I reached the stage of the game in which I have access to two familiars and Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability. I want to use this combination to both improve my Action Economy and be able to cast supporting spells (like quickly reaching an ally with Revivify without repositioning myself). And since I'm already using a whole-day-long Polymorph on myself and Share Spells give it to familiar anyway I want to give my familiars some kind of evasive/immune to most things/impossible to target forms. My familiars are not supposed to fight using this new form, they will exclusively cast spells. New form is only meant to supercharge their defenses to untouchable degree, so I don't have to bother protecting them.

Initially I thought about Will'o'Wisp but it could only cast spells with verbal components, somatic components are no-go.

In case it matters: I'm a level 14 dual-progression caster with access to level 6 Sor/Wiz spells and level 7 Clr spells. I also invested in Incantatrix class so my buffs are basically permanent. I also "carry" on myself about 15 different buffs at all times, all of which are shared with my familiars so they are already a bit resilient.

DISCLAIMER: No Wish solutions, no Pun-Pun, no infinite loops allowed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Possibly tangential, but how do you have 2 familiars? Less tangential: why wouldn't Will-O'-Wisps be able to cast spells with somatic components - is this something the GM's said, or an assumption you're making? \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 4:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have access to polymorph shenanigans that allow your familiars to use the target creature's SU and/or SP abilities? I vaguely recall there being some, but they might be Wild Shape shenanigans... \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 4:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass In the order of Your questions: Extra Familiar Feat from Dragon Magazine, which as a WotC source is technically RAW. Will'O'Wisp cannot cast spells with somatic components because it doesn't have "appendages" (in most cases think hands) which are required to cast spells in new form as per Alter Self (which carries on all the rules and limitations to Polymorph unless specifically overwritten). And no, no shenanigans whatsoever. Just what is normally allowed by Polymorph. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp I can transform into a form that they can't transform into due to restrictions and they will stay in form from "previous" Polymorph. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 13:44

1 Answer 1


A few points of order:

  • You are correct that, Rules-as-Written, a will-o'-wisp cannot cast spells with somatic components, since those require hands. Unfortunately, the only baseline familiars with hands are monkeys (in Dragons 277 and 351), which means imbue familiar with spell ability has some serious unwritten restrictions (probably not intended, though you never know). Personally, I'd rule that the familiar doesn't need hands, but you should get a definitive ruling on this from your DM.
  • There are some (many) restrictions on polymorph. You should read both it and alter self carefully: notably, a polymorphed creature gets no (Su) abilities and no (Ex) qualities from its new form (which means will-o'-wisps would get neither spell immunity nor natural invisibility), they cannot be gaseous or incorporeal, and their hit points don't change. This means that the only meaningful defenses polymorph gives are a natural armor bonus and possibly a size bonus. (Or something like polymorphing into your enemy's mother, which is its own kind of defense, but a bit outside the scope of this question.)
  • Polymorph, as a touch spell, is not normally a valid subject for Persistent Spell. You need to combine it with something like Reach Spell or Ocular Spell for it to work. I assume you've done so, but since it's not mentioned in the question I felt that I should clarify that point.

Three forms stand out to me:

  • Young gold dragon: +13 NA and physical wings. Despite having claws rather than hands, dragons can explicitly perform somatic components (Draconomicon 6 – 7). Nothing in polymorph's text overwrites alter self's restriction that "[a] body with extra limbs does not allow you to make more attacks...than normal," so you don't get the impressive full attack routine of a dragon.
  • War troll or firbolg: +14 NA for the troll, +13 for the firbolg. You don't get regeneration/fast healing, but do get daze attack/rock throwing. 31/16/29 physical stats for the troll, 36/12/23 for the firbolg. The war troll is a bit more defensive, but they're very similar.
  • Thoon elder brain: +15 NA, but its flight isn't physical, so you're stuck scooching forwards with a 10 ft. move speed. Notably, the thoon elder brain's (Ex) Dual Action ability—which gives it two separate initiative counts, one for mental actions and one for physical—is inexplicably listed as a special attack, which means you do get it from polymorph. Were I the DM, I wouldn't allow this, but it's legal, RAW.
  • A Fine creature of some sort: something like a hairy spider (Monsters of Faerûn) will have a high hide check, and even if your enemies spot it, they probably won't target it. Slap on nondetection so it doesn't glow like a Christmas tree to enemies with arcane sight.

None of these come close to being "untouchable," and the simple truth is that polymorph isn't the best defensive spell. Its power primarily comes from its offensive ability (that Firbolg has 36 Strength!) and versatility (which means less if you cast it at the beginning of the day). Other defenses, like greater mirror image (PHB II), greater blink (Spell Compendium), and greater invisibility will serve your familiars better, defensively.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Never thought about animal familiar restrictions, because now I'm using Gen Familiars (my Sor/Wiz spell list comes from Sha'ir class) and before I was taking Improved Familiar every single time and using some kind of Imp, Mephit or whatnot. All with hands. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Touch discussion when it comes for persistence always come to either "yes it works, since touch is fixed" or "take metamagic feat to turn it to fixed range ray which totally works". One way or the other: it works, no point in reliving something that was answered in many other questions already. I intentionally avoid "too much irrelevant information" because my toon is so optimized that showcasing it would take 3 pages while question itself comes down to just few lines. Nobody would ever read that or I'd be accused of showing off my character instead of asking question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Invisibility in case of Will'O'Wisp has the world "natural" in description which (intentional or not) makes it count. When I said we play RAW, I meant we really play RAW. Not that it matters since lack of hands is still a thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 18:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually I consider Polymorph to be best buff ever (at least on my character, it's the first time I consider familiars). I walk around as Planetar 24/7 currently which pumps my AC to a total of 45 or something (there is nothing that GM can throw at me that can hit me without Critical), supercharges my Physical Saves to godly levels thanks to Ability Boosts, gives me so much speed that nothing can catch up to me, even considering normal movement vs full action movement. Improving my touch attacks bonus due to Ability Boosts is great too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 18:28
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Any reading that allows polymorph to pick up a will-o'-wisp's invisibility is decidedly not RAW. Nothing in either polymorph or alter self says you keep "natural" abilities. The only mention of "natural" is in reference to natural size and natural weapons. You keep "gross physical qualities, (presence or absence of wings, number of extremities, and so forth)" which doesn't include the wisp's ability to "extinguish its glow, effectively becoming invisible as the spell" when startled or frightened. You can't even move, since the wisp's flight speed isn't from wings so you don't get it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 19:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .