After reading the Half-Dragon template in the monster manual, it became apparent that the type of the creature does not change so a brown bear which is normally a beast continues to be a beast if it is a half-dragon brown bear.

My question is, can I use the polymorph spell or a druid's wild shape to become a Half-Dragon Brown Bear? (both RAW and DM interpretations welcome).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. My understanding is that it only worked with humanoids. I'd like to see the answers to see what I think is confirmed. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Mar 4 '16 at 21:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, it clearly states it can be added to beasts, unless it was errated. \$\endgroup\$ – Lokiare Mar 4 '16 at 22:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Template states beast, humanoid, giant, or monstrosity. \$\endgroup\$ – Orvir Mar 4 '16 at 23:06

Yes but maybe not in practice

  • A druid's Wild Shape allows you to “magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before.” A half-dragon bear is a beast, but it's between you and your specific DM whether your druid has ever seen one and there's no reason to assume the answer before talking about it. Also, see the section at the end.

  • Polymorph can do any beast (not limited by what the caster has seen), so it can in theory be used to make a target into a half-dragon bear. True Polymorph isn't limited to beasts and can obviously handle them, too. However, the way it's worded depends on such a creature existing in that reality already, else it doesn't count as a “creature” to validly choose. So on that note, see the section below…

For best results, respect the DM's “character” and your fellow players’ time

Remember that just because something exists in theory doesn't mean it actually exists in a given campaign's world. Since the setting and its denizens is the DM's “character”, forcefully inserting the existence of half-dragon bears into their world may be fine, or may incite anger at your trying to take away the DM's agency.

Being the cause of an argument that derails everyone's entertainment for the evening is not a badge of pride, so to avoid any chance of a derail, talk to your DM outside of the game rather than surprising them with it in the middle of play.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm finding more and more that 5e is the "DM fix it" edition. Technically anything in the PHB, MM, or DMG is 'core' so shouldn't be considered optional unless clearly labeled so. Instead the DM is left to clean up problems like this that crop up. \$\endgroup\$ – Lokiare Mar 5 '16 at 4:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lokiare Rulings within a flexible framework of rules is a deliberate part of the design. (Rules can never cover everything that comes up in actual roleplaying game sessions, and the design team stopped pretending a game could with 5e.) If one wants a game where the DM can be cut out of the equation, 5e is probably not the desired game, no. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 5 '16 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie, that's an interesting semi-conflict, the fact that the Wizard in the team could cast Polymorph on the fighter, and now the Druid saw that Bear Half-Dragon he needed to see to polymorph with Wild Shape... \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Mar 5 '16 at 5:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lokiare I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. It is an animal and a beast—which I can say, because a non-existent thing can have any property the speaker desires to attribute to it. (In other words: no, it does need to exist in the world, living or extinct, or it can't be "a beast" or even "a creature.") \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 5 '16 at 21:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Lokiare My answer is serious and informed by my understanding of the design and written rules of the game. You might dislike the answer or the principles its based on, but it's still what I think it correct — for the reasons given in the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 7 '16 at 0:39

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