I’ve had more than one DM complain about the T-Rex polymorph option in 5e. They find it either too overpowered or unrealistic for the character using it to know about the creatures.
In contrast the players using it just want the fantasy of being a giant dinosaur or want to keep their spells useful to combat. Instead of outright banning the creature as some might want to do it’s much better for everyone involved if those who choose the spell and want to use it simply avoid being repetitive in the creatures they choose to turn themselves or others into.
Aka: save that T-Rex for when you most want or need it most.
But then what to be?
There are so many options and reading through them and seeking them all out across multiple books takes too much time. This blogpost will be your solution! We have read through all the available beasts and will give you the breakdown on some awesome Non-T-Rex options to use the next time you pull out that polymorph.
(For this list we chose one option from each CR available, if you really want heavy hitters skip to the end but some of these lower options offer different combat strategies that we also think would be pretty fun in practice)
CR 0. Owl
This tiny beast may not be a useful fighter but it’s advantage on perception checks and ability to use a flyby attack makes it a great option for getting in and out of an enemy camp with information that can be used to prepare your party for combat.
CR 1/8. Flying Snake
Another flyby attacker, the Flying Snake has a poisonous bite, but more importantly this dexterous critter has both a fly and swim speed in addition to a regular “walking speed”, making it great for traversing any terrain and slipping away from enemies.
CR 1/4. Giant Badger
Badgers gain perception advantages just like the Owl, but in addition they boast a Multiattack for combat and unlike other beasts have a burrowing speed. This creature is perfect for disrupting the terrain on the battlefield or finding a new means of escape for you and your party.
CR 1/2. Warhorse
The Warhorse is a large beast with the ability to trample its targets and a regular 60 feet of movement. This wouldn’t be noteworthy on its own but when used to team up with a party member as your rider you can bring the heavy hitters to their targets swiftly and easily or whisk them away to safety when things get rough.
CR 1. Giant Octopus
The perfect option for exploring underwater spaces while maintaining the ability to return to the land while in beast form. With underwater camouflage and an ink cloud ability for emergencies it is very difficult for the giant octopus to end up prisoner or lunch to any who appose it in its natural terrain.
CR 2. Giant Constrictor Snake
With a decent collection of hit points and the ability to grapple and hold down an enemy in combat the giant constrictor snake is a good option for combat against few or a single target. Even better if you want to take someone prisoner. It also boasts 10 feet of blindsight making it a good option for fighting in areas with less visibility.
CR 3. Giant Scorpion
Giant Scorpions are one of my favourite polymorph options. With a whopping 60 feet of blindsight they are great for caves and low light environments, they make up for their lower hit point amount with a decent natural armor and have a Multiattack that includes the ability to poison an enemy after dealing bludgeoning damage and potentially even locking them in a grapple.
CR 4. Stegosaurus
There are still only a few CR 4 beast options available making it difficult to choose a decent combat option. The Stegosaurus, with its huge size and decent piercing damage using its tail, seems the best so far. Its size and 20 strength would also make it useful for moving large objects with the help of a harness or rope.
CR 5. Giant Crocodile
Much like the Scorpion the Giant Crocodile has a useful Multiattack; with each of its attacks able to either grapple a target or knock them prone. Its ability to hold its breath for 30 minutes and a 50-foot swim speed also make it a great option for fighting near lakes, rivers, or other bodies of water.
CR 6. Mammoth
The Mammoth retains the trampling and stomping abilities of a warhorse while leaving behind the riding capabilities for a strong goring attack and large health pool. Its ability to knock most enemies prone and huge size make this beast a decent tank option.
CR 7. Giant Ape
One of the few beasts that can make a ranged weapon attack on an opponent while keeping a decent melee bludgeoning option. The Giant Ape has a large health pool that will keep a player alive and enough intelligence to understand and use basic communications with their companions and act accordingly making it a true team player polymorph option.
CR 8. The Huge Giant Crab (Reworked)
<- Download the Huge Giant Crab PDF for FREE here.
Traditionally the T-Rex is the only CR 8 polymorph option with any combat capabilities, if not the only option at all. With the release of The Yawning Portal came a potential new option: the Huge Giant Crab. The issue with the official version only being the fact that this beast was built with both a hinderance and a buff from a magical item stuck around one of its claws. To make it a proper polymorph option we have reimagined and rebalanced this magnificent beast as it would naturally occur without the item.
Our reworked Huge Giant Crab is a fierce contender against the top spot that the Tyrannosaurus holds, the crab boasts a higher AC and health total with lower yet still powerful attacks that can also leave a target grappled. We have our reworking available here for free to download and use in your next campaign.
Present your DM with this new resource and work together to grow your roster of polymorph options to keep your game fresh and exciting while still allowing you to feel like you’re getting all the use you can out of an awesome and powerful spell.