Can a Circle of the Moon Druid in Wild Shape issue commands to creatures summoned with Conjure Animals?

The accepted answer to this question: Communicating with Conjured Creatures suggests that the spoken language does not really matter, because the conjured animals understand the intent behind the Druid's words. However, not all animals in wild shape form can speak.

Am I right to assume, that the wild shape form of the animal has to be able to speak any language (e.g. a Giant Elk or a Giant Owl) in order to issue commands but it does not matter which language?

And a Druid who wants to wild shape into a Polar Bear could only issue a command like "attack the nearest enemy creature" before wild shaping and once transformed keep the spell concentration up without being able to change the ordered command any more?


2 Answers 2


Assuming the adopted form can speak, the druid could indeed issue commands to the summoned creatures.

The PHB says about Wild Shape:

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.

This implies that as long as the adopted form can speak, you can issue commands.

We can find further clarification in the Sage Advice Compendium (emphasis mine after the title):

Can a Circle of the Moon druid speak the languages it knows while in the form of an elemental?

Yes, since the elementals listed in Elemental Wild Shape can speak.

A literal interpretation (RAW) of Wild Shape could reasonably lead you to think that transformed druids can speak only languages that appear in an elemental’s stat block, but the intent (RAI) is that druids retain their knowledge, including of languages, when they transform and can speak the languages they know if an adopted form can speak.

So, as long as the adopted form can speak, the druid could issue commands in that form. Note that the druid can use any language they know when using this ruling, so worrying about a specific language is moot.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So this would mean as e.g. an Earth Elemental I could speak normally to my friends? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tobias F.
    Sep 2, 2021 at 6:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @TobiasF. it would seem so \$\endgroup\$ Sep 2, 2021 at 14:34

For certain animals it would be possible, but it's the DM's choice

The rules for a druid's Wild Shape ability include the following text:

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.

Certain animals are capable of mimicking human speech. Birds can do it - parrots are famous for it. I've seen a dog that has been trained to speak a few human words.

Of course, verbal commands don't necessarily need to be in an actual spoken language. Some grunts and gestures might be able to get simple orders across like "go attack that enemy" but wouldn't be able to convey orders like "go collect some firewood".

One thing to keep in mind, is that the fey spirits who are in the form of the animals don't neccessarily speak the actual language you are using. I doubt they speak every language in the game. You can assume the spell has a certain ability to translate for you.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Verbal: “ relating to or in the form of words.” Grunts and gestures are exactly the sort of communication “verbal” is intended to exclude. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 2, 2021 at 1:05

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