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I was wondering if it would be possible to use Polymorph to speak with any creature via Speak with Animals.

However, the spell does have a clause about:

can't speak

that really bothers me.

What if some random hostile NPC (let's call him Jerry) got hit by the Polymorph spell by a PC?

Now, Jerry is forced to become a lizard because of the PC's spell. Jerry can't speak, and the PC can't make him speak either. So one of Jerry's friends casts the Speak with Animals spell to understand Jerry. Polymorph does not allow speaking, but Speak with Animals allows the understanding of any beast. Would Jerry's friend be able to understand Jerry?

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3 Answers 3

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Yes, the spells do not contradict one another

Polymorph turns the target into a beast but makes it so that

it can't speak

Speak with animals imparts

the ability to comprehend and verbally communicate with beasts

The lizard does not have to speak to be comprehended - the point of the spell is to allow the caster to understand beasts, most of which do not have their own language. Nor does the beast have to speak to understand the caster of speak with animals. Communication can proceed via Speak with animals without violating the restrictions of polymorph. There is no conflict to resolve.

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Yes

While polymorphed, Jerry is a beast and Speak with Animals allows you to talk with beasts.

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Within limits, yes

As polymorph turns the target into a beast, and speak with animals grants the ability to communicate with beasts, the caster of the latter will be able to communicate with a polymorphed character.

However, polymorph replaces the stats block of the target with that of the beast they are changed into:

The knowledge and awareness of many beasts is limited by their intelligence, but at minimum, beasts can give you information about nearby locations and monsters, including whatever they can perceive or have perceived within the past day.

For the given example, a lizard has an intelligence of 1. That is literally as dumb as you can be under the rules. Any communication with the target would be extremely limited under those circumstances. Being able to "understand" the polymorphed character might be difficult since they wouldn't be capable of advanced thought. If the character had been changed into something with more brain power, like a giant ape, you'd be able to have a more advanced conversation.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In fact, the text of the speak with animals spell describes these limitations - you might want to cite that text. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    May 18, 2023 at 21:58

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