In searching for this answer, I did come across this post that is similar, though my question is more cosmetic than functional...

The sense of Truesight states:

A monster with truesight can [...] perceive the original form of a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic.

Many dragons, such as the Ancient Bronze Dragon have the action:

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.

I've always thought of True seeing as simply seeing things as they are in this regard, as seeing the white complexion of a changeling. However, while observing this trait from the dragon, something occurred to me that seems odd:
A wyrmling is a medium size, meaning there might not be much hight difference, but an ancient dragon is Gigantic, meaning their true form would be quite massive

So trying to visualize how this would seem tends to create certain issues:

  • The size of a dragon being now smaller could fit into spaces a large dragon could not
  • If the dragon used a form with additional limbs, such as a spider, would those appear to the creature with Truesight?
  • Given the size difference, how would one aim for the dragon?

Given that, I am wondering How would Truesight work on such a creature whos size changes, such as the dragon? Would they see a tiny dragon 6-7 ft tall? or be staring into space as they talked to it?

Another example of this is a polymorphed Tyrannosaurus... Would the truesight creature gain a disadvantage on the creature's attacks, only seeing the person within?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like a lot of this answer is purely DM fiat and completely opinion based. As a DM, I'd rule it as basically seeing an "overlayed, ghostly image of the true self", probably scaled down to be properly observable in a situation as necessary; though that'd be situational. In a house? The dragon is scaled down. Outside in a field? Enormous dragon you have to crane your head up to see. Other DMs may have completely different opinions though. Regardless, you're talking about the purely cosmetic aspect, which is undefined, so... \$\endgroup\$
    – Doc
    Mar 2, 2020 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


Truesight sees both

Many animals can see into the ultraviolet. What does that look like? I have no idea because humans can’t see it, and we have no conceptual touchstone to describe what color ultraviolet is.

Similarly, I don’t know what it looks like to see the shape changed creature in both it’s changed and unchanged forms. But someone with truesight does. Truesight simply does what it says: they can perceive both at the same time, and that makes sense to them just like binocular vision makes sense to me but would be meaningless to a cow.

Let's be clear about what truesight does:

  • "see in normal and magical darkness" but doesn't allow them to tell the difference between normal and magical or that an area is dark although that can probably be deduced from the absence of light sources.

  • "see invisible creatures and objects" but would not alert them to the fact that other creatures can't see them although, again, this may be obvious from context.

  • "automatically detect visual illusions and succeed on saving throws against them" with effects that depend on the specific illusion. Most allow people who have saved to 'see-through' them while still "seeing" the illusion. Some are special, like Mirage Arcane which allows the truesight enabled to choose whether to interact with the reality or the illusion.

  • "perceive the original form of a shapechanger or a creature that is transformed by magic" so they see what everyone else sees but they "perceive" the original as well and they can tell their difference.

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB what makes you say Truesight doesn’t see illusions? The text is clear that you do see them, you just see them for what they are and you see the underlying reality. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Mar 2, 2020 at 4:03
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB, Ultraviolet doesn't change an object's color, it is a different wavelength of "light." As such, I believe Dale M's comment as to not being able to understand what UV looks like is valid. A UV camera converts UV into a visible spectrum color. I think their binocular vision comment is well put as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiger Guy
    Mar 2, 2020 at 8:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's obviously DM's fiat, but I would expect Truesight to alert users that something was invisible to others (translucent? shimmering? an aura?) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2, 2020 at 12:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @victorb the answer you linked is just one interpretation, not an absolute truth. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2, 2020 at 17:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .