What are the limits on "seeing" a beast in order to Wild Shape into it? Would a picture, painting, sculpture, or accurate description of the creature pass as "seeing" the creature?


2 Answers 2


Technically, no.

(But it would probably be reasonable to allow it in many cases. Ask your DM.)

The Druid's Wild Shape ability states:

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before.

The text states that you must have seen the beast, not a picture of the beast.

However, given the simplistic nature of the rule in the context of nuanced gameplay, it is very reasonable to argue that a Druid could intuit some basic information about a creature from a picture and that Wild Shape could therefore be used after seeing a picture or painting of the original creature.

After all, Wild Shape is mostly concerned with the physical attributes of the creature and Beasts have fairly straightforward, non-magical abilities. Crag Cats' spell resistance/reflection come to mind as an example of an exception that would preclude using a simple image for Wild Shape. The DM has final say in how flexible the rule can be interpreted.


The idea behind having seen it, it seems to me, is that the druid has a clear idea of the shapes, textures, dimensions and behaviour of the creature. Especially as a druid, you are attuned to the interpretation of fauna.
Based solely on a picture, some things (especially movement) could be wrongly interpreted.

Including a penalty on certain checks to account for possible mistakes of the Wild Shape could be an agreeable compromise, however.

I would rule out 'reading a description', though, simply because 'seeing' is used explicitly and exclusively in the ruleset.

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