were always confusing to me. As it was based of the mage armor spell.

see so many different ruling on weather Mage armor would or would not work for wildshape or monks. make my head spin.

.........................

Here is a good question for ya =

Ring of Feather Falling = The ring activated immediately if the wearer falls more than 5 feet. -- as in the ring is activated by itself, you do not have to activated the ring --

So if you are a Druid, wildshaped into an eagle, could you use this ring to prevent falling. Or do the polmorphed rules, just completely make this ring useless while polmorphed.

Or you could remember that eagles have this neat invention... called wings.

Feather Fall rings are a special case as they don't require activation by their user but automatically kick in if the user falls more than 10 feet.

Which is great as long as you aren't polymorphed, which stops all items that require activation, not just the ones activated by the user.

Invest in some Boots of the Cat, which don't require activation. Of course this depends on whether constant benefits = constant bonus.


LazarX wrote:
Oliver McShade wrote:

Bracer of Armor and wildshape were always confusing to me. As it was based of the mage armor spell.

see so many different ruling on weather Mage armor would or would not work for wildshape or monks. make my head spin.

.........................

Here is a good question for ya =

Ring of Feather Falling = The ring activated immediately if the wearer falls more than 5 feet. -- as in the ring is activated by itself, you do not have to activated the ring --

So if you are a Druid, wildshaped into an eagle, could you use this ring to prevent falling. Or do the polmorphed rules, just completely make this ring useless while polmorphed.

Or you could remember that eagles have this neat invention... called wings.

Feather Fall rings are a special case as they don't require activation by their user but automatically kick in if the user falls more than 10 feet.

If you have wings and fail your fly check by more than 5, you begin to fall. It's a legitimate question.

However, since the ring does not provide a constant feather falling effect, I would say no, it does not immediately activate and save you.


I would say a Ring of Feather Fall does work, as you're not activating it. It's activating itself.

The Concordance

Byakko wrote:
I would say a Ring of Feather Fall does work, as you're not activating it. It's activating itself.

The rules don't discriminate between activating it or activating itself. If it requires activation, it doesn't work.

"Items that require activation cannot be used while you maintain that form."


ShieldLawrence wrote:
Byakko wrote:
I would say a Ring of Feather Fall does work, as you're not activating it. It's activating itself.

The rules don't discriminate between activating it or activating itself. If it requires activation, it doesn't work.

"Items that require activation cannot be used while you maintain that form."

As I mentioned earlier, all items technically require activation. It thus follows that no magic items work while polymorphed.

The more reasonable interpretation is that no magic items requiring an action to activate work.


Byakko wrote:
ShieldLawrence wrote:
Byakko wrote:
I would say a Ring of Feather Fall does work, as you're not activating it. It's activating itself.

The rules don't discriminate between activating it or activating itself. If it requires activation, it doesn't work.

"Items that require activation cannot be used while you maintain that form."

As I mentioned earlier, all items technically require activation. It thus follows that no magic items work while polymorphed.

The more reasonable interpretation is that no magic items requiring an action to activate work.

The specific rule for polymorph is that items with a constant effect continue to work. This is opposed to items that must activate in some way in order to apply an effect. Ring of Feather Fall must activate in some way in order to apply the effect of the item. It does not apply a constant bonus, which is what remains on your character when you polymorph.


El cuervo: Just playing devil's advocate here because I don't buy into this being the proper interpretation but as quoted in my original post the section on magic items says:

Quote:
To use a magic item, it must be activated, although sometimes activation simply means putting a ring on your finger. Some items, once donned, function constantly.

Reading strictly according to that rule then NO magic items can be used while polymorphed. I mean there is some basis in the rules for that interpretation. It is due to this division in opinions that I believe we need this FAQ'd.


Lune wrote:

El cuervo: Just playing devil's advocate here because I don't buy into this being the proper interpretation but as quoted in my original post the section on magic items says:

Quote:
To use a magic item, it must be activated, although sometimes activation simply means putting a ring on your finger. Some items, once donned, function constantly.
Reading strictly according to that rule then NO magic items can be used while polymorphed. I mean there is some basis in the rules for that interpretation. It is due to this division in opinions that I believe we need this FAQ'd.

Right, and I counter that with the more specific rule of polymorph where items with a constant effect are still allowed despite the general rule of all magic items technically being activated.

I know you're just playing devil's advocate and in general we are on the same page, but I believe this is actually a perfect example of specific trumps general. The specific rule for polymorph regarding items with constant effects overrides the general rule about all magic items being activated.

That being said, we do need clarification on what exactly qualifies as a constant effect/bonus.


el cuervo wrote:

Right, and I counter that with the more specific rule of polymorph where items with a constant effect are still allowed despite the general rule of all magic items technically being activated.

And that's exactly the same "more specific rule" I'm using to say a Ring of Feather Falling will work during a polymorph effect.

When you put on the ring, you gain a constant effect: whenever you fall, feather fall will be applied to you. It doesn't matter if this happens in one hour or one day or one week. The item will always be looking for this triggering condition - it is constant and continuous. (even if the benefits granted due to the trigger being detected are temporary)

The Concordance

Byakko wrote:
el cuervo wrote:

Right, and I counter that with the more specific rule of polymorph where items with a constant effect are still allowed despite the general rule of all magic items technically being activated.

And that's exactly the same "more specific rule" I'm using to say a Ring of Feather Falling will work during a polymorph effect.

When you put on the ring, you gain a constant effect: whenever you fall, feather fall will be applied to you. It doesn't matter if this happens in one hour or one day or one week. The item will always be looking for this triggering condition - it is constant and continuous. (even if the benefits granted due to the trigger being detected are temporary)

It's a continuous benefit that requires activation then, so it still doesn't work. Only continuous benefits that do not require activation work. So not all continuous bonuses, only the continuous bonuses that require no activation.


ShieldLawrence wrote:
Byakko wrote:
el cuervo wrote:

Right, and I counter that with the more specific rule of polymorph where items with a constant effect are still allowed despite the general rule of all magic items technically being activated.

And that's exactly the same "more specific rule" I'm using to say a Ring of Feather Falling will work during a polymorph effect.

When you put on the ring, you gain a constant effect: whenever you fall, feather fall will be applied to you. It doesn't matter if this happens in one hour or one day or one week. The item will always be looking for this triggering condition - it is constant and continuous. (even if the benefits granted due to the trigger being detected are temporary)

It's a continuous benefit that requires activation then, so it still doesn't work. Only continuous benefits that do not require activation work. So not all continuous bonuses, only the continuous bonuses that require no activation.

Then we're back to no magic items working.

A Belt of Strength +2 also provides a continuous benefit that requires activation (wearing it).


Yep. I declare this official as having become circular. I at least can see both sides of the discussion even though I strongly agree with one of them. Without stronger rules support we are left at this same impasse.

You both have hit FAQ, right? ;)


1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.
Lune wrote:

Yep. I declare this official as having become circular. I at least can see both sides of the discussion even though I strongly agree with one of them. Without stronger rules support we are left at this same impasse.

You both have hit FAQ, right? ;)

Hey Lune/Reod, long time no talk! I actually was just looking up this exact same issue for a campaign my buddy is running. Its not PFS, but we like to use only official rules and home rule as little as possible.

Our specific case is with my druid, whom is focusing on wild shape combat. I was thinking that if I grabbed a +1 shocking amulet of mighty fists, I could use it in wild shape simply by activating it before transforming. As once its activated, "the effect remains until another command is given," I thought it would be considered a constant bonus. So I wouldn't be able to turn it off, or activate it if I'm already transformed, but otherwise it would be fine.

My GM said to look to forums to see what I could find, thus here I am.


Deathy! :)

Yeah... wish I could have provided a more complete answer but I am still looking for one myself. Hit FAQ. It is the only way us lowly players can get the attention of the tabletop gods. That and certain sacrificial rites.


I will do the thing. I explained my reasoning to my GM, and he has ruled for our game that he sees no problem with the logic I presented above, though I am still curious as to how it actually is supposed to work.


Gear my polymorpher would buy / not buy if it wasn't for table variation:

Bracers of Armor
Bracers of Armor w/ Special Abilities
Leather Armor w/ Special Abilities
Light Wooden Shield w/ Special Abilities
Snakeskin Tunic
Shirt of Immolation

What is on your list?

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