Last night, the party was fighting a Purple Worm when the fighter was swallowed and became unconscious. The wizard then transformed the worm into a frog via Slimy Transmutation.

Below, the powers descriptions:

Swallow (standard, at-will)

The purple worm tries to swallow a bloodied Medium or smaller creature it is grabbing; +21 vs Fortitude; the target is swallowed.

  • The swallowed target is inside the purple worm and is dazed and restrained until it is no longer swallowed.
  • The swallowed target has line of sight and line of effect only to the purple worm
  • No creature has line of sight or line of effect to the swallowed target.
  • The only attacks the swallowed target can make are basic attacks.
  • At the start of each of the purple worm’s turns, the swallowed target takes 10 damage plus 10 acid damage.
  • When the purple worm dies, the target is no longer swallowed and can escape as a move action, appearing in the purple worm’s former space.

Slimy Transmutation: range 10, polymorph

  • Target: One Creature
  • Attack: Int vs Fortitude
  • Hit: Target turns into a tiny toad (save ends)
  • Miss: Target turns into a toad until the end of its next turn.
  • Effect: As a toad, the target is dazed, and the only actions the target can take are to move its speed or shift. Damage from any source ends effect.

What should happen to the fighter and the worm in this moment?


7 Answers 7


As a DM I'd rule that the PolymorphDDI keyword rules on changing size would apply on shrinking too.

Polymorph Polymorph powers change a creature’s physical form in some way. For instance, a polymorph power might transform a creature into a mouse. Unless otherwise noted, a creature uses the following rules when it is affected by a polymorph power.

One Polymorph at a Time: [...]

Changing Size: If a polymorph power reduces a creature’s space, the creature does not provoke opportunity attacks for leaving squares as it shrinks. If a polymorph effect would make a creature too large to fit in the available space, the effect fails against the creature, but it is stunned (save ends). Example: If Keira is crawling through a narrow tunnel and a polymorph effect tries to make her too large for the tunnel, the effect fails, but she is stunned until she saves against that effect.

Death Ends: [...]

So, I'm treating having an unshrinkable creature/object inside the worm's gullet while shrinking as Keira not being in a place that would accommodate her increased size. Thus, I'd rule that the purple worm would be not affected by the Slimy Transmutation but it become stunned (save ends) instead. This puts it in an even worse condition because it cannot move and damage received will not end this condition on its.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 I agree with this ruling. But exploding worms are just so much more fun! \$\endgroup\$
    – dpatchery
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 15:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ In reality this is not so RAW :) There's no mention about limitation on shrinking monsters. But I agree that a fighter popping out from a shrinking, ever-stretching worm is really funny. ^_^ \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 26, 2011 at 15:55
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The old debate of RAW or RoA...Rules as Written or Rules of Awesome... \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this ruling, even though it wouldn't benefit my character (the fighter) so much. Are these rules 4e? \$\endgroup\$
    – Wilerson
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wilerson - yes this is 4e. If your fighter is already unconscious stunned isn't really going to do much. However, staying inside the worm is an issue (not too many rounds till you are dead dead instead of mostly dead). \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 19:09

Large carnivorous monsters like purple worms presumably often have stuff in their stomachs. Since "slimy transmutation" isn't called "internal explosion" (i.e. shrink something large and have its stomach contents explode it from the inside), destruction of the toad is probably not the best answer. It also isn't called "vomit out all stomach contents", with rules for piles of acid-covered half-digested whatever, so I also don't think the fighter would be vomited out. Thus, the fighter will be transformed along with the rest of the stomach contents into some toad-compatible form, and then transformed back. (If the fighter has magic resistance, he then might not transform, and thus might destroy the toad from the inside and/or be vomited up, depending on how generous you are to the purple worm / toad; absent intrinsic magic resistance, however, I think he gets to go along with the rest of the stomach contents.)

However, one could rule that one could grab the toad and shake it without counting as damage, and thus recover the fighter who would return to normal form when he left the toad.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't that mean that Slimy Transmutation effected two creatures instead of one? \$\endgroup\$
    – Wilerson
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 14:17
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Wilerson - Slimy Transmutation is affecting who-knows-how-many creatures--all sorts of internal parasites, bacteria (if they exist in the game world), a gullet of little fish that have been swallowed, ticks attached to the outside, etc.. If you are a parasite or a meal, you effectively count as part of the creature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ichoran
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the idea of shaking the fighter out of the toad. We need more of that awesomeness in our gaming. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ichoran Real-world biology uses creature in a very different way than it is commonly used by RPGs. In the game's context, things like microbes do not constitute creatures, nor do things like inanimate trees and bushes, or other stuff that is biologically a living organism, but in terms of game mechanics, doesn't fill the role of a PC, ally, enemy, or animate bystander. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 1:51

These types of ideas definitely fall under the Rule of Cool. I wouldn't worry about all the issues regarding the worm's other stomach contents, or whether the power is being abused. Unless you're facing a megadungeon full of purple worms and other swallowing creatures, doing something like this won't break your game.

You don't want to trivialize the encounter, so I'd strongly recommend leaning away from the insta-kill. Nobody wants a level 1 wizard to one-shot a level 16 solo on a miss.

Encourage the player's awesome idea by giving them an awesome reward (a ton of damage) with a minor drawback (the fighter takes damage too). Here's my suggestion:

  1. The worm is forced to vomit the fighter out into a random adjacent square.
  2. The worm takes damage equal to half it's bloodied value (1/4 max hp) due to the violent transformation.
  3. The fighter takes damage equal to half her bloodied value (1/4 max hp) due to the crushing force of a purple worm shrinking around her.
  4. The worm is instantly restored to it's normal shape due to taking damage.

The same thing as if the fighter was on the back of the worm hanging on. The fighter is not part of the worm until he is digested therefore not a target of the spell. But since he was INSIDE the worm when it got shrunk you could rule that something very bad has happened to both or to just the toad. The ruling given in the comment is also reasonable as changed worm no longer occupies the same physical space as before so the Fighter is left wherever he was while in the worm stomach. If the transformation was considered instantaneous this would likely be the case.


This happened while I was playing and the wizard missed the attack. The DM decided that the fighter would be vomited. In my opinion, the fighter should take 10 ongoing acid damage (save ends).

I love the idea that the worm should take some damage from the whole process and thus have the transformation effect reversed.

I don't think the fighter should be shrunk inside the worm because the power explicitly says Target: One Creature. Also, the wizard does not have line of effect to the fighter.


EDIT: Having been advised that my answer was not particularly clear:

As far as my group was concerned, if a monster swallowed a character and was then toadified, the monster should end up as a skin-tight toad-suit around the character - instant death for the monster. The character may or may not be unharmed...I suspect a saving throw of some kind might be needed to avoid being crushed by rapidly shrinking flesh, but it hasn't come up in our group yet.

However, this is somewhat situational - if the monster was something amorphous, like a Gelatinous Cube, there would be a reasonable chance (our DM set it at 50%) that the character would simply be expelled through the side of the Cube, freeing the character but leaving the monster unharmed (apart from being a toad). In your example, the fighter would have already been halfway down the worm's throat, so I would assume it would be quite hard for the worm to expel it in time.

A suggestion that our group discarded as being absurd was that the character would end up transformed into one of the toad's inner organs. This was discarded mainly because it would entail the spell affecting more than one target, but also because we started wondering what would happen if the character became a vital organ and decided to stop working.

A related problem our group speculated upon was what would happen if the newly transformed toad was placed in a strong container that was too small for it's natural form? The rules state that you cannot polymorph something into a form too large for the area it is in, but are silent on what would happen if a polymorph wears off under those conditions, especially if there is no way the creature can move out of the restricted space. The general consensus in our group was that the creature should be pulped or shredded (depending on whether there were holes in the container - we were considering a cage), but the alternative that presents itself is an effective permanent polymorph - so long as it is in the too-small space, it cannot turn back.

I should probably note that our DM is quite fond of the Rule of Cool, and will accept many things if they are regarded as being altogether too awesome not to accept.


The worm turns (quickly) into a toad, but not instantaneously, so as it begins to shrink around the fighter, the fighter takes damage from the squeeze, and the worm takes internal damage as well. As soon as the worm begins to take damage, the spell is negated based on "Damage from any source ends effect."

This is just how I would run it, so the wizard is rewarded with damage to the worm, but not so much that he kills it. You could even have the fighter vomited afterward if you wanted, or just left him there. It might make for some funny play, if you left him and the wizard kept turning the worm to a toad, damaging both the worm and the fighter.


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