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The lizardfolk shaman is a CR2 monster with druid spells. It has this ability:

Change Shape (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). The lizardfolk magically polymorphs into a crocodile, remaining in that form for up to 1 hour. It can revert to its true form as a bonus action. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn't transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

If the lizardfolk shaman is killed while in crocodile form, then it reverts to its true form.
Is the true form then at 0 hp? Or is the true form at however many hit points the creature had before it used the ability?

I am guessing that the ability is intended to be similar to the druid's Wild Shape feature. But here's the text of the werewolf's Shapechanger trait:

Shapechanger. The werewolf can use its action to polymorph into a wolf-humanoid hybrid or into a wolf, or back into its true form, which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its AC, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn't transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

...And I think the werewolf actually stays dead if killed in its alternate form.

What happens in the case of the lizardfolk shaman?

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"Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form."

The Change Shape trait states:

Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form.

This means that the only game statistic that changes when it changes form is its size. If it has 0 hit points before it changes form, it has 0 hit points after it changes form, because hit points and size are distinct game statistics. Ergo, if it dies as a crocodile, it is dead, like, dead dead.

In contrast, Wild Shape reads:

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

When using Wild Shape, a druid's hit points and the Wild Shape form's hit points are kept separate, because Wild Shape tells us that the druid's hit points are replaced by the hit points of the new form.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting follow up question would be, what if Lizardfolk Shaman's Change Shape ability was changed to be like druid Wild Shape, what would its CR be? \$\endgroup\$ May 5, 2022 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WakiNadiVellir Probably just double its XP value, like Mythic Creatures that heal themselves back up to full when they enter phase 2. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    May 5, 2022 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WakiNadiVellir Sketch of solution: reverse engineer its CR from the DMG guidance on creating a monster, and add to its HP pool to see how it changes the calculation. \$\endgroup\$ May 5, 2022 at 13:29

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