A kitsune caster with the feat Fox Shape wants to cast spells in fox shape. The caster's tattoo is a magic item that can be used once per day to cast a spell as if using the feats Silent Spell and Still Spell but without an increase in casting time or spell level. The problem is this kind of magic item usually becomes unusable when the possessor's form is changed into something other than a humanoid or monstrous humanoid.

If the magical tattoo is inscribed on the kitsune while the kitsune is in fox shape, would the magical tattoo be usable when the kitsune's in fox shape?

  • \$\begingroup\$ @FlashRebel may I ask if this is an existing character or one still being planned on? If the later, what class would that be? \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Jun 30, 2017 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


Polymorphed creatures cannot activate any magic items

The rules on polymorph are very restrictive on magic item activation, this clause is not simply talking about your melded gear, but any activation magic item cannot be used on your form:

Items that require activation cannot be used while you maintain that form.

For instance, if you equipped the fox with tiny boots of speed, she could not activate them.

Even if the caster could activate the Caster's Tattoo, she could not cast while in the fox shape, as animals are not normally capable of spellcasting on their natural form as they lack ways to provide verbal, somatic and material components for spells. The first two are covered by the tattoo's magical effect:

A caster’s tattoo is infused with potential magical energy that aids in casting spells that normally utilize verbal and somatic components. Once per day, a spellcaster may activate her caster’s tattoo as a swift action to automatically enhance the next spell she casts in that round with both the Still Spell and Silent Spell feats.

You still require some form to remove material components while polymorphed, like using the Eschew Materials, which would allow you to cast any spell without an expensive material focus, as you are removing verbal, somatic and material components (or most spells).

Of course, im disregarding spells that lack some or all of those requirements, as they could be cast without special abilities that remove them.

It might not be possible to create this magical item on a kitsune turned into a fox, as the Fox Shape ability works as Beast Shape II, which lasts only 1 minute/level. You would have to shape in and out of this form all day for several days (minimum 3) before the tattoo is finished. But that is likely a memory lapse from the author of the feat, as Fox Shape is supposed to enhance your natural ability to change shape according to it's flavor. So you will see table variation here (ask your GM).

You can create magical tattoos, magic items inked directly into the flesh of a willing or helpless creature. Both you and the recipient of the tattoo (if the recipient is not yourself) must be present during the entire tattooing process.

Instead of a tattoo, you could also consider a Ring of Eloquence, which allows you to speak while on your fox form on four different languages. You still would require the Still Spell and Eschew Materials feats. That way, you will no longer be limited to a single spell per day and can cast any spells in your fox form. Though they use up slots 1 level higher if they have somatic components.

  • \$\begingroup\$ A fox-shaped kitsune does not equal a common fox, then "animals are not normally capable of spellcasting in their natural form" has nothing to do with the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – user26561
    Jun 30, 2017 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Being a parallel of the Kitsune's Change Shape racial ability, the duration would be up the the GM. I'd say it inherit's the racial's indefinite duration, although the feat doesn't specify that so your last point is valid RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jun 30, 2017 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @FlashRebel that part is regarding what is described under polymorph rules. If this was a dragon form, for instance, my words would have been different. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Jun 30, 2017 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was pretty sure that the "animals are not normally capable of spellcasting" was a factor of the somatic requirement, and perhaps the intellect. Certainly that's the case in 3.x - was it changed in Pathfinder? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Jun 30, 2017 at 15:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden the ring doesn't require activation, and it melds into your body. The ring specific rule states that it remains working regardless of your form. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Jun 30, 2017 at 19:08

Kitsune form cannot be changed

It may be a bit rules-lawyery, but the rules text on Fox Shape specifically state:

You can take the form of a fox whose appearance is static and cannot be changed each time you assume this form.

The tattoo would be a change in appearance of the fox shape, and is therefore forbidden. Presumably, it would disappear after you reverted and changed over again. On the bright side, it looks like your fox shape comes with an insta-groom feature.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that there's a reading of that sentence that says, essentially, The fox form's appearance is immutable, so, for instance, no matter how badly your fox form is mutilated nor how ingeniously the fox form is decorated, when the fox form is next assumed the fox form's appearance is unchanged. However, I think the sentence is really there to prohibit fox shape from being used to assume the form of, for instance, a blue-furred or three-legged fox instead of the lone picked fox form. But I can totally see reading it the first way. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 30, 2017 at 19:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I acknowledge that your version of the sentence is the one that makes more intuitive sense, but when I give it a straight reading for what it actually says, "is static and cannot be changed" doesn't have a lot of space for exceptions. Otherwise, you could do things like bleaching your fur, or giving yourself a trim, and thus changing the appearance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Jun 30, 2017 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ That rule is specifically denying this part of the polymorph rules: "Unless otherwise noted, polymorph spells cannot be used to change into specific individuals. Although many of the fine details can be controlled, your appearance is always that of a generic member of that creature’s type." \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Jun 30, 2017 at 20:29

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