Can I use feats while under the wild shape effect?


Rules Discussion


I tried to make a wild order druid and found out the barbarian archetype would boost my druid's power a lot. Which led me to this question: Can I benefit from the feats while using wild shape? For example, would the barbarian feats like acute vision, sudden charge, acute scent, bashing charge, farabellus flip, fast movement, inured to alchemy, oversized throw, supernatural senses, swipe, attack of opportunity, cleave, giant's stature, sudden leap, terrifying howl, furious grab, et cetera still be usable even when the druid polymorphed into a monster such as a purple worm or a dragon? If not, then I see no reason to make the druid take the barbarian archetype.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

To be clear, the restrictions on battle form polymorph spells are the following:

"If you take on a battle form with a polymorph spell, the special statistics can be adjusted only by circumstance bonuses, status bonuses, and penalties. Unless otherwise noted, the battle form prevents you from casting spells, speaking, and using most manipulate actions that require hands. (If there's doubt about whether you can use an action, the GM decides.) Your gear is absorbed into you; the constant abilities of your gear still function, but you can't activate any items."

So, as long as the feats you pick up don't fall under those parameters, you should be a-okay!


I know you didn't list it, but Rage wouldn't give you any damage, or AC penalty either probably tbh. Most of the rest should be usable, there was just errata to make it clear the attacks given by a battle form are the only Strikes you can make, so you'd just have to use the given strikes when you use something like AoO or Cleave.


The battle form stats would be adjusted by circumstance bonuses, status bonuses, and any penalties.

Rage gives:

Temp HP - Unclear if you could use the Rage Temp HP instead of the battle form's Temp HP, but they certainly wouldn't stack.

Untyped bonus to damage - Since it isn't a status bonus, or a circumstance bonus, it wouldn't be usable.

-1 untyped penalty to AC - All penalties apply, including this one.

Prohibition on Concentrate actions - This also doesn't change the stats of the battle form, so it would apply normally.

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Yeah, I am seeing more drawbacks than benefits here. Maybe Fighter archetype instead to pick up some useful combat maneuver feats. Which will definitely work after the errata to Battle Form.


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Sorry but its a rules nightmare. Note that there is a fundamental disagreement here as the rules are not clear. So what I'm about to say on Additional Damage is contested. But AFAICT it is legal in the strictest sense.

With respect to Rage. Additional Damage does not modify anything so it adds ie Rage adds. The -1 penalty to AC from Rage definitely applies because penalties explicitly do apply (despite what some people above have said that part is not vague at all). So yes it works. The alternative position is no it doesn't work. But really why bother with that argument and cut yourself out of a reasonable combination? Mechanically or game wise it is not a problem of any kind, so use it unless your GM says no.

For other feats. Yes they do largely work. Things like Flurry of Blows, Attack of Opportunity etc.

In the 3rd errata to the Core Rule Book, Paizo have clarified that In aerial form, animal form, avatar, dinosaur form, dragon form, elemental form, insect form, monstrosity form, nature incarnate, plant form, change "only attacks you can use" to "only attacks you can Strike with." You can still use non-Strike attacks like Grapple and Trip as normal. This clears out any objections people might have had about using other powers that specify attacks.

But there are exceptions. Watch for ones that specify weapon use as they obviously don't apply. OR things with the Polymorph Trait as that clashes with Wild Shape causing a counteract - this is relevant to some Barbarian abilities.


So, the druid cannot benefit from rage while using wild shape? Sigh. I thought a wild order druid with barbarian archetype would be a super powerful build. But turns out it's a seriously flawed build after all? Was it the same in First Edition too?


No its not illegal. Rage is not a bonus to damage. Play it if you want.


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Aenigma wrote:
So, the druid cannot benefit from rage while using wild shape? Sigh. I thought a wild order druid with barbarian archetype would be a super powerful build. But turns out it's a seriously flawed build after all? Was it the same in First Edition too?

Correct, this is why the barbarian dragon transformation lists adding rage damage as a specific benefit and their animal transformation sidesteps it by using the barbarian's full unarmed attack instead.

"gaining the effects of 6th-level dragon form except that you use your own AC and attack modifier, you apply your extra damage from Rage, and the Breath Weapon uses your class DC. "

https://pf2easy.com/index.php?id=517&name=Dragon_Transformation

I would allow a barbarian dedication to rage personally, but I would run it RAW in many other scenarios. (The main issue comes with druid multiclasses or scroll/wand usage on full martials and people trying to stack all of their benefits)


breithauptclan wrote:

The battle form stats would be adjusted by circumstance bonuses, status bonuses, and any penalties.

Rage gives:

Temp HP - Unclear if you could use the Rage Temp HP instead of the battle form's Temp HP, but they certainly wouldn't stack.

It will use the greater.

breithauptclan wrote:
Untyped bonus to damage - Since it isn't a status bonus, or a circumstance bonus, it wouldn't be usable.

It's not a bonus it's extra/additional damage. There's a lot damage received in this way. By default have same damage type from the attack unless specified (ex. precision damage). Yet as you said due battle form specifies that "special statistics (damage values are defined by the battle form so they are considered special statistics) can be adjusted only by circumstance bonuses, status bonuses, and penalties".

breithauptclan wrote:

-1 untyped penalty to AC - All penalties apply, including this one.

Prohibition on Concentrate actions - This also doesn't change the stats of the battle form, so it would apply normally.

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Yeah, I am seeing more drawbacks than benefits here. Maybe Fighter archetype instead to pick up some useful combat maneuver feats. Which will definitely work after the errata to Battle Form.

I agree. Yet you can work around receving a similar to rage bonus using Battle Oracle due it's curse damage bonus are status bonus. So Battle Oracle + Druid Dedication to get druid feats to get Wild Order + Wild shape feat easily allows to have most druid battle forms using focus points what means that you basically shape shift every battle and will have the spell heightened automatically and +2 status bonus to your attacks rolls if you use your own attack proficiency instead of form (what means that you can have a higher hit rate too specially for initial forms).

The main problem of this fun build it that it's only works for adventures that ends before lvl 10 because the Animal Form heightened stops at level 5 of the spell.


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Gortle wrote:

Sorry but its a rules nightmare. Note that there is a fundamental disagreement here as the rules are not clear. So what I'm about to say on Additional Damage is contested. But AFAICT it is legal in the strictest sense.

With respect to Rage. Additional Damage does not modify anything so it adds ie Rage adds. The -1 penalty to AC from Rage definitely applies because penalties explicitly do apply (despite what some people above have said that part is not vague at all). So yes it works. The alternative position is no it doesn't work. But really why bother with that argument and cut yourself out of a reasonable combination? Mechanically or game wise it is not a problem of any kind, so use it unless your GM says no.

For other feats. Yes they do largely work. Things like Flurry of Blows, Attack of Opportunity etc.

In the 3rd errata to the Core Rule Book, Paizo have clarified that In aerial form, animal form, avatar, dinosaur form, dragon form, elemental form, insect form, monstrosity form, nature incarnate, plant form, change "only attacks you can use" to "only attacks you can Strike with." You can still use non-Strike attacks like Grapple and Trip as normal. This clears out any objections people might have had about using other powers that specify attacks.

But there are exceptions. Watch for ones that specify weapon use as they obviously don't apply. OR things with the Polymorph Trait as that clashes with Wild Shape causing a counteract - this is relevant to some Barbarian abilities.

It's adjusting the damage you deal, so yes it modifies something and not in a way that is allowed by battle forms. Dragon Transformation for level 16 Dragon Instinct Barbarians has an exception as it explicitly allows it.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As you can see, how additional damage (and a handful of other mechanics) interacts with battle forms is a hotly debated topic with no clear consensus and absolute radio silence from the developers.

So talk to your GM.

You can enter rage.
You cannot stack temp HP.
You will take an AC penalty.
You might get the additional damage (talk to your GM).
You can use feats such as furious grab, sudden charge, swipe, and etc.
You cannot use giant's stature because it's also a polymorph effect.

You can use feats and abilities that modify your senses. I wasn't sure about this one, but after doing some digging it doesn't seem like polymorph has anything about overriding or replacing your senses (for some reason I thought they did).

Sovereign Court

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@Gortle: I don't understand how doing additional damage isn't changing the damage amounts set by the battle form.

The language for rage ("deal additional damage") doesn't read any different from specialization either, that's also about dealing additional damage.

The battle form doesn't work from an exclusion list basis; it works by only allowing things on an include list. And untyped additional damage isn't on that list.


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Squiggit wrote:

As you can see, how additional damage (and a handful of other mechanics) interacts with battle forms is a hotly debated topic with no clear consensus and absolute radio silence from the developers.

So talk to your GM.

You can enter rage.
You cannot stack temp HP.
You will take an AC penalty.
You might get the additional damage (talk to your GM).
You can use feats such as furious grab, sudden charge, swipe, and etc.
You cannot use giant's stature because it's also a polymorph effect.

You can use feats and abilities that modify your senses. I wasn't sure about this one, but after doing some digging it doesn't seem like polymorph has anything about overriding or replacing your senses (for some reason I thought they did).

The main problem about Battle Forms in PF2 is because they are not made focusing in someone using them as the main form of battle. Instead they was designed as alternative to spellcasters to fight as a marcial when they want to fight like this or some special cases like spellslots economy.

Because of this the Battle Forms are limited in many ways to not allow it to surpass a martial class. Because they was made thing to be used by a full spellcaster that also has full spellslots, many cantrips and some focus spells. Yeah maybe someway you are thinking "but the caster cannot cast while in a battle form" and that's true but yet a spellcaster can cast many spells (like heroism, bless, bane...) before enter in a Battle Form or dismiss the for the back to cast spells if the situation requires.

But this create a concept problem for player that want to play as a shapeshifter. The fact that many of this players don't really want to be casters but martials and them easily note that the battle forms are way limited to optimized fight in this way.

May be in future books we can have a shapeshifer dedicated class to compensate this, that is not restricted by battle forms. But now if you want to do it you have to accept that you are a caster that has an option to shape shift to fight a litte as a martial but you still are a spellcaster and this reflects in how martials resources works on them.

Ascalaphus wrote:

@Gortle: I don't understand how doing additional damage isn't changing the damage amounts set by the battle form.

The language for rage ("deal additional damage") doesn't read any different from specialization either, that's also about dealing additional damage.

The battle form doesn't work from an exclusion list basis; it works by only allowing things on an include list. And untyped additional damage isn't on that list.

It's using the Interpretation that the Battle Forms treats the additional damage in the same way they treat the other things like AC and hit. As the forms have their own damage values for each attack you can interpret that this damage values are considered like "special statistics" defined in Polymorph's Battle Form paragraph description.

So if damage are such "special statistic" defined by form it's restricted to be edited only by circumstance bonuses, status bonuses and any penalties is many people interpret that add extra/additional damage to it is a violation to polymorph battle form restrictions.
While other people interpret that the "additional/extra" means that these damage are not applied directly to the form but just an additional damage that's applied to any attack who is qualified to add it (this also creates a strange interpretation that you can add Weapon Specialization and Grater Weapon Specialization's additional damage to the forms but only when you are using you own unarmed attack bonus).

But in fact if we check in the ovewall balance I don't think that add some extra damage to battle forms or not add it won't change something in the game in the end may just make it a little closes to a martial effectiveness.


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Arguably if raging and shifting is your thing the animal barbarian has a feat that does exactly that.

Sure it doesn't do anything else than make you turn into your animal form as you rage but it definitely fits the flavor !!

If you were just looking to stack bonuses to make an op build though pf2e isn't really the edition for that, most stacking combos don't work, it's better to stack on what your team does.

In pf1e wild shape could be all sorts of broken yes.

Alternatively if your goal is to make a stupid powerful shapeshifting druid, check with your gm if he'll allow unarmed attacks as a weapon group for fighter and you can make a fighter with druid dedication, wild order and some fighter feats like power attack. At most levels, while shifted, you'll hit at +4 vs other martials and Crit all the time, and the base dice for most forms are fairly high so power attack will devastate with them.


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Ascalaphus wrote:

@Gortle: I don't understand how doing additional damage isn't changing the damage amounts set by the battle form.

The language for rage ("deal additional damage") doesn't read any different from specialization either, that's also about dealing additional damage.

The battle form doesn't work from an exclusion list basis; it works by only allowing things on an include list. And untyped additional damage isn't on that list.

When people talk about it they don't use the terminology in the rule books. The special statistic that can't be changed is the damage bonus not the damage total. But then again the terminology in the books is inconsistent and we don't have a fully damage equation with definitions for the various terms. Just bits and pieces. So its not something we can solve because we don't have enough information. Only Paizo can by issuing clarifications. There is a denial that additional damage is a bonus. But even that they have declined to clarify.

Squiggit list is right. YuriP's response covers most of it.

I don't agree that there is a balance issue. In wild shape you can't cast, you can't use a lot of equipment like shields. Many abilities won't work, but many do. Adding in additional damage is OK as every character build can find feats and archetypes that will add in a couple of points of damage if they look. Its not unique to wildshapers, so there really is no reason to disallow it. Importantly wildshape costs actions that could have been spent doing something else.

We aren't talking about a super caster who can do everything as
1) you can't cast in a battle form, so its pretty hard to stack on top of a battle form
2) to run a battle form well it requires a lot of investment of feats, which a martial character or an alternate caster could instead use to get other abilities.

Basically its just one type of build out of many viable options. There is no substantial balance reason to want stop it.


Thank you for your kind answers, everyone. It seems that, a druid with barbarian archetype can definitely use (and benefit from) rage when he's using wild shape. While RAW does not clearly specify that he receives bonus damage from rage during wild shape, it seems that according to RAI the druid should receive it, since it doesn't seem logical to me that wild shape or polymorph prevents one from receiving bonus damage from rage. I really wish Paizo to specify this part in the errata someday though.

A follow-up question. Can the druid benefit from such feats like furious grab or oversized throw, after he polymorphed into a fire elemental, purple worm or sea serpent using wild shape? I mean, logically, to use the grab or throw action, the creature must have a hand. But the rulebook didn't say you have to have a hand to grab or throw. So logically, the druid can still benefit from furious grab or oversized throw feat after polymorphed? Likewise, while the description text for farabellus flip implies that this feat allows the medium armor wearer to become more agile, it didn't say you have to wear a medium armor to benefit from the feat. So the GM cannot stop me from using it even when I'm wearing a heavy armor, not wearing an armor at all, or while using wild shape?


Aenigma wrote:
A follow-up question. Can the druid benefit from such feats like furious grab or oversized throw, after he polymorphed into a fire elemental, purple worm or sea serpent using wild shape? I mean, logically, to use the grab or throw action, the creature must have a hand. But the rulebook didn't say you have to have a hand to grab or throw. So logically, the druid can still benefit from furious grab or oversized throw feat after polymorphed?

Mechanically, I think so. I think somewhere it mentions that all creatures mechanically have two hands no matter if they are described as having two hands, 8 tentacles, or no limbs at all.

Aenigma wrote:
Likewise, while the description text for farabellus flip implies that this feat allows the medium armor wearer to become more agile, it didn't say you have to wear a medium armor to benefit from the feat. So the GM cannot stop me from using it even when I'm wearing a heavy armor, not wearing an armor at all, or while using wild shape?

You might work on your wording of that. Saying things like "I should be allowed to do this because technically the rules don't say I can't." can be seen as player vs GM combative and rather toxic.

In this case, I think you are right from a balance perspective. Farabellus Flip is effectively the Rogue's Nimble Dodge. Some minor differences such as needing medium armor proficiency, the limited use Step action if they hit, and the higher feat level to get it at. I might push back against using it while wearing heavy armor. If you are using heavy armor without heavy armor proficiency, then you will get what you deserve. And if you do have heavy armor proficiency in excess of what the feat requires, I don't see any good reason why Farabellus Flip shouldn't work. I don't think anyone would argue against letting you use it while unarmored or in light armor - though you do still have to have medium armor proficiency to get the feat in the first place.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Quote:
Mechanically, I think so. I think somewhere it mentions that all creatures mechanically have two hands no matter if they are described as having two hands, 8 tentacles, or no limbs at all.

I don’t believe there is any rule of that sort in 2E. You might be thinking of a rule that exists from Starfinder PC races, because that system dies have this.

That being said, the rules for things like a free hand requirement for Atgletics maneuvers are pretty clearly written for humanoids and don't account for other creatures. You just kind of end up in the grey area where the written rules don't have your back at all and you need to apply GM judgement when you rule on other creatures in 2E.


HammerJack wrote:
Quote:
Mechanically, I think so. I think somewhere it mentions that all creatures mechanically have two hands no matter if they are described as having two hands, 8 tentacles, or no limbs at all.
I don’t believe there is any rule of that sort in 2E. You might be thinking of a rule that exists from Starfinder PC races, because that system dies have this.

It is very possible that I am confusing the rules of the two systems together.


HammerJack wrote:
Quote:
Mechanically, I think so. I think somewhere it mentions that all creatures mechanically have two hands no matter if they are described as having two hands, 8 tentacles, or no limbs at all.

I don’t believe there is any rule of that sort in 2E. You might be thinking of a rule that exists from Starfinder PC races, because that system dies have this.

That being said, the rules for things like a free hand requirement for Atgletics maneuvers are pretty clearly written for humanoids and don't account for other creatures. You just kind of end up in the grey area where the written rules don't have your back at all and you need to apply GM judgement when you rule on other creatures in 2E.

Probably why creatures get Grab, Knockdown, etc. None of them mention hands, so they can use them.

Horizon Hunters

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Sterling Dynamo states that the archetype can never give you more than the standard two prehensile limbs. I can't get the actual text right now because AoN is broken again, but that rule implies that PCs will always have two prehensile limbs, and that the archetype can replace one if lost.

I will restate the rule I have: Unless otherwise explicitly stated by a character option, all PCs follow the same rules. This includes number of hands, senses, and what conditions affect them.


Fleshwarp is largely the same.


Cordell Kintner wrote:
I will restate the rule I have: Unless otherwise explicitly stated by a character option, all PCs follow the same rules. This includes number of hands, senses, and what conditions affect them.

If that is an official rule that you can find, that would go a long way to answering the question about certain ancestries like Skeleton and Bleed damage.

Sovereign Court

Yeah I don't think such a rule exists. It'd be handy to have such a baseline but I haven't actually found it. It would make designing oddball ancestries easier because you have an actual checklist to look at when determining what exceptions or overrides are needed.

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