Polymorph: Ability DCs, augmentations, and other questions


Rules Questions


7 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This thread is for asking questions about the new polymorph rules introduced in Alien Archive 2. I will be posting my own questions in individual posts for ease of FAQing and encourage others to add their own questions, FAQ other questions, and to discuss the various questions being asked.

I'll start:

When casting polymorph, how do you calculate the DCs for gained abilities, such as poison?

Alien Archive 2 gives us one calculation method, but only for breath weapons. It also says the following:

If a polymorph spell grants a trait that uses a base creature’s CR for a calculation, instead use the spell’s maximum CR or the polymorphed creature’s character level or CR, whichever is lower.

The problem is that no creature gives calculations for DCs for abilities like they did in Pathfinder. There are index only tables for combatants, experts, and spellcasters which list static DCs. So how are they meant to be calculated?


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Do you retain the use of and/or outward appearance of your augmentations when you polymorph into a different creature type other than your own? Can you choose when casting the spell or when creating forms?


4 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

When making a unique polymorph form, can I choose special abilities and/or racial traits from existing creatures and/or the Universal Monster Rules, or am I limited to those few specific abilities outlined under the polymorph rules?

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

How do once per day abilities work?
1) how does it work with multiple castings of polymorph? Is it 1 use per cast?
2) If I have the polymorph adept feat and switch to different forms with the same 1/day ability, how many times can I use it?
3) What if multiple forms have the same ability? If all of my forms take hyper, can i use it once in each form? (Per day?/per cast?/using the polymorph adept feat, is it per form for each spell casting?)


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GeneticDrift wrote:

How do once per day abilities work?

1) how does it work with multiple castings of polymorph? Is it 1 use per cast?
2) If I have the polymorph adept feat and switch to different forms with the same 1/day ability, how many times can I use it?
3) What if multiple forms have the same ability? If all of my forms take hyper, can i use it once in each form? (Per day?/per cast?/using the polymorph adept feat, is it per form for each spell casting?)

Great questions!

Ravingdork wrote:
When casting polymorph, how do you calculate the DCs for gained abilities, such as poison?

It occurred to me that we don't even know how to calculate the DCs for listed abilities (such as Trample), much less those abilities that aren't listed (like poison).


3 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Do the subtypes you're restricted to by the various levels of Polymorph spell restrict your ability to take PC racial abilities if they come from a different subtype?

Example: Polymorph 2 grants one racial trait, but limits you to subtypes that are animal, fey, humanoid, magical beast, or monstrous humanid. Some PC options are aberrations. Can I take one of their racial traits with Polymorph 2, or do I need to use Polymorph 3, which permits the aberration subtype?


3 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Can you adopt a disguise as a specific creature if that level of polymorph spell doesn't support the specific creature's subtype?

For example, can I imitate a Astrazoan, an aberration, with Polymorph 1 or 2? Can I ever use a Polymorph spell to disguise myself as a dragon or non-elemental Outsider, as no version of the spell grants those subtypes?


3 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Does gear REALLY interact with subtypes the way the rules say they do? As is, an Astrozoan or Embri (aberrations) would keep the use of its weapons if it assumed the specific form of a Haeshi-Shaa, Akata, Deh-Nolo, or Orocoran, none of which have normal limbs, but a humanoid would lose its weapons if it adopted the specific form of a monstrous humanoid like a Contemplative, Formian, Haan, Kalo, Nuar, Shobhad, Swarm creature, Void Hag, Witchwyrd, Wrikreechee, Osharu, Quorlu, or Trox, all of which can wield weapons. And of course many of those monstrous humanoids are PC races who would lose their weapons if they transformed into a human, elf, lashunta, etc.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

°bump°

Surely we aren't the only ones curious about how these new rules are meant to work.


Xenocrat wrote:

Can you adopt a disguise as a specific creature if that level of polymorph spell doesn't support the specific creature's subtype?

For example, can I imitate a Astrazoan, an aberration, with Polymorph 1 or 2? Can I ever use a Polymorph spell to disguise myself as a dragon or non-elemental Outsider, as no version of the spell grants those subtypes?

Yes you can. You will look like them but not get the spell benefits of said type. You still get +10 to the disguise checks.


Garrett Larghi wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:

Can you adopt a disguise as a specific creature if that level of polymorph spell doesn't support the specific creature's subtype?

For example, can I imitate a Astrazoan, an aberration, with Polymorph 1 or 2? Can I ever use a Polymorph spell to disguise myself as a dragon or non-elemental Outsider, as no version of the spell grants those subtypes?

Yes you can. You will look like them but not get the spell benefits of said type. You still get +10 to the disguise checks.

This is not at all clear.

Appearance wrote:
When a polymorph form is that of another creature, the target appears to be that creature.

And then it has the rules you cite. But this leaves open the question of when a polymorph form can be that of another creature.

Type and Subtype wrote:

Polymorph spells allow their target to appear to be a creature of a different type and subtype and grant the target some benefits related to the base creature’s capabilities. Despite these changes, the target’s type and subtype remain the same.

More powerful spells grant the target extra benefits based on the chosen type or subtype, as noted in the spell description.
And then each spell states that "Each form must be a [list of allowed subtypes at that spell level]."

This implies to me that not only must your form be of an allowed subtypes, that allowed subtype determines what you can appear to be. Otherwise there's not reason for the low level spells not to grant subtypes like fey, aberration, magical beast, and monstrous humanoid that don't provide any other mechanical benefits.


I do agree with your point, did not notice the types allowed vs type bennifits. maybe you would just make a disguise check with no bonus but also no negatives for race and features


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am extremely confused by some of the Prebuilt Forms in AA2, I tried to use them as a reference when creating my own forms (generally based upon specific creatures) but it did not help me at all.

For example: 2nd-level Polymorph has a max CR of 3, plus a max size of medium; the prebuilt uses a "Juvenile Mountain Eel" form.

A mountain eel (AA, pg. 78) has a CR of 6 and is a huge creature, so how does this work exactly?

Does the "juvenile" moniker reduce it's size by 2 steps and halve it's CR? Is it just up to my imagination, thus allowing me to make any creature and just reduce it's stats to fit the polymorph level?

If so, I don't really see the point in the limitations (in regard to CR / size) enacted by the polymorph spell levels.

Another example, Caypins (AA, pg. 26) are a CR 6 large magical beast. Could I, as a level 2 polymorph spell, create a "juvenile" Caypin?

Following the written rules, I don't think it should be allowed, but following the prebuilts it seems like it doesn't really matter...


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Follow-up question (sorry for the double post):

The prebuilt form "Blue Dragon", how does this make any sense?

The written rules apply explicit limitations as to what types you can polymorph into, and Dragon is not listed.

I thought maybe this is one of the "imagination" forms, but in-game it wouldn't really make sense either.

It's easy to pick abilities, traits, speed, etc that is similar to that of a Dragon, but if you aren't allowed to be the Dragon type, what would this look like to the other PCs? What "form" do you actually take?

Overall I like the flexibility of the Polymorph spell, but it is SO ambiguous and inconsistent in some areas.


kingdunce wrote:

I am extremely confused by some of the Prebuilt Forms in AA2, I tried to use them as a reference when creating my own forms (generally based upon specific creatures) but it did not help me at all.

For example: 2nd-level Polymorph has a max CR of 3, plus a max size of medium; the prebuilt uses a "Juvenile Mountain Eel" form.

A mountain eel (AA, pg. 78) has a CR of 6 and is a huge creature, so how does this work exactly?

The names are just names, they don't mean the form is actually a specific creature form, just that it has some abilities that coincide with the named form.

The "Juvenile Mountain Eel" isn't a specific creature form because it doesn't have enough abilities. A Polymorph 2 creature gets two special abilities, or three if it's based on a specific creature.

This one has:
1. Low-light vision (Senses)
2. Trample (uncategorized but explicitly allowed special ability)
Free: Speed 40'
Free: Natural attack

If you want to pick Mountain Eel as a specific creature, you can add an additional ability that the Mountain Eel has. The only thing available that the above build doesn't already have is an "other abilities" option of Paralyzing Gaze, which is a GM permission thing.

In no circumstances does imitating a specific creature require or enable you to match everything about it. If it's bigger or smaller than your allowed size range, you're a weirdly sized version of it.

kingdunce wrote:


Another example, Caypins (AA, pg. 26) are a CR 6 large magical beast. Could I, as a level 2 polymorph spell, create a "juvenile" Caypin?

Following the written rules, I don't think it should be allowed, but following the prebuilts it seems like it doesn't really matter...

Yes, and I can't imagine what rule you think prevents it. You pick your abilities from the spell options, regardless of what you call the creature, and if you pick a specific creature you pick only abilities that creature actually has. Size isn't an ability, it's an independent variable governed by your spell level.

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Ravingdork wrote:
Do you retain the use of and/or outward appearance of your augmentations when you polymorph into a different creature type other than your own? Can you choose when casting the spell or when creating forms?

Augmentations are a type of equipment.

Quote:

If the polymorph form granted by a spell is of the same

creature type as the target’s true form, the armor, weapons,
and other equipment the target had at the time of casting
remain visible and accessible and are changed by the magic
to be usable in the new form.
If any item is out of the target’s
possession for more than 1 round, it reverts to its normal form.

If the polymorph form is of a different creature type than the
target’s true form,
the spell causes the target’s armor (including
any armor upgrades and the abilities of powered armor) to
continue to function and be able to be activated by the target
regardless of the character’s form. However, the armor isn’t
visible in polymorph form, and it can’t be targeted or accessed
(such as to change batteries) by either the target or other
creatures. All other equipment is unavailable in a polymorph
form of a different type and cannot be used, activated, targeted,
or modified by either the target or other creatures.

So basically:

If you turn a ysoki into a vesk, any augmentations he had remain visible and can be used.

If you turn a ysoki into a rat, his augmentations become unavailable, invisible, and cannot be used.

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Ravingdork wrote:
When making a unique polymorph form, can I choose special abilities and/or racial traits from existing creatures and/or the Universal Monster Rules, or am I limited to those few specific abilities outlined under the polymorph rules?

You can only select those listed under the polymorph rules.

Special Abilities wrote:

All of these are in addition to any abilities gained from

the polymorph form’s type or subtype (which are limited—
see Type and Subtype on page 144), and they must be
selected from the following list: amphibious, breath weapon,
breathing, compression, defensive abilities, limited telepathy,
racial traits, senses, and trample.

However, if the polymorph spell lets you select racial traits, you can select any racial trait from any PC race as long as it does not require/involve equipment or give you bonus feats or bonus skill ranks.

Special Abilities / Racial Traits wrote:

When selecting a racial trait for a polymorph

form, you can select any one player character racial trait of a
race that grants such rules
and that does not refer to or require
any equipment, armor, armor upgrade, or drone upgrade
to function. For example, you could select the exceptional
vision trait of an android (gaining both low-light vision and
darkvision), but not the upgrade slot ability (since it refers to
armor upgrades). Additionally, the target can never gain racial
ability adjustments, racial Hit Points, feats, or skill ranks from
a polymorph spell’s effects. Each level of the polymorph spell
has specific restrictions regarding spell-like abilities.

This is also important because if you want a better natural weapon than the default ones provided by the standard polymorph rules. You'll have to poach a natural weapon racial trait from a vesk or other race.


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Xenocrat wrote:


If you want to pick Mountain Eel as a specific creature, you can add an additional ability that the Mountain Eel has. The only thing available that the above build doesn't already have is an "other abilities" option of Paralyzing Gaze, which is a GM permission thing.

In no circumstances does imitating a specific creature require or enable you to match everything about it. If it's bigger or smaller than your allowed size range, you're a weirdly sized version of it.

Xenocrat wrote:


Yes, and I can't imagine what rule you think prevents it. You pick your abilities from the spell options, regardless of what you call the creature, and if you pick a specific creature you pick only abilities that creature actually has. Size isn't an ability, it's an...

Well, the spell rules that state there are limited CR and sizes. But I see now that those are just for your chosen forms size itself, not for choosing a creature to mimic (which is how I was reading it).

I wanted to mimic exact creatures to make it easier on myself and get the extra special ability. It was (and still kind of is) unclear if I am allowed to pick, say, a CR 4 Large Juvenile Nyssholora (AA2, pg86) as a Polymorph 2 form, and just reduce it's size to Medium and have it's CR be 3.

In this instance, according to you, I would not gain the extra ability, since it is not the exact same as the stat block, even though it is still based upon a specific creature, correct?

Sorry for the confusion!

EDIT:

Here is the part that confused me as well:

(AA2, pg 142) When you design a polymorph form, the target can gain the same maximum number of special abilities as an expert NPC of a CR equal to the spell’s maximum CR (using the array on page 130
of the Alien Archive). Alternatively, if you base your form on
a specific creature (which must be of a CR no higher than the
spell’s maximum CR), you can select only abilities that the
base form has, but you can select one ability more than the
normal maximum.


Cyrad wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Do you retain the use of and/or outward appearance of your augmentations when you polymorph into a different creature type other than your own? Can you choose when casting the spell or when creating forms?

Augmentations are a type of equipment.

Quote:

If the polymorph form granted by a spell is of the same

creature type as the target’s true form, the armor, weapons,
and other equipment the target had at the time of casting
remain visible and accessible and are changed by the magic
to be usable in the new form.
If any item is out of the target’s
possession for more than 1 round, it reverts to its normal form.

If the polymorph form is of a different creature type than the
target’s true form,
the spell causes the target’s armor (including
any armor upgrades and the abilities of powered armor) to
continue to function and be able to be activated by the target
regardless of the character’s form. However, the armor isn’t
visible in polymorph form, and it can’t be targeted or accessed
(such as to change batteries) by either the target or other
creatures. All other equipment is unavailable in a polymorph
form of a different type and cannot be used, activated, targeted,
or modified by either the target or other creatures.

So basically:

If you turn a ysoki into a vesk, any augmentations he had remain visible and can be used.

If you turn a ysoki into a rat, his augmentations become unavailable, invisible, and cannot be used.

A very good reason to pick mix and match forms and not remove your subtype. The subtype bonuses are all enhancement that don't stack with a ring of resistance or a black heart necrograft anyway.


kingdunce wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:


If you want to pick Mountain Eel as a specific creature, you can add an additional ability that the Mountain Eel has. The only thing available that the above build doesn't already have is an "other abilities" option of Paralyzing Gaze, which is a GM permission thing.

In no circumstances does imitating a specific creature require or enable you to match everything about it. If it's bigger or smaller than your allowed size range, you're a weirdly sized version of it.

Xenocrat wrote:


Yes, and I can't imagine what rule you think prevents it. You pick your abilities from the spell options, regardless of what you call the creature, and if you pick a specific creature you pick only abilities that creature actually has. Size isn't an ability, it's an...

Well, the spell rules that state there are limited CR and sizes. But I see now that those are just for your chosen forms size itself, not for choosing a creature to mimic (which is how I was reading it).

I wanted to mimic exact creatures to make it easier on myself and get the extra special ability. It was (and still kind of is) unclear if I am allowed to pick, say, a CR 4 Large Juvenile Nyssholora (AA2, pg86) as a Polymorph 2 form, and just reduce it's size to Medium and have it's CR be 3.

In this instance, according to you, I would not gain the extra ability, since it is not the exact same as the stat block, even though it is still based upon a specific creature, correct?

Sorry for the confusion!

The rules are often confusing!

For a Nyssholora (and other nonsentient creatures), if you want the specific creature and the extra ability I think you have to pick a spell level that can handle the CR of a published form. I also think with less confidence you can "upgrade" the CR to the cap of the spell. So Polymorph 3 (max CR 6) to handle the CR 4 Juvenile Nyssholora, and Polymorph 5 (max CR 12) to handle the CR 11 Adult Nyssholora. I'd let you make them CR 6 and 12 where the stats matter, but others might not.

Polymorph 3 would give you three special abilities (including the one extra for a specific creature form), and Polymorph 5 would give you four special abilities (ditto), all of which have to be selected from things the appropriate Nyssholora has.

Size can be whatever, speed has to be land, but I don't think you should be limited to the max speed of a real Nyssholora, because I don't think that's an "ability." But it's unclear.

Type has to be magical beast as you're directly emulating the creature, getting the +10 to disguise and bonus special ability.

Natural attack is free.

What can you spend your 3/4 special abilities on?

1. Defenses: electricity and sonic resistance. Again, I think but can't prove that you can select the cap set by your spell, not the 5 or 10 the actual creature has. I'm not sure, but maybe Polymorph 3 could choose defense twice, once for Electricity resistance 10, once for Sonic resistance 10.

2. Breath weapon: has to be sonic, probably has to be a cone. May have to be the same dimensions as the creature, I just don't know. Reasonably sure you use the damage and duration set by the spell, not the creature.

3. Darkvision 60 and/or low light vision.

4. Swallow Whole (adult only): via "other abilities"

5. Phasic Claws?: there's a note that GM's should be skeptical of granting Su abilities based on what seems to be a combination of balance and "realism" of what the spell could actually grant by physically changing your form. This seems ok to me personally on both grounds.

6. Telepathy Sense?: Another Su ability. I can see a ruling on this one going either way, but I'd say no because it doesn't feel "physical" enough to me, too much like the magical aura abilities it tells you not to grant.

So putting it together, I'd let you make the following:

1. Juvenile Nyssholora, Polymorph 3
Natural attack: bite, +9 (1d6+6+Str P)
Speed: 40'
Size: Medium
Special abilities: (1) Breath weapon (6d4 So), (2) Resistances to electricity/sonic 5, (3) Darkvision 60.

2. Adult Nyssholora, Polymorph 5
Natural attack: bite, +15 (2d12+12+Str P)
Speed: 40'
Size: Large
Special abilites: (1) Breath weapon (12d4 So), (2) Resistance to electricity/sonic 15, (3) Darkvision 60, (4) Swallow whole ("other abilities" selection that seems safe)

Note that those are the CR 6/12 natural attacks, a mean GM might restrict you to CR 4/11, but these are bad enough that he really, really shouldn't.

One big unanswered question is what the swallow whole damages should be. I'd personally make it the same as the natural attack, just switching the damage to B, since that fits both the intent of the spell's power and matches the type of damage done by this particular swallow whole.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thank you, this helps a lot!

My Xenowarden Mystic is currently level 4 and this is what I have for his first Polymorph 2 form.

(AA2, pg124)
Tashtari, Polymorph 2
CR 3
Natural Attack: bite +4 (1d4+3+Str P)
Speed: 40 ft (land)
Size: Medium (+1 Bonus to Str checks)
Type: Magical Beast
Special abilities: Darkvision 60ft, Bristle Flash, Muzzle Beam

I agree with you that I'd probably rule that any specific creature under the max CR of the spell would probably be brought up to the max, at least for the natural attacks.

For the special abilities, I assume it's up to the GM if I can have both of these specific ones. They are both physical Tashtari abilities, so it seems reasonable to me.


I agree! As far as bringing things up the max CR cap, it just makes sense for sentient creatures that can take class grafts (the only reason there is a more powerful Mi-Go), so I don't see why you can't just have the spell provide a "tougher" version of the nonsentient stuff.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Bump. FAQ those posts! :-D

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