The description for the druid's Wild Shape feature says, in part:

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?


2 Answers 2


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 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, then 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 an unofficial 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\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 20:05
  • 3
    \$\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
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 20:57
  • 6
    \$\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
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 22:16
  • 4
    \$\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
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 9:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast D'oh! ALthough that does fit my previous idea that there is something else to darkvision. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 15:01

When you wild shape, you are still you. Your type or race doesn't change, only your form. You just "magically assume the shape" of that animal. Spells that specifically affect beasts won't work on you per se. So the only abilities you lose are the ones tied to a specific limb or external organ of your body that the the shape you wild shaped to doesn't have.

If you are a minotaur and you turn into a bear, you cannot use your gore attacks, but if you would turn into any beast who has any piercing horn or any piercing limb (up to DM) you could still use your abilities related to your minotaur horns. For lizardfolk's natural armor, you would keep all the benefits because even though the natural armor comes from your lizard skin, there is no reason any beast's skin won't be as resistant as that.

Wild Shape is different in that sense to a polymorph since you don't fully turn yourself into the beast with Wild Shape, but rather assume the shape of it.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ What are you basing this on? The rules for Wildshape state: "Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores.", which means you do gain the creature's type and lose your race. This also implies that spells that target a Beast work on you, and those that target a Humanoid no longer will. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 7:49

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