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Say a Moon Druid 10 spends two Wild Shape uses to transform into an Air Elemental, which she can keep for the next five hours. After two hours, she takes a short rest, but does not drop the Wild Shape. She has another couple of hours to keep the Air Elemental form.

My main concern: Does she get her two uses of Wild Shape back with that short rest? Or, does she have to drop the Air Elemental form first before taking the short rest to recharge Wild Shape?

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There are no rules that state that a wild shaped druid is not able to take or benefit from a short rest. There is a clearly defined list of what they cannot do in the PHB.

As there is no requirement to maintain concentration or focus on the shape, and because transforming does not break concentration on existing spells, a druid is able to meet the requirements for a short rest.

PHB Page 67
You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race or other source, and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so.


PHB Page 186
A short rest is a period of downtime, at least 1 hour long, where the character does nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading or tending to wounds.

Unless your form is described as a never stopping ball of energy, most forms are capable of resting, and therefore are capable of regaining uses of wild shape.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Regaining wild shape on a short rest is a benefit of your class. \$\endgroup\$ – Tashio Oct 22 '15 at 7:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ but you still have to actually be resting, and the feature doesn't allow you to rest when normally unable. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Oct 22 '15 at 7:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Where does it specifically state that your form cannot rest or gives evidence that they are unable to rest? \$\endgroup\$ – Tashio Oct 22 '15 at 7:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the brunt of Tashio's argument stems from the second [paragraph] of his answer, which also rings valid in my mind. If using and maintaining Wild Shape does not break spell concentration, it shouldn't be harder than "tending wounds" when doing a short rest. \$\endgroup\$ – Pitzy Oct 22 '15 at 7:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Spell concentration is a pretty heavy toll on the caster's focus, and yet there are a lot of things the caster can do that doesn't break concentration (e.g. attacking, casting other spells, talking, moving, etc.). Saying that it doesn't break spell concentration just means it must be something that doesn't require much focus and thus must feel intuitive or regular. \$\endgroup\$ – Pitzy Oct 23 '15 at 12:32
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Yes, you can rest in Wild Shape

Rules

On page 186 PHB says:

...nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending wounds."

Now the question is wether just being in Wild Shape is more strenuous than eating. You can do both while concentrating on a spell, and neither while unconscious.

Balance

Around level 8-12 your Wild Shape is long enough to last between short rests, depending on your type of adventure and your DM. Would it upset the balance to let you spend the short rest itself in beast form?
I think not, a Warlock could maintain a 3rd level Hex during a short rest. High level characters are supposed to be powerful.

Also do not forget you cannot cast spells while you are in Wild Shape, greatly limiting your effectiveness. (Until level 18).

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    \$\begingroup\$ The DM's actually ruled in my favor before I put the question here. I just wanted to hear the general consensus since our Wizard is being a spoilsport. She feels that my Druid is being overpowered by having access to three Wild Shapes in one encounter (1 active + 2 reserve), but I argued that it only felt that way coz our party was mostly unoptimized, with only one melee build (Totem Barbarian)in a party of six. I could also have argued (but didn't, it felt rude) that her Wizard was an unoptimized blaster with a twitchy finger, blowing all her blasty spells in the first encounter. :P \$\endgroup\$ – Pitzy Oct 22 '15 at 10:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Moon Druid is sooo powerful it is hard not to overshadow everyone else. Take the Sentinel, and concentrate on defending the party, they will be too grateful to complain. \$\endgroup\$ – András Oct 22 '15 at 11:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pitzy, somehow it is ok to call someone optimized, but insulting to call them weak. But I think it is safe to tell them they should distribute their spells more evenly during the day. \$\endgroup\$ – András Oct 22 '15 at 11:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this NOT why Wizards have cantrips? Not only do they have Cantrips, but they have cantrips for DAYS. That cantrip list get's pretty extensive. Running out in 1 or 2 encounters is just bad form when nothing obligates you to burn all your slots when there are cantrips that scale in power. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Oct 23 '15 at 3:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, we keep advising her to ration out her spell slots, but it's like every moving enemy is a flying cockroach. She burns spell slots (instead of doing a cantrip) for enemies that the DM is already describing as "practically clinging to a thin thread of life". :/ \$\endgroup\$ – Pitzy Oct 23 '15 at 12:39
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As with most other things in 5th Edition, this falls under DM fiat.

Does the druid's Wild Shape feature take effort to sustain?

The rules for Resting state that a character must do "...nothing more strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and tending wounds." (Player's Handbook, 186)

So it is up to the DM to decide just how stressful being a beast actually is.

In my opinion…

Wild Shape ends after X of hours (X = 1/2 druid level) per number of 'uses' you consume (consuming one each instance the time runs out), so it cannot be maintained indefinitely. It also automatically ends if you are unconscious, drop to 0 HP, or die. So, on some level, the character must be focused on maintaining the form and is expending some reserve of energy to do so. As well, once the character reaches the 20th level of Druid Wild Shape has unlimited uses, suggesting it is (finally) completely effortless for the character to maintain. (And by then the question is moot. They can rest in their alternate form but regaining transformations isn't an issue.)

In the end, I would rule against the druid regaining uses of Wild Shape while in their alternate form because they aren't truly resting; it is too stressful on the druid's body. Both from a balance perspective, and to provide a little extra validation to the 20th level Druid feature.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While I can see merit in your general idea that Wild Shape takes some form of effort, I find the specifics of your argument rather restrictive. By the same merit in your ruling, a Wild Shaped druid wouldn't be able to spend Hit Dice on a short rest. \$\endgroup\$ – Pitzy Oct 22 '15 at 6:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pitzy You're correct, because they wouldn't actually meet the requirements for a short rest and hence wouldn't be resting. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason_c_o Oct 22 '15 at 7:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a pretty fair rule that I can live with. Sort of puts the Moon Druid on even stepping with the short-rest-related shenanigans of the Land Druid. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Pitzy Oct 22 '15 at 7:18
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There is a very elegant way to address this if you seek to limit this.

The beast body can short rest. The benefit is limited to the beast body. They can spend some of the beast hit dice to heal. This rest is not conferred upon the Druid body.

"When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed." This tells me that when in the wild shape you are not 'in your body'. You cannot rest it or recover your spells as though you are resting. Nor would you be able to recover wild shape usage. You need to rest your 'natural body' which you are not in. You are only resting the beast body.

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