Hi everybody! The wild shape rule have undergone another substantial change with the so-called polymorph announcements, and now many are once again confused what the actual wildshape rules are now.
So here I am with the new MMF bible that tells you what the Official Wild Shape Rules actually are, gathered together from the different official sources like Monster Manual and Complete Adventurer books, Official Game Rule FAQ, Errata, WotC website announcements, the three recent polymorph articles that actually don't even deal with polymorph etc. And where that leaves the Masters of many Forms (MMF) from the Complete Adventurer Sourcebook, whose patron saint I am, and how they can make the most out of the situation.
Let me state one thing up front: I know that the MMF is not very strong for a shapeshifting class. It is weaker than the old shifter, than the shapechange spell, possible even than simple polymorph, at least before you reach level 7. And even that ability is given away for free to straight druids with the Enhanced wildshape spell from the Spell compendium. But this thread is not to lament about that, it is about how to make most out of the PrC as it is. (You go into battle with the PrCs you have...)
The wildshape rules are not exactly easy to comprehend, seeing that improved wildshape is based on wildshape which is based on alternate form, then modifier by various errata, FAQ and articles.
That's why I gathered together from the different sources what the official wildshape rules are now (Future changes will be included):
For a number of times indicated by your class and expanded by MMF and Nature’s Warrior levels, as a supernatural standard action, you assume the form of an small or medium animal or of any additional types or sizes which your levels in a prestige classes like Master of many Forms (MMF) allow you. You must be familiar with a race to take its form. The assumed form can’t have more Hit Dice than your level in the wildshape class (e.g. druid) plus any MMF and Nature’s Warrior levels.
Your may not take the form of a creature advanced in size through additional racial Hit Dice, or with a template. The actual rules do not forbid incorporeal or gaseous forms. The change lasts for a number of hours equal to your wildshape class level plus any MMF levels. While wildshaped, you have a moderate aura of transmutation magic.
- the size of the creature, and if it has it, the aquatic subtype
Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores of the new form, including
their modifier and all the related effects, with the exception that
changes to Constitution do not affect your Hit Points: Your HP are still
determined by your original constitution.
- all extraordinary
special attacks possessed by the form. You do not get the extraordinary
special qualities possessed by the new form such as darkvision,
low-light vision and so forth, unless you reach MMF level 7. At MMF
level 7, you also gain the so-called type and subtype traits written
under Extraordinary qualities, like the immunities from plant traits.
You don’t get any supernatural or spell-like abilities.
armor bonus, movement modes, natural weapons (such as claws, bite, and
so on) including the form’s attack routines like 2xclaw or 8xtentacle,
and any gross physical qualities (presence or absence of wings, number
of extremities, and so forth). You do not get racial bonus feats or
racial skill boni. until you reach MMF level 7. The Official Game Rules
FAQ notes that racial feats and skills are extraordinary qualities, so
you get them when you each MMF level 7.
- lost hit points as if you had rested for a night
- your own alignment and your HD with everything
related to your HD: number of racial HD, LA, class and PrC levels, base
attack bonus, skill ranks, base saves and all class and PrC abilities.
DCs from extraordinary abilities are based on your HD, not the
- your own hit points, but modified by healing (see above)
- your own mind, including your own Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores
- all extraordinary qualities of your original form, but no extraordinary attacks
- all supernatural abilities of your original form except for breath weapons and gaze attacks
- all spell-like abilities of your normal form
ability to speak intelligibly only if a member of that race can usually
speak, too. If you are an MMF, you can speak in any form.
spellcasting ability you had in your original form, but can use verbal
components only if you can speak in this form (see above), and can only
use somatic or material components if you have limbs capable of fine
- your subtypes
- your type abilities and vulnerabilities: Even when wildshaped into a different type like animal, you are still vulnerable to spells that target your original type like hold person if you were humanoid, and still can use items that only your original type or race could use.
- all extraordinary special attacks not derived from class levels
- your old natural attacks, if you have any, and your other old natural armor and movement modes
- any item you carry melds into your form and becomes non-functional. Exceptions are items tied to a wildling clasp (Magic item compendium, 4.000 gp). Items tied to such a clasp remain active and change size to fit your new size.
You can designate the new form’s minor physical qualities (such as height, weight, hair color, hair texture, skin color etc) within the normal ranges for a creature of that kind. If you use this spell to create a disguise, you get a +10 bonus on your Disguise check, and are not tied to the other disguise modifiers from the PHB.
Any part of the body that is separated from the whole keeps its new form. If slain, you revert to your original form, though you remain dead. True Seeing spells or effect reveal your true form.
Becoming a MMF
The best races for this PrC are:
- human: Humans get a racial
bonus feat and bonus skill points which are extraordinary qualities and
thus retained while wildshaped.
- changeling: It allows the
MMF to take one form and wear the appearance of another over it. For
example you could take a form immune to fire like the phoelarch
(provided you are MMF level 7) and still look fully human, tempting
enemy spellcasters into fireballing you without any effect. Or you could
take a form with great natural armor like tren and look like an elf,
thus having no problem to enter a city. This is a neat trick. If you are
not a changeling, a hat of disguise allows you a similar trick, but it
can be penetrated more easily.
- dwarf: if you get two levels
of deepwarden from Races of stone, your AC will soar. Changelings can
pull off the trck through the racial emulation feat.
The warforged is specially qualified, for the Races of Eberron book
states that warforged in wildshape form retain their warforged
immunities and their composit armor abilities. That means a warforged in
any form is immune to things like sleep, suffocation, paralysis, energy
drain and various others, and keeps his armor bonus.
- plant races like volodni from Unapproachable east: Since you retain your type when wildshaped, you retain your plant immunities.
The best class to become a MMF is druid (or druidic avenger (UA p. 51) or even better wildshaping ranger (UA p.58) if you use the Unearthed Arcana optional rules. Thanks Veldrane and mycroft65536 ! Another great option ist the wild monk from Dragon magazine 324, although you enter the PrC one level later then). Some PrCs like the OA shapeshifter offer the wildshape feature and thus make possible bases too, but they usually allow you to enter the class too late, making them worse options. Most MMFs are druid-based.
Good PrCs to follow up on the MMF are:
- Nature's warrior from Complete warrior. I quote Iku Rex:
"Nature's warrior gives you a couple of druid spellcaster levels, full
"wild shape progression" and (over 5 levels) three nifty abilities. I
like "Armor of the Crocodile" (+5 increase natural armor), "Earth's
Resilience" (DR 3/-) and "Serpent's Coils" (gain constrict attack in
form with improved grab) or "Wild Growth" (fast healing 1)."
on with druid after MMF is also a good choice, for you gain additional
wildshape uses and form HDs, plus additional spells and class abilities.
In fact, the Enhanced wildshape spell from the Spell Compendium makes
it a more powerful and versatile build to start with 5 or 7 level of
druid, then to take only three MMF levels, and after that to go on with
druid. You miss little, since you will gain plant and elemental forms
from druid, too, and can gain access to aberration and medium dragon
forms via feat. Vermin, fey, ooze and other dragon forms are a price
worth paying for seven more spell levels and eventually access to
- Rather an alternative to the MMF than an
addition, but interesting when you just a few MMF levels: The Planar
Shepherd from Faiths of Eberron. On level 2, yoiu can wildshape into all
magical beast from one plane, but more important, at level 9, you gain
access to all outsiders from one plane. In Eberron cosmology, taking the
battle plane Shavarrat for example gives you access to almost all
devils, demons, and archons. You gain all their extraordinary,
supernatural and even spell-like abilities, and can take templated
forms. That of course will make you more powerful than you can become as
an MMF. And of course, you will get full wildshape DH and duration
progression together with full druid spell progression. What else do you
- two or even four levels of warshaper from Complete
Warrior for its great abilities like immunity to critical hits, +4 to
strength and constitution.
- two levels of deep warden from
Races of Stone if you are a dwarf, since on level 2 you add your
constitution modifier to your AC, which can be immense (also possible
for a changeling with racial emalation keeping dwarf form with minor
change shape underneath, or if you have three levels in the stoneblessed
PrC (also from RoS), (thanks MonkeyGreatSEOH )
- The chameleon: To quote Lilt :
"If the MoMF takes Able learner and invests some skill points into Bluff and Disguise (skill-cap is cross-class, but they still cost 1/rank) then the Chameleon PrC becomes available for the Druid/MoMF after level 13. The first Chameleon ability that really shines is the second level feat, because you can use that to cherry-pick the feats which grant you different wildshape forms (Frozen Wildshape, ETC) for that day or even taking the Assume Supernatural Ability feat on different abilities from day to day."
- As URL=http://boards1.wizards.com/member.php?u=505727]_Inertia_[/url] suggested, taking a level of Warblade
(Book of 7 Swords) gets you third level maneuvers, which can include
Iron Heart Surge, which is one of the few way for a MMF to counter
antimagic fields, and moment of perfect mind, which allows you to make a
concentration check instead of will saves - our weakest save.
- If you are human-based and thus have no problem with an XP penalty, a level of monk (or CW Ninja, as Surreal suggested) can also be useful, due to the higher unarmored AC, flurry of blows and the free improved grapple feat.
All except the Nature's warrior, planar shepherd and the druid don't extend the Form HD Maximum or wildshape duration! Same is true for other nice PrCs like daggerspell shaper (CAd): The abilitiy to retain the weapon boni or enhancements from magic items is cool, but giving up form maximum HD progression is a very high price.
When you reach epic levels, the epic progression is that of the shifter PrC, since the MMF is the official 3.5 update to it. You can find the epic shifter here: Epic progression.
There are quite some useful epic feats for the MMF, like Colossal Wildshape, Fine Wildshape and Magical beast wildshape.
Making the most out of the MMF’s advantages
Effectively, the MMF has but two advantages over simple polymorph casters:
- The duration is longer, measuring hours instead of minutes.
- When reaching level 7, the MMF gets access to the very valuable EX qualities of his forms. Polymorph can’t do that, and the way more powerful shapechange spell should still be a few levels away for his competition. For that reason, it is wise to try to get to that level as fast as possible, ideally at character level 12. Up until 7th level, level means power for the MMF. On the other hand, the MMF reaches its power peak at level 7. It may be wise to then first take one or more levels in another PrC like Nature's Warrior before finishing this class. But that is also a matter of taste.
A MMF must make all he can from these advantages, otherwise he won’t be able to compete. Here are a few ways to do that:
Dump stats: Because most MMFs want to spend all their lives in wildshape form, there is not much reason to have good attributes in strength or dexterity. The MMF won’t use them anyway. Therefore, it is most effective to put few (if any) points in these attributes and instead concentrate on constitution (for Hit Points), wisdom, intelligence and charisma. You may have some troubles to survive till you reach MMF levels, but it can be well worth the risk.
Armor: AC is one area where the MMF excels. Many forms have great natural AC of +12 or more, which can be combined with equipment in different ways. For item advise, see the next post below.
This turns the MMF into one of the PrCs with the highest AC of all. AC 40 to 50 is quite possible for a MMF at character level 12, and that without any armor check penalties.
Items: Items are a tricky thing for the MMF, for when he uses wildshape, all his items meld into his body, becoming non-functional. A MMF taking another human form is naked. There are two ways to combat this:
- You can take off items and put them on again afterwards. However, that means that changing shape takes several rounds for you, so you won't be able to do it when needed like in combat. Instead have to use forms that are both good in combat and adventuring all the time. That is a possibility, but I don't like it, for walking around in the same form all the time goes against the concept of being a shapechanger in the first place.
- You can get numerous wildling clasps from the Magic item compendium (4.000 gp each) and attach them to your items. These won’t be melded and change its size to fit your new form. You can find the best candidates for them in the forth post of this thread. Of course, buying a claps for a cloak, a vest, an amulet, two rings, a belt and a pair of bracers costs 24.00 gp alone, without the items. So "stacking" enchantments on just few of them may be cheaper, depending on level.
Stacking means that items can be further enhanced by special abilites normally reserved for other items. For example, for x1.5 the normal price, you can add to a wildshape amulet the effects of a ring of protection, bracers of armor, amulet of natural armor, periapt of wisdom, amulet of health, cloak of resistance or other item having to do with protection or wisdom. Any other item effect can be added for 2x the normal price.
- Since items generally meld even when the new form is humanoid, this means that an MMF staying wildshaped all day can make great use out of the wild armor special ability. Since wild armor melds, it has no penalties, but still offers the full AC (but can't be combined with a monk's belt, see post #20). So you don't need proficiency with it and can choose armor as heavy as possible, for example mountain plate from Races of Stone. A wild mountain plate+1 costs about 20.000 gp and gives you a free armor bonus of +11. If you are druid-based, you'll have to choose a dragon-hide version of it, which costs about 24.000 gp. You will get a higher armor bonus than with a monk's vest, but a lesser touch-AC and incorporeal-touch-AC. At higher levels, a wild tower shield+1 at 16.000 gp is also a good choice for an additional shield AC of +5.
Grappling: The grappling rules are great for many of the MMFs forms, because they put many opponents not specially made for that at a huge disadvantage. For example, greatsword-wielding blackguards or enemy spellcasters have major troubles in a grapple. On the other hand, the +4 bonus to grapple checks per size category alone makes MMFs great grapplers. Plus many forms allow you to deal additional damage with each grapple check. Or try grappling an opponent, moving him to a cliff, and then throwing him down there. Rules for that can be found on page 48 of the DMG2.
In short, try grappling as often as possible.
Immunities: One of the great advantages of reaching level 7 is that you will gain access to extraordinary immunites, and thus will be able to take an optimal form for a given opponent. Many forms are immune to a lot of things:
- Fire: A form with the fire subtype
makes you immune to all fire and heat damage when you reach level 7, so
e.g. the phoelarch from MM3 is useful, or e.g. red dragons (level 10).
A form with the cold subtype is immune to cold damage at level 7, so
e.g. the marzanna hag or the Frost folk from Frostburn are great against
monsters like cryohydras. Other forms like white dragon (level 10) can
also be used.
- Electricity: When you have
reached level 7, a shambling mound (which even gains constitution from
it), a grell or a blue or bronze dragon form (level 10) makes you immune
to all electricity effects like lightnings from the sky.
For example the very powerful octopus tree form (level 7, 14 HD) from
FF and the brine swimmer from Sandstorm (5 HD vermin) are immune to acid
after level 7, as are the black, green, copper or silver dragons
(available at level 10).
- Sonic: After
reaching level 7, gulgar form (MM3) makes you immune to sonic damage, as
does taking howling dragon form from draconomicon (level 10).
The gargoyle (MM, level 3) does not breathe and thus is not suffocated
e.g. under one of the murderous devil dunes from Sandstorm. The zern's
(MM4) adaptive defence protects him after level 7. Elementals (level 8)
are also a choice. If you are merely thrown under water, any form with
an aquatic subtype will help, like merfolk (level 1).
Since most petrification abilities are based on Flesh to stone, a form
not made of flesh is immune to that, e.g. a plant form (level 7) like
woodwoad or treant. The protean scourge (MM3) is also immune to
petrification after level 7 (thanks slarabee).
The zern's (MM4) adaptive defence protects him after level 7. And at
MMF level 10, you are immune to petrification anyway (thanks snowlynx .
When fighting opponents that like to grapple, taking a form as big as
possible is always helpful, since each size category gives you +4. After
reaching level 7, the darktentacles form is one of the best braplers
there is because of its racial +16 bonus.
- Swallow whole:
A good way to fight creatues dangerous because of the swallow whole
attack form is to take a size equal to them, which prevents most from
swallowing you. If that isn't possible, getting a high grapple bonus
though size tec. is helpful, as is a form that can deal a lot of damage
at once, since you can then tear your way free again. Forms that give
you sneak attack dice are one such choice, for a monster swallowing you
is flatfooted against your attacks.
- Ability Damage or drain: The leechwalker form from MM2 is immune to ability damage and drain after level 7.
All plant (level 7) and elemental (level 9) forms are immune to poison,
as are e.g. duergar and kuo-toa forms after level 7. The zern's (MM4)
adaptive defence protects him after level 7.
The phoelarch (MM3) is immune to disease after level 7. The zern's
(MM4) adaptive defence protects him from this after level 7.
While plant and kuo-toa form MMFs after level 7 can be held in high
esteem, they can't be held by by the Hold spells and abilities. The
zern's (MM4) adaptive defence protects him from this after level 7.
Please bear in mind that when you are held in human form, you still have
the ability to wildshape into a plant and thus shrug off the effect,
since you can still use purely mental actions.
All plants (level 7) and elementals (level 9) are immune to paralysis,
as are duergar, kuo-toa and grell forms after level 7. The zern's (MM4)
adaptive defence protects him from this after level 7. As with hold
effects, you can take these forms after being paralysed in another form.
All plants (level 7) and oozes (level 8) are immune to polymorph
effects. The zern's (MM4) adaptive defence protects him from this after
level 7. If you have the shapechange subtype, you can always change
- Sleep: While sleep is rarely an
issue at higher levels, plant (level 7), ooze (level 8) or elemental
(level 9) forms will make you immune to is, as will e.g. elf or
tri-kreen form after level 7. The zern's (MM4) adaptive defence protects
him from this after level 7.
- Stun: All
plants (level 7), oozes (level 8) and elementals (level 9) are immune to
stun. The zern's (MM4) adaptive defence protects him from this after
- Fear: All plants and neogi (MM2)
after level 7 are immune to mind effects and thus to fear, as are the
quaggoth form (Monsters of Faerun) after level 7.
- Mind-affecting effects:
Plant (level 7) and ooze (level 8) forms and neogi after level 7 are
immune to all mind-affecting effects, grimlocks are immune to all
illusions after level 7. The level-1-spell protection from evil saves
you from mind control, too, which is why such a potion is well worth its
- Gaze attacks: Speaking of
grimlocks, when faced with something like a bodak, a form with
blindsight is recommended, like the grimlock or dark stalker (FF) after
level 7. All oozes (level 8) have blindsight, too.
- Critical hits and sneak attacks:
All plants (level 7), oozes (level 8) and elementals (level 9) are
immune to critical hits and thus also to sneak attacks, an assassin's
death attacks, coup de grace, precise strike, quivering palm, wounding
and so on.
- Swarm attacks: Swarms are a
threat much more deadly than their CR indicates. Often, when you don't
have a spellcaster with area spells, there is little you can to against
them, since most swarms are immune to all weapon damage and all effects
that targets single creatures. But there are a few forms that can be
used to combat swarms. The Gulgar (level 3, 10 HD, MM3) has a sonic
attack that deals 3d6 area damage (*1.5 against swarms for being an area
effect). and after level 7 gets DR 10/adamantine, which will keep him
alive longer. If you count trample as an area-effect (the rules don't
say, but it seems realistic), any such form like treant (MM, level 7) is
also be really useful.
- Negative energy and energy drain: The kir-lanan gargoyle from Faerun is healed by negative energy and thus immune to level drain. Although it doesn't say, that is probably an extraordinary ability and thus available at level 7. The shadow dragon is another form immune against level-draining effects, but only available at MMF level 10. If you are hit with negative levels, however, remember that whether a level loss is permanent is a fortitude save after 24 hours, taking a form with lots of constitution like cave troll (level 2, 9 HD) or war troll (level 2, 12 HD) then is a good idea.
And now a few tips not on how to optimize your character, but how to play it right, because when you play your MMF wrong, your main opponent may not be some monster, but your DM.
- Ask the DM up front how he wants to resolve the familiarity question:
Can you take forms which never appeared as a monster to your party?
Perhaps a few per level, can you choose which ones? Or do you resolve
that with knowledge rolls? Sooner or later you will want to take a form
that will have a great effect in a certain situation, and if you succeed
with your plan, your DM will want to know why it is possible. Make that
clear from the beginning.
- Always have the data for your form ready.
Write down before starting the game what your stats will be in this or
that form. You cannot hold up the game by borrowing the DMs monster
manual and reading for half an hour when battle is supposed to start.
The less the hinder the flow of the game, the less the DM is likely to
object to your character.
In the same way, if you want to use grappling and your group is not used to it, you have to be the one who knows the rules in and out. Read them and re-read them, they are mostly not that difficult.
- Don't overkill.
Choose forms that fit to your groups power level. If you have a group
that plays high-power, with other players being wizards using only the
best spells and other characters being optimized race-class-feat combos,
you can use the best forms available to you. However, when your group
rather consists of a bard, a normal ranger and an average monk, taking a
powerful form like cryohydra early on and killing all opponents by
yourself before your fellow characters have much time to do any damage
will make your DM ban you. I found it best to use middling forms and
only pull out the big guns once the tide of battle has seriously turned
against you. If you play powerful forms, the DM will send more powerful
monstres, and you less optimized comrades may not be able to keep up
with this escalation. In short: De-escalate and avoid the problem.
- Focus on your adaptability, not your power. Your character should ideally not be best known as the character who can kill any monster, but as the one who will find a solution, no matter how dire the situation looks. Bluff your way through or disguise yourself as one of the enemy (and thus put ranks in both). Perhaps fly over opponents that are too strong and in your way, or burrow under their feet. Look for your opponent's weaknesses and exploit them. But don't be ashamed to flee, instead take a big fast form and carry your slower teammates (otherwise your group may not be able to flee at all). Having to flee every now and then is good, it shows the DM that he set the power levels high enough and allows you to regroup and try a different approach. In short: Be a shapechanger, not just a tank.