Polymorph 5e spell transforms a creature that you can see within range into a new form. An unwilling creature must make a Wisdom saving throw to avoid the effect. The spell has no effect on a shapechanger or a creature with 0 hit points.
The transformation lasts for the duration, or until the target drops to 0 hit points or dies. The new form can be any beast whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target’s (or the target’s level, if it doesn’t have a challenge rating). The target’s game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the chosen beast. It retains its alignment and personality.
The target assumes the hit points of its new form. When it reverts to its normal form, the creature returns to the number of hit points it had before it transformed. If it reverts as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to its normal form. As long as the excess damage doesn’t reduce the creature’s normal form to 0 hit points, it isn’t knocked unconscious.
The creature is limited in the actions it can perform by the nature of its new form, and it can’t speak, cast Polymorph 5e spells, or take any other action that requires hands or speech.
The target’s gear melds into the new form. The creature can’t activate, use, wield, or otherwise benefit from any of its equipment.
What is it that changes or happens when a creature is transformed? D&D utilizes the principle that a particular rule is superior to any general rule. Polymorph 5e depends on both specific and general rules. Let’s break down the finer details of the spell’s mechanics as described in the description of the spell:
Transforms an object within 60 feet.
Unwilling the target to make a Wisdom Saving Throw to prevent becoming transformed.
The effect is not as significant for shapechangers.
- The Monster Manual labels creatures as shapechangers. This is most likely the only meaning of the word “shapechanger” that RAW wanted to convey.
- “Shapechanger is a tag (Monster Handbook, p.7) granted to certain creatures. Being a druid won’t transform your form of Humanoid (elf) into Humanoid (elf changer of shape) similarly to the way learning the Polymorph 5e spell won’t transform your sorcerer into the shapechanger.” — Dale M of RPG Stackexchange.
- It is entirely up to the DM to decide whether or not a Druid is considered to be a shape changer because a Druid is able to Wild Shape.
You can’t transform the creature if it already has no hitpoints.
Time limit stipulations. Spell ends if:
- An hour goes by without stopping the spell or losing focus.
- If you cast the Polymorph 5e spell on yourself, your Constitution-saving attempts to keep your focus will be determined by the traits of the monster you’ve transformed into. (see number 7). This can be advantageous or detrimental based on the Constitution score when compared to your chosen animal.
- In beast-like form, Target can drop down to zero hit points.
- Target dies.
- It’s important to note that dying and being unable to hitpoints is not the same. Word Kill Word Kill will likely take your life in the moment, depending on the type of polymorphism you’ve used. We’ll talk more about this later.
The new form could be any animal with a challenge rating that is at or lower than the challenge rating of the target.
- If the target does not have an ability rating (like a PC) you can make use of the target’s challenge rating.
- “Beast” is a term that is used to describe a creature in Monster Manual (explained p.7). Any creature that has this tag could be utilized. The official books, such as DM’s, are sure to have more beast options.
The statistics of the game are substituted by the statistics of the selected creature.
- The stats of all stats can be replaced not just those for mental health (Intelligence and Wisdom Charisma).
- What’s included in “game statistics”? It’s quite simple. If a regular creature that you’ve been transformed into is capable of doing anything, you can also perform it as well. If you’re polymorphed you’re unable to perform anything else than what the beast can do. A Paladin that is polymorphed can’t make use of divine smite and monks with polymorphs can’t engage in unarmed weapons or martial arts.
- If you’d like to read more on this topic, there are two forum discussions that are available on RPG.stackexchange: Polymorph and the class’s capabilities, Polymorph and Subtle Spell Metamagic.
- The alignment and the personality are specifically kept by the spell’s description (which is understandable since these aren’t part of your game’s statistics which are replaced by the stats of the beast). If a Wizard is the most pompous jerk in the world and a squirrel, he will transform into one who is equally pompous, but without the shrewdness to support it.
The target takes on the hitpoints of its current shape.
- The Polymorph 5e spell is over (see point 5) The creature affected returns to the same number of hitpoints it had prior to it being transformed.
- If Polymorph is ended due to the affected creature falling to zero hit points, the excess damage is carried into its original form.
- When you’re in the form of a zebra having 10 hitpoints, and suffer 15 points of injury, then you’ll go to your normal form and receive what’s left of the beast’s remaining hitpoints. In this instance there’s five damage on your usual form.
- If the additional damage decreases the creature’s real shape to zero hit points, it’s struck out of the game.
The creature is restricted in the kinds of actions it can take on due to its new appearance
- I can’t speak.
- Can’t cast spells.
- You can’t perform any other task that requires hands or speech.
The gears of the target are incorporated into the new shape.
- Gear refers to anything you’re carrying, holding or wearing, for example.
The creature cannot operate, utilize, or use or profit from any of its tools.
- This is distinct from Druid’s Wild Shape ability which allows the use of equipment with a limited, optional limit.
- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: 60 feet
- Components: V S M (A caterpillar cocoon)
- Duration: Concentration, Up to 1 hour
- Classes: Bard, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard
- Polymorph 5e spell transforms the creature you see within range into a different appearance. The creature who is not willing to participate must make a Wisdom saving roll to prevent the effects. The spell is not effective on a shapeshifter or creature with zero hit points.
The transformation will last for the duration of time, or until the target reaches the point of no hit or ceases to exist. The new form could be any beast that has a challenge rating that is the same as or less than that of the target (or the level of the target in the absence of any challenge rating). The statistics of the target’s game such as mental abilities are substituted by the stats of the beast chosen. It is still aligned and has its character.
The target is assumed to have its hit points in the new shape. When it is reverted back to its normal state it is back to the amount of hit points prior to its transformation. If it changes form due to a drop by 0 points any damage it takes is carried into its original form. So long as the extra damage doesn’t lower the creature’s normal appearance by 0 points it’s not knocked unconscious.
The creature is restricted in the activities it can do due to its new appearance, and it is unable to speak or cast spells, nor perform any other task that requires hands or speech.
The gear of the target melds to create a new. The creature cannot utilize, activate, handle or gain any benefit from its gear.
The rules of Polymorph 5e state that you can take on your own form as a creature subject to the challenge rating or limitations in place. Monsters have clear categories that they can fall under. Dragons are not a beast . It is an animal. A Skeletal is not an animal, it’s undead.
However, this doesn’t mean that the spell isn’t effective but. There are a variety of options accessible depending on what your goal is. Moving quickly on land, flying via flight or underwater fighting, climbing, spying, and even blending into are all possible in many forms when using polymorph.
Additionally, you assume the capabilities and traits of the beast you pick. This means that dark vision, flight, and swimming speed are feasible. Also, it can give additional advantages, such as burrowing, pack tactics, grappling, and an advantage in certain skill tests, like perception, for instance. These are based on your senses.
Here are some great examples of choices if you are able to meet the challenge rating/level limit.
- Giant Ape CR 7 -great hit points (157) Physical Strength (+7) (climbing as well as grappling) Active perception 14 Multi-attack (2 Fist 3d10+6)
- Giant Bat CR 1/4 – Fly Speed 60 feet, Blindsight 60ft and Keen Hearing (Advantage on perception tests by using hearing)
- Elk C 1/4, Speed 50ft and Charge
- Giant Eagle CR 1 – Knows Common, Flight at 80 feet with Keen Sight (advantage on perception checks with sight) Multi-Attack (2 beak 1d6+3 and talons 1d6+3)
- Giant Octopus CR 1 -Darkvision 60 feet and Hold Breath (out of water for 1 minute) In the water camouflage Ink cloud and Swim Speed 60 feet.