D&D 5eThoughts & Things

D&D 5e – Polymorph Spell – Is it Overpowered?

So during my lunch break yesterday, I was reading posts on some of the message boards, and I saw an interesting topic. The topic of the Polymorph spell came up being overpowered and was being restricted from use by some DMs. A spell being restricted from a campaign? Sounds weird… So what character class uses polymorph? Polymorph is a 4th level transmutation spell that is usable by wizards, druids, and bards when they reach level 7. For Wizards it also usable for free without expending a spell slot when a Wizard of reaches level 10 of the School of Transmutation.  Seems reasonable for a Wizard in the school of transmutation to have that power. But let’s look at the spell’s description:

Polymorph Spell

Polymorph
4th-level transmutation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components:V,S,M (a caterpillar cocoon)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
– This 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. A shapechanger automatically succeeds on this saving throw.
– 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 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 actions it can perform by the nature of its new form, and it can’t speak, cast 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.

Doesn’t look that powerful for a 7th level character.  So at level 7 you can transform anything into a beast form.  Even a bad guy, but I would look for enemies with low wisdom. and decommission them for an hour. But only up to the creature’s CR or level.  So what creatures are beast?  Below are all the beasts, but I’m only really interested in the last one, the Tyrannosaurus Rex!  Change yourself or your ally into The Tyrannosaurus Rex!!! Holy Cow! I wanna be a T-Rex!!!! But have to wait till level 8, or have an ally at level 8+. I can’t WAIT!

The BEAST!

Tyrannosaurus Rex
Huge beast, unaligned
Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 136 (13d12 + 52)
Speed 50 ft.
STR 25 (+7)DEX 10 (+0) CON19 (+4) INT2 (−4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 9 (−1)
Skills Perception +4
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages —
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)

Multiattack. The tyrannosaurus makes two attacks: one with
its bite and one with its tail. It can’t make both attacks against
the same target.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target.
Hit: 33 (4d12 + 7) piercing damage. If the target is a Medium
or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 17). Until this
grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the tyrannosaurus
can’t bite another target.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target.
Hit: 20 (3d8 + 7) bludgeoning damage.

Sounds awesome, but how does that concentration work if you polymorph into a T-Rex and stomp around biting stuff, but have to maintain concentration, and can’t cast anymore spells. So to maintain concentration, with the Trex’s high Constitution, you get a +4 against a DC 10 or half of the damage you take.  So let’s say, if you’re fighting another wizard that changed into a TRex and he bites you.  That DC could easily be 16 (or even 27 at max damage) from the Trex bite damage which means you lose concentration and revert back to normal form.  Doesn’t sound OP so far, because concentration could be lost.

But what if Bless and Stoneskin are cast on the T-Rex to maintain the form?  Then a 1d4+4 is added to the d20 roll, and the other TRex is biting but only causes half damage, so then the DC drops to the low setting of 10.  Not hard to overcome with a d20+d4+4.  But throw in a giant with a +1 weapon, causing major damage and the stone skin doesn’t help like that anymore.  DC shoots up, way above the low setting, and chances increase on losing concentration.

And if its a Wizard, he becomes basically a huge melee fighter in the front, and doing 53 points of damage on hits with a +10 to hit. Not bad, but this also has the added risk of being in the front line if he loses concentration, and then all that damage gets transferred to his frail little body.  Hmmmm… So far I’m not seeing it becoming OP.  But maybe I’m overlooking something.  You can’t benefit from any of your equipment, still can’t use feats, abilities, or features.  Might be good,  but once you get up in levels, I don’t think this spell will be as useful as other powers that a character may have.

Thanks for reading, and please share. Have fun!

-Michael

twitter: @mrlong78
facebook DnD5e group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DnD5th/
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Giant List of all the Beasts

Name Size CR Source
Baboon Small 0 Monster Manual p.318
Badger Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.318
Bat Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.318
Cat Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.320
Crab Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.320
Deer Medium 0 Monster Manual p.321
Eagle Small 0 Monster Manual p.322
Frog Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.322
Giant Fire Beetle Small 0 Monster Manual p.325
Goat Medium 0 Monster Manual p.330
Hawk Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.330
Hyena Medium 0 Monster Manual p.331
Jackal Small 0 Monster Manual p.331
Lizard Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.332
Octopus Small 0 Monster Manual p.333
Owl Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.333
Quipper Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.335
Rat Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.335
Raven Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.335
Scorpion Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.337
Sea Horse Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.337
Spider Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.337
Vulture Medium 0 Monster Manual p.339
Weasel Tiny 0 Monster Manual p.340
Blood Hawk Small 1/8 Monster Manual p.319
Camel Large 1/8 Monster Manual p.320
Flying Snake Tiny 1/8 Monster Manual p.322
Giant Crab Medium 1/8 Monster Manual p.324
Giant Rat Small 1/8 Monster Manual p.327
Giant Weasel Medium 1/8 Monster Manual p.329
Mastiff Medium 1/8 Monster Manual p.332
Mule Medium 1/8 Monster Manual p.333
Poisonous Snake Tiny 1/8 Monster Manual p.334
Pony Medium 1/8 Monster Manual p.335
Stirge Tiny 1/8 Monster Manual p.284
Axe Beak Large 1/4 Monster Manual p.317
Boar Medium 1/4 Monster Manual p.319
Constrictor Snake Large 1/4 Monster Manual p.320
Draft Horse Large 1/4 Monster Manual p.321
Elk Large 1/4 Monster Manual p.322
Giant Badger Medium 1/4 Monster Manual p.323
Giant Bat Large 1/4 Monster Manual p.323
Giant Centipede Small 1/4 Monster Manual p.323
Giant Frog Medium 1/4 Monster Manual p.325
Giant Lizard Large 1/4 Monster Manual p.326
Giant Owl Large 1/4 Monster Manual p.327
Giant Poisonous Snake Medium 1/4 Monster Manual p.327
Giant Wolf Spider Medium 1/4 Monster Manual p.330
Panther Medium 1/4 Monster Manual p.333
Pteranodon Medium 1/4 Monster Manual p.80
Riding Horse Large 1/4 Monster Manual p.336
Wolf Medium 1/4 Monster Manual p.341
Ape Medium 1/2 Monster Manual p.317
Black Bear Medium 1/2 Monster Manual p.318
Crocodile Large 1/2 Monster Manual p.320
Giant Goat Large 1/2 Monster Manual p.326
Giant Sea Horse Large 1/2 Monster Manual p.328
Giant Wasp Medium 1/2 Monster Manual p.329
Reef Shark Medium 1/2 Monster Manual p.336
Warhorse Large 1/2 Monster Manual p.340
Brown Bear Large 1 Monster Manual p.319
Dire Wolf Large 1 Monster Manual p.321
Giant Eagle Large 1 Monster Manual p.324
Giant Hyena Large 1 Monster Manual p.326
Giant Octopus Large 1 Monster Manual p.326
Giant Spider Large 1 Monster Manual p.328
Giant Toad Large 1 Monster Manual p.329
Giant Vulture Large 1 Monster Manual p.329
Lion Large 1 Monster Manual p.331
Tiger Large 1 Monster Manual p.339
Allosaurus Large 2 Monster Manual p.79
Giant Boar Large 2 Monster Manual p.323
Giant Constrictor Snake Huge 2 Monster Manual p.324
Giant Elk Huge 2 Monster Manual p.325
Hunter Shark Large 2 Monster Manual p.330
Plesiosaurus Large 2 Monster Manual p.80
Polar Bear Large 2 Monster Manual p.334
Rhinoceros Large 2 Monster Manual p.336
Saber-Toothed Tiger Large 2 Monster Manual p.336
Ankylosaurus Huge 3 Monster Manual p.79
Giant Scorpion Large 3 Monster Manual p.327
Killer Whale Huge 3 Monster Manual p.331
Elephant Huge 4 Monster Manual p.322
Giant Crocodile Huge 5 Monster Manual p.324
Giant Shark Huge 5 Monster Manual p.328
Triceratops Huge 5 Monster Manual p.80
Mammoth Huge 6 Monster Manual p.332
Giant Ape Huge 7 Monster Manual p.323
Tyrannosaurus Rex Huge 8 Monster Manual p.80

twitter: @mrlong78
facebook DnD5e group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DnD5th/
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  • I realize I am commenting on an old post, but the hit points don’t transfer.

    • Julian Lecky-Harris

      it straight up says they do…

  • Sporelord0179

    Polymorph is not overpowere.
    However, True Polymorph IS. You can permanently become anything using it.
    For example, an Adult golden dragon.

  • Matt Guthrie

    It actually is ridiculous. I have a player who made a melee Druid. She has great HP and a decent AC in humanoid form. So when she reverts back it isn’t that big of a deal for her being up front. Also by lvl 8 you can change into some crazy stuff. My last session they were in swamp lands and she attempted to jump a moat as a giant frog to a castle. While I had it that when anyone came within 15 feet of that moat a giant crocodile would bust out and bite one of them. So she goes to jump over, is bit, has only one hp left in her form and is grappled then dragged under water. So what does she do? Turns back then turns into a killer whale and smokes it on her next turn.

  • Gustavo Kasper Facenda

    I realize I’m commenting an old post [2] but you should be polymorphing an ally, not yourself, while staying far from combat. A CR 8 monster means it would take a party of 4 players at lvl 8 to deal with. Meaning now your Fighter is worth 4 fighters.

    • Frobenius

      That’s wrong, if u have class levels this number is your CR. Use the rules in Dungeon Master Guide to check. A well built Fighter in the same level than the group is a medium encounter.
      “A medium encounter usually has one or two scary moments for the players, but the characters should emerge victorious with no casualties. One or more of them might need to use healing resources.” -DMG, pg 82

    • Gustavo Kasper Facenda

      Don’t think like that. If your group doesn’t have an easy time four on one they are probably sucking. An archmage is a lvl 18 Wizard and it has a CR 12

    • Gustavo Kasper Facenda

      for them to be equivalent in any way:
      1) A lvl 8 fighter should be able to Solo a T-rex – Well, they might be able to do it using most of their resources.
      2) A lvl 8 fighter should be able to survive the same amount of time and deal an average damage equal the T-rex. Surviving as much actually isn’t an issue – T-rex AC sucks. But I highly doubt a lvl 8 fighter can* pull a +10 hit average 53 damage/round.
      Interesting note: you’ll notice T-rex has 13 hit die. It’s probably closer to a lvl 12 PC than a lvl 8 PC.

      Also, on a side note: Even if a T-rex and a Lvl 8 Fighter were equivalent, the spell is still giving the Fighter a second life (since dying in the polymorphed form will only make the fighter come back to his normal form.)

      Maybe polymorph isn’t as broken as people seem to make a deal of it, but it’s certainly superior to any other lv 3 spell that I can think of.

    • Frobenius

      My Berserker does 61,5 damage/round (average) and it is in lvl 6. With 78 hp and resistance, I can bring down a Giant Ape easily (CR 7)

    • Gustavo Kasper Facenda

      At lvl 6 you have 2 attacks and +2 with rage (which isn’t something you can use 24h but w/e). Let’s say you, somehow, have 20 STR. That’s still a +8 hit and +7 damage. As a berserker, you can use your bonus action to get one more attack with frenzy, making 3 attacks/round. So you are doing 20.5 damage/attack. What gear exactly is that doing 13.5 AVERAGE damage? It seems your DM has been a nice guy to your party.

    • Frobenius

      19 Str, Savage attacker feat and a magic Maul +1 (+1d6 of cold damage). 2 attacks of 3d6+8 and one attack with 5d6+8 (talent). Total: 11d6+24 per turn.

    • Theo McGuckin

      It’s a small thing, but how did you get a 19 Str AND a feat at 6th-level? Assuming you went with a race w/ +2 Str (and are using RAR ability scores) you should have started with Str 17 (15+2), then increased it to 19 OR taken a feat at 4th level…

    • Frobenius

      My group use dices. I got a 17. I started the game with a 19 in Str.
      17 (dice) + 2 (racial)

  • Ouch

    There’s also the fact that you can Polymorph an enemy. Turn them into a crab and then they’re at your mercy.
    There are so many ways to completely kill the character/creature with carry over damage or just put it in a bag till the end of the battle to deal with it later.

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