There are few spells that are as overlooked as Animal Shapes. You may have glanced at it once, seen a spell that transforms a party into beasts and never given it a second thought. However, Animal Shapes is weird, messy, and most importantly; interesting. Even if it’s no Mass Polymorph, it deserves to be properly understood.
Within the following article, the precise rules of the spell will be covered in detail, as well as the best options for choosing forms for the transformed subjects. Additionally, the article describes strategies that may cause your dungeon master to throw their hands up and say “I give up!”
There were times when writing this article I feared for the kind of chaos I was unleashing on unsuspecting DMs. However, it is my solemn duty at RPGBOT to put the power of optimization in your hands, and Animal Shapes can be optimized by degrees of magnitude. Because of this, I must issue a warning of grave importance:
Please use Animal Shapes responsibly. Talk with your fellow players prior to using the tactics penned within the article. Animal Shapes harnessed to its full potential can make combat take dramatically longer or necessitate the dungeon master to consult the DMG for supplemental rules.
Longtime reader and fan, so sad to leave a comment saying you’re heading away from the content I enjoy. My constructive feedback is to separate posts about optimization from posts about Game Design flaws. Reading things like this and explanations of how to use Shape Water for 10d10 bludgeoning damage not only affects your credibility to the skilled reader, it attracts the kind of gamer that will smear your name at the table by telling their DM you, as an authority, say things work that way. If no reasonable DM would allow a thing, it helps to avoid language like “Practical Guide” and “you can…” instead of “Design Flaws of…” or “unreasonable players might interpret…”
For the broad strokes of class guides I love your content – I hope we can leave encouraging abuse cases to bad YouTubers
I appreciate the feedback. In a lot of ways, one person’s optimized character is another person’s abuse case. Finding and highlighting rough edges in the rules like also gives DM’s ample warning about where the rules might cause them trouble so that they can prepare for it ahead of time rather than being surprised by it at the table. In a lot of cases, reading, discussing, and writing about these crazy edge cases is fun in theory and shows how much you can stretch the system, but a responsible player won’t actually push things this far because it takes the fun out of the game for everyone.
I’ve written about optimizing responsibly, and we discussed it on the podcast episode about Character Optimization, and I think it’s important to understand how to optimize responsibly no matter how much or how little you plan to do it.