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A tibbit (Dragon Compendium Volume 1 21–25) possesses the natural ability feline transformation that "is similar to the spell polymorph but with a number of key changes" that allows a tibbit to assume the form of a house cat. The text explains many of the effects of the transformation, yet ends by saying, "Aside from the changes noted here, a tibbit's abilities and game statistics otherwise remain the same" (25).

However, the 4th-level Sor/Wiz spell polymorph [trans] (PH 263) has two other effects: a creature that employs the spell polymorph upon changing form regains hp as if the creature had rested for the night, and a creature that employs the spell polymorph sees its type changed to that of the new creature whose form the original creature assumed.

Does a tibbit's natural ability feline transformation likewise allow the tibbit to regain lost hp when it assumes house cat form? Similarly, while the tibbit is in house cat form, does the tibbit's creature type change from monstrous humanoid to animal?

Note: An upcoming PC may be a tibbit bard who can, while in house cat form, cast the spell alter self due to the Savage Species feat Surrogate Spellcasting (39). I want to make sure I'm determining correctly what forms are available to Grayboots when he's in cat form. And if the healing also occurs, that's kind of important, too.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ My immediate instinct would be to force an ability like that to match either lycanthropes' or druids' alternate forms. Is there a reason you want to leave it in its current ambiguous state? \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Sep 1 '17 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin I want to know how the ability works prior to any changes I make, so an answer that says, like, "Yes on both counts, but that's problematic because…" is fine. I mean, yeah, I could just rewrite it, but Dragon Compendium Volume 1 is already a 3.5e source so I think the alternate form language could've been used if it wanted; the book even has an errata document that includes an (I think unrelated) erratum for the tibbit. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 1 '17 at 20:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ You mention that you consider feline transformation a natural ability, but I think that's wrong. Would it be useful to you for answers to address that? Or should I delete my side note for it not to mess with votes on the answer to the question itself? \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Sep 1 '17 at 23:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp I only call it a natural ability because technically it is, and I like labeling things. You're welcome to dispute that in an answer, especially if it's relevant… or even if it's not. (However, having the ability suppressed in an area of antimagic strikes this DM as causing more problems that it solves: Does a transformed tibbit that saunters into an antimagic area resume tibbit form or is it stuck in house cat form? Yet, as printed, we know what happens: nothing.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 1 '17 at 23:25
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It's ambiguous, but the answer is likely "no"

The tibbit description is fairly poorly written. It uses ambiguous terms and lazily tries to offload some of the mechanics by saying the Feline Transformation ability is "similar to the spell Polymorph, but with a number of key changes", an abjectly unhelpful description.

I think the key phrase in deciphering the answer to this question is near the end of the ability's description: "Aside from the changes noted here, a tibbit's abilities and game statistics otherwise remain the same."

Are type and subtype "statistics"?

The main question, then, is whether type & subtype are among the things not otherwise changed by Feline Transformation.

The core rules are relatively silent on what explicitly is or is not a "statistic". However, in the section on reading a monster's stat block, the rules open with Size and Type. Type is a concrete mechanical component, having both its own associated mechanics (such as feat/skill/save progressions, or abilities like aquatic subtype being able to swim and breathe water) and hooks for other features. As I read it, that makes it part of a creature's statistics.

Therefore, because none of the specific changes in the Feline Transformation ability address the type and subtype modification, a Tibbit in cat form would not become a creature of the Animal type, but would retain the Monstrous Humanoid (Shapechanger) Type and Subtype.

Regarding your secondary question

Does a tibbit's natural ability feline transformation likewise allow the tibbit to regain lost hp when it assumes house cat form?

The answer here is a much more unambiguous No. HP is not explicitly referenced in the ability's description, and so, per that key line towards the end, this game statistic will remain the same.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In the first section prior to the comparison with lycanthopy, I'm not entirely sure how repeating what question already says proves anything. I mean, is there evidence that abilities and game statistics include creature type? Also, while the transformation bears some resemblance to lycanthropy, it also resembles a lot of other monsters' abilities to assume other forms that use totally different rules. I think the answer might be helped by finding a closer and less complicated monster that can assume animal form via an effect like polymorph. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 2 '17 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Hmmmm, that's fair. I'll do some more digging \$\endgroup\$ – heathenJesus Sep 2 '17 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Isn't evidence provided after an asterisk? Do you realy think statistics in the statistics blok and game statistics may be two different things? \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Sep 3 '17 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp I think it's possible for abilities and game statistics to mean just numbers exclusively, yes. Especially since the transformation grants nothing that's called out as a special ability yet changes ability scores, and since statistics are traditionally numbers. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 3 '17 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan It changes your size, for example. Not sure if it counts for an evidence. But I hope someone would clarify the thing about type one way or another; to that extent I can't. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Sep 3 '17 at 16:42
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Answers most likely are "No" and "No".

Despite a slightly misleading wording it is most probable assumption that mentioned ability only does what is says it does. It is mainly because "similar to" isn't that much of a game term. It is already similar to polymorph thanks to some of listed changes a tibbit undergoes. On the other hand, "tibbit's abilities and game statistics otherwise remain the same" is much more strong and specific statement, so I think there really is no reason to follow some interpretation of "similar to" over this firm statement.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Darkvision is not generally supernatural, so it doesn’t provide the evidence you claim. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 1 '17 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan It's not Su, but if you expect the abilities to be marked at all, it should be marked Ex. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Sep 1 '17 at 22:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ As noted in the question, unmarked abilities are “natural” abilities, not Extraordinary. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 1 '17 at 22:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Do you think there is such a thing as natural Darkvision? I think there isn't. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Sep 1 '17 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, then you are wrong. Look at monster entries. Darkvision is consistently listed under special qualities, not supernatural abilities. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 1 '17 at 22:36

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