The Shadow's Strength Drain attack states (Monster Manual, p. 269):

Strength Drain. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) necrotic damage, and the target’s Strength score is reduced by 1d4. The target dies if this reduces its Strength to 0. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest.

For a character that is in their true form this effect is straight forward, it reduces the strength score of the character's true form.

There is an ambiguity over which form the strength drain will apply to if it is applied to a character that is in some form other than their true form.

The most common way for this to occur is if the character is under the effect of Wild Shape, Shapechange, Polymorph or True Polymorph, as these change the character into another creature.

Let's say a Wild Shaped character is affected by the Strength Drain attack while in their beast form. Does the Strength Drain carry over to their true form when they drop their Wild Shape, or does it only affect the specific instance of Wild Shape?

Similar questions also arise for the Shapechange, Polymorph and True Polymorph spells.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be better to ask multiple separate questions about Beast Shape and Polymorph spells. Otherwise, this question could be considered too broad, although it does both concern the Shadow's Strength Drain. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2018 at 12:52
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster The question is about the effect of the Strength Drain attack on PCs in a form other than their own. The most common ways for that to happen are via the four listed ways. I don't see why asking about it specifically in relation to those four in a single question would make it too broad. \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Nov 23, 2018 at 12:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question being about Strength Drain instead of directly about Polymorph or Wild Shape (not "Beast" Shape, I mistyped that earlier), is why I added the latter part to my second sentence. I personally wouldn't close the question as "too broad", but since Polymorph and Wild Shape sometimes differ, I figured it could be split up. Considering nobody voted to close so far, though, I guess it's fine as-is. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2018 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I think it's fine as long as you're not asking about any feature that lowers ability scores and about any way in which their form could be changed, which would make it too broad. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Nov 23, 2018 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


The Strength reduction would likely only affect your beast form

Jeremy Crawford has said this regarding maximum hit point reduction (borrowed from this answer to a question about maximum hit point reduction):

Jonathan Longstaff
@JeremyECrawford What happens when a wildshaped druid that has had its HP max reduced reverts back to normal? Does the reduction carry over?

Jeremy Crawford
Wild Shape—a reduction to hp maximum doesn't carry over from your beast form to your true form or vice versa.

Although they are different effects (strength reduction and maximum hit points reduction), the reasoning for one would apply to the other, given that they are both reductions that end on a long rest. However, I cannot find anything published in their Sage Advice publication to confirm JC's ruling.

Taking from the description of Wild Shape (PHB, pg. 67):

While you are transformed, the following rules apply:

  • Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores.


  • When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed.

That part only discusses hit points reverting back to what you had before, and doesn't explicitly mention your maximum hit points or ability scores returning back to normal, it is only implies by the "While you are transformed" part at the start of this bullet list. Without anything explicit to go on, applying the same reasoning as JC seems consistent with current hit points, at least.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have any rules text to back this up, or has this clarification been included in a published Sage Advice? While Jeremy can give authoritative rulings, he has been known to give conflicting answers to the same question asked at different points in time (the Coffeelock related tweets being prime examples of this). As such I'd prefer if answers could also be backed up with rules/published WotC rulings (via their Sage Advice publication). \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Nov 23, 2018 at 12:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro That's fair. Unfortunately I am unable to find much more than what I've found. I've weakened my answer's point of view (included "likely" in title) to show that this is just JC's ruling rather than official rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Nov 23, 2018 at 12:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Illustro what has your research uncovered? (No, I didn't find it in published SA). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2018 at 17:35

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