62 thoughts on “Druid.”

  1. I’ve got a generic “do animal-ish thing” move for druids in animal form that lets them substitute WIS for another move in echange for one of their holds. Makes the whole thing a lot less weird.

  2. Well I had a generic discomfort in reading over the playbook, as a GM, thinking “How in the world am I going to decide what all is reasonable for my Druid to accomplish in animal form when asks me?” DW is all about GM fiat but the Druid feels even further afield in that regard.

    And if course there’s the potential for the Druid just being a bag of tricks, pulling out whatever is necessary to blast through the problem of the moment. Again, these were sort of generic flags going off as I read it but I’ve seen some comments mentioning some of this as well.

  3. A player who is using a bag of tricks is going to fail every now and again. Remind them that the more they transform the more they have to roll.

    My druid player rolled a 2 when surrounded by a horde of zombies. He wanted to be a Ram.

    I said, “Lamb? You said ‘lamb’ right? You turn into a lamb and you have the move ‘bleat helplessly’.”

  4. The two most useful things I’ve discovered about shapeshifting are these:

    1. Stay in the fiction: Just like you couldn’t Hack and Slash an ancient dragon with a broomstick, you can’t Hack and Slash a goblin when you’re a mouse. Don’t let system override sense with shapeshifting.

    2. Think up what that creature does: Mice gnaw apart, skitter fast, and squirm through. Bears clobber ferociously, rear up and roar terrifyingly, and hunt patiently. If you’re ever in doubt, think of three moves the animal form could do, one martial, one social/mental, and one useful/weird. If you’re really stumped, ask for suggestions from the table. Collaboration is awesome!

    Write these forms out on index cards so your Druid can use them over and over again.

    Also, animal moves are in addition to the regular moves: you can still Hack and Slash, Discern Realities etc. as an eagle or whatever.

  5. What i try to do is give my player 2 moves whenever he transforms. I ask him what he is wanting to accomplish and I will give him one move to get at that goal and one to entice him to try something different.

    Other than the animal moves you give him, he is the same stats just in a different skin.

    You control the spotlight. One way to do that with the druid is what animal moves you give him.

    Another example of what I have done with my druid. 

    He rolled a 10+ to transform into a stone/earth creature, so 3 hold. He then rolled Volley to hurl a rock at an ogre. I allowed it and when he rolled a 7-9, I let him expend a hold as a way to use up ammo.

  6. Well my instinct would be, hmmm, grizzly bear. First move is probably “Crush an unarmored head in your maw.” So just stay away from moves like that then?

  7. What Magi max said: if your goal is to totally outclass another class, you’re not using the move right. The weird thing about animal attack moves is that they just do damage, because that’s what the move says. But yeah, you only do d6.

  8. Okay wait. I need to back up a second and make sure I understand something. Moves are descriptive AND prescriptive. So if a creature has a move, sever a limb, sure it’s just damage but the limb IS removed right? My bear move above, that means death, right?

  9. Pff, my Fighter feels second fiddle to nobody. Not when she’s sweeping her massive swordaxe to and fro, slicing the leg clean off an ettin and cleaving clean through three or four orcs a swing. Sure the druid turns into a purple worm and swallows a few bastards whole, but I’m still the mu’fuggin Fighter, bitches.

  10. Besides, the druid’s a crap of a lot more careful with what he asks the spirits for, ever since the last time he turned into a xorn and got stuck that way until he’d sacrificed a heap of rubies to the spirits of the earth (failed roll). Y’know how hard it is to waltz into town with a dude who looks like a cone?

  11. No, but since I got the messy quality on my weapon, my effect on the fiction has jumped way up.

    Hell, the stock barbarian has Messy and Forceful with any weapon. Bitch be scary in a knife fight.

  12. You might only do d6. The animal moves are animal moves. If they become a predator with a move like “eviscerate the living” then friggin DUH its not d6 damage.

    The catch is they only kill one bad guy and in two more rounds, they have to change back if they’re going to use all their hold eviscerating.

    So yeah, tempt the Druid with other cool sounding moves.

    And of course, you’re in control of the moves an animal gets. If you’re really worried: adjust the scale of the moves you hand out!

    Okay so bears are scary, but are they really ONE HIT KILL scary? I dunno. Maybe? If not, make a move like “bat aside all contenders.” Just scale your fiction down.

  13. I don’t see what’s to balk at? When the 16-hit-point Dragon comes a-callin’ we still quake in fear. And the first time my leg turned to stone ’cause I didn’t take proper precautions when hunting a basilisk I made sure was the last damned time too. 

  14. Yeah, if a bandit just got “eviscerate the living”‘d by a druid shapeshifted into a Giant Eagle, I don’t care how much damage he or she got in Hit Points. That person ain’t getting back up for a while.

  15. Also, I think it’s really important to remember: the fiction doesn’t ONLY move because we’re rolling dice. Right? We all get that? It’s not like, the fiction rolls forward only because the Druid or fighter is rolling dice and every time a 6-9 comes up BAM we’re now making stuff happen.

    You are still doing stuff at, to, and around the Druid.

    Every time it’s the GMs turn to talk, you make a soft move. A soft move is a set up without resolution that ends in “what do you do?” Every time someone looks to the GM to speak, it’s the GMs turn.


    Okay, yeah, you’re a giant eagle. You eviscerated one bandit.

    You’re now the greatest threat, and six archers open up with their crossbows at you (or whatever was happening just then when you shifted). What do you do?

    Or, hey you’re an eagle druid and suddenly a little sparrow is trying to get your attention. What do you do?

    You keep playing the same game. One of your characters is just now probably lacking speech and opposable thumbs.

  16. Chris McNeilly, you’ve got it. But that’s the thing: they spend it to turn back. That’s wasted hold. And then if they want to shift again? Time to roll again. Eventually, the odds won’t be in the druid’s favor.

  17. Okay several things are coming out if the discussion and that’s cool. Aaron Friesen, I get where you’re coming from and that’s awesome. I think it’s just a matter of taste in what one wants from the fiction. You’re really playing up the fantasy superhero aspect which is cool but not usually how I enjoy my games. I feel ya though!

    And the Druid discussion is good and helping me. I’m still a little meh on it though since it still feels a bit like a skeleton key power. Ill just have to see how it goes, may be awesome on the table!

  18. Well, if you want to tone the power level down, the druid will still remain a bit of a skeleton key, but it’s easy to tone down. “I turn into a grizzly, bitches! I’mma tear up some orcs! 10+! Gimme some moves.” “Awright, you got immobilize them in a bear hug, lash out with mighty claws, and ignore a forceful blow

    Still significant abilities, but hain’t gonna be outshining anybody.

  19. I think it’s worth stressing that the shapeshifting move is perfectly fine to create bears and other predators for fighting, but you’re really shortchanging yourself as a Druid if that’s your whole angle. Becoming very small, being able to breathe water, alternate modes of locomotion – all that stuff is way more valuable for shapechanging, imo. I suspect y’all probably know that, but it’s not being said, and I think it needs to be. Druids don’t do what other classes do better. They do what no mere anthropomorph can. That’s what makes them cool.

  20. All ya gotta do is keep the moves focused. Besides, they don’t just have to use the SS moves to interact. They do normal actions, using the form as altered fictional positioning. 

  21. Druids are fucking awesome to play.

    I think that Travis Scott has the good word on shapeshifting.  A creative player is going to have crazy fun solving problems with shapeshifting. The “be a fan of the PCs” agenda makes this not just okay, but highly desirable.

    That said, the rule that requires hold to be spent for beast moves mitigates their spamming a little bit — eventually the druid is going to be caught flat-footed in human form.

    If I were worried about big combat mayhem with animal moves, I think I’d write them so that reach became a factor. It seems like most animals would really only be good up close, which means defying danger to get close enough to attack or being exposed to close attacks in return after making an attack.

    I’d also look to set up beast moves that don’t solve problems on their own, but rather synergize to solve problems.  Say our game had a druid and a backstabbing thief, then I’d see if I could tilt the druid’s moves towards setting up the the thief’s backstab attack, like give a bear a “roar to draw everyone’s attention” move. 

    Elemental Mastery can be crazy balls.  Using it to do something huge is like playing chicken with the GM. The bigger the effect, the bigger the blowback can be.

    Once my desert druid petitioned the earth spirits to collapse a entire dungeon. I rolled 10+ and didn’t choose “avoid paying nature’s price.” I was expecting to be crushed — it was the end of a con game — but the GM blinked and my guy took heavy but survivable hit point damage.

  22. My experience is that shapeshift is just a way for the player to put his character in absurdly dangerous situations all by himself. A bear that needs thumbs is the norm, the example of the fly-druid caught in a spider web is famous. I’ve got wolf-druids who discovered that trying to go in to a bite-race against zombies is just going to finish very bad. And what happens when you are deeply underwater (or very high in the air) with just one hold left, you try to hack’n’slash to save the hold for later, but miss the roll? Ugly stuff, let me tell you. Especially if the gm remembers about the “use up their resources” move.

    I’ve got two short campaigns one after the other with a druid in both when it was first released during the kickstarter, and now in my current and longer campaign I feel I’m missing the class because it was so awesome 🙁

  23. I’ve GM’d a Druid for 6 sessions and feel like I’m still not getting it entirely right so this thread is nice. If anything I feel like I’ve been short-changing him. Not so much in potency but in spotlight time. We’ve been underground most of the time so I think that’s part of it. He hasn’t done a lot of shifting for problem-solving so maybe my environments haven’t been problematic in the right way.

    His Arctic bear form can off a threatening foe for a hold. I don’t think that takes away from any other classes. He still has to roll to transform. I let him spend all three hold once to take out a bandit chief because it seemed to make sense in the fiction. Last session he transformed into a whale while flying into a sea troll and dazed it, keeping it in some oil-soaked sand on an underground beach and setting it up for a fire arrow kill conflagration.

  24. Remember to make your own moves and to make the fight flow right. So a fighter and the giant bear are facing off against a bunch of greenskins.

    The fighter can tumble into their midst and lay into a bunch (forceful, messy) while parrying blows. If a bear spends one hold to ‘Crush a head’ that’s one goblin down.

    If the bear seems more threatening, then make your GM moves. Have the gobbos poke at him (defy danger or take some damage!), have them form up lines where he has to smash their puny sticks (defy with str! That’s not wisdom is it druid boy!) . Have them scramble up trees, have their stench choke him more. Have his bear instincts fear fire.

    Then have the fighter do the exact same thing and see the difference.

    Overall, remember that the power of the druid is versatility, not damage.  Give them good fiction, showcase the power and strength of the bear, but remember that things can go wrong. Enemies can swarm. No amount of hide is immune to a strong spear. When you spend your hold and shift to human, it takes a few seconds to become a bear again, in that time you’re vulnerable.

    It’s all about the GM moves. A good druid keeps shifting to keep the fight flowing, but the best druids learn how to be what the party needs. If the party has a sweet warrior, a good druid will rend armor, create openings, harry opponents, and generally be what is needed instead of trying to headline everything as a Bear (though bears are totally sweet).

    Other than that – some stellar advice in this thread.  Travis really nailed some of it.

  25. I find that the “power to kill stuff” is absurdly overrated in DW. I can’t help but smile when people say stuff like “wow, I can’t one shot an orc!”, because often a single orc is just a laughable opponent.

    Where the fighter excels is against groups of orcs. A fighter is a master with his weapon, only a handful of people (if any) in the game world can match him, let alone best him, in a straight up fight.

    GM: “A group of orcs runs straight at you, bellowing war cries and swinging their blades in front of them. What do you do?”

    Fighter: “I leap into their midst, cutting them all down with broad, circular swings with my axe!”

    So basically, 10 orcs would at most do d8+9 damage to the fighter, but the fighter would deal d10 damage to all of them if he rolls at least 7. Not counting any bonuses from the weapon or advanced moves, of course. Odds are, he will kill ten orcs in a single move.

    In my last one-shot (soon to be two-shot) session, the druid in the party shapeshifted mid-air into a Hippo, landing on a foe. I was thinking, “what happens when a hippo lands on a halfling? Halfling pancake, I guess”. Yay, he spend a hold to kill a halfling. The only reason it wasn’t dead yet was because the Fighter persistently rolled misses, which were attributed to the crossbow bolt firmly stuck in his lower regions.

  26. Kasper Brohus, maybe I’m having a disconnect with some folks because style preferences? But the rules didn’t bring to my mind any imagery like what you just described. 10 orcs in one Hack and Slash? I want to be a fan of the players but that becomes a game I’m just not interested in playing. Maybe sometime the fiction sets up in a way that the fighter gets to take down a couple guys in one roll. But I’m pretty certain my Fighter will respect a group of ten orcs. Maybe not though, we’ll see. And I haven’t even looked thoroughly at at the Fighter, maybe there’s specific moves for handling groups.

    Anyway, the one shot kill is not really the point of my concerns. It’s just one facet. I was just concerned that at one moment the Druid will be out shining the Fighter in combat scenes, followed immediately by outshining the thief in sneaking scenes, etc. Again, these were just red flags I had glancing through the Druid playbook. No actual play problems yet.

  27. Uhm, it’s not that a single hack’n’slash has to mean a single attack. 10 orcs are maybe a bit much, but I’m pretty sure any fighter can take down 3-4 orcs engaged in melee with a single hack’n’slash described as a flurry of blows.

  28. I never imagined a hack and slash as one blow. I also never considered it to be a whirlwind of death though, dropping mobs with each roll. Most cases, my hack and slash will drop one opponent I think.

  29. Intersting, I remember that sentence from the hack and slash move but I honestly filed it away as a “very special cases ” application. It never once entered my mind that it was the defacto way to approach groups.

  30. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that it’s a matter of style and atmosphere. You as a group decide what’s interesting and what isn’t. If you’re all about gritty, literary stories, then 4 orcs are the stuff of nightmares and it’s cool and interesting that to fight them all together is something you will regret. I usually play way more lighthearted (and I fear more videogamey) so 4 orcs are just like a minor nuisance or whatever.

  31. I wouldn’t call it “de facto,” but I wouldn’t label it a special case either. It just all depends on what happens in the conversation, right? “There are 10 orcs charging your way, short spears and axes raised high.” “Yeah? Well, I’mma dive right into the middle of them and start swinging at the biggest and baddest among them” will produce very different fiction and inform different MC moves than “Bring it on, mo fo’s! I charge right damn back and start cleaving wide, cutting down as many of them as I can!” Listen for what your players are interested in doing, and then be their biggest fan, and make their lives dangerous.

  32. But yeah, seconded as total damage to everyone. After all, if the fighter takes harm, figure 3-4 of them can get in on that whole “jabbing her back” thing. +3 damage on an open damage roll isn’t anything to scoff at.

  33. But see, even in your second example my natural response to the fiction is going to be “You’re a terrifying sight and the orcs start to give ground as you open one torso to the spine, your follow through throwing the body against the wall with a thud. Half the remaining orcs are scrambling wide eyed but two are rushing in with spears pointed at hip. What do you do?”

  34. oops sorry, I wrote this before seeing your reply Chris McNeilly 

    back to the druid: like Kasper Brohus  was hinting, druids are awesome in picking out single, not large-sized monsters and tearing them apart. Maybe they can hamper large groups of small monsters. But fighters are just cooler in actual melees. Also, a fighter might actually attempt to put a sword in a dragon’s belly, but a druid at the very best can distract it buzzing around its head (which is still a funny and useful druid thing to do).

  35. And that’s a perfectly fine way to be a fan of the fighter. That’s at least as generous as my “Wound 3-4 of them” approach. Half of them are fleeing, one of them is dead, and two of them are coming at you now. 

  36. Chris McNeilly Monsters are only as tough as the GM narrates them. If they were supposed to be a bigger threat, maybe only two or three would have died. It’s all about style and situation 🙂

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