In Volo's Guide to Monsters, we find the Deep Rothé (CR of 1/4), a beast that has the Innate Spellcasting trait, which reads:

The deep rothé's spellcasting ability is Charisma. It can innately cast dancing lights at will, requiring no components.

A deep rothé is a valid option for a druid to transform into via Wild Shape, but Wild Shape clearly states that...

you can't cast spells

So it seems to me that a druid cannot take advantage of a beast's Innate Spellcasting trait by transforming into that beast.

Druids also get Beast Spells at level 18:

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.

Beast Spells allows a druid to cast spells in Wild Shape, but specifies they must be druid spells. Dancing Lights is not on the druid spell list, so I'm assuming Beast Spells doesn't allow a druid to cast it using the deep rothé's Innate Spellcasting trait because that spell could not be referred to as a "druid spell."

My question is this: Is there any situation in which a druid would be able to transform into a beast using Wild Shape, and then cast spells using the beast's Innate Spellcasting trait?

As far as I know, the deep rothé is the only beast that can cast spells, but with that precedent, other spell-slinging beasts are possible, and I would like to know what, if any, conditions would need to be fulfilled to allow a Wild Shaped druid to cast innate spells.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There is also Traxigor, the otter, but he is an archmage who was polymorphed into an otter while retaining all his archmage abilities. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 26, 2022 at 1:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: “if the listed cantrip were instead a cantrip found on the druid's spell list, such an act would be possible,” I wouldn’t necessarily take that as a given—should we, answering this questions, take that as a given, or are answers that dispute that assertion valid? \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 26, 2022 at 1:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a fair point. I slipped an assumption in but disputing that assertion is completely valid. I'll edit the question to clarify. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sten
    Jul 26, 2022 at 3:19

1 Answer 1


An explicit exception would have to be made, but no such rule exists.

5e has a “specific beats general” rule, as seen in the intro the Player’s Handbook:

This compendium contains rules that govern how the game plays. That said, many racial traits, class features, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and other game elements break the general rules in some way, creating an exception to how the rest of the game works. Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.

Exceptions to the rules are often minor. For instance, many adventurers don’t have proficiency with longbows, but every wood elf does because of a racial trait. That trait creates a minor exception in the game. Other examples of rule-breaking are more conspicuous. For instance, an adventurer can’t normally pass through walls, but some spells make that possible. Magic accounts for most of the major exceptions to the rules.

Since the feature description of Wild Shape stipulates, “You can’t cast spells”, a feature must explicitly create an exception to this to allow you to cast spells in Wild Shape, as the 18th level Druid feature Beast Spells does:

Beginning at 18th level, you can cast many of your druid spells in any shape you assume using Wild Shape.

This is an exception to the previous rule for Wild Shape. Upon reaching 18th level, now you can cast spells while in Wild Shape. Which spells? Any spells? Spells known by the creature? No, the only spells this feature allows you to cast are your spells.

So to use a hypothetical beast’s innate spellcasting, you would have to also have a feature that explicitly creates an exception to the rule of Wild Shape that forbids spellcasting. To my knowledge, no such feature exists.

It should be noted that the Deep Rothe was updated in Monsters of the Multiverse; it no longer has the Innate Spellcasting trait, instead it simply has an action option that says:

Dancing Lights. The rothé casts dancing lights, requiring no spell components and using Wisdom as the spellcasting ability.

Even under this change, it still doesn’t work for a Wild Shaped Druid because “you can’t cast spells”.

Glow-in-the-dark cows won’t break your game.

All things considered, allowing a Druid to cast dancing lights while Wild Shaped into a deep rothe probably isn’t going to break your game. The balance issue is giving the Druid full access to the arcane arsenal, something the 18th level feature doesn’t even do. It will be okay to let your Druid turn into a light-up cow.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I’m not following how the dancing lights of your deep rothe form are any less “yours.” I could see arguing that such spells aren’t “druid spells,” even if the same spell also happens to be on the druid spell list, but if your form changes, any spells of that form are yours too, I’d think. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 26, 2022 at 3:46

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