Becoming a Deity: True Polymorph (5e Optimized Character Build)
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Sitting on his throne of clouds, the deity looked down upon his people. He still remembered being like them, mortal. It made him a little more sympathetic than most deities, but now he understood the complexity of divinity. Still, some small piece of him missed the days of adventure, his old friends and family. They had died long ago of old age, but their spirits sometimes came by for a visit. He shook his head. No time for nostalgia, he had destiny to weave.
Have you ever wondered what it took to become a deity in dnd? The answer is actually pretty simple: True Polymorph. By clever manipulation of that single spell you can slowly push yourself from mortal into divine. Here's how:
Race, Ability Scores, Class
Race: This really won't be relevant once you get True Polymorph. Just pick something that increases your spellcasting modifier. Gnomes are best for wizards, and tieflings and yuan-ti are good choices for warlocks and bards. There's also some flavor if you pick forest gnome or yuan-ti since you can get some sort of "divine messenger" animal to do stuff for you.
Ability Scores: Maximize your spellcasting ability, which is Charisma or Intelligence. The other scores mostly don't matter since you get the ability sscores of the creature you turn into. However, don't think a character with Dexterity, Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom 8 can make it to 20th level easily...
Class: The first major decision you must make. Your class must be a Bard, Warlock, or Wizard. These can learn True Polymorph. The wizard has the most spells and is such optimal, (the wizard is also a great deity of magic), but a bard has features which buff their (divine) allies and is a choice that makes more sense if you want to be a god(dess) of music or beauty. College of Valor makes for a great god(dess) of war or bravery. The warlock also has some cool pact spells and other features, and a brilliant choice for many different deities, depending on the patron you choose. However, keep in mind that, beginning with a single pathetic spell slot and relying on spamming eldritch blast for quite some time, the warlock's road to level 20 can be quite bumpy.
Maximize your level: You need to maximize your level before true polymorphing yourself. This unlocks the highest CR forms you can take. It takes a long time, so be patient.
Casting off Mortality: Now it is time to choose your new form. You don't need to worry about alignment, since you retain that regardless of your form. Ideally you want to pick a form that doesn't use Legendary Actions since you can't use them and it will be weaker for you. We also need a form with workable hands (or telekinesis) and can speak to allow us to still use all our spells. They should have at least a 20 or higher in the ability score that affects our casting. Finally we want to pick a creature that doesn't die of old age. That leaves the following options:
- Pit Fiend: Easily the best form. Has over 20 in both Charisma and intelligence, making it a fantastic spell caster. Flying speed is always great. None of its CR comes from Legendary Actions, meaning you get the full power of its form. Doesn't die of old age. One downside: if you ever do actually die, you reform in the Nine Hells, a place of misery and devils. Quite a scary thought. You might be able to anchor yourself to a Clone if you're a wizard however, a clever solution to that issue.
- Balor: Same benefits as a Pit fiend but also the huge size. Better flying speed, 40 less health.
- Planetar: Great for charisma casters. Has a far better reaction from other creatures. Doesn't reform if you somehow die, not without the aid of another god. Use the Clone spell to fix that issue.
- Storm Giant Quintessance: Its advantage is that it is a huge creature that most people don't inherently think is evil.
- Ancient Brass Dragon: If you really want to be a dragon, this is the form for you. You'll need to use Clone to stay alive though. However, like most metallic dragons it can polymorph into humanoids or beasts if you want a disguise or fine manipulation.
- Intellect Devourer: You won't permanently change your form to this, instead you can temporarily change, eating a creature's brain lets you learn what it knew, including spells and languages.
To make sure you don't have any unfortunate accidents, create a series of clones for yourself. The Clone spell will effectively grant you immortality, and when paired with Demiplane and a good knowledge of how to hide things, it's fairly fool proof.
Regaining Your Magic: One downside of True Polymorph is you lose your class levels. However, do not despair. In the Dungeon Master's guide (pg.283) it talks about Creatures gaining class levels. You can start as a level 1 spell caster and begin the process of leveling up to 17. Except as a CR 16-20 monster you're going to be able to farm experience a lot faster the second time. One way to ignore this process is to cast Simulacrum -> cast Magic Jar, then possess simulacrum -> have your simulacrum True Polymorph your original body -> have your simulacrum cast Clone on your polymorphed body -> Kill your original body, then destroy the jar -> Enter your polymorphed form with all your levels (this process will also make the transformation unable to be simply dispelled), however, this method requires DM permission.
Using the Power of Creation
Creating Life: Using true polymorph, you can create life out of an object. Anything with a CR beneath 9. Using that, you could create your own race of creatures, sentient life that looks to you as their creator. Shape them to appear how you want, create enough for a stable population, then let them loose. You could even make it so they can't have offspring with anyone besides another of their kind to prevent them from breeding into obscurity. Or you could have a tiefling effect where they are either fully tiefling or the other race, no inbetweens.
Mold your Form: You can change into any creature you want. Though it would require DM permission, it isn't against the rules to alter your new form to look like your new race, just larger and "perfect". This will help with your race choosing to worship you since they can relate to your appearance at least. If lore is to be believed, it is through this worship you ascend to divinity.
First, you're now a CR 16-20 creature that is also a 20th level spell caster. You're also undying. If you were actually in the monster manual, you'd be closer to a CR 26 or higher creature at this point. You are truly unstoppable, but if you do actually manage to die, you can have back up bodies produced using the Clone spell, meaning you're basically immortal.
You've also created your own race. Either homebrewed or just a new visual of an existing race, these creatures look to you as their creator. Worship is often cited as the source of divinity in D&D, so as your race populates you will eventually gain enough of a following to become a true deity. You'll be able to grant miracles to your people indirectly now rather than using high level magic to do it. Celestial Warlocks or Bards have the advantage in this since their magic can be a bit more "divine" then a Wizards is, inspiring more worship as a result.
You've now reached Divinity. Most campaigns will end before you get to this point, but power to you if you can. The fastest way would be to hit 17, turn into a Planetar, immediately create your race, and then use as much of your time as possible to aid that race. Good luck!
Additional non-core-rule strategies
21+ transformations If the DM allows levels in prestige classes or some other way to gain more than 20 levels, you can become even stronger creatures.
- Dybbuk: similarly to the intellect devourer, this creature can learn the knowledge of controlled creatures, though this creature lets you learn that creatures skill proficiencies instead, MToF.
- Molydeus: a type of demon similar to a balor in ability, can cast high level spells and can speak abyssal letting you cast your own spells, MToF, CR 21.
- Sibriex: a demon that can speak all languages, cast spells, deals decently high damage, and can “warp” a creature, giving it the poisoned and exhausted conditions, MToF.
- Marut: A construct that can cast spells and speak, deals high damage, has high hp, is lawful neutral meaning that it isn’t seen as evil by those who know what it is, MToF, CR 25.