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I'm looking at a build where the character sometimes wants a weapon in one hand and sometimes wants a weapon in two hands. The obvious solution is the bastard sword, but then as I was looking at magic weapon enhancements, I found the Transformative property.

This special ability can only be placed on melee weapons. A transformative weapon alters its shape at its wielder’s command, becoming any other melee weapon of the same general shape and handedness; the weapon’s categorization as simple, martial, or exotic is irrelevant. For example, a Medium transformative longsword can take the shape of any other Medium one-handed melee weapon, such as a scimitar, flail, or trident, but not a Medium light or two-handed melee weapon (such as a Medium short sword or a Medium greatsword). It can even take the shape of comparable weapons of different size categories. For example, a Small greatsword is a two-handed slashing weapon for a Small character, but is a one-handed slashing weapon for a Medium character, which is very similar to a Medium longsword; a Small transformative greatsword can thus become an actual Medium longsword, usable by a Medium creature without the —2 penalty for using a weapon of the wrong size. The weapon retains all of its abilities , including enhancement bonuses and weapon special abilities , except those prohibited by its current shape. For example, a keen transformative weapon functions normally in the form of a piercing or slashing weapon, but cannot use the keen special ability when in the shape of a bludgeoning weapon. When unattended, the weapon reverts to its true shape.

Obvious uses for this include altering the type of damage, which sounded interesting by itself, but then I re-read the text of the bastard sword.

A bastard sword is about 4 feet in length, making it too large to use in one hand without special training; thus, it is an exotic weapon. A character can use a bastard sword two-handed as a martial weapon.

So, let's break this down. A bastard sword is obviously a melee weapon, so it qualifies for the Transformative weapon special ability. It's generally a straight, solid metal weapon, so I'll assume that "all sword shapes" is a fairly reasonable and conservative interpretation of what shapes it can assume. What I'm not clear on is whether or not it qualifies as a two-handed weapon or a one-handed weapon with respect to this ability, since the ability depends on "handedness".

It's obviously a One-Handed Exotic Weapon, but when it's wielded in two hands, it (I believe) becomes a Two-Handed Martial Weapon. Since the typing isn't important ("the weapon's categorization as simple, martial, or exotic is irrelevant"), the operative typing here is "One-Handed Weapon" or "Two-Handed Weapon", both of Medium size.

Is it then a reasonable interpretation to assume that if a character is proficient with the bastard sword and can thus wield it as a one-handed weapon, they can also use Transformative to turn it into any one- or two-handed weapon of the same general shape?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course. I added the links to the three d20pfsrd pages that I'm drawing information from: the Transformative weapon special ability page, the bastard sword text, and the list of weapons. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Feb 24 '18 at 20:01
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It's not about shape, just modified handedness and being melee. A flail and a longsword are about as dissimilar in shape as weapons can get, yet it's okay for one to turn into the other because they are both 1-handed melee weapons. The initial note about shape is referring to the other part of this special handedness calculation that depends on size. Ordinarily, a Huge dagger is a light melee weapon, which a Medium creature happens to wield as a two-handed weapon. For this particular ability, we're talking about handedness relative to the wielding creature, not relative to the weapon in absentia.

If you had a weapon that sometimes counted as a two-handed weapon and sometimes counted as a one-handed weapon, that would be ideal for this sort of ability, and would allow the weapon to transform into options from both categories. An example of such a weapon is the Earth Breaker when wielded by someone with the Thunder and Fang feat.

Unfortunately, a bastard sword is not an example of such a weapon. A bastard sword is never a two-handed weapon; it's categorization as exotic merely changes if you wield the weapon in two hands and choose for it to change. You can actually wield any one-handed melee weapon in two hands for a bonus to damage, just normally they don't suddenly have the option to turn into martial weapons.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting... I'll wait to hear from more people before accepting this as the answer, because I'm still not 100% convinced of that interpretation of the text of the sword, but I'll operate off of that for now. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Feb 24 '18 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ After reading the text of the longsword, I'm actually more convinced. I was under the impression that the bastard sword only split the difference between the longsword and greatsword and so could go either way, but it would appear that a bastard sword is just a longsword at the upper end of its potential length (48 in or 4 feet) and not as close to a greatsword at 60 in. in length. \$\endgroup\$ – Brandon Olson Feb 24 '18 at 20:19

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