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What happens to a polymorphed wizard or master of many forms when, while in black pudding form, he splits? Some say the ability creates a new black pudding, yet the black pudding's split ability says

Slashing and piercing weapons deal no damage to a black pudding. Instead the creature splits into two identical puddings, each with half of the original’s current hit points (round down). A pudding with 10 hit points or less cannot be further split and dies if reduced to 0 hit points.

(Emphasis mine.) The split ability explicitly mentions that the new pudding is identical to the original (but with half hp). So did the wizard or druid just duplicate himself? If so, what happens when effect that transformed the wizard or druid into a black pudding ends?

I also opened a forum thread for this topic on Giant in the Playground for more in depth discussion

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I removed the last line of your question because on the one hand, your question didn't need it, and on the other, the stack doesn't allow overly broad questions, and that line was making the question overly broad in a way that might've gotten the question closed. \$\endgroup\$ – godskook Aug 4 '17 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. I did a little editing on this. I hope that's okay. (The site likes titles that are more descriptive than X and Y, and system is redundant in light of the tags.) Anyway, thank you for an interesting question and have fun. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 4 '17 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan You might also add that after the polymorphed reverts they gain their HP back. \$\endgroup\$ – Bigbo Biggins Aug 4 '17 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BigboBiggins Why? I'm not looking at any books right now. Is that a function of the spell or special ability ending? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 4 '17 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ [Related] Can you heal a split black pudding? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 4 '17 at 20:08
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Pudding farming may be difficult to set up, but it does work

It is difficult to actually gain the split ability, but there are a few ways to do this. Be aware that polymorph is insufficient, as

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.

Again, there are other ways to do this, though, and Master of Many forms is one of them (at 8th level, when you can wild shape into oozes, or 7th level if you can ooze shape earlier for some reason).

If a character does gain the split ability, then they have the split ability. There's nothing that really seems to indicate that the split off clone is in any way a different kind of creature from the original-- a transformed mage who splits becomes two identical transformed split mages with half the hp.

The split off creature may or may not be affected by any ongoing spells, like Shapechange, affecting the 'original' creature, depending on what portion of the self you consider important for the purposes of two creatures being identical, and whether the split results in two new creatures or just one. Any spells not applied would also see their effects not-applied, so if you transformed to gain the split ability via a spell and the copy did not get a copy of that spell, it would also not be transformed. If a copy of a spell is gained, it ends when that spell would normally end.

The split off creature shares most of your equipment. Most methods of transforming are subject to the following:

Creatures who polymorph keep their worn or held equipment if the new form is capable of wearing or holding it. Otherwise, it melds with the new form and ceases to function for the duration of the polymorph.

Since such equipment explicitly becomes a part of the form for the duration of the effect, the duplication via split will also duplicate all such equipment. Such equipment may not be easily accessible to either creature, however, as when equipment unmelds is unclear within the rules. Generally, melded equipment ceases to be melded when a creature ends the effect that caused the equipment to be melded in the first place, but the rules don't actually require that so a GM might prohibit both creatures from ever being able to access their melded items that way, for whatever reason. Anything that causes a creature to revert to its 'true form', however, will unmeld the equipment, and the alter self spell provides explicit unmelding circumstances as well.

The split off creature obviously shares any templates it parent had, since the creature would not otherwise be identical to the original.

The split-off creature has no intrinsic loyalty to nor animosity towards its parent, and shares all of the parent's memories, personality, and alignment, though it possesses its own soul.

You might die, though

It is possible that the split results in two children and the death of the parent-- that is, the spell results in the creation of two new souls and the original creatures soul, lacking a place to go, is slain. Should a creature be slain in such a way, it could be easily raised by spells such as resurrection, though such abilities require that at least one of the children be slain so that their parent can be raised. Only True Ressurection allows the parent, in this case, to return to life without the death of one of the children. An appropriately prepared mage, though, could instead make use of the clone spell. This interpretation, with two children and a dead parent, relies upon the following text:

Instead the creature splits into two identical puddings, each with half of the original’s current hit points (round down)

Which implies that neither of the two created puddings is the original, as well the line from magic jar stating that "Any life force with nowhere to go is treated as slain." The application of this last line is quite shaky, and the DM is free to process the bodilessness of the original creature in any number of alternative ways.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if item duplication is really something that should occur here. [M]elds… and ceases to function could just as easily mean that when the split occurs, the melded and nonfunctional items will simply stay melded and nonfunctional no matter what form's assumed by the offspring. Saying that the two creatures are identical in the past and in the future instead of just now seems—to me, anyway—to overextend even the vaguely written split ability's mandate. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 4 '17 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Duping is pretty terrible anyway, and I shudder to think of what happens using this reading if the party uses the power compression to fit itself into the pouches of a belt of many pockets (CAr 147-8) (11,000 gp; 1 lb.) so the master of many forms can dupe all of them. Yuck.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 4 '17 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it might be wise to emphasize the possible downsides of the split ability in the answer's final 'graph, maybe even with its own header. That is, when "the creature splits into two identical puddings," the original—in this case, the PC—ceases to exist (leaving behind two NPCs) is a very clever reading and should serve as a fairly strong deterrent to any considering shenanigans involving this special ability. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 4 '17 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TonanBora Were a pudding to lose templates when it split, it wouldn't be splitting into identical puddings. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 5 '17 at 0:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TonanBora I do assume that when a black pudding (even an ersatz black pudding) splits it splits into two puddings that are identical to the black pudding that originally possessed the split ability rather than two puddings that are identical to each other yet possess—I dunno—the stock statistics as printed in the Monster Manual or something. But, I admit, that's an assumption… as are—obviously—many things about the far-too-brief description of the ability split. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 5 '17 at 16:38

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