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In the last few sessions, our druid has been using the tactic of transforming into a spider or other bugs and scouting out entire floors of dungeons by slipping under doors and remaining unseen.

Is there anything RAW/RAI to prevent him from doing this, or is it considered an acceptable use?

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    \$\begingroup\$ One could rule that the druid, as a spider, has the perception of your typical spider, which is to say: not very much beyond avoiding large swooping objects like birds, and recognizing small and close tasty morsels like flies and crickets. (Plus pretty good vibration sense, and a dislike of high levels of carbon dioxide.) \$\endgroup\$ – Ichoran Feb 19 '15 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Swarm of Insects. "Medium swarm of Tiny beasts, unaligned". Individual insects are tiny beasts, and qualify for wild shape. One way to prevent abuse is to add some Frogs, also in the basic rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Foo Bar Feb 19 '15 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ichoran Since it retains the druid's mind, you could probably stretch those senses into being able to gather a crude map and a rough estimate of how many large, shadowy things are in each room. The annoying part comes from trying to figure out how much of that knowledge the druid could manage to maintain since there won't be any way to write it down. Unless somebody wants to try and craft spider-sized quill and parchment... \$\endgroup\$ – Perkins Feb 20 '15 at 1:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ What's the speed of a spider? How long does it take the druid to explore the dungeon? Are the rest of the characters just hanging around for hours waiting? \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Feb 20 '15 at 1:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ichoran, it seems to me that the Druid keeps his Intelligence and thus won't see tasty morsels as that interesting. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Feb 20 '15 at 7:18
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Your player is perfectly justified in doing this. The Spider is a Tiny beast listed on page 44 of the DM Basic Rules (v0.3), or page 337 of the Monster Manual. It's CR 0, so the Druid is free to Wild Shape into it at any level (except 1st, obviously; they have to have Wild Shape).

It should be noted that there are a large number of things that eat spiders, and most people tend to squash them if they notice them. There's no reason orcs/goblins/kobolds/whatever would be any different. Except drow, who quite definitely won't try to squish a spider.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hah, well done. I didn't even think to check that. My 3.x mental habits are showing. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 19 '15 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I was pretty surprised, I assumed I'd missed this question completely (posted while I was asleep), but somehow no one else seems to have found the actual Spider. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Feb 19 '15 at 21:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course, after enough instances of someone squishing a spider and then getting curb-stomped by an angry Druid who appears out of nowhere it might be more than just the Drow who avoid stepping on them... \$\endgroup\$ – Perkins Feb 20 '15 at 1:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not clear how small the spider is, though. A Tiny beast controls a space 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet in combat. Given that, and the fact that it can do 3 points of damage on a bite, nearly enough to kill a commoner, I'd rule it as tarantula-sized. And a tarantula can't just slip under doors or run around unnoticed. \$\endgroup\$ – PurpleVermont Feb 1 '16 at 4:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Page 337 of the Monster Manual says nothing about the exact size of the Spider. A "Tiny" creature could have a size of 2 ft., that definitely wouldn't squeeze under a door. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Nov 16 '16 at 5:33
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From the PHB:

Beasts are nonhumanoid creatures that are a natural part of the fantasy ecology. Some of them have magical powers, but most are unintelligent and lack any society or language. Beasts include all varieties of ordinary animals, dinosaurs, and giant versions of animals.

Definition of Animal:

Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia (also called Metazoa).

The kingdom Animalia includes:

Animals are divided into various sub-groups, some of which are: vertebrates; molluscs; arthropods; annelids; sponges; and jellyfish.

Arthropodae consists of:

millipedes, centipedes, insects, spiders, scorpions, crabs, lobsters, shrimp

Therefore the answer is "YES" a druid can become an ordinary bug or spider, or even earthworm.

An animal is basically any known living thing that is not a plant, a fungus, slime, mold or single cell organism or colonial establishment of single cell organisms. CAVEAT: I probably left something out of that what an animal is not list

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    \$\begingroup\$ There are several definitions of "animal." Using the scientific meaning of "animal" for understanding the Beast type would make it include every creature in the book that wasn't a construct, undead, or plant — including humans. Obviously then, 5e isn't using the scientific meaning of "animal" to define beasts. The definition of "animal" outside scientific usage varies, but may or may not include bugs. Regardless, starting from the scientific meaning doesn't lead where you end up, as it would actually include way more than bugs. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 19 '15 at 21:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ agreed, but they did take the effort to include a definition of beast which says Ordinary Animals...It did not say ordinary mammals for instance. Perhaps they intended to mean fleshy animals, but I don't think that's what they intended. I think they intended any animal that's relatively speaking naturally occurring, not a monster, not a magic or construct, divinity, devil or demon, etc. I say relatively speaking because we really can only define that as animals that occur natural relative to the real world without defining the whole ecology of the DM's fantasy universe. \$\endgroup\$ – Escoce Feb 19 '15 at 21:48
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Wild Shape specifies that a Druid PC can transform into Beast creatures only.

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before. You can use this feature twice. You regain expended uses when you finish a short or long rest. - Player's Handbook p. 66

Beast is a creature type, and the Druid should be transforming into creatures with that type listed in the PHB creatures section or beasts from the Monster Manual as befitting their current level and Wild Shape CR restriction. There is only one spider in the PHB's creature section and it is Spider, Giant so I think that the DM would be on firm ground not to allow it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wild shape isn't limited to the contents MM. Any comment on how this DM can/should handle wild shaping into really tiny beasts, such as a shrew? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 19 '15 at 17:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie submit your own counter answer? I feel like letting him explore as a non, defined beast creature is infringing on the wizard familiar class feature and if done should be fairly risky. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Feb 19 '15 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is the kind of commentary I was thinking should be in the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 19 '15 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith, actually your statement is not following the rules. If you look into MM p. 317 you will see a small box at the bottom right Other Animals which clearly states that the MM does not include all the stats but should gives you an idea of what those stats should be. So tiny spiders could be added if they did not already exist (MM p. 337), also they are marked as Tiny Beast further pointing out that the druid can transform into a spider. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Feb 20 '15 at 22:32
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No. There's no limit, RAW, on how small a creature you can transform into.

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before. You can use this feature twice. You regain expended uses when you finish a short or long rest. - Player's Handbook p. 66

So, those are the limits. Has to be a beast, has to be one the druid has seen. Unless microscopes or some kind of microscope-imitating spell is available, it would probably be reasonable for the DM to rule that some creatures (say, fleas) are too small for the druid to have seen them in sufficient detail... but even that is an interpretation. The rules themselves just say you have to have seen it.

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