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This is a very specific situation. And it didn't actually happen, but I was theorizing with a friend and we couldn't agree on the outcome.

In The Wild Beyond The Witchlight campaign there are Detached Shadow creatures which have the following attack:

Strength Drain. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) necrotic damage, and the target's Strength score is reduced by 1d4. The target falls unconscious if this reduces its Strength to 0. The creature regains consciousness and the reduction to its Strength score disappears after it finishes a short or long rest.

If the following things are true:

  1. Player 1 Has cast Polymorph on Player 2 to and turned them into a Giant Ape.
  2. There are numerous Detached Shadows that have attacked Player 2 as a Giant Ape.
  3. Player 2 as the Giant Ape has dropped to 0 strength but still has HP Remaining.
  4. Player 1 has not dropped concentration on Polymorph
  5. We are playing D&D 5e

What would happen to Player 2:

  1. Player 2 would revert back to their original form.
  2. Player 2 would be knocked unconscious AS a giant ape.

The description of polymorph can be found here.

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You are an unconscious monkey ape.

This really isn't particularly ambiguous. Polymorph says you revert if one of the following happens:

  • you drop to 0 hit points
  • you die

However, strength drain says you fall unconscious, which is neither of the above things, so you are an unconscious monkey ape.

Notably, the detached shadow’s Strength Drain feature is different from the original shadow published in the Monster Manual which killed you if it reduced your strength to 0.


A note for those trying to find "detached shadow" on D&D Beyond: it is never given a stat block in print. Instead, we see, in the chapter 1 overview of the Witchlight Carnival, this in-text description:

[a] detached shadow uses the shadow stat block, except it is a Fey instead of an Undead. A creature whose Strength is reduced to 0 by the shadow’s Strength Drain attack does not die but falls unconscious instead. The creature regains consciousness and the reduction to its Strength score disappears after it finishes a short or long rest.

The D&D Beyond stat block for it is Shadow (Variant).

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    \$\begingroup\$ In the interest of keeping folks safe from enraged librarians: apes and monkeys are not the same, they'd be an unconscious ape. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jan 6, 2023 at 0:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting that in this situation, it appears that dropping polymorph would not allow Player 2 to regain consciousness, even if it would reset their strength score (I'm not sure whether it would). \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2023 at 1:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RyanC.Thompson Yes, that would appear to be correct. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2023 at 1:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RyanC.Thompson: Yeah, a literal reading of the rules would lead to that. I think most reasonable DMs would rule that the implication is that you wake up when your strength recovers, and a short rest will do that. But so will Greater Restoration (ending an effect reducing an ability score), or in this special case, dropping polymorph will also do that sooner, since the strength "damage" was only to the polymorphed form, not the true form ("set aside your character sheet"). I think that's a valid interpretation of what that description of the simple case was supposed to imply. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2023 at 10:42

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