In the campaign I'm in, the narrative of my character's backstory involves being raised by a race that is not her own, and she is so enamored with the race as a whole that she actively pursues the chance to Polymorph herself into a member of that race.

They raised her after her parents were murdered taught her how to hone her abilities in her chosen profession, and instructed her in the proper way to act when faced with adverse circumstances so she strives to be as much like them as possible, to the point of wanting to change into one of them.

If the character was a Human, and was transforming into a LA+1 race, exactly what characteristics would follow between the transformation from Human and what would happen to the character's existing class levels? ( An example would be exemplary. )

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    \$\begingroup\$ An example might be easier to concoct if we knew the target race. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ernir
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 10:07

1 Answer 1


First of all, before diving into the mechanics of Polymorph Any Object, make sure you are reading a version with the applicable updates and errata. d20srd.org is one place that has correctly applied them.

Then, we must look at how Polymorph Any Object is connected to the other spells of its line. Turns out, it inherits from Polymorph, which again inherits from Alter Self.

Then, let's go through...

The Bonuses.

First in line: Alter Self. Alter Self grants:

  • Size
  • Mundane movement
  • Natural Armor
  • Natural Weapons
  • Racial Skill Bonuses
  • Racial Bonus Feats

Then, from Polymorph, we additionally gain the new form's:

  • Strength
  • Dexterity
  • Constitution
  • Extraordinary Special Attacks

Finally, from Polymorph Any Object, we gain:

  • Intelligence! Beware, this can leave you dumber than you were.

That's it.

So what happens to our human?

The human gains the qualities of the new race listed above.

The human's classes are not affected by any stage of the morph. This is made explicit in Alter Self:

Your class and level, hit points, alignment, base attack bonus, and base save bonuses all remain the same.

Humans are rather scarce when it comes to racial features to lose, with the exception of the bonus feat and skill points. They are maybe lost. It is not made abundantly clear in the rules what the human's bonus feat and skills really are. The 3.5 FAQ calls them an extraordinary qualities, which we lose as part of Alter Self:

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.

I will leave it to you to decide whether the FAQ is right on that point. I see little in the way of rules to support the claim.

Finally, Level Adjustment. No one knows how that is affected by the morph. It is not addressed by the rules. Despite how trivial it is to use PAO to permanently change into a related race, level-ups when so morphed just aren't covered. Does that mean it's unchanged underneath your new form? Does

[Polymorph Any Object] changes one object or creature into another

mean that the change really is all the way down to the Level Adjustment? I don't know.

Discuss it with your DM. And above all else, remember that Polymorph is broken.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The way we house-ruled LA was: character needs to have enough unused XP to buy LA of his new form, or duration cannot exceed one day (or world's designated everyday magic cleansing event like sunrise, if there was one). And we always used his new ECL during the time he was polymorphed, unless the very decision to polymorph directly solved problem (ie polymorphing into swimming creature gave the same XP for the task that could be solved directly by "swim there", no matter what creature was chosen). Too bad it's not covered in the rules in any way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 13:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ On the extra skill points: true, it's extraordinary and you lose it, but since the ability gives you points at every level up, you keep the ranks you've already spent. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a permanent version of Polymorph other than Polymorph Any Object? \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 20:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Polymorph Any Object is only a buff with duration "permanent". You could dispell it .. so don't apply level adjustment. Where the duration was "instant" the matter would be different. \$\endgroup\$
    – user22765
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 21:07

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