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Scenario: The Human Moon-Druid is the playful type, but she is so turned-off with the commitment issues that plague most humanoids when all she wants is to play. She gets this crazy idea: In order to get her playful fix, she Wild-Shapes into an animal, struts about town with pheromones all ablaze, play around with a matching animal, then go back to her team in her original form, and they're all none the wiser (hopefully).

However, she is concerned about catching some disease in this way, especially since she'd be having casual, no-strings-attached play with complete strangers.

Hence the question: If she manages to contract a mundane affliction while in Wild Shape, will it stay or go away when she steps out of Wild Shape?

My thinking is that mundane diseases/poisons should just go away. If physical wounds don't carry over (whether inflicted magically or not), why should these?

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The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

In this case, at least, the above is true. Since the wording for wild shape does not explicitly say conditions are removed/dispelled, and disease is a condition, that condition is not dispelled upon shifting back. It can then be surmised that status affects such as poisoned, blinded, etc, are also not removed upon shifting to and from wildshape, it can be easily concluded that those effects still persist in the original druid's form.

This is not to say a disease is a standard condition like poisoned, blinded, etc. But it is still a condition that persists on the player until the effect wears off, or is cured.

Diseases specify what creatures are affected by them. For example, Cackle Fever:

This disease targets humanoids, although gnomes are strangely immune.

Or Sight Rot:

This painful infection causes bleeding from the eyes and eventually blinds the victim. A beast or humanoid that drinks water tainted by sight rot must... etc.

After this point, the real question becomes does a mundane disease that affects a specific animal affect the druid in their humanoid form?

That goes into some science that is more theory than actual rules. So there's no easy way to say that a disease will or will not affect the druid in a different form. However, it could be said that the disease remains dormant in an unaffected or immune host, but when the host becomes a viable creature the disease persists. This is up to your DM at this point.

  • If the druid is considered their race in terms of biological susceptibility in wildshape or not, then the disease would always persist.
  • If the druid is not considered their race in terms of biological susceptibility in wildshape, then the disease would not persist, or would be quickly cleansed from an unsupported host.

One last observation from this can be taken from the text of Wild Shape:

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.

Of course, biological susceptibility to a disease wouldn't exactly be considered a "benefit" but you could rule this to mean that if you are a Gnome you will, for the purposes of disease viability, be able to be infected as if you were a Gnome, no matter what beast you were taking the shape of.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, and I quite agree with it (this was my RAI too). But is disease really a condition? It's not in the Conditions appendix, and Lesser Restoration separates it from the other conditions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pitzy
    Nov 17 '15 at 8:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're correct, it isn't included with other conditions. I believe the reason behind that is because there are too many varied types of diseases, but the same could be said of poisons. The other reason could be that not all diseases share the same debuff on the player, whereas the "poisoned" effect is all-around disadvantage on attacks/saving throws, so it can be lumped into a condition. But the extra effects of poisons outside of that condition are varied. \$\endgroup\$
    – D. Sorrim
    Nov 17 '15 at 8:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another data point -- the druid's racial and class features carry over into the wildshape form -- this includes the Dwarf's resistance to poisons, for example. It seems obvious that if the resistance to poisons carries over from humanoid form to wildshape form, the impact of any poisons carries back in the opposite direction as well. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17 '15 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good to note. Thanks. I think it's covered well by my quote from the text of Wild Shape. But I can adjust it to address dwarven poison resistance. I will edit it later when I'm not at work. \$\endgroup\$
    – D. Sorrim
    Nov 17 '15 at 20:03
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There is a reason reason why people might feel this way. The ruling for Wild Shape states that damage carries over into your normal form, when it overflows.

But another way to think about it is that damage hitting the shape actually vanishes if it doesn't overflow. The same could be said when you Wild Shape 2 times in one combat, and your beast form (which may look exactly the same as before) is at full hp. This would normally and logically constitute a separate body. However, this is not RAW.

Another thing that proves you aren't the bear is that you keep its physical stats, and in addition, you use its Hit Dice instead of your own if you manage to rest in that form.

A final point is that while some racial features carry, racial features like darkvision do not carry over when your shape changes. This is all PHB.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer would benefit greatly from formatting to separate ideas and apply emphasis. \$\endgroup\$
    – ValhallaGH
    Jul 26 '21 at 22:16

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