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In D&D 3.5, do wild shaping druids gain the senses of the new form?

The rules for the Alternate Form ability (on which Wild Shape is based) explicitly state that the shape-changing creature "does not gain any special qualities of its new form." And in the stat blocks in the monster manual, vision, scent, and other senses appear on the "Special Qualities" line.

So, on the face of it, it sounds like the answer is "no". But it's so bizarre that a character could turn into a wolf and not get scent that I just had to ask for clarification.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Wildshaping Druids do not, typically, gain the senses of the forms they assume.

Welcome to the abject insanity that is polymorphing in 3.5. For your specific question, the polymorph spell that Wild Shape is based on says on page 263 of the PHB:

but does not gain the extraordinary special qualities possessed by the new form (such as blindsense, fast healing, regeneration, and scent)

Polymorph, and its related effects, are generally considered poorly written and poorly balanced in D&D 3.5, and are some of the most common effects that are houseruled or banned. Most of the alternate polymorph rules that I know change Wild Shape such that Druids can get their new form's senses, but by RAW, they do not.

That said, I'm absolutely certain that there's a way to get any sense you could name onto a wild shaping Druid. 3.5 is a huge set of rules, and that sounds like the sort of thing that would make it into a supplement at some point. One way is with the Enhance Wild Shape spell, on page 82 of the Spell Compendium. It lets you add one of several bonuses to your next wild shape, one of which is all of the extraordinary abilities of that form.

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