Transmutation, polymorph, wild shape, and alternate form

The Pathfinder rules are quite clear on what happens when you combine polymorph effects with size-changing effects. Namely, the size-changing effects do not function while a character is under the effects of a polymorph effect. But what about other transmutations that change a character’s physical form?

Examples: Brand, Countless Eyes, etc.

I can see this working in two ways:

  1. If a character is targeted by a transmutation effect, then a polymorph effect, the polymorph effect overrides the transmutation effect. But, if the polymorph effect is first, then the transmutation effect functions normally (by transmutation effect, I am referring to non-size-altering effects.)
  2. Both polymorph effects and transmutation effects alter the base creature, so the order in which spells are cast does not matter, as both are affecting the base creature, not the modified creature.

There is also the possibility that the transmutation effect simply does not function at all while a character is under the effects of a polymorph effect, but I have not seen evidence of that in the rules (where size-alterations are the only specifically mentioned effects that do not function).

Examples:

A druid is the target of a Greater Brand. This spell specifically states that it cannot be removed, even temporarily, unless a Mark of Justice could be removed the same way. This spell might be a specific example that says that in this case, the spell functions even under the effects of a polymorph effect. So, when the druid wild shapes, the brand would still be visible.

But, what about a regular brand spell (not greater)? Would that remain during the effects of a wild shape?

What about Countless Eyes? The druid is covered in eyes, and then wild shapes. Are they now an animal that is covered in eyes? Or does the wild shape override that effect? If they are wild shaped, and they (or someone else) casts Countless Eyes on them, does the spell function normally?

Basically, I am wondering if order of spellcasting matters.

Can one Wild Shape into a Swarm?

My gut feeling is that wildshaping into a swarm is not RAI, but I’ve had such feelings at times and been wrong, so it feels worth asking.

When it comes to RAW, so far I cannot find anything that says you could not.

At 4th level, a druid gains the ability to turn herself into any Small or Medium animal and back again once per day. Her options for new forms include all creatures with the animal type.

Wild Shape includes any and all creatures of the Animal type, and while swarms are their own subtype, they are a subtype of Animal, which should be inclusive of the “parent type”, right? Or is my programmer’s thinking messing this up?

One could say that a swarm is many creatures, but…

Swarm Subtype: A swarm is a collection of Fine, Diminutive, or Tiny creatures that acts as a single creature.

The best I can come up with to counter this is that it says “acts as” and not “is a”.

Finally, there’s the issue of size for lower level druids, but my question is not restricted to early levels. So, if the druid can turn into fine or tiny creatures, are swarms okay?

Are these homebrew attempts at recreating some blast shape invocations from 3.5e balanced for 5e? (Version 2)

This is a follow up to the question: Are these homebrew attempts at recreating some blast shape invocations from 3.5e balanced for 5e?

As that question explains, I wanted to convert some “blast shape” invocations from 3.5e to 5e, specifically those I recognise from the video game Neverwinter Nights 2 that don’t already have equivalents in 5e: Eldritch Chain, Eldritch Cone and Eldritch Doom.

Thanks to Cubic’s answer, I was able to redesign my 5e invocations based on that feedback and hopefully come up with something that’s simpler and more fun to use but hopefully also still balanced, which is my main question.

Here are my second attempts at these invocations, with commentary below:


Eldritch Chain

Prerequisite: 5th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to improve your eldritch blast by turning it into an arc of energy that “jumps” from the first target to others. When you cast eldritch blast, you can choose to fire only your first beam, but if it hits, the second beam automatically hits a second target within 30 feet of the first target, dealing half of the total damage dealt to the first target.

When you reach 11th level, your third beam must then target a third creature within 30 feet of the second target, and when you reach 17th level, your fourth beam must then target a fourth creature within 30 feet of the third target. These beams also automatically hit their targets and deal half of the total damage dealt to the first target. A creature cannot be targeted more than once in this way per casting.

What stands out to me in Cubic’s answer is that the extra damage was too good not to pick, but at the same time all the extra dice rolls and fiddliness made it less fun and take up too much time. With this in mind, and with the aim of keeping it simple, I decided it would be best if the invocation used the beams you already have, rather than creating even more targets (and therefore more dice rolls) like my previous version, but this time they just automatically hit (if the first beam hits).

My hope is that automatically hitting (which gets better with more beams when you reach higher levels) is the attractive thing about this invocation, but is also offset by a) half damage, b) you can’t spam the same creature with it, the damage has to be shared around, and c) it becomes an “all or nothing” attack, since if you miss the first attack, that’s it.

I’m wondering if there are too many drawbacks that might make it less appealing, so maybe having it be a choice you can make if the first beam hits might help to make it more attractive again, since if you miss the first attack, you can just continue to fire more beams as normal (although the subsequent beams cannot become chains, only the first beam can). At worst, I could even ditch the half damage part entirely and make all targets take the full damage of the first target, either as well as or instead of my previous sentence?

Either way, hopefully this version is both more fun and less complicated, but still mechanically has a trade off that’s not “clearly better/worse” but is also attractive enough to take for situations where it would be better than just firing your beams individually.


Eldritch Cone

Prerequisite: 12th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to invoke your eldritch blast as a 30-foot cone. Each creature within the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 3d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. This damage increases to 4d10 force damage when you reach 17th level.

For Eldritch Cone, I’ve gone back to my original draft before I nerfed it, which is the version I posted in my previous question (the nerfed version, that it). My original draft had the total damage match the total damage output from a normal eldritch blast at that level. My intention is for Agonizing Blast to be included in this damage, so it’s actually 3d10 + 5 force damage for an optimised warlock; they don’t add the +5 to each d10, just the overall damage.

Given that Cubic’s answer pointed out that the range was too short and that saving throws become a less reliable way to deal damage as you get to higher levels, I’ve decided to both increase the range (which also increases the number of creatures that can be caught in it) and increase the damage.

Certainly now the short range of my previous version is less of an issue, but being able to deal 3d10 (later 4d10) force damage to a 30 foot cone’s worth of enemies does seem very strong as an at-will ability. Is forgoing the chance to crit and giving the targets a chance to half the damage really enough of a drawback that being able to do all that is still balanced, or have I gone too far in the other direction now?


Eldritch Doom

Prerequisite: 18th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to invoke your eldritch blast as the dreaded eldritch doom. This causes bolts of mystical power to lash out and savage all targets within a 20-foot-radius sphere originating from a point you can see within 120 feet of you. Each creature within that area must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 4d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

For Eldritch Doom, again I’ve gone back to my original draft before I nerfed it, which is the version I posted in my previous question (the nerfed version, that is). My original draft had the total damage match the total damage output from a normal eldritch blast at that level. My intention is for Agonizing Blast to be included in this damage, so it’s actually 4d10 + 5 force damage for an optimised warlock; they don’t add the +5 to each d10, just the overall damage.

As above, Cubic’s answer points out that the 20 foot area is rather small, and that at Tier 4 play saving throws are a very unreliable way of dealing damage. I realised that part of this problem was actually that “area” isn’t really a term used in 5e anymore; what I actually meant was a 20-foot-radius sphere, same as fireball, which would effectively be a “40 foot area” (as I understand it; hopefully that’s right), so I’ve updated it to match what fireball says. I’ve also increased the damage to 4d10.

My main concern here isn’t so much the same concerns as with Cone, but rather whether Doom now seems a bit redundant compared to Cone given how strong Cone is now? Sure, this can be done from 120 feet away, whereas Cone does not, but is that enough that someone might want to pick this over Cone, or is Cone now strictly better (and therefore overpowered)? Maybe Cone’s damage needs to be dialled back a bit so that Doom still seems impressive to have at 18th level, but at the same time, I don’t want this one to be overpowered too.

But even without comparing it to Cone, there’s also the matter of whether or not its new effects are overpowered, so again, is forgoing the chance to crit and giving the targets a chance to half the damage really enough of a drawback to basically cast a force damage fireball at-will? Does the damage need to be cut back as I suspect I might have to do with Cone? Have I gone too far in the other direction again?


My question is are these three invocations balanced when compared to eldritch blast being cast in the standard way? Are any of them “must haves”, or are there still legitimate reasons to cast eldritch blast normally (or to pick other invocations over these in a way that doesn’t see these actually ending up being underpowered–more so looking at Chain here, since I doubt Cone and Doom could still be considered underpowered)?

how do a changlings change apearance and a druids wild shape interact?

A changelings change apearance states

You also can’t appear as a creature of a different size than you, and your basic shape stays the same; if you’re bipedal, you can’t use this trait to become quadrupedal, for instance.

But seeing that with a druids wild shape can change you into a creature that is quadrupedal and a differernt size as yourself, does this mean that after that you can change into another quadrupedal creature of that same size?

lets say you are a normal 2 legged walking medium changeling and you wild shape into a 4 legged walking large saber-toothed tiger. does that mean that you can use the change apearance feature of the changeling to change into another 4 legged walking large creature like a dire wolf? and can you use this feature to change apearance into a creature outside of the possible druid wild shapes? for example a creature with a higher CR?

Can a Way of the Four Elements Monk cast spells in Wild Shape?

A Monk following the Way of the Four Elements can use Elemental Disciplines. Some of them are actually spells:

Some elemental disciplines allow you to cast spells (PHB 80)

However they are not spellcasters, as evident from the multiclassing section, not even like Eldritch Knights or Arcane Tricksters.

The Monk does not have to have material components, but what about somatic components? If I multiclass into Druid, can I cast these spells while in Wild Shape?

Can you (as a druid/trickery domain cleric) invoke duplicity, wild shape, and then cast spells through the illusion?

I am Dming a DnD 5e game. I have a player who is trying this out. My thoughts are wild shape says you can’t cast spells, and tricky domain says you cast spells as though you were in their space. So RAW it seems you can’t. Their argument was…

I was thinking you can’t cast spells because you don’t have hands or a way to do the verbal components, but since you control the duplicate at will, then you should be able to have IT do the Verbal/Somatic stuff.

Thoughts? I’m pretty sure RAW its not allowed, do you think it would create an unbalance to allow it?

Are these homebrew attempts at recreating some blast shape invocations from NWN2 balanced for 5e?

In Neverwinter Nights 2, which is based on 3.5e, there were five “blast shape” invocations available to warlocks: Hideous Blast, Eldritch Spear, Eldritch Chain, Eldritch Cone and Eldritch Doom. Now, I know that warlock invocations worked differently in 3.5e to 5e (based on how they’re implemented in this game, primarily), but I wanted to convert some of these into 5e Eldritch Invocations.

Arguably, Hideous Blow could be thought of as being roughly equivalent to Eldritch Smite from 5e (XGtE, p. 56; even though it doesn’t actually modify eldritch blast), and Eldritch Spear already exists in 5e (as a way to increase the range of eldritch blast), so the remaining three are the ones I have attempted to convert.

Here are my attempts at each of the three invocations, with some commentary below each one to explain my thought process.


Eldritch Chain

Prerequisite: 5th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to improve your eldritch blast by turning it into an arc of energy that “jumps” from the first target to others. When you cast eldritch blast, on a hit, you can choose to target an additional creature of your choice within 30 feet of the target with the same beam. Make a ranged attack roll against the additional creature, which takes half of the damage dealt to the target on a hit. You can only use this invocation once per turn with one beam, although you may choose to do so after you know whether a beam hits its target.

When you reach 11th level, your chain can target two additional creatures, both of whom take half of the damage dealt to the original target on a hit, and when you reach 17th level, your chain can target three additional creatures, all of whom take half of the damage dealt to the original target on a hit. You choose the targets in succession, and each subsequent target must be within 30 feet of the previous target of the chain (not the original target). The chain cannot target the same creature more than once (although it can target a creature hit with a different beam that turn), and on a miss, the chain ends and you cannot target any further creatures with the chain.

In NWN2 (and presumably 3.5e), Eldritch Blast only ever fired one beam, and Eldritch Chain was a way of making that hit more enemies, but each additional enemy only took half damage. Considering that eldritch blast in 5e can target multiple creatures already, I wanted to come up with something that felt unique.

I considered having each beam jump to only one addition target to deal half damage, but then a level 17 warlock could hit eight creatures with this thing, which seemed overpowered (and wouldn’t “look right” compared to what it looked like in NWN2, where the one beam would jump to different targets, not four different beams that each jump to one other target).

In the end, I decided to have it target a few additional creatures, but for half damage (Agonizing Blast would be taken into consideration for the original target’s damage, so isn’t added again to each of the chain’s targets), which is the same as in 3.5e, but only on one of the beams, not each beam. Yes, this still increases the number of creatures you can hit each turn, and therefore increases the damage output of eldritch blast, but hopefully the half damage mitigates that somewhat; also, you’ve still got to roll to hit them, so there’s a chance that you’ll simply miss and then it’s no different to not having the invocation at all.

That said, it’s still a clear improvement on RAW eldritch blast, so if it needs to be nerfed further, I could reduce the range to 10 feet or something, although unless the targets are spread out, this won’t really matter. Losing the second paragraph when you reach higher levels is also something that can be dropped, but hopefully not since that would also nerf the look/flavour of Eldritch Chain. I’d still like to keep it as an “at-will” ability, but increasing the damage output of a cantrip is pretty big, so another way to nerf it is to say that you must use it or Agonizing Blast (per beam, so your non-chain beams can still use Agonizing Blast). Depends on how powerful it is as-written above…


Eldritch Cone

Prerequisite: 12th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to invoke your eldritch blast as a 15-foot cone. Each creature within the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 1d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

For Eldritch Cone, I’ve simply used the standard cone spell implementation, like burning hands, but it only does the same amount of damage as one beam, to balance out the fact that you can hit multiple enemies with it. My intention is for Agonizing Blast to be included in this damage, so it’s actually 1d10 + 5 force damage for an optimised warlock.

I originally had it as a 30-foot cone that did 3d10 force damage, same as the normal damage output for eldritch blast (which would have increased to 4d10), but that was so powerful that I could only justify that as being once per rest or something, and I’d prefer to keep these as being something that can be used “at-will” to keep that 3.5e feel, so hopefully having a cone shaped cantrip is useful enough to justify only dealing 1d10 damage in a 15-foot cone to be balanced; I’m not sure if even having a cone cantrip is inherently overpowered, or whether the small damage and range somehow makes it underpowered, but hopefully it’s balanced.


Eldritch Doom

Prerequisite: 18th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to invoke your eldritch blast as the dreaded eldritch doom. This causes bolts of mystical power to lash out and savage all targets within a 20 foot area originating from a point you can see within 120 feet of you. Each creature within that area must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 1d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

For Eldritch Doom, I’ve implemented it as basically a force fireball, dealing the same damage as a single beam. As above, my intention is for Agonizing Blast to be included in this damage, so it’s actually 1d10 + 5 force damage for an optimised warlock.

I originally had it at 4d10, same as all four beams combined, and had the range at 30-feet, but this would be massively overpowered without a “once per rest” cap on it, but these caps kinda go against what blast shape invocations were about, so as before, I hope that the AOE shape alone is worth an invocation, since you now have a weak at-will force fireball, but without that being inherently overpowered.


Are these three invocations balanced when compared to the other Eldritch Invocations? Specifically, do they make eldritch blast overpowered in a way that dealing reduced damage and taking up a choice of an Eldritch Invocation doesn’t counterbalance?

Can a multiclassed Dreams druid/Storm Herald barbarian activate their Tundra Storm Aura while in Wild Shape?

In my next campaign, I will be the solo healer, as a Circle of Dreams Druid.

I hope that will provide enough Goodberry and other healing skills to keep the party alive. But I really want to fight too. Because of that, I searched how can I be more supportive and be good in combat too. And I decided to multi-class with the Path of the Storm Herald barbarian. But now I am a little bit confused about whether I can always use Barbarian features as I thought.

I want to do some Tundra Storm Aura-raging while I am in my Wild Shape. Is that possible?

I need that feature to support my teammates with temp-HP while I am in the fight.

RAW can creatures with Innate Spellcasting cast spells while using their Change Shape ability?

While researching monsters that can shape change to mess with my players there are a few that also have innate spellcasting. I’m trying to figure out RAW if each of the examples can use their spellcasting while using their ability to change their appearance. The wording of each’s ability are all slightly different but with enough similarity that I think it can be reasonably covered in the same question.

I found the following list of creatures with both Innate Spellcasting and the Shape Change ability:

  • Night Hag
  • Oni
  • Deva
  • Some Ancient Dragons
  • Smiling One Cloud Giant

Note: I’m aware not all Ancient Dragons have the Shape Change ability and that Ancient Dragons don’t technically have spellcasting normally but we’ll go off the assumption of using the variant rules for them in this instance as that’s when it’s relevant.

Night Hag

Wording of the Night Hag’s Change Shape ability:

Change Shape: The hag magically polymorphs into a Small or Medium female Humanoid, or back into her true form. Her Statistics are the same in each form. Any Equipment she is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. She reverts to her true form if she dies.

Oni

The Oni has the exact same wording for their ability with the relevant pronouns swapped, clarifying what they can turn into, and a bit of extra wording to clarify that their glaive transforms with them:

Change Shape. The oni magically polymorphs into a Small or Medium humanoid, into a Large giant, or back into its true form. Other than its size, its statistics are the same in each form. The only equipment that is transformed is its glaive, which shrinks so that it can be wielded in humanoid form. If the oni dies, it reverts to its true form, and its glaive reverts to its normal size.

Smiling One

The Smiling One Cloud Giant has very similar wording with the addition of being able to transform into a beast it has seen:

Change Shape. The giant magically polymorphs into a beast or humanoid it has seen, or back into its true form. Any equipment the giant is wearing or carrying is absorbed by the new form. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Devas and Dragons

Devas and Dragons seem to have extra choices on top of the basic “… magically polymorph into a …” wordings but ultimately I think the relevant portions that I’ll be talking about for the wordings are all the same as above and thus for brevity I’ll not copy the exact text here.

Innate Spellcasting Specifics

Almost all of the aforementioned creatures share an extremely similar Innate Spellcasting feature which includes *”…can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components…”. The only exceptions to this are the Deva which instead says it just has Verbal components for its spells (and specifically mentions retaining its ability to speak while transformed) and the Smiling One has both Innate Spellcasting feature and Spellcasting feature where it *”…has the following spells prepared…”

Common Wording Considerations

  • “…magically polymorphs into…”: polymorph being lowercase and none of the creatures mentioning having the Polymorph spell within their abilities makes me think this is just an innate ability of the given creature. The only real sticking point I’m unsure of for this ability is if it requires concentration or not, like if you’d cast the spell to get the effect.
  • Innate Spellcasting: is well… innate. It’s a property of the creature itself and not a spell being cast by it to produce the effect (though they do all include the wording “magically”)
  • “Statistics are the same in each form”: The Night Hag, Oni, and Smiling One share this exact wording which makes me think that, as long as the form they took could still complete the required components of the spell (VSM), they’d still have the capability to cast the spell. Deva and Ancient dragons go even beyond this in that they retain some of their more powerful aspects even while transfigured and most specifically their ability to speak (talking rabbit anyone?)
  • “…requiring no material components.”: going off the previous statement about ability to cast the spells in question all of them allow ignoring the material component. The only slight exception to this are for the spells prepared by the Smiling One that would still require their usual components (its innate spells would still ignore the material component like the rest).

Related Questions Found

  • Can a Shapechanger use Innate Spellcasting while in their animal form?: answer given was yes, they can though this is a little different as its specifically regarding the Shapechanger creature subtype (Imps and Dopplegangers being common examples), so not quite the same thing as the Shape Change ability though with similar wordings

  • Does innate spellcasting by creatures have verbal or somatic components?: Answer given was essentially “requires VSM unless it explicitly says otherwise”. Material is ignored for all of the innate casting but this would imply that verbal and somatic are still a requirement for each of the spells

  • RAW, can innate spellcaster dragons cast spells with somatic components?: answer seems to be yes with a few other examples of creatures without “hands” still seemingly being able to innately cast spells: Faerie Dragon (tiny dragon with hand like claws), Ki-Rin (unicorn-esque creature with hooves), and Morkoth (fish creature with tentacles). This is perhaps one of the more interesting rulings as it somewhat leaves the answer up to DM interpretation but, if taken in the same context as the answer here, basically any limb likely counts for somatic components.

  • Does the Shapechange spell allow one to use Innate Spellcasting of the creature they turned into?: answer seems to be Yes. The abilities described above are not the Shapechange spell but have rather similar interpretations based on how Innate Spellcasting is considered a Statistic and Special Trait and thus inherited unless specified otherwise

  • Is there a way to counterspell a level 20 druid?: answer seems to be No. This is perhaps the least related but I thought it interesting enough to include. The druid’s capstone feature Archdruid let’s them ignore the verbal, somatic, and non-consumed material cost of spells while wild shaped. There’s clearly a number of reasons this is different but it’s an interesting food for thought question of if a character would recognize the somatic movement of a spell if delivered by a Ki-Rin?

My Conclusion

tl;dr: I believe the answer is Yes with some limitation based on the form chosen.

I can’t find any reason, as long as the form taken can perform the required verbal or somatic components of the spell, that a creature using its Shape Change ability couldn’t cast its Innate Spells. The only possible exception to this seems to be if this ability somehow required concentration though I’d expect then it would be listed explicitly in the description of the ability like how the Imp’s ability to turn invisible explicitly mentions concentration. So, with that, humanoid transformations certainly could cast any innate spell and Devas and Ancient Dragons, as they retain their ability to speak, should be able to innately cast spells while transformed into… basically anything. Perhaps as long as it had a limb? So maybe not a worm though argument could be made for a certain kind of wriggling accounting for the somatic component. Note: You’d need to be extra mindful of which spells were being cast by a Smiling One for if they were innate or prepared.

Certainly DM can adjust a bit to make more interesting situations but the above appears to be RAW best I can tell.

So, did I miss anything?