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DnD 5e - Practical Guide to Polymorph

Disclaimer

I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

Introduction

The Polymorph spell is an extremely versatile and powerful tool. It can crippled enemies, turn an ally into a ferocious beast, or provide you with utility options which are difficult to access without relying on numerous other spells at once.

How does polymorph work?

Before you read this guide, read the Polymorph spell description on the 5e SRD. You may also want to read the Shapechange and True Polymorph spell descriptions, but understaind Polymorph is more important since it is more limited, and once you grasp Polymorph you should be able to apply that knowledge to other spells.

What do you get when you polymorph?

The targetís game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the chosen beast. It retains its alignment and personality.

You effectively lose everything but your personality. You lose class abilities, feats, racial traits, etc. You can effectively put away your character sheet and replace it with the stat block out of the Monster Manual.

Polymorph Forms by CR

Once you understand how the spell works the most important decision you make is what form to select. While True Polymorph allows any creature, Polymorph only allows beasts, so this section will analyze available beast forms. Unfortunately, the highest CR beast is currently the Tyrannosaurus Rex at CR 8.

There is no "best" form; every problem requires a different tool. However, it may be helpful to pick a few "staple" forms which you use repeatedly. When every problem is a nail, it's nice to have a good hammer. I suggest picking a form for disabling enemies, a form for scouting, and a general combat form. Your scouting and combat forms may change as new options become available, but since your disable form should generally be CR 0 it probably won't change much. Keep in mind that the lowest level you will be able to cast Polymorph is level 7, so you generally won't look for combat forms below CR 7.

Note that this guide currently only covers beasts presented in the monster manual. Expect updates periodically as additional sourcebooks are published.

CR 0

Don't consider combat forms from CR 0; there are better options available the moment you get Polymorph. However, CR 0 provides the best disable forms and many of the best scout forms.

CR 1/8

A difficult CR. CR 0 has better scout and disable forms, and nothing here is useful as a combat form.

CR 1/4

Like lower CRs, CR 1/4 is too weak for combat forms. However, it does offer useful forms that your allies can ride.

CR 1/2

Mostly skippable.

CR 1

Mostly skippable.

CR 2

A bunch of weak combat forms.

CR 3

More weak combat forms.

CR 4

One very lonely combat form.

CR 5

CR 6

The lowest CR that you should realistically consider combat forms.

CR 7

The highest CR you can access at the level you will generally get access to Polymorph.

CR 8

The highest CR beasts currently published.