The Druid Shapeshift move is giving me trouble.

The Druid Shapeshift move is giving me trouble.

The Druid Shapeshift move is giving me trouble.

The way it reads seems like I’m setting traps for the player to use up their form, encouraging them to seek other behaviour to maintain it. Or worse dictating what they can do in the form – which may not match their intent, making the experience of playing the class unsatisfying.

I’ve read other descriptions of how people GM it and many don’t seem to be a fan of the characters. They seem to lump the player with moves that may sound cool but do not match the reason the player changed form. Or they’re straight up jokes at the player’s expense.

I’m tempted to just ask the player what they want to do in their form and give them moves related to that intent (or on 9- add complications to those moves).

How do other people handle the Druid?

15 thoughts on “The Druid Shapeshift move is giving me trouble.”

  1. 1) The Druid is set up that you do NOT need to complicate the 7-9

    2) Write moves for the Hold as you would monster moves (IE “Knock them down” “Pounce from a distance”); moves that make sense for the form

    3) It says that they can still use normal moves, so they don’t HAVE to use “Knock them down” to attack- it just adds an additional effect that they have to spend Hold to use

    4) You only add a complication on a fail, such as “You shapeshift, but the Spirits do not feel pleased by this form, you might not be able to transform into it again” or “Your wolf form is lame or wounded already” or just the standard “You draw some serious attention”

  2. I am blessed with a very easy going Druid. Mostly I suggest moves and she agrees or I ask her for her input and she comes up with something interesting. On a 6- though I give her crap like: Your head and arms turn into head and wings of a seagull but your lower body remains elven or your lower body is that of  a shark but the rest stays the same. Btw: Is that too harsh?

  3. That’s a hilarious 6- and I like it. Shapeshifting is really powerful and there should definitely be some risk on a 6- for bad or just absurd thing to happen.

  4. Mark Weiss (3) is the one I have most trouble with. It basically sets up a situation where I may end up giving a player a set of redundant moves that don’t match what they want to do. So they can stay in the form forever because they never use hold or feel salty that I didn’t give them the right moves. I’m still not seeing correlation between the player’s intent and the GM’s response without a discussion. And the shapeshift move does not mention such a thing.

  5. I agree that you can fail to be a fan of the character in designating the moves, but it’s pretty easy to avoid.

    Most monsters have three moves. The first time they use a form, they probably have a purpose, so make the first move one that fulfills that purpose.

    This is usually pretty obvious– like, they’re becoming an eagle to scout, or an owl to see in the dark, or a rat to sneak, or an elephant to smash. Always give them that move.

    If you don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish, that’s a good time to ask, and then give them that move.

    Then I round out with the second move. Usually the first move gives either combat, mobility, or senses. With the second one, I think about one of the other categories: How the rat or the owl fights, how the bear or elephant experiences the world differently.

    For the third one, you can go into the last remaining category, or you can get cute if you feel like it, since they’ve already got two solidly useful moves. “Display the dominance of your massive form” for the elephant, or “make a feast of something outwardly unpleasant” for the rat.

    I understand the urge to try to limit the power of the shapeshift move, but I think the place for that is when they run out of hold– do the thing you want, then deal with the fact that you are forced to shift out.

  6. Horst Wurst I would say that if it were imperative that she go underwater, but fails, then you should still give her the capability to breathe, otherwise i love the hilarity of a half-elf half-shark

  7. Aaron Steed Russel explained it far better than I ever could. But to reiterate: it usually makes sense what they’re trying to accomplish, and then just add another one or two moves that are innate actions (not abilities like seeing in the dark- that’s covered by the move)

  8. Peter J In the Druid Playbook itself (the new one on the site) the second page has examples for different types of animals, such as Pack animals and stuff

  9. I have a druid in the game I run. After the player picked their region, I asked him for four animals from that region that he would normally turn into. I then wrote a few moves for each.

    He can still turn into other animals but we might come up with only one move on the spot. 

    While powerful, I merely deal with constant shape-shifting as a function of time. Basically a roll of 10+ means he can act immediately. 7-9 is almost immediately. 1-6 takes time, leaves you exposed, and you can’t help friends for a few moments. I dunno if that works for everyone, but so far so good.

  10. When I have a player that wants to run a druid, at character creation time I work with the player to create a “cheat sheet” of common forms and their moves that the player thinks they might likely want to take the form of. For each of these forms, we come up with about 4 moves that follows the fiction of the form. When the character shifts into one of those forms in gameplay, depending on the move roll, the player will pick 1, 2, or 3 of the moves from the list of 4, and I allow taking the same move multiple times if they want. This serves a couple of purposes — one, it doesn’t slow down the game stopping to figure out what moves a form has, and two it’s all pre-GM approved so I don’t have to think about it. The druid just does it and we keep the action moving. Now, I certainly allow them to go “off script” and improv an allowable not on the cheat sheet and/or make up new moves, but that only really comes up if the situation is really out of left field from what we pre-built. Here’s a list of forms/moves we came up with in for a forest druid in my current game:

    ⃞ snake (venomous bite, constrict, drives them back, camouflage)

    ⃞ bear (vicious bite, claw attack, trample them, grapple)

    ⃞ boar (gouge with tusks, break through, trample them, dig)

    ⃞ hawk (claw attack, trick flying, acute vision, escape to air, pull something aloft)

    ⃞ wolf (hunt them down, fearsome howl, maul, run fast, drag them down)

    ⃞ badger (gnaw through it, swim upstream, build a dam, stay dry and warm)

    ⃞ skunk (emit noxious odors, dig with claws, drive them back, forage for food)

    ⃞ squirrel (run fast, escape up a tree, flee across a tightrope, forage for food)

    ⃞ fox (run fast, sneak up on it, take something when they aren’t looking)

    I actively create situations to force my druids to use up their holds. Specifically, I’ll use 6- and 7-9 outcomes of their companions to create hardships whereby they have to use up their hold. Since the shifted forms don’t have to roll to perform their move, the druid needs to shift frequently or they tend to lag behind other players in XP. Find ways to make them roll dice.

  11. I think that the best answer that I have had to this is to simply ad lib the moves as they change.  The important thing to remember here is that there are no “Actions” in DW.

    To Ad Lib a move a rule of thumb:  Think of what your character can do in normal base race from.  Now discount those, give some wiggle room for yourself for shape.  When the character wants to use a specific ability of the animal, use a hold.

    Examples: Running as fast and lithe as a deer to avoid pursuers, same with a rabbit.  Flying as a bird. Being a Living Battering Ram, as a..Ram..or a Rhino or an elephant.  Constricting your enemies as a giant snake.  Crawling away unnoticed as a bug.  Things like this.  The human form can’t do these, so use a Hold.  You are being a fan of the player in the fact that they can do it and create a fiction that is interesting and creative and USES the animal’s ability.  It would not use a Hold to just stand there looking like a dumb animal.  Or hopping around, listening or spying.  It would only use a Hold if that spying uses an animal ability: Keen Hearing, Keen Sight, Scenting to follow, ect.

    The Shapeshift is not meant to be all powerful.  Think about it as being balanced with the other classes Moves. 

    And Remember, Generating your Holds by shapeshifting is not an “Action” that happens instead of a normal action.  Get out of the concept of “Actions” or “Taking your Turn”.  This is the biggest problem that I have had is the “Action” can be several rolls or none before I move on to the next “What do you do?”

  12. GM’ing for a Druid, I didn’t like trying to come up with the moves beforehand. I couldn’t read the player’s mind and figure out what they’d like to do as the animal. Instead, whenever the Druid did something that only the animal could do (like fly, swim, maul) I would mark that off their Hold.

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