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The Polymorph spell states that "A shapechanger automatically succeeds on this saving throw"

Druids have Beast Shape, and although numerous textual references refer to this ability, at no point (that I can find) are they specifically called "shapechangers". Now I know that I would rule "yes, they are" in a seat of my pants ruling, but is there a RAW 5e reference that makes this correlation and supports the case for Druids automatically saving from a Polymorph spell?

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They are not shapechangers.

Shapechanger is a Tag (Monster Manual p.7) given to certain creatures. Becoming a druid doesn't change you from Humanoid (elf) to Humanoid (elf, shapechanger) in the same way that learning the polymorph spell doesn't change your sorcerer to a shapechanger.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with this answer in a technical sense, I prefer the "gut" ruling of 'yes' in the question, though maybe "auto success" might need a change to "advantage on the save" or a double save prof bonus. +1 for how this helps anyone with this question interpret how the rules are assembled. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 15 '16 at 17:51
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No.

Every creature that has the Shapechanger tag has a non-magical polymorphing ability:

The [Shapechanger creature] can use its action to polymorph into a...

while every creature that seems to have an inherent shapeshifting ability but does not have the Shapechanger tag has a polymorphing ability which is described as 'magically polymorphing':

The [Creature] magically polymorphs into a...

It seems that if the shapechanging ability is magical in nature (as Wild Shaping is described as being), it is not considered part of the creature inherently (and thus not part of its creature classification, in terms of the Shapechanger tag), but rather as an 'addition' or learned behaviour.

As such, while under a magic-suppressing effect (such as being in an Antimagic Field), a creature with the Shapechanger tag is still able to shapeshift, while a creature without it is not, thus demonstrating it is not an ability inherent to the creature and the creature (Druid included) is not considered a shapechanger.

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They are not shapechangers.

Jeremy Crawford has given a ruling on twitter about this very question (but with the Moonbeam spell instead of the Polymorph spell as the focus of the question):

@JeremyECrawford Do Wild Shaped druids or polymorphed creatures count as "shapechangers" for Moonbeam, or only things w/ (shapechanger) tag?

JC: A creature must be designated—with a tag or other text—as a shapechanger to count as one.

It's also been featured on the Sage Advice site

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