In D&D 3.5, do wild shaping druids gain the senses of the new form?

The rules for the Alternate Form ability (on which Wild Shape is based) explicitly state that the shape-changing creature "does not gain any special qualities of its new form." And in the stat blocks in the monster manual, vision, scent, and other senses appear on the "Special Qualities" line.

So, on the face of it, it sounds like the answer is "no". But it's so bizarre that a character could turn into a wolf and not get scent that I just had to ask for clarification.


Wildshaping Druids do not, typically, gain the senses of the forms they assume.

Welcome to the abject insanity that is polymorphing in 3.5. For your specific question, the Alternate Form ability that Wild Shape is based on says:

The creature retains the special qualities of its original form. It does not gain any special qualities of its new form.

Since, in almost all cases, special senses like scent and blindsense are special qualities, this means that you don't get senses from Wild Shape.

Polymorph, and its related effects, are generally considered poorly written and poorly balanced in D&D 3.5, and are some of the most common effects that are houseruled or banned. Most of the alternate polymorph rules that I know change Wild Shape such that Druids can get their new form's senses, but by RAW, they do not.

That said, I'm absolutely certain that there's a way to get any sense you could name onto a wild shaping Druid. 3.5 is a huge set of rules, and that sounds like the sort of thing that would make it into a supplement at some point. One way is with the Enhance Wild Shape spell, on page 82 of the Spell Compendium. It lets you add one of several bonuses to your next wild shape, one of which is all of the extraordinary abilities of that form.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is wrong; errata changed how wild shape worked so that it behaves like alternate form, not polymorph, and in any event extra senses are not guaranteed to be extraordinary special qualities—they may be other categories of things, some of which polymorph might get or wild shape might get. To claim that senses are always extraordinary special qualities and thus not available through polymorph is inaccurate. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 12 '16 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Edited, on both counts. I'm not actually aware of any creatures that have special senses that aren't special qualities, but I added a line saying that this only applies to special quality senses anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Sep 12 '16 at 14:37

The Wildshape rules from the PHB have been modified by errata.
Now, the Alternate Form special ability specifically causes you to lose any of your original form's extraordinary abilities that aren't class-related, and gain any extraordinary abilities of your new form — such as blind sense, fast healing, regeneration, and scent.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! If you haven't already, please read through the tour. It seems like you've got the hang of it, though - good answer! \$\endgroup\$ – UrhoKarila Sep 12 '16 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ The beginning of this appears to be attempting to reply to another answer, since plolymorph is only mentioned there and not in the question. I'll fix that. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 12 '16 at 14:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer directly contradicts the original question (which states that Alternate Form explicitly does NOT grant the things that this answer says it does). Either the question was wrong or this answer is, but it should probably be clarified. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Sep 12 '16 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is incorrect. Alternate Form lets you keep your own special qualities and doesn't give you the new form's, not the other way around. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Sep 12 '16 at 14:38

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