As an Arcana Domain cleric, I cast true polymorph on a powerful enemy creature (say a Kraken), its statistics change to match a lower CR creature; I choose an undead (say a Skeleton).

If I then use Turn Undead on the new creature, will the Kraken be defeated in its entirety (per the Destroy Undead feature quoted below; quote edited based on level scaling)?

when an undead of CR [4] or lower fails its saving throw against your Turn Undead feature, the creature is instantly destroyed.

Assume the creature fails all saving throws.


2 Answers 2


Turn 'em and Burn 'em

This will work exactly as described in your question. True Polymorph is concentration, so that will use up your concentration during this event. Turn Undead does NOT require concentration, so you can just as easily Destroy the Undead (which, given your ability to cast True Polymorph), shouldn't be a problem in terms of CR.

True Polymorph includes the clause:

If it reverts as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to its normal form.

You have invested in your 9th level spell and gotten lucky in the failing of saving throw for it by the Kraken. Normally, getting to 0 HP would return the Kraken to form, but Destroy Undead doesn't kill or bring a creature to 0HP, it destroys them and bypasses the 0HP issue.


This encounter began with a Kraken, and ended with the defeat of the Kraken. Even though you True Polymorphed the Kraken into a lower CR creature, you still defeated the Kraken. The True Polymorph Skeleton->Destroy Undead was HOW you killed the Kraken. Because of this, you should get credit for your ingenuity and luck and get the XP for a Kraken.

But I could see a DM saying that you killed the Skeleton, not the Kraken. When you True Polymorphed the Kraken, it was no longer a Kraken and never became a Kraken again. And it died when it was a skeleton and still never reverted.

The DMG does state:

Each monster has an XP value based on its challenge rating.

While the end state was a different CR, I would not agree with this and base the XP off the original encounter and not what a player did to defeat the creature. Punishing a the player for the use of their highest spell slot, clever tactics, and a lot of luck doesn't seem right.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not well-suited for extended discussion; this conversation surrounding XP award has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Apr 7, 2018 at 13:32

It would turn back into a Kraken.

This is what the spell says:

The target assumes the hit points of its new form, and when it reverts to its normal form, the creature returns to the number of hit points it had before it transformed. If it reverts as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to its normal form.

RAW says that it would return to the number of hitpoints it had before it had transformed.

You don't revert to the normal form as a result of dropping to 0 hp, you revert as a result of dying. Therefore, the if statement isn't even applied.

Being destroyed is the same as dying.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! Please take a look at the tour, it's a useful introduction to the site. Stack Exchange is a Q&A site, not a traditional discussion forum. It's important that we each do our best to be nice so I've edited out the aggressive tone of your answer. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7, 2018 at 10:50
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Erdzy in 5e, dying has a very specific definition. You die when you fail enough death saving throws or an effect says you die. Destroyed is not the same (as it implies you cannot be raised for example). Since it is not clearly defined we read it as plain English and see: "put an end to the existence of (something) by damaging or attacking it." Something's existence is not ended when it dies in 5e so these are different occurrences. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7, 2018 at 11:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I'm new to this site. considering the rules tho, if I had a DM that allowed this because of wordplay, I'd quit that group. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7, 2018 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't a matter of defining words, but of the very clear wording of "dropping to 0hp", doing as suggested here is identical rules wise as using Power Word: Kill on a polymorphed or shape changed target - they die. Regardless of "is killed" or "is destroyed" the result is identical. The reason Destroy Undead says "destroy" is simply because it would be nonsensical to "kill" a creature that isn't alive. Another example: polymorph a beholder into something with a head, crit with a voral blade. The effect kills the creature, it doesn't drop it to 0hp. \$\endgroup\$
    – zeel
    Dec 14, 2019 at 2:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .