Polymorph Any Object


Rules Questions


Hey all. I'm not really familar with the Polymorph rules, and last night the Wizard cast POLYMORPH ANY OBJECT on the BBEG (a Human caster of some kind) and turned him into a puppet. Because this spell references other spells, and some of those spells reference other spells we decided it would take too long to fully research and we ended the session so we can decide between sessions how it works (we were at the cut-off anyway).

The BBEG failed a single Fort-save, and we couldn't work out if a second save was required (as would be the case with Baleful Polymorph) and some of the spells referenced had the Harmless trait. We also weren't sure if the BBEG becomes an intelligent and/or animated puppet or just an object.

For those more familiar with this spell in particular or the polymorph rules in general, what should happen here?

TLDR: What happens when you offensively cast Polymorph Any Object on a Human enemy to turn them into a puppet?


It’s not clear.

I would take my lead from Flesh to Stone (which PAO can mimic) for living creature ==> inaminate object transformations.


Assuming the puppet that the caster turned them into wasn't some construct or creature called a puppet and was instead meant to be like a sock-puppet or a marionette, then the target (who fails) turns into that creature or object for the duration listed. He'll be an inanimate puppet, no senses.
Polymorph any object
You'd look at the chart and attempt to list the Duration increases based on how drastic the change to the new form is from the old form. Ie. you'd account for creature type, size, intelligence, etc.

You can also look at the examples, one of which is turning a marionette into a human (it would last about 1 hours). The next one is turning a human into a marionette (it lasts 3 hours). It will detect as magic and the spell can be dispelled earlier.

We know the BBEG will be basically an inanimate puppet and able to do all the things a normal puppet can do, which is nothing unless someone sticks their hand inside it or works its strings.

If he's by himself or doesn't have a minion to grab him up in puppet-form (he can't see, hear, talk, or otherwise have any knowledge of what's happening as a puppet), then he's at the mercy of the PCs. Any damage they do to him in puppet form will translate to equivalent damage when he turns back. So they can break him in two and stomp him into splinters and after 3 hours... he'll revert to a corpse that's broken and looks like it was stomped upon.

The good news is, if the PCs just break him into pieces (as an object) he wouldn't technically be dead, like if he polymorphed into a creature. Nor can the PCs get any of his gear, which likely melded into his form (at least not immediately or without dispelling the polymorph). Technically he can be repaired like an object before the duration ends, which means someone with a mend spell could repair him to a state that doesn't involve him being dead when he stops being a puppet. If they break off an arm or something, even if he doesn't die he'll be in bad shape.


Quote:
Magic items aren’t affected by this spell.

Does that mean the gear the BBEG was wearing drops to the floor while they get transformed into a puppet? Its an important question as it determines whether or not the party gets to loot the treasure of the BBEG. I suppose an alternative is to break the neck of the puppet so the BBEG is dead when they revert back normal while minimizing the potential damage to any magic gear or treasure.


The description under Magic for polymorph states that your gear melds into you if you polymorph into a creature with the animal, dragon, elemental, magic beast, plant, or vermin type. A marionette is none of those, so the BBEG has been turned an inanimate puppet holding his arms and wearing his armour for 3 hours.


Lelomenia wrote:
I would take my lead from Flesh to Stone (which PAO can mimic) for living creature ==> inaminate object transformations.

Yeah that was my thought as well.

Pizza Lord wrote:

You can also look at the examples ... The next one is turning a human into a marionette (it lasts 3 hours). It will detect as magic and the spell can be dispelled earlier.

We know the BBEG will be basically an inanimate puppet and able to do all the things a normal puppet can do, which is nothing unless someone sticks their hand inside it or works its strings.

Yeah that's what the Wizard did to be as easy-to-follow as possible.

Pizza Lord wrote:

If he's by himself or doesn't have a minion to grab him up in puppet-form, then he's at the mercy of the PCs.

Technically he can be repaired like an object before the duration ends, which means someone with a mend spell could repair him to a state that doesn't involve him being dead when he stops being a puppet.

Well there are half a dozen minions including another caster, so there are some possibilities there.


MrCharisma wrote:

... the Wizard cast POLYMORPH ANY OBJECT on the BBEG (a Human caster of some kind) and turned him into a puppet....

The BBEG failed a single Fort-save... We also weren't sure if the BBEG becomes an intelligent and/or animated puppet or just an object.

For those more familiar with this spell in particular or the polymorph rules in general, what should happen here?
...

polymorph subschool (look like the creature, do not change type)(absorbing gear limited to certain types, gear can shrink to fit new form)(only 1 polymorph at a time)

greater polymorph

okay - do you know what kind of puppet he intended? I assume the 'marionette' listed in the spell. Duration = 3 hrs.

Did the BBEG have any protective spells up? Very likely those are still going. An existing polymorph might preclude the PAO.

While you'd think he'd be inanimate object - surprise! - polymorphs don't actually change the type of a creature (anymore). So he should be >looking like< a puppet (as his ability scores are not affected he is still animate!). Construct specific spells won't affect him as he's still his original type (welcome to PF nerfing working against what you think the spell did in 3.5). As there's no similar spell listed, the target gains no abilities nor loses any. Things(Su, Ex) tied to his original form are lost but it's probably not much. BBEG's gear should shrink to the new form as it's the same type (humanoid). He still has his spells and miniature spell casting pouch. It ALMOST seems like a minor buff as his size reduces and his AC goes up.
a somewhat similar creature Soulbound Doll that actually IS a construct.

while a puppet sounded good, if you want to hobble a caster go for a body with no hands so he can not cast spells, see well (to see spell targets), or walk fast, or even have an effective attack. Choose slug or blind cavefish, a sea sponge would be amusing.

As this is probably NOT what you or the player expected... you might want him to roll a spellcraft check to know the results of his choices. Hopefully he's cast this spell before and it's not the first time.
The flesh to stone is also a safe option.


Azothath wrote:
okay - do you know what kind of puppet he intended? I assume the 'marionette' listed in the spell. Duration = 3 hrs.

Just to clarify for everyone - Yes he chose the Marionette option listed in the table (Duration factor: 4, Duration: 3 hours, Example: Human to marionette). He chose this form because he thought it would make rulings simpler for the GM.

Also for everyone's benefit, we essentially paused time right then and there because we weren't sure how it would work. If it turns out this form is actually a buff I'm sure he'll be allowed to say a different form - at the very least we can call this an 8th-level Flesh-to-Stone, but I think something a bit more creative would be nice if we can work it out.


Azothath wrote:
Did the BBEG have any protective spells up? Very likely those are still going. An existing polymorph might preclude the PAO.

I don't know if he had any protective wards up, but I'll get the GM to check.

The Polymorph-denial using another polymorph effect is very interesting though.


MrCharisma wrote:
Azothath wrote:
Did the BBEG have any protective spells up? Very likely those are still going. An existing polymorph might preclude the PAO.

I don't know if he had any protective wards up, but I'll get the GM to check.

The Polymorph-denial using another polymorph effect is very interesting though.

It's an interesting quirk of the rules, and as a player character I often try to have some polymorph affect on my character to prevent things like Baleful polymorph or polymorph any object from even being an object.

Something as simple as a greater hat of disguise (which grants alter self) can protect you. Not to mention being useful for it's intended purposes.

There are other options that I know I've had characters use, but can't remember them.

I think there's even a consumable item that you hold onto that breaks (and prevents the effect) whenever your hit by a hostile polymorph attack.

Liberty's Edge

Quote:
You can only be affected by one polymorph spell at a time. If a new polymorph spell is cast on you (or you activate a polymorph effect, such as wild shape), you can decide whether or not to allow it to affect you, taking the place of the old spell. In addition, other spells that change your size have no effect on you while you are under the effects of a polymorph spell.
Baleful polymorph wrote:


Any polymorph effects on the target are automatically dispelled when a target fails to resist the effects of baleful polymorph, and as long as baleful polymorph remains in effect, the target cannot use other polymorph spells or effects to assume a new form. Incorporeal or gaseous creatures are immune to baleful polymorph, and a creature with the shapechanger subtype can revert to its natural form as a standard action.

Other polymorph effects don't protect you from Baleful polymorph.

Polymorph Any Object wrote:


This spell can also be used to duplicate the effects of baleful polymorph,

And Polymorph Any Object can duplicate the effect of Baleful polymorph.


If treated as Baleful Polymorph, having a pre-existing polymorph doesn’t matter, because Baleful Polymorph doesn’t care. If treated as Flesh to Stone, having a pre-existing polymorph probably doesn’t matter, because Flesh to Stone isn’t a Polymorph effect (though as PAO is a polymorph spell, one could weirdly argue that Flesh to Stone becomes a polymorph spell when cast through PAO).

So not all that straightforward.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Quote:
You can only be affected by one polymorph spell at a time. If a new polymorph spell is cast on you (or you activate a polymorph effect, such as wild shape), you can decide whether or not to allow it to affect you, taking the place of the old spell. In addition, other spells that change your size have no effect on you while you are under the effects of a polymorph spell.
Baleful polymorph wrote:


Any polymorph effects on the target are automatically dispelled when a target fails to resist the effects of baleful polymorph, and as long as baleful polymorph remains in effect, the target cannot use other polymorph spells or effects to assume a new form. Incorporeal or gaseous creatures are immune to baleful polymorph, and a creature with the shapechanger subtype can revert to its natural form as a standard action.

Other polymorph effects don't protect you from Baleful polymorph.

Polymorph Any Object wrote:


This spell can also be used to duplicate the effects of baleful polymorph,

And Polymorph Any Object can duplicate the effect of Baleful polymorph.

Sorry, I was probably thinking of this specific magic item which is so cheap and absolutely works against baleful polymorph.

In short, there's no reason both players characters and NPCs above around level 7 shouldn't keep at least one on their person.


MrCharisma wrote:
Azothath wrote:
Did the BBEG have any protective spells up? Very likely those are still going. An existing polymorph might preclude the PAO.

I don't know if he had any protective wards up, but I'll get the GM to check.

The Polymorph-denial using another polymorph effect is very interesting though.

It'd be best to direct your GM to this thread.

While PAO can reproduce the effects of Baleful Polymorph (get around any existing polymorph effect), it's best practice to say you're using that effect so the GM knows and a suitable end form can be chosen. Casters have to select the effect at the onset. I'll note that Grtr Polymorph targets willing creatures and is intended as a buff. It isn't wise to use a spell if you don't know the effects or likely outcome. It IS an excellent recipe for in game comedy and unintended plot twists. Just remember it is a game and fun, you win some you lose some and then some are hilarious outcomes you'll talk about for years.

IMO the spell should have some effect but it shouldn't end combat at this point as the more effective options were not chosen for the situation. So the GM & player are shooting for a reasonable compromise. My advice is not to use this spell as an attack spell in combat except for the Flesh to Stone option (failed save->stone & out of options & actions). Casters have more effective less complex options: Forcecage{meh}, Insanity, Waves of Exhaustion, Cosmic Ray, Mjr Curse, Flesh to Stone, Freezing Sphere, Wall of Iron, Dazing Fireball, Intensified Persistent Ear-piercing Scream, Call of the Void, ... apply Heighten as needed.


Azothath wrote:
It'd be best to direct your GM to this thread.

Yup, I sent the whole group a link to this thread in our "We are Stupud" chat as soon as I posted it.

Azothath wrote:
While PAO can reproduce the effects of Baleful Polymorph (get around any existing polymorph effect), it's best practice to say you're using that effect so the GM knows and a suitable end form can be chosen.

Yeah the wizard chose the "Human to Marionette" option that's given as an example in the spell, specifcally so that there would be less trouble with interpretations. It's just that none of us have played a high level wizard before so it's kinda new to all of us. I'm the rules guy, but I'm not really up on my Polymorph rules. The Wizard is pretty up on the rules and I think he actually got it all right, but none of us were quite sure so we decided to ask the internet. We were also ~20 minutes past the cuttoff time for our game, so stopping there wasn't really a problem.

I think the current plan (if it doesn't work quite as we thought) is to just retroactively say it was the Flesh to Stone version of the spell, since that won't really change the outcome from what was intended, and all the necessary rolls have already been made. Also I say "retroactively", but we stopped the gsme literally at that moment, so it's more like "simultaneous-actively" or something.

In terms of ending the combat, there are 6 other enemies on the field: another named caster, 3 Demons (or Devils or Daemons, I forget) and 2 Robots.

Just for my own piece of mind, is there anything stopping the other caster from simply dispelling Polymorph Any Object on the BBEG? It'd still make it an excellent action for our wizard (take a turn away from 2 enemy casters with 1 spell, possibly more if she rolls badly on the dispel check) but would make the BBEG a bit more important in this fight.


If you use Polymorph any Object to duplicate the effects of Baleful Polymorph, both have a duration (which can be permanent) and so would be subject to dispel.

If you use PAO to duplicate Transmute Flesh to Stone, it has a duration of instantaneous. This cannot be dispelled and is probably the optimum choice. It's also not a polymorph affect, and so even the bead of newt prevention wouldn't protect against it. (My opinion is using PAO to duplicate Flesh to Stone is basically casting Flesh to Stone as a higher level spell).

In general, any spell that has a duration other than instantaneous can be dispelled. There might be some specific exceptions, but in generally if there's ongoing magic dispel can remove it. The reason why dispel doesn't work on instantaneous is because the magic has already run its course and there's nothing magical ongoing to cancel/remove.

Now, the only bad thing is that potentially your enemy could have stone to flesh. It's unlikely, but would work without any kind of check (where as dispel would have to make a check).


Technically, by the wording, polymorph any object is not usable on an unwilling target since it functions as greater polymorph (except when used to emulate a spell that does, like flesh to stone, baleful polymorph, etc.). Greater polymorph only works on willing targets, so unless you can put the target to sleep or unconscious (they count as willing) or trick them into accepting the spell, you can only affect an enemy by duplicating one of the other effects.

Your wizard should decide to either baleful polymorph them into a harmless animal (their gear melds and they still benefit from some magical effects other than armor and shields or things they need to activate) or they turn to stone. If the target already has a polymorph effect on them, it won't matter, since neither of those two spells care.


Pizza Lord wrote:

Technically, by the wording, polymorph any object is not usable on an unwilling target since it functions as greater polymorph (except when used to emulate a spell that does, like flesh to stone, baleful polymorph, etc.). Greater polymorph only works on willing targets, so unless you can put the target to sleep or unconscious (they count as willing) or trick them into accepting the spell, you can only affect an enemy by duplicating one of the other effects.

Your wizard should decide to either baleful polymorph them into a harmless animal (their gear melds and they still benefit from some magical effects other than armor and shields or things they need to activate) or they turn to stone. If the target already has a polymorph effect on them, it won't matter, since neither of those two spells care.

Actually, that's a very very good point.

Polymorph any object has a save line that says "Fortutide (object only)" which makes sense assuming the spell retains the restriction from Greater Polymorph about needing a willing creature. So you're 100% correct, unless you're emulating baleful polymorph, flesh to stone, etc then Polymorph Any Object doesn't even work on an unwilling target.

Scarab Sages

Hmmm would the marionette turned human know it used to be a marionette or have a personality you designed e.g. "I am here to play a card game for the next hour" or could you wind up with a "Why did you do this to me" followed by attempted murder . ..

Dark Archive

Senko wrote:
Hmmm would the marionette turned human know it used to be a marionette or have a personality you designed e.g. "I am here to play a card game for the next hour" or could you wind up with a "Why did you do this to me" followed by attempted murder . ..

I don't think it matters.

A marionette is an inanimate object, I'm under the impression they lack the meat parts for critical thinking.


Name Violation wrote:
Senko wrote:
Hmmm would the marionette turned human know it used to be a marionette or have a personality you designed e.g. "I am here to play a card game for the next hour" or could you wind up with a "Why did you do this to me" followed by attempted murder . ..

I don't think it matters.

A marionette is an inanimate object, I'm under the impression they lack the meat parts for critical thinking.

I think he's talking about the valid use of turning a marionette into a person, not a person into marionette.

Scarab Sages

Claxon wrote:
Name Violation wrote:
Senko wrote:
Hmmm would the marionette turned human know it used to be a marionette or have a personality you designed e.g. "I am here to play a card game for the next hour" or could you wind up with a "Why did you do this to me" followed by attempted murder . ..

I don't think it matters.

A marionette is an inanimate object, I'm under the impression they lack the meat parts for critical thinking.
I think he's talking about the valid use of turning a marionette into a person, not a person into marionette.

Yes this one wondering what exactly you'd get if you say made Annabelle a real girl vs some kids beloved Paddington Bear.

Dark Archive

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Senko wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Name Violation wrote:
Senko wrote:
Hmmm would the marionette turned human know it used to be a marionette or have a personality you designed e.g. "I am here to play a card game for the next hour" or could you wind up with a "Why did you do this to me" followed by attempted murder . ..

I don't think it matters.

A marionette is an inanimate object, I'm under the impression they lack the meat parts for critical thinking.
I think he's talking about the valid use of turning a marionette into a person, not a person into marionette.
Yes this one wondering what exactly you'd get if you say made Annabelle a real girl vs some kids beloved Paddington Bear.

How is it reading gets harder as i get older?

/facepalm

Liberty's Edge

I recall a 3.0 adventure where animals were turned into elves to repopulate an area (in 3.x polymorph changed your type) and they were described as having a band personality while hazily recalling a common life.

Pathfinder polymorph works differently. There is nothing that says that the marionette now human knows any language or has any skill.

A creature maintains its hit point so a temporary human ex-marionette has the hit point of the toy?

The problem is a common one for plenty of high-level spells: Paizo (and before them D&D 3.x) changed the rules without going the full way to update the spells.


yeah - COMMENTARY
it's clear that Paizo operated on "If it ain't broke - don't fix it" style as PF1 was developed to HAVE A PRODUCT to sell. I think it also takes a good understanding of DnD 3.0/3.5 to know the assumptions made for PF1. I could say "it's in the OGL!". So while editing was touted I can't say the rule consistency was all that great for the effort expended. I feel it was more of a creative art effort than a technical writing job. So the focus on art over technical writing is going to frustrate the more pedantic readers who are more invested in a static well defined rule set. Personally - if you want something meaningful - study physics not game mechanics.

The second thing is to note is that there is a divergence between RAW and actual play (in a statistical sense). Sadly it's hard to get that experience as most games aren't high level games and harder still in the area of arcane magic at high levels.

Scarab Sages

So GM adjudication if you get "Cmon sis lets hit the shops" or "You made me human and now I'll know what I'll lose in an hour die you monster, DIE, DIE, DIE!" Of course I do tend towards older spell style so probably . . . caster design for a blank target e.g. newly made marionette and a pre-existing personality for a beloved childhood toy or one made to specifically be a being. For example a teddybear would be what the caster wanted on casting, a paddington bear doll would be paddington bear though.


Hey all, I just wanted to say thanks for your input. The GM decided since Flesh To Stone was an option then turning the BBEG into a lifeless Marionette for 3 hours should be as well.

It was also appropriate since ...

Spoiler:
... it turns out there was someone behind the scenes pulling the strings ...

... and the Wizard had history with this villain so it was appropriate that he dealt the "killing" blow.


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MrCharisma wrote:
Hey all, I just wanted to say thanks for your input. The GM decided since Flesh To Stone was an option then turning the BBEG into a lifeless Marionette for 3 hours should be as well. ...

glad you had an acceptable outcome. Having thematic stuff happen is good as it is a game with a story.

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