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Suppose you are a dwarf and use Alter Self to become a different dwarf. Do you lose your darkvision?

The text of Alter Self states:

You keep all extraordinary special attacks and qualities derived from class levels, but you lose any from your normal form that are not derived from class levels.

Since darkvision is an extraordinary special quality not derived from class levels, it appears you would lose that ability, but this seems very counterintuitive. Would the same be true for Polymorph? Does it require a ninth level spell for you to keep your darkvision when trying to become a different dwarf?

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Yes, this seems to be the case. Alter self says you lose your extraordinary abilities of your previous form and that you don’t gain those of your new form, so you lose your own darkvision and fail to gain the darkvision of your new dwarf form (even though your old form was also a dwarf). Polymorph explicitly doesn’t change this, saying you get extraordinary special attacks, but not extraordinary special qualities.

Does it require a ninth level spell for you to keep your darkvision when trying to become a different dwarf?

Well, no, since you could always do it with two spells, e.g. alter self and darkvision.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is just odd to me that it is potentially more difficult for a dwarf to convincingly pretend to be a different dwarf than it might be to convincingly pretend to be a human. I realize it is situational. My player came up with a way around it. He claimed to be completely blind, both in darkness and in light. It was not a perfect solution, but it kept his identity hidden for the duration of the encounter. \$\endgroup\$ – InterstellarProbe Mar 22 at 12:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @InterstellarProbe Yes, that seems to be the case, and yes, it is weird. I don’t love the idea of giving more power to these spells, but houseruling that alter self lets you keep senses that both your old and new forms have does seem sensible in this situation. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 22 at 13:11

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