I have a Druid in a D&D 3.5 campaign, currently level 2, but I was looking ahead and loving the idea of Wild Shape. The problem is that it is apparently based on Polymorph, which does not explain everything that happens to the player character.

What I'm not clear on is: do you keep your full HD when you wild shape into a creature with fewer HD? Say I am level 8, I therefore have 8HD. I want to turn into a lion, which is large but only has 5HD. Do I keep my 8HD or do I acquire the new HD of the creature and drop to 5HD? What about hit points?


1 Answer 1


Wild Shape was changed in the errata to go off Alternate Form. The website I linked has the updated rules. It's worth reading both descriptions, as Wild Shape changes a bit of what Alternate Form does.

Here's some points of note:

All gear melds, unless it has a specific property that says it doesn't.

Any gear worn or carried by the druid melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional. When the druid reverts to her true form, any objects previously melded into the new form reappear in the same location on her body that they previously occupied and are once again functional. Any new items worn in the assumed form fall off and land at the druid's feet.

Your HD and max HP do not change, so you stay at 8 HD. You get properties of the Lion listed in Alternate form, which are as follows:

  • The creature retains the type and subtype of its original form. It gains the size of its new form. If the new form has the aquatic subtype, the creature gains that subtype as well.
  • The creature loses the natural weapons, natural armor, and movement modes of its original form, as well as any extraordinary special attacks of its original form not derived from class levels (such as the barbarian’s rage class feature).
  • The creature gains the natural weapons, natural armor, movement modes, and extraordinary special attacks of its new form.
  • The creature retains the special qualities of its original form. It does not gain any special qualities of its new form.
  • The creature retains the spell-like abilities and supernatural attacks of its old form (except for breath weapons and gaze attacks). It does not gain the spell-like abilities or attacks of its new form.
  • The creature gains the physical ability scores (Str, Dex, Con) of its new form. It retains the mental ability scores (Int, Wis, Cha) of its original form. Apply any changed physical ability score modifiers in all appropriate areas with one exception: the creature retains the hit points of its original form despite any change to its Constitution.
  • The creature retains its hit points and save bonuses, although its save modifiers may change due to a change in ability scores.
  • Except as described elsewhere, the creature retains all other game statistics of its original form, including (but not necessarily limited to) HD, hit points, skill ranks, feats, base attack bonus, and base save bonuses.
  • The creature retains any spellcasting ability it had in its original form, although it must be able to speak intelligibly to cast spells with verbal components and it must have humanlike hands to cast spells with somatic components.
  • The creature is effectively camouflaged as a creature of its new form, and it gains a +10 bonus on Disguise checks if it uses this ability to create a disguise.

Extra Info

In response to questions in the comments:

  1. You get the animal's AC, including it's natural armor, DEX bonus, and size modifier. You lose your own armor unless you have Wild armor, which works while Wild Shaped.
  2. Your Fortitude/Reflex saves would change based on the new form's DEX/CON. You keep your own base save value.
  3. Your max HP does not change, even though your CON does. This is even true if you have CON boosting items. Your current HP may change, as using Wild Shape heals you as if you rested.
  4. You keep your own Base Attack Bonus.
  5. You use the new form's natural attacks, no matter how many there are. (You get all of them.)
  6. You use your own feats.
  7. Secondary natural weapons attack at -5. This is true for all of them, no matter how many there are. Note that "two claws" is legitimate, in that case both claws are considered primary and do not take a penalty.
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is very helpful, I was trying to figure out what happened to things like armor class so if I changed into a lion I would have the 15 ac it has in the PH because I would get the lions dex and nature armor and lose 1 for its size? I assume if I changed into something that had reach I would have that as well? As for hit points I would not roll the 5d8+10 that a lion has I would just keep my hps and even though my con would change I do not get the extra hps from that change? Thank you so much for your quick response and help. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jonathan
    Oct 21, 2014 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jonathan You get the Lion's AC, yes. You get its natural armor, it's dex, and any size bonus/penalty. You do get reach if it has it. Your max HP does not change at all, despite the CON change (don't roll its HP, use your own). Your current HP might go up, as using Wild Shape says it heals you as if you rested. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tridus
    Oct 21, 2014 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ One last thing and again thank you very much for the help. Do I retain the base atk of the original form or do I use the new forms base atk, the reason I ask is say I am level 5 and I change into a leopard that has three atks. So for my three atks do I go off of the book for the leopard or do I use my base atk+str for the bite and then my base atk+str -5 for the claws. Because Leopards have weapon finesse do I use my base atk+dex for the bit and then base atk+str -5 for the claws. Sorry still a little confused. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jonathan
    Oct 21, 2014 at 22:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jonathan Only the things listed as changing are changed. Base attack isn't listed, so you keep yours. Natural Weapons (like the Leopard's claws) don't use base attack to determine how many attacks you get, so you get exactly the number shown in the Leopard entry. You use your own feats So you'd use your base attack + leopard STR. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tridus
    Oct 21, 2014 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Last thing I swear, so since I keep my base atk which at 5 would be +3, I would use the +3 for the bite and the claws or just the bite? I never fully understood why in this case the Leopard has a +6 for its bite and +1 for its claws... is that because the bite is considered the main attack and the claws get -5 for being the secondary attacks? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jonathan
    Oct 21, 2014 at 22:56

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