Question about Druid class ability Shapeshifter.

Question about Druid class ability Shapeshifter.

Question about Druid class ability Shapeshifter. It says you take the physical form of an animal from your land. It also says you use your normal player stats. But it also says you have any innate abilities or weaknesses of the form. So what if the Druid has a very low strength score and they shapeshift into a Grizzly Bear. What would the fiction support? A physically weak bear because you’re using normal druid stats, or a normal Grizzly that should, by rights, be pretty powerful and strong. Thoughts? Thanks!

17 thoughts on “Question about Druid class ability Shapeshifter.”

  1. Stats =/= fiction.  If your Str -1 druid shape changes into a grizzly, he’s as strong as a grizzly but he’s still rolls -1 whenever he Hacks & Slashes or Defies Danger by powering through.

    The Str -1 doesn’t mean he’s weak. It means he tends to fail or have complications when he uses his strength.

  2. Well the bear wouldn’t be as strong as a normal bear but if you figure that the stats with no benefits/negatives to skill rolls is average, an average or slight lower average strength bear still has the size of a bear to overpower someone (just will take more time if pushing/pulling something.)

  3. Is a bear going to hack and slash or defy danger? or is a bear just going to ‘maul my enemies’, ‘strike fear in another by roaring and standing up’, and ‘Sniff out edible berries or hunt fish to feed everyone’?

    Those are all ‘monster’ moves which are triggered automatically and require no roll, just Hold. and even if you do make a move that requires a roll, maybe your low strength score represents being clumsy in your bear form? You aren’t used to hand to hand combat or fighting and so you do your damage but leave yourself open (or on a 10+ you get a really good hit in) aside from deciding your load, your strength doesn’t really have a 1-for-1 relation to being actually strong in the fiction, that’s your “job” as the player describing your actions in the scene.

  4. Jay Vee

    That’s a good question. My assumption was that a maul move for the bear would trigger hack and slash.  Should the hack and slash roll use the druids stats (very physically weak) or the the stats of what a Grizzy would be, very physically strong? Basically, I would think a Grizzly could hack and slash much more effectively than a very weak human. Maybe i”m coming at this all wrong.

  5. In a game I’m playing in right now, my friend is playing a druid, and during our last fight against a pack of small monsters. One of his moves as a cougar was ‘bite them and snap their neck’ which he used to essentially ‘one-shot’ a few of them, but unlike other systems it’s not unbalancing, he only had so much hold and so couldn’t do it all day, and he could only do it because it made sense for a cougar to do it.

    If it makes sense in the fiction, your group is rolling with it, and the GM is being a fan of your character,  punching Cthulhu in the face shouldn’t be a big deal

  6. Hack and slash implies the give and take of formal combat, I hit them, they hit my shield, rinse repeat, it only really applies if you’re ‘fighting’ an animal isn’t really going to be concerned with that, they’re going to try and do as much damage as they can and/or run away.

    H&S can apply to your bear, but being a fan of your characters and following what the fiction demands often just calls for the animal moves, which is why the move is set up the way it is, it’s self-limiting.

  7. Jay Vee

    Perfect answer Jay, thanks. To be clear, you were not requiring any kind of roll for this neck snap? It was auto success, but consumed hold? Also, did the player then just immediately shape change again, to get the move back?

  8. exactly

    and no, they didn’t shape change immediately, but even if they did, they still roll for hold and spend it, which makes it a known and limited resource. So at the same time our GM was throwing environmental hazards, throwing multiple creatures at once, and so on.things that a cougar cannot easily deal with, like flaming oil.

    As a GM sometimes you just have to step back and look at your Moves and see just how much freedom you have.

    If someone is relying on bear for too much, then give them a hard choice where they have to choose between ‘is a bear’ or someone getting hurt, or the treasure getting lost or wrecked, etc.

    One thing that DW really rewards (which is really un-fun in other games) is you are encouraged to be a ‘killer’ GM just a tiny bit. because the very structure of the game means you can’t break it or the players without concerted and obvious effort, so in these situations you shouldn’t hold back like we’ve all had to before, in DW it actually does make the game a bit better to have a slight shade of adversarial GM.

  9. Ok, great stuff. One more if you don’t mind my asking. Once the druid uses a shape, and you create a move for it, do you play that shape as locked down (it gets those moves each time they use that shape?) Or might you come up with new moves later for that shape that are circumstance dependent? I’m honestly a bit vexxed on the purpose of defined moves and hold sometimes because my player wants to do all sorts of panthery things as a panther, not just spam a move (like what if your player is a panther with no necks to snap?). And if it’s not a move and doesn’t use hold, they could do it over and over. Thanks for all the help, it has been much needed.

  10. right this is where you as the GM exercise some control.

    The move states  ‘when you assume this shape, the GM gives you some animal moves…etc’

    So when your player says, I’m going to be a bear, you come up with sufficiently bear-like actions that you feel fit the scene. you can certainly ‘lock down’ moves and add to the list for a certain animal as you come up with them, and that’s how a lot of GMs roll, but that part is up to you (goes without saying be fan of the character etc.)

  11. Yes, ok, here’s an example. Players are in a dungeon. Player turns into a grizzly bear, we come up with a maul move, lets use your snap necks. Fine. Say they have 2 hold and use it once. They have one more use. But then the combat is over and they’re in a room with a locked door. Player, as bear, wants to smash the door. Obviously, in the fiction, a bear could easily splinter a wooden door, no roll even required IMO. But does that cost hold? It was not a move they were given when they shifted. Could they smash through every door in the place? Negating the need of the Fighter who does that? I want to say yes and be a fan of the characters but this is a new system and it’s natural for the players to “test the limits” so I’m just trying to plan ahead to keep things on track without feeling like I”m shutting people down or without one player pushing too deep into the territories of another if that makes sense. Sorry for all the questions. I just very much like this system and want my players to get on board with a longer campaign using it. So I know I’ve got to be ready to make it fun while curbing the potential for abuse from players who kind of want to push things in a new system.

  12. Yeah, I’d say that would cost a hold, and in spending that hold the druid changes back to normal. but that’s just how I’d call it.

    as for curbing potential abuse, that’s a two pronged thing

    1. the system as it is set up, isn’t too abuseable without being exceedingly obvious to everyone standing by that you’re doing so.

    2. In the case of 1 happening, it should just be a matter of pausing for a moment and asking “dude, please stop doing that.” if they’re going way overboard, then that’s something the group as a whole should discuss.

    There’s no hard and fast line between “be a fan of the characters” and “let a player do anything they want”.

    The fictional side of things works both ways, if dude is a bear, I’d let him smash a door, no worries, unless it was a stone door, or an iron door with strong hinges, etc. (good description is critical) but…if dude was captured and chained up, I would say that keeps him from changing into a bear until he finds a way out of the chains (put them in a spot)

  13. Jay Vee

    Thanks again Jay. I think I may make up a house rule. Something along the lines of “more moves are available as the situation arises and may cost hold”. Some kind of catch all. Honestly, I’d rather not make up moves at all. Just let the fiction sort it out and any time they do something in the character of that beast that is significant, have it cost 1 hold.

  14. This is from the exact text of the shapeshifter move

    “The GM will also tell you one or more moves associated with your new form. Spend 1 hold to make that move. 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.”

    That covers your houserule right there 🙂

  15. If you’re going to be running DW, you’re probably going to be making up moves eventually for your monsters, do its probably good practice to try making them for the Druid! 🙂

    Plus, its a heap of fun. When making up Druid moves, the solid and time tested technique is:

    •Give them what they want (if they’re in a fight and they turn into something deadly then give them a deadly move, but if they turn into something sneaky give them a hiding move instead!)

    •Give them something obvious (if they turned into a bear in a fight with Crush in a Bear Hug then give them something that follows like Roar and Warn Off; if they turned into say a field mouse with Disappear into the Walls, why not Scamper like Lightning)

    •Give them a twist (throw in whatever seem interesting; this is where you’re creative since the above two are big DUHs. Maybe give the bear Attract Mate because you’re amused by the idea of them calling for backup from the woods. Maybe you give the field mouse Chew Through Someone’s Sack because you really want to see who’s bag they’ll break into) 

  16. Kevin Kloek I disagree hardcore with two of those!!

    Why does a bear spend hold to ram a door? Did you give it a Smash Doors move? I mean, you could, but that just sounds like something a giant friggin’ bear does because its BIG.

    Why does a bat need to spend hold to echolocate?? Dude, that’s how bats SEE. I don’t make birds, otters, or monkeys spend hold to navigate how they do naturally!

    I don’t know the situations, of course, but I wouldn’t do that in my game. I would get down to the nitty gritty, and make specific statements about the bear and the bat. Maybe if the move was Crush Obstacles with Weight then hell yeah that’s a good move to use on people and doors. Maybe if the move is Locate a Needle in a Haystack I’d give it to a bat — but just a “you can echolocate” move? Nah. Just how I feel. 🙂

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