Finding the Path – Transmutation (Part 2 of 2)

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Welcome back to the second of two articles on Transmutation. We pick right up where we left off last week:

Secret Page

This spell doesn’t see much use, as players rarely try to hide anything. However, for those PCs and NPCs that do, this spell becomes effective in hiding ledgers, journals, and most importantly, spellbooks. It allows you to hide writing in the open, where others see it as one thing, allowing you to keep your spellbook safe, while they think it’s a diary or something similar. It might even hide the villain’s REAL journal underneath and innocuous looking one.

Shrink

The perfect spell for hiding your gear, if you’re about to captured, as it allows you to hide weaponry (or any non-living material really), as they’re reduced to 1/16 of its normal size. To give an idea, that would reduce a longsword from 3½ feet (approximately) to just shy of 3 inches, or the size of a large sewing needle. It only affects non-magical items, however, so with the long duration, it pays to think ahead on this. You could, in fact, hide the weapons for a small army, or back-up gear for the entire adventuring party.

It also allows you to hide more nasty things, like fires and so on, enabling you to sneak in and bring stuff into places where it’s not supposed to go.

Slow

See Haste, but in the exact opposite manner. 😉

Waterbreathing

On the surface (pun intended) this spell is simple: You can breathe water (and unlike older versions, you can still breathe air!), but regrettably that’s just not enough to survive in the water, as your movement is still impaired, and there’s water pressure to deal with. To get the most out of it, it needs to be combined with Freedom of Movement, but if nothing else, it’ll allow you to explore that mysterious lake.

Elemental Body I – IV

Similar to Beast Shape, this spell allows you to take the form of another creature, in this case that of a Elemental. Each elemental comes with a bonus to a stat and a natural armor bonus (based upon the size of the elemental). You also gain various other abilities based upon the element of the creature that you chose (like vortex, burn, push and whirlwind) as well as darkvision 60 ft. Unfortunately you also gain some other abilities all of which can be useful at various points. It’s a handy spell to keep ready, it gives you 4 different forms, and you do not have to choose the form ahead of time, allowing you to fit your choice to the situation.

Mnemonic Enhancer

This spell allows you to either prepare more spells (3 additional levels worth, in any combination, though of course, this DOES consume a 4th level slot) or you can cast it and recall any spell that you have just cast in the previous round, allowing you to regain the use of any spell that you’ve just found particularly effective (though again, 3rd level or lower).

Stone Shape

Here is one of the spells that allows you to get a bit more creative with things. While it cannot do more than crude shapes, it’s still possible to do things like doors (in castle walls), close a cave entrance, make a small rise, so that you can easily climb up a wall, even raise up the floor underneath you, so that you can get to an overhead entrance. Using this spell, it’s just a matter of thinking around the obstacle. You might even, GM willing, be able to entomb an enemy, such as a vampire, so that they cannot escape again. (Or at least in the near future).

Animal Growth

In effect, this is Enlarge Person, but for animals. However it is worth noting that the size bonuses are much better, and any character or companion that focuses on the use of the animals will love you for casting it on them. While Sorcerers and Wizards might not get much use out of it (except perhaps if casting it on their familiar), their companions might well do so, like the mount of a Cavalier, or the animal companion of a Druid or Ranger. It does NOT work with most Polymorph spells however, as these specifically do not change your creature type, and this only works on animals. (Not magical beasts.)

Baleful Polymorph

This spell enables you to turn an opponent into a Small (or smaller) creature and have them assume that form, becoming that new creature in all respects (if it fails the Will save). The Fortitude save merely causes it to take on the physical form and type. This is an excellent way of taking out opponents who you want to keep alive, though undoing the damage done to their mind can be tricky. My personal favorite creatures are snails and hamsters. (One slow, the other cute. I can imagine nothing worse for a villain than being Cute).

Fabricate

Imagine having the ability to create any material, and large amounts of it. This spell allows you to do just that. For example, at minimum level (9), you could dump 90 cubic feet of manure on an opponent, with 100 cubic feet being the rough equivalent of a highly stacked pallet of stuff. But, this spell comes into its own in smaller amounts too, allowing you to create ready made materials as well as finished goods. For example, you could summon the 90 cubic feet of manure, or perhaps just an armload of swords. (10 cubic feet is about the size of a large fridge… That’s a lot of swords in short). The casting time is slow however, but since the spell is permanent, you could handily create whatever you might need (up to a certain size) of pretty much anything.

Plant Shape I – III

Another shapechanger spell, similar to Beast Shape. However, this time you take on the form of a plant. The list of advantages and disadvantages are very similar, as you still do not take the TYPE of creature, so regrettably you do not gain all their abilities.

Telekinesis

The ability to move things with your mind is a powerful one, and Telekinesis allows you to do just that. Not only that, but it allows you to perform combat maneuvers without being at risk. However, for other uses, the best thing to look to is really Star Wars, for Darth Vader’s duels with Luke Skywalker, and how he moves things around during that fight. Even Kylo Ren’s holding of Rey can be attributed to Telekinesis as a combat maneuver (though unfortunately, you cannot catch blaster bolts in mid air).

Transmute Mud to Rock / Transmute Rock to Mud

This allows you to change 2 Fridge Sized blocks (per level) from stone to mud, meaning that you could destroy statues and small buildings, or even turn a dungeon floor into a quagmire (my favorite). Causing cave-ins is a good trick as well. The best use comes together with Flesh to Stone however. Ensuring that your opponent is EXTREMELY unlikely to ever come back. At least in that form.

Raise/Lower Water

Considering how much damage raising or lowering the water line has caused in recent months, I suspect that I do not have to go into too much details about this spell and how useful it can be to agriculture, or how damaging (at least in the long term from an RPG point of view) that this spell can be.

Disintegrate

One of the highest damaging sells in the game, causing 2d6 points of damage per level, and even at the level where you get it, it’s 22d6. If someone is killed by it, their body is disintegrated, leaving behind only fine dust.

Flesh to Stone/Stone to Flesh

The use of Flesh to Stone should be obvious, as it effectively allows you to become Medusa, turning other people to stone. Important note though is that THEY DO NOT DIE. That means that they cannot be resurrected, but also that they cannot escape, until someone turns them back. A perfect way to incapacitate your villain for good, as turning them back is in many ways more difficult than resurrecting them. Just remember, when defending against this spell that it is NOT a gaze attack, so things like a mirror do not work. (And obviously a Stone to Flesh undoes the damage, returning the individual to life, minus any damage caused since being petrified in the first place).

Form of the Dragon I – III

Again, another spell similar to Beast Shape, Form of the Dragon allows you to assume the attributes of one of the dragon types, gaining size bonuses, natural armor, flight speed, and a ton of other abilities. Easily the strongest of the shapechanging spells, this one is always handy to keep in hand, as the 1 minute / level duration allows you to really get some use out of it. Unfortunately you can only assume the form of the standard chromatic or metallic dragons from the Pathfinder Bestiary, but check if your GM allows other types of dragons in their games, they might well do. And if not, then just get creative with the ones you do gain access to. (Also, while you do not gain the fear aura or a bonus to intimidate checks, it is worth remembering that most humanoids will run at the mere sight of a dragon, regardless of distance, owing to their awesome reputation).

Mage’s Lucubration

Simply put, this is Mnemonic Enhancer writ large, allowing you access to 5th level spells, though it doesn’t allow you to memorize more spells, unlike the Mnemonic Enchancer.

Move Earth

While Move Earth affects only dirt and the like it has many of the same abilities as Fabricate and Stone Shape. Use it to change the battlefield to your advantage, ensuring that your group has the high group. Its also useful for creating things like trenches that provide cover to those in them.

Transformation

This spell basically turns the caster into a fighter instead of a wizard, costing you the ability to cast spells, but gaining the weapon abilities of the fighter instead, along with some bonuses to all physical stats, a bonus to armor class, and even a very nice bonus to your Fortitude save. Just remember though the one disadvantage of it: While it gives you proficiency with simple and martial weapons, it does NOT give you proficiency with armor, so while the spell itself is great, you should use it only in situations where you cannot bring your magical might to bear.

Control Weather

Similar to Lower Water/Raise Water I doubt that I need to tell you what this spell can do, in the long term. Each individual type of weather has it’s own unique effects on the battlefield. There are far too many types of weather to get into here. Suffice to say that you can really screw up someone’s day with this spell, and I advise you to get familiar with chapter 13 in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, as it concerns weather and other environmental effects.

Ethereal Jaunt

Allowing you to travel on the Ethereal plane, thus allowing you to move around (and through) areas and objects that you would not be able to normally. As you are invisible and intangible, only creatures able to see invisible creatures will even know you’re there, and unless they can strike at the Ethereal plane, you are invulnerable too (though you should note that force effects and abjuration spells affect you normally, so you can still be trapped by a cunning opponent).

Giant Form I – II

Again, similar to Beast Shape, you can now take on the form of a Giant, allowing you to gain access to things like the rock throwing and catching features, and more. Though I do not believe it’s quite as powerful as Form of the Dragon, it does allow you to retain a shape more familiar to you, and provides considerable bonuses.

Reverse Gravity

This does what it says on the tin, forcing people to fall upward, if they’re not secured. This can cause for really nasty falls, if you stack the “cubes” of the area high enough. At the level where you gain access to it, you can stack 15 cubes on top of each, causing someone to hit an area up there 15d6 points of damage. Remember though the duration can be dismissed, so you can cause them the same damage falling the other way, and to multiple creatures. (And since there’s no saving throw on the damage (though an Acrobatics check can less it), it makes for an excellent damage dealing spell).

Statue

Having a similar effect to Flesh to Stone, this turns a creature into a stone statue, though it allows them to use their senses normally, making for an excellent spy. My personal favorite use that I’ve seen of it so far, was for one of the PCs to be dressed up as a classic statue, complete with pose, and then presented to the villain as a gift. Then when the spell expired, he snuck out and opened the door to the rest of the party, now knowing a bit more of what was going on.

Iron Body

Probably one of the most powerful of the defensive spells, in that you become immune to a HOST of different spells, and you do NOT lose access to your spells (though you do gain a spell failure chance). In exchange you practically become an iron golem with immunity to blindness, critical hits, ability score damage, deafness, disease, drowning, electricity, poison, stunning, and all spells or attacks that affect your physiology or respiration, because you have no physiology or respiration while this spell is in effect. AND you take only half damage from acid and fire.
Along with the bonus to strength and the damage reduction of 15/adamantine, you are practically invulnerable.

Polymorph Any Object

If you remember the Transfiguration class quite that I mentioned at the very top of Part 1, THIS is what I’m referring to. The ability to turn anything, into anything else, at least for a while. I love this spell, and the idea of turning a villain into a hat, a boat, or a toilet seat (if you really dislike them) is just irresistible. This also enables you to create anything that you might need, at least for a while.

Temporal Stasis

In effect, this is hibernation or cryogenics. The creature simply STOPS in time. This can have both effects on opponents (for locking them up, see Mass Effect 2 for an example in Jack, or John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) in Demolition Man), but you can also save your own group. If someone is dying of a poison or curse that you can’t cure, slap this on him and bring him to safety. 🙂

Time Stop

This stops the world around you, a bit like the effects that Amenadiel uses in the TV-series Lucifer. It allows you to, for a short while, prepare for what’s coming. That could be setting up your defenses or getting out of there, or setting up attacks, as long as your attack spells target areas and have durations (like Delayed Blast Fireball), as you cannot target creatures directly with attack spells. You can buff and heal them however if you so wish.

 

And that concludes our investigation into Transmutation. Next week, we’ll be looking at Universal spells, the smallest school of them all, BUT it contains the Wish spell. Let me know in the comments below of any creative uses you have found for Transmutation spells, or times where they have failed you dramatically.

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Kim Frandsen

Kim Frandsen

37 years old, and a gamer since I was 13. These days I freelance as a writer for various companies (currently Fat Goblin Games, Flaming Crab Games, Outland Entertainment, Purple Duck Games, Rusted Iron Games and Zenith Games) as well as editing the Pathfinder and D&D 5th edition lines for D20PFSRD Publishing. I've dipped my hands into all sorts of games, but my current "go-to" games are Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics and SLA Industries. Unfortunately, while wargaming used to be a big hobby, with wife, dog and daughter came less time.
Kim Frandsen

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2 Comments

  1. After reading your take on fabricate I can’t help but think of a wizard who decided to retire from adventuring and become an arms dealer, storing the weapons in the dungeons he has cleared out.

    “Oh you wanted *short* swords! We’ll have to go to one of my other caves for those.”

    (I actually knew of someone who did this in Morrowind – “And this is the cave where I store every single polearm on the continent.”)

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