A wizard in my party has cast polymorph on an opponent that has control of a Shield Guardian. The wizard turned them into a frog before it was their turn to act. Can that opponent still issue telepathic commands to the Shield Guardian? The Guardian's solitary focus, according to the MM is "...to protect the amulet's wearer." The opponent hasn't had a chance to issue a command more specific than that general guidance. The Shield Guardian "...understands commands given in any language but can't speak". A frog speaks no languages and has an intelligence of 1.

The relevant points about polymorph:

  • The target's game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the chosen beast. 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.
  • The target's gear melds into the new form. The creature can't activate, use, wield, or otherwise benefit from any of its equipment.

So, the control amulet is not accessible to anyone to take but can a frog with a 1 INT command a shield guardian telepathically to do anything? The party has past history with this opponent so the frog would definitely hate them (personality unchanged), but is it intelligent enough to order the Guardian to attack or would the Guardian just resort to protecting the frog?
(side question: Or, in this form, does the frog opponent not "...benefit from any of its equipment"? So, the Shield Guardian would do nothing?)

We've had only one round of combat and we are to take this up again next session. In that one round the frog won a grapple check to prevent from being picked up and the Shield Guardian has scooped up the frog, moved away, and is holding it protectively in their robot hands. This seemed like the most reasonable opening move for an INT 7 Shield Guardian who has seen their master changed. I'm not sure what ruling makes the most sense from here.


1 Answer 1


The Frog Cannot Command the Shield Guardian

Because the Shield Guardian

Understands commands given in any language but cannot speak

The SG would not be able to be given specific commands by the frog, not because the frog is unintelligent, but because the frog cannot speak any languages.

However, the frog could telepathically call the SG to it, as stated in the Bound feature, because there are no rulings against it, and this is a more specific case than the general "understands commands ..."

Intelligence has little to no RAW impact other than crunching numbers

Only a few things change the rules based on the Intelligence of a creature. Spells like hideous laughter affect or don't affect a target based on how much Intelligence they have, and certain creatures can affect your ability scores.

Other beasts can control the SG more specifically.

Can a Druid understand a new form's languages only while Wildshaped into it?

The language of wild shape as it concerns "statistics" is only slightly different from polymorph: whereas wild shape adds new features, polymorph replaces them. This is irrelevant for this caveat because beasts like Giant Elk, Giant Eagle, and Giant Owl exist, each of which can speak its own language which the SG understands.


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