This question is prompted by a particular passage in Storm King's Thunder:

In Storm King's Thunder on page 125 the heroes face a problem and the book suggests they might solve it by polymorphing a hero into a giant. They are level 7 at this point.

The level 4 spell Polymorph allows to transform a character into a beast with challenge rating ≤ character level and Hill Giant and Stone Giant are CR5 and CR7 respectively, so I allowed it. I only later realized that giants aren't beasts, so with rules as written in the Player's Handbook you'd need True Polymorph to polymorph into a giant. BUT, that's a level 9 spell which the players will never get in this adventure because it ends at level 11. So I'm thinking I must be missing something here.

My players now want to know whether polymorphing into a giant works or not.

So my question is: Are there any errata or author's comments or other official statements indicating that you can use the 4th level spell Polymorph to polymorph into a giant, at least in this case, or that this was a mistaken suggestion that shouldn't have been in the adventure? Please cite explicit quotes from designer statements!

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    \$\begingroup\$ SKT ends between level 11 and 13, depending on how many giant strongholds are completed (only one is required for the main sequence, but milestones grant an additional level for completing the party's 3rd and 5th stronghold) . Still well before getting 9th-level spells, but 11 is a minimum level to finish the campaign, not a maximum. \$\endgroup\$
    – r256
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’m voting to close this question because [designer-reasons] questions are now off-topic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


There is a gap in this reasoning. You read polymorphed and thought of the 4th level polymorph spell. Nowhere in the book it states that. Also, the adventure makes no assumption on the party composition - no adventure should be written expecting a specific class and ability and spell. Expecting a caster with that specific spell known is a huge design fail for an adventure.

Of course the polymorph spell can't turn creatures into a giant. Of course not every puzzle, problem or situation in an adventure needs to have a solution in the PC's arsenal of spells and abilities.

There are "locks" meant to be "picked". Others meant to be "broken". And a very special few that have a tag under them saying "go on a quest to find the key".

The portal in that adventure is meant to be the third type. Go find a giant willing to activate it, or find some other creature that can take a giant's shape. The text in that page is just stating the conditions to activate the gateway.

The designer even avoided a cheesy answer to that puzzle, because

Harshnag is with the party, and the frost giant statue is missing its weapon.

But definitely the developer's intention is to have a lock of the third type: "Go on a quest to find the key".

Do not read the spoiler below if you are playing or will play this module!!!

The frost giant weapon is in room 7 - Feast Hall. Very hard to miss a 750lb steel greataxe made for huge creatures. Fetch it and Harshnag can be convinced of opening the gateway. Once you figure out the right rune...

So the adventure is exactly as intended. You don't need an errata, or a developer comment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So the polymorph suggestion is more a btw just in the remote case that your players befriended an adult dragon or got the 9th level spell scroll during their travels in the North they may also use that. The players were actually aware of the other solution because they had a look inside that area but decided not to go there when they came up with their alternative. Still, I'm wondering whether the authors included polymorph in the list of possible solutions because in previous versions of DnD (at least up to 3.5, I don't know 4e) it would actually have worked with the 4th level spell. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 5:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sumyrda no. you got it wrong. If I can be 100% sincere, you are fixating on the polymorph solution too much. It was just telling the DM how the item works. The players can also find another giant to do the job. The authors did not include polymorph in the list of possible solutions. It was not intended, just implied. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 10:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin Well, had I posted this question I'd be seriously curious about what the authors thought to be possible, not because of fixating on this one particular solution but because of the imploication: did they make a mistake, or is there really some way to do it that I didn't consider? I want to know it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 18:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @zachiel They were just saying that you only need to have a giant's body to activate it. Or that if you assume the shape of a giant you take the giant type and subtype. And this is the norm for all 5e shapechanging spells and effects: change into dragon, become a creature with the dragon type for all purposes. There is no mistake or second intentions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MIndwin Is this a separate question, or is an illusion of a giant an acceptable key to this lock? (Or does the magic only trigger on the "creature type" mechanic? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 13:31

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