Posted by : David Guyll February 21, 2015
Part of my problem is By Nature Sustained: I think it's kind of strange that all druids no longer need to eat or drink, period (just like I think it's strange that all cleric's have Turn Undead).
It would be one thing if it was an advanced move, or a druid of the forest didn't need to eat so long as she was exposed to sunlight, but just a blanket exemption from eating and drinking? Come on: even animals have to eat and drink.
Really though the big thing is that I just don't like Shapeshifter. If you don't have the book on hand and/or are too lazy to check it out, here's the move in its entirety:
When you call upon the spirits to change your shape, 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.
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. 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.
I've heard some people complain that it's confusing and vague, others about its overall utility and combat power. While it is confusing and vague (especially for new Dungeon World players), that's not really why I don't like it.
I don't even much care about the utility: that's Dungeons & Dragons-grade bullshit, where people whine about how easy access to flying is "broken" because you can just fly over pits and such. Oh no, the druid can turn into a bird and, I dunno, carry a rope up a cliff face (because cliffs are a huge deal), or even have everyone hop into a bag of holding and just cart that about.
If you think that that's bad for...some reason, consider this: at 1st-level a Dungeon World druid can feasibly transform into a roc and carry the whole party about, as-is. In our Expedition to Ravenloft With Dungeon World campaign, the wizard polymorphed the thief into a roc and just flew them over to Castle Ravenloft.
Pits and cliffs have frankly never been particularly meaningful obstacles in the 20 or so years I've been playing and running games so, again, don't give a shit. It's using the move in combat where it starts to overlap with why I don't like it.
See, when you change into an animal the GM tells you one or more moves that the animal form can make, and you spend 1 hold to automatically make one of them. For example, if your bear form (the bear seems to crop up a lot in druid discussions) has been given the move "maul the hell out of someone", then you can just do that over and over until you run out of hold. You revert back to human form, but can just change back and keep going.
That bit at the end there is my problem.
No, not the move "abuse", but the fact that you stay in animal form until you do some very specific things or just opt to change back. From a purely mechanical perspective I get it: if you just let a player make a "no roll" move that allows them to automatically maul people with impunity, that's going to be a problem, so you put a kind of cap on it.
But what's the fictional explanation, here? The druid turns into a bear, and if she mauls people 1-3 times she automatically reverts back. Okay, why? She can hack and slash as often as she wants (albeit likely poorly, which I'll touch on in a bit), but if she hurts enemies in a very specific way then it...runs out? That doesn't make any sense to me, and it's also more than a bit silly to envision a druid turning into a bear, mauling one or two enemies, reverting to human form, then changing right back into a bear to keep on fighting. Rinse and repeat.
Another problem is that your stats don't change at all. If you're a bear and you try to Hack and Slash, you still use your normal, non-bear Strength, whether it's +3 or -1. I get that if you're a hummingbird that you can't exactly Hack and Slash things, but against all reason whether you're an elf or bear you have the exact same odds of success and inflict the exact same amount of damage.
Having played a witch throughout an entire campaign, Melissa can confidently say that she mostly likes the Skinchanger move: instead of going with a roll-and-hold move (for all the reasons above), you can freely change (no roll) into an animal and gain all of its abilities and limitations until you change again. While it was useful, her main gripe was that if she turned into a bear (which she actually tried doing), that she is just as effective in melee combat as she was before, which is to say not at all.
We think that shapechanging moves shouldn't have such a...strange duration, and rely less on the GM pulling random moves out of their ass. Right now I'm thinking something like this:
When you spend a few moments changing into an animal that is human-sized or larger, you gain any features and limitations of the form and roll+WIS. ✴On a 10+, choose 3. ✴On a 7-9, choose 2. ✴On a miss, choose 1 in addition to whatever else the GM says.
- You don't take -1 ongoing to INT, WIS, or CHA until you revert to human form (GM's choice)
- You take +1 ongoing to STR, DEX, or CON until you revert to human form.
- Gain +1 armor.
- You gain one of the following tags: forceful, messy, 1 piercing.
With this you can change into a bear, choose +1 ongoing to STR and the forceful tag, and be able to better swat enemies about without having to change back and forth.
I specify human-sized or larger so that you can't turn into, say, a cat and get +1 armor or 1 piercing. Though, I suppose you could add in the stealthy tag to the list, so that way a cat could choose to gain +1 ongoing to DEX and stealthy.
This could be changed so that you can only transform into animals that are your size or smaller, with advanced moves that let you turn into animals with the Large and Huge tags (gaining the Reach tag, as well as Forceful and even a damage bonus).
Other advanced moves could modify what these do, or even open up new options: take +1 ongoing to a second stat, choose a second tag, choose an additional option (even on a miss), +1 damage in animal form, with the option to bump up damage to d8, and so on.
February AnnouncementsFirst things first, The Cultist went on sale (on Friday the 13th, no less). Though it's been very well received, there's been a...whisper of "criticism" about it.
Second, throughout the entire month of February we're putting both The Witch and The Bard on sale.
We've also modified their prices in our Awfully Big Playbook and All of the Playbooks bundles, making them just that much more tantalizing than they already are: $22 nets you