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As title suggests, I'm wondering about the flexibility of alter self.

If a druid has alter self active and Wild Shapes into a goat, could they use the change appearance option of alter self to look like a sheep instead? What about a Medium cow?

What about if they Wild Shape into a giant spider, then alter self into an octopus?

I'm aware they wouldn't get any stat changes for any of these appearance changes.

Since I suspect this will be up to DM interpretation, a good answer may include the designer's intent in their answer, in an attempt to address my more specific questions in the question body.

The change appearance option is as follows:

Change Appearance. You transform your appearance. You decide what you look like, including your height, weight, facial features, sound of your voice, hair length, coloration, and distinguishing characteristics, if any. You can make yourself appear as a member of another race, though none of your statistics change. You also can't appear as a creature of a different size than you, and your basic shape stays the same; if you're bipedal, you can't use this spell to become quadrupedal, for instance. At any time for the duration of the spell, you can use your action to change your appearance in this way again.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is potentially one way to gain speech in wildshape. "You transform... sound of your voice" \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Mar 4 at 4:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it's definitely DM interpretation: You can’t cast spells, and your ability to speak or take any action that requires hands is limited to the capabilities of your beast form. \$\endgroup\$ – L0neGamer Mar 4 at 7:21
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I was unable to find "designer intent" for this combination, but it seems clear and valid by the rules, and no reason to over-interpret what is going on.

Key parts of Alter Self description are, in general:

While the spell lasts, you can end one option as an action to gain the benefits of a different one.

Also, specifically for the Change Appearance option:

At any time for the duration of the spell, you can use your action to change your appearance in this way again.

So, as long as your character has time to spend actions, and you follow the limitations of not changing basic body plan with Change Appearance, then the combination looks good. It could be a way for the Druid to disguise the power level of the creature that they are currently transformed to. It also gets you sub-aquatic Dire Wolf and other niche but fun combinations.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sub-aquatic Dire Wolf? Like, Wild Shape to an aquatic quadruped, the Alter Self to a Dire Wolf? \$\endgroup\$ – aaron9eee Feb 2 at 9:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @aaron9eee no, wild shape into a dire wolf, then use the aquatic adaption form of alter self. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Feb 2 at 9:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ While it is not a druid spell, moon druids get it at-will on lv14. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Feb 2 at 10:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega: Ah, I missed that. Does make it more likely that a designer has considered the combination, meaning there might be some intent written down somewhere, although I expect it is just implicit in the rules working just fine for the combination \$\endgroup\$ – Neil Slater Feb 2 at 10:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll be honest, both my DM and I assumed it was on the spell list, so thanks for bringing this up Szega. \$\endgroup\$ – L0neGamer Feb 3 at 10:24
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The spell says you can change your appearance, so it seems easy to conclude that you can change your appearance. The description even allows for you to have a different form to start with.

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