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Say you have an Amulet of Health +2 and you're level 10, so it's giving you 10 HP. Wild Shape says this:

Any gear worn or carried by the druid melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional.

However, Alternate Form (which what Wild Shape follows), says this:

The creature gains the physical ability scores (Str, Dex, Con) of its new form. It retains the mental ability scores (Int, Wis, Cha) of its original form. Apply any changed physical ability score modifiers in all appropriate areas with one exception: the creature retains the hit points of its original form despite any change to its Constitution.

Given that, I've got a player making the case that because HP stays fixed when you Wild Shape, it stays as it was when the item was active. That is, he keeps the +10.

It seems to make more sense to me that the Amulet would deactivate and you'd lose the bonus HP from it, and then your HP stays at whatever it would be at that point (since it's not adjusted to the CON of your new form). That is, he loses the +10. In this case, a Wildling Clasp would let the Amulet continue working and thus he'd keep the +10, which is how pretty much every other item works (and I do like consistency).

Any suggestions on which one it is?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Your player is correct; the rule says your HP stays the same so your HP stays the same. The game very rarely (and only very awkwardly) cares why a particular statistic has the value it does; it just cares what the value is. In other words, when it says the hit points of your original form, it just means before using Wild Shape, including the item (and spell effects and so on).

Note that this does not invalidate the rule that the item is melded into the character and deactivated. That still happens. The character does not have a magical enhancement bonus to Constitution while Wild Shaped, and his Constitution (for the purposes of Fortitude saves, Concentration checks, and so on) is what it would normally be for that animal.

It is despite those facts that the HP remains what it was before the Wild Shape, including the HP due to the higher Constitution that the amulet of health granted. When you Wild Shape, your Constitution changes: your new form has a different Constitution, and the amulet of health is deactivated. Nevertheless, your HP is not affected by these changes in Constitution.

If it matters to you, though, just houserule it and maybe give the player the opportunity to swap the Amulet of Health with something else if they like. You’re right that it seems odd to “benefit” from a deactivated item. And the druid is plenty powerful enough without that option.

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3  
@Tridus There isn’t really a “why” any more than there is a “should” – it’s just what the rules say. Your HP in Wild Shape is the same as your HP before Wild Shape, regardless of how your HP got to be that way. If you had 50 HP without the amulet of health, and 60 afterward, and then Wild Shaped and had bear’s endurance cast on you, you’d get 20 more HP (80 total) from the increase in Constitution. “Why?” Because the rules say so. The rules don’t always make sense, that’s why we have a DM rather than a computer running the game. Just change it; houserules are an important part of the game. –  KRyan Oct 14 '13 at 21:01
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I'm not sure that "hit points of your original form" should be interpreted to include random magical buffs not inherent to your original form. –  mxyzplk Oct 15 '13 at 2:27
    
@KRyan For what it's worth, the FAQ implies it pretty strongly: "Any changes to a wild shaped character’s Constitution score that occur after the change (such as a timely bear’s endurance spell or a Constitution-damaging poison) would have the full normal effect (including altering hit points)." A magic item deactivating would alter CON. Course, then it becomes a question of "is this a case where the FAQ is right or not?" –  Tridus Oct 16 '13 at 10:23
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@Tridus That’s not “after the change” it’s “during the change” because it’s the change that deactivates the magic item (unlike a spell or poison, which runs out or kicks in some time afterwards). The FAQ is completely right on those topics: the rules only give this special exception to HP due to Constitution change as a result of using Wild Shape, not any Constitution change at any other time or HP changes for any other reason. But at any rate, the FAQ isn’t really worth anything anyway; it’s not a rules source and the answers are frequently explicitly contradicted by the actual rules. –  KRyan Oct 16 '13 at 13:19
    
Comments are not for arguing. Please incorporate your blocks of text into your answer. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 6 at 11:37

If you use a more extreme example it becomes more apparent why the Hit-Points are retained.

Consider a 10th level Druid with with 50 hitpoints that wears an Amulet of Health +6 to get 30 more for a total of 80.

If that Druid is injured by 70 points of damage then using wildshape (your way) would kill him. He would be at -10 even with the wildshape healing him of 10 hitpoints like a night's rest.

The whole thing with keeping your original hitpoints regardless of the constitution of the form you choose was meant to prevent abuse by players. Having a Druid with Con 10 and morphing into an animal with Con 20 or higher would give you so many extra hitpoints. So they made it only affect your Fort save.

Besides if the Druid takes off his amulet, he's back at 50 hitpoints, he wildshapes into an ape (or a big cat) and then puts on the amulet again (animals have necks), well he's back at 80 hitpoints isn't he? And also a +3 Fort save. And what if he has 2 Amulets? 1 to wear as humanoid, 1 extra to wear in animal shape. He could get double hitpoint bonus.

Overall I think it's better to forget the rule that all items lose power and make a houserule that items that alter ability scores keep on functioning (so that they do not stack, ever); or at least +Con items only since it's the only ability with this problem.

He doesn't even need 2 amulets, just 1 amulet and 1 casting of Bear's Endurance. So my houserule stops that "abuse" too.

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I am pretty certain that you are correct, Tridus: ANY item that you wear before you wild shape melds into the form, effectively becoming useless - same with your armour. The exception is if your item is attached to a wildling clasp, or your armour has the wild enchantment.

Now say the character removes the item, wild shapes, then puts it back on: they get a bonus, so long as the item adapts to the new size and you can manipulate it to put it back on.

I direct you to the Master of Many Forms Bible which is the most straight forward explanation that I've found of all the ins and outs of Wild Shape.

Further, this Clever Internetter puts it all in a very eloquent and understandable way, much more than I could envisage to accomplish, and further corroborates the facts: items that confer bonuses, regardless of the bonus, do not still retain that bonus if they meld into the form (keep in mind: this is true for DnD 3.5, although I understand this is different in Pathfinder, if that was causing confusion).

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You're correct that the character loses the Con bonus, but the player is correct that he does not lose the HP. This is an exception to the rule you're citing.

Think of it this way: if the character were to Wild Shape at zero hit points, then lose 10 HP because of the Constitution change, that would bring him to -10 and he would die. Level 10 is the first point at which that becomes a problem for a +2 amulet, but it will get worse as he levels, because as he gets more HP from the amulet, the lethality threshold will go into the positive-HP territory. That shouldn't happen: Wild Shape should never, in and of itself, kill its user.

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