I have been looking at spells for changing shape/appearance. Alter self seems to be one of the best options, but I'm confused on its limitations.

The main thing that confused me is the spell states you can change your height and weight, but also states that you don't appear as a creature of a different size than you. When I read the spell these two parts seem to conflict with one another.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you provide additional information. Right now this is very subjective. What is your definition for 'best'? Furthermore, what about the Alter Self spell is confusing to you? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possibly some useful relevant bits here: Is Alter Self strictly better than Disguise Self as at-will invocations? \$\endgroup\$
    – CTWind
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is no "standard" Alter Self in reality. Since its description in PHB isn't very detailed, in your game it can do what your DM thinks it can do. What exactly confuses you, could you be more specific? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 22:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've closed this since I feel we need some clarification around what confuses you with regards to its limitations. Since it does what it says, and doesn't do what it doesn't say, plenty of those limitations are already defined. (E.g. it can't brew you a cup of tea, or act as Wish.) Could you give us an idea of the kind of territory you're uncertain about? What are you unsure that the spell can/can't do, what are you trying to discover about it? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 22:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I edited your question to incorporate and focus on that specific confusion. Does the result still look like a question that you want an answer to? If so, we can reopen it without further ado; if not, you can edit your question further to make it more accurately reflect what you're intending to ask. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 23:45

1 Answer 1


Phil Boncer already stated this in a comment, but the basic answer is simple: "size" doesn't refer to precise physical size, which is almost completely irrelevant to the rules, but the game concept of size categories, each of which is roughly double the size (along all dimensions) of the next smaller one. A human can't pretend to be a halfling with alter self. Interestingly, a dwarf can't either, even though the absolute difference in physical sizes is much greater between a dwarf and a half-orc (either of which can pretend to be the other) than between a dwarf and a halfling.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The comment has been deleted, so you might want to remove that link. \$\endgroup\$
    – Icyfire
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 5:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Icyfire: I'm not perfectly certain of the etiquette for acknowledging someone who posted the same thing you would have posted, but happened to do so earlier and in a comment that is now deleted. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 5:42

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