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Can a Goblin Druid use its Nimble Escape ability while Wild Shaped?

Nimble Escape. You can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of your turns.

and, for Wild Shape:

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.

Being "Nimble" is synonym for "Agile". If I Wild Shape into a non-agile form, would that violate the "physically capable" clause of Wild Shape?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I may be missing something, but what do you mean by "non-agile form" – is that a game term? Or generally, do you use "agile" as a common english word? \$\endgroup\$ – J.E Dec 3 '19 at 10:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.E Assuming on the OP's behalf, but I assume "non-agile form" just refers to having Wild Shaped into a big lumbering animal not known for its agility, like comparing a wolf or a cat to something like a bear (this is where I get several comments with YouTube clips of bears pulling off really agile manoeuvres just to prove me wrong, but you get my point). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Dec 3 '19 at 10:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like one of those interesting "up to interruption" cases. Nimble Escape has no specified requirements, but maybe implied requirements. Keep in mind, this works for goblins in full plate armor without issue. PS: I'm trying to remember how I kept my dragonborn breather weapon last time I played a druid... \$\endgroup\$ – Overthinks Dec 3 '19 at 11:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Where is the Goblin Druid from? Or is it a PC goblin? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Dec 3 '19 at 13:24
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A Goblin Druid could use Nimble escape, even in a 'non-agile' form

To my mind there's two different ways of approaching this question - either way on their own is probably answer enough but I've included both for completeness.

1. Let's think about the wildshape rules:

When wildshaped, Druids:

'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.'

What examples are there of thingss that wildshaped forms are physically incapable of?

Well, while wildshaped a Druid's:

'ability to speak or take any action that requires hands is limited to the capabilities of [their] beast form'

Nimble escape does not require speech or hands, and I can't think of a wildshaped form that's completely incapable of movement, so it is, to my mind, fairly clearly unaffected.

2. Now, let's think about the rules for goblin PCs

All goblins can use Nimble escape - not just especially fast goblins, all goblins. It's a shared racial ability.

The physical stat most commonly asscociated with aglity is dexterity, and indeed Goblins are, in general, an uncommonly dextrous race - they get a +2 to dexterity racial bonus.

However, in a game where, during character creation, some groups roll player's stats, imagine if the unthinkable happened and a player rolled four 1's. They'd have a starting stat of 3 in one of their abilities. Imagine if they were playing a goblin and they chose to put that awful stat in dexterity (an unusual choice but this is a thought experiment). The racial bonus would bump them up to 5 but that's still a modifier of -3 on every dexterity roll. No one would describe that character as being especially naturally agile, goblin or not.

Even then, with a dex mod of -3, they'd still get Nimble Escape as a racial feature. There's no pre-requisite to the nimble escape feature that says 'You may only use this feature if your dexterity is 12 or higher'. They'd be able to use it because they're a goblin, regardless of how agile they were. How would you rationalise that at your table? Well that's up to you, but I'd probably describe their escape as relying more on feints and guile or clumsy luck, rather than speed.

If even a very un-agile Goblin can still use Nimble Escape, I don't see any reason why a Goblin Druid in an un-agile wildshaped form couldn't use it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The clumsy, enlarged, plate mail goblin nimbly escapes the monks around them while yell "Get on my level losers!" \$\endgroup\$ – Overthinks Dec 3 '19 at 12:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, he stumbled back in a panic, tripped over his own feet(dodging a swordcut that'd have cut his head clean off), somehow managed to turn it into a somersault, staggered a feet or so to the left, then made for the hills. ...I like to think of nimble escape as at least halfways due to a desperate fearful panic. \$\endgroup\$ – user59614 Dec 3 '19 at 14:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wonder what a DM would do if I tried to pull such a thing off while being wild-shaped into a sloth :) \$\endgroup\$ – vsz Dec 4 '19 at 8:41
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They retain Nimble Escape

Nimble Escape's description does not mention any body parts or physical qualities necessary to be physically capable of using this trait, so the goblin druid will retain use of this trait no matter what beast it turns in.

The name of the trait is not a restriction, it's just a figurative name that isn't meant to be taken litterally, unlike the trait's description. Case in point, a clumsy goblin can use Nimble Escape to stealthly approach a target.

Sage Advice Compendium spells this out for class features and spells, but as shown above this logic applies to traits as well:

Some spells and class features have figurative, not literal, names. The text of the spell or class feature explains what it does.

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