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The explanation of druid wildshape shows that the druid while wildshaped retains its intelligence wisdom and charisma modifier. And gains additional abilities given by the animal.

Now keeping the wisdom modifier means that you also keep your standard perception. However some monsters also have an ability to increase perception. - For example the giant elk has a "+4 to perception".

Now my druid also has proficiency in perception, and with 20 wisdom that normally means I have +8 to perception checks.

As I gain the skill from the giant elk would this mean I have a massive +12 to perception while in giant elk form?

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Nope. You'll still have a +8 modifier to Wisdom (perception) checks.

The "+4 Perception" that the Giant Elk has and the "+8 Perception" that you normally have are both derived quantities: they're not statistics or abilities or traits.

Your wisdom ability score is 20; the Giant Elk's is 14. You get to keep yours.* That means a +5 to any Wisdom checks.

You're proficient in Wisdom (perception) checks, as is the Giant Elk. But you don't become double-proficient--you're just proficient. So add your +3 proficiency bonus and that's now a +8 to any Wisdom (perception) checks.


* N.B.: in your post you said that your wildshaped druid "keeps its wisdom and charisma modifier." But the text of Wild Shape actually says "you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores." (emphasis mine)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But the +4 doesn't make sense with the giant elk's 14 wisdom? Nor does it show the +x perception at most other animals? Or is that +4 just an indication that it is "proficient" (that would explain a lot but it isn't clear to me)? \$\endgroup\$
    – paul23
    Dec 23, 2022 at 5:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @paul23 The giant elk has +2 Proficiency Bonus and +2 Wisdom bonus, in total +4 bonus to perception, if it is proficient in perception. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 23, 2022 at 5:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin I was looking at roll20's entry and it doesn't show anything about a proficiency bonus, so that was the cause of my confusion I did not even think that animals were given those. \$\endgroup\$
    – paul23
    Dec 23, 2022 at 11:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @paul23 if you read through the front-matter of the Monster Manual (pp. 8-9, IIRC) you'll see that statblocks list skills in which the monster is proficient. Their proficiency bonus is tied to CR, so in this case we'd expect the Elk to have a proficiency bonus of +2 (having CR<5) and a WIS modifier of +2, for the total +4 Wisdom (perception) bonus. There are some monsters where reverse-engineering the numbers doesn't quite work, because the authors decided to deviate, but usually it works as advertised. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Dec 23, 2022 at 16:33

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