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So this came up in yesterday's game; the Druid, while Wildshaped into a dinosaur, rolled a 1 on his save against a Ghost's Horrifying Visage and then aged 20 years.

There was some confusion about whether this effect should go to the Wildshape, the druid himself, or both. We eventually settled on aging the dinosaur so far that it died of old age and that seemed fair enough, but I'd like to know how to handle this next time.

It seems like "age" is a statistic of the animal and it might not carry over if it's modified, but I'm not sure.

When a wildshaped Druid is affected by a Ghost, does it age the druid's true form, his Wild Shape form, or both?

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3 Answers 3

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Unclear

Wild Shape says your statistics are changed to match that of the animal you are transforming into, but 'age' is not a statistic listed anywhere in a creature's statblock, so at that point, you're out of RAW options and have to decide what RAI you use.

You can go three ways with this:

  • Age is part of the animal, this would also mean your druid can turn into elderly and baby animals, because their own age is irrelevant.
  • You turn into an animal that is proportionally your age. A child druid would turn into a child animal, an adult druid turns into an adult animal.
  • You always turn into a healthy, adult version of an animal, regardless of your own age.

If you run with option 1, I argue that the animal form is the creature that gets aged. If you run with option 2, I argue that both forms would get aged. If you go with option 3, I argue that the druid form is the one that gets aged.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter all that much because aging effects are few and far between. I've personally always used option 3, because it allows fun stuff like crippled druids who turn into animals to get working arms and legs back, but whatever you decide should be fine.

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    \$\begingroup\$ " (...) crippled druids who turn into animals to get working arms and legs back (...)" - especiallly primates for those nice and dexterous hands with opposable thumbs. Maybe even feet. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 11:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you wildshape into a bear cub? \$\endgroup\$
    – Protonflux
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 12:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Healthy is somewhat subjective. I have met healthier parapalegics than most that could walk, conditions don't get removed when you change forms. Seems somewhat weird that a popular opinion about wildshape is that it is a different creature. Although, age is based on physical form to a great degree. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's a fourth possibility: the druid chooses the age of the beast. \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 14:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Would you consider age as part of a PC"s stats? \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 14:33
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The Druid's body is not affected directly, but the GM decides if they take rollover effects

It depends on your definition of "damage" and how you view the effects of Horrifying Visage.

The description of Wild Shape states:

When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed. However, if you revert as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to your normal form.

  • If you do not consider age to be a form of damage or a status effect, the Druid suffers no ill effects from Horrifying Visage being used on them whilst in animal form.

  • If you consider aging to be a form of damage but not a status effect, you should consider how old animal form's body would have to be to die of old age and roll over additional years as damage to the Druid's body.

  • If you consider aging to be a status effect and not a form of damage, direct your attention here: Does a non-magical disease/poison effect contracted in Wild Shape carry over to the original form? The top answer suggests that the Druid's body would still suffer some aging.

An aside on the age of a Druid's animal forms

Logically it does not make sense for the animal body and the Druid's body to share the same age.

Consider a 300 year old Elf Druid. This druid would not be able to Wild Shape into a wolf because wolves cannot live to be 300 years old. This leaves the following possibilities:

  • The animal form's age scales to the age of the Druid.
  • The animal form's age is static.
  • The Druid determines the age of the animal's form.
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    \$\begingroup\$ The elf thing also highlights an issue with "age scales". Animals have different ratios of maturation from each other, just as PC race types do. It gets even weirder if you have something like a warforged druid who is effectively fully adult at moment of creation and has no max age. What would you scale against? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 19:03
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The beast is affected by aging effects.

Wild Shape (PHB 67):

Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores.

The official character sheet (PHB 317) lists Age, Personality, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. So we can safely assume that age is a game statistic which is further underlined by its mechanical importance and the conditional phrasing above.

The Ghost's Horrifying Visage targets the creature that the wildshaper assumed.

You revert to your normal form when Wild Shape ends. Your eye colour, your age, your dexterity, etc, is no longer that of the beast, but revert to the game statistics of your original form of your druid.


What happens if the beast dies due to old age?

This issue of old age, in general, is decided at the DM's discretion. I do not count ageing as creating any exessive damage, because the corpse of any creature that dies (whether of old age or not, and is not an undead) loses its nature as a creature and becomes an object (refer to DMG 246-246, especially the section about Object HP). More clearly: a character that dies of old age doesn't take damage it merely ceases to be a creature.

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