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Can polymorph and true polymorph alter a PC's race and sex? If a PC can be altered in such a way, can the PC speak and use his or her hands?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to make sure I've understood correctly, you're asking if you can use these spells to change a PC's race and/or sex, without changing their form completely? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Sep 4 '16 at 13:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to reopen because the question, after editing at least, is a valid one: the description of True Polymorph at least, contains guidelines for changing a target into the form of a creature that has a statistics block similar to that of a monster but not one similar to that of a PC; namely, there's a guideline for using the target's level as a comparison to the new form's challenge, but not vice versa. The hands/speech part of the question is clearly answered in the text of the spell, however. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4 '16 at 19:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why are you concerned that changing race or sex would cause inability to speak or use hands? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 5 '16 at 1:12
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Rules Stuff

Well, for starters, polymorph can only turn things into beasts. Which is to say, creatures with the beast type - so no humanoids.

As for true polymorph, well...technically, by the rules, you can only use true polymorph to turn a creature into a creature with a Challenge Rating.

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).

The target doesn't need a Challenge Rating, it can use its level - so it works on PCs. But the new form has to have a Challenge Rating, so you can't turn a PC into a PC, so to speak.

That means that, for example, turning your buddy the Human Fighter 20 into an Elf Fighter 20 isn't going to work. On the other hand, you could turn him into a Drow Elite Warrior (CR 5). So, changing a creature's race with true polymorph is possible, it's just not simple.

By the same token, you can't turn your buddy the Male Human Fighter 20 into a Female Human Fighter 20. However, (and this is why I picked drow), you could turn him into a Drow Priestess (CR 8). It's a little questionable whether this would actually change his gender, though.

The target’s game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the new form. It retains its alignment and personality.

Again, going by the rules, true polymorph replaces the game statistics of a creature with those of another creature. But there's no clear evidence that gender is a game statistic. The Monster Manual has a very long section on Statistics, and gender isn't mentioned anywhere.

Any transformation along these lines will allow the use of hands and speech.

The creature is limited in the actions it can perform by the nature of its new form, and it can’t speak, cast spells, or take any other action that requires hands or speech, unless its new form is capable of such actions.

Non-Rules Stuff

You may well have read all that and thought "That's stupid!" every step of the way. True polymorph is a 9th-level spell, up there with wish in terms of cosmos-altering power. It can turn a kraken into a crab, or a dragon into a dog.

That being the case, the easiest solution (as always) is to talk to your DM. If you say "Hey, can I use true polymorph to change race and/or gender?" then you'll get the answer that is true for your game.

Of course, if you are the DM, that doesn't help you all that much. If a player asks you this, and you're wondering what to say, well, it's up to you. I will warn you that allowing true polymorph to turn creatures into forms other than the ones with a CR and a statblock opens it up to some weird abuses and crazy shenanigans. So how you rule on this is up to you, but it might be worth having a think about how much you trust your players, and how okay you are with having this stuff in your game.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This. As a DM, I think a spell that changes a kraken into a crab can absolutely change your gender. Whether the caster gets to pick between genders is another matter. See rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/64576/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Taejang
    Jun 30 at 14:46
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https://www.sageadvice.eu/2016/05/25/would-true-polymorph-allow-someone-to-change-their-race/ theres a sage advice on the subject. Seems like it may have just been a bit of a slip in wording to me.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! You should regive the argument made in that tweet. Also note that developer tweets are not official rulings (which Sage Advice is). Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    May 3 '19 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ In addition to what the others said, Mike Mearls is not an authority on the rules, and the linked tweets in particular don't reference the rules at all - Mearls simply says "what he'd do" to handle the specified situation. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 3 '19 at 21:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ While not "official" it's still certainly a usable citation. Do please edit in the information to your answer, though, as we prefer not to have link-only posts as links go dead... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 4 '19 at 0:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ To the flaggers - Mearls or Crawford tweets, while not "official rules" are perfectly legitimate cites in an answer that carry some weight. "Not an answer" flags have been declined. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 4 '19 at 0:20

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