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Consider the following scenario:

A level 20 Wizard duplicates his spellbook and hides one copy. The he casts True Polymorph on himself, becoming a Planetar Angel (the original copy of the spellbook disappears). Finally, he recovers the copy of the spellbook that he hid.

  1. Is the Angel able to use the spellbook and cast the spells he learnt as a Wizard?
  2. If so, does he have the spell slots indicated in the Planetar Angel sheet?
  3. What would change if he used Shapechange instead of True Polymorph?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a very good question. As I have tried to find an answer, it looks to have embedded in it two other pretty good questions. One of those you have already asked, about memory and prior knowledge. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 14, 2016 at 15:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the spellbook copy a necessary part of the question? Why is the wizard bothering with a copy instead of just putting down the original before True Polymorphing? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 14, 2016 at 15:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, he could also putting down the original book, if the spell is prepared \$\endgroup\$
    – firion
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the other hand, one can never be too careful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 14, 2016 at 22:05

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The ability to read and cast spells is not restricted by the new form (Planetar).

  1. To answer your second question first: Shapechange explicitly does not permit use of the new form's class levels or spell casting traits (the wizard would not accrue the innate spell casting feature of the Planetar) but the wizard

will retain the benefit of any features from your class, race or other source, and can use them provided that your new form is physically capable of doing so. (PHB p. 274-275)

The wizard can thus cast his spells. An angel/Planetar is able to cast a spell and to read. (It might be wise to hide an arcane focus with the spell book to avoid the problem of spell pouch/focus changing as well). The Planetar's spell casting without components is linked to its innate spell casting.

The planetar's spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 20). The planetar can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components ...(MM. p.17)

  1. In the True Polymorph case, the rules don't expressly forbid spells in the new form, nor do they state that prepared spells are lost, nor that they are replaced with the new form's spell casting feature. Your DM will have to rule on whether or not the Innate Spell casting feature of the Planetar, or the Arcane prepared spell casting class feature of the Wizard, will be operative while in the new form. It would be reasonable to rule that the wizard's prepared spells to remain since the polymorphed creature

retains its personality and alignment. (PHB p. 283)

... and who you are is a wizard. If the ruling was that the new form has innate spell casting of a Planetar, it would make sense that this replaced the prepared/Arcane spell casting of the wizard. (At that level, this could represent a heck of a loss if early in the spell casting day, but a real bonus if most other spells have been expended ...) The replacement of the mental statistics does not, per the spell language, necessarily change "who you are" while transformed under this spell.

... can't speak, cast spells, or take any other action that requires hands or speech unless its new form is capable of such actions.

The Planetar is capable of such actions.

Who is really in there? The Prince turned into a frog, or is that just a frog?

Note: if the wizard and a Planetar are not the same alignment (LG) this could pose another problem (that probably needs its own question). A simple approach would be that the Planetar's spells are not available -- but that depends on how your DM works with alignment at your table. Arcane spells, and the ability to use them, are not alignment dependent. The Planetar's spells, as they are innate to that creature, appear to be alignment dependent.

As angels are "formed of the divine essence of benevolent gods ... they are "the embodiment of law and good" (M p. 15)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would say if you''re Lawful Good, you're golden...though, I might allow it if you were Lawful or Good (with maybe some penalties or restrictions or a god tweak, depending on alignment [Gods can accept followers of differing alignments]--I mean you picked a Planetar, so...) \$\endgroup\$
    – David Fass
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidFass That might be a good use of alignment in this edition, yeah. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 15:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think spellcasting is alignment-dependent for angels. If you read further down in that same angels section (MM p.15), the description for fallen angels says "Fallen angels retain their power but lose their connection to the deities from which they were made". \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @smbailey It's not cut and dried, which is why I presented it the way I did after David raised that thought. I observed that probably needs its own question and you may be just the one to ask it. .😊 Also, if they fall, they are no longer the MM Planetar and may have different spells to fit their new situation. A fallen Planetar is already a DM-tailored creature ... why not change the spells/powers slightly to reflect them losing that direct conduit to their deity? (See also R A MacAvoy's Damiano trilogy for an interesting take on angels and what happens when they fall). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I've gone ahead and made that question and hit it up with a self-answer since I've already been looking into it. Feel free to jump in with the counterargument if you feel inclined. \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 23:41

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