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Build

Race: Half Drow
Template: Necropolitan
Classes: Drow Transition Template Class 2 / Wizard 5 / Arachnomancer 2


References

Spider Shape (Su): This ability functions as wild shape.

Wild Shape (Su): This ability functions like the alternate form special ability.

Alternate Form (Su): The creature gains the physical ability scores (Str, Dex, Con) of its new form. It retains the mental ability scores (Int, Wis, Cha) of its original form. Apply any changed physical ability score modifiers in all appropriate areas with one exception: the creature retains the hit points of its original form despite any change to its Constitution.


Question

Would the character gain the spider's constitution score for the duration of the spider shape?

Concern

Poison (Ex): A monstrous spider has a poisonous bite. The save DCs are Constitution-based.


Additional Information

The Dungeon Master said he may allow Charisma to be used rather than Constitution for the purposes of the poison DC. He is basing his decision on the fact that a Ghoul's disease and paralysis are Charisma based.

But he is also awaiting to see what Stack Exchange comes up with before making that decision.


Campaign Background

I am playing this character for fun and flavor. Our campaign consists of:

  • Human Necropolitan: Ex-Paladin 4 / Human Paragon 2 / Bone Knight 1
  • Human: Rogue 4 / Vampire 1 / Legacy Champion 3
  • Half Drow Necropolitan: Drow Template Class 2 / Wizard 5/ Arachnomancer 2
  • Frost Giant: Monster Class 9
  • Succubus: Monster Class 9

My character (the Arachnomancer): Escaped his slavery of the web pits in the Underdark at venerable years of age (for mental ability increases) and ended up at death's door in a city run by necromancers. For servitude he was "gifted" a second chance as a necropolitan. One of the NPC necromancers was a surface drow as well, and... understood my predicament. He wants to pursue arachnomancy to spite Lolth and use his ancestral knowledge plus gifts of undeath to pursue retribution upon his priestess slavers in the future.

It is an evil campaign. We wanted to have "monsters" as something out of the norm. And I, for once, am not DM'ing this time around.


Update 2/7/2015 (8:29 PM +3 GMT)

Corrupted Wild Shape

You have learned to use the necromantic energy that powers your undead form to overcome the inability of undead creatures to wild shape. You can assume the form of an undead, rotten creature with the use of your wild shape ability.

Prerequisite: Undead type, wild shape class feature

Benefit: You can use your wild shape ability even though you are undead. The ability functions just as if you were a living creature using the ability, with the following exceptions. You do not gain a Constitution score in the new form, and you retain all the immunities of the undead type while in your new form. The form you assume looks half-decayed, with missing patches of fur and rotted, worm-eaten flesh. While you are in this form, the rank odor of death hangs around you. Normal

Since it is based on the polymorph spell, wild shape works only on living creatures.

Means the answer would have been "No."

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    \$\begingroup\$ Possible Contributing Factor: "The modifier for a nonability is +0." \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 7 '15 at 2:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't have books in front of me or I'd answer below. But there is a section that states when undead do make a fort/con save/roll (that they're normally immune to 99% of the time) they use CHA mod. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Feb 7 '15 at 3:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ben-Jamin I am 90% certain that’s not generally true. Certain undead, or maybe with a certain feat, yes, but usually the +0 ability bonus to Fortitude is a weakness of the undead, for those few effects that force them to make one. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 7 '15 at 3:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok I'll look better next time. My statement only applies to Concentration checks. Although thereare feats/classes/magic items that allow u to sub cha for fort saves (not what question was about anyway so unimportant) \$\endgroup\$ – Ben-Jamin Feb 7 '15 at 4:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Player's Handbook (2012) ties the special ability wild shape to the Monster Manual special ability alternate form, making it no longer a polymorph effect and obviating the undead druid's need for the feat Corrupted Wild Shape (LM 25). (One could still take the feat Corrupted Wild Shape for the cosmetic effects, I guess.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 7 '15 at 18:19
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To my mind, the overriding rules here are these:

Alternate Form

The creature retains the type and subtype of its original form.

Undead Type

  • No Constitution score.

You cannot have an undead that has a Constitution score, so since Alternate Form has you retain your type, you cannot gain a Constitution score. I believe this is “more specific” than the general rule that you gain the target creature’s physical ability scores when using Alternate Form.

You could argue the opposite way, however, that Alternate Form is a more specific case than the general rule that undead do not have a Constitution score. But note that this results in a living (has a Constitution score) undead (retains that type), which to me is a good enough reason to side the other way.

As for using Charisma in place of Constitution, this is a common feature for undead, but not a universal one. In some places, that privilege requires a feat (e.g. Undead Meldshaping in Magic of Incarnum). Depending on your build, I might want to tax you for it; Cha-to-everything is a fairly potent strategy as it is, and undead is a desirable type anyway. Getting to use Charisma for yet more things, and avoiding the “weakness” of the undead type’s lack of Constitution, might be problematic. But if you weren’t already pursuing a Cha-to-everything build, I’d probably give it freely.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a feat that would allow Charisma to be used for Poison/Web DC's that you know of? I honestly am not too worried. The poison DC listed in the Monster Manual is low enough to be a non sequiter as it is. The idea of a gargantuan monstrous spider casting Finger of Death is rather appealing, howevever. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Feb 7 '15 at 3:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut I tend to doubt it; in general, WotC gave very little consideration to the possibility of “monstrous” (e.g. undead) PCs, nor to the possibility of PCs getting to use monster powers (e.g. becoming a spider). Why they so rarely considered these possibilities, after writing myriad options for doing both, is an excellent question that I doubt we’ll ever see a satisfactory answer to. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 7 '15 at 3:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does wild Shape even work for undead? IT's based on polymorph, and that only works on living. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Jun 8 '17 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin It was errata’d to be based on alternate form, instead, and that has no such restriction. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 8 '17 at 22:39

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