The description for Wild Shape says, "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."

How do I tell if I can retain a feature? What criteria are used to determine if a Racial Feature would still be available in a Wild Shape form?


The physical form will be your limiting condition

The Players Handbook, Page 67 states (emphasis mine):

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. However, you can’t use any o f your special senses, such as darkvision, unless your new form also has that sense.

Racial Traits that are tied to physical form requirements would not transfer to a WildShape. An example of this is the Aarakocra Trait of Flight(because wings). If you Wildshape into a beast that can't fly or doesn't have wings, your Racial Trait wouldn't transfer over.

A trait like Elf Fey Ancestry for advantage on savings throws against being Charmed and immunity to magical sleep would be something that would cross over to your Wild Shape as it has no specific physical origin.

If you are unsure or want to verify, talk about it with your DM or player. The 'physical' guideline has enough gray areas that the less obvious traits may need a table ruling.

Crawford agrees in a Sage Advice tweet:

A racial trait works with Wild Shape unless that trait requires anatomy the beast form lacks.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There are going to be lots of little cases, but the rule of thumb (or finger in that case), is pretty clear on how to judge if it applies. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 18 '17 at 20:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This ruling still leaves a lot open to interpretation. Is a Dragonborn's breath weapon some sort of magic, or is it enabled by some part of the Dragonborn physiology? Are Firbolgs able to lift more because have really big bodies, or is it because of some connection to their fey ancestry? Is the Tabaxi burst of speed due to the particular anatomy of their muscles? \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Oct 18 '17 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm based on Crawford's tweet the breath weapon is legit and the others probably are too. It's really about very specific physical origins (wings for flight, shell for defense.) But that is why I said to discuss with your DM if there's a question. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 18 '17 at 21:03
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ From the further tweets, it appears that the interpretation is that only features which specifically call out an anatomical trait are limited. This seems weird and arbitrary to me, because I doubt the writers are really considering the impact of writing something like "Cheetah-like muscles provide the tabaxi with bursts of speed" or leaving off that description. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Oct 18 '17 at 22:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Elf magical sleep immunity example isn't so obvious. Elves are immune to magical sleep because elves do not sleep, thus, isn't physically capable of sleeping. If an elf tuns into a bear, and bears are capable of sleeping, this is also a borderline case. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Oct 23 '17 at 9:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.