This is a follow-on to:

Does a caster under the effect of a True Polymorph spell retain their class levels?

Assume we have a wizard who wants to check out a cave system where he or she can't fit through (just as an example application of this), but he isn't a Druid, so can't WildShape to a form that's useful. However, said Wizard has True Polymorph at his disposal, so he can shapeshift into something usefully-sized that way, such as a kobold.

Can the wizard elect to polymorph himself (or someone else) into another form and then grant that form class levels in Rogue (or any other class) as part of the spell, or is that something that's strictly forbidden by RAW?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the downvote? I'd appreciate knowing just what the issue you found with this question is... \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


Core Rules


From the spell description p. 283

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)

It explicitly states that creatures without challenge ratings have levels. This implies that creatures with levels do not have challenge ratings.

The spell only allows you to turn the target into a creature with a challenge rating - not a creature with levels.

For example, you can choose any of the humans in the monster manual, the priest, the assassin, the archmage etc. but you cannot choose a Human Wizard Level 19 because this creature has no challenge rating.

Optional Rules

Yes, but its not straightforward.

From p. 283 of the DMG for NPCs and Monsters with Classes respectively:

... then determine the NPC's challenge rating just as you would for a monster.

You'll need to recalculate its challenge rating as though you had designed the monster from scratch.

The older edition paradigm of CR=Level does not hold true in 5e.

It would take some considerable time to determine the CR of you Kobold + Wizard level monster and is likely to bog the game down dramatically if it happens during a session. If this is something that you want, I suggest the DM and the wizard decide on a few "go to" polymorphs and work them out in advance.

This appears to be how the Monster Manual Appendix B NPCs were assigned their CR.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This interacts rather poorly with the notion of granting NPCs class levels in order to tailor/customize them -- such a DM move (which is not at all rare IMO for heftier humanoid foes, or even some friendly NPCs) creates something with BOTH levels AND a CR, which violates your assumption of mutual exclusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 2:57
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay Or perhaps “creature” doesn't mean “individual” in the first place, and turning into “John the Zaptist, Wizard 19” is not what the spell does, but rather it turns you into “a human”. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 3:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie -- that interpretation contradicts the last paragraph of the answer we're commenting on, unfortunately. (The MM humans appendix is merely prepackaged sets of stats for some basic class levels, AFAICT.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 3:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay Indeed it does. I've been trying to find the “levelled NPCs are not the kind of creature the spell means” smoking gun, but it seems to be one of those too-obvious-to-write-down things the devs skipped (never mind that the shenanigans it would make possible otherwise are ridiculous). I wouldn't have any trouble making the case in person with my own group, but standards of evidence being what they are here I've yet to write it up. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 3:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Shalvenay Actually, they're missing a lot of the features that they would have if they had actual class levels. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 3:15


You lose the class levels of your current form, and take on all traits, including class levels, prepared spells, etc, of the new form. As far as I have seen the spell used, people often use it to turn into themselves from earlier, when they had all their spells available (or themselves form later, or 'just like me, but with more spells', etc). One of the better uses I've seen is to cast this spell first in the day and turn into yourself but with the spell and half as many hp, and make it permanent. In this case you will auto-regain all of your spells except True Polymorph as soon as you are reduced below half your real max hp. Nonetheless, you could use it to turn into a fighter, or druid, or whatever, provided their level/CR was less than or equal to yours.

Note that doing so and turning into anything other than a wizard is a terrible idea, as the spell takes concentration and if you use it for an hour or more it will become permanent (and if you turned into anything but a full caster, that's worse than death).

What you can do instead is turn your useless party members into other, better, classes permanently.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As a note, the interpretation of 'permanent' after 1 hour concentration we use is different than the interpretation presented here. That's because I disagree with that answer's reading of the text. This doesn't really impact this answer, but it impacts the consequences somewhat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 1:22

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