Polymorph Deep Dive


Requires sight

No effect on Shapechangers or Immutable Form

Ask DM if this applies to Druids who can Wild Shape

Shape availability based on target CR/level and not casters

Does not affect creatures lacking a CR (e.g. familiar, Steel Defender, Tiny Servant)

New shape must have “beast” tag

Susceptible to effects that target “beasts”, e.g. Animal Friendship

May suppress spells that affect particular creature type, as per Sage Advice

Check with DM

Takes on creatures entire stat block

No carryover from original stat block like class abilities

Includes mental stats

Personality, alignment, and memories retained, as per Sage Advice

You CAN continue to concentrate on a spell/effect, as per Sage Advice

If not, wizard couldn’t Polymorph himself

Retain benefits of Arcane Ward, temporary HP, or other lasting effects

Target reverts to normal form when Polymorph form reduced to 0 hp

Additional damage is carried over to original form

Does not revert if killed outright (e.g. Power Word Kill)

Disintegrate will not work as finisher, as per Sage Advice

No benefit from previously equipped magic items or equipment

Limited forms are boring but effective

Can always reskin for more RP flavor

Offensive forms are Huge and require sufficient space to be viable

Tactical Approaches

Transforming enemy as direct Save-or-Suck

Nice to combo with Mind Sliver from colleague

Quicken Spell to pull off this combo yourself in one turn

Excellent to combo with Portent or Chronal Shift

Must come up with “finisher”

Not insignificant issue at Tier 2 

Dropping from height only does 70 damage

D&D not full of instakill mechanics; most allow for saving throw

Reversion in an enclosed space rarely an autokill

Players often think otherwise

Power Word Kill about the only exception, and who has that?

Creativity requires DM approval


Without viable finisher, this Tactical Approach is still viable

Still strong control spell similar to Banish

Can take BBEG out of battle until minions cleaned up

Good way to “capture” enemy if that is the goal

Can create offense by unleashing deadly monsters on enemies like a “grenade”

Excellent option against flying creatures otherwise out of reach

Can inflict falling damage and colleagues can attack before it can move again

Can follow up with Restrained or Grappled conditions

Transforming Party Member

Most optimal use as can create high CR creatures without worrying about concentration

CR is 3-4x more powerful than equivalent Class Level

However, not typically popular with party members as Plan A

Massive metagaming distaste for it

PCs typically prefer to use their own class abilities and magic items

Thus typically held in reserve for use as a “panic button” type of “heal”

Doesn’t affect creatures already at 0 hp

Healing is probably not wizard’s department

Party typically has better options (e.g. Life Cleric)

If only used as panic button, it won’t be used often

Inefficient to prep it if this is the case

Utility use - remove penalties from equipment, e.g. Stealth penalty for armor

Remove RP penalties for appearance

Can be cast on others unlike Disguise Self or Alter Self

Transforming Self

Has non-combat applications for interactions, scouting, and travel

Concentration an issue even with high-Con Beasts

Recall that creature stat block has no Feats

Standing next to Paladin can give auto-save vs. standard concentration check

Can offload concentration with RoSS, Spell Gem, Arcane Abeyance, or SG

Giant Ape form has elite ranged attack and mobility so leverage heavily

Can combo with non-concentration spells like Mirror Image, Blink, or Fire Shield

Can combo with concentration spells (if possible) like Haste or Shield of Faith

Transforming Servant or Summon

Most Summons already better than beasts

Many lack a CR so invalid as targets

Familiar, Steel Defender, Tiny Servants

Zombies/Skeletons are CR? so can take some utility forms

Warlock Familiar are CR1 so can take some utility forms

Shield Guardian fantastic at CR7 if you have one

Combat Forms

Tyrannosaurus Rex (CR8)

AC 13

HP 136

2x Attacks per Round

Bite at +10 for 33 + auto-Grappled/Restrained (Save DC 17 to escape)

Tail at +10 for 20.5 (must be different target from Bite attack target)

Best combat form vs. multiple enemies

Bite has great synergy with Haste

For single enemy, Giant Ape or Giant Crocodile better option

Giant Ape (CR7)

AC 12

HP 157

2x Fist Attacks at +9 for 21.5


1x Ranged Attack (50/100) at +9 for 30.5

Elite Ranged Attack

Great synergy with Haste

Have rocks available in Bag of Holding

Best combat form (in a vacuum) vs. single enemy

Best combat form for self-casting as attacking from range mitigates concentration checks

Mammoth (CR6)

AC 13

HP 126

1x Gore Attack at +10 for 25

DC 18 Str Save vs. Prone

Can Trample if Prone (bonus action Stomp Attack)


1x Stomp Attack (vs. Prone only) at +10 for 29

Good combat form if sufficient space to Trample

40’ Move Huge creature large enough to carry whole party

Giant Crocodile (CR5)

AC 14

HP 85

2x Attacks per Round

Bite at +8 for 21.5 + auto-Restrained (Save DC 16 to escape)

Tail at +8 for 14 (Str Save vs. DC 16 or be knocked Prone)

Not as good in a vacuum as T-Rex/Giant Ape, but sometimes T-Rex too high CR

May prefer to GA if TR not available due to Restrained helping allies

Can hold breath for 30 minutes and 50’ Swim so strongest underwater option

Can combine with Bite attack to drown enemies

Giant Shark (CR5)

AC 13

HP 126

1x Attacks per Round

Bite at +9 for 22.5

At advantage if target not at full HP

Decent underwater form with 50’ Swim and Water Breathing

Slightly inferior to Giant Crocodile which has 2x Attacks + auto-Restrained

Will last full 1-hour duration

Utility Forms

Giant Elk (CR2)

AC 14

HP 42

60’ Move Huge creature large enough to carry whole party, decent combat abilities

Crag Cat (CR1)

AC 13

HP 34

40’ Move Speed, Stealth +7, Non-Detection, Spell Reflection, poor combat abilities

Passive Perception only 12

Giant Spider (CR1)

AC 14

HP 26

Stealth +7, Blindsight 10’

Large size so mountable with 30’ Spider Climb

Web Sense can be useful in spider dens full of webbing

Giant Owl (CR?)

AC 12

HP 19

60’ Fly Speed, Stealth +4, Perception +5 at advantage, Passive Perception 20

May be able to use as Flying Mount, ask your DM

Giant Lizard (CR?)

AC 12

HP 19

Large size so mountable with 30’ Climb

Specific Creature

Has some uses in interactions as deception tactic

Can affect other party members

Can imitate large creatures unlike Disguise Self or Alter Self

Lower-level spells often not prepared when you need them

Spreadsheet with all forms


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