Hello, I’m a bit confused about how to use a Druid’s animal-form moves.

Hello, I’m a bit confused about how to use a Druid’s animal-form moves.

Hello, I’m a bit confused about how to use a Druid’s animal-form moves.

In a post on the DW forum, Sage states that no roll is needed when a Druid spends a hold to do one of their animal form’s moves. Thus, if a mouse Druid wants to sneak away, he automatically succeeds. If a wolf Druid wants to tear out an enemy’s throat he does it. So in essence, one shape-shifting roll leads to 1-3 automatic successes as long as the move falls in line with the animal form taken. Is all of that correct?

My second question is, can a Druid in a predatory animal form save their holds and roll a Hack and Slash attack instead? For example, if the wolf Druid’s moves are:

    -Growl to intimidate

    -Tear out an enemy’s throat

    -Track by sent

Can the wolf Druid decide to bite an enemy’s leg (instead of spending a hold to go for the throat) and if so, should he roll Hack & Slash for that action?

15 thoughts on “Hello, I’m a bit confused about how to use a Druid’s animal-form moves.”

  1. I allowed it with my Druid last game session. He fought a Lizard-folk hunter in bear form, but didnt want to return to Halfling form so he saved his hold and hack-and-slashed.

    Things to remember: it can be hard to trigger moves as an animal! I allowed H&S as a bear because H&S is an exchange of harm — I could envision a fantasy bear circling this warrior, and the two exchanging blows.

    Is the animal or antagonist such that an exchange of blows isn’t viable? Then don’t trigger H&S, just exchange harm.

    Eg, you’re a little fox being held by the scruff of your neck. You bite the hand holding you — maybe is defy danger? Maybe it’s just you roll 1d4 and you’re thrown on the ground for 1d6/1d8. That kind of thing.

  2. The way I read the character sheet, which is: “Spend 1 hold to make that move” – sounds like you’re making a move, not a fancy free move from the liberal gamemasters union.  A move is a move.  

    Darn tootin’ I’m arguing with the author about his own game.

  3. Brennan OBrien

    Thank you for the advice and I know that is the default answer to many DW mechanics questions but, honestly, I’m not very experienced as a GM so I frequently find it difficult to determine if one option feels more “right” than another.

    I guess I’m more concerned with opening up an ongoing exploit by misunderstanding the intent of the rules. This game was made by some very talented and experienced people who put it through a lot of play-testing so I’d like to take advantage of that.

  4. Maybe a good rule of thumb would be to not create animal moves that directly deal damage/death if the animal form is capable of a Hack & Slash (such as a wolf or bear)?

    Instead of a bear’s “Tear an enemy limb from limb” it would be “Show a great feat of strength.” The bear could attack an enemy using Hack & Slash and if he’s successful, he could spend his hold to tear the enemy’s arms off.

    On the flip side, a snake isn’t really capable of the Hack & Slash move with most enemies so it would be okay for them to spend a hold to “inject venom” assuming they can get close to the enemy unnoticed.

    What do you guys think?

  5. I’ve seen Sage and Adam say several times that to be allowed to roll Hack and Slash, you must plausibly be able to hurt the thing you’re attacking.  And also it says under the Shapeshift move “You have any innate abilities and weaknesses of the form: claws, wings, gills, breathing water instead of air. You still use your normal stats but some moves may be harder to trigger—a housecat will find it hard to do battle with an ogre.”  So I’d say you could roll Hack and Slash normally if the shapeshift form is big and mean enough to plausibly attack.  It also says, “The GM will also tell you one or more moves associated with your new form. Spend 1 hold to make that move,” which I read as giving you one or more new move options that you would not otherwise have, and that you can take by spending hold.

    I think instant-death animal moves can be fun, but you should give them a second thought when making them.  Instead of “tear an enemy limb from limb,” say, it might be better to go with “tear a weaker enemy limb from limb,” just to make sure everyone is clear that it’s fine to rip up some goblins, but that move isn’t going to work against Tiamat.

  6. Don’t hold back on your animal moves. Make them reasonable, but don’t nerf them because “oh noes the balance.” They’re the Druid and they get one thing: shapeshifting. Let them own the day when they roll and get some hold.

  7. Alfred Rudzki

     Yeah, I was originally thinking the same way but then I listened to a podcast of a group playing DW. It seemed odd that every character was fumbling around with partial successes and outright failures and the Druid could do whatever he wanted without fear of complications as long as he picked the right animal form.

    2-9 complications are integral to the heart of DW and as far as I can tell, the Druid is the only class that can frequently sidestep that core element by declaring actions he knows will succeed.

  8. “tear an enemy limb from limb” is totally viable as a move, but the GM is allowed to say “no way, dude.” because remember, fiction.  If the Druid turns into a wolf and says “I spent a hold to tear tiamat’s heads off” you can say “that doesn’t make any damn sense at all, no.” because yeah, it doesn’t.

    But if you change into a Rhino and, say, spend your hold to “knock something down” and crash through a stone wall?  Way to fucking go, you are super cool and are doing it right.

    The complication comes from continued use of the shapeshift move.  I mean, jesus h. christ what kind of hard moves are made when you fuck up a roll involving EXCHANGING YOUR PERMANENT CORPOREAL FORM FOR ANOTHER.

    Guess who is stuck in duck-form?  you are.  What does that mean for your soul?  What does it mean to be a human to begin with?  Are you merely a duck dreaming you were a man?


  9. Our Druid liked the Polar Bear form, especially when I gave it the “eviscerate” move. And for a while I thought “oh no what have I done?” but it turns out I’d just been a fan of the character. When it tried to eviscerate the mummy, the Wizard pointed out before I could why that wouldn’t do much of anything.

    I say, give them some violent moves, if appropriate, and let them spend hold to do it. ’cause sooner or later, those dice will come up 6- on the shapeshift, too.

  10. Using a druid animal form move means that just happens.

    If you’ve got “eviscerate”, you can spend a point of hold to just eviscerate something, fiction allowing. You don’t have to make a hack and slash roll for that.

    Think of it this way: the druid uses shapeshift to turn one success into multiple successes at the cost of flexibility (and greater fictional consequences for failure).

  11. Sage LaTorra Thank you Sage. I’m wondering if the GM even needs to make a list of animal moves when the Druid changes shape. Instead, could they just let the Druid do what they want in their animal form and only require that they spend a hold to perform an action that their animal form makes possible? (i.e. anything they couldn’t reasonably do in their natural humanoid form)

    For example, a bird Druid can fly down a hallway without spending a hold because the Druid could just as easily walk down that hallway in humanoid form. However, if he wants to fly high into the air and survey a large area, that requires spending a hold since he cannot do that in humanoid form.

    Or a rhino Druid can fight a group of orcs without spending a hold by using Hack & Slash but if he wants to charge through the orcs to trample and scatter them then he must spend a hold to do it.

    What do you think? Could this work better than GMs creating animal moves on the fly or are the GM specified animal moves important for some reason I’ve overlooked? Maybe without them, animal forms are not limiting enough?

  12. I kinda of prefer the idea that a druid who shapeshifts manages to do most things without worry… so a hawk can fly (as high as a hawk can fly) without spending hold to do so – why else would you want to be a bird?

    The GM moves then might be “Rake eyes” or “Escape to the sky”, wherein the first the druid can spend a hold to automatically blind and opponent without a roll, and the second allows the druid to disengage combat and soar into the sky with no ill effects… so they are special things seperate from the basic attributes of the form (flying, hacking and slashing with claws etc) that don’t require rolls…

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