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The PHB entry on Wild Shape states: "You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the creature."

Does this mean you add the character's Proficiency Bonus to the beast's physical attribute modifiers to arrive at the Skill total? For instance, my Druid has a PB of +3, proficiency in Stealth and an 18 Dex, for a total of +7 Stealth in normal form. But in Polar Bear form, her Dex drops to 10...does that mean I'd only be at +3 in Stealth in bear form?

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You recalculate skills and saving throws a proficiency bonus is applied to:

  • Skill and saving throws based on Str, Dex and Con in which you have proficiency
  • Skills and saving throws based on Int, Wis and Cha in which the target beast has proficiency (not common, but perception is the usual case)

You should "extract" the beast's standard proficiency bonus by subtracting the total attack modifier or skill modifier from it's related stat bonus. Example:

The beast has a Strength score of 16, and thus a +3 Str bonus. If it's melee attack modifier is +7, then it's proficiency bonus is 7-3= 4.

Then, If your proficiency bonus is greater than the one extracted, you should use yours to recalculate the skill, saving throws.

As a DM I tell my druid player to keep a record of the adjusted stat block of the 3 most used beasts, and adjust them when his proficiency bonus changes, to speed up the gameplay.

According to Jeremy Crawford, the druid has no proficiency with natural attacks, therefore the attack bonuses should not be recalculated

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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant meta: Don't signal your edits in text. Instead of editing in corrections at the end of the answer, you should edit your answer as a whole to stand as if it were always the best version of itself. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 5 at 21:44
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Yes, they do.

Wild shape changes the druid's strength, dexterity, and constitution scores, so any skill checks based on those attributes use the changed shape's ability modifier. Your druid will use the polar bear's dexterity modifier of +0.

However, in some cases the following additional rule needs to be considered (PHB p.67):

If the creature has the same proficiency as you and the bonus in its stat block is higher than yours, use the creature’s bonus instead of yours.

In the case of the polar bear, there is no listed bonus for stealth, so in the example in question, the druid's stealth check bonus would be +3 while they were in polar bear form.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But a polar bear does not have proficiency in stealth (I assume, since there is no listed bonus for stealth), so the creature does not have the same proficiency as the caster, in this case, so the second half of the sentence wouldn't apply. I think I agree with your answer, but I'm not sure that's the right rule to quote. \$\endgroup\$ – Jay Apr 17 '17 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was giving the general rule, and my last paragraph applies it to the case posed by the question. How do you think I could make this clearer? \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Apr 18 '17 at 5:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since they weren't asking about the polar bear's proficiency, but rather how its Dexterity modifier applies to a skill check, including the rule about when skill proficiencies match confused me. I think the most relevant rules are the one they included and the one about gaining the stats of the beast shape. \$\endgroup\$ – Jay Apr 18 '17 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback, I've added language that hopefully clarifies things. \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Apr 18 '17 at 13:29
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You either use your proficiency bonus or the creature's - never both

Jeremy Crawford has now clarified

The Wild Shape feature does not let you add your proficiency bonus to the proficiency bonus of your beast form. The first bullet of the class feature details which proficiency bonus you use (PH, 67).

The bullet he refers to is:

You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the creature. If the creature has the same proficiency as you and the bonus in its stat block is higher than yours, use the creature’s bonus instead of yours.

So, in wild shape form, you essentially use whichever proficiency bonus is higher in the case that both you and the new form are proficient in it.

Your polar bear example

In the case of you wild shaping into a polar bear, you would have 0 (the bear's dex mod) + 3 (your stealth proficiency bonus) = 3.

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Your Stealth drops to +3

Skill checks are a subset of Ability Checks:

For example, a Dexterity check might reflect a character’s attempt to pull off an acrobatic stunt, to palm an object, or to stay hidden. Each of these aspects of Dexterity has an associated skill: Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth, respectively. So a character who has proficiency in the Stealth skill is particularly good at Dexterity checks related to sneaking and hiding. (PHB 171)

Wild Shape:

You also retain all of your skill [...] proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the creature. (PHB 67)

Being proficient in a skill means you can add your proficiency bonus to your Ability. It just changed, so you add the same proficiency bonus to the new number.

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