Alter Self and Extraordinary Special Qualities

Suppose you are a dwarf and use Alter Self to become a different dwarf. Do you lose your darkvision?

The text of Alter Self states:

You keep all extraordinary special attacks and qualities derived from class levels, but you lose any from your normal form that are not derived from class levels.

Since darkvision is an extraordinary special quality not derived from class levels, it appears you would lose that ability, but this seems very counterintuitive. Would the same be true for Polymorph? Does it require a ninth level spell for you to keep your darkvision when trying to become a different dwarf?

Polymorph and Subtypes with Supernatural special qualities

Suppose an Aasimar wizard turns 7th level and picks up the Polymorph spell. They turn into a Hound Archon. The Hound Archon has the Archon subtype, which includes supernatural special qualities. Does the wizard gain these supernatural abilities by virtue of gaining the subtype? Or does the wizard not gain them because the Polymorph spell says that the wizard does not gain any of the supernatural special qualities of the chosen form?

The abilities that I question are:

  • Aura of Menace (Su): A righteous aura surrounds archons that fight or get angry. Any hostile creature within a 20-foot radius of an archon must succeed on a Will save to resist its effects. The save DC varies with the type of archon, is Charisma-based, and includes a +2 racial bonus. Those who fail take a -2 penalty on attacks, AC, and saves for 24 hours or until they successfully hit the archon that generated the aura. A creature that has resisted or broken the effect cannot be affected again by the same archon’s aura for 24 hours.
  • Magic Circle against Evil (Su): A magic circle against evil effect always surrounds an archon (caster level equals the archon’s Hit Dice). (The defensive benefits from the circle are not included in an archon’s statistics block.)
  • Teleport (Su): Archons can use greater teleport at will, as the spell (caster level 14th), except that the creature can transport only itself and up to 50 pounds of objects.
  • Tongues (Su): All archons can speak with any creature that has a language, as though using a tongues spell (caster level 14th). This ability is always active.

Relevant quotes from the Polymorph spell:

  • "[…] The subject’s creature type and subtype (if any) change to match the new form."
  • "[…] It also gains all extraordinary special attacks possessed by the form but does not gain the extraordinary special qualities possessed by the new form or any supernatural or spell-like abilities."

Do weapon-based qualities always have to be used with the weapon that triggers them?

There are several qualities in the game that relate to specific weapon categories, most notably the "[weapon category] Fighter I-III" line. Some of these are pretty clear in that their benefits apply to only this weapon, such as Short Blade Fighter I adding Piercing 1 to the weapon or Polearm Fighter I stating "you can sweep your pole-arm". Others are pretty clear in that they don’t – Water Dancer I and II require points in Fencing, but grant passive benefits that are written to be universally active.

Some don’t mention anything of the sort, but can be argued to be self-evident. Spear Fighter I doesn’t mention spears at all, and by RAW probably could be used with any weapon, but I would be receptive to the argument that the quality is meant for use with spears only. The flavour text supports this.

Where I run into trouble is the qualities that require you to have a weapon equipped, but don’t explicitly require its use. If I look at Bravoosi Fighter III for example, it requires the character to have a fencing weapon equipped. However, imagine someone using a left-hand-dagger (a fencing weapon) in one hand and another one-handed weapon, maybe a battleaxe or longsword*, in the other. It could be well argued that the character is "armed" with a fencing weapon and thus fulfills the requirements to use this quality, but could make the counterattack with the other (more damaging) weapon. It’s not even implausible in terms of fencing, on the contrary, using one weapon to parry and the other to counter is perfectly sensible. Several other such qualities can lead to similar combinations.

I assume that the RAW here is just sloppily written, but do we have any source on what the RAI is and what are the balance considerations towards allowing or disallowing such combos?

*in the sense of an arming sword that the game calls a longsword.

Associative Qualities in Relational and Dimensional Databases

Aside from how these structures differ in application (what they do), is it accurate to state that Dimensional Models represent composite entities (collection of primary keys) embodied by a fact table interconnected with its dimensions (foreign keys) and attributes – a “star” schema of relations?

Hoping for general conversation to define the interrelated concepts.

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