True Polymorph 5e : D&D Spell Guide

9th-level spells are very powerful and allow wizards and other spellcasters effectively to alter the fabric of reality.

True polymorph is one such spell. This spell is reminiscent of the magical transformations described in fairy tales, ancient myths, and other folklore.

True Polymorph 5e By Pack Tactics

Detail of True Polymorph Spells

Type: 9th-Level Transmutation
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 Feet
Components V. S. M. A small amount of mercury, gum Arabicic and to smoke
Duration 1 Hour (Concentration).

True polymorph is so intricately detailed that I won’t be going into it in detail here. This spell is complex enough that it deserves a careful reading from the source (Player’s Handbook, page 238).

The spell can accomplish the following:

  • You can transform a creature into another creature with the same Challenge Rating, or less. The CR of the creature that is being transformed must be equal or lower than theirs.
  • Transform an object into a creature with the same or smaller size and CR 9 or less. You can make the creature friendly. You can make the spell permanent (see below) and you will no longer be able to control the creature.
  • You can transform a creature into an object that is nonmagical, of the same or lesser size.
  • Concentrate on the spell for at least an hour. The spell will last until it is either dispelled or drops to zero hit points.
See also
Shadow Blade: D&D 5e Spell Guide

true Polymorph is another complicated spell. It is worth reading the details for each effect if you are planning to do any of the above.

The spell won’t work for shapechangers or creatures with 0 hit point. You can read more about the 0 hit points rider below.

The shapechanger rule is funny.

The mass polymorph spell, which is more recent, states that it does not have any effect on willing shapechangers. Polymorph , True Polymorph, and don’t work for shapechangers, whether they are willing or not.

Who gets it?

This is the clearer portion of the spell.

True polymorph can only be found on the wizard spell, bard, and warlock lists. Arcana Domain clerics have the ability to pick it up using their Arcane Mastery feature.

It is also the only polymorph spell , not on our sorcerer spell lists.

It is impossible for sorcerers to learn shapechange.

This means that your dragon-souled wizard can’t transform into a dragon, or your divine soul sorc into an angel. Your fey sorcerer cannot ever cast a spell to become a fey.

It’s not surprising, even though it is sad. 5e is the least fondly loved child of all.

See also
What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

True Polymorph: All Uses

This spell clearly describes the three main purposes it can be used to make a creature different, an object into a being, or a creature an item.

However, it all depends on the table.

True polymorph combat uses can be divided into offensive and defensive. You can turn a powerful enemy into a book, or another small object. This will end the fight.

But, those creatures that are too dangerous to be considered for the 9th level spell will nearly always have Legendary Resists.

Before you can cast the spell, you’d need to go through them.

You also have a lot of saves so it’s not impossible for it to work.

The spell can also be used to boost a weak character. It can’t be used for bringing back a character from 0 hit points. However, it can be used to transform another caster out of spell slots into powerful creatures.

This is true for all characters, regardless of their health status or resources.

For a short time, you can transform an object into a creature to give yourself temporary companionship.

Depending on the way you treat the creature it may choose to help you moving forward. However, that is up to your DM.

See also
D&D 5e ring of protection Guide : Everything You Need To Know

There are many other uses for this weapon, too. When people are annoying you, they can be turned into newts. You can pull a Circe on your island and make visitors into pigs.

You can decorate your castle using golden statues that you made from your enemies or plan a heist in which you make one of your guards a replacement for the Mona Lisa.

The spell can be used in many adventures. It is mainly dependent on how thrifty you are with powerful spell slots and how petty your character is when a tax collector knocks on your door.

True Polymorph’s Hidden Details

true Polymorph is an 9th-level spell with so many powerful features. There are many questions about how it works.

Let’s look at a few.

Zero Hit Points

You can search online to find many people looking for information on what happens to a polymorphed creature that is more or less permanently dead.

Wizards of the Coast added some detail to the spell in an Errata. However, that doesn’t stop the questions. Because of its enormous scope, the spell was a huge success.

5e’s designers believe that the intention is to have the true polymorphed creature return to its original form after it is reduced to 0 hit point or killed. They point out the updated text in the errata that spells have no effect on creatures with 0 hit points.

See also
Faerie Fire 5e: D&D Spell Guide, Rules & Uses

The spell ceases to have an effect on the target’s new form, which could be a dragon, angel, or other form. It then reverts back to its original form. Any damage that is not required by the spell is carried over to its original form.

This is not a universally accepted principle, as it is with many aspects of the spell. Some DMs believe that spell text must be read for at least an hour. After that time, the spell can only be dispelled true.

This may be different for different DMs. It is best to inquire ahead of time about their interpretation of this spell.

Note: A creature with zero hit points is different from a dead one. The spell lasts until the creature has reached 0 hit points or dies.

A creature could be asleep at 0 hit points. Some creatures have special features that activate at zero hit points. At 0 HP, the vampire transforms into a cloud of fog and attempts to return home to heal.

This wouldn’t activate if a creature truly polymorphed into one. Instead, the creature would revert to its original form at 0 HP.

Additionally, a creature that dies ceases to be a ‘creature. The game then considers the corpse an object.

See also
What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

You can’t cast true on an unconscious creature. You can transform a corpse.

This raises many questions about what happens to the corpse if you cast true on it. It can be turned into a CR 9 creature or lower, but does it still retain its memories?

Are they completely different creatures? Or does it retain the same alignment and personality as the original?

Is it its soul returning? Is it possible to create a new soul within that body?

Is it important if the brain of the deceased is still intact?

These questions cannot be answered by the spell. It is up to you and your DM to answer them.

Until Dispelled

The spell originally stated that the transformation would be permanent if the spell was used for its full duration.

It states that the spell lasts and can be dispelled after it has been corrected. You could do this with a dispel magic spell or another similar magical effect.

If you are facing a creature that has access to this spell, this opens up some great tactics. You can try to dispel the spell later if an enemy wizard casts true Polymorph.

Particularly if the wizard transforms into a dragon and begins flying. It is preferable to be at least 500 feet in the air.

See also
Faerie Fire 5e: D&D Spell Guide, Rules & Uses

You might be able pancake them with a successful dispel wizard followed by someone counterspelling their likely featherfall spell.

Antimagic field effects will suppress true polymorphed forms, but they will return once they leave the field.

Spell Concentration

Some questions remain about what to do if you transform yourself into a creature of low intelligence.

These questions are mainly about whether or not you can keep your concentration in this form.

Yes to both questions is the official answer.

However, it’s fine if you have trouble’remembering to’ to get out of your t-rex or other powerful, low-intelligence forms.

There is room for light-hearted humor when the wizard is temporarily “stuck” in the form. Until someone talks them out, there’s plenty of that. It doesn’t matter if the table has fun; there is no harm in pretending that a problem is not real.

Equipment Acquisition

Jeremy Crawford, the Lead Rules Designer for 5e, has provided a variety of answers to questions about equipment from polymorphed animals on Twitter and official channels such as the Sage Advice segments taken from Wizards’ streams or podcasts.

He said that when you transform into a creature, it is not supposed to give you the equipment they normally have as part of your statblock.

See also
D&D 5e ring of protection Guide : Everything You Need To Know

This makes sense to an extent. They don’t want players to be transformed into monsters with expensive gear (such as magic items) and then sold for quick cash.

This is only a 9th-level spell. There’s no reason to stop you creating money in other ways.

They don’t give any details about the meaning of ‘gear’ in this context. Their definition of “gear” includes the greatsword most planetars have.

It’s best to keep it from extending to their clothing.

The Player’s Handbook lists clothing as an adventuring gear (pg. 151). It covers all categories (fine clothes and common clothes), So you can infer that something like a scarf, or the planetar’s angelic skirt-wrap don’t count.

Most DMs won’t be too concerned about your planetar possessing a greatsword, to be fair.

Crawford, however, can be taken literally and the planetar that you truly polymorph into may look less like an angel stereotypically and more like Doctor Manhattan.

This could also be a great source of humor for your table if everyone is comfortable with it. You and your fellow players will be able to best know each other’s table.

Polymorphing into NPCs

This argument is based on the phrase “another type of creature”. For example, is it possible to polymorph Jarlaxle into Jarlaxle?

See also
Shadow Blade: D&D 5e Spell Guide

The consensus is not. Some DMs may allow you to get away with it by making you ‘like Jarlaxle’.

It is not as clear-cut whether you can polymorph into an NPC statblock, like the archmage.

The Monster Manual lists NPCs separately. The Dungeon Masters’ Guide explains how to modify the statblock by adding unique racial characteristics and other abilities.

Some DMs will say that NPCs don’t belong to a ‘kind of creature’, but they are a particular creature you can’t truely polymorph into.

This could be extended to the extent that it applies to creature statblocks other than the NPC lists. For example, a drow gunslinger or deep diver sahuagin, or even a githzerai aarch.

You would be able to transform into a standard githzerai or drow but not into the more powerful forms.

Some of these are already obsolete, such as the gunslinger. You wouldn’t be able to gun-slinge without the transformation.

You’ll need to ask this question to understand why you would be able to choose between an older or younger dragon. These stat blocks also have different meanings.

This is ultimately up to your DM.

See also
Shadow Blade: D&D 5e Spell Guide

Although I realize that this is something I say a lot in the guide, I think it’s an important point because this spell can be read in many ways.

Legendary Acts

The true Polymorph spell does not mention any whether a creature that has been transformed into a powerful creature using Legendary Actions.

This is a problem, as there is a rule. It’s hidden in the Monster Manual.

Wizards of the Coast created a new rule for the Monster Manual in one of their errata. This rule can be found on page 11 in the Manual that was published after the errata was applied.

It can also be found in the errata files on Wizards’ D&D site.

This rule says that creatures who assume the form of legendary creatures do not receive their Legendary Actions, Lair Actions or regional effects.

There is no way that a creature that has Legendary Resistances can’t use those to transform into a creature that has polymorphed.

Shenanigans: True Polymorph Ideas

To be clear, Everything listed below requires your DM’s permission to function.

These ideas are not against the rules. They are dependent on the interpretations of different rules and spells.

See also
What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

I have used Jeremy Crawford and other 5e-designers as my base for these spell uses. All of the above is either a technical extension or something that you can technically do.

Drop

You can turn a target into small animals with one of the most popular polymorph tricks.

Then, you cause the creature to take a lot of damage all at once. Most often, this is done by dropping it from a cliff or the sky.

You can still do it with true monomorph but the types of creatures that you might want to use a 9th-level spell slot on make it more difficult.

Let’s now focus on other entertainment uses…

Shield Guardians

You can use true to transform any creature or object into an armor guardian. As bodyguards, spellcasters create shield guardians which are large structures.

They have a variety of useful abilities that include the ability to absorb half the damage done to them by their masters.

Unique amulets are used to control shield guardians. They are easy to make. It takes just one week and only 1000 gp to make.

There are no game mechanics to make the shield guardian.

See also
D&D 5e ring of protection Guide : Everything You Need To Know

You can build an army of shield guardians using true and one week per amulet. This could be enough to provide protection for all members of your party.

CR 7 allows you to transform any object into one. This means that you can make any tree or rock into a magical robot defender.

You could even make an enemy creature a shield guardian. The guardian will be incapacitated if he or she does not have an amulet.

You could then bind the guardian to you will if you spend one week making an amulet. Although its intelligence may be lower than before, and it can’t speak, the guardian would still have all of its memories and its personality.

This is a frightening thought.

It would effectively be trapped in a robot body that acts or moves only at the wearer of the amulet.

This might be considered a fitting punishment for an evil campaign’s big bad, provided it doesn’t kill them. It’s still quite dark.

This could also be the start of a great quest.

Perhaps the party stumbles upon an old shield guardian, which is an ancient hero who has been transformed by an evil wizard into a guardian.

See also
Faerie Fire 5e: D&D Spell Guide, Rules & Uses

Living Bombs

This depends on the resources you have in your game.

You could turn any explosive or dangerous substance into a true-color creature if you have access to it.

You can send the transformed creature to kill an enemy if it follows your instructions.

The polymorphed creature is killed and returns to its original form.

You could send a barrel of gunpowder to an insect that will fly into a fireplace next to someone you wish to kill.

Even food that has been ingested poison or is soaked in it could be transformed into a small animal and then flow into the mouth of a living creature to poison them.

This requires that you get a hold of something that can really cause some damage. If you have an item lying around, it can be a fun and dark delivery method.

Silver Dragon Steed

This trick requires a friend paladin with the find greater horse spell.

A paladin can summon a celestial or fiend spirit by using greater steed It comes in the form a loyal steed, which aids them in battle.

Telepathically, the steed is able to communicate with its summoner. Any spell that the Paladin casts on themselves while riding the mount also targets it.

See also
Shadow Blade: D&D 5e Spell Guide

This is fantastic. These are great features. The spell also gives you the ability to ride a variety fun steeds like griffons and saber-toothed Tigers.

Let’s do it better.

A silver dragon that wyrmling becomes stronger as it ages, and has the same CR five of the six options to find a greater steed.

This means that you can cast true to transform your loyal mount into an enchanted dragon that will only grow stronger with time.

Your DM won’t allow you to tell your DM that your silver dragon wyrmling was 5 years old and 364 days when it was transformed. That would be great. It would be nice because your wyrmling, which will then turn 6 years old the next day, would become a CR9 young silver dragon.

Even if your wyrmling takes 5 years to mature, it’s still an excellent mount. This could happen quicker than you think if you play a game that has a lot of downtime.

Crawford says that the best thing about the true spell is that it doesn’t alter or dispel your find greater horse spell’s effect HTML1. All those benefits are still available to your new silver dragon mount.

See also
D&D 5e ring of protection Guide : Everything You Need To Know

One downside is that the rider has 0 hit points. Your mount will drop to 0 HP when it is in dragon form. This means that your time spent waiting for your silver Wyrmling to grow may be lost.

This can also be fun and prevent your mount’s rapid fall against powerful foes.

You can mitigate the danger by feats such as Mounted Combatant or items like the Saddle of the Cavalier. Although your steed may still be damaged if it is struck by an ancient dragon’s breath, or a disintegrate spell it will likely fall, it provides some protection.

Improved Warlock Familiars

The trick works exactly the same as above but with a different spell.

The familiar spell summons an elemental, celestial or fiend spirit to assist you as a magic servant, similar to find greater horse.

Crawford’s ruling states that the familiar spell’s effects are still active even after the creature has changed its form. This means that effects such as your telepathic contact or the ability to send familiars into a pocket dimension are still applicable to these new forms.

This gives you options if you are a Pact of the Chain warlock.

See also
What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

Both the imp and the quasit have CR 1. You can summon either the imp or the quasit to become a young faerie or copper dragon wyrmling. These are all more powerful with age.

The faerie Dragon gains more spells and the brass- and copper-wyrmlings function the same way as the silver wyrmlings above.

You still have options, even if you’re familiar with a CR 1/4 pseudodragon/sprite.

Your familiar could be transformed into a pixie. It doesn’t have the ability to grow into something more powerful, but it does come with some innate spells.

The pixie’s DC doesn’t seem to be very high. However, you can still use it to receive a free fly spell that has been concentrated on by another person or to obtain a few magical effects. It is also highly visible, making it an excellent choice for scouting.

Your familiar could be made into an apprentice wizard if your DM allows it.

This could prove to be very beneficial in the long-term as your new friend/apprentice may be permitted to take classes or be a sidekick.

If you train them enough, your familiar can turn into a powerful mage with their familiar. They then cast true on and continue the cycle.

See also
Faerie Fire 5e: D&D Spell Guide, Rules & Uses

Regular Familiars with Improved Quality

Anyone who has a familiar can now turn it into a Griffin… eventually.

Icewind Dale – Rime of the Frostmaiden presents statistics for young griffons. It goes all the way down into CR 0, which represents the challenge rating for standard familiars.

Each year, the young griffon becomes stronger and older until it is a fully grown griffon after three years.

Although it will never be as powerful or as agile as a dragon it is still entertaining. It also gives you a familiar with almost as much utility than a paladin’s mount from find a greater steed.

Material Components

Jeremy Crawford was asked about this idea during a Q&A live streamed on D&D’s Twitch channel.

True polymorph is a way to transform a creature into an unmagical object.

There are no restrictions on the types of objects you can create, except that they must be nonmagical. You can make money by making a creature into a marble or solid gold statue and then selling it off to the highest bidder.

Alternativly, you could use the spell to transform a creature into one of the rare and expensive components required for certain spells.

See also
Shadow Blade: D&D 5e Spell Guide

This includes the jeweled goblet required for heroes’ feast or the diamond(s), worth 25,000 gp, that true revival needs.

The economies are strange. It’s impossible to predict how your DM would value a solid diamond that is the same size as a beholder or a zombie. It’s a good start to determine how many diamonds you would require.

The Q&A focused on what would happen if the material component were used in a spell that consumed it.

Will the spell end and the diamonds disappear?

Is the goblet to be destroyed, but the original creature that was able to ‘consume it’ before the spell?

Crawford’s Q&A answers suggest that an object created by true monomorph could serve as a material component to the spell.

He treated it in the same way as the disintegrate magic spell did, or the power words kill magic spell does. The spell consumes the object, ending the true-polymorph spell.

He stated that he would make the creature’s original body, which was now dead due to the consumption of the component, appear in his example ruling.

This case is-specific and was made by one the game’s developers. This use could be ruled differently by your DM. It does offer players an opportunity to obtain expensive spell components.

See also
Faerie Fire 5e: D&D Spell Guide, Rules & Uses

It could theoretically be used instead of dropping the object from a high height to auto-kill dangerous foes.

Homunculi

You can create magical structures with a variety of spells. There are many spells that allow you to create magical servants.

Homunculi can be described as 0 CR creatures created with the create homounculus spell.

You could make it into a CR0 young griffon, just like standard familiars.

This is actually somewhat less useful than the familiar transform, since many of the homunculus’ abilities are from the statblock and not the spell that created it.

Simulacrums

Simulacrums can, however, be very useful.

The simulacrum spell allows you to create a duplicate of yourself or another creature and gain a powerful ally. Simulacrums can’t be re-used for any of their abilities.

However, it does not use all of the statistics of its duplicate creature. This includes its CR and class levels.

You can now cast true on your simulacrum and not another member of your party. This will result in a creature that has a high CR and is not the simulacrum construct anymore.

This is up to your DM. Your new polymorphed creature, once it ceases to be a simulacrum will likely be able regain its hit points as normal and regain its daily abilities, if any.

See also
D&D 5e ring of protection Guide : Everything You Need To Know

True Polymorph clearly states that the creature retains its alignment, personality and personality. This is great news for you because the simulacrum can be friendly to you and the creatures you choose and will obey your commands and act the way you wish.

The simulacrum spell is in effect until it’s dispelled. This means that the true polymorph you have created is still affected by the spell. It should therefore follow your instructions… most likely.

At the very least, if you follow Crawford’s ruling Find greater steed.

It’s ultimately up to your DM. This leads to a lot of questions, namely:

  • It’s still being affected by the simulacrum magic, so do the spell features regarding hit points and expended capabilities still apply?
  • Are they still unable to learn new skills or become more powerful?
  • Are your orders still being followed?
  • Is it still considered a simulacrum Can you make another simulacrum from the same simulacrum?
  • Is it possible to polymorph the new simulacrum into an army of dragon servants, and then have an army?

Personally, I believe that simulacrum spells are still active. You can’t create simulacrums with the original creature (transformed, or not).

See also
What is a Finesse Weapon in D&D 5e?

This decision is up to the DM.

Magen

Magen are much simpler than simulacrum.

Magen are constructeds that the create magen spell makes, and can be found in Icewind Dale Rime of the Frostmaiden.

To create a magen, you must reduce your hit points maximum by a number equal to the CR for the magen. The CR of the current magen is between 1 and 3.

The magen spell also explicitly states that the magen you create must obey your orders.

Combining a CR2 Demos Magen and a true-color spell will give you a silver dragon wiling that will last you all your life.

To have a dragon companion, you will be giving up 2 hitpoints from your maximum and 500gp each in spell components.

This is dependent on the DM. The DM might decide that the spell does not affect the magen because it is no longer a magen. You won’t know the truth unless you ask.

Other Transformations

Technically, the same trick can be applied to any creature that is magic-created.

These shenanigans are only as useful as the spells they are cast.

You could cast the finger of death and make a CR 1/4 undead zombie permanent under your control. You could polymorph the zombie into a more useful pixie if you do. However, it’s upto the DM if it’s still under your control.

See also
D&D 5e ring of protection Guide : Everything You Need To Know

It’s impossible to list all possible uses of true Polymorph. There are many spells which could interact with it.

Your DM can only limit your ridiculous and overpowered ideas.

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