How does the Decoy Familiar ability Master's Guise work?

Rules Questions

Silver Crusade

The Decoy familiar archetype has a funky ability at level 11, called Master's Guise. It says

Master's Guise wrote:
Master’s Guise (Sp): At 11th level, a decoy can transform into a perfect likeness of its master, as the alter self spell. It can hold this form for up to 1 minute per caster level; upon changing back, the decoy must remain in its natural form for an equal amount of time before transforming again. This ability replaces spell resistance.

How does this work?

Alter Self would transform a non-humanoid into a small or medium humanoid, and any gear that the non-humanoid is equipped with would remain equipped in accordance with the standard polymorph rules. So the decoy could be armoured - but then it wouldn't be a 'perfect likeness' if it was clad in say, studded leather, whilst its master was wearing full-plate.

What happens if the familiar's master is polymorphed or under another transmutation effect, at the time that the decoy uses Master's Guise to 'copy' him?

Duplicating magic items seems much too powerful, and then on the other hand the ability is nearly useless if the familiar just polymorphs into a naked humanoid, or a humanoid in totally different gear than the master.

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supervillain wrote:
How does this work?

It works very well, thank you.

More seriously, and leaving the ever looming specter of GM fiat aside:

1. The familiar polymorphs into a perfect likeness of its master, not its master's clothing and equipment. More than likely, the familiar will be naked or nearly naked. You'll still need to dress the poor thing. In your example, yes, the familiar would be wearing studded leather armor.

2. The familiar would copy the master's original form. Alter self copies creatures, not magical effects applied to said creatures.

The ability is extremely useful if you're trying to pass off your familiar as an, ahem, decoy. You'll just have to keep a spare set of clothing--or possibly a disguise kit--handy for when you use the ability.

Back to ever looming specters: I'd be surprised if there weren't a significant fraction of GMs that would have this duplicate clothing on activation, though only cosmetically--any special properties of said clothing wouldn't apply to the decoy. A smaller fraction of GMs might even do the same for obvious equipment.

Silver Crusade

Thanks Blahpers. I think I was getting to the same conclusions. Interested in hearing any other views, but you make perfect sense.

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