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The true polymorph spell states:

Choose one creature or nonmagical object that you can see within range. You transform the creature into a different creature, the creature into an object, or the object into a creature (the object must be neither worn nor carried by another creature).

...

If you turn a creature into another kind of creature, the new form can be any kind you choose whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target’s (or its level, if the target doesn’t have a challenge rating). The target’s game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the new form. It retains its alignment and personality.

Emphasis mine. How should this be treated in the context of the rules, and how should it be treated differently (if at all) from other kinds of transformation, such as the polymorph and shapechange spells, and the Druid's Wild Shape feature, all of which only use the phrasings "a beast"; "any beast"; "any creature"? Is there any creature (or beast) which this spell would therefore be unable to produce which the other transformations would, or is it redundant?

What is a kind of creature, and how do I determine what options a creature has when it tries to cast this spell? Is there a way of determining what kind of creature a player character is (since the spell states that the target must turn into another kind of creature)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is usually better to update your original question than delete/ask new. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 9, 2021 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ How should who treat it in what context of which rules applied? What is "he" (your mentioned player) trying to achieve? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 9, 2021 at 17:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can the True Polymorph spell transform a creature into a custom creature? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9, 2021 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ "There is no specific situation" This is the trouble for me. If there were a specific situation, we would likely have all the details we needed to resolve that particular situation. The trouble with a question like this is that even if we came up with a somewhat satisfying answer, the details of any specific citation could invalidate what we came up with here. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9, 2021 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's fairly clear that the question is What's a valid selection for True Polymorph? That is, in the sentence "I cast True Polymorph and turn the guy into a ________", what set of nouns can fill in that blank? I know we've had questions along the lines of "Can you True Polymorph someone into Zariel?"; if that's an answerable question, then this one should be, too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Sep 9, 2021 at 21:11

1 Answer 1

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It appears to be an informal catergorisation of monsters—and possibly more.

Much of this answer comes from the content of this answer to a different question, which has been rephrased to be appropriate to this question.

Current examples of the term 'kind of creature' (or similar) include:

  • Antipathy/sympathy (PHB p. 214):

    a kind of intelligent creature, such as red dragons, goblins, or vampires

  • Locate creature (PHB p. 256):

    creature of a specific kind (such as a human or a unicorn)

  • The Protector special purpose of a sentient magic item (DMG p. 216):

    a particular race or kind of creature, such as elves or druids

  • Wand of Orcus (DMG p. 227):

    any kind of undead, not just skeletons and zombies

All emphasis mine.

From these examples, we can deduce the following:

  • Since 'intelligent' is pretty clearly a description of a creature, as opposed to part of 'intelligent creature' as a distinct term from 'creature', it follows that red dragons, goblins, and vampires and each a kind of creature.

  • Since 'undead' is a creature type, skeletons and zombies should therefore, under a less specific label, each be a kind of creature.

  • Similarly, the phasing of 'creature of a specific kind' suggests the same, if not a similar, meaning: thereofre, humans and unicorns are each a kind of creature (albeit potentially more specific).

However, at this point, we run into a problem: up until the last bullet point, every example mentioned only includes names which match closely to monster names—the series of red dragons of different ages; goblin; vampire; unicorn—but now, we have a much broader term: human. There is currently no monster entry with the name 'Human', but this example could still apply to a category of monsters—in particular, those with the 'Humanoid (human)' creature type. This would make the term divorced from name specifically—and there are at least 46 which fit this description, not including specific adventure NPCs—making this a lot less consistent an interpretation. However, note that this is supposed to be a 'specific' kind of creature—which could be taken as a different term, and in any case covers this difference.

We have another potential issue with 'druid(s)'—which can reasonably be taken to be a 'kind of creature', since 'elves' (a race) is included in the pair of examples comprising both a 'race' and 'kind' of creature—whereby 'druid(s)' can either refer to a monster of the same name or a creature with levels in the character class. This could potentially expand 'kind of creature' to refer to player characters.

However, no matter how we interpret the terms, it is clear that every listed example of 'kind of creature' could solely apply to named monster descriptions. For example, 'unicorn' has a unique listing that it could refer to. We then have one possible consistent interpretation:

'Kind of creature' may refer to a category of monsters whose names share a certain structure or term.

In any interpretation, we must have the following restriction, in response to the question about how this term interacts with a character's options when casting the spell, in order to remain consistent with the examples listed so far:

A goblin target may not be turned into another creature which is a goblin.

This is necessary because 'goblin' is listed as a 'kind of [intelligent] creature'. One could reasonably use this example to extrapolate that the target of a true polymorph spell may not be turned into a creature of the same race.

Aside from that, not much is clear.

The most general qualification to the descriptions listed in the various examples must unify race, class (if any), and whatever property being a zombie or skeleton could be.

For the purposes of differences to other transformations, they do not have the restrictions listed, while that allowed by true polymorph does.

The spells and features listed lack this restriction, with the only restrictions listed being CR or creature type. Thus, while the shapechange spell would be able to turn a goblin caster into the form of its goblin ally which has a lower level or CR, the true polymorph spell would not.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not understanding the downvotes on this answer. Could someone please comment with a suggestion or explanation? \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Sep 9, 2021 at 19:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is currently no monster entry with the name 'Human', but this example could still apply to a category of monsters. However, there are at least 46 which fit this description, not including specific adventure NPCs, so this would be a lot less sound a presumption—and this is despite the fact that this is supposed to be a 'specific' kind of creature! I am lost: are you referring to -human- or -humanoid- in this bit? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9, 2021 at 19:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think I'm missing something here. You claim that the "true polymorph" spell cannot turn a goblin into another goblin. But you also suggested that "druid" is a "kind of creature." Why aren't "Goblin" (the CR 1/4 creature in the Monster Manual, page 166) and "Goblin caster" (your term) different "kinds of creatures," if "druid" (MM p. 346) and "Commoner" (MM p. 345) are? Especially since in both cases, the creature type given in their stat blocks is identical (e.g. Commoner and Druid are both medium humanoids of any race and any alignment) . \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10, 2021 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast There are 48 monster listings with the type 'Humanoid (human)'—that's what I'm referring to: creatures which are explicitly listed as 'human'. Actually, there are 53 if you include '(human, shapechanger)', which my original search managed to miss, but the point still stands. (^: \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Sep 14, 2021 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gandalfmeansme Creature type should not be confused with the term in question here: 'druid[s]' is (by a reasonable interpretation) listed as an example for what qualifies a 'kind of creature', as is 'goblin[s]'. You're right that we have an ambiguity between 'Goblin' and [creature name containing 'goblin'] and 'goblin (race)', but I think that if we interpret the literal meaning, then any of those qualify and could be treated as such—the paragraph making that point only uses the term 'goblin', then gives a suggestion for how this could be interpreted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fie
    Sep 14, 2021 at 13:31

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