Warshaper is a prestige class from Complete Warrior, published a few months after 3.5e. I don't know about the rest of the book, but this prestige class in particular doesn't really seem to take the 3.5e revision into account--it claims that, for example, gold dragons are eligible via polymorph as a spell-like ability, while quasits' alternate form ability is "insufficient to become a warshaper."

But in the 3.5e Monster Manual, gold dragons no longer have polymorph. They instead have alternate form. So, can gold dragons still become warshapers (all the way up to 5th level, where they presumably gain multimorph, as 3e gold dragons would due to being able to polymorph "usable less often than at will"), or are they no longer eligible on account of their new method for self-transmutation?

Would the story change if the dragon used its sorcerous spellcasting to learn polymorph and become a warshaper, but then still try to use its warshaper features with its alternate form ability? Or if the dragon were instead, say, a red dragon with the Alternate Form feat from Dragons of Eberron? Or a Monsters of Faerun song dragon, who has alternate form even in 3e, but whose description says it's "an ability much like polymorph self"?


1 Answer 1


To qualify, the gold dragon needs polymorph, so would have to learn it (or something else from the list). Alternate form would not work. The text is very specific about that, and the mere mention of gold dragons as an example would not change that—the example lists are a clear case of a secondary rules source compared to the actual description of the requirements.

Once in the class, however, the text becomes much less clear. It just casually refers to not being in your own form—so does alternate form count as that? Unclear. To me, the point of nixing alternate form is that creatures with alternate form treat each of those forms as “their own,” so I would be inclined to say no on those grounds. And many argue that while the text is less specific after the requirements, it’s still meant as a reference back to them. The counterargument is that they have ways of referring to that clearly, that they haven’t used here, but Complete Warrior was very early in 3.5e, so maybe they hadn’t worked out the language for that yet.

But ultimately, RAW, it just says not your form. An “alternate form” seems, on its face, like it would count, and the arguments against it require reading between the lines.


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