D&D 5E Polymorph is a bad de-buff spell

Yunru

Banned
Banned
I stand corrected. Surely you can regale me with stories about how the bard was blinded, and threw himself on the barbarian's ax. Or a rogue was grappled, and couldn't live with the shame, so he cut his own throat. Bestow curse is pretty nasty too, so maybe the sorcerer who gets cursed fireballs himself. These all must be reasonable things that players do to their PC's all the time; I mean, there must be hundreds of anecdotes about that.....
Ummm... what?
None of fhose have ever, in fiction or otherwise, ended those conditions.
There can be no anecdotes of those because that's not how it works.
There can be anecdotes of Polymorph being undone via damage, because Polymoprh can be undone via damage.

Now stop arguing in bad faith.
 

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5E polymorph is a sore spot. I understand 100% why the "revert to normal form at 0 hp" clause is in there. As a balance, for game mechanics, it's just fine, arguably necessary.

As an element of the fiction, it's nonsense. Utterly and absolutely goofiness incarnate.

There's no perfect way to marry those. Some people ignore one aspect, some people the other. Me, I prefer this philosophy:

The fiction must allow for the mechanics, but it needn't be constrained to the mechanics. (This is enhanced by the fact that monsters and NPCs needn't use PC rules.)

What that means in this case is, as a DM, I would probably say "You are very well aware that the world has some polymorph effects that end on death, and some that don't. You have no way of knowing which one this is, and I expect you to play accordingly."

(That's not even getting into the mismatch between "Your Int is now 1" and "You have the same personality." I don't allow victims of polymorph to take actions that require advanced reasons. But that's a different, albeit related, discussion.)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
5E polymorph is a sore spot. I understand 100% why the "revert to normal form at 0 hp" clause is in there. As a balance, for game mechanics, it's just fine, arguably necessary.

As an element of the fiction, it's nonsense. Utterly and absolutely goofiness incarnate.

There's no perfect way to marry those. Some people ignore one aspect, some people the other. Me, I prefer this philosophy:

The fiction must allow for the mechanics, but it needn't be constrained to the mechanics. (This is enhanced by the fact that monsters and NPCs needn't use PC rules.)

What that means in this case is, as a DM, I would probably say "You are very well aware that the world has some polymorph effects that end on death, and some that don't. You have no way of knowing which one this is, and I expect you to play accordingly."

(That's not even getting into the mismatch between "Your Int is now 1" and "You have the same personality." I don't allow victims of polymorph to take actions that require advanced reasons. But that's a different, albeit related, discussion.)

What I do is not care about how a player arrives at a decision since that's not part of my role as DM - I only narrate the result of what they try to do. In addition, I already know they're going to be making choices that are fun for everyone and will help create an exciting, memorable tale, so nobody needs to police anything. But also, many purposeful actions chosen by the player can easily be explained as being purposeful by the character but for a another reason that makes sense or even dumb luck. For example, the player wants to end the polymorph effect so describes the panicked toad caught in a raging battle who, in a dimwitted bid to get away, unfortunately leaps under the shoe of the running bard and is squished. Doesn't that sound like a thing that could happen? It does to me: The fighter is back to normal and prone, perhaps having been robbed of a turn of more productive movement and actions. Someone cracks a Frogger joke, and we all have a laugh.

And if I as DM don't think that's a great possible outcome, then I could just have the sea hag turn the fighter into a killer whale as was already stated upthread. Then watch in satisfaction as the players have their characters grapple the hags and drag them kicking and screaming toward the whale's open mouth.
 


G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Ha. This thread became an argument about metagaming ON THE FIRST PAGE. I love it.

I predict Warlords by page 8.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I'm studying in prep to run a night hag coven and thought I should polymorph the party's fighter (turning him into a toad seems thematically appropriate.)
But all that needs to happen, basically, is a party member swats the frog, does some minor damage to kill it, and the spell is broken.
It seems like Hold Person is a better spell for taking out a combatant, and it's lower level.
With easy ways around spells, saves at the end of every turn to get rid of bad conditions, it seems 5e enemy casters are very lousy.

Your players are going to hate me.

Look at beasts with the Water Breathing trait and walking speed 0 feet. For a party of 5th level or higher, I recommend you consider a Giant Shark with 126 hit points & which can help separate the party or block their access (if you strategize well or get lucky). ;)
 

Quartz

Hero
Killer whale or dolphin. Or something slow-moving like a tortoise that can be easily grabbed. But really, for a hag Polymorph is often better as a plot spell rather than a combat spell. For example, the hag polymorphs the kidnapped prince / princess into a tortoise until the coven is ready to make the sacrifice.
 

I'm going to call you on this. Show me anything that suggests a random fighter somehow knows that he can suicide his way out of a polymorph spell. Is it in the spell text? Nope. Is it in the fighter write up in the PHB? Nope. Combat description in the PHB? Nope. Go ahead, find something. I dare you. I would say is that crickets I heard, but I think the toad is eating them.

In Iserith's game, the character not knowing about the spell and figuring out a solution with toad-level intelligence is irrelevant. The fact that the player knows and can come up with an idea like that is all that matters.

This discussion is going to turn into one about metagaming and roleplaying, and the levels (and exact definition) of each. I've never seen one of those end well.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
In Iserith's game, the character not knowing about the spell and figuring out a solution with toad-level intelligence is irrelevant. The fact that the player knows and can come up with an idea like that is all that matters.

This discussion is going to turn into one about metagaming and roleplaying, and the levels (and exact definition) of each. I've never seen one of those end well.

The character doesn't have to know a single thing about the polymorph spell to take the proposed action as a toad.

For reasons known only to science fiction, some people want to make the toad's dimwitted jump into danger and death dependent upon the character knowing something about the polymorph spell. Those two things are not necessarily connected in the fiction.
 

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