Please don't play a shapeshifter

Polymorph Version 1: Character Replacement

If you take part of your character – any part of your character – and part of a monster from one of the many monster books in D&D, and you put them together into a single Voltron-like body, you have broken D&D. That should be obvious, but since we are over six years into the ridiculous circus that is polymorph in 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, apparently it isn’t. If it is important to you that you be allowed to dumpster dive through the monster books and find an appropriate to transform into, it is important to D&D that absolutely no part of your character be mixed and matched during that period. If you want to truly become a monster, you have to actually become that monster. Not “the monster with all my spell effects running”, not “the monster with my formidable mental attributes. No. You need to become the monster exactly as it appears in the monster book or there’s no chance of you getting a balanced result. Some people are going to end up as mediocre monsters with carry-over abilities that happen to synergize well and become tremendously powerful while other people are just as unbalanced in the other direction when they find that drawbacks of their character are carried over and overwrite the abilities of a monster that are supposed to make them any good at all.

And this isn’t just hyperbole or doomsday predictions, this is established fact. We’ve all played with some of the multitude of different versions of Polymorph errata and “fixes”, and the abject horror caused by every single iteration. The idea doesn’t work. If you’re going to replace any part of the character, you have to replace it all. So here’s a version of polymorph that won’t make us cry. This aint rocket science, it just takes a little bit of discipline:

Polymorph Self
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 Standard Action
Range: Self
Duration: 10 minutes/level (D)
Saving Throw: Fortitude Negates (Harmless)
Spell Resistance: No.

“A Turtle am I? Let’s see how Turtlike I… CAN… BE! And with that, the mage was a giant turtle.

You vanish and a monster of your choice appears in your place. The creature shares your alignment, personality and goals, and will continue to act as you would within the limits of its intelligence and abilities. The creature must be at least 3 CR less than your character level, may not have the incorporeal or swarm subtype, and is unexceptional for its type. If the monster is killed, the spell is ended. When the spell ends, the monster vanishes and you appear where the monster was with an amount of lethal, nonlethal, and ability damage on you equal to the amount the monster had suffered when the spell ended (this means that if the spell ended because the monster was slain and the monster had an equal or greater number of hit points as you, you may well be dead when you appear).

Polymorph Other
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 Standard Action
Range: Medium
Target: One Creature
Duration: Permanent (D)
Saving Throw: Fortitude Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes.

The witch snarled at the trespasser and pointed her wand vindictively at him. A short incantation later left nothing but a pig in his place.

Your target vanishes and a creature of your choice appears in its place. The creature shares the alignment, personality and goals of the target, and will continue to act as it would within the limits of its intelligence and abilities. The creature must be at least 5 CR less than your character level, may not have the incorporeal or swarm subtype, and is unexceptional for its type. If the creature is killed, the spell is ended. When the spell ends, the creature vanishes and the target appears where the creature was with an amount of lethal, nonlethal, and ability damage on it equal to the amount the creature had suffered when the spell ended (this means that if the spell ended because the creature was slain and the creature had an equal or greater number of hit points as the original target, it may well be dead when it appears).

Mass Polymorph
Transmutation
Level: Sor/Wiz 7
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 Standard Action
Range: Medium
Target: Any number of creatures within a 20' radius
Duration: Permanent (D)
Saving Throw: Fortitude Negates
Spell Resistance: Yes.

The crowd looked uncomfortable. They had weapons and were brandishing them in a fashion quite menacing. But the magician was laughing, and that really put a damper on the mood of the entire event. They started to regain their composure and again advance upon him. He snorted and muttered an incantation, and something about swine…

Each target vanishes and creature of your choice appears in its place. The creatures share the alignment, personality and goals of the targets, and will continue to act as they would within the limits of their intelligence and abilities. The creatures must be at least 7 CR less than your character level, need not be the same for all targets, none may have the incorporeal or swarm subtype, and all are unexceptional for their type. If a creature is killed, the spell is ended for that target only. When the spell ends, the creatures vanish and the targets appear where the creatures were with an amount of lethal, nonlethal, and ability damage on it equal to the amount the creature had suffered when the spell ended (this means that if the spell ended for a target because the creature was slain and the creature had an equal or greater number of hit points as the original target, it may well be dead when it appears).

Please don't play a shapeshifter

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