[RPG] considered a class feature for a monster for the purpose of Change Shape


It's well understood that Spellcasting in a creature's stat block is a class feature. For the purposes of Change Shape and similar abilities where the term "class features" has mechanical importance, are there any other class features in official monster stat blocks? The wording in Monster Manual implies that such things could exist, but do they, and if so how do we tell?

Examples of creature stat blocks with named abilities that might be class features (vs classes where an equivalent ability is a class feature):

  • Kobold Scale Sorcerer's Sorcery Points vs Sorcerer?
  • Would a shape changed Couatl be able to sorcerize its innate spells?
  • Drow Shadowblade's Shadow Step vs Shadow Monk?
  • Firenewt Warlock's Imix's Blessing vs Fiend Warlock's Dark One's Blessing?
  • Githzerai Anarch's Psionic Defense and Unarmed Strike vs Monk? (I don't think we're in class feature any more.)
  • NPC Assassin's Assassinate, Evasion, and Sneak Attack vs Assassin Rogue?

Best Answer

The only trait that is a class feature in the Monster Manual is Spellcasting

Since there is no general definition for a class feature, something is only a class feature if a rule says it is. The class features in the Player's Handbook, and other supplements, are clearly labelled as such:

As a [class], you gain the following class features.

The "Introduction" to the Monster Manual talks about monster traits, where the only mention of class features lies in the Spellcasting trait (emphasis mine):

A monster with the Spellcasting class feature has a spellcaster level and spell slots, which it uses to cast its spells of 1st level and higher (as explained in the Player’s Handbook).

All other traits are just special traits with no connection to class features. As such, only if the form assumed has the Spellcasting trait or PC-levels will any traits be blocked by the relevant clauses of Change Shape.