Size change after Swallow Whole


Rules Discussion


Hey! I wanted to ask something, a situation I just thought about (I know I have really weird ideas sometimes...)

What happens, when a creature uses Swallow whole on someone and that person increases their size past the creature's usual ability?
Also, if such a creature sees their size increasing, would the size limit of the swallowed creature increase as well? (Like would the Giant Toad be able to swallow Large creature if they become Huge?)

Thanks for the replies!


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DrakEmono wrote:
What happens, when a creature uses Swallow whole on someone and that person increases their size past the creature's usual ability?

Nothing because this can't happen. The standard for size increasing abilities is 'if you don't have space to enlarge, nothing happens'.

DrakEmono wrote:
Also, if such a creature sees their size increasing, would the size limit of the swallowed creature increase as well? (Like would the Giant Toad be able to swallow Large creature if they become Huge?)

As written in the rules most likely no. If there's nothing explicitly written for such ability, size increase of the creature changes nothing. Well, at least I don't remember any mention of such interaction.

Your GM can make such homerule though.


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Obligatory Order of the Stick comic link.


Errenor wrote:
Nothing because this can't happen. The standard for size increasing abilities is 'if you don't have space to enlarge, nothing happens'.

Ah, of course, I knew about it but it got out of my mind in this situation... Heh ^^" Well, I guess this is covered.

But I can have really stupid ideas... How about shrinking a creature who used Swallow Whole? Does the swallowed creature stay in place as if nothing happened, or we would apply the same rule for growing, as the creature can't shrink because of what's inside?


Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber

If that could somehow happen: they'd be swallowed, and now a smaller size. It would not otherwise alter their circumstances in any way. Shrinking is not blocked by there being 'not enough space' for reasons that are fairly obvious.


I see... Was thinking about a situation like I would summon an animal with the swallow whole action, and if it successes to do so, using Shrink to make them tiny... Not feeling like going to try to do so in PFS though, but... yeah, that really crossed my mind... xD


I think it'd use the same rules as embiggening it. Since there's a creature inside, shrinking the frog won't work (creature inside won't shrink with it, since it's not an object).

I had an idea for PFS1 where I would pretty much do the same. If the creature inside stays alive, frog can't shrink down and is perma-enlarged. The trick, however, was keeping the thing inside alive for long enough to this to happen.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm going to cast enlarge and stick a bug in my mouth to stay that way far longer than otherwise.


Ravingdork wrote:
I'm going to cast enlarge and stick a bug in my mouth to stay that way far longer than otherwise.

If you pick a bug that can metabolize your food scraps, and if you chew very carefully, you should be able to stay enlarged indefinitely!


By necessity Shrink needs to shrink everything inside the target creature otherwise you'd be able to make people explode just because you cast the spell shortly after they ate a sandwich or something.


That's true, but I've read a ruling that says only objects get shrunk. Anyone still living does not count as an object, and therefore does not shrink.


Errenor wrote:
DrakEmono wrote:
What happens, when a creature uses Swallow whole on someone and that person increases their size past the creature's usual ability?

Nothing because this can't happen. The standard for size increasing abilities is 'if you don't have space to enlarge, nothing happens'.

DrakEmono wrote:
Also, if such a creature sees their size increasing, would the size limit of the swallowed creature increase as well? (Like would the Giant Toad be able to swallow Large creature if they become Huge?)

As written in the rules most likely no. If there's nothing explicitly written for such ability, size increase of the creature changes nothing. Well, at least I don't remember any mention of such interaction.

Your GM can make such homerule though.

Where is that rule from? Enlarge spell says nothing about requiring space. I am assuming it must be a general rule stated somewhere?


Mellack wrote:
Errenor wrote:
DrakEmono wrote:
What happens, when a creature uses Swallow whole on someone and that person increases their size past the creature's usual ability?

Nothing because this can't happen. The standard for size increasing abilities is 'if you don't have space to enlarge, nothing happens'.

DrakEmono wrote:
Also, if such a creature sees their size increasing, would the size limit of the swallowed creature increase as well? (Like would the Giant Toad be able to swallow Large creature if they become Huge?)

As written in the rules most likely no. If there's nothing explicitly written for such ability, size increase of the creature changes nothing. Well, at least I don't remember any mention of such interaction.

Your GM can make such homerule though.
Where is that rule from? Enlarge spell says nothing about requiring space. I am assuming it must be a general rule stated somewhere?

PF 1e had the rule

If insufficient room is available for the desired growth, the creature attains the maximum possible size and may make a Strength check (using its increased Strength) to burst any enclosures in the process. If it fails, it is constrained without harm by the materials enclosing it—the spell cannot be used to crush a creature by increasing its size.

but it doesn't appear to have made the leap to 2e. Can't imagine why not; you need some rule for that situation and it's a good one. I expect legacy players will keep using it by habit because nothing explicitly contradicts it.


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

PF 1e had the rule

If insufficient room is available for the desired growth, the creature attains the maximum possible size and may make a Strength check (using its increased Strength) to burst any enclosures in the process. If it fails, it is constrained without harm by the materials enclosing it—the spell cannot be used to crush a creature by increasing its size.
but it doesn't appear to have made the leap to 2e. Can't imagine why not; you need some rule for that situation and it's a good one. I expect legacy players will keep using it by habit because nothing explicitly contradicts it.

PF2 also has that in other places. Like Dragon Form and the heightened levels of Animal Form.

Which makes it feel like it was just forgotten to be written as a general rule and forgotten to be added to Enlarge.


Finoan wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

PF 1e had the rule

If insufficient room is available for the desired growth, the creature attains the maximum possible size and may make a Strength check (using its increased Strength) to burst any enclosures in the process. If it fails, it is constrained without harm by the materials enclosing it—the spell cannot be used to crush a creature by increasing its size.
but it doesn't appear to have made the leap to 2e. Can't imagine why not; you need some rule for that situation and it's a good one. I expect legacy players will keep using it by habit because nothing explicitly contradicts it.

PF2 also has that in other places. Like Dragon Form and the heightened levels of Animal Form.

Which makes it feel like it was just forgotten to be written as a general rule and forgotten to be added to Enlarge.

Ironic, since the 1e Beast Shape and Form of the Dragon spells don't have anything about space to expand.

EDIT: Maybe enlarge lost that bit purposefully, to further distance it from enlarge person as a WotC-mollifier?

EDIT2: No, name change and space-rule dropping happened pre-remaster, so not wotc-related.


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Mellack wrote:
Errenor wrote:
DrakEmono wrote:
What happens, when a creature uses Swallow whole on someone and that person increases their size past the creature's usual ability?
Nothing because this can't happen. The standard for size increasing abilities is 'if you don't have space to enlarge, nothing happens'.
Where is that rule from? Enlarge spell says nothing about requiring space. I am assuming it must be a general rule stated somewhere?

This turned out a very good question. First, I found out they removed every single one 'You must have space to expand or the spell is lost' sentence from Form spells in the remaster, all the old ones had them. Then, I found out both old and new Enlarge didn't have this clause. And finally I discovered what they did with that: the new description of the Polymorph trait has this (and is not in the glossary itself now): 'If a polymorph effect causes you to increase in size, you must have space to expand into or the effect is disrupted.'

And obviously all form spells and Enlarge have polymorph trait.
Consistency is restored.


That's a great find, Errenor!

I've seen a couple of instances like this where the writers took advantage of the remaster to consolidate rules. It's very efficient, but I'm sometimes have trouble finding them since my memory takes me to the wrong places to look. Thanks for doing the work here!


That said, if you are swallowed while tiny and return to normal size while swallowed.

Realistically I would probably just have the creature disgorge the swallowed target rather than remnant alien (the swallow whole rules are a bit weird anyway, especially when it comes to escaping for many creatures)


What would happen if the person swallowed whole polymorphed into a creature that had poisoned spines would the creature that swallowed whole have to make fortitude saves each round?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Elric200 wrote:
What would happen if the person swallowed whole polymorphed into a creature that had poisoned spines would the creature that swallowed whole have to make fortitude saves each round?

Only if they made successful Strikes with the poisoned spines. And even then, the polymorph effect would have to specifically state that the caster benefited from poisoned spines (off-hand, I can't think of any polymorph spells that grant poisoned spine attacks).


Or if there was written some passive effect from such spines when being swallowed whole. There are maybe a couple of items or maybe feats which give something like that.

Sovereign Court

Swallow Whole in general has a whole lot of these corner cases.

On the one hand, because characters who've been swallowed can be in mortal peril, it's important to keep a close eye on the rules. Nobody likes to see their character get killed because the GM was playing fast and loose.

On the other hand, there are a whole lot of unexpected things players might do to improve their situation. If the GM keeps an open mind and handles creative solutions well, these could be the cool stories that your players talk about for years after.


The game isn't intended to be a perfect simulator for reality, but we could take some cues from how real-world swallowing works if we want to.

Most vertebrates have jaws openings and throats which are much narrower than their stomachs. So their stomachs would generally be able to accommodate prey that is larger than they can swallow. (Snakes, with their ability to unhinge their jaws, are a notable exception to such limitations.)

So it seems reasonable to me that there would generally be a difference between enlarging while being swallowed and enlarging after being swallowed (in the stomach). The first case might prevent being swallowed by exceeded the size limit of the mouth or throat while the latter might not help the character at all.


Do movable obstacles count as restricting the "space to enlarge"? E.g.:
1) if a barbarian is surprise-attacked while sitting down to dinner can he just, boom, enlarge and go nuts or does he first need to step away from the table and clear space?
2) If an enemy grapples a druid (let's say bear hug), can the druid wild-shape into something large, or would he first have to break the tackle to make space...since otherwise it's a forced move for the attacker?
3) If surrounded by medium or small creatures, can the druid / barbarian enlarge, pushing the crowd one step away, or would that fail for lack of space?
4) Same question if the polymorpher is hiding in a stack of barrels (not *inside* a barrel, but in the *stack*). Can the enlarge just knock over all the barrels to make space?

I would lean towards "yes" for all of the above, since it meets all the usual story tropes, but curious where others fall.


I'd rule yes for 1 and 4, moving small/medium objects is cool but purely descriptive, no hard mechanics involved.
No for 3, forcing opponents to move without a check involved is too much.
2 is a maybe: I wouldn't let the barbarian break a grapple for free, but if there's space they could get large and still be grappled. It depends.


Thanks. Situation (3) has come up a few times, mostly with 1 or 2 allies in the wrong position. We've allowed a battle form transformation to work, pushing the ally(s) to the nearest open space but I can see where it that could create a problem in some cases. So far it's been fine but, case by case I suppose.

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