Mark of Heroes02/16/2006

Polymorph Restriction
Campaign Rules Update

Beginning on February 23, 2006, the following items will become restricted from the RPGA’s Mark of Heroes campaign. These restrictions will be included in the upcoming Mark of Heroes Campaign Standards v.2.0.

  • Spells: alter self, polymorph, polymorph any object, shapechange.
  • Psionic Powers: greater metamorphosis, metamorphosis.
  • Prestige Classes: master of many forms (Complete Adventurer), master transmogrifist (Complete Arcane)

This restriction is made based on feedback from players and DMs since 2000, and aims to improve the overall play experience of the Mark of Heroes environment. By restricting a small subset of overly complex, overpowered spells (and by extension, game elements that depend on those spells) from the game, we believe that gameplay will be accelerated and a wider range of options for spellcasting characters will become viable.

Our specific reasoning for this restriction follows:

1) Complexity of Choice: Most of these items present the player (or DM, in the case of an NPC) with a variety of options not bounded by the spell, power, or prestige class itself. For example, unlike most other spells with a variety of possible effects (such as the summon monster spells), a player who wishes to utilize polymorph to its best effect must potentially consult every book that has ever included an eligible monster. Even though highly experienced players may over time create a “short list” of optimal choices, the breadth of situations that can occur in an RPGA game encourages any player or DM using one of these spells to check all possible options every time he casts the spell.

This complexity of choice constitutes an unacceptable burden of decision-making upon players and DMs alike, and—perhaps more important—contributes to an unacceptable slowdown of the play experience during game sessions.

2) Complexity of Rulings: More than perhaps any other group of spells, the polymorph spells (and by extension, other game elements based on those spells) create a bewildering array of corner-case situations. Though the evolving descriptions of these spells since 2000 have solved some of these issues, more issues continue to crop up. This strongly suggests that further errata to these spells would be insufficient to handle this problem, and merely adding more FAQ entries doesn’t simplify adjudication during a game session.

Forcing DMs to deal with pages of rules clarifications for such a small group of effects contributes to an unacceptable slowdown of the play experience during game sessions.

3) Power Level: Due in no small part to the unbounded nature of the spells, most of the polymorph spells are not in line with the capabilities of other spells of similar levels. Particularly in the hands of experienced players, these spells provide options that are well beyond the acceptable power of spells of equal levels. Put simply, these spells are just “too good for their levels.”

While this aspect alone might not be enough to restrict these spells from play, R&D believes that in conjunction with points 1 and 2, it provides ample reason to remove them from the play environment.

Why Only Mark of Heroes?

While we believe that these game elements are problematic in any environment, other RPGA formats don’t allow for characters to reengineer their abilities. Removing these game elements from existing characters who have no avenue for replacing them with similar options unfairly penalizes players who use them. Thus, limiting the restriction only to the Mark of Heroes campaign, which allows character rebuilding between sessions, was the best available option.


In conjunction with this announcement, Wizards of the Coast R&D has also published extensive errata to related areas of the game, allowing the Mark of Heroes campaign to continue using elements which previously referenced the polymorph spell (such as the druid’s wild shape, the baleful polymorph spell, and numerous monster entries). If you find a reference that you think has been overlooked, send an email to with a subject line of POLYMORPH ERRATA.

Good Gaming!

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
RPGA Content Manager

Jesse Decker
RPG Development Manager

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