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Some dragons have the Change Shape feature. For example, the Ancient Gold Dragon's Change Shape feature reads as follows:

Change Shape. The dragon magically polymorphs into a humanoid or beast that has a challenge rating no higher than its own, or back into its true form. It reverts to its true form if it dies. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying is absorbed or borne by the new form (the dragon's choice).

In a new form, the dragon retains its alignment, hit points, Hit Dice, ability to speak, proficiencies, Legendary Resistance, lair actions, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores, as well as this action. Its statistics and capabilities are otherwise replaced by those of the new form, except any class features or legendary actions of that form.

This seems to make it eligible for the Clone spell, which reads as follows (emphasis mine):

This spell grows an inert duplicate of a living, Medium creature as a safeguard against death. This clone forms inside a sealed vessel and grows to full size and maturity after 120 days; you can also choose to have the clone be a younger version of the same creature. It remains inert and endures indefinitely, as long as its vessel remains undisturbed.

At any time after the clone matures, if the original creature dies, its soul transfers to the clone, provided that the soul is free and willing to return. The clone is physically identical to the original and has the same personality, memories, and abilities, but none of the original's equipment. The original creature's physical remains, if they still exist, become inert and can't thereafter be restored to life, since the creature's soul is elsewhere.

Now, presumably if you used Clone on a creature under the effects of True Polymorph, the spell would only clone the active layer of True Polymorph, meaning that the base creature underneath would not get cloned. However, the dragon's Change Shape feature specifically grants it the ability to transform back into its true form with an action. I suppose my confusion is just what that means for the cloned creature. Could it still turn back into its dragon-form with an action, or would its "true form" now just be its cloned form, making this action essentially useless?

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Yes; a shape-changed dragon can be cloned, and retain the ability to change back into a dragon.

When a dragon changes shape, its human form retains the ability to change shape (MONSTER MANUAL, p114). Therefore it would follow that a clone of the human form also has that ability. The Clone spell description states that the clone has the same abilities as the original (PLAYER'S HANDBOOK, p222).

An option for a possible adventure hook, if the above doesn't suit your game, would be the human clone of the dragon recruiting a group of adventurers to recover its remains. This would allow the clone to be slain, freeing its soul, and the dragon's original form to be raised from the dead or resurrected.

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The description of the spell does not specify, whether the size restriction applies to the natural size of the target (though I would guess it's implied). In the end it's up to the DM how to interpret it.

I would interpret it in the way, that Clone is not applicable here, because the clone you're creating would be a replica of the true form of the creature, and then size restrictions would not be satisfied.

However, if as a DM you want to give your players an option to clone a dragon, I would bend this part

you can also choose to have the clone be a younger version of the same creature

in the way that the clone can be a Gold Dragon Wyrmling, which is a medium-size creature and is indeed a younger version of an Ancient Gold Dragon.

However, you should notice, that one of the requirements is that the soul is free and willing to return, ie. you can't force a dragon to resurrect as a wyrmling, as they might have their own back-up options.

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It depends on whether this is a practical question at the table, or just a thought exercise.

If the former, then it's up to the GM (or player?) to choose whichever option would serve the narrative or overall game-flow better.

If it's the latter, then walking through the rules, True Polymorph is not really effective used against a natural shapechanger like a dragon. So let's assume that the dragon has polymorphed itself into a humanoid form, and then for whatever reason, Clone is cast on it while in that form.

I would interpret the description of the pre-transfer clone body as akin to a golem, a construct, simply awaiting a soul. There is an established link from the clone construct to the target, in this case the dragon, but there are spells/rituals that could put some other soul in that empty vessel.

That wouldn't change the clone body's abilities though - a clone created to belong to a human-ified dragon wouldn't suddenly gain astral powers if a celestial soul was slotted into it instead.

So if the dragon had the misfortune to end up in this humanoid-clone body, it would still retain all of its memories and "rightness" associated with its draconic form, but no longer have the natural ability to change into such a form. In truth, that dragon body is just gone, like a deleted computer file without a backup.

Having an elder dragon inadvertently stuck in a humanoid body could be very interesting to roleplay. Dragonlance probably had this come up at some point - that setting was (in)famous for dragons in human guise.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "That wouldn't change the clone body's abilities though" This is actually what was giving me pause. If you cast Clone on someone under the effects of True Polymorph, the resulting clone would just be the creature they'd TPed into, not the creature underneath (essentially making Pinocchio into a real boy). But in the dragon's case, although he has changed form into a humanoid, he's a humanoid whose statblock explicitly contains the ability to change back into a dragon, so my intuition was that this should be maintained through the Clone spell. Looking for RAW clarifications specifically. \$\endgroup\$ – Cacse Aug 23 at 3:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't looked deeply enough into high-end spellcasting in 5e to give you RAW on something like this. But honestly, unless you're writing a scenario for publication, I think whatever you/your table feel makes sense should be fine. It makes for an interesting setup either way. \$\endgroup\$ – MandisaW Aug 23 at 3:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wish at least one of the downvoters would actually come forward and say what the issue is \$\endgroup\$ – MandisaW Sep 18 at 2:00

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