Playing in a 3.5e/PF cross-over campaign. My character is using the Urban Druid (Dragon Compendium variant, p. 57) base class as his main class (with some DM tweaks).

My question relates to the Urban Shape component (which the DM did not change really). It says that you can (at the appropriate levels) Urban Shape into an animated object. Now, I'm beginning to realize this just might be surprisingly broken. For starters..

In addition to the normal effects of urban shape, the urban druid also gains all of the animated object's extraordinary special attacks and special qualities, including any defenses gained from the construct type. Her type changes to construct for the duration of the animated object form. A druid who becomes an animated object has no Constitution score for as long as he remains an animated object. The urban druid gains bonus hit points based on his size while an animated object, as usual for a construct.

So...I think that's enough to be total borked right there, because being a construct is a ridiculously good benefit, and at-will access to no Con score is nuts. Still, that's not too much of the concern here.

I've realized I can become anything I want, and ditched gear (I've done things to get tons of extra urban shape uses, and because this is a PF crossover I get limitless Urban Shapes by lvl 20). Need a ladder? I'm the ladder. Need a boat? I'm the boat. Need a wagon? I'm the wagon. Need a rope? etc.

Animated objects, however, originally struck me as utility shapes, and I was using my spells and some abilities I got from variant multiclassing to do combat. Then I realize that with some of my gear (X of the Beast set) I have access to changing shape as a swift action.

Now, here's the interesting part. Urban Druid limits what objects you can become (oh, yes, you can literally become objects, not just animated objects...actual objects...one thing it mentions are "doors"...), but not what animated objects.

So, in combat, I have started taking the form of a Dire Bat or Owl, flying high over my enemies, and then Urban Shaping into an animated steel and lead bank safe. And then falling on them.

"Rock falls, everyone dies" is more fun when you are the rock, I've discovered.

My question is thus:

What really are the limitations on my animated object Urban Shape? Is this as totally unbounded borkedy borked as I think?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Urban Shape allows the use of a limited list of shapes -- this includes any humanoid, some urban-themed animals, certain vermin, objects, and animated objects. Dire Bat (and owls) are on that limited list. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alphaeus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 22:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may be interested in rules for dropping weights on enemies from Heroes of Battle, p. 68. Going straight "rock falls, everyone dies" in a real game seems questionable to me. Note, Pathfinder rules also support probability of awoiding such a fate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Correct, I'm being a bit facetious in that statement. The DM still uses weight as a means of calculating damage, though, so things get tricky. The DM is using the ranged-touch-attack rules for falling objects, though, as well as allowing reflex saves under certain circumstances. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alphaeus
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


Yes, gaining the Construct type is very nice. But so are plenty of animal, plant, and elemental forms. Druids are just powerful. If urban shape weren’t very, very good, it’d be really painful to trade wild shape for it, since wild shape is very, very powerful.

And pulling out random mundane gear your party needs isn’t really especially powerful in a lot of campaigns. Some campaigns get really into nitty gritty details about what gear you remembered to write down on your character sheet, with careful accounting of how much everything weighs and where you’re storing it all—but in my experience, most don’t. This was something of a departure from previous editions of D&D, that Wizards of the Coast certainly seemed to encourage—the progression away from AD&D towards 4e (especially) and 5e is one of decreased interest in those aspects of the game (and also a reason why some gamers have preferred to go back to older editions, or play an OSR game—though of course certainly not all).

So within 3.5e, I would say most campaigns aren’t going to actually care about you having random mundane gear at a moment’s notice. The game is geared towards much grander, and frequently magical, challenges. Once you leave the very lowest levels (in which you lack urban shape anyway), this aspect of urban shape shouldn’t be much of an issue. By 12th, when you have the object shape ability, well, I sincerely hope your party is facing challenges greater than the need of a ladder. (Actually, 12th level—why isn’t your party flying yet? They really should be. Unless there’s a houserule or gentleman’s agreement to avoid flight, which I can appreciate.)

And then finally we get to the question of becoming the proverbial falling rock. The rules for heavy objects getting dropped or thrown at things are a pretty consistent source of abuse, to the point that summoning spells (for example) explicitly forbid it. But it’s still a part of the game—try looking up a warhulking hurler build sometime (where you end up needing scientific notation to describe your damage from thowing things like the Moon, which your stats, at least, will allow).

Is urban shape yet another source of such problems? Looks like it is—the only limitation on urban shape is the size (volume) of the object, with no reference to the weight. Assuming suitably high densities (and you can do better than steel, but I’m sure you knew that), that means you can achieve pretty much any weight you want. I even checked the animate objects spell, but that’s volume-based as well.

I do note, however, that as creatures, the falling-objects rules are sort of dubious to apply to animated objects. Yes, that’s weird, and inconsistent. It’s hard to imagine any justification for an animated safe not hurting someone at all when landing on them, where a regular safe would. But that could arguably be the sort of technicality your DM makes you eat when you try to abuse falling-object rules.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This campaign is a homebrew post-apocalyptic survival situation (most tech lost due to uncontrolled magic incident etc etc, great and terrible creatures now roam the world, etc etc), so every single morsel of food and bit of hemp is detailed. So in this case it turned out nice. Learning abilities/skills is based off of RP, so the only person that can fly is the clockwork-crafter in the group. As to the damage...the DM is amiable, so we'll see. Tentative ruling is that I will harm myself from the impact, though I doubt it'll be that harmful to an adamantine block or the like. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alphaeus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 22:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alphaeus I have a hard time conceiving of how that campaign premise can even begin to maintain cohesion at 12th level. Magic at 12th level utterly trivializes every one of those concerns. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 22:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The mechanic takes more than a comment to explain, but essentially magic isn't native to earth but was discovered via research (magitech), and "controlling it" via spells is nigh-impossible (hence the apocalypse). Spellcasting requires difficult processes and is self-harming (scaling with spell level). My druid is built around using natural focuses to lessen the harm of spells, and with higher-power situations now I'm avoiding casting if possible. It sounds odd here, but the concept is kinda like Iron Man's suit running with a damaged reactor: he risks killing himself with every extra ability. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alphaeus
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ And now we know why He-Man can push a moon with sheer body strength. He's obviously a hulking-hurler: therobotsvoice.com/2010/03/… \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 21:27

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