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A player wanted to use Wild Shape as an unlimited supply of feathers for our ranger to make his own arrows with and it sparked a discussion on whether or not parts of a Druid that are removed from said Druid's Wild Shape persist after the Druid is no longer in Wild Shape.

I have been unable to find any rules that either allow or disallow this action. Whereas there are specific rules on what happens to gear the druid is wearing, I have found no statement on what happens to removed physical parts of the Wild Shape form.

I have thought of two reasonable solutions:

  1. Removed pieces of Wild Shape form persist indefinitely. This would make a Druid Indistinguishable from a normal creature until knocked out of druid form and would make the party assassin happy as he now has a reliable fresh supply of Giant venomous snake venom to apply to his daggers.

  2. Removed pieces of wild shape form persist until the Druid leaves Wild Shape. This would avoid the issues of unlimited resources, but raise other questions such as whether blood spilled by the Wild Shape also disappears or whether a creature that has "become poisoned for 1 hour" would stop being poisoned when the Druid is knocked out of that shape because the poison has dissipated with his Wild Shape.

Which (if either) of these lines up with the rules? Or does this fall under DM fiat?

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First of all, it's not an unlimited resource; the Druid can only wild shape twice per short rest, limiting the amount of poison the Rogue can attempt to harvest and by RAW:

DMG p.258

Serpent Venom (Injury). This poison must be harvested from a dead or incapacitated poisonous snake.

Unless the Druid can retain his form after dying, the Rogue won't be able to farm Druid snake venom. Furthermore, the DMG says that harvesting poison requires a check:

DMG p.258

Crafting and Harvesting Poison

The creature must be incapacitated or dead, and the harvesting requires 1d6 minutes followed by a DC 20 Intelligence (Nature) check.

It goes on about how to add proficiency to it and what happens on a failure but the DMG at least says that harvesting parts from creatures is not an easy task (DC 20 is hard, after all)

The point I'm trying to make is that you should allow your players to do clever things but limit the powergamey-ness to a minimum level that doesn't completely break your game. How you do this is up to you, I personally find that, at my table, at least, that doing the "yes, but..." approach to GMing maximizes the fun. "Yes, but you have to make a check to see if you can get enough venom for a single dose (this is important, you can get the vial half full but that won't cut it!). The druid can help you by giving you Advantage on the check, but it's not automatic." Being flexible like this allows your PCs to at least attempt the thing they really wanna do, and fosters a fun game.


As for other possible attempts to exploit "infinite" things, allow and disallow at your own discretion. A good tip for this is to think about how overpowered it would be to allow it.

Take your infinite arrow feathers example, by pulling the feathers off the wild shaped druid (ouch!), he is able to save a whopping 1 GP (What a bargain!). Consequences may or may not exist, depending on the kind of game you're playing but I would personally rule that once the druid reverts, he finds that he lost some of his hair.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Disagree with the "Unless the druid can retain..." part. An intelligent willing creature can choose to act as though incapacitated. Or allow the rogue to inflict non-lethal damage to cause incapacitated status. Anyway, the druid can allow the venom to be harvested. It is just a matter of if it remains potent after wild shape ends. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Aug 15 '16 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would also expect that the removal of the feathers would be painful, and I would be surprised the druid would cooperate. \$\endgroup\$ – Shufflepants Aug 15 '16 at 17:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like you aren't answering with the possibility of incapacitation in mind, keeping to just killing the druid which is indeed pointless. I think a cooperative "Poisonous Snake" Druid would be able to make it work. \$\endgroup\$ – Javelin Aug 15 '16 at 19:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Javelin And even in real life it's possible to "milk" a venomous snake without injury to human or snake. youtube.com/watch?v=CMLRizJnHbI \$\endgroup\$ – JAB Aug 15 '16 at 19:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Yes the Druid can 'act' incapacitated, that's what's giving you Advantage on the check because the Druid is willingly trying to give you its venom, BUT you'd still need to do a check to see if you can get a single dose." at least, that's how I would rule it. \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Aug 15 '16 at 22:43
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It's Like Giving a Poodle a Haircut

Since the rules are silent on whether blood / feathers / hair / claws / tears/ otherbodilyfluids are "part of the wild shaped form" once detached from the wild shape, you are free to rule either way. (This opens the idea of fewments disappearing after the druid/bear goes in the woods, but that's probably more detail than most games want to delve into). DM rulings are an integral part of 5e.

Recommended ruling: yes, the feathers remain there once plucked.

At the risk of getting overly simulationist with this answer, consider the following:

Does getting a haircut hurt you?
Does trimming your nails permanently harm your fingers?
Does getting your poodle a haircut harm the poodle?

As the answer to the above is no, plucking some feathers won't do permanent harm to the wild shaped druid form, nor the druid when (s)he reverts.

In a more game mechanics approach, the physical form of the wild shape is a well of expendable HP. Once the druid reverts, any damage done disappears (it's a form of nature magic) from the wild shape, but that doesn't mean any blood spilled on the ground also disappears -- the game isn't that granular in detail. (If being driven to zero HP forces a reversion, the feather plucking is moot). Even if removing too many feathers might harm the wild shaped bird, when the druid reverts to humanoid form that harm goes away (see above, it's magic).

As @JamieBrace points out, once removed the feather is no longer part of the wild shape. If you wish, you can consider it fractional/infinitesimal/incidental damage. (A bruise?) If you brush your hair, does the hair that falls out stay part of you, or does it become "that stray hair over there?"

Further recommended ruling

If you think that this use of feathers is too filled with cheese (I think it's a good idea and innovative) then have the players make a die roll (4d4, 3d6, whatever) to determine the number of fletcher quality arrows a given plucking has provided to this do-it-yourself-fletcher. (Thanks to @Mauser for the link).

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for not all of the feathers being of suitable quality \$\endgroup\$ – aherocalledFrog Aug 15 '16 at 16:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like you can only get about 8-10 feathers of suitable quality from the wing of a goose, such harvesting will prevent the goose from flying effectively (It would be equivalent to clipping it's wings), and feathers from different sided wings cannot be mixed on the same arrow and achieve usable results. static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/613765/7898564/1280334444987/… \$\endgroup\$ – Mauser Aug 15 '16 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mauser Thanks for the link. Given that the druid will revert, chances are that the player won't mind not being able to fly having abandoned the form. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 15 '16 at 17:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps they might not, situations may arise where it is germane, It is important to understand the consequences of such actions, it allows roleplaying to feel real, and not like the users have discovered a 'cheat code'. \$\endgroup\$ – Mauser Aug 15 '16 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mauser In a game where "gritty realism" is the key, yeah, maybe reduce the die roll to a 2d4 or 2d6, but again that very much depends on the "feel" that the DM and the players like at their table. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 15 '16 at 17:47
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There is no RAW answer.

I'll offer a third alternative just to complicate your deliberations.

Every part of the Druid reverts. Blood remains blood but feathers become hair.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ And venom becomes spit! This is exactly how I'd rule on it. It makes the most thematic sense with respect to wild shaping. \$\endgroup\$ – Azuaron Aug 15 '16 at 18:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ If everything magically reverts (ie: the druid is returned to the condition they were in before changing), I would think that anything cut off the druid would simply disappear/return to the druid magically. \$\endgroup\$ – LeHill Aug 15 '16 at 20:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Presumably if that's the case, individuals poisoned by the druid will be instantly unpoisoned upon the druid reverting its form \$\endgroup\$ – NibblyPig Aug 17 '16 at 12:30
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As far as RAW is concerned, I can't find anything other than the below (emphasis mine):

You can stay in beast shape for a number of hours equal to half your druid level (rounded down). You then revert to your normal form... etc

The word "you" says to me that only you, yourself, your body, is what reverts. Any loss of body parts would not revert as they are technically no longer part of you.

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Since there aren't actual RAW for this it's really your decision. Are you okay with the infinite feather trick, and the uses that could come from other Wild Shape parts? If so let him do it.

If you're not ok with it, I would look at a "Removed pieces of wild shape forms disappear when the druid returns to normal state" ruling the same way as the RAW rules that AOE fire spells don't burn held items. There's no logical reason why those items wouldn't burn, but the rules don't want Fireball to have that added power, so it doesn't.

If it were my game I would go with the feathers disappearing ruling. Wild Shape isn't for that, and IMO it goes against the idea that items the druid is wearing, which are in fact not actually attached to the druid, blend into the Wild Shape and return when Wild Shape is deactivated.

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Yes, at the cost of the form's feathers.

I'd say to treat the Wild Shapes as semi-seperate creatures.

So, when the Druid transforms into a bird, your ranger plucks the bird's feathers. The druid goes back to humanoid form, the feathers don't dissipate, and the Druid re-transforms. The plucked feathers are still gone.

What?

Imagine a bald druid. Would you expect them to transform into a featherless bird? That would make little sense, especially if the druid is bald due to some holy rite requiring them to shave it or somesuch. Using that logic, a plucked bird wouldn't go back into a bald druid, if the druid had hair prior.

Ok, but how could the ranger maintain their feather farm?

One would immediately suggest transforming into a different bird, or waiting for them to grow back. Transforming into another bird makes little sense, even with the disconnect between humanoid and aven druids being established, since, unlike a human, an ostrich has a direct equivalent to a pigeon's feathers, being its own feathers.

On the bright side, feathers grow back. I'd recommend keeping at a realistically slow rate, from a couple days to a couple weeks, but keep in mind: sometimes, plucked feathers damage a bird's skin and prevent new ones from replacing them. As such, perhaps have multiple DCs for harvesting. Say, a 15 and a 25 DC Intelligence (Nature) check, similar to what Daze recommended, where failing the 15 DC check results in no usable feathers, and the 25 DC in permanently harming the bird form. Or, perhaps a Dexterity check in place of the DC 25 one.

Okay, I've probably rambled a tad too much and perhaps failed to contribute something truly worthwhile. Apologies it that's the case.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This assumes that you have a limited number of wild shape forms. If you've seen 15 versions of the same species of animal, what's to stop you from changing into each of the 15 in turn? Also, if you followed this to its logical conclusion, those forms wouldn't heal quickly from HP wounds either, and we know how that works in game. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 26 '17 at 15:11
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It's a DM's call, but here's precedence if desired:

The 5e rules do not address this, so it is a DM's call. If a DM is looking for historical precedence from previous editions to help guide their decision, 3.5e had the following rule for alternate forms (which included Wild Shape):

... separated body parts retain their shape.

So in 3.5e, removed parts persist as-is after a Druid exits Wild Shape.

Interestingly though, 3.5e's Alter Self (which included Polymorph) behaved differently from Wildshape in regard to separated parts:

... Any part of the body or piece of equipment that is separated from the whole reverts to its true form.

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