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With the errata (no longer so recent), it is clear that true polymorph can be dispelled, even after it has been concentrated on for the full hour. On page 185 of the SRD, the spell description now says:

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 lasts until it is dispelled.

It doesn't appear that the "drops to 0 hp" counts as a form of "dispel", though. That would be the result of something like dispel magic. Instead, it looks like it's part of the duration rules that are changed when you concentrate for the duration: "lasts for the duration or until the target drops to 0 hit points or dies" changes to "lasts until it is dispelled".

Given that, it appears that it becomes possible to have a situation where someone living has been transformed into a monster, killed, and then not immediately transformed back. Under those circumstances, what would the result be if you dispelled the transformation on the dead body in question? Would it be the old body and back to life? Would it be the old body but dead?

(Interesting side question: what happens if the polymorphed-and-then-killed person receives a reincarnate effect before the dispel?)

I would also accept an answer that can prove (most likely by including additional rules information that I had not been aware of) that my earlier interpretation of the errataed rule was incorrect and that dropping to 0 HP or death will immediately dispel the polymorph effect.

Pertinent earlier question: When true polymorphed creature dies, does it revert to its original form?

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The creature won't be raised from the dead

The spell description 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.

Therefore, if you dispel True Polymorph from a creature, or if this creature reverts being at 0 hp, it gains hit points of its true form.

Lore-wise, killing involves departure of the creature's soul, and polymorphing does not:

When a creature dies, its soul departs its body (DMG page 24, "Bringing Back the Dead")

Various resurrection spells explicitly say they bring the soul back:

the spell forms a new adult body for it and then calls the soul to enter that body. If the target's soul isn't free or willing to do so, the spell fails (Reincarnate)

If you dispel Polymorph from a corpse (which is an object, not a creature), the corpse is still a soulless corpse, since Dispel Magic is not a resurrection spell. Will it be reverted to its true form is up to the DM, but I suppose it will be — otherwise dispelling won't have any effect, but the rules say it have.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden I guess polymorphing a creature into a corpse isn't the same thing as killing it. Lorewise, killing involves departure of the creature's soul, and polymorphing does not. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor May 3 at 21:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden I think that's a different question of creature->object rather than the creature->creature you have. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 3 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden True Polymorph has different conditions for if a creature is transformed to an object, and the only clause there is "after the spell ends and it returns to its normal form." Presumably, this means that the spell lasts for the duration of one hour, and then the creature returns to normal. Since a corpse is an object, it follows this rule rather than the one quoted in the question. \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic May 3 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden The difference is that if you polymorphed a creature into a corpse, then the spell made you a corpse: dispelling it made you alive. If you polymorphed them into a mouse then killed the mouse (once the spell was permanent), then the spell made you a mouse (and something else made you dead). Dispelling the spell will make you no longer a mouse (but still dead). At least, that's the logic this answer seems to follow. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme May 4 at 5:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden sorry, didn't have my books within reach \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor May 7 at 20:55
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There is nothing to dispel, it already reverted

I disagree with the assumption that the drops to 0hp clause is removed by concentrating on the spell for the full hour duration.

True Polymorph states:

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 spell lasts until it is dispelled.

By concentrating on the spell for the full hour, you have removed the duration clause, but the remaining portion regarding what happens when reaching 0HP or death remains. There is nothing in the spell text to suggest that has been removed. Only that the one hour duration is no longer an issue.

and again under creature->creature:

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. As long as the excess damage doesn't reduce the creature's normal form to 0 hit points, it isn't knocked unconscious.

Since the duration is now lasts until dispelled due to concentrating on the spell for the full duration, it won't revert after one hour. The duration part has been resolved. My assertion is that by concentrating on the full hour, you have changed the duration from 1 hour to until dispelled, but you haven't overriden anything else. I'm hinging this almost entirely on the word lasts and how that is referencing duration and not the 0HP qualifier.

It doesn't remove the clause regarding target dropping to 0HP or death. That still remains as there is nothing that specifically overrides that.

The only piece overriden is the one hour duration.

However, there really isn't anything directly to support this other the word **lasts* being about time, and not necessarily about events.

Your situation won't occur because at the moment the polymorphed creature gets to 0 HP, it will revert back to it's original form.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 4 at 0:21

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