Suppose that I'm a druid, and I Wildshape into the form of a medium earth elemental (functionally the same as casting Elemental Body II). What senses do I have available to me?

Polymorph spells have a few restrictions:

Each polymorph spell can grant you a number of other benefits, including movement types, resistances, and senses. If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead. Your base speed changes to match that of the form you assume. If the form grants a swim or burrow speed, you maintain the ability to breathe if you are swimming or burrowing.
While under the effects of a polymorph spell, you lose all extraordinary and supernatural abilities that depend on your original form (such as keen senses, scent, and darkvision).[...] While most of these should be obvious, the GM is the final arbiter of what abilities depend on form and are lost when a new form is assumed. Your new form might restore a number of these abilities if they are possessed by the new form.

Elemental Body explicitly says that shifting into an earth elemental grants:

You also gain darkvision 60 feet and the ability to earth glide.


  • I have darkvision out to 60 feet (allowed by Elemental Body).

  • I assume I can see normally beyond 60 feet, because I would assume an earth elemental could.

  • Do I get tremorsense? Presumably not, because senses are called out in the description of polymorph spells, and Elemental Body does not grant it.

If I don't have tremorsense, how does earth gliding (a variant of burrowing) work?

  • If I earth glide for a couple rounds, am I still aware of the locations of other combatants? Particularly if they've moved since I submerged myself?

  • If I'm earth gliding, and there's a room in front of me, when do I become aware of it? 100 feet? 60 feet? Five feet? When I pop out of the wall?

  • Am I ever aware of room above or below me?

  • Am I ever aware of inhabitants of these rooms while still burrowed?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This related question about a druid wildshaped into an earth elemental in a wall might also be useful. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Im pretty sure you cant morph into an earth elemental with wild shape 1. It says a medium creature of the animal type. Earth elementals are not animals. This makes sense as being an earth elemental at level 1 would be extremely over powered. \$\endgroup\$
    – user11329
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 22:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @litolic I'm not quite sure where you're getting first level and "Wild Shape 1" from. This was in reference to the Wild Shape class ability of an 8th level Druid, which functions as the spell Elemental Body II does. \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @litolic You're absolutely right, of course, that a level 1 druid can't turn into an elemental using its wild shape class ability--they have to wait until level 6 for that, and level 8 for medium elementals. However I'm not familiar with the term "wild shape 1" (did you mean beast shape I?), nor do I see where anyone mentioned that the theoretical druid in question is any particular level at all. Could you clarify where the conflict is, please? \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 22:52

2 Answers 2


From reading the spell it looks like you don't get tremorsense so you're perception would be limited.

There's nothing to stop you from making perceptions checks though with some limitations. Vision is going to be largely useless except for what's directly in front of you. So with the appropriate knowledge you can determine what kind of rock/dirt/material you're in but other then that you can't determine much. Effectively you're blind with an exception of "I can see whatever my eyes are physically in contact with".

Hearing still works but I'd apply the modifiers for listening through a wall (along standard distance modifiers).

If someone is walking around in a room above/below you could also apply the DC to detect a creature burrowing beneath you.

So in summary, you're only as blind as your perception score makes you!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Theoretically, listening through a wall would be pretty different when you're a part of that wall, just as listening through a wall of water is different from listening while submerged in water. There's probably some exploration that can be done there. \$\endgroup\$
    – A. Wilson
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 15:16

If you don't get tremorsense, you can't sense anything while gliding. Look, for example, at the Earth Glider graft in Magic of Eberron: It grants Gliding, but nowhere it says you can sense anything at all while you're at it. In essence, you're going blind until you come out again.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Blind, yes. But as mirv120 points out, you can still hear (albeit poorly.) \$\endgroup\$
    – dlras2
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, he's right, I didn't think about that. But if he had posted his answer before mine, I wouldn't have posted mine :P \$\endgroup\$
    – Yandros
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I should have just edited your answer? I'm never quite sure how that should work. \$\endgroup\$
    – mirv120
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mirv120 Don't worry about it, it's fine the way it is. They're different answers, you just thought about something I didn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yandros
    Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 20:58

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