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I can't find in the books the definition of “native”, only that a creature type can define its native plane:

Elementals are creatures native to the elemental planes (MM, p. 6)

Celestials ands fiends have a similar line.

By RAW its seems like your native plane isn't determined by what plane you were born on, since a succubus/incubus born on the material plane is native to the lower planes, just as a cambion is.

So I was wondering: If you banish a druid in fire elemental form, does he travel to the plane of fire? If a Slaad* is born from an humanoid body on the material plane, is it native to the material plane?

* Note that slaads are listed as aberrations.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Historical note: Back in 2e's Planescape setting, it was clarified that a creature's native plane is the one that it born and/or spawned on, regardless of its ancestry - and also that most fiends were created by the foul but natural processes of certain lower planes, and so couldn't be born on the material plane in any normal circumstance. Of course, reincarnation made this more complicated, but it rarely came up in play. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Feb 8 '16 at 0:05
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Sadly the rules are, if not silent, very quiet on this issue. In 3.5e this was handled by the Extraplanar subtype that creatures acquired when they traveled between planes and the rule that any creature that was not Extraplanar defaulted to being a native of the material plane. 5e is a brave new world though so we can't just use those rules.

Native, or indigenous, species are species that exist in a given ecosystem without being introduced by human activity. This makes sense in our world where the term is generally used when distinguishing between parts of an ecosystem disrupted by human presence and parts that we haven't gotten to yet.

So how about D&D? In D&D the term, "native to this plane of existence", could mean, "is meant to be on this plane of existence and is only found elsewhere due to intelligent intervention". Let's look at how that works out.

  • Celestials, Demons, Devils, all have their own planes to be on even though they often leave them.
  • Elementals the MM specifically says they are native to the elemental planes and that matches our definition since they only leave if someone summons them.
  • Aarakocra are interesting as despite being humanoid they are indigenous to the plane of air. They also exist on the material plane, but it is mentioned that they still hang out near portals to the plane of air.
  • Slaads are an interesting case because while they live in Limbo they need humanoid hosts to reproduce and those are in short supply there. I'd say Slaad are actually native to both the material plane and limbo since they appear to commonly use both for their life cycle.
  • A human shape-shifted into a fire elemental is still a human for our purposes and so native to the material plane. Sure they look like a fire elemental, have the powers of a fire elemental, and are near indistinguishable from a fire elemental, but it's only due to (hopefully) intelligent intervention that they got that way.

Using this definition leads to some tricky questions but generally works. Importantly it seems to match the intention of the spell to send creatures back where they belong.

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native

adjective

  • associated with the place or circumstances of a person's birth. "he's a native New Yorker"

  • of the indigenous inhabitants of a place. "a ceremonial native dance from Fiji"

  • (of a quality) belonging to a person's character from birth; innate. "some last vestige of native wit prompted Guy to say nothing"

The common English usage supports either interpretation so it is up to you.

I would be inclined to defer to the specific where it is stated in the Monster Manual: a slaad is native to Limbo no matter where it is born. However, feel free to go the other way.

As for the Druid; the shape he is currently wearing doesn't change his nativosity; he is not a fire elemental and so remains native to wherever he is native to.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nativity is the word you are looking for. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Feb 8 '16 at 14:12

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