Suppose an Aasimar wizard turns 7th level and picks up the Polymorph spell. They turn into a Hound Archon. The Hound Archon has the Archon subtype, which includes supernatural special qualities. Does the wizard gain these supernatural abilities by virtue of gaining the subtype? Or does the wizard not gain them because the Polymorph spell says that the wizard does not gain any of the supernatural special qualities of the chosen form?

The supernatural abilities that are inherent to the Archon subtype are:

  • Aura of Menace (Su): A righteous aura surrounds archons that fight or get angry. Any hostile creature within a 20-foot radius of an archon must succeed on a Will save to resist its effects. The save DC varies with the type of archon, is Charisma-based, and includes a +2 racial bonus. Those who fail take a -2 penalty on attacks, AC, and saves for 24 hours or until they successfully hit the archon that generated the aura. A creature that has resisted or broken the effect cannot be affected again by the same archon’s aura for 24 hours.
  • Magic Circle against Evil (Su): A magic circle against evil effect always surrounds an archon (caster level equals the archon’s Hit Dice). (The defensive benefits from the circle are not included in an archon’s statistics block.)
  • Teleport (Su): Archons can use greater teleport at will, as the spell (caster level 14th), except that the creature can transport only itself and up to 50 pounds of objects.
  • Tongues (Su): All archons can speak with any creature that has a language, as though using a tongues spell (caster level 14th). This ability is always active.

Relevant quotes from the Polymorph spell:

  • "[...] The subject’s creature type and subtype (if any) change to match the new form."
  • "[...] It also gains all extraordinary special attacks possessed by the form but does not gain the extraordinary special qualities possessed by the new form or any supernatural or spell-like abilities."

For game balance, it seems the wizard should gain the subtype, but have any extraordinary special qualities or supernatural abilities stripped from it. But, from a RAW reading, I am not sure what is correct.


1 Answer 1


Unlike the visual senses discussed in your previous question about polymorph and types, supernatural abilities are very intentionally gated behind shapechange—the prohibition on supernatural abilities prior to that spell was just about the only serious attempt made to balance polymorph magic. Metamorphic Transfer and Assume Supernatural Ability are two of the most game-breaking feats in the game for exactly this reason.

So if for no other reason than that, I am inclined to say no, you do not get these. A 4th-level spell clearly shouldn’t be giving you, effectively, up to seventy 7th-level spell slots (which is what you could get out of seven minutes of at-will greater teleport if you wanted to).

Also, while types are very fundamental to what a creature is, subtypes are a lot more varied. In a lot of cases they exist mostly just to categorize creatures, and maybe save some book space by putting explanations of shared features all in one place instead of repeating them. I don’t have the same “it says you get the subtype, so that should mean you get the subtype, which definitively has all of these things,” reaction here that I did with types.


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