D&D 5E Wildshape Interactions with Weird Racial Features

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Treantmonk has an upcoming good video on racial options for the druid Wildshape feature, using the Moodruid subclass. When the video goes live on YouTube I'll try and edit this post to link to it.

There are two races he includes which are "very weird" and prone to DMs saying their key racial features are not usable while wildshaped. And I thought they were interesting enough, and flavorful enough, to bring the question to folks here and get their input. Wildshape, as a mid to higher level ability, isn't really so awesome. In fact you're often better just staying in Druid form a mid to high levels and casting spells. They're great at low levels, but falls well behind as you get to higher levels. So I am not too worried if these racial options would give them a boost in power. I am more interested in whether people would allow these things, and why or why not.

1. Changeling

Shapechanger​

As an action, you can change your appearance and your voice. You determine the specifics of the changes, including your coloration, hair length, and sex. You can also adjust your height and weight and can change your size between Medium and Small. You can make yourself appear as a member of another race, though none of your game statistics change. You can’t duplicate the appearance of an individual you’ve never seen, and you must adopt a form that has the same basic arrangement of limbs that you have. Your clothing and equipment aren’t changed by this trait.
You stay in the new form until you use an action to revert to your true form or until you die.

So, what can you do with this ability, if anything, when you're wildshaped into:

A. Cave bear (which has four legs)

B. Earth Elemental (which has two arms and two legs)

Can you use the ability at all?

If so, could you change yourself into a small dog with option A, or an a medium sized Elf with option B?

Can you change your voice to be able to speak?

Can you change yourself into something which can wear armor and/or wield weapons?

2. Plasmoid

Amorphous​

You can squeeze through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide, provided you are wearing and carrying nothing. You have advantage on ability checks you make to initiate or escape a grapple.

Shape Self​

As an action, you can reshape your body to give yourself a head, one or two arms, one or two legs, and makeshift hands and feet, or you can revert to a limbless blob. While you have a humanlike shape, you can wear clothing and armor made for a Humanoid of your size.
As a bonus action, you can extrude a pseudopod that is up to 6 inches wide and 10 feet long or reabsorb it into your body. As part of the same bonus action, you can use this pseudopod to manipulate an object, open or close a door or container, or pick up or set down a Tiny object. The pseudopod contains no sensory organs and can’t attack, activate magic items, or lift more than 10 pounds.

So, can you make yourself into a gummy bear with a bear form, and squeeze through a space as narrow as 1 inch, and have advantage on grapples?
Can you give yourself arms, legs, makeshift hands and feet while wildshaped?
Can you extrude a pseudopod while in wildshape form?

What Jeremy Crawford has said on the topic, if that's relevant to your answer:

Wild Shape lets you retain any of your racial traits that aren't specific to your normal anatomy. Fleet of Foot is a racial trait. Fleet of Foot doesn't specify anatomy, so it technically works with Wild Shape. DM's call.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
This reminds me of 3.5, when Eberron released the Warforged, and immediately I recall some hubbub about Warforged Druids and not only whether they should be able to wild shape at all, but what they should be able to wild shape into, as a Construct-adjacent race turning into a flesh and blood animal seemed very odd (magic can, of course, do this sort of thing, at least as long as Polymorph Any Object has been in the game, but a lot of people I've found seem to think that what arcane magic can do is not thematic for Druids- never no mind Shapechange is a Druid spell).

While 3e had fairly specific rules about what abilities are lost/gained with wild shape, 5e does run into a problem since races are a mix of inherent and trained abilities (though this is changing as time goes on).

While Fleet of Foot doesn't specify that it's inherent to one's form, the argument you would have to make comes down to this: are Wood Elves faster than other races because of being Wood Elves, or do all Wood Elves learn to run really fast as a result of their lifestyle?

If it's the first, obviously, Wild Shape would make you lose it. If it's the second, it would not, but it would beg the question why anybody couldn't receive training to run really fast- since unlike the fast movement of a Monk or Barbarian, which any race can acquire, Fleet of Foot allows Wood Elves to be faster than other Monks or Barbarians.

Like so much in D&D, the answer is going to be "ask your DM", as you'll find people on both sides of the fence.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Treantmonk has an upcoming good video on racial options for the druid Wildshape feature, using the Moodruid subclass. When the video goes live on YouTube I'll try and edit this post to link to it.

There are two races he includes which are "very weird" and prone to DMs saying their key racial features are not usable while wildshaped. And I thought they were interesting enough, and flavorful enough, to bring the question to folks here and get their input. Wildshape, as a mid to higher level ability, isn't really so awesome. In fact you're often better just staying in Druid form a mid to high levels and casting spells. They're great at low levels, but falls well behind as you get to higher levels. So I am not too worried if these racial options would give them a boost in power. I am more interested in whether people would allow these things, and why or why not.

1. Changeling


None of your game statistics change, so yes you can change into small dog or elf, but if oyu are an elf you can't use weapons or talk ..... and you are naked. Your attacks would remain as your wildshape regardless of what you look like.

2. Plasmoid


You can't do any of those things because of the following line in wildshape:
You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so.

The word physically in there prevents you from using plasmoid features.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
None of your game statistics change, so yes you can change into small dog or elf, but if oyu are an elf you can't use weapons or talk ..... and you are naked. Your attacks would remain as your wildshape regardless of what you look like.
Why can't you wear armor and weapons if you change your shape to be an elf? It's not an illusion, you actually change yourself. You change your voice too. Why can't you talk if you change your voice from the sounds the beast can make to the sounds an elf can make?
 

I'm pretty sure the changling's ability is physical too. If you stop being a changling you can't change self, if you changed into a changling (not with wildshape, obviously), you would gain the Change Self ability. Generally speaking, assume that racial abilities do not carry over.

But the text is clear that if an animal, e.g. a chimpanzee, is physically capable of wielding weapons, the druid can do it whilst wildshaped. And if they are a parrot, they can talk.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Wildshape
you can use your Action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before…You can revert to your normal form earlier by using a bonus Action.=>

1. You take the shape of a beast, since an elf is not a beast a Changeling attempting to take elf form would either fail or revert to ‘normal’ form and become an elf (cancelling Wildshape)
 
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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Wildshape
you can use your Action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before…You can revert to your normal form earlier by using a bonus Action.=>

1. You take the shape of a beast, since an elf is not a beast a Changeling attempting to take elf form would either fail or revert to ‘normal’ form and become an elf (cancelling Wildshape)
Why would it cancel wildshape? You did take the form of a beast. You're still the beast, your shape just changed. Much like you're still whatever race you were before, your shape just changed to be the beast - but your mental stats are all still there.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Treantmonk has an upcoming good video on racial options for the druid Wildshape feature, using the Moodruid subclass. When the video goes live on YouTube I'll try and edit this post to link to it.

There are two races he includes which are "very weird" and prone to DMs saying their key racial features are not usable while wildshaped. And I thought they were interesting enough, and flavorful enough, to bring the question to folks here and get their input. Wildshape, as a mid to higher level ability, isn't really so awesome. In fact you're often better just staying in Druid form a mid to high levels and casting spells. They're great at low levels, but falls well behind as you get to higher levels. So I am not too worried if these racial options would give them a boost in power. I am more interested in whether people would allow these things, and why or why not.

1. Changeling

Shapechanger​

As an action, you can change your appearance and your voice. You determine the specifics of the changes, including your coloration, hair length, and sex. You can also adjust your height and weight and can change your size between Medium and Small. You can make yourself appear as a member of another race, though none of your game statistics change. You can’t duplicate the appearance of an individual you’ve never seen, and you must adopt a form that has the same basic arrangement of limbs that you have. Your clothing and equipment aren’t changed by this trait.
You stay in the new form until you use an action to revert to your true form or until you die.

So, what can you do with this ability, if anything, when you're wildshaped into:

A. Cave bear (which has four legs)

B. Earth Elemental (which has two arms and two legs)

Can you use the ability at all?

If so, could you change yourself into a small dog with option A, or an a medium sized Elf with option B?

Can you change your voice to be able to speak?

Can you change yourself into something which can wear armor and/or wield weapons?
The intent behind the changeling ability seems to be one humanoid form to another. If you use another ability to change form into a non-humanoid shape, I'd say that either you lose the ability to change form, or if you use the ability you would revert back to humanoid and end the wildshape ability.
2. Plasmoid

Amorphous​

You can squeeze through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide, provided you are wearing and carrying nothing. You have advantage on ability checks you make to initiate or escape a grapple.

Shape Self​

As an action, you can reshape your body to give yourself a head, one or two arms, one or two legs, and makeshift hands and feet, or you can revert to a limbless blob. While you have a humanlike shape, you can wear clothing and armor made for a Humanoid of your size.
As a bonus action, you can extrude a pseudopod that is up to 6 inches wide and 10 feet long or reabsorb it into your body. As part of the same bonus action, you can use this pseudopod to manipulate an object, open or close a door or container, or pick up or set down a Tiny object. The pseudopod contains no sensory organs and can’t attack, activate magic items, or lift more than 10 pounds.

So, can you make yourself into a gummy bear with a bear form, and squeeze through a space as narrow as 1 inch, and have advantage on grapples?
Can you give yourself arms, legs, makeshift hands and feet while wildshaped?
Can you extrude a pseudopod while in wildshape form?
Same thing here. The reason you can do those things is that you are a plasmoid. If you turn into a bear, you are no longer a plasmoid.

That's how I would rule it and why.
 

Why would it cancel wildshape? You did take the form of a beast. You're still the beast, your shape just changed. Much like you're still whatever race you were before, your shape just changed to be the beast - but your mental stats are all still there.
But you are not a changling (which is fey) any more. So you can't use Change Self, which is not mental. If you had the ability to cast the Alter Self spell whilst in Wildshape you could change the appearance of your form, but not any of it's abilities, as per spell the description. So if you wildshaped into a bear then used alter self to turn into an elf, you would not be able to wear armour because that is not an ability the bear possesses.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
But you are not a changling (which is fey) any more. So you can't use Change Self, which is not mental. If you had the ability to cast the Alter Self spell whilst in Wildshape you could change the appearance of your form, but not any of it's abilities, as per spell the description. So if you wildshaped into a bear then used alter self to turn into an elf, you would not be able to wear armour because that is not an ability the bear possesses.
Are you suggesting you're now stuck in that altered form because you are no longer a changeling?
 

Are you suggesting you're now stuck in that altered form because you are no longer a changeling?
You are still a bear, you revert to your natural form when wildshape is cancelled. If your alter self spell was still running you would still look like and elf, but since you where actually a changeling your change self ability would work.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Why would it cancel wildshape? You did take the form of a beast. You're still the beast, your shape just changed. Much like you're still whatever race you were before, your shape just changed to be the beast - but your mental stats are all still there.
Because changelings can change into another Race not another Beast. It’s the limitation of Changelings that their alternate form is Humanoid not Beast or Elemental or Dragon.

Now an interesting question is can Changelings change into a Plasmoid or Autognome
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Because changelings can change into another Race not another Beast. It’s the limitation of Changelings that their alternate form is Humanoid not Beast or Elemental or Dragon.

Now an interesting question is can Changelings change into a Plasmoid or Autognome
Other direction. They're not using their shapechange to become a beast or elemental. They're using their shapechange to change into a race. They just happen to be wildshaped at the time they use that shapechange ability.
 

Now an interesting question is can Changelings change into a Plasmoid or Autognome
Changelings can't "change into" anything. They can "take on the appearance" of another species, but they are still changelings. It's just a disguise ability.

As for plasmoids: changelings "must adopt a form that has the same basic arrangement of limbs that you have." So, a changeling could disguise themselves as a plasmoid, but they would have to maintain a humanoid shape. Note that this rules out centaurs and thri-kreen.
 

It depends on the tone of the game. If an ooze bear or a warforged transformer dinobot won't mess up the mood, I think they're awesome. I love combining powers in interesting ways.
 

Argyle King

Legend
I asked similar questions a while back.

I would say likely no to the Plasmoid ability to squeeze through things, but possibly yes to sprouting extra limbs.

Regarding the changling: I could be convinced that -while wildshaped- appearing as a different "race" would work as being able to appear as alternate breeds of the same type of animal.
 

Clint_L

Hero
RAW are pretty straightforward here, and I would just tell the players: no. For example, as much an an amorphous plasmoid bear would be awesome, it is not what Wildshape does. You give up your species anatomical attributes when you wild shape, and since bears aren't anatomically plasmoids or changelings, they don't get to acquire plasmoid or changeling attributes from it.

To answer this question, you just have to ask yourself, "Could that beast normally do that anatomical thing? No? Then that's your answer." E.g. "Can a bear normally sprout tendrils? No? Then no."
 
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Argyle King

Legend
RAW are pretty straightforward here, and I would just tell the players: no. For example, as much an an amorphous placoid bear would be awesome, it is not what Wildshape does. You give up your species anatomical attributes when you wild shape, and since bears aren't anatomically plasmoids or changelings, they don't get to acquire plasmoid or changeling attributes from it.

To answer this question, you just have to ask yourself, "Could that beast normally do that anatomical thing? No? Then that's your answer." E.g. "Can a bear normally sprout tendrils? No? Then no."


I think it's a bit more nuanced than that.

A dragonborn druid can still use their breath weapon while in animal form.

I'm on the fence about sprouting tendrils because it's not entirely clear what the mechanism for that happening is. Squeezing through small spaces seems like a clear "no" though.
 

Clint_L

Hero
The breath weapon example is a weird ruling by Crawford that seems to be based on the idea that a breath weapon is a magical effect, not one that is produced by any particular anatomy in a Dragonborn (or a dragon, presumably). I think that is a strange idea, so I would veto it in my campaign, but that's just me.

However, it seems pretty clear that the various Plasmoid features discussed above are rooted in their plasmoid physiology, so those cases seem more straightforward. They are things a goo creature can do, not a bear.
 

Argyle King

Legend
The breath weapon example is a weird ruling by Crawford that seems to be based on the idea that a breath weapon is a magical effect, not one that is produced by any particular anatomy in a Dragonborn (or a dragon, presumably). I think that is a strange idea, so I would veto it in my campaign, but that's just me.

However, it seems pretty clear that the various Plasmoid features discussed above are rooted in their plasmoid physiology, so those cases seem more straightforward. They are things a goo creature can do, not a bear.

I agree on the squeezing not working.

I could possibly see the hands working because the mechanism by which it works could be increased control over body fluids.As a Druid maintains their mental capacity, that control may still be there. I would say no to solid hands, but I would be open to entertaining blob hands or pseudopods.

I'm of the impression that the breath weapon is said to still work because most creatures still breath.

No idea how either of those makes sense while being an elemental, but at that point it's likely by far surpassed by other things that a character can do.
 

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