Right now I'm playing as a Gnome. Right now it's alright, but for the most part I don't have any use for the illusion bonuses or +1 AC or anything that comes with being a Gnome. I really just wanted to play a very short Human (think Danny Devito) and picked poorly during character creation. I don't want to die and remake my character because I want to keep my loot, levels, and spells.

Is there any way to permanently change my race without sacrificing all that?

Furthermore, would I get the bonuses from that race? For example, I would certainly lose the Gnome's low-light vision and attack bonuses to goblins, but would I gain the Human's extra feat and skill points?

Furthermore, I currently have some Permanent magic effects cast on me (arcane sight, see invisibility, tongues, etc); would I lose them if I somehow changed race?


4 Answers 4


However you wish to change your race, you'll likely need some help from the GM as it is a pretty significant change in terms of your character concept. Here are some suggestions on how you can go about it.

1. Rebuild Quest

Players Handbook II introduces the idea of quests which can be completed to rebuild your characters (p198). Functionally the change is very basic in terms of rules - you simply change your ability scores, racial abilities etc. for those of your new chosen race. Things get a bit more complicated if you take racial feats/substitution levels/level adjustments, but the rules in PHB II cover that also.

If you can take time out from the main quest and the GM/other players are happy to go along with it, then this could be a really interesting, character-building (metaphorically and literally) experience.

2. Rituals

In Savage Species it is possible to change race by spending XP/gold as part of a ritual - either that of Unlearning or of Vitality (p149-150) with the latter being much cheaper for changing to a race with no racial Hit Dice. This seems unnecessarily harsh if you are early in a campaign and feel like you've made a mistake choosing your character.

3. Wish

You didn't say what level you were so this might be out of your price range, but a Wish spell could have the desired affect, although it could have unintended side effects depending on how the GM rules on it. This is probably the least practice route for you unless you are particularly high level and can afford the 26,530gp cost. Again this is covered in Savage Species p150.

4. GM Fiat

If your GM is happy to allow you to change race, but doesn't want the faff of rituals or rebuild quests then they can fudge it as necessary. Maybe a witch curses you with being human, a spell goes horribly/wonderfully wrong or you drink a potion you shouldn't have. The GM has ultimate power, so if you want to make something work then just talk to them about it.

You may also wish to consider if you want to change race covertly (act like you were a Human all along and have everyone play along with it), or whether you want to acknowledge that your character has changed race - which will no doubt raise eyebrows among your companions!

There is no reason why you would lose equipment/permanent effects that aren't directly related to your race for any of these. You'd also gain any racial features of that race - such as feats or skill points. I'd strongly recommend reading Retraining/rebuilding sections of PHB II (191-199) to see how it works mechanically, but basically it's how you'd expect. You'd spend any new skill points or feats immediately and how you wish.

Over all, I get the impression that you are pretty early on in your campaign so I'd recommend options 1 or 4.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget reincarnate! \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Aug 22, 2016 at 6:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately that would only give a 15% chance of ending up Human as requested. Which means that 85% of the time they are still the wrong race but with negative levels as well! \$\endgroup\$
    – Phlyk
    Aug 22, 2016 at 6:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Dear Phlyk, if one wants another commenter to read their reply, they need to ping the other commenter, by using the @ symbol, like this: @GMJoe - Whoever wrotes the answer gets pinged automatically (you should have received a ping for my message, and GMJoe should have too). \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Aug 22, 2016 at 9:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Phlyk There are disadvantages to reincarnate, but it's the only method of permanently changing race in the core rules that can't be dispelled, so I figured it was worth a mention. (Well, there's also wish, but you could put "or you could use wish" after any set of instructions in 3.5rd edition.) \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Aug 24, 2016 at 3:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Phlyk Wound up going with GM Fiat, we decided it would be easiest (and funnier) if it turned out that my character was a Human all along and none of the other Gnomes said anything because they thought it was hilarious. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2016 at 4:27

The only official, in-character, player-available, permanent way to do this is with the reincarnate spell,1 which is an extremely painful and risky approach since you have no way to control what race you come back as.

Beyond that, out-of-character, talk to your DM. The DM can let you do whatever he or she feels will improve the game: if you convince him or her that your character should be human and that being a gnome was a mistake in the first place, then he or she can let you ret-con things. Whether that means just changing things in fluff or swapping starts will be up to the DM.

  1. As pointed out by other answers, there are some other options: Savage Species has rituals, wish might have the power to do it, and so on. But only reincarnate is something that a player could just go ahead and use themselves. And while polymorph any object is available to players just as well, and can be Permanent, a permanent magical effect can still be dispelled.
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Polymorph any object can change you into a creature of the same kingdom and class with the same intelligence score at a permanent duration. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Aug 21, 2016 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sandwich Yeah, and the Savage Species rituals. I’ll adjust the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 21, 2016 at 19:53

Polymorph Any Object

The easiest way to change races is the 8th level wizard spell Polymorph Any Object. If you're changing between humanoid races, the duration will be permanent due to the way duration is calculated using the spell. You would automatically meet the "Same Kingdom", "Same Class", and "Same or Lower Intelligence" requirements in the duration calculation on the table, which would give you a total duration of permanent.

If this is outside of your level at the moment and you don't have access to that kind of spell, your best chance of changing your race is to ask your DM if you can, and he can perform a retcon within the bounds of the game without resorting on rules.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Would doing this give me the level 1 bonuses of being a human character (extra feat, 4 extra skill points plus 1 per additional level)? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 22, 2016 at 5:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ No extra feat and no 4 extra skill points because both in the PHB both those bullet points say "at 1st level". \$\endgroup\$ Aug 22, 2016 at 7:25

Permanency (Sor/Wiz 5) reads:

  • The DM may allow other selected spells to be made permanent.

Of course, the DM can say whatever the DM wants under DM fiat as noted in another answer. If allowed by the DM, combining Permanency (cast by yourself or another) with the second level bard/wizard/sorcerer spell (remembering bard is a gnome favoured class but that won't help much in your new race) Alter Self you retain or gain:

  • ability scores
  • class
  • level etc.
  • all supernatural and spell-like special attacks and abilities of your normal form
    • since your normal form is enchanted with see invisiblity I'd say it keeps that as it's a spell-like ability
    • keep speak with animals etc.
  • all extra-ordinary special attacks and qualities derived from class levels
  • racial skill bonuses of the new form
    • note, it doesn't say skill points
  • racial bonus feats of the new form

but you lose

  • any extra-ordinary special attack or quality of your normal form not derived from class level
    • for example, no low-light vision since that is an extraordinary ability, not supernatural, and it doesn't depend on level

Unlike polymorph any object, alter self explicitly says that you gain bonus feats so maybe the human 1st level bonus feat would apply.


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