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A player in the campaign I am preparing to run has asked me if he could play a Ghostwise Halfling from Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide so he could mitigate not being able to communicate with the party while in Wild Shape, thus allowing him to spend more time as a beast.

My initial decision is no, because:

  1. the book states that is an extremely rare race of halfling
  2. he just wants it to min/max his character, not for any thematic or storyline value, which I have a slight problem with.

I am curious, however, if this would even work the way he thinks.

Also, am I being overbearing and unreasonable by not allowing this?

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Yes, this would work.

The ghostwise halfling's Silent Speech trait (SCAG, p. 110) says:

You can speak telepathically to any creature within 30 feet of you. The creature understands you only if the two of you share a language. You can speak telepathically in this way to one creature at a time.

The druid's Wild Shape feature says, in part:

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.

Since Silent Speech is a feature of that race, the rules very much explicitly state that it will work, unless you rule that Silent Speech involves a special sense - which would be a stretch.


As to whether you are too harsh - it's your game, but if you are worried about balance this does not seem like it is game breaking. Far from it, IMO. If there are strong story reasons to deny this combo then ban it, otherwise just let it slide. I have come to find that (in 5e, at least) most of the time players pick an option because it would be fun for them to play - not because it gives them an uber character.

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It's pretty clear by the a straight reading of the rules that this should work. I want to focus on the later part of your question,

Also, am I being overbearing and unreasonable by not allowing this?

I have experience with this both as a DM and as a player, and from both I'd encourage you to not just allow this but to encourage it.

The DM experience isn't with a druid, but has to do with party communication. I had a player who was all in on the idea that the kenku race cannot say anything new and can just repeat. This was mildly amusing for a session, but after that it mostly was frustrating for the people in the party who wanted to plan and work together. (Including, actually, the player.) In my experience, the game overall is just plain more fun when the party can communicate effectively.

As a player, I have seen the opposite side. In one game, I have a druid in a party with another character who can speak with beasts, and the DM ruled a) this works when I'm in wild shape form and b) that for simplicity we can pretend that the player is translating anything important I say for the rest of the party. The key things are: yes, as above, this makes playing more fun, but also, it's not overpowered in the way you're worried about in that it doesn't really enable me to stay in beast form longer that I would otherwise, because in practice there is almost always another good reason I can't be a giant constrictor snake in the town center.

Also: hey, this is a useful combo is a perfectly normal way to get a character concept started. Sure, it may come from a "powergamer" impulse, but even that can lead to good things. Druid is perfectly thematic for the ghostwise halfling in Forgotten Realms, but as you note their tribes are often isolated — so, your character starts out with at least one interesting thing: why are they here? That's awesome — a lot of times players have even less than that to build on.

So, rather than pushing back, I'd encourage you to say "yes! that's awesome!" and ask some leading questions to build some connections and hooks into your campaign.

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