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Inspired by this question.

If I begin to hold my breath above water as a druid and then wild shape into an octopus, am I still holding my breath and how much longer can I hold my breath above water? Here are a number of solutions I came up with:

  1. Your breath is no longer held and you will begin suffocating if you don't breathe (which must be underwater as an octopus)

This means that the new creature must essentially breathe for the first time.

  1. Your breath is no longer held, but you begin with a single full breath.

This means that you could begin to hold your breath and will get 30 minutes due to the octopus' Hold Breath trait.

Hold Breath: While out of water, the octopus can hold its breath for 30 minutes.

  1. Your breath continues to be held carrying over to the octopus reducing the number of minutes from 30 of the breath you already held.

So if you held your breath for 2 minutes and then wild shaped you would get 28 more minutes.

  1. Your breath continues to be held carrying over to the octopus reducing the proportion of breath used from 30.

This is the least likely in my opinion as the rules make no mention of this mechanic but would mean if I hold my breath for 2 minutes and have a Constitution of 16, half of my time would be used leaving me with 15 minutes as an octopus.

A creature can hold its breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier (minimum of 30 seconds).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you started to hold your breath above water? If you're above water, you most likely don't need to hold your breath and underwater the octopus can breath. Are you asking this in the unlikely case of being in a poisonous cloud that can be avoided by holding your breath? \$\endgroup\$ – Aguinaldo Silvestre Mar 9 '18 at 10:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AguinaldoSilvestre I begin holding my breath above water and then turn into an octopus \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 9 '18 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ The help center suggests asking "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face". Can you provide more details about a situation when you actually want to do such thing? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Mar 9 '18 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor I've long been wanting to design a grappling character around the Giant Octopus wild shape but couldn't because none of my campaigns have been underwater and octopuses can't breath above water. This question is to find out if a Genasi Druid could fulfill my desire (the question linked inspired me to bring it up) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 12 '18 at 0:09
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There are no rules that cover this specifically, but you can use the movement rules as guidelines.

Characters have speed and movement. If you have a speed of 30 in your Druid, and move 30ft, then you have no more movement left. If you shapeshift into something with a speed of 50ft, you now have 20ft of movement left.

Do the same with breath. You could hold your breath for 5 minutes as a druid and spent those. Shapeshift into an octopus, and you can now hold for another 25m. Shapeshift into something that couldn't breathe above water ever, and you'd start suffocating regardless of how long you had held your breath.

TL;DR: option 3.

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