For your consideration: an update to Shapeshifter

For your consideration: an update to Shapeshifter

For your consideration: an update to Shapeshifter

Looking for some feedback on this as an alternative to the Druid’s current shapeshifter move. I don’t think I’m the only one who finds this move a bit tricky to deal with, as a GM; I’m hoping this makes it a bit more fair and a bit less show-stealing from the other players while still being suitably dramatic!

When you spend a few uninterrupted moments and call on the Spirits to change your shape…

…into a nimble form, roll+DEX

…into a durable form, roll+CON

…into a perceptive form, roll+WIS.

On a 10+ hold 3. On a 7–9 hold 2. On a miss hold 1 in addition to whatever the GM says.

While shifted, any time you are told to roll using the modifier you used Shapeshifter with, you may spend 1 hold instead. That move then occurs as though you rolled a 10+. (For example, if you changed into a protective form, you could spend 1 hold to defend as though you’d rolled a 10+.) Moves using any other modifiers are rolled for as usual. 

Once you’re out of hold, you return to your natural form. At any time, you may spend all your hold and revert to your natural form. 

You may take on the physical form of any species whose essence you have studied or who lives in your land: you and your possessions meld into a perfect copy of the species’ form. 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. Some moves may be impossible (e.g. volley.)

15 thoughts on “For your consideration: an update to Shapeshifter”

  1. I haven’t done much druiding but the time I did we didn’t write the animal moves because super tedious, the GM just took a point of hold every time the druid did a thing that he couldn’t with a human body(fly/see in the dark/scare the daylights out of villagers)

  2. Interesting. Although a lot of my Druid action includes wanting to attack as an animal, which would seem to then want a roll+Str option. But then the Druid really relies in a huge spread of ability scores. Otherwise I like it.

  3. Druid was tricky for me the first time: I tried to stick to the “Common Animal Moves” listed on the back of the sheet, because I thought it would be a chore to make up moves on the fly. But then I read a thread somewhere around here that helped me a lot: You usually know what the player wants; make that the first move. Add one or two offbeat moves that suit the animal, something that the player didn’t have in mind. Feel free to add a move that exposes opportunities and threats that only you know about.

    For example, say Sinathel wants to turn into a cloud of bees. In the context, it might be obvious the player just wants to swarm someone with stingers (move number one). Flying would be free, but infiltrating small cavities might be worth spending hold, and it might be cool to see what the player does with a bee’s UV “ultravision”.

    I find the “studied essense/lives in your land” limitation sufficient for keeping the Druid from being a swiss army knife. That, hold, and misses.

    Still not clear on the best way to deal with misses, but they have to be bad.

  4. I’m with Daniel Kellett. I don’t have any issues with the Druid Shapeshift move as is, but I also don’t bother to write down animal moves either. The Druid simply spends hold to do something that they couldn’t normally do when in human form. Fly, inject venom with their bite, climb walls, slip through cracks in a wall, even take no damage from an attack due to their rock-like hide.

  5. I had some issues with it, simply because it appears to be so over-powered. My druid turned into a Great Eagle and, using his 3 holds picked up enemies from the decks and hurled them off the side. When he ran out of holds, he simply landed and immediately did it again.

    However, I’m not sure that Joe Banner’s revisions solve the problem…

  6. I don’t really see a problem with that, Jeremy Riley.The player chose to be a Druid specifically to be able to do awesome shit like that.

    A player in my game had her Driud shift into a rock (she’d taken the advance that let her change into inanimate stuff), was thrown by the Bard at a giant foe, and then shifted into a venemos snake in midair. She then bit the poor sap dead with a single strike, thanks to her venom. It was epic.

  7. Jeremy Riley of course this is powerful, but nothing stops you from threatening them while in eagle form right?

    I am also not sure if the hack is needed.

  8. Thanks for the feedback guys. I’m getting the subtle impression this isn’t something that’s needed – fair enough 😉

    Aaron Mehlhaff – I always get the impression Druids aren’t all about dealing loads of damage, given their low (by default) damage dice. But then, there’s nothing stopping you from turning into a bear? It’s weird.

    I suppose I wanted to remove the idea of the GM giving the players some moves, while keeping it clear the players could still use animal forms in a creative way. By giving 3 different varieties of the move, it gives the opportunity for the player to ‘spec up’ and improve their stats to their tastes, or try and be a jack-of-all-trades.

    Personally, I don’t like giving animal moves. I find it a bit clunky. I take on board what you say though, Deep Six Delver – maybe the next time my druid player shapeshifts, I can say something like (Chris, if you’re reading this then spoiler alert!) “OK, you’re a swarm of bees. You totally sting the bad guys! You could spend another point of hold right now to look around with your super insect vision, or do something else and make a move as normal. What do you do?”

  9. Joe Banner wrote:

    > Druids aren’t all about dealing loads of damage, given their low (by default) damage dice. But then, there’s nothing stopping you from turning into a bear? It’s weird.

    The Druid can bump up her animal form’s damage die by picking “Red of Tooth and Claw” and “Blood and Thunder”, but damage isn’t all about the numbers. If she transforms into a bear of sufficient terror, her blows might do d6 MESSY damage. As a shark, she might just bite them in half without a roll!

  10. It depends on what kind of animal moves you get. 

    If a Grizzly gives you 

    – tackle them to the ground

    that is different from

    – Crush in a bear hug 


    – Maul them

  11. Your hack is pretty interesting to be honest. I do not hate it, but it does take the Druid from overpowered into underpowered. 

    Maybe there is a way to keep the move WIS only but use your idea of limiting the forms to benefiting a specific stat based on the form.

  12. I don’t think the core move of a class should require three different stats. I think there must be better ways of addressing any balance problems.

    Fighters, Wizards, Clerics, thiefs, etc – all the other classes have clearly defined abilities with limitations built in. The druid is much more vague and less defined, and if you want to address problems with the class, that might be a place to start.

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