To better illustrate my doubt: a gray ooze has the false appearance ability:

False Appearance: While the ooze remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from an oily pool or wet rock.

Meanwhile, in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, the ancient deep dragon has the following action:

Change Shape. The dragon magically transforms into any creature that is Medium or Small, while retaining its game statistics (other than its size). This transformation ends if the dragon is reduced to 0 hit points or uses its action to end it.

However, according to the monster manual (pages 6-11), the "game statistics" of a monster are essentially it's Stat block, and include the following:

  1. Size
  2. Type
  3. Tags
  4. Alignment
  5. Armor Class
  6. Hit Points
  7. Speed
  8. Ability Scores
  9. Saving Throws
  10. Skills
  11. Vulnerabilities, Resistances, and Immunities
  12. Senses
  13. Languages
  14. Challenge
  15. Special Traits
  16. Actions
  17. Reactions
  18. Limited Usage
  19. Equipment

The false appearance ability is a core part of what a gray ooze looks like, but since the ancient deep dragon's statistics are the same no matter which form it takes, if it was to turn into a gray ooze, would it be a gray ooze that doesn't ever resemble a wet rock??

So my question is: rules as written, does the Deep dragon gain any new abilities or actions when using it's shape change ability? The writing would imply that it doesn't and only gains the creature's appearance, is that notion correct even though many creatures look like they do because of their abilities and vice versa?

Essentially, I'm struggling to understand if the dragon's change shape acts closer to an alter self spell or a Polymorph/Shapechange spell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is anyone suggesting that a creature Changing Shape to something smaller will retain its original strength? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 21:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RobbieGoodwin There is nothing that prevents a create from retaining its original strength. So you could have a really strong ant possessing a dragon's breath attack! \$\endgroup\$
    – Negdo
    Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ If that's true, what could anyone say but Oh, Good Grief?If you insist on following rules for their own sake while ignoring their sense, go ahead. Otherwise, watch a few episodes of The Six-Million Dollar Man and explain how his 'normal' arm and leg could ever match his prostheses. Why not sit down with your own games-master and try to make the rules work sensibly? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 29, 2023 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


No, it only gains the size, no other game statistics

You essentially answered your own question citing all the relevant rules.

while retaining its game statistics (other than its size).

All the statistics other than size remain the dragon's. If it changes into a ghost, it cannot become ethereal. If it changes into a grey ooze, it does not gain False Appearance. How you narrate this is up to you, as the DM. In your case, maybe it changes into a somewhat opaque grey ooze, or into one that looks identical, but is not able to suppress all movement perfectly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd hope a DM rules the appearance is exactly as a gray ooze, the entire point of the ability is to copy the appearance. I'd rule the inability to be indistinguishable from the rock as some level of subconscious/involuntary movement thats difficult to suppress (most creatures are accustomed to moving while breathing). You'd have advantage on stealth checks to hide as a rock if you try thanks to your appearance being perfect, but not indistinguishable because you haven't spent a lifetime imitating rocks. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 22:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @stevenjackson121 That is a good way to rationalize it too, I added it to the answer, so it sticks in case the comment at some point gets flushed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 9:19

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