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In search of the elusive Stench Kow...

In Volo's Guide to Monsters there is small appendix allocated to "Assorted Beasts", which includes the Cow and variants: Ox, Rothé and Stench Kow (VGtM, pp.207-208).

In the description of the Stench Kow it says that they are native to the Lower Planes.

I would love to be able to wildshape into one and stink out the place, but in our campaign we have to "see" an animal before we can transform into it. So, my question is how do I get to "see" a Stench Kow so I can transform into one.

Do I have to be able to travel to the Lower Planes? Can I bring one into the Material Plane somehow? Or are there any other ways to get a glimpse of this magnificent beast?!

I would appreciate suggestions and out-of-the-box thinking on this.

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You'll need to talk to your DM

Unfortunately, what monsters are in the game you're playing and which you're exposed to or even have general knowledge about is entirely up to the DM. You can say that as a player you've found this thing and you'd like it as a wildshape option, but they may not want you to have it for some reason or another.

If they are okay with it, then it's still up to them to figure out when to provide it.

How they choose to do so is also up to them.

Casting polymorph

Assuming that you or someone else in your party knows of these beasts, they could polymorph into one and then you can study and wildshape.

Note that this still requires DM to say that stench kows are known enough to for a caster to use.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As a DM I give out "having seen X" for the purpose of wildshape pretty freely. So just asking your DM if you could have seen it some years back in your life would go well at my table at least, just talk to your DM \$\endgroup\$ – Hobbamok Mar 10 '20 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hobbamok I've always been pretty flexible too. If my player can give a reasonable explanation of how/why/when they might have seen a creature, I'll typically allow it. I also generally give out most "basic" beasts without the need for explanation (fair to assume the vast majority of adventurers have seen bears, wolves, spiders, etc). But some DMs are much more strict about it. Definitely talk to your DM - they may allow it outright, or may give you a way to gain access to it. \$\endgroup\$ – Doc Mar 10 '20 at 16:09
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Polymorph your friend into one

The 4th-level spell polymorph gives the following restrictions:

The new form can be any beast whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target's

Polymorph does not contain the same restrictions as Wild Shape on beasts you've seen; you can choose any beast of the appropriate CR. Once your friend is a Stench Kow, you can look at them, thus learning how to turn into one yourself using Wild Shape.

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You could try casting the third-level spell conjure animals:

You summon fey spirits that take the form of beasts and appear in unoccupied spaces that you can see within range. Choose one of the following options for what appears:

  • One beast of challenge rating 2 or lower
  • Two beasts of challenge rating 1 or lower
  • Four beasts of challenge rating 1/2 or lower
  • Eight beasts of challenge rating 1/4 or lower

Each beast is also considered fey, and it disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.

The "stench kow" is a beast which has a challenge rating 1/4, so it qualifies to be summoned by this spell.

The catch is that the spell doesn't specify who decides what beasts you get, and Sage Advice tells us that the DM is allowed to decide. If your DM isn't feeling friendly, they could narrate that you get some other beasts instead of the beasts you were hoping for. (They might narrate that the beasts that show up are beasts that would be native to the area.)

So: lay out a circle of stinkweed and durian and whatever else you've got that you think would be attractive to stench kows, then cast your spell and hope for the best.

If conjure animals doesn't work, in theory you could also find a high-level cleric friend to cast the sixth-level spell planar ally. This spell normally only gives celestials, fiends, or elementals, but perhaps you could get an exception in this instance.

A third option would be to hang out with some druids at your local druid circle and ask if they'd like to trade wild shape forms with you. Even if you don't specifically get a stench kow, they've probably got some good forms which you could learn.

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