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Okay, let's assume that a non-shapeshifter (Bob the human for example) is going to be polymorphed (Using True Polymorph) into a werewolf. What would be the most likely thing to happen?

  • Would Bob be stuck in wolf or hybrid form for the spell's duration?
  • Would Bob temporarily have lycanthropy for the spell's duration? (i.e. he can use his true, hybrid, or wolf form at will, unless a full moon or other trigger is active, then Bob is stuck in hybrid or wolf form)
  • Would Bob be a lycanthrope after the polymorph is over because he can't be affected by shapeshifting magic now that he is now a shapeshifter?
  • Would polymophing something into a shapeshifter be impossible (or create a magical paradox that destroys the planes of existence)?
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You can try to change into a werewolf, but you will instantly change back

Shapechangers aren't affected by this spell. An unwilling creature can make a Wisdom saving throw, and if it succeeds, it isn't affected by this spell.

When you transform a creature using true polymorph they are, by definition affected by the spell for the entire time the spell is active.

A spell's duration is the length of time the spell persists. A duration can be expressed in rounds, minutes, hours, or even years. Some spells specify that their effects last until the spells are dispelled or destroyed.

True polymorph has a duration of 1 hour or until dispelled. For that entire time, true polymorph is affecting the target.

If I turn a creature into a troll, that troll is continuously under the effects of true polymorph thus keeping the troll from becoming the original creature again.

If you try to change something into a shapechanger, it will change, but then it will instantly change back because they are now a shapechanger and thus cannot continue to be affected by the spell per the spell's description.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The other possible issue with the answer is that it's the original form of the target that is being replaced by the spell, not the new polymorphed form, and RAW you could (and probably should) read it as the original form being overwritten by the spell, not the spell continuously morphing the new form. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro May 8 '18 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro If the spell ends the forms shift back. That means the only reason they are in the form is that the spell is continuously keeping the creature in that form (affecting it). If you lose concentration or if the spell gets dispelled the creature instantly reverts. And while under the affects you are that creature. There is no old form and new form there is just your current form. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 8 '18 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ That’s consistent with the spell suppressing the original form (in the same way an anti-magic field suppresses the effects of a spell on a creature), which is a different kettle of fish to continuously remorphing the new form. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro May 8 '18 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro the spell does not split a creature into two creatures though. It is one creature that is under the effects of a spell. I don't see any other way of looking at it. There is no difference between "old form" and "new form". It is just a creature affected by a spell and anything else is digging further into spell mechanics than there are rules to support. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 8 '18 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/… Crawford seems to agree ~13 minutes in to the podcast. \$\endgroup\$ – GcL May 8 '18 at 19:34
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Yes you can turn into a lycanthrope

True Polymorph enables the character to be polymorphed into any creature.

The relevant portions of the True Polymorph spell are:

Choose one creature or nonmagical object that you can see within range. You transform the creature into a different creature, the creature into an object, or the object into a creature (the object must be neither worn nor carried by another creature). The transformation lasts for the duration, or until the target drops to 0 hit points or dies. If you concentrate on this spell for the full duration, the transformation becomes permanent.

Shapechangers aren't affected by this spell. [...]

Creature into Creature. If you turn a creature into another kind of creature, the new form can be any kind you choose whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target's (or its level, if the target doesn't have a challenge rating). The target's game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the new form. It retains its alignment and personality. [...]

The creature is limited in the actions it can perform by the nature of its new form, and it can't speak, cast spells, or take any other action that requires hands or speech unless its new form is capable of such actions.

[...]

In order to fulfil these criteria we have to answer three questions:

  1. Is the creature being targeted currently a shapechanger? (objects are not shapechangers)
  2. Are lycanthropes creatures?
  3. Will the result of the spell be a creature with the lycanthropy curse?

Is the target of the spell a shapechanger?

Assuming you are targeting a player character then the answer to this question will generally be No. (The DM will know if this is not the case.)

Are lycanthropes creatures?

Yes

The Monster Manual provides the following text:

[...] In its natural humanoid form, a creature cursed by lycanthropy appears as its normal self. [...]

From this piece of text we can see they are creatures.

In addition to this the Monster Manual gives suggested stat blocks for example lycanthropes (based on humans). In those stat blocks they include the creature types:

humanoid (human, shapechanger)

It also states that non-human lycanthropes are a valid variant, but that the stat blocks may need some tweaking to account for the various racial features non-human lycanthropes may have.

Will the result of the spell be a creature with the lycanthropy curse?

Yes

The relevant True Polymorph quote here is:

The target's game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the new form.

[...]

The creature is limited in the actions it can perform by the nature of its new form, and it can't speak, cast spells, or take any other action that requires hands or speech unless its new form is capable of such actions.

The curse of lycanthropy is a game statistic of the chosen creature the target is being polymorphed into.

The Monster Manual provides only two ways for this curse to be removed:

A remove curse spell can rid an afflicted lycanthrope of the curse, but a natural born lycanthrope can be freed of the curse only with a wish.

If True Polymorph (or a similar spell) removed the curse then it would invalidate the limitations specified in the MM for natural born lycanthropes, namely the potential for the caster of wish, wishing to remove the curse, suffering the stress which removes their access to wish going forward.

If that spell is being used then they get all of the stats of the lycanthrope they are being polymorphed into. This includes all of the lycanthropes normal shape-shifting abilities.


What happens while they are True Polymorphed?

While they are under the effects of the True Polymorph spell with this choice the character is no longer a valid target for any further castings of Polymorph and True Polymorph.

Can they control the shapechanging ability?

Up to the DM

The ability to control the shapechanging is limited to those creatures who have accepted the curse:

[...] Some individuals see little point in fighting the curse and accept what they are. With time and experience, they learn to master their shapechanging ability and can assume beast form or hybrid form at will. [...]

As a result the DM has an interpretation choice: - The caster must specify this in advance, and if the caster does not then the target can't control the shapechange - The newly polymorphed character has to accept the curse and learn how to control their new form (with the relevant penalties).

Note: A will here means that they would be able to choose to stay in their humanoid form during a full moon.

If they can't control the shapechanging ability are they stuck in the hybrid/animal form?

Unlikely unless a very specific set of circumstances are met.

The effects of True Polymorph can potentially last indefinitely.

If the caster did not specify and the DM has chosen to interpret the change in the relevant way, then the criteria for having the hybrid form manifest are specified in the Monster Manual:

By resisting the curse, a lycanthrope retains its normal alignment and personality while in humanoid form. It lives its life as it always has, burying deep the bestial urges raging inside it. However, when the full moon rises, the curse becomes too strong to resist, transforming the individual into its beast form-or into a horrible hybrid form that combines animal and humanoid traits. When the moon wanes, the beast within can be controlled once again. [...]

Taking all this into account, then if a full moon occurs while the character is under the effects of the True Polymorph spell then the target will be in the animal/hybrid version of their new form while that full moon is in effect.

Assuming they are only True Polymorphed while a full moon is out, then yes, otherwise no.


Sidebar In order to not limit or punish player creativity it would be adviseable to let the player be in control of the animal/hybrid form's actions while transformed (even if they can't control when the transformation takes effect).


What happens when the spell ends?

Once the spell ends the character reverts to their normal stat block.


Side Note: The basic Polymorph only allows you to be turned into a beast. Lycanthropes in the Monster Manual have the type “Humanoid” and do not have the type “Beast”. As a result they are not a valid creature to be polymorphed into.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think True Polymorph can replicate a cursed state of being. Lycanthropy is not a power of were-creatures, it is an affliction. \$\endgroup\$ – Clarus_Nox May 8 '18 at 17:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Clarus_Nox In 5e, lycanthropy IS a trait that werewolves have. It can be replicate by true polymorph since it is part of "game statistics" which true polymorph duplicates \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron May 8 '18 at 18:31
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True Polymorph could allow you to take the shape of a lycan. However, you would not be able to polymorph into a lycanthrope.

Lycanthropy RAW is a curse, RAI a disease as far as I am aware. So shapechanging into a 'werewolf' would likely change you into a human, wolf or the hybrid form.

I don't think you would have the other magical effects that accompany the curse as I do not think True Polymorph can replicate a state of being. The thing to keep in mind here is that Lycanthropy is not a power of Lycans like a dragon's breath weapon, but an affliction with benefits.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah! That makes sense. Would True Polymorph be restricted by this, assuming that Bob has the level to match a werewolf's challenge rating? \$\endgroup\$ – No Surprise May 8 '18 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Lycanthropes do not have to be humans. They are classified as humanoid (which covers all Player Character possible races) \$\endgroup\$ – illustro May 8 '18 at 17:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Personally, I'd say you could polymorph into the shape of a werewolf in it's hybrid form with True Polymorph. But you would not have the curse's effects and just be a wolf-man. \$\endgroup\$ – Clarus_Nox May 8 '18 at 17:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you back up your statement that "[you] do not think True Polymorph can replicate a state of being"? After all, it is a 9th level spell. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster May 8 '18 at 18:27

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