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A Drow has 120 ft Darkvision, while a Spider has 30 ft Darkvision. The Druid's Wild Shape ability says this:

Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, [...]

And it says this about Darkvision:

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. However, you can't use any of your Special senses, such as Darkvision, unless your new form also has that sense.

Since the Spider also has Darkvision, the Druid will be able to use Darkvision while Wild Shaped. But will the Darkvision be 30 ft, or 120ft?

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You keep the Drow race's range on Darkvision. The rules say you retain your racial features, but can't use special senses unless your new form also has them:

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. However, you can't use any of your Special senses, such as Darkvision, unless your new form also has that sense.

Emphasis mine.

You retain your race's Darkvision, and so you retain Darkvision 120'. If you wild shape into a beast that does not have Darkvision, you can't use your Special Sense but you have still retained it. If you wild shape into a beast that does have Darkvision, though, then you can use it. And since you retained the feature from your race, you use your race-granted version of it, which has the longer range.

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The range of your darkvision is limited to that of the Wild Shape.

Think of the range of darkvision as being the value of an ability. Your original form has a Strength of 15, your new form has a Strength of 8. They both have the Strength ability, but you are limited by the physical form of the new shape. Spider eyes see 30 ft. Therefore, your spider eyes see 30 feet. If your new form is limited to a Speed of 20, then regardless of the fact that both forms have a walking speed, you are limited to the value of the new form.

If you have an ability that grants a bonus to an existing ability, such as a Monk's bonus to movement, that would be retained. A drow does not see +60 feet in darkness, but is given a range.

Finally, consider that a giant eagle does not have darkvision at all, but a drow wild shaped into a giant eagle does not gain the drow's darkvision, because eagles do not have a physical form capable of using darkvision.

(It is possible that a DM could rule that darkvision is a supernatural ability, and not a physical one, but this would be a table rule, and not generally applicable)

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Taking into account that Darkvision always comes with its range, I understand Darkvision 120ft and Darkvision 30ft are different abilities.

Therefore you might only keep the Darkvision 30ft.

Still, though, I agree that it's confusing to use Darkvision as the example, not saying anything about its range.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would argue that because they are separate abilities regarding the same sense, the racial feature wins out (new form has sense, so the spider can use drows racial darkvision =120 ft) \$\endgroup\$ – D. Ben Knoble Nov 16 '16 at 15:35
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Can't say: the phrasing is ambiguous.

  1. The new form has the sense (Darkvision) therefore you can use your sense (Darkvision 120 feet)
  2. The new form does not have the sense (Darkvision 120 feet), it only has Darkvision 30 feet therefore you cannot use your sense, you must use its.

DM's call I'm afraid.

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The spider version of the druid has 30' Darkvision

As we all know, specific beats general.

The rules as you have posted them are only specific about what you would lose after using Wild Shape - that is, any senses that the beast form does not have. Therefore, we have to fall back on the general statement:

Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, [...]

Meaning that the shape-changed druid has the spider's 30' Darkvision, and not the drow's 120' ability.


Edit:

On the other hand, LegendaryDude's citing of the specific rules stating that the character retains racial abilities renders my interpretation totally incorrect. Whoops.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wild shape says "You retain the benefit of any features from your ... race," and goes on to specifically mention Darkvision and other Special senses. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Nov 16 '16 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude - Yeah. I just noticed your answer as I finished posting. I've edited to say as much, although my interpretation could be used as a house rule. \$\endgroup\$ – leather_monkey Nov 16 '16 at 14:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you no longer believe your answer is correct, you can delete it with the "delete" button at the bottom of the post. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Nov 16 '16 at 14:41

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