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When a Warforged Druid uses Wild Shape, how is its Armor Class determined?

Will the AC be based on the Warforged's Integrated Protection trait (E:RftLW, p. 36; WGtE, p. 70), or the animal's natural armor? (Or both?)

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The AC is the Beast's AC

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

What you retain does not say "you retain your armor class" or but rather: alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores. (See also the Q&A about darkvision and other physical traits)

You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the creature.

That isn't AC either.

You assume the beast’s hit points and Hit Dice.

That doesn't call out retaining the druid's non-beast AC.

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.

The standard beast - wolf, bear, giant snake, giant shark - isn't built like a warforged. It is built like a beast.

Source: Players Handbook, Druid, Wild Shape

Integrated Protection. Your body has built-in defensive layers, which can be enhanced with armor:

You gain a +1 bonus to Armor Class.

Source: Eberron, Rising from the Last War

What is true for your warforged body (race) is as true for any other race that would have their (your, to the character) elven, dwarven, halfling, or tiefling body as a druid. When you wild shape, your body is replaced by the beast's body, and the the beast's statistics replace your (the character's) usual body statistics, per the PHB description of Wild Shape, except where otherwise noted.

The description of the Warforged race includes:

Warforged are made from wood and metal, but they can feel pain and emotion. (Eberron: Rising From the Last War)

Beasts are not made from metal and wood.

Developer Commentary, if it interests you

Lead rules developer Jeremy Crawford agrees in a Sage Advice tweet:

A racial trait works with Wild Shape unless that trait requires anatomy the beast form lacks.

Rules as Fun:

If your DM thinks, as you seem to, that it would be cool for the warforged +1 AC bonus to transfer over to your wild shape, then go for it! That's a discussion you need to have with your DM as it would be a table-specific ruling.

  • Balance-wise, I don't see adding +1 to a wild shaped creature's armor class as unbalancing, given that as levels go up and beast armor class is rarely that high, the beast form will still get hit plenty.

As an aside, a beast that has been magically transformed - as a warforged was created, magically - would most likely be a creature type "monstrosity" if you look at the text in the Monster Manual regarding Monstrosities, such as the Owl Bear.

Owlbear Origins. Scholars have long debated the origins of the owlbear. The most common theory is that a demented wizard created the first specimen by crossing a giant owl with a bear. However, venerable elves claim to have known these creatures for thousands of years, and some fey insist that owlbears have always existed in the Feywild.

“The only good thing about owlbears is that the wizard who created them is probably dead. ”
— Xarshel Ravenshadow, Gnome Professor of Transmutative Science at Morgrave University

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But what happens if the character I'm making is basically a transformer? A Warforge into a Metallic Animal? \$\endgroup\$ – SilverSkylos Feb 14 at 12:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SilverSkylos What beast in D&D 5e that a Druid can wild shape into is a metalic animal? I'd suggest a review of the PHB section on the class Druid, and in the Monster Manual on what creature type is a beast. If you are doing a homebrew with your DM, then you need to ask your DM that question. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 14 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ "A racial trait works with Wild Shape unless that trait requires anatomy the beast form lacks." It sounds odd, but the racial "+1 to AC" bonus doesn't actually say anything about it requiring humanoid anatomy, which is the only thing that restricts that aspect of Wild Shape! \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Feb 14 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ It would seem to require warforged anatomy, given the descriptive text in the E:RFtLW. Warforged are made from wood and metal, but they can feel pain and emotion \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 14 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast: I get the implication. And you would assume the +1 AC is due to this. But the racial benefit doesn't say "As long as you are still made out of wood and metal you get +1 to AC". It just says "You gain +1 bonus to AC". I agree that keeping the +1 AC while wild shaped doesn't make sense in this context - but I still think RAW you would (even if not RAI)! \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Feb 14 at 13:49
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You would get +1 to Armor Class

As with Warforged, their racial skill is +1 to their armour level. As many of the Beast you can wild shape into you have a natural armour level, I would assume the racial skill would pass on.

Eberron PG 36:

Integrated Protection. Your body has built-in defensive layers, which can be enhanced with armor:

• You gain a +1 bonus to Armor Class.

You can don only armor with which you have proficiency. To don armor, you must incorporate it into your body over the course of 1 hour, during which you remain in contact with the armor. To doff armor, you must spend 1 hour removing it. You can rest while donning or doffing armor in this way.

• While you live, your armor can't be removed from your body against your will.

As the wording is "to armor class" and not "to metallic or man-made armor" it should add to beast armor.

You must be proficient with your armor. You gain all proficiencies your Beast has, they would be proficient with their own skin. I am imagining Warforged Druid to add their metallic structure underneath the skin/fur as reinforced LAYER (Wolverine style)

PHB

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.

TL:DR Warforged incorporate LAYERS of armor. It would incorporate those LAYERS in Wild Shape.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A warforged has layers of materials like metal and wood. The animal has meat and bone, materials that don't layer in the same way as metal and wood. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Feb 14 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L Who is to say that they don't incorporate those layers of wood and metal in place of bone? \$\endgroup\$ – Wartowel Feb 14 at 14:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Wartowel The rules. Beasts are not made of wood and metal (that would make them constructs, or possibly plants if entirely wood) - these are not random words, but in-game terms. Wildshape doesn't turn the druid into a warforged-beast-like-thing, it turns the druid into a beast. Could WotC have written something into the warforged race to account for this? Yes. Did they? No. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Feb 14 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.J.L. We once again see how Eberron and steam punk can be an awkward fit for the swords and sorcery genre ... \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 14 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast It's as much a fault in the mechanics as the genre. Honestly, I won't play Eberron in D&D, but I could totally see myself enjoying the Eberron setting under a different system. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Feb 14 at 14:36

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