What is the point of this line in the Hide of the Feral Guardian?

It's relatively short, I'll provide the entire question text here:

The Hide of the Feral Guardian, a legendary item from the Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, includes the following ability.

When you cast the polymorph spell using this armor, you can transform into a cave bear (use the polar bear statistics).

Why does it mention both bears, and not just turn the user into either a polar bear or cave bear through the polymorph spell? At first I thought it might be because of the book each creature was from, but they both have stat blocks in the monster manual, and neither are in the explorer's guide elsewhere as far as I can see.

Effectively, why does the magic item tell you to use one bear with the statistics of another bear when you polymorph, instead of just saying "When you cast the polymorph spell using this armor, you can transform into a cave bear" or "When you cast the polymorph spell using this armor, you can transform into a polar bear".

Is this question a designer intent question, and therefore off-topic? If so, can it be salvaged?


1 Answer 1


The initial question is definitely a designer intent question - the OP wanted to know WHY the magic item was described as turning the user into one kind of bear, but directing them to use the stats of another bear. Simply put, why questions are not allowed.

This WHY question solicited a BECAUSE answer - because you need to reference one bear's stats to look up the other one, and possibly because one bear's stats and not the others are listed in the (free) Basic Rules, while you would need a purchase of the Monster Manual to access the other bear's stats. This answer itself seems reasonable and documented, but it still presupposes designer intent - it is the opinion of the poster that the designers did this to aid player access to the bears' stats.

This question can be salvaged. The OP has selected an answer, and now just needs to reformat the question so as to appear to solicit that answer. Rather than ask a WHY question, the OP needs to ask a HOW question. 'How does saying the item transforms the user into one bear while using the stats of another aid player access to those stats'? It is possible to format the question in such a way that it avoids designer intent by simply asking what the effect of the decision was, without questioning the intent of the decision.

However, this reformulation of the question was only possible after the WHY question had been asked and the BECAUSE answer had been posted. The OP could not ask the 'right question' until they knew what they were looking for. The question can be made to reflect site policy, but only after site policy has been breached in posting both the question and the answer. Furthermore, in receiving the answer, the OP's question has morphed. They say in comments "I believe this is the answer to my question...the purpose of the line is only to point you to where the cave bear variant stat block is listed - in the polar bear stat block." They began with the assumption that 'the designers did this for a reason, so what is the reason?' and could only ask the question that way. Once they found out the reason, (I believe) they were more interested in the functionality of the effect than the designer intent. What they actually wanted, and accepted, was the effect of the intent, but they lacked a way to ask about that a priori.

Designer intent questions are not out of bounds because they are bad questions or because they don't have answers. Designer intent questions are out of bounds because they tend to produce bad answers. That didn't happen in this case - a designer intent question produced an answer that was reasonable, supported, and accepted by the questioner. The fact that the question didn't produce numerous 'bad subjective' answers based on unsupported opinion, however, doesn't change the site policy. More important, it doesn't change the reason for the site policy.

Incidentally, the OP has received the answer they wanted to the question they would have liked to have asked, and accepted the answer. They don't have much incentive to change the question now so that its wording makes it acceptable to the site - if that is to happen, it will likely fall to a site caretaker.

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    \$\begingroup\$ gotcha. I think the question can likely be tweaked to remove the designer intent piece. But if that is what OP is asking, then we shouldn't. Just because we can't answer it doesn't mean OP didn't want to ask specifically that. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 16:53

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