[RPG] What do you and do you not inherit from your new form when using Wild Shape / Beast Shape


Changing shape using Wild Shape appears quite daunting when first looking it over. I was wondering if there was a clear, step-by-step, process of working out what you do and do not gain from changing shape.

This comes from trying to figure out how the spell works by looking at Wild Shape, Beast Shape, the Polymorph Subschool and things like the size modifier table to try and work it all out.

I also understand that there is a similar question for DnD5E, which is why I would like it explained for Pathfinder in friendly terms if possible.

Here's a small list of example questions which should be addressed:

  • Do you gain the skills listed for the new form via. Wild Shape?
  • Do you gain the size bonuses listed in Wild Shape in addition to normal size modifiers?
  • Are there any modifications to attributes, BAB, saves, etc.?

Some of these are listed clearer than others in the spell descriptions, but to have them all in one place would be extremely helpful.

Best Answer

How to use wild shape

The creature takes a standard action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity to use the supernatural ability wild shape. Then you make a new character sheet.

From wild shape, the druid...

  • loses the ability to speak if an animal form is assumed, but while in the assumed animal form the druid can make noises and gesticulate like a typical creature of the assumed form.
  • gains the ability to communicate with other animals of the same general grouping. Note: Ask the DM what a general grouping is for the assumed form. (That is, do tigers speak the same language as house cats?)

From the effect of a supernatural ability duplicating the effect of the spell beast shape I, the druid...

  • gains the base land speed of the assumed form.
  • gains a climb speed equal to the assumed form's climb speed but not more than 30 ft.
  • gains a fly speed equal to the assumed form's fly speed but not more than 30 ft. This fly speed always has average maneuverability.
  • gains a swim speed equal to the assumed form's swim speed but not more than 30 ft. The druid also gains the ability to breathe underwater while swimming.
  • gains darkvision with a range equal to the range of the assumed form's darkvision but not more than 60 ft.
  • gains low-light vision if the assumed form also has low-light vision.
  • gains scent if the assumed form also has scent.
  • gains bonuses based on the assumed form's size. Assuming the form of a Small animal grants the druid a +2 size bonus to Dexterity and a +1 natural armor bonus. Assuming the form of a Medium animal grants the druid a +2 size bonus to Strength and a +2 natural armor bonus.

From the effect of a supernatural ability duplicating the effect of a spell of the transmutation subschool polymorph, the druid...

  • gains the natural attacks of the assumed form and proficiency sufficient to use those attacks. Note: The druid uses his own base attack bonus but his modified ability scores to determine attack bonus and final damage with these natural attacks.
  • gains a +10 bonus on Disguise skill checks made to masquerade as an animal of the assumed form, although specific creatures' forms can't be assumed.
  • gains the appropriate size modifiers to armor class and on his attack bonus, Combat Maneuver Bonus, and Stealth skill checks if the druid has changed size. Note: This should also likely include modifiers to Fly skill checks, but this goes unmentioned by the text.
  • sees all his carried gear meld into his new form because the assumed form is that of an animal (or plant or elemental). The only magic items that continue functioning are those that both provide constant bonuses and do not need to be activated to function (see here). Note: Enhancement bonuses from magic armor and shields don't usually work either.
  • loses the ability to cast spells because the assumed form is that of an animal (or, probably, a plant). Note: The feats Eschew Material and Natural Spell help a druid cast spells while in an assumed form that normally prohibits casting.
  • loses extraordinary and supernatural abilities dependent upon on his original form, including keen senses, scent, darkvision, natural attacks, and movement modes.
  • loses class features dependent upon his original form, but those class features that allow adding features to the original form can still be used to add such features to the new form. Note: Special restrictions apply to effects of the polymorph subschool (see below).
  • gains immunity to other effects of the polymorph subschool. The druid can allow himself to be affected a new polymorph subschool effect, but such an allowance ends this current polymorph subschool effect. Note: This is actually a bigger deal than you might expect.
  • gains immunity to effects that change his size.
  • gains and loses whatever the GM says he gains and loses if there are any questions. Note: That's actually in the rules.

When the druid gains the ability to also use, for example, beast shape II, the second section is, I think, the only part that needs changing.

Nothing else changes, but the druid's Dexterity-based or Strength-based stuff will need to be adjusted for his modified ability scores. Specifically, a creature that uses the special ability wild shape does not gain the assumed form's skills, does not gain the assumed form's size-based modifiers as if it were advancing as a monster (instead using the special polymorph subschool size change rules), and does not gain the assumed form's base attack bonus nor the assumed form's saving throw bonuses (although the druid's attack bonus and saving throw bonuses may change due to the modified ability scores).

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