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My 6th-level druid casts speak with plants, and then wild-shapes into a panther, or whatever.

Can she speak with plants while wild-shaped?

Wild Shape says:

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.

Clearly being wild-shaped into an animal incapable of speech prevents normal vocal speech, but does it prevent magical communication?

The spell does not discuss how this communication takes place. It uses language like:

You imbue plants within 30 feet of you with limited sentience and animation, giving them the ability to communicate with you and follow your simple commands.

and

If a plant creature is in the area, you can communicate with it as if you shared a common language...

It seems reasonable to me, and, yes, it's up to the GM, but are there other rules that determine whether she can talk to the plants while wild-shaped?

This is related to but different from this question, which discusses issuing commands to summoned animals while wild-shaped. It's different because with speak to plants the plants are already not communicating with the druid by a normal vocal language. Or maybe they are . . . maybe it gives them little mouths, or the ability to rub branches together to make speech sounds, it doesn't say how the plants are communicating, but such an interpretation isn't present in the rules, and would be up to the GM.

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2 Answers 2

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According to RAW, yes.

Other posts have established that magical abilities and spells (and conditions) that occur before wildshaping do in fact carry over to the wildshape.

Beyond that, the key wording is

If a plant creature is in the area, you can communicate with it as if (emphasis mine) you shared a common language...

"As if" implies pretty much any mechanism could be used, and it could be argued it takes whatever form the spellcaster wants.

So while nobody else in your party might understand whatever sounds you're making as a jaguar (or potentially no sounds at all), the plants certainly will.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer! I like the emphasis on "as if". I had glossed over that part. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Jan 27 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ According to the description of Wild Shape in the PHB, "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." (p. 67) If your choice of beast form precludes speech, your ability to communicate "as if you shared a common language" is restricted with plants just as it would be with an Elf sharing a common language. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ "as if you shared a common language" is still speech. It would say if nonverbal language was being used or granted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    Jan 28 at 23:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, I'm finding all the comments about "language is speech" a bit able-ist. \$\endgroup\$
    – Σ of eDπ
    Jan 30 at 7:24
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According to RAW? No.

The wording of the spell is:

If a plant creature is in the area, you can communicate with it as if you shared a common language...

According to the description of Wild Shape in the PHB (p. 67):

"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."

If your choice of beast form precludes speech, your ability to communicate "as if you shared a common language" is restricted with plants just as it would be with an Elf sharing a common language.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It seem like you are saying that communication and speech are the same thing, but even for regular non-fantasy humans, speech is only one way we communicate. So losing the "ability to speak" verbally, doesn't really sway the argument one way or the other in terms preventing communication as a whole. \$\endgroup\$
    – DBS
    Jan 28 at 16:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you actually arguing that losing the ability to speak doesn't interfere with the ability to "speak with plants"? If you can't speak, you can't speak with either an elf or a fern, even if you share a common language. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28 at 16:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Haha, true, it does sound silly when only reading the name of the spell. But yes, I think the descriptions use of "communicate" rather than "speak" makes a difference (E.g. If someone uses sign language, does the spell not work?) \$\endgroup\$
    – DBS
    Jan 28 at 16:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The spell says "you can communicate" but contains no written precondition that you must be able to speak or communicate without the spell. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 28 at 17:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ One of the points I tried to make in the question is that the spell does not say how the communication is happening. If SwP causes the plants to actually speak, then clearly wild-shaping to a form that can't speak limits communication (although even then, the plants would still be able to talk to the druid, just not the other way around). On the other hand, if it's some magical communication then being wild-shaped shouldn't change it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Jan 28 at 17:33

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