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I play a druid, and more often than not, I just get out of wildshape to "talk with the party again". Not even because it's necessary, but because it gets boring trying to talk in sign language (which led me to staying silent, but that also gets boring after 30 minutes real time discussion happens which room to enter next).

As far as I know, there's no real item in dnd 5e that solves this problem. Sending stones allow only a short message, and telepathy requires a feat.

A solution I've thought is to create an item that has a special "attunement", something like:

Once attuned ~ can be given to a person (keeper). Allowing the owner/attuned person to send messages telepathic to the keeper. If the keeper can be seen and is within 60 ft.

Is this a good thingy to make? Or does it already exist? And is it unbalanced for a level 5 party to have such an item? I think the range and visibility requirement make it less abusable.

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Like John Doe's answer, I think this is a very reasonable item. Even without attunement, it would not be a dealbreaker at least for me. But this also depends on your DM and the setting you are playing in.

I would mainly advise to make sure both you and your DM agree that being able to speak does not override not being able to cast (verbal) spells per the Wild Shape rules:

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.

I bring this up because Druids get a specific ability at level 18 which states:

Beginning at 18th level, you can cast many of your druid spells in any shape you assume using Wild Shape. You can perform the somatic and verbal components of a druid spell while in a beast shape, but you aren't able to provide material components.

This is obviously meant as a high level feature. So although the wording on your item doesn't state it, it's not the biggest stretch of the imagination if someone would think being able to speak also means being able to perform verbal spell components while in Wild Shape. Allowing that would be overpowered IMO.

Since you also asked if something like this already exists, here are two items that would allow you to better communicate while in Wild Shape. They are stronger than your homebrew item, but they are both uncommon. So unless you play in a low magic setting, it's not unreasonable for a 5th level character to have these.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Problem with helm of telepathy, (and psi crystal depending on how you explain it) is that equipment and gear "melts into your shape" when you transform, so it no longer provides boni. \$\endgroup\$
    – paul23
    Apr 8, 2022 at 11:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @paul23 It depends: "You choose whether your equipment falls to the ground in your space, merges into your new form, or is worn by it. Worn equipment functions as normal, but the DM decides whether it is practical for the new form to wear a piece of equipment", see here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Apr 8, 2022 at 11:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ As Eddy said, it is a DM ruling. I don't think it's unreasonable for many animal shapes to be able to wear a helmet or a necklace with a crystal. \$\endgroup\$
    – anon
    Apr 8, 2022 at 11:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just throwing this in as an aside...talking telepathically while Wild Shaped is also possible simply by playing a Kalashtar or Gem Dragonborn. You keep your Racials while Wild Shaped, after all. So this is also just kinda copying a racial ability. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 8, 2022 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ The actual problem with Helm of Telepathy is that it requires you to cast detect thoughts and requires concentration. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 9, 2022 at 20:28
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I don't think it's overpowered. You offer up an attunement slot (out of three max per RAW) for a minor benefit that is about as powerful as the Message cantrip; Message even has larger range (120ft) and can go through solid objects under specific circumstances.

The benefit of your "Telepathic Collar" would be to allow you essentially casting a cantrip while in Wildshape.

And - this is the big thing - it does not remove you from the roleplay aspect for half an hour or more while your party discusses their next steps. If your DM is okay with it I don't see anything wrong with it.

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I’d say the impact of this will depend on the type of campaign you run.

If your Druid is wildshaping into a spider to do recon then being able to communicate whilst wildshaped is very valuable.

Our Druid does this quite a bit, and has had to weigh up returning to release wildshape and inform the party (thus using up a limited use of wildshape), vs staying shifted and risking going further to recon without reporting back to not run out of wildshape uses later. This dynamic limits how much wildshape “breaks” recon situations.

If your Druid is mainly wildshaped for combat, then as others say the impact would be much lower, and leaving the Druid out of all the conversations sucks - actually at our table we’d just let the player talk OOC to discuss decisions when that happens.

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