September 25, 2015

Master Transmogrifist

Arcane Tradition

** This submission comes from the exceptionally talented friend of the blog, Neal M! Say hi to him the comments! **

School of Transmogrification

Perhaps none of the arcane spellcasters mighty powers is as versatile, useful, or spectacular as the ability to change into something else entirely. The School of Transmogrification specializes in just that – altering one’s own body as needed with polymorph, and other shapechanging transmutations.

Natural Adaptation
At 2nd level, you add the spell alter self to your spellbook, if it is not there already. You can cast this spell without expending a spell slot. After doing so, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest, though you can still cast it normally using an available spell slot.

Favored Shapes
At 6th level, choose three beasts as your favored shapes. A favored shape is a specific kind of creature whose form you can assume by means of the polymorph spell. Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of your favored shapes with another beast of your choice.
     You have advantage on Constitution saving throws made to maintain concentration while in one of your favored shapes.
     You choose an additional favored shape at 10th, 14th, and 20th level. Your favored shapes chosen or replaced at 17th level and beyond can be any creature, not just beasts.

Natural Transmogrification
At 6th level, you add the spell polymorph to your spellbook, if it is not there already. You can cast this spell without expending a spell slot. When you do so, you can target only yourself and only to become one of your favored shapes. Once you cast polymorph in this way, you can’t do so again until you finish a short or long rest, though you can still cast it normally using an available spell slot.

Reflexive Change
At 10th level, when you are attacked or a creature causes you to make a saving throw, you can use your reaction to cast polymorph (expending a spell slot for a prepared polymorph spell or using the Natural Transmogrification feature) targeting yourself and only into one of your favored shapes. Beginning at 17th level, you can instead cast true polymorph in this way.
     After using this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before using it again.

Infinite Variety
At 14th level, you gain the ability to create imaginary forms when casting polymorph, true polymorph, and shapechange on yourself. To create an imaginary form, choose one of your favored shapes as a base form. You then choose a single aspect of a second monster whose form you can assume with the spell being cast and add it to the first creature. Available options include the following.

  ● Replace the base form’s Armor Class with that of the second form.
  ● Add the second form’s movement modes (i.e. swim speed, climb speed, burrow speed, fly speed).
  ● Add one of the second form’s natural attacks if the base form doesn’t already have that attack.
  ● Add one of the second form’s damage resistances, damage immunities, or senses.
  ● Add one of the second form’s special qualities, besides Spellcasting or Shapechanger.
  ● Replace one of the base form’s physical ability scores, if both forms are of the same size category.

For example, if the base form was a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the second form was a Giant Owl, you could add the fly speed of 60 feet to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, making it a winged T-Rex. If the first form was a Giant Scorpion, and the second a Giant Octopus, you could add the Octopus’s tentacle attack to the Giant Scorpion, grappling enemies from afar, then clawing and stinging them.


  1. The 14th level ability seems like it would cause confusion.
    -When gaining a different attack form, do you use the original creature's attack and damage bonuses or do you use the stats of the creature you're giving the attack to?
    -When replacing ability scores, do you alter derived stats (such as HP, attack bonus etc.) or is it purely for ability checks?

    Additionally, some of these things could really break up the pace of combat, so perhaps adding a restriction that would cause the player to prepare the changes outside of combat would be advisable.

    1. Also, with the attacks, if the base form has an attack with different properties to that of the second form but the same name (for instance, bite attacks with different reach and damage dice), can the attack be added to the base form?

    2. Infinite Variety is weird I'll admit, but that's the fun of it! Regarding different attacks, keep the same bonuses on them I'd say - the attack bonuses seem balanced very specifically. The annoying thing about monster stat blocks in 5e is they don't add up. They don't have proficiency bonuses, but their attacks clearly aren't simply strength or dex mod.

      I'd try to update anything the attribute effects. While the attack bonuses are weird I'm not sure I've seen one that's less than its relevant str or dex mod, so it's a factor.

      When it comes to preparation, I think that's up to the player and party. Wish can be used as any 8th level or lower spell. I wouldn't expect anyone to wait while I go through 300 spells to see if I have an answer. I don't think I should put rules in telling someone to have an imaginary form ready.

      I don't see why you couldn't have two bites. Think about it flavorfully! Two mouths or heads. Pretty awesome and doable! Remember these attacks don't give you multi attack. You still would only use one bite.

    3. The attacks do add up as far as I've checked. Page 274 of the DMG gives prof bonus by CR for creating your own monsters.
      Regardless of whether or not the math presented in the DMG is consistent with actual monster stats, prof bonus can be calculated by subtracting the relevant ability score (or damage bonus if you don't know which one it is) from the attack bonus.

      Regarding the two attacks with the same name point, if you intend to allow it, you may wish to change the wording:
      "Add one of the second form’s natural attacks if the base form doesn’t already have that attack." is not indicative of allowing two bites.

    4. Oh man, you're right! I didn't have my books with me and just skimmed what stat blocks I could, and looked at a couple threads regarding monster proficiency and it must've been different in the playtest. That's kind of annoying that their proficiency bonus isn't simply in their stat block. Do you think there's a good way to word it to find their proficiency bonus subtracting one of dex or strength? Or comparing their CR to your proficiency/level? It's just kind of unintuitive, which sucks.

      I must've just typed that line from the original PRC in 3.5 about extra attacks without thinking. I think it's way more fun flavorfully to get more claws or mouths. I wonder what that restriction was meant to do. Maybe something to do with full round attacks and mixing and matching some powerful attacks? But I don't think I'd let that work with any old multiattack action, so see no reason to limit it.

    5. The best solution I can think of is subtracting the damage bonus from the attack bonus.

      I can also confirm that there are some monsters (though they are a rarity) with anomalous prof bonuses, I can only imagine they had their CR lowered at some point and the prof bonus wasn't altered as a result.

    6. Yeah that's probably the way to do it, but it's a matter of wording it well - there's nothing to really frame it off of in the current books, is there?

      'Add one of the second form's natural attacks. Subtract the second form's proficiency bonus from the attack bonus, and add the first form's proficiency bonus. The the proficiency bonus of a monster can be found by comparing its CR to any table of proficiency bonuses (proficiency goes up every 4 levels).'

      Doesn't feel perfect, but it works.

    7. This seems too complicated to me. I normally ask the if an ability could be understood by a relatively young player with little effort, and this doesn't seem to apply. I get the feeling that allowing an attack option to translate from one monster to another without any changes to the attack roll or damage should be fine, provided that they're both your favored shapes. I haven't exhaustively checked the Monster Manual for strange exceptions, but, to my understanding (and it's a little late over here), both forms should already be available to you, so making either of them available while in the form of another shouldn't be too game-breaking.