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?
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Eddy the mage is facing 3 Azors, which are 15, 25 and 10 ft far away from him. Azors have the special trait Heated Body (emphasis mine):
Heated Body. A creature that touches the azer or hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it takes 5 (1d10) fire damage.
Eddy casts Steel Wind Strike (emphasis mine):
You flourish the weapon used in the casting and then vanish to strike like the wind. Choose up to five creatures you can see within range. Make a melee spell attack against each target. On a hit, a target takes 6d10 force damage.
You can then teleport to an unoccupied space you can see within 5 feet of one of the targets you hit or missed.
hits all of them, and he does not teleport from his current position.
Since a melee spell attack is a melee attack, does Eddy take the fire damage given by the Heated Body trait? Is he considered to be within 5 feet during each attack?
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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."
With the exception of taking more levels in Paladin, is it possible to increase my paladin special mount duration.
The gelatinous cube possesses the extraordinary ability engulf that says
Although it moves slowly, a gelatinous cube can simply mow down Large or smaller creatures as a standard action. It cannot make a slam attack during a round in which it engulfs. The gelatinous cube merely has to move over the opponents, affecting as many as it can cover. Opponents can make opportunity attacks against the cube, but if they do so they are not entitled to a saving throw. Those who do not attempt attacks of opportunity must succeed on a DC 13 Reflex save or be engulfed; on a success, they are pushed back or aside (opponent’s choice) as the cube moves forward. Engulfed creatures are subject to the cube’s paralysis and acid, and are considered to be grappled and trapped within its body. The save DC is Strength-based and includes a +1 racial bonus. (Monster Manual 203)
Can an answer walk me through the turn of a gelatinous cube that wants to use this special ability?
I mean, so it’s the cube’s turn and the cube takes a move action to get nearer its foes then it takes a standard action to… do what exactly? Does it take that standard action to continue moving into the occupied squares of as many foes as its 15 ft. speed allows, potentially engulfing every foe in its path with no maximum as to the number of creatures that can be engulfed? (And hilarity ensues!) Does it take that standard action to engulf but one adjacent creature by moving into that creature’s space and covering the creature, a result that seems disputed by the description of the engulf ability? Or does something else happen that I’m totally overlooking?
Note: The last cube I ran was a Gargantuan cube advanced to 24 Hit Dice partnered with a Huge advanced Monster Manual mimic (186) in a high-level adventure. However, the pair just hit and grappled foes, the cube never engulfing. While doing some reading, I was pointed at the ninth and final issue of the ex-Wizards of the Coast messageboard-sponsored Knowledge Arcana PDF e-zine that includes the prestige class adamantine chef. (For those interested, previous Knowledge Arcana issues are available by changing that issue #9 URL from
08.PDF and so on, and also available is the nominal 3.5 update of the pie fiend that’s issue #9’s PDF Web extra.) Included in the prestige class article is a new monster that can be summoned by the adamantine chef: the death salad (I’m not even kidding)… that has the same special ability engulf as the cube. In trying to summarize the death salad’s engulf ability for personal use, I realized I had no idea how the ability worked and that the cube’s ability worked in an identically baffling fashion.
Also, while several 5e questions have been posed about the cube’s engulf ability, only this one is really about the 3.5e cube and its engulf ability, but it’s about how much damage the cube deals after it’s engulfed a hapless foe rather than how the engulf ability works.
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PHB page 195 mentions "special melee attack" when talking about Grapple and Shove:
you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature
you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple
It uses words "make a special melee attack" like it is a thing in 5e, however, nowhere in the game text it’s being said what a "special melee attack" actually is. It isn’t even mentioned anymore. I believe that "special attack" is not a game term — it’s a vestige from the previous editions, where "special attacks" was a thing, but I could be mistaken.
Are there any other examples of "special melee attack" (or just "special attack") in any official source book for 5e?
I was searching through dndbeyond and the only thing I’ve found was Sword Of Answering. But it uses words "special attack" in the context of the magic item description:
while you hold the sword, you can use your reaction to make one melee attack
any damage dealt with this special attack ignores any damage immunity or resistance the target has
You can remove the word "special" from its description and nothing changes. So it is plain English meaning here, not the game term.
So what is a "special attack" in terms of the game mechanics?