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I have a question for you. The spell Conjure Woodland Beings allows the druid to conjure pixies. Pixies can cast the spell polymorph. From the Player's Handbook:

The transformation lasts for the duration, or until the target drops to 0 hit points or dies. The new form can be any beast whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target's (or the target's level, if it doesn't have a challenge rating).

Here the question occurs to me:

Is it possible to turn a level 12 player into a Tyrannosaur (CR 8) for example? I understand yes, since the player does not have a CR, consequently as the spell says its level can be taken as reference. Thank you

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    \$\begingroup\$ It seems like there are several possible questions here. (1) Does the polymorph spell work on PC's? (2) Can a druid choose to conjure specifically pixies to get them to cast polymorph? (3) Does the polymorph cast by pixies work the same as the PC spell? (4) IF pixies are conjured, can the Druid command them to cast polymorph? Can you provide a clearer statement of what you are actually having trouble understanding? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 23, 2022 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ But where are my manners? Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 23, 2022 at 17:56

3 Answers 3

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If the DM allows the pixies, it works as described.

If the DM permits the pixies, this is quite straightforward. The pixies can cast polymorph, and since they obey your commands, you can tell them who to polymorph into what, according to the limitations provided in the description of polymorph, as you describe in your question. However, there is an important caveat here:

The DM decides what creatures are conjured.

This is addressed in the Sage Advice Compendium:

When you cast a spell like conjure woodland beings, does the spellcaster or the DM choose the creatures that are conjured?

Some spells of this sort specify that the spellcaster chooses the creature conjured. Other spells of this sort let the spellcaster choose from among several broad options.

The design intent for options like these is that the spellcaster chooses one of them, and then the DM decides what creatures appear that fit the chosen option. A spellcaster can certainly express a preference for what creatures shows up, but it’s up to the DM to determine if they do. The DM will often choose creatures that are appropriate for the campaign and that will be fun to introduce in a scene.

So for this to work, the DM has to permit the summoning of the pixies. Every DM I have tried this with has not allowed this because of how obscenely powerful it is, and I've forbidden it before in my own games. So the important thing here is:

Ask your DM about this before you try it in play.

This is the sort of unbalancing loop hole that DMs really like to be briefed on before they come up in the game. Again, this combo is obscenely powerful for what it costs, and it can be a source of sore feelings when it is a surprise. Once the party planned their assault of a chapter villain around summoning pixies and polymorphing the whole party into a gang of giant apes, while assuming that the caster was allowed to choose. They didn't tell me, the DM, of their plans, and had never used conjure woodland beings before. When the moment came, the druid declared:

I use conjure woodland beings to summon eight pixies!

I took the wind out of their sails when I informed them that they didn't get to pick, and I would be choosing randomly which sort of creature appeared:

You don't get to choose, it's up to me, and I like to determine it randomly. Do you still want to cast the spell, or do you want to take a mulligan?

The druid decided to take the one in four chance for pixies, and ended up with a pack of rabid blink dogs. The dogs still helped, but all of their eggs were in the basket of giant apes, and the druid was pretty salty about the plan not working out, and improvising their way through the fight made it far more difficult than they were expecting.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Or do you want to take a mulligan" — sounds like you are all MtG players, too. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2022 at 6:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ For future readers looking for more opinions / ways to handle Conjure Woodland Beings without it being game-breaking, the Dungeon Dudes have done some videos with thoughtful discussions pointing out what the rules say, and the "talk to the DM first" aspect before trying something cheesy like that. timestamped links: Five Gamebreaking Spells in D&D 5e (and how to handle them) / Ten Commonly Banned Spells in Dungeons and Dragons 5e - with some ideas like just disallowing pixies, or not letting them cast polymorph. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2022 at 7:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Big shout out to the rabid blink dogs, and all of their eggs in the ape basket! Your campaign sounds fun! \$\endgroup\$
    – Willk
    Nov 23, 2022 at 19:58
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Yes, you can turn a level 12 character into a T-Rex

You cite the correct text from polymorph

The new form can be any beast whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target's (or the target's level, if it doesn't have a challenge rating)

The character as a target of the spell does not have a CR, so you use its level. The CR of the T-Rex is 8, equal or less to that level of 12. So you can turn the character into a T-Rex.

Please note that the DM gets to decide what kind of fey you summon with conjure woodland beings. As the player, you only can decide the number and maximal challenge rating of the fey creatures you want, the DM decides the actual creatures to appear -- for example they could have sprites appear instead of pixies. If you get pixies however, then you can have them polymorph the character.

If you are wondering how a CR 1/4 pixie from conjure woodland beings could be able to create a monster that is that much more powerful than itself — it doesn't, it is merely transforming one creature that is already powerful into another. The power issue with conjure woodland beings is more that you can generate a lot of actions with 8 creatures, and that with pixies you get 8 level 4 polymorph spells by casting a single level 4 spell. That is the reason some DMs may be careful about giving you pixies with it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You've missed a crucial piece of how this works: the caster of CWB does not get to decide what creatures appear. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2022 at 18:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is not the question. The question is about if you can transform with polymorph. But I agree, probably useful to add. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2022 at 18:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ The very realistic possibility that a DM stops this before it even starts is an important piece of information that should be a part of any answer to this question. The question does not say "assuming the DM allows you to summon pixies at all", instead, the question seems to assume the caster just gets to choose, which is an incorrect assumption. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2022 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, it is a useful bit of information, even if it is not the question that is being asked. I already added it. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2022 at 19:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Most DMs do let you choose in my experience, they just forbid pixies. Pointing out clear abuse is useful, always going on about DM choosing is less so and isn't really the issue. The issue is the abuse. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 22, 2022 at 20:07
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Yes, but it might be short-lived.

Conjure Woodland Beings requires concentration, and the conjured fey disappear when the spell ends. The target's game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the chosen beast. Polymorph requires concentration (by the fey), and the polymorphed creature returns to its normal form when the spell ends.

However, there's nothing that says a tyrannosaur can't concentrate, even if they can't spellcast. In fact, the game-makers have spoken on this! Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford are members of the rules design team at WotC.

So even though a tyrannosaur doesn't have spellcasting, it won't immediately lose concentration on Conjure Woodland Beings, causing the fey to disappear, causing the Polymorph effect to end. It is subject to the same concentration rules as before, only using a different Constitution score and set of Proficiencies. Tyrannosaurs have no proficiency in any Saving Throws, but luckily, they have a decent +4 Constitution bonus to their Concentration (CON) saving throw.

Also, that Pixie concentrating on the Polymorph spell has only 1 HP, and they take turns on their own initiative, giving your opponents time between the spell and your first NOM-NOM-NOM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like you are assuming that the polymorph will end when the pixies disappear. You might want to make your basis for this assumption more explicit, since it isn't necessarily that they would not be able to maintain concentration on the spell after returning to where they were conjured from (presumably the Feywild). \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Nov 23, 2022 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's an interesting point, and one that brings the issue of RAW vs. RAI even further into the light than the original post. Does any effectiveness of a summon spell extend beyond the disappearance of the summoned creature? Does their willingness to aid you, or your control over them extend to the length of a spell's Concentration? \$\endgroup\$
    – Feygon
    Nov 26, 2022 at 2:21

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