In this spell, one of the factors that determines the spell's final duration is "Subject is... Same or lower intelligence." What does that mean?

Obviously, if the spell turns the subject into an object, its intelligence will be lower and this will apply. Likewise, an object turned into a creature would not have this apply.

The spell can also be used to replicate the effects of baleful polymorph. As that spell can alter the target's intelligence, it either would or would not make the target's intelligence higher and the duration would or would not be affected by it, respectively.

However, when using the spell as greater polymorph, the target's intelligence is not changed by any of the spells greater polymorph can replicate. In those cases, does the final duration factor just always receive the +2 increase?

If so, wouldn't using this spell to change one mammal into another always end with a permanent duration? (+5 from same kingdom, +2 from from same class, +2 from same intelligence=9; duration permanent)

  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like you have fully examined the relevant rules already. Is there a reason you feel your reading of the spell's effect and duration is in doubt? \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Jan 30, 2020 at 8:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it's valid to question what that line is there for. If all of the spells under greater polymorph don't adjust Intelligence, then that line will almost always be in effect. It either seems more relevant than it is or is more relevant than it seems, depending on if Intelligence is modified by the spell in any case other than PaO'ing an object into a creature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jan 30, 2020 at 13:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Carcer What Ifusaso said. The end result seems off to me. I'm looking for either confirmation of my reading, or for someone to correct me. It just seems odd that that line would only apply in the cases where objects are being turned into creatures, especially when the spell is extremely insufficient in explaining exactly what happens when you turn an object into a creature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zach
    Jan 30, 2020 at 15:36

1 Answer 1


The line only applies when one side of the polymorph any object is an object

Polymorph any object allows you to turn an object into a creature, granting it 5 Intelligence if it had none before, or a creature into an object.

This spell functions like greater polymorph, except that it changes one object or creature into another. You can use this spell to transform all manner of objects and creatures into new forms—you aren't limited to transforming a living creature into another living form. The duration of the spell depends on how radical a change is made from the original state to its transmuted state. The duration is determined by using the following guidelines.

It may initially seem ambiguous if you could alter between a creature or object; luckily, this is exemplified in the table by turning a humanoid into a marionette or a sheep into a wool coat.

  • (4) (3 hours) (Human to marionette)
  • (6) (2 days) (Sheep to wool coat)

Because all interactions with objects do not qualify for greater polymorph (they only work because of the exception in polymorph any object) the list of spells (beast shape et al) are not applied and modifications to Intelligence happen.

In a sense, the modifier is a duration bonus for turning a creature into an object that does not exist when turning an object into a creature.

Ignoring the portion of polymorph any object that allows you to "duplicate the effects of" other spells, and only applying it's default mechanics, here are some use-cases: (pao = polymorph any object, gp = greater polymorph)

  • Human into Wolf
    • pao functions as gp functions as beast shape IV; no Intelligence change, +2 modifier
  • Wolf into Human
    • pao functions as gp functions as alter self; no Intelligence change, +2 modifier
  • wolf into wolf statue
    • pao acts on itself; intelligence becomes 0, +2 modifier
  • wolf statue into Wolf
    • pao acts on itself; intelligence becomes 5, no modifier

Side note, I don't believe baleful polymorph cast via polymorph any object has its duration altered. Keep an eye on this related question for more information. My belief is based on this current answer and my own interpretation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So, to be clear; You're saying that if this spell is used to turn, say, a human male into a wolf, it would not receive the +2 duration increase? Because, it says that applies when the end form has the same or lower intelligence. Nothing in the spell says that line does not apply to turning creatures into other creatures. I'm not arguing, either. I want to be sure I understand what you're saying. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zach
    Jan 30, 2020 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ A human-wolf polymorph any object would follow the rules for greater polymorph and therefore beast shape IV. This does not alter Intelligence, so it would gain the +2 point modifier. Similarly, changing them into a wolf-shaped statue would have the +2, but turning a wolf-shaped statue into a wolf would not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jan 30, 2020 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it would be unreasonable for a GM to deny the bonus for changing a wolf into a human (through polymorph any object which acts as greater polymorph which acts as alter self) but RAW, the Intelligence does not increase and wolf-human would also receive the +2 modifier. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jan 30, 2020 at 16:13

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