Question about the Druid Shapeshifter move.

Question about the Druid Shapeshifter move.

Question about the Druid Shapeshifter move. Why does the 7-9 result of shapeshifter have no negative consequences? The 7-9 of just about every basic move has some consequences for the character except for this one. Considering how potentially powerful this move is (a creative player can use this move for just about anything and often avoids other rolls), why isn’t there a list of options for rolling 7-9 like there are in Cast a Spell, Arcane Art, etc?

Am I missing something?

34 thoughts on “Question about the Druid Shapeshifter move.”

  1. It had been suggested by some that you can’t change back until you use your move. That is a bit of a built in pain. I’ve also had some stuff go wrong depending on what they turn into. “Hey, just turned into an elephant while next to your friends. Ouch.”

  2. While that is certainly a houserule you could make, the actual move includes the following text:

    “At any time, you may spend all your hold and revert to your natural form”

  3. Also having the elephant crush a nearby player seems like I’m not being a fan of my players. I want my druid to turn into animals and find creative solutions to problems, but I also want there to be interesting consequences.

  4. Well the thing with the druid is that all they really do is shapeshift. So if things could go really wrong, it might kind of take the player out of the game. Though I have toyed with the idea of creating a new druid playbook, because a few of my players have commented on how limited the druid felt in scope.

  5. Perhaps you could say that turning into an animal brings its own consequences, without the need for the rules to create them arbitrarily. As opposed to Arcane Art, where singing a little song doesn’t change the game world as much as turning into a Lion.

    So maybe I’m supposed to give them consequences inherent to the animal they’ve become. However some players may feel like I’m picking on them if I give them a consequence when they rolled a hit, and the rules don’t say that something bad happens.

  6. Mark Griffin Thats true Mark, but the wizard has a lot more utility and variety in what they can do. Im not saying its good that there are no consequences, just trying to rationalize. 

  7. Shadi Alhusary I would actually disagree with you. I think the druid has more utility than any other class, especially at level 1. A smart player can use auto success animal moves to solve lots of different problems. They’re really only limited by their imaginations. A wizard on the other hand has a finite spell list. It’s rather limiting, especially at low levels. 

  8. Would something like this be unreasonable?

    On a 7-9 hold 2, but choose 1:

    – You draw unwelcome attention or put yourself in a spot, The GM will tell you how.

    -The shift disrupts your connection to your land – take -1 ongoing to shapeshift until the next time you make camp.

    -After you shift, you forget how to turn into that animal. You cannot shapeshift into this animal again until you make camp.

    Bonus, this may make the druid try different kinds of animals instead of just defaulting to their favorite few.

  9. There’s no negative consequences because as soon as you spend 1 Hold, you’re in whatever situation you’ve put yourself in, and unshapeshifted. 1 Hold is rarely enough — if the GM is doing their job — to solve a problem and put the Druid in a safe place.

  10. Alfred Rudzki A 7-9 actually generates 2 hold, but I see your point. However, there are other moves that will often end with you in harms way (hack and slash for instance) and still give you a consequence for 7-9.

    Also, I’d like to give them a consequence when the roll is made, not some arbitrary amount of time later if they put themselves in a spot. If I make a move when they’re out of hold standing next to a dragon, that’s because they gave me a golden opportunity, not because they rolled a 7-9 some time earlier.

  11. Whoops, my bad. Okay, 2, not 3. Regardless, my point stands.

    7-9s are, by defaults, success. Some of them don’t outright punish the character, that’s just how it is. This is one of them. Yeah, if they get into trouble it’s not the move punishing them — that’s okay and how the game works.

  12. 3 hold is enough to get into a situation, deal with a situation, and then get out of a situation. 2 hold is get into a situation, deal with a situation, and then be stuck in the middle if things go wrong.

  13. You’re entitled to that opinion. Your question was: what am I missing? The answer is: 2 Hold doesn’t solve many situations, and 7-9 isn’t required to punish because it is by default a success. The minor cost is fewer resources. You don’t have to like the answer, obviously, and that’s fine — but that’s the answer to your question.

    It works well in practice, in my experience.

  14. Alfred Rudzki

    I’d say that 2 hold solves as many situations as casting 1 spell, doing 1 arcane art, or a single hack and slash. Which is to say, you’re right, it won’t solve problems by itself. However the druid character is not operating alone in most cases, he’s contributing to solutions with his party. So his 7-9 contributes just as much as everyone else’s, but with fewer consequences.

    Also, I wouldn’t use the word punishment. A 7-9 doesn’t extract a cost from the player to punish them, but to make the game more interesting.

  15. The key is that you have “the strengths and the weaknesses” of the animal form. So, the GM is supposed to keep coming at you with filling your life with adventure even though you’re a bumblebee or whatever. Those moves are now going to take your new form into account. You’re going to need that 2nd hold. Changing form and spending one hold may solve your immediate problem, but things are about to get interesting real fast. You don’t really need a negative consequence, but your custom move suggestion won’t break anything.

  16. The idea behind Shapeshift is that you’re “banking” future automatic success in exchange for giving up your humanoid form and taking on the limitations of the form you choose. 

    Also remember that the hold is only as useful as the moves that come from that form, and the GM writes the moves. Now I’m not saying “pick moves to screw the player over.” But 2 or 3 hold is not just 2 or 3 free successes. The successes have to be fictionally appropriate to the moves you assign.

    And remember that it’s your job to fill their lives with adventure, and one of your moves is to show a downside of their class. Totally reasonable to make soft moves that highlight the downsides in their animal form.

    The oft-repeated advice for making animal moves is:

    – Give them one that they want (e.g. for a hound: “take down prey”)

    – Give them one that’s obvious (e.g. “track by scent”)

    – Optionally, give them something unexpected (e.g. “hear things humans can’t”)

    Also, check out the #DruidWeek hashtag. Tons of stuff about shapeshift there.

  17. So it sounds like people are saying that you need to take advantage of the limitations that the druid is now some animal. I get that, but I can do that when they roll a 1 or a 12 also. I can also take advantage of the limitations that the fighter is not an animal. Whenever I’m making moves, I can make a move based on the advantages and disadvantages of all the players at the moment I make the move, but shapeshift doesn’t give me the opportunity to make a move except for a 6-.

    I try to give my druid players moves the are useful and cool, because otherwise they would be frustrated. I want them, like any other PC class, to be very competent. Perhaps my players are too canny, or perhaps I’m a softball GM, but the druids tend to get shit done with their hold.

    What I’m saying is I think shapeshift is a strong move, maybe the strongest base class move owing to the variety of problems it can solve, and I think rolling a 7-9 should generate a consequence like the other class moves immediately. I see that it gives me fictional positioning to leverage on future moves, but that just lets me flavor moves I would be making anyway because of other fails (or partial successes). 

    It seems I’m in the minority, on this board at least, but I think I may institute my own 7-9 consequences anyway. I don’t think it will be too harsh, and I suspect both my druid players will still be very effective.

  18. Mark, I mostly agree with you. I’ve only played a druid once in a single session and haven’t had to GM one, so I can’t speak to how it feels over longer term play. It’s a different sort of move than others, but I can definitely see how it would be too much.

    Alex Norris & Joe Banner, did either of you ever come up with a Shapechange variant you were happy with?

  19. This was the wording I liked the most, but I’m still not 100% on it:

    While you stand in a place that resembles your land, or when you spend an uninterrupted hour meditating on nature, hold 3. You may spend 1 hold at any point to take the form of an animal from your land for as long as you want. Your animal form is functionally identical to a normal animal of its kind, with all the benefits and drawbacks this provides (birds can fly, cheetahs can run, mice can hide – but none of them can fire a bow, play a game of cards, or smooth-talk a bouncer). 

  20. Alex Norris My druids would revolt at that sort of rewrite. They like to change shape frequently, often multiple times in a single encounter. I agree that move is no longer as powerful because you have to pick a form and stick to it, and it no longer comes with autosuccess. However I think it might go too far in the other direction, and it’s too late for me at this point anyhow. My druids like to shift regularly, and I don’t want to take that from them.

  21. Mark: How about this idea? On a 7-9, when the druid changes back to human form, some vestige of the animal remains upon them until the vestige causes the character discomfort, trouble, or “interesting times”. (It would be nice to tag the character with an aspect here… 🙂 )

    Example: My druid changes to an eagle. I get 2 hold. When I return to human form, my hair actually remains human feathers until I go back into town the first time and speak to the first townsperson I meet.

    I’m not 100% on that, but I hope the general idea is clear.

  22. You could try something like this: 

    On a 7-9, the GM holds 1. The GM can spend that 1 hold to have you take action according to that creature’s instinct.  Yes, the GM keeps this hold even after you return to human form.

    I’m thinking something like “Mouse: to run and hide” or “Wolf: to seek dominance.”

    That does mean you’d have to come up with a creature’s instinct in addition to the 2-3 moves. 

  23. That’s a neat idea Jeremy. It could very easily be a hard move though, which sounds rough for a 7-9. The DM would obviously be able to play it either way. Moves that let the DM take over the character briefly usually require a large amount of trust from the players

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