Does Polymorph Any Object Give It A Soul?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Borrowed or created, does it give the target a soul?

Polymorph Any Object can turn a pebble into a human, or any other creature, for up to 20 minutes. It can also, more disturbingly, turn a human corpse into a living human for at least 3 hours.

Do humanoids created by this spell have souls? Whether they do or not, they WILL have an Int, Wis, and Cha of 5. How should they be RP'ed?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Souls aren't terribly well defined in Pathfinder, they obviously exist a lot of the mechanics around them are vague, and a fair bit of the lore is setting based, rather than rules based as well.

In any event, I don't believe that this spell would give anything a soul. Those low stats represent to me something like a (poorly) simulated personality. I'd expect a humanoid created by this spell to be basically tabula rosa, with at most a rudimentary knowledge of language, no skills and really know knowledge about anything.


Short answer: No.

Do you have something specific in mind that requires the object you polymorph to have a soul?

It would play havoc on any of the deities or planes that deal with souls. You can turn a pebble into a human for 20 minutes, so you create a new soul and 20 minutes later the human is a pebble again, and a fresh soul, only 20 minutes old, has to find a new host, a new plane, or somehow fit into a deity's plan.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

The spell does not say a soul is created, so the answer is no.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
VoodistMonk wrote:

Short answer: No.

Do you have something specific in mind that requires the object you polymorph to have a soul?

It would play havoc on any of the deities or planes that deal with souls. You can turn a pebble into a human for 20 minutes, so you create a new soul and 20 minutes later the human is a pebble again, and a fresh soul, only 20 minutes old, has to find a new host, a new plane, or somehow fit into a deity's plan.

Short Reply: No.

My current PC is a sorcerer with a penchant for experimenting with magic without considering the long-term effects. There's nothing that she (or I) seeks to accomplish with her polymorphs having souls (no spell combo or broken rule interaction or anything like that). My desire for an answer to this question is purely for RP reasons.

I think *creating* a soul out of thin air would be a bit much, but simply borrowing one? Not totally out of the question. That's at least the sort of thing I think an 8th level spell is capable of doing.

TBH I'm not sure if polymorphing a dead person into a living one would be more or less horrifying if a random dead person's soul was plopped into it for a few hours.


Big Lemon wrote:
TBH I'm not sure if polymorphing a dead person into a living one would be more or less horrifying if a random dead person's soul was plopped into it for a few hours.

Since you cannot duplicate a specific individual, a corpse used for this purpose would result in a random individual with no class levels or specific knowledge.


No. It's just animated by magic it would be largely without personality.


Well, there are many stories of evil outsiders trying to out an existing soul in order to take over a body. This would be perfect for them. Ghosts possession would also be a thing.

/cevah


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This reminds me of the trick using Stone Shape, then Stone to Flesh, then Polymorph any Object to effectively create life.

Now I'm imagining a high level wizard in her personal permanent demiplane creating soulless monstrosities. Could be a fun story hook. Even better if it somehow involves finding other souls to force into these husks.

Big bad for a Pharasman Inquisition themed party?


Rosc wrote:
Even better if it somehow involves finding other souls to force into these husks.

Depending on circumstances, force may not be required.

I'm sure you can find those dying of old age or permanently crippled that would willingly trade a period of servitude for a young, healthy body.


Polymorph is a transmutation spell so it can only change properties of the object. It does not actually create anything therefore a pebble turned into a human would not have a soul. If any school was able to create a soul conjuration (creation) would be the appropriate school. Necromancy could put another soul into a body, but the soul would have to already exist.


This is an amazing spell but even you manage a 'permanent' duration on the spell's tables, it can be dispelled with a simple dispel magic I believe. Therefore no life has been created IMO.


GM PDK wrote:
This is an amazing spell but even you manage a 'permanent' duration on the spell's tables, it can be dispelled with a simple dispel magic I believe. Therefore no life has been created IMO.

Careful there. The question was 'a soul', not life or life force. You are very clearly creating life. You've arranged the target into a form that has an electrical current or biology that corresponds to living things. It will be detectable to lifesense, deathwatch, it can die, etc.

There are certain aspects of the game that overlap 'soul' and 'life force' so not every situation will fit for a generic question like this one. For instance, you could definitely sense the (positive) life force of a rock polymorphed into a kobold when using magic jar and could most definitely trap that life-force in the gem and take over the body (not getting into what happens if it turns back into a rock while you're in there, let's stay a bit focused).

I don't see any reason that an onion polymorphed into an elf couldn't be raised, assuming the elf/onion wanted to return and assuming you don't have the elf return to onion form on death, which there seems to be no clause on with polymorph any longer (and PaO works on objects if you would have the corpse declared an object instead of a creature.)

So... as for the theory that the caster is 'creating' a soul... that would definitely seem too powerful, but it's not so far-fetched that a god or goddess of death or the afterlife didn't have a soul ready to be temporary assigned to the body (just like they know if a soul will one day, hundreds of years later, be resurrected, so they never pass judgement on it) or, more likely, a primal essence or spirit takes residence and becomes a soul in essence (explaining its lackluster ability modifiers in general).


It's not life if sustained by spell energies (akin to summoning monsters IMO). Real life or sustained AIs (android race) get a soul in Golarion as per James Jacobs threads.


The simplest solution is that it gets a soul the same way a newborn does... 20 minutes later, it dies.


In-setting, Golarion's Pharasma would have done a number on that spell a long time ago if that was the case, IMO.

Grand Lodge

I feel it's completely the purview of the DM.

In my game I decided quite a few years ago that indeed it does get a Soul. But my Homebrew cosmology is decades in development and it fits with how my campaign cosmology works. (Actually it was darn near impossible to fit Pharasma into my cosmology.) But certainly, Polymorph Any Object works by getting a Soul and using it to animate that rock.

But it's the decision of the DM, completely. And all a publishing company can say, even one as august as Paizo, is that it works a certain way in their cosmology -- and it's up to the DMs whether to adopt that or not.


Why? Pharasma just cares that everyone does at their appointed time. The polymorpmed creature can't escape it's fate.


Summon Monster, Summon Nature's Ally, Simulacrum, Lesser Simulacrum, etc. would all need souls too, if that's the case. The fun would never end. LOL

Which is why I'd rather adhere to the strict in-setting situation about the River of Souls. The setting has made a lot of updates on how souls are treated, notable via Great Beyond, Mummy's Mask, Wrath of the Rigtheous and Legacy of the First World (don't quote me here I'm just going by memory from old GM prep). I think the Godsmouth Ossuary had something about souls in it as well (without going into major spoilers...)

James Jacobs' thread has dealt with the subject extensively anyhow, so I'd ask him the question if what has been provided here is insufficient for the OP.

Regards,
GM PDK


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here's James' thoughts on simulacrum and souls

Here's James' thoughts on simulacrum and polymorph any object! :)

i.e. I'd use the same guidelines for Polymorph Any Object as those provided for Simulacrums. That's just me though, and admittedly a pretty vast extrapolation of James' simulacrum guidelines (simulacrum is illusion magic whereas PAO is transmutation and actually creates a creature of that type) My recommendation not to make a rock gain a soul via PAO is purely based on the vibe provided by the Golarion setting (i.e. River of Souls, First World, Pharasma and her crusade vs. undeath, which I would extend to crusade against spell effects or even Nethys if magic could just appropriate/trap souls out of the River's flow willy-nilly)


Knight Magenta wrote:
Why? Pharasma just cares that everyone does at their appointed time. The polymorpmed creature can't escape it's fate.

"You ain't got a soul, boy, but you got personality!" said the cleric to depressed Pinocchio.

Huh-huhuhuhuhuh


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Knight Magenta wrote:
The simplest solution is that it gets a soul the same way a newborn does... 20 minutes later, it dies.

The most morally repugnant way to interpret the spell... I like it.

Every time you cast this spell and it isn't permanent, you kill a baby.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
GM PDK wrote:
In-setting, Golarion's Pharasma would have done a number on that spell a long time ago if that was the case, IMO.

Unless it fit into her plan!

Pharasma hasn't done away with Raise Dead or Reincarnate, and the former spell is used often enough by Pharasman priests in PF fiction. If she allows those spells to be cast, why wouldn't she allow a temporary version of them?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Those who are raised/resurrected have not been judged yet and are still in the pipeline.

The lineup time can be millions of years or five seconds when you can see past, future and present.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / General Discussion / Does Polymorph Any Object Give It A Soul? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.