Most folks seem to agree that undead creatures are generally subject to the polymorph other spell (see prior poll). The 1E AD&D PHB text for the spell even gives an example of changing a mummy into a puppy dog.
In a case like this, is the resulting creature then alive, dead/undead, or something else?
I kinda feel that the description of the spell and the way it's distinguished from Polymorph Self implies that Polymorph Other is a real physical transformation, but with a "save game slot" that remembers your original form so that Dispel Magic will return you to your original state. This feeling is even stronger when I think of the AD&D version of the spell, which has the rules for whether or not the victim forgets who they are and becomes the creature they are polymorphed into.
The OD&D version of the spell also stresses the idea that the victim gets all the abilities of the new form except the mental ones. You could probably argue that spiritual abilities should be treated the same as mental abilities. So the question becomes: is "being alive" a physical ability, or a spiritual one?
Again, I say the creature is forced into the new form, including the body's ability to pump blood and regenerate cells and do whatever else alive bodies do. It's part of the physical abilities the polymorphed creature gets. Its aura or a part of its astral shadow or imprint on the universe (or whatever you'd like to call it) still is the original form and when the spell is dispelled, it returns to that form.
I'd say that you can't really determine the age of the creature you polymorph to. So, an old undead will polymorph into a very old living creature, maybe close to dying even. Polymorphing into an immortal body (like an elf's, in some settings) would make the body immortal, but the soul is not made for this. I'd probably house-rule that a human's soul in such a body would be very prone to senility or madness if forced into an undying body.
Post by howandwhy99 on Mar 29, 2023 1:40:11 GMT -6
This hews pretty close to the core of Gary's cosmology, which he carried over in different forms across multiple games.
In D&D undead are evil, no exceptions. They are powered by the negative energies of unlife. Altering the elemental inner planar building blocks of a creature appears to be what Polymorph does. 2nd ed added the ability to change non-living pieces into living ones. This was a change. Gary wanted magical animuses which he more accurately defined in later games. He wanted them to animate life. So making a clone doesn't make it alive, but you could use the Polymorph Any spell to create a clone without one.
"Verbobonkers aren't crazy. They know they are of like mind to Velunatics. But Xagyg placed his Gnarley Thumb eastward to limit contact with self-important Dyversions."
Oh, that's clever. You just found a loophole to dead characters. All you have to do is polymorph them into a puppy, and then polymorph them back into a human (or whatever your inclination). Full HP! Ha!