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I've been reading the ever-reliable D&D Wiki and there seem to be some disagreement on whether or not Pun-Pun can attain limitless HD. It doesn't go in to much detail, but it's got my interest. Is there any way to attain limitless HD?

Given that I've already put Pun-Pun on the table, it's fair to say that anything short of third-party or homebrew contain will be allowed. An ideal answer will show that this is possible with either the level 1 Wizard variant of Pun-Pun or the Divine Minion 1/Wizard 1/Master of Many Forms 3 version that we all know and love.

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Both the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Epic Level Handbook provide rules for continuing to gain class levels—which come with HD—indefinitely so long as you continue to accrue XP. So that is one trivial answer.

There is also an “energy charge” supernatural ability defined in Monster Manual III to grant positive levels, analogous to energy drain granting negative levels. You can also find it defined in the online glossary. No creature in the game has ever been published that actually has this ability, but RAW, manipulate form doesn’t actually care. Since we’re discussing Pun-pun, manipulate form abuse is in our wheelhouse, but even by those standards this is extreme cheese.

Granting oneself the feed ability of a barghest, and using epic magic to produce ever-greater-HD humanoids to eat, should also work. I leave whether this is greater or lesser cheese as an exercise to the reader.

Becoming an animal, casting awaken on yourself, and then becoming an animal again so you can cast awaken on yourself also should work in the kind of “no one will ever put an arbitrary end to this” game where Pun-pun is possible in the first place.

The objections to each of these in the linked article are largely specious, rely on debunking a single (not particularly detailed or thorough) Pun-pun write-up, or simply lack detail to even say what the objection is or is based on. In particular, the limitless HD section talks a lot about “actual” HD or “effective” HD, which isn’t a real game term, and on limits the author assumes to be in place that are not actually found in the relevant rules. Nothing in awaken specifies that an intelligent animal is not a valid target, or that the spell can only be used once on a given creature. Those are totally plausible limitations to enforce on it, but officially the rules rely on the type change to manage things—which Pun-pun gets around. There are repeated claims that epic options are unavailable due to the lack of 21 “actual” HD level, but Dragonwrought (or any other method of according the Dragon type) gets around that thanks to Draconomicon saying Old or older dragons can take epic feats without necessarily having 21 HD (the controversy over whether or not Dragonwrought kobolds are true dragons is irrelevant here, by the way). So that discussion—which appears to have been removed from the article itself and shoved into the talk page on the basis that the author does not have the expertise he claims—is of really limited value.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, awaken can only be used once on a given animal, since the type promptly changes to magical beast afterwards. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Aug 24 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ The distinction between actual and effective HD must exist on some level; the description for Energy Charge says "gains one effective level or Hit Die". \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Aug 24 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko Is using Manipulate Form or some version of Wild Shape to change the target back in to an animal out of the question? The text for Manipulate Form mentions turning a snake in to a humanoid, but I can't recall if that would imply that it can change type. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Aug 24 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ That Talk page claims that even with epic spells you can't summon a monster that has a HD higher than you and therefore Feed isn't an option. Is that a real concern? I can't recall where the relevant (epic?) summoning rules should be. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Mini Aug 24 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini Yes, except the distinction is completely undefined and the author is supplying his own definitions to suit the goal he wants to accomplish, which isn't really valid. Nothing in the game says “effective” HD are not good enough for any purpose. It’s therefore not valid to assume that they are invalid for any purpose. Calling creatures with HD greater than your own is an explicit function of the non-epic gate spell, so the burden of proof is on them to show that epic magic—which can do anything—cannot do this. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 24 at 19:34

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