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    Canonfire :: View topic - Effects of Stats on Shapeshifting/Polymorphed Characters
    Canonfire Forum Index -> Greyhawk- AD&D 2nd Edition
    Effects of Stats on Shapeshifting/Polymorphed Characters
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    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:00 pm  
    Effects of Stats on Shapeshifting/Polymorphed Characters

    Wondering about the following:

    If a character shapeshifts/polymorphs, whether by spell-like ability (like a 7th lvl+ druid), spell, or magical item (potion, for instance) into a creature, would you permit high (or low) level physical stats (Str, Dex) to adjust the MV rate and damage of the newly assumed form?

    Here's my reasoning: If an average druid, for example, takes the form of a natural 'run of the mill' and average creature with respect to its physical forms, what of a druid with a higher than average Str or Dex? A lower Str or Dex?

    If a thief with a high Dex drinks a potion of Polymorph, wouldn't the newly assumed form likewise have an above average Dex, too? A warrior with a high Str score into some beast? You get the gist.

    This adds variety to the game, I think. Such a precedence to add such variety was set in a Dragon Magazine with stats to horses and dogs, so I think my idea has some justifiable grounds.

    Thoughts on this?

    -Lanthorn
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    Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:27 am  

    It's an interesting idea. However, what about the other end of the stat spectrum? What about the wizard with low physical stats? Will he/she then get hosed on the polymorphed form's stats as well? Like, if the wizard has Str & Con scores of 6 or 7, and polymorphs into, for example, a tiger, would the mage transform into a gaunt & sickly tiger?

    But then, the caster should have some control over the form. After all, if it were you casting the spell to turn into an ogre perhaps, would you want to turn into a fearsome and strong looking ogre, or one that looks like it could fall over from a hard look? Of course, appearances can be deceiving. LOOKING strong is not the same as BEING strong. So, the wizard might look like a strong and fearsome ogre, or tiger, or whatever. But that might not mean so much for any alteration of stats.

    But also..."The art of war, is the art of deception." Sometimes, looking fearsome is all you need...sometimes.


    Last edited by BlueWitch on Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:40 am  

    The physical stats were left out, as the form can be chosen. Who wouldn't choose to polymorph/shape change into a "steroid monster" version of whatever creature? Nobody. And so mental stats are retained, but physical ones do not influence the new form. I think this was done just to keep things simple. It is of note that the new form's physical attributes are gained. You polymorph into an ogre, and you can swing that club for ogre damage, even if you were a mage with a lower than average human strength. Note that relative Strength and other statistics are not universally applied in 2E. A bat for instance doesn't have an AC of 4 in ideal flying conditions because of its size alone, but because of it speed and dexterity as well. But, how much of an effect is that? Ogres have 18/100% Str, and so should be +3 to hit and +6 on damage, but they are not. What you suggest could potentially lead to "stronger than an ogre" ogres, "nimbler than a nimble bat" bats, and other oddities simply because their relative physical stats were made a part of their overall stat block, and not separately delineated as was very purposely done in later rules sets (and even they deal with shape changing in a simplistic way). And what if physical stats contradict one another? The bear form is surly stronger than the druid form, but the druid form is surely more dextrous than the bear form. Which stats for which form do you favor then? Seems like a slippery slope to me, and one that doesn't favor simplicity so far as the 2E rules set is concerned.

    But, you might find guidelines for doing what you propose in some of the Ravenloft rules for lycanthropes. My Ravenloft books are buried away at the moment, otherwise I would have a look.
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Tue Jan 06, 2015 3:46 pm  

    I would rule "no", that they polymorph into a normal/typical specimen of the form assumed.

    I would go with this for balance purposes and primarily to adhere to the KISS principle. Do other creatures follow the 3-18.xx range as humans/demi-humans? Trying to figure out all the factors and their proportional effect would detract from "I polymorph into a bear and kick the orc's ****!"
    GreySage

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    Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:56 pm  

    Thanks to all who posted.

    To answer an earlier question, I'd say if I allowed a druid with a 17 Strength to morph into a beast (let's say a black bear) and give him bonus damage (+1) and perhaps even a +1 to hit (for Strength), then, a much weaker one (ex: Strength 6) would suffer penalties to hit and damage. A character with a high Dex would shift into a faster beast and earn a better AC as well as increased MV (if using Options system).

    Just some ideas I wanted to pose.

    OK, next query:

    Can the shifting/polymorphing character change his/her sex when assuming animal or creature form? For instance, can a male druid become a female bird? Can a female mage polymorph into a male lion? I'd think not, especially in the first case, but wondering about opinions on this. Not sure if the druid shapeshifting is as fluid as a polymorphing spell. Or are they equally versatile (or limiting)?

    -Lanthorn
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    Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:00 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:

    OK, next query:

    Can the shifting/polymorphing character change his/her sex when assuming animal or creature form?

    -Lanthorn


    Well, it may be possible to assume the form, but not the functionality. I base this in part on assorted entertainment I've seen that had a character assume another form for disguise purposes. One example: In the Snarf Quest comic that used to run in Dragon, I recall when the heroes were trying to make their escape from Suthaze's tower, they stumbled across a classic "beautiful blonde princess", locked in a cell and with a claim of knowing a secret way out. So, they rescue her and flee the tower through the secret tunnel. Once out, "she" turned out to be a polymorphed Suthaze, ready to make the heroes pay.

    It may not be canon to the rules, but it seems stories do allow it. But as I said, that's just the form. Assuming the form of the opposite gender should not grant reproductivity. After all, it's only a 4th level spell.
    Now the question comes to me of why. Why would a druid or mage want to assume the form of an animal of the opposite sex? The stats are no different. I guess it never came up in any games I played in.
    As I think of this, I think I'd have to say no to the druid. The druid's shape changing ability is granted through "nature" represented by the deity worshipped. The same nature that gave the druid the gender he/she was born with. For the wizard, perhaps yes, for the disguise capabilities like in my example above. But again, just the form, not the function.

    Another good question Lanthorn. You do seem to bring that consistently. I worry what will happen when you run out of things to ask. ;)
    GreySage

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    Fri Jan 09, 2015 7:00 pm  

    Actually, I don't see why it would be more difficult for a magical spell, or spell-like ability, to transform an individual's gender than it would be for the same spell to transform them into a different species.

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    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Fri Jan 09, 2015 7:15 pm  

    A lycanthrope can obviously only assume a form of its own sex, and a doppleganger can assume literally any sort of bipedal form of either sex, sexless, whatever, and may have any physical characteristics of any kind (literally anything it can think of).

    Magical shape changing, such as by use of the spells polymorph self/other and shape change, or similar magical abilities of creatures, allow for every possibility- there are no limitations of any kind with regard to sex, appearance, etc., similar to a doppleganger (but without being limited to a bipedal form).

    A druid's shape change works as per the shape change spell, but with specific limitations. It even absorbs the druid's possessions into the assumed form (with limitations). As such, a druid shouldn't be limited at all as to the sex of the form the druid can assume, as a druid's shape change ability is nothing like a lycanthrope's shape changing ability.
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    GreySage

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    Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:24 am  

    BlueWitch wrote:

    Now the question comes to me of why. Why would a druid or mage want to assume the form of an animal of the opposite sex? The stats are no different. I guess it never came up in any games I played in.


    But for some, they should be! This is where being a science teacher (specifically the life sciences) can be both a boon and a curse. You see, there's something called 'sexual dimorphism' in the animal kingdom in which males and females are (sometimes vastly) different in structure, shape, color, and/or size.

    Examples: Members of the deer family. ONLY the males (notable exception of the caribou) have antlers. Stags and bucks are also noticeably larger. Consequently, their HD should, on average, be about 1 HD more than the hinds or does of the species. Additionally, antler damage is possible only with males (again, caribou aside...though female antlers are nowhere nearly as large or impressive as those of caribou bulls).

    Another example: lions. Males have manes, and are much larger (nearly twice the weight) than lionesses. They are built for battle (primarily other rival males who threaten their prides) while the more streamlined (but still very strong and agile) females are better suited for stalking and killing game (though males DO hunt from time to time...common misconception...and are very helpful in bringing down BIG game like buffalo). Bearing this in mind, I dropped the HD of lioness down by 1 to represent this (they still have a decent 4+2 rating, though).

    There are countless more examples, (many mammals, most birds, fish, insects, some reptiles and amphibians, etc.) but these two illustrate the point that there are times when it may be QUITE important for a druid to 'choose' whether to adopt a male or female animal form. For the most part, the animal descriptions in the various books, namely the Monstrous Compendium, are fairly good and accurate. But to the biologist's eye, there are some clearly erroneous statistical or descriptive statements that make me shake my head and correct in my own games (and bring up to my DM for accuracy).

    Not all of this needs to revolve around only combat aspects of these animals, even though that is an obvious option. There may be times when choosing a specific animal, and its gender, will be crucial to a given task. For instance, assuming the shape and form of a female animal what is smaller and more agile than its male counterpart, or shape-shifting into the drabber color of a female bird to better blend in to the environment than the more gaudy male counterpart.

    Quote:
    Another good question Lanthorn. You do seem to bring that consistently. I worry what will happen when you run out of things to ask. ;)


    Never fear of that. If I stop asking, I am likely dead. Shocked

    -Lanthorn, Biologist Gamer, Wannabe Animal Shape-shifter


    Last edited by Lanthorn on Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:21 am; edited 2 times in total
    GreySage

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    Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:36 am  

    Cebrion wrote:
    A lycanthrope can obviously only assume a form of its own sex, and a doppleganger can assume literally any sort of bipedal form of either sex, sexless, whatever, and may have any physical characteristics of any kind (literally anything it can think of).


    Glad you brought that up for comparison's sake.

    Quote:
    Magical shape changing, such as by use of the spells polymorph self/other and shape change, or similar magical abilities of creatures, allow for every possibility- there are no limitations of any kind with regard to sex, appearance, etc., similar to a doppleganger (but without being limited to a bipedal form).


    Equally valid points. I glanced through The Complete Book of Druid's (this is one of my utter favorites!) and I couldn't find anywhere in that guide information pertinent to my question. If memory serves, isn't Shape Change a NINTH (!) level mage spell? I will have to reread the spell description (I don't often have use for such high powered magic in my games, sadly hahaha!). It didn't say one way or the other if a druid can, or cannot, shape-change into opposite genders within animal forms.

    Quote:
    A druid's shape change works as per the shape change spell, but with specific limitations. It even absorbs the druid's possessions into the assumed form (with limitations). As such, a druid shouldn't be limited at all as to the sex of the form the druid can assume, as a druid's shape change ability is nothing like a lycanthrope's shape changing ability.


    It also says in the PHB that, at the DM's option, some magic items that are absorbed/retained in the animal form (like protective rings and cloaks, I'd think) might work in the newly adopted form. How many of you permit such things???

    -Lanthorn
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:25 pm  

    Hehe. Yes, the druid's shape change ability is very useful, but it is very limited. When it is gained at 7th level, it can be useful for combat purposes, but shortly thereafter the druid is better off using spells instead. At all times, it is useful to turn into some sort of inconspicuous critter and spy of people though. For example, who cares about yet another small bird in the woods or rat in the sewers.

    As to magic items, yes, many of them continue to function in the new form, if they were absorbed into that form.
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Jan 16, 2015 7:11 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    You see, there's something called 'sexual dimorphism' in the animal kingdom in which males and females are (sometimes vastly) different in structure, shape, color, and/or size.


    Yes, I am well aware of this. But since the subject has been brought up, this solidifies my opinion that druids should be stuck with their gender when assuming animal forms. After all, one thing in the druidic philosophy is Balance. In this case, the druid's gender may sometimes be an advantage, other times a drawback.

    But, this is YOUR game. So, it's not my place to tell you how to run it. If I were a player in your game, I'd accept your ruling and very likely make use of that to my advantage if I could.

    I do enjoy the diversity of opinions here. I think it's good to see other viewpoints.
    GreySage

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    Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:27 am  

    BlueWitch wrote:
    I do enjoy the diversity of opinions here. I think it's good to see other viewpoints.


    Indeed! I likewise enjoy what others have to offer. It keeps "The Balance." Happy

    -Lanthorn
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