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Baleful Polymorph reads:

As beast shape III, except...

And Beast Shape III reads:

Tiny animal: ..., a -2 penalty to your Strength ...
Diminutive animal: ..., a -4 penalty to your Strength ...

Greater Restoration says:

Greater restoration also dispels all magical effects penalizing the creature’s abilities...

So my assumption was that Greater Restoration could undo Baleful Polymorph.

However, about half my gaming table disagreed. It has been brought to my attention that Baleful Polymorph can also turn someone into a Small animal, which does not use the word "penalty".

So this might imply that whether Greater Restoration's interaction might depend on the choice of animal.

So can Greater Restoration remove Baleful Polymorph, and if not, why can't it despite using the exact same verbiage (the word "penalty", in this case)? Or if it does, why would it work on targets polymorphed into Small animals?

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2 Answers 2

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Greater Restoration

works like lesser restoration except [...stuff which does not matter here...].

And Lesser Restoration :

dispels any magical effects reducing one of the subject’s ability scores [...]

If the spell somehow reduces an ability score, then Restoration (any tier) can dispel it.

But in order to be eligible, it actually has to do so. Baleful Polymorph can potentially reduce the targets ability scores, but it doesn't always do so.

When the creature is balefully polymorphed into a creature which is not tiny or diminutive, and if it succeeded at its saving throw so its INT, WIS and CHA scores are unaffected, or if it fails that throw but none of those new scores are lower than their original scores, then no ability score is reduced. That means Baleful Polymorph would not be a "magical effect reducing one of the subjects ability scores". Which means it could not be dispelled with the Restoration spell family. But if some ability score is worse because of Baleful Polymorph, then Restoration spells can dispel it.

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Baleful Polymorph is considered a curse, and while some curses specifically call out Greater Restoration (usually in conjunction with other magic) as a means to uncurse oneself, Baleful Polymorph is not one of those spells, as per the curse table here. Instead, for lack of specifics, I'd argue it'd fall back to the cures for Bestow Curse: break enchantment, limited wish, miracle, remove curse, or wish.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The description of Restoration says that it "dispel any magical effect [that does certain things]". Nothing there says that magical effects found on the curses table are exempt. The article on curses you linked says "Curses can be cured through magic, however, usually via spells such as remove curse and break enchantment". It says "such as", not "only with these two". And Bestow Curse is a completely separate spell from Baleful Polymorph with separate rules. Just because variants of either are found on the Curses table does not mean that special rules for one apply to the other. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Jun 28, 2022 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Baleful Polymorph (the spell) doesn't have the Curse subtype. An argument could be made that Remove Curse doesn't even work on it. Only Baleful Polymorph (the affliction), which can only turn people into lizards, is classified as a curse. Unlike the affliction, the spell allows a lot more freedom as to what a target is turned into. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gloweye
    Jun 29, 2022 at 11:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Gloweye That makes a lot of sense, though it begs the question why they started correlating the two then seem to have stopped partway through the process. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carduus
    Jun 30, 2022 at 12:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, it's odd. If I were DM, I'd probably let you use Remove Curse on Baleful Polymorph. But it's important to keep in mind the difference between logic and rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gloweye
    Jul 1, 2022 at 13:30

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