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A wild shaping druid will often change size category -- for example, a human druid (medium size category) might change shape into a dog (small size category). The alternate form special ability on which wild shape in base simply says that the druid "gains the size of its new form" without specifying what that means. I'm trying to figure out exactly what all changes as a result.

  1. Is the Size Increases table from the section on improving monsters relevant? I suspect not, but I'm not sure.

  2. Does the druid get a bonus/penalty to their Hide skill, as per the Hide skill description?

  3. Does the druid gain a size bonus/penalty to attack, AC, and grapple per the Big and Little Creatures in Combat table?

  4. Does the druid's reach change?

The rules for this just seem to be scattered hither and yon.

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3 Answers 3

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Yes, the rules are scattered. Nevertheless, let's see what we can find out.

A Druid does not gain the bonuses to Strength, Dexterity, Constitution and Natural Armor listed on the Changes to Statistics by Size table. This is because the table is presented in the specific context of improving monsters by HD advancement. It does not apply in other contexts, such as a Druid taking the shape of another creature, or even an Animal Companion gaining bonus HD. It could be said that the Druid gains the "AC/Attack" bonus or penalty listed on the table, but that is because that column is just calculated from a table that is applicable - the Creature Size and Scale table.

The latter table is not restricted in scope as the Changes to Statistics by Size table. If I may dare say it, it is only logical that it isn't - these statistics are as basic as "Space".

Deriving from that table, we get answers to your specific questions:

  1. No, that table isn't relevant.
  2. Yes, the Druid's size modifier to hide changes.
  3. Yes, the Druid's attack, AC, and grapple modifiers change.
  4. Yes, the Druid's reach changes.

Note, however, that points 2-4 should already be factored into the statistics of the creature into which the Druid is Wild Shaping.

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Usually, you're taking on the form of something in the Monster Manual. The monster entries have already factored in the size of the creature and it's modifiers, so you don't have to worry about this. Take the Dog:

  • The AC bonus from size is already there: 15 (+1 size, +3 Dex, +1 natural). Your AC may not be identical in Dog form if you have other modifiers, but all the ones listed there apply to you in Dog form.
  • The attack/grapple bonus from size is already there, as that is how it gets a +2 with 0 BAB and +1 STR modifier. You'd replace it's +0 BAB with your own, as per the Alternate Form rules.
  • Reach is whatever the new form has, which will have its size factored in already. Note that some large creatures don't have longer reach (like the Brown Bear).
  • In the case of Hide, the skill says that the bonus is based on your size when you use it. So you would get +1 for being small. You use your own ranks, and the Dog's DEX (as it's a physical score).

The size increase table you linked to is for Improving Monsters, and is only relevant in that case. If you gain size some other way (like from Enlarge Person), you use the modifiers laid out in that effect.

So the answers are:

  1. No
  2. Yes
  3. Yes
  4. Yes, if the new form has a different reach.
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You get no benefits from the improving monsters section table from your size increase, because size-related improvements are already factored in in the stats of the animal (or other being) you're wildshaping into. Abilities and AC are usually the same of the animal, plus any other magic or item effect that further modifies them. You also get the animal's reach.

You do get bonuses to skills, grapple, and to Hit that are tied to size, just like those animals do. Since you don't get the animal's BAB, AC or skill ranks but you apply its modifiers to your base values, though, you're calculating the whole value from scratch so you need to apply those grapple/hit/hide modifiers yourself (contrapposed to Str, Dex or Con calculations where you just use the animal's).

In short, any time you're calculating any value from scratch (which you don't usually do with ability scores, sometimes do with your AC and always do with the other variables) you need to keep track of those size modifiers. If you're just using the animal's stats instead of yours, size should already be factored in.

Special case: if your original size is different from Medium pay attention to your calculations. If you're back-engineering your modifiers to AC starting from your total remember to remove your size bonuses/maluses before applying the animal's.

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