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5E Wight's Life drain v Polymorph

FreeTheSlaves

Explorer
Does the wight's 'Life drain' maximum hit point reduction carry over from 'Polymorph' form's max hp to the original form's max hp?

I ruled no simply on grounds of book-keeping, you have a statistics sheet for your polymorph form, and you have your regular character sheet, and never the twain shall meet. Done.

However, wights belong to a group of particularly nasty and feared undead. There seems to be an argument for their most feared attack to carry over.

How do you rule?
 
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Unwise

Adventurer
I don't want the book keeping, but I don't want players to exploit it. So I would let them believe there is a chance of it carrying over. I would have them make some saves. Look thoughtful, then narrate how the chilling tries to attach to their soul, not their body, and they only just shake it off.
 


I apply it to both. The hit point max reduction doesn't go away when you change forms. No where does it say such. Not in the effect, not in the polymorph spell, not in druid's wildshape ability. Nothing about the shape change says that magical effects are all left behind or ignored.

I don't know the answer to this, but does poison carry over? What about paralyzation? Or constrained?
 

FreeTheSlaves

Explorer
Yeah, nowhere does it say in the RAW that max hp reduction goes away. By the same token, poison or paralysis would continue too... Yikes!

So beware polymorphing into a low AC Tyrannosaurus!
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
This raises an interesting question. Several interesting questions, actually. Let's say that the wizard in your party is polymorphed into, I dunno, a Tyrannosaur.
  • He fails his save throw against a medusa's gaze by 5 or more, and is instantly turned to stone. He never took damage...so is he a statue of a wizard, or a statue of a t-rex now? And if t-rex, does he revert back to his normal form when the polymorph spell ends (his "normal form" being an unpetrified flesh-and-blood wizard)?
  • He is attacked by a handful of shadows, and his new-and-improved strength score is reduced to zero long before his new-and-improved hit points are. The t-rex dies, since its hit points drop to zero...and since no damage carries over, so the wizard still has his hit points (and doesn't die). But does the Strength damage carry over, since it's supposed to last until the wizard's next Short or Long Rest?
  • He is targeted by a rival wizard's Disintegrate spell. He fails its save throw, and the T-rex is dropped to exactly 0 hit points as a result. Per the Disintegrate spell, the t-rex immediately turns to dust...but per the Polymorph spell, he immediately turns back into a wizard. Which one triggers? or do they both trigger? and in what order?
Polymorph makes things weird, doesn't it?
 
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Coroc

Hero
This raises an interesting question. Several interesting questions, actually. Let's say that the wizard in your party is polymorphed into, I dunno, a Tyrannosaur.
  • He fails his save throw against a medusa's gaze by 5 or more, and is instantly turned to stone. He never took damage...so is he a statue of a wizard, or a statue of a t-rex now? And if t-rex, does he revert back to his normal form when the polymorph spell ends (his "normal form" being an unpetrified flesh-and-blood wizard)?
  • He is attacked by a handful of shadows, and his new-and-improved strength score is reduced to zero long before his new-and-improved hit points are. The t-rex dies, since its hit points drop to zero...and since no damage carries over, so the wizard still has his hit points (and doesn't die). But does the Strength damage carry over, since it's supposed to last until the wizard's next Short or Long Rest?
  • He is targeted by a rival wizard's Disintegrate spell. He fails its save throw, and the T-rex is dropped to exactly 0 hit points as a result. Per the Disintegrate spell, the t-rex immediately turns to dust...but per the Polymorph spell, he immediately turns back into a wizard. Which one triggers? or do they both trigger? and in what order?
Polymorph makes things weird, doesn't it?
1. It is a Statue of a T-rex. When the polymorph spell ends it turns into a statue of a wizard.
(From somewhere these morphing statues must origin, even in 5e don't you agree?)

2. Str damage carries over eventually instantly immobilizing him. A polymorph is no short rest or whatever.

3. dust to dust, the wizard is gone. He is not just killed he outright vanished, leaving only a small heap of dust. (He is killed on top of that, but it just matters for the means of which resurrection spell to use, making raise dead or reincarnate a difficult issue imho.)

The three above might be conflicting with RAW but they do not conflict with my logical thinking, so that is how I would rule it on my table.

But here comes a fourth:

4. What about my favourite oh no effect, the one so deadly like poison in 2e:
A) The wizard had one or more levels of exhaustion before / B) the T-rex gained one or more levels of exhaustion during polymorph.

What happens when 1st A) polymorphing / B) reverting? Are they gone now or do they carry over?
Answers according to RAW and to logic pls. I cannot tell outright what the answer would be especially in the case B)
 

Harzel

Adventurer
This raises an interesting question. Several interesting questions, actually. Let's say that the wizard in your party is polymorphed into, I dunno, a Tyrannosaur.

He fails his save throw against a medusa's gaze by 5 or more, and is instantly turned to stone. He never took damage...so is he a statue of a wizard, or a statue of a t-rex now? And if t-rex, does he revert back to his normal form when the polymorph spell ends (his "normal form" being an unpetrified flesh-and-blood wizard)?
First off, I would say that the spell ends immediately when the wizard is petrified because I don't think you can concentrate on a spell when petrified. But the wizard is petrified and remains so despite the spell ending. Nevertheless, I'd have the statue be in the form of a t-rex because that's a more amusing thing to have to deal with. If the statue is depetrified, it immediately becomes a wizard.

EDIT: Oh, that all assumes it was the wizard that cast Polymorph on themselves. If it was someone else that cast Polymorph on the wizard, then the spell could continue. If it's still in effect and the statue is depetrified, then you still have a t-rex.

He is attacked by a handful of shadows, and his new-and-improved strength score is reduced to zero long before his new-and-improved hit points are. The t-rex dies, since its hit points drop to zero...and since no damage carries over, so the wizard still has his hit points (and doesn't die). But does the Strength damage carry over, since it's supposed to last until the wizard's next Short or Long Rest?
According to the shadow stat block, the target just dies; it does not mention HP falling to zero as the cause. So the t-rex dies and immediately reverts to wizard form because the dead cannot concentrate on a spell. The issue of the STR loss carryover can incite a whole new argument about whether the wizard can even be raised or not by anything short of True Resurrection. Since the STR loss can be removed by a short rest, it seems like it is intended to be fairly weak, so I would play it that if the wizard is raised, even with Revivify, the STR loss is removed.

If you were sticking closer to the wording of the various raising spells, though, I think there's a case to be made that anything short of True Resurrection would require an accompanying Greater Restoration to remove the STR loss. Whether the Greater Restoration has to be done before True Resurrection, or has to be done after, or whether it doesn't matter is another debate which has been had, but which I think is just terribly uninteresting because answers other than "it doesn't matter" don't make the game any more fun.

He is targeted by a rival wizard's Disintegrate spell. He fails its save throw, and the T-rex is dropped to exactly 0 hit points as a result. Per the Disintegrate spell, the t-rex immediately turns to dust...but per the Polymorph spell, he immediately turns back into a wizard. Which one triggers? or do they both trigger? and in what order?
Per Crawford, first the damage is applied completely; that is, if it takes the t-rex to 0, then Polymorph ends and the carryover damage applies to the wizard. If the carryover damage takes the wizard to 0, then the wizard is disintegrated.

 
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Coroc

Hero
...
Per Crawford, first the damage is applied completely; that is, if it takes the t-rex to 0, then Polymorph ends and the carryover damage applies to the wizard. If the carryover damage takes the wizard to 0, then the wizard is disintegrated.
...
So of all logical approaches the most complicated which is stated no where in RAW?

Sorry that is not the way I would handle it. Maybe with any other spell, but disintegrate not only damages its target but also changes its physical properties drastically.

According to this ruling, if the wizard is polymorphed by someone else so the spell holds, and let us assume he gets killed, still in polymorphed form. Now some druid casts reincarnation and the wizard reappears as a flumph. That finally breaks the polymorph and zap the wizard regets its original form.
That is how Crawfords ruling sounds to me.
 

According to this ruling, if the wizard is polymorphed by someone else so the spell holds, and let us assume he gets killed, still in polymorphed form
Er, no, that's not how polymorph works. When the polymorphed form is reduced to zero hp the spell ends. It has nothing to do with concentration and therefore it makes no difference who cast the spell.

As a consequence, it is impossible to disintegrate someone "still in polymorphed form".
 

Coroc

Hero
Er, no, that's not how polymorph works. When the polymorphed form is reduced to zero hp the spell ends. It has nothing to do with concentration and therefore it makes no difference who cast the spell.

As a consequence, it is impossible to disintegrate someone "still in polymorphed form".
So the "ruling" by Crawford is footed in RAW? Or is it ambiguous?
 

anthr

Villager
My two cents:

  • The Wights energy drain is nasty in 5E, but nothing compared to earlier versions of the game.
    I'd treat Hp maximum reduction as a condition, and I'd say that all conditions carry over if you polymorph. The only thing that Polymorph affect is hp, no other conditions (so you are still poisoned, paralyzed, constrained, etc). The Polymorph isn't a free "get out of jail"-card.
    And I don't understand the problem with bookkeeping. How do you track conditions if you're not polymorphed? Just use the same bookkeeping when you're polymorphed, simple as that.
  • As for flesh to stone: I'd rule that it freezes (or more accurately stones) the character, meaning that once you turn to stone nothing changes until you get a greater restoration cast at you.
    You are stuck as a T. Rex as long as you are turned to stone, even if the Polymorph-spell ends. Petrification has nothing to do with hp so the polymorph rules doesn't kick in.
  • As for shadows I see strength drain as a condition, meaning it carries over and would kill the character instantly if he had lower strength than the creature he polymorphed to.
  • As for disintegrate I think Jeremy Crawford is too nice (but he also stated that they did the spell more polite). But even with his ruling it's still possible to die outright, you just need to fail two saves and not have that many hp.
  • Death ends the polymorph spell, so if you die if you are polymorphed it doesn't help if the druid casts reincarnate, because you're dead, not polymorphed.
 

FreeTheSlaves

Explorer
Thanks all. I at least have now got a nice variety of thought out answers.

Turns out the highly intelligent Eldritch-Knight did well to talk the Druid out of Polymorphing him into a T-Rex. We call that 'accidental roleplaying'.
 

So the "ruling" by Crawford is footed in RAW? Or is it ambiguous?
It's RAW.

Some people try and read it differently because they have it in for moon druids, but the wording is pretty clear - disintegrate applies the damage to the target then dusts them if they end on zero hp.
 

FreeTheSlaves

Explorer
"If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, it is disintegrated."

I think this one is pretty clear, Polymorph and Wildshape have a damage overflow rule to be followed.

On a failed Dex save apply Disintegrate damage. If applicable, follow damage overflow rule. Follow any other rules too (Evasion, force resistance etc). Finally check hp total. 0hp? Dust.

Much clearer than Shadow str damage or petrification state!

(Btw, check out Power Word Kill. Do not take a form with less than 100hp. Period.)
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I tend to apply that particular debuff to both (and future shapes), because I think think the ability is mostly otherwise a joke.
A joke? You ever see a PC take a critical hit from a wraith and fail the save? I racked up my first 5e PC kill with that one as a DM.
 

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