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Change Shape states the following:

Any gear worn or carried by the creature that can’t be worn or carried in its new form instead falls to the ground in its space. If the creature changes size, any gear it wears or carries that can be worn or carried in its new form changes size to match the new size. (Nonhumanoid-shaped creatures can’t wear armor designed for humanoid-shaped creatures, and viceversa.) Gear returns to normal size if dropped.

Is there any way to prevent the dropping of equipment from happening? (ie, it melds into the body instead. It doesn't matter if the gear continues to function in this new form or not.)

Edit: The change in shape would be from humanoid to something like a wolf or a raven. The new shape would not normally be able to wear the gear in question. (An example might be like vampires "Alternate Form (Su)" ability, or abilities like this)

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What creature's change shape ability concerns you, or is this a thought exercise? Most SRD creatures with the change shape ability change from human-appearing shapes into other human-appearing shapes, which makes dropping stuff not usually an issue (with only the aranea, barghest, and hound archon from the SRD having the change shape ability allowing non-humanoid forms). Also, the spell shapechange [trans] (PH 277-8) uses totally different rules despite the similarity in names. –  Hey I Can Chan Feb 15 at 2:04
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There are like a hundred different effects that can cause a character to take on the appearance and some of the abilities of a creature, and they all have slightly different rules. It is therefore very necessary that you be very specific about which one you’re talking. Druids, for example, get both Wild Shape and shapechange, which are both different from the Change Shape ability that you’re actually asking about. Therefore, I’ve edited your question to specify only Change Shape, and eliminated mentions of druids since that’s misleading (no druid class feature gives Change Shape). –  KRyan Feb 17 at 2:28
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Added a note clarifying that the change shape would involve humanoid to nonhumanoid forms. –  Shiester Feb 17 at 16:49

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By RAW, there is apparently no way to do this. The closest you can get is a Wilding Clasp (from Masters of the Wild, p. 30), but those only prevent melding in favor of wearing, they cannot prevent dropping in favor of either wearing or melding. Therefore, the only way you will be able to get this to happen is by house ruling. Personally, I strongly recommend that any campaign using such creatures (as PCs or otherwise) house rule were-shifts and other gear-falls-to-ground shapeshifts into gear-absorbs-in shifts. With NPC shifters, this dramatically cuts down on the amount of fridge logic and outright discontinuity, and with PC shifters, it saves a choice between a ton of bog-down from having to track dropped gear, or a hand-wave of such tracking, the latter pretty much amounting to this change anyway.

Another option for a less sweeping change (and one that might be more appealing to a DM who considers the dropping to be a balancing factor) is to allow a variant version of the wilding clasp that turns drops into melds instead of melds into wears. Such an item would likely have the same price as a regular Wilding Clasp.

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Discussed, a houserule seems like the best way to go on this one. Thank you all for your feedback on the question. –  Shiester Feb 19 at 0:26

Given that the only way to prevent the equipment dropping is when it can be worn or carried, it's going to depend somewhat on the form you're changing into.

The solution I can see would be to ensure that all items you don't want dropped are attached to belt loops, as pretty much any reasonable form ought to be able to continue wearing a belt. You may still have issues if you're turning into a giant worm, though.

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What equipment exactly you don't want to drop or to meld when you change shape isn't clear, but you may need a druid's satchel (Dungeon #92 103) (3,000 gp; 5 lbs.). As this is a pretty obscure item, I've excerpted it below from James Jacobs's May/June 2002 Dungeon magazine adventure "The Razing of Redshore":

Druid's Satchel: This small leather bag is fitted with a strap, allowing it to be worn over the shoulder. A druid's satchel appears large enough to hold about 5 pounds of material. In fact, it is similar to a bag of holding and can actually hold 2 cubic feet or 120 pounds of material. Even when filled, the satchel weighs only 5 pounds. When the wearer reaches into it for a specific item, that item is always on top; retrieving an item from a druid's satchel is a free action.

If the wearer assumes a different form through the use of a spell like polymorph self or an ability like wild shape, the satchel changes form to accommodate the new form chosen but is not absorbed into the new form. Its weight and the limit on its contents remain the same.

Caster Level: 5th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Leomund's secret chest, polymorph self or the ability to wild shape; Market Price: 3,000 gp; Weight: 5 lb.

(Although a Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition item, my understanding is that this item's not been reprinted so it's fair game despite being printed about 1 year before Dungeons and Dragons 3.5.)

Yes, this means if the creature assumes the form of a snake or fish, he's then a snake or a fish wearing a satchel. Somehow. Which is awesome.

Thus after putting wilding clasps on your wearable gear and wearing wild armor, keep the remainder of your stuff in satchel or two and be confident that you'll at least have quick access (a free action! like the old haversack!) to all your gear. While a fish.

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The rules are pretty clear, anything you can't wear or carry in your new form will drop to the ground. However, I suppose the problem you're grappling with here is that you can't constantly backtrack to pick up your equipment from before you changed forms.

While the most obvious solution is simply houseruling it, if you are absolutely determined to go by the rules, you could come up with a solution that works, although it is rather goofy.

Use a Wilding Clasp from the Masters of the Wild and put it on a collar, something a human and a wolf could both reasonably wear. Next attach all your other equipment to the collar with thin chains.

Now when you change forms, your collar still sits around your neck, all equipment you can't wear falls to the ground. However, it will still be attached to the item you are wearing, so you can drag it all along, as long as you can still lift it all in your new form.

People are going to be pretty darn confused about why a wolf is hauling armor around by a chain, but yeah, it'd work, rulewise.

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The problem with this is that Masters of the Wild is a 3.0 book. The 3.5 version of the Wildling Clasp in the Magic Item Compendium explicitly says "prevents the item from melding into your new form when using Wild Shape". It doesn't work with other abilities. Using a 3.0 source for an item that was changed in 3.5 is generally not acceptable. –  Tridus Feb 18 at 13:44
    
@Tridus This isn't just a 3.5 problem. The 3.0 Masters of the Wild version of the Wilding Clasp is worded the same way: only works to prevent melding in favor of wearing, not to prevent drops. –  Matthew Najmon Feb 19 at 0:16

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