My reading of Wild Shape has always been that your Str, Dex, and Con become exactly that of the beast you shift into, as part of:

Your game Statistics are replaced by the Statistics of the beast, but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores.

Doing a straight "use what's written" approach seems to fit with the general 5E philosophies of reducing at-the-table situational modifiers and of not stacking things.

On the other hand, there are parts of shifting which aren't that simple (for example, retaining proficiencies, which can cause skill and save bonuses to be recalculated). And, there's this:

You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so.

In 5th edition, "Ability Score Increase" is explicitly a class feature. "Having increased strength" seems pretty clearly something any physical form can be physically capable of. So, do you keep these increases and add them to those of the selected beast?

I am particularly looking for official rules or rulings, including whether this is the way things should be done for Adventurer's League play. This question is about ability score increases which come from feats rather than just the Ability Score Increase class feature, but the Jeremy Crawford tweet cited is concerned with hit points, which are a different thing, and the accepted answer makes a distinction about parts of the feat only applying during leveling up, which I don't see anywhere in the actual rules.

If there's not a rules-as-written statement anywhere, I'd also be interested in something official which speaks to rules-as-intended, because allowing this doesn't seem particularly out of balance — it still takes a significant character-building option that could go to something else, and the limit of 20 still clearly would apply.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you possibly explain what you think is the difference between feat increases and ASI increases (especially since you have to forego the latter for the former in RAW assuming you use feats which are optional)? Seems to me that they are interchangeable and just like hit points which are a feature of your class based on the HD listed so too would ASI, therefore I don't see the distinction and therefore don't see the argument to keep ASI in beast form. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Oct 13, 2017 at 12:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth Maybe they are the same. I considered just adding a bounty and some comments to the other question, but I'm looking for something more solid than the other questioner was apparently satisfied with. For what it's worth, forum postings have lead me to believe that this isn't a completely out-there interpretation, so I want some formal clarity. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Oct 13, 2017 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Each race also gets an Ability Score Increase as an explicitly racial feature. If you allow the level up ASI to carry over to a Wild Shape form, wouldn't that apply to racial ASIs as well? \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2020 at 20:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @InternetHobo There's a whole 'nuther level of ambiguity there, because the wording is "features from your class, race, or other source". Classes have Class Features — including, as noted, Ability Score Improvement. However, races have Traits rather than features. So what even is a "feature from your class"? This all really really needs to be re-written for 5.5E :) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    May 17, 2020 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


The bonus of ASI is a one-time-only increase to ability scores:

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. (PHB, various pages, emphasis mine)

It is not always "on", but happens at certain points in time. After you get those levels, you are not under the effect of the ASI anymore. Thus wild shape will replace your increased scores.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't find this very convincing, because this "When you reach X level" wording is used in various other places where that interpretation doesn't make sense. For example, "When you reach 10th level, you can’t be charmed or frightened by elementals or fey". That can't possibly mean that you're only resistant to those effects right at the point in time when you level up. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Oct 13, 2017 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm That is indeed sloppy wording on their part. But if we do not consider the ASI once-only, it would also mean that you could change your choice of ability/ies to increase anytime, at will. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Oct 14, 2017 at 9:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why would that be? A lot of the other "when you reach X level" class features are clearly one-time choices, but they don't stop applying in Wild Shape. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Oct 14, 2017 at 16:11

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