Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid

  • 36 Replies


  • 777
Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2013, 06:11:05 PM »
Wot Cerisa said. *handclap*
I hope that helps Quigley, truely that seems to be at the heart of your disconnect: that you are breaking down your obstacles into 'types' and perhaps (since I don't know what your prep entails) having your pre-prepared 'barriers' thwarted with little challenge via the Player's clever use of the Druid's shapechanging ability.

As Cerisa says... So What? Its only a 'godlike power' if you all agree it to be. Saying that they are capable of subverting any physical barrier with just one move requires your story to allow that to happen. Fiction First always, remember?

So if the druid says 'I want to use my shapechange move and turn into an eagle and fly over all the entrapments and opposition to grab the Idol and whisk it away safe in my talons' You reply with 'Great! So what do you do?'.

This isn't being facetious. You need to establish the fiction first. There may be all sorts of moves (and wonderful story) embedded in there, not just for the Druid. So you have their intent right? And they describe (quite poetically) their ritual shift into the eagle form they have studied since a child wandering the steppes of their homeland... and they roll.

A 6 or less: They get an XP :) Plus they have one hold but You get to make as hard a move as you like! I think this renders any 'physical obstacle' irrelevant to the current state of affairs at at this point. Make your move and make it immediate and make it un-ignorable.
A Hit: So they have hold to make moves, great! These are spent to make moves 'just what the animal naturally does'. You stipulate (with discussion of course) the moves as GM that the player can make... I don't think 'grasp the magic idol in my talons and fly away' is enough. That sounds like 'take wing and soar above it all' and 'swoop down and grasp prey in my talons' (2 hold) The act of getting the Idol then sounds like Defy Danger to me! Plus this all needs narration, you can't just state a move and roll, the game devolves to a humdrum experience at that point.

And even so, at that initial point of transformation you may turn to another player, after describing them seeing the druid morph into a majestic eagle and take flight and describe any number of other 'obstacles' now apparent (social, combat, trap or otherwise) and ask them what to they do. The conversation is a flow yeah? Depending on what happens you may get back to the druid making their Defy Danger to grab the idol, or maybe not, play to see what happens....

The druid still has to make the move (with a roll) and the fiction has to trigger that move. So there is always the potential for GM Hard and Soft Moves throughout the snowball, and the resultant shift in the fictional outcomes. (which may be far far removed from the player's initial intent.)



  • 609
Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2013, 11:47:53 PM »
Its true I'm not concerned about the Druid flying over my pit traps. It's like my pit traps have an additional move: "Turn Druids into pigeons". That's awesome.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."

Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #32 on: February 06, 2013, 03:11:45 AM »
my 2 cents (and I don't know if someone else said something similar; if yes, then forgive my laziness):
in my games, that the druid could fly unnoticed above every obstacle was of a narrow utility. The rest of the party had to subvert the obstacle anyway. It's not like the thief that disarms a trap for everyone or a magic ritual that teleports everyone at once.

I remember one time when the druid flew ahead to be sure that there were some survivors beyond a wall of zombies, but then she came back and fought the zombies together with the rest of the party. Another time, she pursued a fleeting boss underwater, but when she reached him, she couldn't beat him all alone. And while she had an easy time going down a pit full of prisoners and also helped carrying one in the form of an eagle, the rest of the party had to consume an obscene amount of rope to get down, take the prisoners, and come back upstairs.
Oh, the things we tell ourselves to feel better about the long, dark nights.



  • 609
Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2013, 03:36:21 AM »
Quigley, here's the thing, I'm not saying do anything to compensate. That implies there's a problem. I'm saying that the GM should do their job and follow their agenda and stop worrying about whether the Druid gets by an obstacle or not. The GM is not a fan of their obstacles. Why does it matter if the Druid flies through the bars on a roll+wis, or the fighter rips the gate off its hinges with a roll+str, or the thief picks the lock with a roll+DEX? The GM's job is the same. Use moves to pursue your agenda. 1. Portray a fantastical world; 2. Fill the characters' lives with adventure; 3. Play to find out what happens. The GM's agenda does not include anything about how hard physical barriers should be.

Everything you say and do at the table (and away from the table, too) exists to accomplish these three goals and no others. Things that aren't on this list aren't your goals. You're not trying to beat the players or test their ability to solve complex traps...Page 161.

The problem in your examples is not that the Druid can roll+wis and get by a physical barrier, its that the GM allows the Druid to become a super spy, ninja and the other characters become bit players. The remedy is simply for the GM to do their job.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 03:49:51 AM by noclue »
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."

Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2013, 07:16:18 PM »
It's interesting to see how this thread has morphed into something other than the original post.

My comment on the current discussion is that the shapeshifter is sometimes going to be at the mercy of the spirits of the wild. When they are in animal form (I don't think I will allow insects), they may fall prey to natural predators, and they may be overcome by the instincts of their new form. That ought to help me balance things out and keep them from gaming it too much.

Start with the fiction.

Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #35 on: February 18, 2013, 01:16:22 PM »
I have a druid in my game and he is the same in this thread, solving everything with shapeshift, but also he is turning into animals in a wild frenzy between actions he decides to take in the combat. All this is cool to me, if i didn't want someone morphing into the most fitting form to solve problems I would not have presented the Druid playbook at the table.

What was a minor concern was how shifting a lot during combat was putting more of a spotlight on him than in everyone else, thus on his first failure he wasn't able to shift any more during that scene, i told him the spirits refused to aid him. After combat he talked with the spirits and they considered him to be too far removed from their needs, as a result they required him to pray in 3 different shrines in the world, I went ahead and told the player that he could transform again, but at every session he would have to actively move towards the goal they set for him.

I didn't even set the consequences for not trying to get to the shrines. This was (to me) a show a downside of the class (i.e. it relies on the spirits).

And as someone else pointed out, the Druid's forms allow him to bypass obstacles, the remaining characters are stuck with it, though, and the druid just gave you a free move: separate them.

I would not punish any character for outsmarting an obstacle, the druid merely creates a fast and easy way to do that, meaning I need obstacles that are actually defying the druid, or that simply require more than one person to overcome them.
I started a blog to share my pain:

All my posts (unless stated otherwise) are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license visit



  • 25
Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2013, 11:31:57 PM »
Heh. This is a timely thread. I was just about to start one called "Druid Runs Amok" when I saw this. There's some really good ideas here. I was playing two days ago with my two kids (14 year old son playing a Druid and my 13 year daughter playing a ranger). We were playing lvl 3 chars.

The Druid decided on being an elf so he got the great forests forms and after enjoying 20 minutes looking up weird sea animals on google, decided on the open sea as his second category of forms.

We had a blast. The Druid certainly had the limelight though, and was shape-shifting every other turn to counter every threat. He rolled 10+ on almost every shapeshifting move the entire night so it was a little difficult to reign it in.

It was great to see such creative roleplaying from my son.

The first fight, a wizard they knew was running away from 5 wargs chasing him across a field. The PCs ran to help. The Ranger was shooting the wargs in the eyes and throats, downing one, her companion tangled with another.

The druid turned into an African King Eagle. The thing had a wing span of over 6 feet, massive claws and he swooped down and picked up the scrawny mage dodging the salivating maws of the wargs and depositing the wizard to safety, then leaping back into the air, swooping down and at the last instant turning into a venemous snake  that bit the warg but didn't kill it. The warg trapped the mage in it's paws and was about to bite its head off when poof, he turned into a giant sea turtle with a shell diameter 35'. The warg was so confused it almost meowed. They tidied up the fight after that.

The giant sea turtle was a familiar staple in other encounters. One I didn't even see coming: so they were tasked to get the Book of Luthroth, required by the mage they rescued, from the bowels of a library in a city under attack by a goblin horde. The druid easily sneaked into the city--flew high--duh and into the library, overcoming most physical obstacles. My challenge was what to do with The Ranger so she wasn't completely left out. (You know bro and sister players--they don't always form the best teams.)

Anyhow, after a brutal fight with an orcaster and a lizard man, who were also after the book, the druid coming out victor, and the ocraster fled. The ranger eventually made it all the way through the sewers and into the city by the time the druid finished up this fight.

He eventually made it a subterranean large circular room--special collections area--there was a pedastal on the which rested the book bathed in a shaft of obvious magical light. A suit of armor (obviously a guardian) stood nearby ready to engage anyone who messed with the book. Druid flew in as a small bird, circled the pedestal, and then when it was right above the armored suit, turned upside down, shape shifted into a giant sea turtle and crushed it like it was a tin can! Squish. We all just started laughing. My daughter was laughing so hard she could hardly breathe!

He got the book, shapeshifted to an ant, and crawled out of the room, the guards that rushed down not being the wiser. After all who would see an ant?

Later, he did the turtle move again, flying lazily above the goblin command post of the goblin horde as a humming bird then upending and crushing the platform. I wonder what they thought seeing a giant turtle fall out of the sky and kill their leader and two of his orcasters? He then zipped away as the humming bird again, while being trailed with bursts of magical energy from the one remaining orcaster.

The goblins not used to seeing it rain giant turtles pulled back their assault. The heroes had saved the town (well okay the druid hero). The ranger at this point, the druid outdistancing her.

It was fun but, he did tend to hog the limelight. Thanks for the ideas here.