Was the Court Wizard right to Polymorph The Kings heir from A Teenager into A Baby to protect her?

marshalljames1

I have a question about A Campaign Idea I had many years ago



Basically their was a coup against the throne that all but 1 member of the royal family was dead, the last living member was A 14 year old female

The situation was so desperate that the court Wizard choose to use Polymorph Other to Polymorph The heir from A 14 year old Teenager into A 5 month old Baby

She did that because she knew that even though the villain would not hesitate to kill A 14 year old Teenager, even if he knew that The 5 month old Baby was A Polymorphed 14 year old Teenager, that even he wouldn't be able to bring himself to kill that 5 month old Baby



My question is was The Court Wizard right to use Polymorph Other to Polymorph The heir to the throne from A 14 year old Teenager into A 5 month old Baby when the only reason she did so is because she knew that because of how little time they had left it was the only thing they could do that was guaranteed to ensure The Princess's survival?, for now at least

After all the entire court knew that even though the villain would never hesitate to kill A 14 year old Teenager that even if he knew that The 5 month old Baby was A Polymorphed 14 year old Teenager, that even he wouldn't be able to bring himself to kill A 5 month old Baby

Here's 2 larges bits of relevant info

1st

 I never actually decided if The Royal Family was Good and the person that wiped it out evil, after all just because The Pcs have been told that The Royal Family was Good and the person that wiped it out evil doesn't mean that its true, meaning that its possible that most of The Royal were evil, that even the 1 or 2, 3 tops, members other then The Polymorphed Princess that were neutral were old enough that the invader would kill them as A Routine precaution and its possible that the 1 that wiped out the royal family was a well intended extremist that choose his duty to the people over his duty to the throne and the people that sit on it

But even if The Royal Family was evil The Court Wizard wasn't, in that situation The Court Wizard also knew that The 14 year old princess is the only Royal that isn't yet evil but despite that she would be killed as A Routine precaution but because The Invaders wouldn't be able to bring themselves to kill A 5 month old baby by Polymorphing The 14 year old princess into A 5 month old baby The Court Wizard knew that she would be spared, for now, and hopefully the invading king could be persuaded that rather then kill her on her 5th birthday that he should give the girl that by now is almost 5 a chance to prove that she either is or will become  good



If The Guy that wiped them out was the kind of Lawful Evil person that if he or she, he in this case truly believed that killing A Child, but not A Toddler or A Baby, would benefit millions, then he'd do it, he wouldn't like doing it but he'd do it, to sort of quote Spock "the needs of the many, in this case 10's of millions that are definitely innocent, out weight the needs of the few", 1 child that despite who her family is may be innocent

2nd

Their was a very good reason for that, and to amuse myself I decided that the reason why was 1 of the following 4 and that I wouldn't decided which 1 I would use until the day of the session that The Pcs would learn why The Court Wizard protected The Princess the way she did



Reason 1 is that The Court Wizard's level isn't high enough to let her cast True Polymorph, Power Word Kill or Time Stop, as far as I knew all 3 of them were 9th level Spells, so to cast any of them you had to be at least 17th level and she was 14th level



I bet a lot of people are thinking why didn't I think to have The Court Wizard use Limited Wish?, well I will admit that yes I actually forgot that about the existence of Limited Wish, A 7th level Spell that she could have used that would definitely succeeded



Reason 2 is that The Court Wizard's level is high enough to let her cast True Polymorph, Power Word Kill or Time Stop but she doesn't have any of them in her Spellbooks



Reason 3 is that The Court Wizard's level is high enough to let her cast True Polymorph, Power Word Kill or Time Stop and she does have 1 or both in her Spellbooks but preparing to cast then the casting either True Polymorph, Power Word Kill or Time Stop takes more time then they have but they do have enough time to prepare to cast then casting Polymorph



Reason 4 is that he Court Wizard's level is high enough to let her cast True Polymorph, Power Word Kill or Time Stop and she does have all 3 in her Spellbooks and theirs time to prepare to cast then cast either True Polymorph, Power Word Kill or Time Stop and the reason she settled for Polymorph is that The Court Wizard is always the highest level Magic User in The Country and she knows that the 2nd highest level Magic Users in The Country, who will replace her if she gets killed, level is high enough to Dispel A Polymorph Other cast by her but isn't high enough to Dispel A True Polymorph cast by her

Comments

  • Abersade
    Abersade
    Posts: 279

    So, I'll start with a note regarding the text as presented: Your on-again off-again capitalization makes this oddly difficult to read.

    On to the content notes:

    * The Lawful Evil alignment archetype doesn't generally give one whit about the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, they are much more of the "How can I benefit from this situation while technically acting within the law" variety. The main thing that separates Lawful Evil from other evil alignments is that Lawful Evil characters will generally work for their own benefit within an existing structure. Maybe it's exploitation of the masses in order to gain wealth or power, like a loan shark or a pimp/madame, or a slaver. Maybe it's to change/corrupt said structure, like an evil legislator working to amend laws to make the society which obeys those laws more evil, or a warlord who uses an existing conflict to commit atrocities against an opposing force in the name of his god(s) and country, that sort of thing. That said, Lawful Evil doesn't "have" to work that way. It could also be that a lawful evil character merely obeys their own personal (warped) code of honor, like Dexter. Point being this: If the "villain" is Lawful Evil two criteria need to be met by their actions: the murder of the royal family has to be somewhat self-serving to the villain's interests and the villain needs to be operating within some sort of honor/legal framework that either already supports their actions, can be twisted by technicalities to support their actions, or doesn't explicitly ban their actions. One could also posit that the Lawful Evil character was acting out of line with their alignment, which is fine but then the fact that they would otherwise be Lawful Evil is irrelevant for the point of the discussion.

    * Determining whether or not the court wizard was in the right is impossible given the current info as presented. You yourself didn't determine the reasoning behind her actions, which makes a true objective judgement of her actions impossible. To make a stab at it anyways though... Reasons 1, 2, and 3 can all be boiled down to what is essentially a lack of ability, whether it's due to not being powerful enough to cast the spell, not having the spell, or not having the time to cast the spell makes little difference in that regard. The court mage did what she felt she had to with the resources she had, so at that point it comes down to her intent, which appears to be coming from a good place. Reason 4 is a bit trickier, because if I'm reading it correctly you are saying that she didn't cast True Polymorph in order to make it possible for the spell to be dispelled, which would in turn reveal the princess for what she is. This would seem to imply that in the event of the court mage's death she wants the spell dispelled, which exposes the princess to danger, which makes it a neutrally aligned act at best in my opinion.

    * Regarding a 14 year old teenager being raised by a possibly evil royal family: I realize that this is a fantasy based game but I've met many a 14 year old and I refuse to believe that a 14 year old brought up by evil people with evil advisors in a Machiavellian realm of backstabbing and political intrigue (or rampant warmongering if that's more their style I suppose) is going to come out innocent and good, barring either divine intervention or this taking place entirely within the realm of a Disney movie. Perhaps it's fate I guess? I dunno, but this stretches my ability to "believe the fantasy" so to speak.

    * Let's say that the villain is some flavor (dealer's choice!) of evil. Logically if the villain is evil it shouldn't make a difference if she proves she's good at the age of 5. A thought experiment: Assume she proves she's good to the evil villain, that would not be a good thing from the villain's perspective since that means that the good aligned head of the royal family will come down on the villain at some point (not likely when she's 5 but kids can be capricious). Getting punished for their actions is not a thing that evil folks will typically tolerate unless there is payoff for it later. Assume the girl can't prove she is good to the evil villain and the situation really isn't that much different honestly. If the girl is good but can't prove it, well the reason to require the proof would seem to be to spare her, but that doesn't hold up to logical scrutiny. In that event she fails to prove her innate goodness and is slain. Alternatively, assume that she fails to prove she's good simply because she actually isn't, same result. Any way this scenario plays out the kid's a threat, if the villain is in fact evil the kid has got to go. A Lawful Evil character who is presumably in control of the castle would just make an underling kill the baby anyways, like the Evil Queen from Snow White.

    * If the villain is actually good, or even neutrally aligned: This implies that either the royal family was bad and actively oppressing the people (plenty of examples of that) or that the royal family had to be removed from power in order to affect change for the masses, like removing a useless royal family that isn't actively harming the people on their own but who does nothing to stand up against other forces within their government. Then the girl has a chance, especially if she can prove that she's good, though proving one's alignment is always a bit of a tossup. If you attempt to prove you are good for the purposes of proving that you are good, doing so isn't a good act, that's just essentially a type of virtue signaling. She couldn't prove it by her statements, only her acts, and depending on what she understands of the nature of the situation even doing that is extremely difficult. Thought experiment time: If you opt to spare a prisoner's life that may be a good act. If you opt to spare a prisoner's life in order to spare yourself death... not a good act. Not evil, but not good either. Ergo the better way to ascertain the princess' alignment: magic. If the girl is found to be good then problem solved... except if that's the case couldn't the "villain" have just done that to begin with?

    * Speaking of "doing that to begin with":This court mage may in fact be evil unless she's just weak due to being low level. I say this because wizards have access to such a range of spells, like scrying spells that would allow them to keep track of the enemy long in advance of their arrival, divination spells to foresee the future, and evocation spells capable of inflicting terrible wrath on her foes from great distances. A simple Scry+Teleport Without Error+Disintegrate+Teleport Without Error takes thirty seconds or less and is fantastic at eliminating single threats such as the head of a revolutionary force. No court mage (and certainly not the most powerful mage in the land) should even be capable of being caught that ill-prepared unless they are fighting against overwhelming power or they are just... objectively terrible at their jobs. I guess she wouldn't have to be evil, just incredibly incompetent.

     

     

  • marshalljames1
    Posts: 178

    The reasoning behind Reason 4 is that The Court Mage knows that the girls the only member of The Royal that's not evil and that by Polymorphing The 14 year old into A 5 month old she's hoping to buy time to convince the good invaders to give the girl a chance to prove that she isn't evil

  • marshalljames1
    Posts: 178

    On the matter of Reason 4

    When she choose to cast Polymorph Other rather True Polymorph in order to make it possible for the spell to be dispelled, which would in turn reveal the princess for what she is so that in the event of the court mage's death she wants the spell dispelled is/wasn't to expose the princess to danger

    Saying that though I can understand why a lot of people would believe that the reason she ensured it was possible to dispel the spell was to expose the princess to danger

    Rather she was thinking that hopefully their will be a time when its safe to dispel it but she could be dead by then and her most likely replacements level is high enough to dispel A Polymorph Other cast by her but it isn't high enough to dispel A True Polymorph cast by her

    That's the reason she used Polymorph Other rather True Polymorph is to ensure that when the time case her most likely replacement would be able to dispel the spell

  • Abersade
    Abersade
    Posts: 279

    Still seems odd though... she wants it dispelled so that the princess can prove she's good, but if the princess wasn't able to initially prove she's good when they invaded it's highly unlikely that her situation would improve while she spent time as a five month old. The only way that would make sense would be if her ability to prove she was good was linked to her age somehow. Maybe a "Trial of the Gods" or something that she couldn't undertake until she was a bit older or something?

  • Abersade
    Abersade
    Posts: 279 edited June 22

    There may be another issue too, depending on the edition of the game. In 2nd Edition (https://adnd2e.fandom.com/wiki/Polymorph_Other) the target of a Polymorph Other spell has to make two separate saves, one to resist dying from system shock and one to retain their personality. What makes this worse is that if the Polymorph Other was later dispelled there is still a chance that the Princess will believe that she's actually a baby and would seek to return to that form. Overall that makes this a poor option in 2nd Ed.

     

    Interestingly: In 3/3.5 (https://dnd.arkalseif.info/spells/players-handbook-30--106/polymorph-other--5025/index.html) the princess would be constantly disoriented due to being in stressful situations (because she's a baby) but would eventually acclimate and would otherwise likely be fine. Polymorph Other straight up doesn't exist in 4th edition, though Shapeshift Other does. In 5th Edition (https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Polymorph#contentl) the princess' mental ability scores would be reduced to within normal baby parameters, so who knows what her personality would come out of that looking like.

    Post edited by Abersade on
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