I'm a new player trying to learn more about how the spells really work outside of any specific game. Being a new player, I always like to argue about and find out how my and other players' actions actually work.

I was in a session, and occasionally a player cast the true polymorph spell on a teammate to turn them into a Planetar. Our DM said the spell only changes the character's body, so he would have no weapon (longsword), not even his traits: Angelic Weapons, Divine Awareness, Innate Spellcasting and his Healing Touch.

How is the true polymorph spell actually supposed to work?

  • Can I use all of the new form's skills and actions, including legendary actions? Can I use everything listed on the monster sheet?
  • If I transform myself permanently, can I level up and progress?

From what I understood about the spell, you can become a creature and play with everything and only what is described in the creature's statblock.

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The Rules Don't Say

Here's what the spell says:

The target’s game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the new form. It retains its alignment and personality.

What counts as a "game statistic"? That term is never defined, so it's up to the DM to define it.

(The 5e rules have a lot of these ambiguities, so the DM will have to get used to making these rulings as they come up.)

There's no consistent ruling about whether "game statistics" include equipment (see this question). There's also not a consistent ruling about whether "game statistics" include immunities like "immune to charmed" or abilities like "angelic weapons" or actions like "healing touch".

All of this is up to the DM and can vary from table to table.

You've also asked: "if I transform myself permanently, can I level up and progress?"

If you permanently transform into a planetar, the planetar does not have the ability to level up. The character that you used to be might still be gaining experience points, or they might not. (This, too, is up to your DM.) But the planetar won't ever get better.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The term “game’s statistic” is defined in the Monster Manual \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M yesterday

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