Split Types

Main Page / House Rules / Split Types

Written by dyanryan, basic idea approved by Ethan over email, so consider this DM-approved

See also Resting and Split Types

There are a very large number of ways to change (or at least apparently change) your form under the rules. Currently, there is almost no attempt made to make these changes work with other rules. At best, some of the rules mention that your type changes, but most do not. Should a Ranger with Favored Enemy: Animals get extra damage against a Druid in Wild Shape as a wolf? How about a Sorcerer Polymorphed into a wolf? Or a Bard under a Veil spell that looks like a wolf? Would you use Dominate Animal, or Dominate Person on them? The rules are pretty silent on the issue, and when they do chime in, they seem to get things woefully wrong. This is an attempt to fix this, in an intuitive way. It may seem like a lot to absorb at once, and it may seem more complicated, but I believe that this greatly streamlines the rules and, most importantly, provides a framework within which we can make on-the-fly decisions about what does what.

Split Types

I propose that we split a creature’s Type into the following Split Types (I want to call them Subtypes, but the word is reserved and I dare not add to more ambiguity. Suggestions?).

  • Physical Type: This is the Type that your body currently is. This is used primarily for things like Tracking (based on tracks), damage, etc.
  • Visual Type: This is the Type that you currently look like. This is used primarily for Spot Checks and the like.
  • Auditory Type: This is the Type that you currently sound like. This is used primarily for Listening to a creature moving or making non-verbal noises.
  • Olfactory Type: This is the Type that you currently smell like. This is used primarily with the Scent ability.
  • Mental Type: This is the Type that your mind currently is. This is used primarily for spells that are Mind Affecting.
  • Communication Type: This is the Type that you currently can communicate as. This is used primarily when dealing with talking.

Now, in general, a creature with no magic operating on them will have all 6 Types in agreement, and identical to what we’d currently call their Type. For example, naturally, Asëa has the Humanoid (Elf) type for all 6 Split Types. However, once magic comes into play, one or more of those could easily change, and certain spells can target creatures based on one (or more) of those types.

Before I get into specific examples, here are some rules of thumbs for what changes what Type:

  • Transform Spells (Polymorph, Alter Self, Wild Shape, etc) change at the least Physical Type and Visual Type. Most change Auditory Type as well, Olfactory Type is open for debate. Communication Type depends on if the spell or whatever indicates that you can communicate in the new form. Mental Type is rarely changed (Polymorph Any Object and Baleful Polymorph do change Mental Type, however).
  • Illusion Spells usually state what they change, be it Visual, Auditory, or Olfactory, but they will not change the Physical Type, Mental Type, or Communication Type unless the spell explicitly says they do (I do not think there are any, but there may be)

So, the question becomes, what uses what Type to determine things? In general, these will be determined on-the-fly and added to this list, but here are some examples to get us started.

  • Ranger Favored Enemy:
    • Bluff Bonus: The Bluff bonus is applied if the creature being Bluffed has the correct Mental Type. So, a Ranger with Favored Enemy: Humanoids (Elves) would get a bonus to bluff Asëa, even if she is Wild Shaped into a wolf.
    • Listen Bonus: The Listen bonus is tricky. If you are Listening to ‘natural sounds’ of moving, breathing, etc, then this uses the Auditory Type. However, when Listening to Speech, apply the bonus based on Communication Type. This will make sense in a minute.
    • Sense Motive Bonus: This one also depends. If you are working mostly off body language, then this uses Visual Type, if you are using it to Discern a Secret Message, then this works off Communication type, and it is theoretically possible to use Mental Type, too, if and only if you know that the creature in question isn’t what they appear to be (that is, if you KNOW that wolf over there is really an elf druid, and you have Favored Enemy: Humanoids (Elves) then you can use it (no one plans on taking Ranger, right?))
    • Spot Bonus: Spot bonus is applied when the Visual Type of the creature in question matches the Favored Enemy the Ranger has.
    • Survival Bonus: When tracking based on scent, this cares about Olfactory Type, otherwise Physical Type.
    • Damage Bonus: This works if and only if the enemy has identical Physical and Visual Types and that Type is what the Ranger has a Favored Enemy in, since this is based on being able to know and see weak points. (So, if you have Favored Enemy: Animals and Favored Enemy: Humanoids (Elves), then even if Asëa ended up being Physically an Animal and under an Illusion spell to Visually still be an elf, you are out of luck because you cannot see the proper weak spots)
  • Talk to Animals: This spell can be used on any creature with a Communication Type of Animal.
  • Charm/Dominate/Hold/Etc Animal/Monster/Person/Etc: These work entirely on Mental Type. So, you use Charm Person on a Druid Wild Shaped to an Animal, but Charm Animal on a character turned into a rat via Baleful Polymorph.

I know that is kind of confusing, especially Ranger Sense Motive bonuses, but the point is, if you think about it, it all makes sense logically.

In general, any spell that targets, for example, “Animals” should be analyzed to determine if it is mental (such as Dominate Animal), in which case it uses Mental Type, or Physical (as in Animal Growth), Communication (as in Speak With Animals), etc etc.

The next question then is, what (specifically) changes what type?

Things start changing with magic. In general, these will be determined on the fly and added to this list (because going through everything is restrictively time consuming, even for me). However, a few examples are provided to get things going.

Magic that changes Split Types
  • Wild Shape: This changes Physical Type, Visual Type, Auditory Type, Olfactory Type, and Communication Type to the Type of the form you are transforming into (usually animal, though more druid levels can change that), without changing Mental Type. Thus, you are still hit by Dominate Person, but can be targeted by Enlarge Animal and a Ranger with Favored Enemy: Animals will get bonus damage against you.
  • Alter Self, Polymorph, etc: This changes Physical Type, Visual Type, Auditory Type, and maybe Olfactory Type (arguments for and against encouraged!). Communication Type and Mental Type are not changed. Note, however, that if you Polymorph into a creature that cannot talk in a conventional language (say a wolf), then the Communication Type doesn’t matter as speaking requires a physical type compatible with your form of speech AND a Communication type (so, Polymorph to a Parrot and you can still speak in any language you know, but not if you Polymorph to a wolf since a wolf’s vocal chords are not set up properly).
  • Polymorph Any Object, Baleful Polymorph: These spells alter everything to the new Type, Mental and Communication included.
  • Illusion Spells: Theses usually explicitly list if they can change sound, feel, smell, and/or appearance, so follow those on a case-by-case basis, but they NEVER change Physical, Communication, or Mental types (unless they explicitly say they do, but I doubt there are special cases here).

See also Handle Animal and Split Types. Note also that a normal (animal) Familiar for a Sorcerer/Wizard only makes the Mental Type Magical Beast, everything else remains Animal.


Now, I did make an exhaustive list of examples which I used to create these rules and explain them to Ethan. Since this is long, you can click here to see the new version, or here to see how it works now.

For all examples, assume the following:

  • D0 = A Human Druid, not using Wild Shape
  • D1 = A Human Druid, Wild Shaped into a Wolf.
  • D2 = A Human Druid, Wild Shaped into a Shambling Mound
  • D3 = A Human (epic) Druid, Wild Shaped into a Dragon
  • D4 = A Human (epic) Druid, Wild Shaped into a Griffon
  • D5 = A Human Druid, Wild Shaped into an Earth Elemental
  • D6 = A Human (epic) Druid, Wild Shaped into a blackberry bush
  • S0 = A Human Sorcerer, not using any spells
  • S1 = A Human Sorcerer, using Polymorph to turn into a Wolf
  • S2 = A Human Sorcerer, using Polymorph to turn into a Shambling Mound
  • S3 = A Human Sorcerer, using Polymorph to turn into a Dragon
  • S4 = A Human Sorcerer, using Polymorph to turn into a Griffon
  • S7 = A Human Sorcerer, using Polymorph to turn into an Elf
  • F1 = A Human Fighter, who has been targeted by Polymorph Any Object and turned into a Wolf
  • F2 = A Human Fighter, PAO’d into a Shambling Mound
  • F3 = A Human Fighter, PAO’d into a Dragon
  • F4 = A Human Fighter, PAO’d into a Griffon
  • F5 = A Human Fighter, PAO’d into an Earth Elemental
  • F6 = A Human Fighter, PAO’d into a blackberry bush
  • F7 = A Human Fighter, PAO’d into an Elf
  • C1 = A Wizard’s cat Familiar
  • B0 = A Human Bard, not using any spells.
  • B1 = A Human Bard, using Veil to look like a Wolf
  • B2 = A Human Bard, using Veil to look like a Shambling Mound
  • B3 = A Human Bard, using Veil to look like a Dragon
  • B4 = A Human Bard, using Veil to look like a Griffon
  • B5 = A Human Bard, using Veil to look like an Earth Elemental
  • B6 = A Human Bard, using Veil to look like a blackberry bush.
  • B7 = A Human Bard, using Veil to look like an Elf.
  • R0 = A Ranger with Favored Enemy: Humanoids [Humans]
  • R1 = A Ranger with Favored Enemy: Animals
  • R2 = A Ranger with Favored Enemy: Plant
  • R3 = A Ranger with Favored Enemy: Dragon
  • R4 = A Ranger with Favored Enemy: Magical Beast
  • R5 = A Ranger with Favored Enemy: Elemental

OK, there are our definitions. Now, under the current rules, here are some examples. Some are good, others bad. The goal is to fix those that are bad, and keep those that are good.

  • D0 wants to cast Animal Growth on D1. He cannot, D1 is not an Animal. (BAD)
  • D0 wants to cast speak with Speak With Animals on self and then talk with D1. He cannot, D1 is not an Animal. (BAD)
  • D0 wants to cast either of those to spells on any of the other Druids, and cannot (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Animal Growth on S1, and can. (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Speak With Animals on self and then talk with S1. He can (BAD!)
  • D0 wants to cast either of those two spells on any of the other Sorcerers and cannot (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Animal Growth on F1, and can (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Speak With Animals on self and then talk with F1. He can (BAD!)
  • D0 wants to cast either of those two spells on any of the other Fighters. He cannot (good!)
  • D0 wants to cast Animal Growth on C1, and cannot (BAD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Speak With Animals on self and then talk with C1. He cannot (BAD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Awaken on C1, and cannot (GOOD!!!)
  • D0 wants to cast either of those spells on any of the Bards, and cannot (good!)
  • D0 wants to cast Awaken_ on D1, and cannot (SO INSANELY GOOD! if this worked, a Druid could buff themselves into infinite infinite Cha and HD! they Wild Shape, _Awaken on self, which makes them a magic beast but they still have their Druid levels. They are still Wild Shape, so they can revert to their natural form, although they are still a Magical Beast (Augmented Animal). If it worked the first time, they could then Wild Shape again and repeat until they got infinite Cha. They would end up being stuck Magical Beast (Augmented Animal) Type, but could still return to their original form)
  • D0 wants to cast Awaken on S1, AND SUCCEEDS! (BAD!). All the oddities described above hold.
  • D0 wants to cast Awaken on F1, AND SUCCEEDS! (neutral. Issues, but logical)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see D0. he gets a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against D0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against D0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see D1-D6. He gets a bonus (bad!)
  • R0 rolls damage against D1-D6. he gets a bonus (BAD!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against D1-D6. he gets a bonus (GOOD!)
  • R1 takes a Spot Check to see D1. He does not get a bonus (BAD!)
  • R1 rolls damage against D1. He does not get a bonus (BAD!)
  • R1 roll a Bluff Check against D1. He does not get a bonus (GOOD!)
  • [repeat those for every n]
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see S0. he gets a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against S0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against S0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see S1-S6. He does not get a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against S1-S6. he does not get a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against S1-S6. he does not get a bonus (bad!)
  • R1 takes a Spot Check to see S1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 rolls damage against S1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 roll a Bluff Check against S1. He does get a bonus (BAD!)
  • [repeat those for every n]
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see F0. he gets a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against F0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against F0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see F1-F6. He does not get a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against F1-F6. he does not get a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against F1-F6. he does not get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 takes a Spot Check to see F1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 rolls damage against F1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 roll a Bluff Check against F1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • [repeat those for every n]
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see B0. he does get a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against B0. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against B0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see B1-B6. He does get a bonus (BAD!!!)
  • R0 rolls damage against B1-B6. he does get a bonus (BAD!!!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against B1-B6. he does get a bonus (good)
  • R1 takes a Spot Check to see B1. He does not get a bonus (bad!)
  • R1 rolls damage against B1. He does not get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 roll a Bluff Check against B1. He does not get a bonus (good!)
  • [repeat those for every n]

Now, under the proposed rules, we get the following list. Items that changed are in bold.

  • D0 wants to cast Animal Growth on D1. He can (good)
  • D0 wants to cast Speak With Animals on self and then talk with D1. He can because Druids gain the ability to communicate with Animals of same form (good)
  • D0 wants to cast either of those to spells on any of the other Druids, and cannot (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Animal Growth on S1, and can. (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Speak With Animals on self and then talk with S1. He cannot because S1 cannot talk as an Animal (good!)
  • D0 wants to cast either of those two spells on any of the other Sorcerers and cannot (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Animal Growth on F1, and can (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Speak With Animals on self and then talk with F1. He cannot, because F1 cannot talk as an Animal (good!)
  • D0 wants to cast either of those two spells on any of the other Fighters. He cannot (good!)
  • D0 wants to cast Animal Growth on C1, and can (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Speak With Animals on self and then talk with C1. He can (GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Awaken on C1, and cannot (GOOD!!!)
  • D0 wants to cast either of those two spells on any of the Bards, and cannot (good!)
  • D0 wants to cast Awaken on D1, and cannot (SO INSANELY GOOD!)
  • D0 wants to cast Awaken on S1, and fails (GOOD!).
  • D0 wants to cast Awaken on F1, and succeeds! (neutral). IMO, GOOD, because I’m special-casing the way in which these spells interact so that it makes sense. Baleful Polymorph in particular _should permit Awaken. – Ethan

    I agree that it is good that works because it follows all the patterns. The reason I only made it neutral is that there is the potential for a large number of outstanding issues. For example,_ Baleful Polymorph only sometimes changes your Intelligence, and therefore only sometimes changes your Mental Type. So Awaken only works if you lose your Intelligence (and therefore change Mental Types), which implies that you lose a large chunk of your memory, so how much does Awaken bring back? Or would you just be like a normal animal that is Awakened, albeit with random class levels and the non-Ex/Su/Sp abilities it grants? PAO _has similar issues, though at least it isn’t always Permanent…. -dylanryan

  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see D0. he gets a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against D0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against D0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see D1-D6. He does not get a bonus as the visual Type is wrong. (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against D1-D6. he does not get a bonus as physical/visual Type is wrong (good)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against D1-D6. he gets a bonus (GOOD!)
  • R1 takes a Spot Check to see D1. He does get a bonus as visual Type is right (good!)
  • R1 rolls damage against D1. He gets a bonus as physical Type is right (good!)
  • R1 roll a Bluff Check against D1. He does not get a bonus (GOOD!)
  • [repeat those for every n]
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see S0. he gets a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against S0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against S0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see S1-S6. He does not get a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against S1-S6. he does not get a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against S1-S6. he does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 takes a Spot Check to see S1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 rolls damage against S1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 roll a Bluff Check against S1. He does not get a bonus (good!)
  • [repeat those for every n]
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see F0. he gets a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against F0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against F0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see F1-F6. He does not get a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against F1-F6. he does not get a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against F1-F6. he does not get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 takes a Spot Check to see F1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 rolls damage against F1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 roll a Bluff Check against F1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • [repeat those for every n]
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see B0. he does get a bonus (good)
  • R0 rolls damage against B0. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against B0. He gets a bonus (good!)
  • R0 takes a Spot Check to see B1-B6. He does not get a bonus (good!!)
  • R0 rolls damage against B1-B6. he does not get a bonus (good!!!)
  • R0 rolls a Bluff Check against B1-B6. he does get a bonus (good)
  • R1 takes a Spot Check to see B1. He does get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 rolls damage against B1. He does not get a bonus (good!)
  • R1 roll a Bluff Check against B1. He does not get a bonus (good!)
  • [repeat those for every n]

Split Types

Wings of Redemption dylanryan