polymorph spells and disguise bonus


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Most polymorph type spells only give you a +10 bonus if you're trying to impersonate someone, which makes sense as unless you have a REALLY good memory you probably won't get every detail right. That said, if you have a portrait or some other image of a person you're trying to look like as a reference can you take 10 or even 20 on the disguise check? I would think so.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

AFAIK, the +10 bonus for most polymorph spells is to impersonate a race of species, not a specific person. Most polymorph spells don't allow you to impersonate a specific person.

As I don't recall all spells I suppose there is some specific spell that allows you to copy a specific person aspect, so you need to check them for specific rules.

Then there are the rules about taking 10 and 20.

Taking 10: When your character is not in immediate danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check, calculate your result as if you had rolled a 10.

Taking 10 require you not to be distracted. Generally, I would say that casting a spell distract you from other activities, so I wouldn't allow it.

Taking 20: When you have plenty of time, you are faced with no threats or distractions, and the skill being attempted carries no penalties for failure, you can take 20. In other words, if you roll a d20 enough times, eventually you will get a 20. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check, just calculate your result as if you had rolled a 20.

Taking 20 require you to cast the needed spell 20 times.

All the above applies to spells that allow you to change your aspect once for each casting. If you ave a spell that allows you o change your aspect several times for each casting you can surely take 10 from the second round onward, as you can focus exclusively on your aspect, and if the spell allows you to change your aspect 20 or more times you can take 20.


I'd be dubious about a portrait being enough to take 20 under any circumstances anyway. If you had an actual person, or a perfect 3D reproduction sure - but portraits have imperfections, are usually posed, and only show their subject from one angle.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Disguising as a specific person isn't simple, especially in a world where magic is common and people is aware it could be used.
If you are impersonating Duke Alfred and then speak in a meek voice with a peasant accent, people will be immediately suspicious, so disguising as some specific person instead of as kitchen helper n. 5 could require the use of several skills if there is some interaction with other people. Bluff, sense motive, linguistic, etc can all have a part in a good impersonation.
Notice that polymorph spells don't change your equipment aspect, so you need to change or disguise it too. Duke Alfred probably will not go around his palace with a shield strapped on his arm and his garments probably will display his coat of arm.
It all depends on the kind of campaign you are playing. If it is centered on intrigue impersonating someone will require and reward the use of multiple skills, if it is a dungeon campaign and the disguise is something that would happen once in the whole campaign, the requirements generally would be lower.
You should consult with your GM for the specifics.


avr wrote:
I'd be dubious about a portrait being enough to take 20 under any circumstances anyway. If you had an actual person, or a perfect 3D reproduction sure - but portraits have imperfections, are usually posed, and only show their subject from one angle.

How about an actual photograph then? (assuming they even exist in Golarion?)


Also, there are times when you can take 10 or 20 without having to try multiple times (example: when drawing the magic circle against (alignment) diagram you can take 20 but it takes over 3 hours to draw in that case.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Yqatuba wrote:
Also, there are times when you can take 10 or 20 without having to try multiple times (example: when drawing the magic circle against (alignment) diagram you can take 20 but it takes over 3 hours to draw in that case.
Quote:

You can take 10 when drawing the diagram if you are under no particular time pressure to complete the task. This task also takes 10 full minutes.

If time is no factor at all, and you devote 3 hours and 20 minutes to the task, you can take 20.

3 hours and 20 minutes = 200 minutes = 10 minutes * 20

You draw, erase and re-draw the circle 20 times.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Yqatuba wrote:
avr wrote:
I'd be dubious about a portrait being enough to take 20 under any circumstances anyway. If you had an actual person, or a perfect 3D reproduction sure - but portraits have imperfections, are usually posed, and only show their subject from one angle.
How about an actual photograph then? (assuming they even exist in Golarion?)

Same problem. When using a photo as a reference there are a lot of factors change the faithfulness of the image: if it is black and white or color; if color, how faithful to the original are the colors; how staged is the pose; how much makeup (or lack of it) when it was done; the light enhance or reduce the dept of the image; etc.

Generally, a photo is better than a painted portrait, but it isn't the same as copying the original.

On the other hand, impersonating someone doesn't require a perfect likeness of the person. Generally, I would allow taking 10 in the Disguise skill check, not taking 20, unless you have the original at hand, someone that can comment on how precise is each attempt and try 20 times.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nothing wrong with a good old fashioned +2 circumstance bonus.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Yqatuba wrote:
avr wrote:
I'd be dubious about a portrait being enough to take 20 under any circumstances anyway. If you had an actual person, or a perfect 3D reproduction sure - but portraits have imperfections, are usually posed, and only show their subject from one angle.
How about an actual photograph then? (assuming they even exist in Golarion?)

Same problem. When using a photo as a reference there are a lot of factors change the faithfulness of the image: if it is black and white or color; if color, how faithful to the original are the colors; how staged is the pose; how much makeup (or lack of it) when it was done; the light enhance or reduce the dept of the image; etc.

Generally, a photo is better than a painted portrait, but it isn't the same as copying the original.

On the other hand, impersonating someone doesn't require a perfect likeness of the person. Generally, I would allow taking 10 in the Disguise skill check, not taking 20, unless you have the original at hand, someone that can comment on how precise is each attempt and try 20 times.

I like this best. Granted, in most cases the person doesn't WANT to be impersonated so won't be available. That said, I can think of some times when they might want someone else to pretend to be them, in which case I imagine they would let you study them as long as you want to make sure you get every detail right.


I actually just looked it up and it's VEIL that gives a bonus to disguise, not the polymorph spells (even though they did in 3.x, not sure why they changed it.) Anyway, if you used veil it could fix the "wearing the wrong clothes" problem Diego Rossi mentioned (presumably you could wear nothing but a loincloth but make it look like a 1000 gp suit in your veil form.)


Magic chapter wrote:
Polymorph: a polymorph spell transforms your physical body to take on the shape of another creature. While these spells make you appear to be the creature, granting you a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks, ...


Yqatuba wrote:
I actually just looked it up and it's VEIL that gives a bonus to disguise, not the polymorph spells (even though they did in 3.x, not sure why they changed it.)

Wait, what? Polymorph spells grant a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks, both in 3.x and in Pathfinder. Polymorph spells always result in an average member of the target species, both in 3.x and in Pathfinder, and thus can't be used to imitade specific individuals. Pathfinder ist just clearer because it has actual distinct polymorph rules, and didn't put all the stuff in the various spell descriptions.

"Taking 20 means you are trying until you get it right" CRB pg. 86, but since "[t]he Disguise check is made secretly, so that you can’t be sure how good the result is" CRB pg. 95, you can't know whether you 'got it right' until trying it, and thus you can't take 20.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
avr wrote:
Magic chapter wrote:
Polymorph: a polymorph spell transforms your physical body to take on the shape of another creature. While these spells make you appear to be the creature, granting you a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks, ...
Magic chapter wrote:


Unless otherwise noted, polymorph spells cannot be used o change into specific individuals. Although many of the fine details can be controlled, your appearance is always that of a generic member of that creature’s type. Polymorph spells cannot be used to assume the form of a creature with a template or an advanced version of a creature.

So you surely get a +10 to the disguise attempt if trying to pass as a generic member of a race.

It will surely cover for things lie different sex, hair, eyes and skin color, height and similar details, as long as it is in the average range for the species.

So, for a human, it will probably cover anything between 5' 2" and 6' 2", blinde, black, brown and red hairs and so on, but it will not include extremely rare combinations, like an Asiatic woman with red hairs and green eyes.

I am uncertain about how that will translate when trying to impersonate a specific person of your race. In a home game, I would be tempted to say that the +10, when trying to impersonate a specific individual, will only offset the penalities, not give a positive bonus. But that is a personal choice as a GM, not RAW.


Ok, guess I looked in the wrong place with regard to polymorph. That said:

Veil wrote:


You must succeed on a Disguise check to duplicate the appearance of a specific individual. This spell gives you a +10 bonus on the check.

So it explicitly says you can copy a specific person.


Derklord wrote:


"Taking 20 means you are trying until you get it right" CRB pg. 86, but since "[t]he Disguise check is made secretly, so that you can’t be sure how good the result is" CRB pg. 95, you can't know whether you 'got it right' until trying it, and thus you can't take 20.

Ok, maybe the +2 circumstance bonus, if you have a picture, is better after all (though I would increase it to +5 or higher if you have the actual person you're copying to look at.)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Yqatuba wrote:

Ok, guess I looked in the wrong place with regard to polymorph. That said:

Veil wrote:


You must succeed on a Disguise check to duplicate the appearance of a specific individual. This spell gives you a +10 bonus on the check.
So it explicitly says you can copy a specific person.

The skill can allow you to copy a person, the spell doesn't allow you to try to copy a specific individual.

As the skill check can be made untrained and the spell gives a bonus to the skill, the difference is small, but it exists.

It mostly matters when you meet someone with True seeing. The bonus from polymorph will be negated, but the skill check result (minus the +10) will be still valid, as True seeing can be fooled by mundane means.


Diego Rossi wrote:
The skill can allow you to copy a person, the spell doesn't allow you to try to copy a specific individual.

He quoted Veil, which is a illusion spell that can (and helps you) do just that.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Sorry, was fixated on the polymorph spells.

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