When casting the Beast Shape spell (or II or III) - not wild shape - do you get all of the chosen form's natural attacks?

Do you get access to special attacks that are based on that forms anatomy? I'm thinking like a giant frog's tongue attacks, or a cinder wolf's fiery body, or a blood lion's bone spikes..

I ask because the spell explains how to handle movement speeds, perception abilities, ability score modifiers, Natural Armor, and some special combat abilities, but neglects to cover attacks.

If, for example, I shift to be a Deinonychus: Can I make a full-attack action to get 2 talons, a bite, and a foreclaws, or do I get whatever I would normally get (say, at a +6 BAB I'd get 2 attacks, with normal damage for an unarmed medium creature).


1 Answer 1


Because the spell beast shape I is a spell of the polymorph subschool, the only attacks that are gained from the spell are natural attacks:

[Y]ou gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature, including proficiency in those attacks. These attacks are based on your base attack bonus, modified by your Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, and use your Strength modifier for determining damage bonuses.

A caster that uses beast shape I to assume a form that has more than one natural attack can use all of those attacks during as a full attack action (but no iterative attacks when employing them), using the caster's base attack bonus as described above.

Unfortunately for the caster, the game defines carefully natural attacks:

Most creatures possess one or more natural attacks (attacks made without a weapon). These attacks fall into one of two categories, primary and secondary attacks. Primary attacks are made using the creature’s full base attack bonus and add the creature’s full Strength bonus on damage rolls. Secondary attacks are made using the creature’s base attack bonus –5 and add only 1/2 the creature’s Strength bonus on damage rolls.

...And so on. There's a table, and tongue, fiery body (a supernatural ability), and bone spikes aren't on it.

You can learn more about natural attacks in Pathfinder from this question, this question, this question, this question, and probably others. (Apparently, Pathfinder should make this topic a little clearer.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ So you could be covered in spikes, but not have them do anything. I think tongue would still apply, since it is typed as a primary natural attack in the creature's entry. \$\endgroup\$
    – GreySage
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 19:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage Pretty much, yeah. The toad thing is a fine house rule, but the toad's tongue is an extraordinary ability and those aren't typically gained, and it takes beast shape II to get the monster ability grab. (With just beast shape I and that house rule the tongue would only make foes moist?) Also, such a house rule might be seen as precedent by the players for other monster abilities not normally gained. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 19:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess the question still remains, how do we define something as a natural attack? If it is simply an attack made without a weapon that is either primary or secondary, then that tongue grab is a natural attack, but it is also explicitly an extraordinary ability. Can something be both? because the table is overruled with specific over general, in my thinking, if something else is found to be a natural attack (it never claimed to be exhaustive, and in fact mentioned that some monsters work differently). \$\endgroup\$
    – Jonathon
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JonathonWisnoski I can't discuss another's interpretation, but mine err toward caution, and Pathfinder went to a lot of work to nerf the crap out of changing form. So while it's true that the natural attacks chart lists other as an option, it also doesn't have an entry for attacks that do something besides damage, like the giant frog's tongue, so as GM I'd omit such edge case natural attacks from any assumed creature form almost automatically. Your mileage, of course, may vary. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 20:29

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