little over a week ago, we talked about the druid's Wild Shape ability in our regularly irregular podcast. Tomorrow, October 15th, we'll have an updated playtest packet available for download that includes some changes to that ability. This minor update to the packet will be the last. We wanted to make Wild Shape as simple as possible. Here's a breakdown of our new direction.
When your druid uses Wild Shape, you simply adopt the stat block of the creature you've chosen to transform into. You retain your own Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, but otherwise use your chosen animal's statistics.
That transformation extends to you using the animal's hit points. If damage reduces you to 0 hit points, your Wild Shape transformation ends. Any excess damage applies to your current hit point total. For example, a druid with 22 hit points transforms into a 5 hit point creature, then takes 10 damage. The animal form takes 5 damage, the druid transforms back to normal, and the remaining 5 damage reduces him to 17 hit points.
Magic items do not extend to your animal form. Magic and mundane gear is subsumed into that form, so you don't have to worry about dropping all your gear to the ground when you change. You do not gain any of the benefits of your items.
Your proficiencies do carry over, and you gain any proficiencies that the animal benefits from.
The animal forms available to a druid are meant to provide creative options for solving problems. You can transform into a bird, a fish, or some other small, mundane animal. The Circle of the Moon druid can take forms that are more ferocious and suitable for battle.
Overall, these changes are meant to simplify and streamline Wild Shape while creating a sense of flexibility for the druid. It's easy to simply switch to a new set of statistics while in animal form, rather than going through the steps of modifying one set of stats or the other. How Wild Shape handles hit points is perhaps the biggest change compared to earlier approaches.
So, there are the Wild Shape changes in a nutshell. This set of rules keeps things simple, emphasizes that forms such as a bird or fish are best used outside of a fight, and also makes the battle-focused forms powerful and durable in melee.
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.