Excerpts 05/01/2006

Player's Handbook II Excerpt
By David Noonan

The Player's Handbook II builds upon existing materials in the Player's Handbook by expanding the options available for players by both providing new material and increasing the uses for existing rules. Included are chapters on character race, background, classes, feats, spells, character creation, and character advancement. New rules include racial affiliations that make race matter as a character advances in level, new character classes and alternate class features for existing classes, new feats, tools for rapid character creation, and additional organization and teamwork benefits -- an option first introduced in Dungeon Master's Guide II and Heroes of Battle. The excerpts below include the table of contents and introduction, the knight class, expanded barbarian material, a feat table, the polymorph subschool and sample spells, and some material about rebuilding your character.

Polymorph Subschool and Spells (Chapter 4: New Spells)


Another feature new in Player's Handbook II is the polymorph subschool, defined and explained below.

A spell of the polymorph subschool changes the target's form from one shape to another. Unless stated otherwise in the spell's description, the target of a polymorph spell takes on all the statistics and special abilities of an average member of the new form in place of its own except as follows:

  • The target retains its own alignment (and personality, within the limits of the new form's ability scores).

  • The target retains its own hit points.

  • The target is treated has having its normal Hit Dice for purpose of adjudicating effects based on HD, 95 such as the sleep spell, though it uses the new form's base attack bonus, base save bonuses, and all other statistics derived from Hit Dice.

  • The target retains the ability to understand the languages it understands in its normal form. If the new form is normally capable of speech, the target retains the ability to speak these languages as well. It can write in the languages it understands, but only if the new form is capable of writing in some manner (even a primitive manner, such as drawing in the dirt with a paw).

In all other ways, the target's normal game statistics are effectively replaced by those of the new form. The target loses all of the special abilities it has in its normal form, including its class features (even if the new form would normally be able to use these class features).

If the new form's size is different from the target's normal size, its new space must share as much of the original form's space as possible, squeezing into the available space (see PH 148) if necessary. If insufficient space exists for the new form, the spell fails.

Any gear worn or carried by the target melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional. When the target reverts to its true form, any objects previously melded into the new form reappear in the same location on its body they previously occupied and are once again functional. Any new items worn in the assumed form fall off and land at the target's feet.

The spellcaster can freely designate the new form's minor physical qualities (such as hair color and skin color) within the normal ranges for a creature of that kind. The new form's significant physical qualities (such as height, weight, and gender) are also under the spellcaster's control, but they must fall within the norms for the new form's kind. The target of a polymorph spell is effectively camouflaged as a creature of its new form, and gains a +10 bonus on Disguise checks if it uses this ability to create a disguise.

If the target of a polymorph spell is slain or rendered unconscious, the spell ends. Any part of the body that is separated from the whole remains polymorphed until the effect ends.

Incorporeal or gaseous creatures are immune to polymorph spells, as are creatures of the plant type. A creature with the shapechanger subtype (such as a lycanthrope or doppelganger) can revert to its natural form as a standard action.

Spells That Have Come Before

For the purpose of adjudicating effects that apply to polymorph spells, any spell whose effect is based on either alter self or polymorph should be considered to have the polymorph subschool. However, note that the spells' existing rules text takes priority over that of the subschool. Alter self, for instance, does not change the target's ability scores (unlike normal for spells of the polymorph subschool).

Transmutation (Polymorph)
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 9
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 swift action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/level (D)

You feel a fire burning deep within you. Crimson scales quickly grow over your body, a pair of great wings sprouts from your shoulders, and your body expands in size until you stand as tall as a house!

You take on the form and abilities of a mature adult red dragon (see below for your new statistics). You gain 150 temporary hit points, which disappear at the end of the spell's duration. You do not gain the normal spellcasting ability of your new form. See the description of the new polymorph subschool on page 95 for more details.

Mature Adult Red Dragon

Init +0; Senses blindsense 60 ft., darkvision 120 ft., quadruple-strength low-light vision; Listen+32, Spot +32
Languages as normal form

AC 32, touch 8, flat-footed 32
hp as normal form (+150 temporary hp); DR 10/magic
Resist SR 23
Immune fire
Fort +20, Ref +14, Will +18
Weakness vulnerability to cold

Speed 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor); Flyby Attack
Melee bite +34 (2d8+11/19-20) and
2 claws +32 (2d6+5/19-20) and
2 wings +32 (1d8+5/19-20) and
tail slap +32 (2d6+16/19-20)
Space 15 ft.
Reach 10 ft. (15 ft. with bite)
Base Atk +25; Grp +44
Atk Options Cleave, Power Attack
Special Actions breath weapon, crush
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 9th): 7/day -- locate object

Abilities Str 33, Dex 10, Con 23, Int 18, Wis 19, Cha 18
Feats Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Flyby Attack, Improved Critical (bite, claw, tail slap, wing), Multiattack, Power Attack
Skills Appraise +32, Bluff +32, Concentration +34, Diplomacy +34, Intimidate +34, Jump +39, Knowledge (arcana) +32, Listen +32, Search +32, Spot +32

Breath Weapon (Su)
50-ft. cone, 14d10 fire, Reflex DC 30 half.
Crush (Ex) Area 15 ft. by 15 ft.; Small or smaller opponents take 2d8+16 points of bludgeoning damage, and must succeed on a DC 28 Reflex save or be pinned.

Transmutation (Polymorph)
Level: Sorcerer/wizard 4
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 swift action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/level (D)

Your muscles ripple, and you hear bones crackling underneath your now mottled green skin as your form reshapes to that of a horrid troll.

You take on the form and abilities of a troll (MM 247). You gain 30 temporary hit points, which disappear at the end of the spell's duration. See the description of the new polymorph subschool on page 95 for more details.

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