Polymorph 5E — DnD spell explained 2024

Morph into new forms with our guide to the Polymorph 5E spell in DnD. Transform allies and enemies alike in the heat of battle.

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What is Polymorph 5E?

Polymorph 5E (PHB, p. 266) is a 4th level transmutation spell, which is available natively to Bards, Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards. It requires vocal, somatic, and material components with the latter being a caterpillar cocoon. It requires an action to cast, when you do so you choose a creature within 60 feet and attempt to change them into a new form. If the creature is unwilling it must make a Wisdom saving throw to resist the spell’s effects, but a willing creature is affected normally. You can change the affected creature into a beast of your choosing, as long as their level or challenge rating, whichever applies, is equal to or higher than the beast you have chosen. For example, you can turn a 5th level character into brown bear because its CR is only 1. However, this spell can’t transform a shapechanger or any creature that currently has zero hit points. This new form lasts for up to 1 hour, or until the caster loses concentration or the beast form is reduced to zero hit points.

Whilst in this new form, the creature’s clothing and equipment meld into their body, making them unable to benefit from it, or any of the normal features they may have from a class or race including spellcasting, speaking, or taking any actions that require speech or hands. The creature adopts the new form’s stats entirely, including the mental stats and any actions or abilities the form may have. If reduced to 0 hit points whilst in this form, the creature reverts to its own body, and any remaining damage is carried over to its own hit point total. For example, if a beast form has 7 hit points and takes 10 points of damage, the creature would revert to its original form and take 3 points of damage.

Is Polymorph 5E a good spell?

Polymorph is an excellent spell that can really change the kind of encounters a party is able to tackle once it becomes available. The spell can be used in three primary ways: to turn a monster into a more vulnerable target, to turn an ally into a more durable/damaging form in combat, or to turn an ally into a form for utility purposes. Whilst the notion of turning a dangerous creature into a harmless critter is amusing and can be very successful, it is the least reliable way of using this spell. Even a creature with a low Wisdom score can get lucky and many creatures will have features that increase their chances of success, some creatures are even immune to its effects. The latter two options are generally the most advised way of using Polymorph, such as polymorphing an ally into a giant eagle to carry the party across a chasm, or into a giant ape to tank damage and potentially deal it. The main hangup of using this in combat on allies is potentially making them vulnerable to mental saving throws or fighting enemies that are resistant or immune to the beast form’s nonmagical damage.

If you’re looking to improve this spell, then there are a few avenues you can take, but the most recommended is to ensure that you have a robust Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on it, such as taking the Warcaster or Resilient feat and choosing Constitution. Sorcerers have a variety of Metamagic options that can improve the potency of Polymorph, such as Twinned Spell to transform two targets, Extended Spell to have a utility form last longer, and Heightened Spell to give a hostile target disadvantage on the Wisdom saving throw. Another way of improving it is with the Divination Wizard’s Portent feature, allowing you to substitute a low roll you may have for their Wisdom saving throw. These are just a sampling of how to improve this spell, so explore and experiment!

How can you get Polymorph 5E spell?

If you feel like replicating the Wizard’s duel from Sword in the Stone, then fear not! Here is a list of how you can grab this spell:

  • Bard, Druid, Sorcerer, and Wizard – All of these classes get Polymorph on their spell list.
  • Arcane Trickster (Rogue Subclass) – This Rogue can choose spells from the Wizard spell list, and can choose Polymorph as one of their unrestricted spells at 20th level.
  • Eldritch Knight (Fighter Subclass) – Similar to above, this Fighter subclass can choose spells from the Wizard list and can choose Polymorph as one of their spells 20th level.
  • Trickery Domain (Cleric Subclass) – These wily Clerics get access to Polymorph as a Domain Spell at 7th level.
  • Sculptor of Flesh (Eldritch Invocation) – A 7th level Warlock can take this invocation and use a spell slot to cast Polymorph once per long rest. It should be noted that this is an extremely expensive way of getting access to Polymorph, as the invocation doesn’t at least give you a free casting.

How to roleplay the Polymorph 5E spell

Need some help roleplaying the Polymorph spell? Here are some examples to help you out:

  • Your character points at the enemy, and with a flick of your wrist, you cast a spell. The enemy’s form begins to change, their body contorting and twisting as they are transformed into a small, helpless frog. You chuckle as you watch them hop around helplessly, knowing that they are now at your mercy.
  • Your character calls forth the power of Polymorph, transforming themselves into a majestic giant eagle. You feel the power of the animal coursing through your veins, and you revel in the freedom of being able to fly at great heights on the wind.
  • Your character faces off against a terrifying dragon, but you know that you have a secret weapon – the Polymorph spell. You concentrate your power, casting the spell and transforming the dragon into an adorable kitten. The once fearsome creature now meows and purrs innocently, and you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation.

Hopefully, this article was informative and helped you turn your enemies into a harmless squirrel. If you’re interested in this spell for your next Sorcerer build, then check out our Sorcerer 5E guide, or If you’re interested in researching other spells then check out our 5E spells section, Good luck out there adventurers, until next time, keep hold of that concentration!