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Given that you have three option to merge any equipment on you into your Wild Shape form:

You choose whether your equipment falls to the ground in your space, merges into your new form, or is worn by it. [pg. 67 - PHB]

as well as potentially the following line:

Equipment that merges with the form has no effect until you leave the form. [pg. 67 - PHB]

How is the weight of the merged equipment handled?

If you were potentially heavily encumbered using the Variant: Encumbrance rules [pg. 176 - PHB], would you negate this penalty temporarily by wild shaping, or is all that loot the Druid pilfered from the cave still being stored somewhere on the Druid's furry, bear body?

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1  
I'm imagining a Druid chugging some carrying capacity modifying potion and/or a giant strength potion, grabbing as much loot as he can carry, and then wild shaping into an owl and flying to the nearest town. – Dumpcats Jan 14 at 22:57
    
Please ask the question about the potion of giant strength in another question, as that's to do with the "effects of potions on creatures" question. – KorvinStarmast Jan 14 at 23:24
    
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Take the rules at face value

The simplest answer is: it becomes part of the Druid while in the Wild Shape form, and returns to its normal condition (loot, equipment, whatever) once the Druid reverts to humanoid form. It otherwise has no other impact. (As written).

Is this a potential loophole or added benefit of the Wild Shape form? Yes. Is it game breaking or unbalanced? No.

How to deal with Variant Encumbrance

The simplest way to deal with that is to not have it have any effect, since all of that stuff/loot merges into the Druid's form. (As above).

For the DM that wants it to have an impact on the Druid, due to encumbrance's penalties on humanoid form, then the same movement penalty that applies to the humanoid Druid form could be applied to the Wild Shape form.

This is a DM ruling, either way, as are most things having to do with Variant rules.

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If you want to counterbalance, make the universe force him to turn back human at the least expected times. Also, on massive damages that 0 his human hp's directly, make him fail a death save immediately by saying "your unconscious body is crushed by the fall of your stuff". But, honestly, it's not that game breaking: loot can already be pocketed in most scenarios with bags of holding. – Diego Martinoia Jan 15 at 15:29
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@DiegoMartinoia It could be a temporary badger of holding if the Druid wild shaped into a badger. – KorvinStarmast Jan 15 at 15:54
    
I upvoted the commend and the answer just because I'm basically a son-less dad when it comes to taste in jokes U_U – Diego Martinoia Jan 15 at 16:09
    
Not only is that a fantastic pun, it's one of those amazing Educational Jokes that ensures I will never forget to consider mechanic. – Blue Footed Booby Jan 15 at 20:16

In D&D 5e the words take their common English definitions:

effect

something that is produced by an agency or cause; result; consequence

Whether it weighs nothing or has its original weight or becomes a supermassive black hole is irrelevant the equipment "... has no effect."

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I'm not sure "effect" is this broad in 5e. (I know it's not that broad in 3.x.) – TuggyNE Jan 14 at 23:41
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@TuggyNE Unlike 3.Xe, 5e is written in English not Legalese. – Dale M Jan 14 at 23:47

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