I am trying to determine what exactly constitutes a racial feat for the polymorph spell.

The spell states that in many ways it functions like alter self, which states

You acquire the physical qualities of the new form while retaining your own mind. Physical qualities include natural size, mundane movement capabilities (such as burrowing, climbing, walking, swimming, and flight with wings, to a maximum speed of 120 feet for flying or 60 feet for nonflying movement), natural armor bonus, natural weapons (such as claws, bite, and so on), racial skill bonuses, racial bonus feats

I was looking at the bladerager troll. This creature has three feats (Lightning Reflexes, Multiattack and Power Attack).

The troll race entry states that a troll's levels in giant give it three feats. So are these racial feats or is giant considered a class at this point?


2 Answers 2


The troll has “giant racial hit dice,” which are defined by the Features of the giant type. In this sense, yes, giant is very much like a class. Like class levels, racial hit dice, or RHD for short, are hit dice—and your overall character level is actually based on your total hit dice, so class level (if any) plus RHD (if any).

It is this overall character that determines when a creature gains feats. These are not bonus feats, but the regular feats that every creature (with an Intelligence score) gains at 1st and then every level divisible by 3. Since the troll has 6 RHD (and no class levels), it gets three feats—one at each of 1st, 3rd, and 6th. Monster Manual V’s reference to Lightning Reflexes, Multiattack, and Power Attack indicate that these three feats are the bladerager troll’s typical selections for those feats.

A bonus feat is any feat over and above those regular feats you get at 1st and levels divisible by 3. For example, those granted by the fighter, monk, or ranger classes. Or, for example, the weapon proficiency feats granted by the elf race—which would be racial bonus feats. Those are what polymorph can give you.

The bladerager troll has no bonus feats, racial or otherwise, just the three feats it is entitled to as a creature with 6 HD. You do not get those as bonus feats.

Bonus feats are indicated in monster stat blocks with a B. If the monster stats include class levels, you would have double-check to ensure that these bonus feats aren’t from those, but for most monsters (with no class levels), a bonus feat must necessarily be a racial bonus feat, as a monster would have no other source of bonus feats.


Feats gained due to a creature having a certain number of Hit Dice aren't racial bonus feats but just normal feats that the creature possesses, like the feats a typical PC gains at levels 1, 3, 6, and so on.

Racial bonus feats are different. The Monster Manual on Feats says

Sometimes a creature has one or more bonus feats, marked with a superscript B (B). Creatures often do not have the prerequisites for a bonus feat. If this is so, the creature can still use the feat. (7)

It is these superscript B feats in a monster's stat block—like the feat Improved Initiative that's possessed by the typical air elemental (95–8)—that are gained by a creature that's the subject of a spell like polymorph.

However, caution should be exercised when examining a monster that possesses class levels: While changing form into a creature that possesses class levels isn't usually an option, a monster that possesses levels in a class that grants feats without the class needing to meet the feats' prerequisites may have have feats that are marked with a superscript B that are gained from that class, like the noted feats gained by the ranger levels of the troll hunter (247–8) and the noted feats gained by the monk levels of the elite vampire (251–2)).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Beat me to it, but important to note that in any monster stat block for a monster with class levels, the bonus superscript is also used for bonus feats they are granted by virtue of their class levels, which are bonus feats but not racial bonus feats, so it's not 100% guaranteed that such feats would be picked up by Polymorph. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Nov 29, 2018 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer I just checked a couple of Monster Manual entries (the ghost fighter, the half-black dragon fighter), and that doesn't seem to be the case. What entries use the superscript B that way? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I admit I'm using d20srd.org as my reference at the moment. It's possible this is a "correction" they've made to the source material and not something present in the published books - see for example the Troll Hunter. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Nov 29, 2018 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, checking a printed copy I can see that the Troll Hunter does use the bonus superscript and the Ghost fighter example for instance does not - I think that might be a fighter specific thing, as though they do get extra feats they're not "bonus" feats in that the fighter still has to meet the prerequisites for any feat they take, which is not true of bonus feats offered by class features like the Ranger's. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Nov 29, 2018 at 16:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer Yeah, I just reached the same conclusion. Thank you for the help. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2018 at 17:05

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