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Does magic jar let the caster of the spell keep the features obtained by the background of the caster of the spell while the caster of the spell is inside the host body?

For example, does magic jar let you keep charlatan's false identity feature or tools proficiency or the proficiency in Deception and Sleight of Hand (all obtained by the background)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you elaborate the question a little more? Do you mean your own features or the possessed's ones? What features, for instance? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Feb 18 '18 at 13:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Now should be ok \$\endgroup\$ – user42458 Feb 18 '18 at 13:13
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You would not keep background features

Since features granted by background are not mental abilities or class features, you do not keep them. Also, generally ability score increases and proficiencies are kept separately then standard features so you could not keep proficiencies even if they were gained by a class feature (but not if you "have" proficiency). The wording matters.

Some insight from Jeremy Crawford, lead designer:

hp, which are replaced by the beast' s hp while using wild shape.

Since the qualities that are one-time benefits are replaced (anything that is a permanent buff to an attribute like HP or Strength for example), you don't get to keep them even though they are class benefits.

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No background features are kept

Magic jar does only what it says it does in its description

Once you possess a creature's body, you control it. Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the creature, though you retain your alignment and your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. You retain the benefit of your own class features. If the target has any class levels, you can't use any of its class features.

A spell only does what it says in its description. It very specifically lists what things you keep: Int, Wis, and Cha scores and class features. It does not allow anything else to be transfered.

Other abilities do allow more things

Compare this to the wild shape ability which says:

Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the creature.

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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 of your special senses, such as darkvision, unless your new form also has that sense.

It explicitly calls out skill and saving throw proficiencies and race features and a bunch of other things that can be carried over to the new form when you use wild shape. None of these are said in magic jar so none of them carry over to the new body.

Background features are not class features

Background features do not count as class features (they are not listed in the class section of the PHB, they are listed in the Backgrounds section).

Class-granted proficiencies are kept

Proficiencies are listed under "Class Features" in the PHB. So, any proficiencies that you got from your class (and class only) would be able to be carried over to the new body. Proficiencies granted for any other reason (feat, background, race) are not transferred.

Thus you do not get to keep background features in the new creature, but you are able to keep class-granted proficiencies.

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