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powered by the apocalypse => Dungeon World => Topic started by: timmyd on January 28, 2013, 05:58:28 AM

Title: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: timmyd on January 28, 2013, 05:58:28 AM
The Druid was one of my favourite classes in AD&D.

I've been uneasy with the "Druid" since it was first introduced in DW, however, I can't blame the designers alone. This incarnation seems to be the result of many editions of Dungeons & Dragons (and fantasy RPGs) in morphing the celtic druid into a tree-hugging shapeshifting naturalist.

I'd guess it started back in AD&D, where a Druid would gain shapeshifting ability at 7th level. Since then, every subsequent edition has made the class more and more about shapeshifting, while neglecting the other aspects of the druid.

- keeper of laws and history among the barbarians
- protector of sacred places and shrines
- ritual sacrifice to the gods and spirits (not just to "Gaia")
- nature-based sorcery

I asked the barbarian in the group about if/how his people view spirituality and what he described was basically druidism but we can't call it that because the "druid" is just an animist shapeshifter.

There has been so much love-on for the Druid, but I gotta express a dissenting opinion.

I know I don't have to allow or use the Druid in my game, but one of my players really likes it. I simply wish it wasn't called "druid".

Why not call the class "shapeshifter"?
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on January 28, 2013, 08:24:03 AM
Why don't you just change the name for your game?
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noofy on January 28, 2013, 10:53:37 AM
Yeah, what james said. Just change the name :)

The celtic archetype of 'druid' (in its bronze age guise) is far better encapsulated by the cleric anyways, especially with the multi-class dabbler moves.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Scrape on January 28, 2013, 07:21:34 PM
You nailed one idea here: this game is inspired by all previous versions of D&D, while subverting some ideas in the process. Especially after games like World of Warcraft, the Druid is kinda cemented as a shapeshifting class in a lot of minds.

If that doesn't work for you, then you should absolutely write a custom class called True Druid for your game. Take what you like from the Druid and rewrite Ritual to include sacrifices and nature-based effects or whatever else you want. Give bonuses to Spout Lore for certain subjects and maybe even make a list of Vows similar to the Paladin, except explicitly natural/druidic. BOOM, True Druid born!
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Scrape on January 28, 2013, 07:25:30 PM
Also, I think the shapeshifting class fills a neat role and showcases some inventive mechanics, so I can see why they'd write it instead of another knowledgeable spellcasting class. You really could just reflavor the Cleric with new spells and gods if you wanted. The shapeshifting animist does something new, and I think they just called it Druid because of current popular perception in the gaming community.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Lucacc on January 28, 2013, 08:55:34 PM
I dislike too the morph-concept; if i were to change the druid class keeping the animal flavour I would create a move that allow the druid to acquire certain animal features but still linked to a human frame. Instead of morphing in an eagle, just keep his sight; a wolf has keen sense and is tireless...so the druid who enters in communion with the animal spirit.
Each animal could have 2-3 strenght like the ranger pets and the druid just acquire them for some time.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: timmyd on January 28, 2013, 09:19:20 PM
Great replies, everyone.

After writing my post last night I reflected some more and realized that the Cleric could really be skinned as a druid with some minor flavor text changes to the spells.

Lucacc, you also provide a really cool idea for using the animal aspects instead of full shapeshifting - I love it.

If I do anything with the True Druid, I'll certainly share here.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: skinnyghost on January 29, 2013, 07:18:33 PM
I would love to see a True Druid vs. Druid in play because man, Druidic Civil War sounds so fucking cool I want to die of delight.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Quigley on January 29, 2013, 07:54:16 PM
I like Lucacc's idea.

My issue with the druid is not so much the flavor.  I just think that morphing into any animal at any time is too potent for a level 1 character.  The ability to transmogrify into a mosquito is not far from the ability to teleport.  Mundane barriers like castle walls, prison cells, and pit-falls become useless.  Gotta get that idol, but you're afraid the floor is rigged?  Just send in pigeon man.

Rather than being a nature-loving, free spirit of the forest, the druid in my campaign has become the thief, assassin, and spy.  Got a campaign based on political intrigue?  No problem.  The druid just takes the form of a house fly and finds the bedroom of the local baron.  The druid morphs back to human and slits the man's throat.  Alternately, he becomes the literal "fly on a wall" and listens to all the plotting and planning.

For every physical barrier in the game, the druid has an animal form to solve it.  So my players start every encounter by sending in the druid.  The rest are just along for the ride.

Are there creative ways to curb this behavior?  Absolutely.  But then the game devolves into GM vs druid.  Can I just ask the player not to be so opportunistic?  Sure, but if I have to go to those lengths, it suggests to me something is a little broken.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on January 29, 2013, 09:34:03 PM
Gotta get that idol, but you're afraid the floor is rigged?  Just send in pigeon man.

Pigeon man's gonna be mightly slow trying to fly that idol out of there. Orcs eat pigeons don't they? ;)

Are there creative ways to curb this behavior?  Absolutely.  But then the game devolves into GM vs druid.  Can I just ask the player not to be so opportunistic?  Sure, but if I have to go to those lengths, it suggests to me something is a little broken.
Don't go great lengths. Just make the world fantastic. If the druid transforms into a housefly, then house spiders and swallows and cats and mice are all fantastical creatures. Give your spider the move "Capture flies in its web." Meanwhile, don't make it GM v. Druid. Make the party's lives fantastical too. They've just split the druid off. Make with some more GM moves.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Johnstone on January 29, 2013, 10:20:53 PM
If the move says "You have any innate abilities and weaknesses of the form" then why does a druid in the form of an insect still see and hear like a human, and not like an insect? That doesn't really follow the fiction, unless you are playing a super-hero game.

"Now that you are a bug, this is what the world looks like to a bug."

Just turning into an animal to fly up somewhere doesn't seem all that powerful though. The fighter could just tear the building down and getting up somewhere ceases to be an issue. But if the point of the move is to, y'know, role-play a guy who turns into animals, then he should actually get the experience of turning into an animal, as opposed to just transforming his body like malleable clay and getting temporary super-powers.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Quigley on January 30, 2013, 09:30:17 PM
Pigeon man's gonna be mightly slow trying to fly that idol out of there. Orcs eat pigeons don't they? ;)
If a sparrow can carry a coconut...  Nah, he just morphs, flies to the idol, grabs it, then morphs into another flying form.  The idol is one of his possessions and melds into his new form.

@Johnstone

Senses for the animal form have to be similar.  Otherwise, memories and thoughts would be alien to it.  Yet the rules state, "You still use your normal stats...".
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on January 30, 2013, 10:33:00 PM
GM has a job to do making the Druid's life interesting, thinking dangerous, and thinking offscreen. If you aren't making moves then, yeah, it's gonna suck. Make moves. I transformed into a Kodiak bear and became a massive gnoll killing machine for my 3 hold. Then I was some poor schmuck surrounded by gnolls.

Who says the idol just becomes a possession? Who says the Druid can just transform to human and back again unmolested? "That's a lot of transforms in quick succession. Sounds tiring. Roll con to Defy danger. Lets see if you transform back to human before the cat gets there." Who says you can just transform into a housefly? why has the Druid spent time studying a housefly's nature? Its a religious pursuit and the housefly is its totemic animal? Where is the GM in all of this? He transforms into a bird? Foretell imminent threat with the twang of bow strings. Make a move. Any move.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noofy on January 31, 2013, 12:41:52 AM
Noclue has wise words, heed them. All those provocative questions he suggests allow you build on the answers and work into the canon of your dungeon world.

'Oh so you studied houseflies for hours as an initiate? (Turns to another player) Who was it from your village that always bullied Aziz for being a 'disease vector'? Oh yeah, that's right, whatever became of them?'

Are you really looking for ways to enjoy playing / GMing the Druid 'as written' Quigley? I only ask, because it doesn't seem to be an issue for my group, though I admit that we don't power-game or work the system's rules wordings as hard as you seem to... Fiction first seems to make the game run smoothly for us.

Simply grabbing something not being your 'possession', that's just semantics. Heck, I could read that definition to only include 'the state of being controlled by a daemon or spirit' for instance. Change the rules, re-word them so that the move works better for your group. That's O.K! :)

Maybe Burning Wheel would be a better fit for your gang? Its storygame system encourages gaming the rules HARD.

At any rate, the Shape shifting move says:
Quote
The GM will also tell you one or more moves associated with your new form. Spend 1 hold to make that move.

Be a fan of the characters, but make as hard a (shapeshifting) move as you'd like y'know? So the housefly's moves could be:
*lay larvea
*Spread disease
*Bite and leave a sore
That sort of thing.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on January 31, 2013, 02:11:51 AM
*buzz noisily in someone's ear.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: vsh on January 31, 2013, 07:09:29 AM
"You're a fly? You don't hear much when you're in air due to mighty buzz of your wings. And your hearing is not very good: to actually overhear something you have to sit very close (http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02461/Obama-fly_2461808b.jpg)."
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: LD on January 31, 2013, 11:19:40 AM
I like Lucacc's idea of taking on aspects of animals rather than shapeshifting, though it feels like a new class rather than a druid. A shaman maybe. Either way it's a cool idea that reminded me of the amazing BraveStarr (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oBkWd_WHYs). That alone is worth some points.

BraveStarrrrrrr! Eyes of the hawk! Ears of the wolf!
BraveStarrrrrrr! Strength of the bear! Speed of the puma!
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Quigley on January 31, 2013, 10:27:57 PM
Who says the idol just becomes a possession? Who says the Druid can just transform to human and back again unmolested? "That's a lot of transforms in quick succession. Sounds tiring. Roll con to Defy danger. Lets see if you transform back to human before the cat gets there." Who says you can just transform into a housefly? why has the Druid spent time studying a housefly's nature? Its a religious pursuit and the housefly is its totemic animal? Where is the GM in all of this? He transforms into a bird? Foretell imminent threat with the twang of bow strings. Make a move. Any move.

Thatís a lot of questions, Noclue.

Who says the idol just becomes a possession?

If I start making restrictions on what counts as a possession and what does not, Iíll need a consistent ruling for it.  Iíve been thinking along those lines, but things get tricky.  That the druid must be in contact with the item is a given.  Iíve already ruled that the item may not be a living creature.  If I rule that the item must be in the druidís grasp, then something like a shield strapped to his body does not morph.  Not my intention.  Given the choice between brewing a complex set of rules for that one sentence and just fixing the class ability, I will probably fix the ability.

Who says the Druid can just transform to human and back again unmolested?

The dice.  If the druid rolls it, the druid can do it.  The rules say nothing about it not being possible.  They donít even say that he or she needs to return to humanoid form before morphing into a new shape.  Iím a fan of the characters and Iím not going to say ďnoĒ just because the outcome doesnít fit my vision of the story.

"That's a lot of transforms in quick succession. Sounds tiring. Roll con to Defy danger. Lets see if you transform back to human before the cat gets there."

Roll+CON is a nice soft move with -1Forward or -1Ongoing as consequences.  Where appropriate, Iíll try that.

The sudden addition of a cat or pigeon-eating orc screams deus ex machina in my ears.  If the area is a trapped room, there is no sensible reason for orcs to be nosing around in there.  Besides, this doesnít solve the problem.  The druid is still the master of all inanimate obstacles.  The only difference is that Iím now piling on additional threats on top of my traps, cliffs, and locked doors.

Who says you can just transform into a housefly? why has the Druid spent time studying a housefly's nature? Its a religious pursuit and the housefly is its totemic animal?

The rules say he can just transform into a housefly, and I quote, ďYou may take on the physical form of any species whose essence you have studied or who lives in your land:Ē  My druid chose river delta as his favored turf.  While a housefly may not be a perfect fit, mayflies, dragonflies, horse flies, and other winged insects would all be fair game.  Heck, Iím waiting for the guy to morph into a microbe.

He transforms into a bird? Foretell imminent threat with the twang of bow strings.

Again, this does not fix the problem.  See pigeon-eating orcs above.  That is merely ratcheting up the threat level to compensate for an ability that does not scale well with the other classes.  This is what I meant when I wrote about the game devolving into DM vs Druid.  Sooner or later, the player is going to get annoyed that I am constantly thwarting or complicating a class-defining ability. 
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Quigley on January 31, 2013, 10:36:45 PM
Be a fan of the characters, but make as hard a (shapeshifting) move as you'd like y'know? So the housefly's moves could be:
*lay larvea
*Spread disease
*Bite and leave a sore
That sort of thing.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think the players could rightly accuse me of being a twit if I leave ďflyĒ off the list of moves for a creature named ďflyĒ.  To my eye, that does not follow the fiction.

Keep in mind, the player hasn't done anything wrong.  Heís just being creative and using the move the way it is written on his character sheet.  I do not consider creativity to be synonymous with power-gaming.  I've only had one session with the druid player and he's already figured out how he can circumvent most any physical obstacle.  He doesn't even know the rules, so I have a hard time labeling what he's doing "power-gaming".
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on February 01, 2013, 01:47:47 AM
Yes. Fly should be one of the moves. Not suggesting punishing anyone, just that the MC makes moves. Those moves make the characters lives fantastical and dangerous. The only reason your Druid looks über powerful in the example is the MC's moves are missing.

No, you don't need a consistent ruling. Play to find out. They grab the idol. That's when they learn about this particular idol. If they wanted to learn earlier, maybe they shoulda made with the spout lore. Think dangerous. Maybe the idol has a personality of its own. Maybe the idol is magically enchanted and linked to the Baron. I don't know, but your example made it sound like a foregone conclusion that the Druid can just take it. You know one of the characters can become a pidgeon, make fiction that sets up a move when he does it.

Also, in a world where people can transform into flies, people figure out ways to protect their shit from people who can transform into flies.

The moves say what happens when the Druid calls on the spirits to transform him, true. But the GM has moves of his own. Show him the downside of his class, or race and remind the Druid that he's only human. Humans get tired. Or, show him that calling on the spirits takes time and see if its fast enough. Or have a wizard cast a silence spell on him and ask how he calls out now.

The Druid wants an exciting adventure. Bring the excitement.

Being a fan of the characters does not mean making things easy on them. Give him his successes and make his life not boring at the same time. Being a fan of the Druid is synonymous with putting him on the spot and watching him work his mojo to get out of it. Sometimes, he transforms into a pidgeon and things go stellar. Sometimes, the wizard king has a giant bat for a pet, or a fire spirit, or the idol is trapped with a net trap...something.

Lastly, I'm not trying to fix a problem with the Druid. I see no problem. I think ratcheting up the threat level is a feature not a bug (as long as the GM is following his Principals, of course).
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: vsh on February 01, 2013, 08:32:46 AM
You should not only be a fan, but also portray a fantastic world and fill the charactersí lives with adventure. So druid shapeshifts into pigeon and gets all kind of fantastic pigeon adventures. If he doesn't, you're not playing by the rules.

Not really relevant, but in my game we never had a problem like this. We had this dialog on the first session:
-So what's easier to shapeshift into: small animals or big ones?
-Big ones, I have a very hard time shifting into small forms.
And then we played by this answer.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: zmook on February 01, 2013, 11:48:50 AM
Not really relevant, but in my game we never had a problem like this. We had this dialog on the first session:
-So what's easier to shapeshift into: small animals or big ones?
-Big ones, I have a very hard time shifting into small forms.
And then we played by this answer.

THIS.  Not specifically this, I mean, but the general principle of this. In DW when there's something vague, and a player thinks it's awesome and wants to do it all the time, and you think it's getting abusive, stop at some point and say hey dude, what's the downside of doing that all the time?  And they'll tell you, and you do that. Or else they tell you something lame, and you roll your eyes at them, and say, really?  That's lame. And then they give you something better.  Or else you ask the rest of the table (who might be also annoyed that dude is hogging the spotlight) what should happen. And someone will give you something really vindictive, and then you can be magnanimous GM and tone it down.

But make sure the player buys in that what you're doing is appropriate. I think that's key to being a fan.

Though also, I should point out that the Druid doesn't just get to transform automatically. He's gotta roll.  As GM, you owe it to the game to make players a little nervous any time they pick up the dice. Cause if they fail, you can make as hard a move as you like. ANYTHING could happen. That's when you bring in the hunting spiders, or make them forget being human for a while, or spring an ambush on the party (missing their Druid), or advance a Front so they start running out of time. 
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on February 01, 2013, 05:19:58 PM
Yup. And on a miss, it's not simply that druid cant transform. A miss is the GM's opportunity to make a nice, hard move.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noofy on February 02, 2013, 02:00:12 AM
I've only had one session with the druid player and he's already figured out how he can circumvent most any physical obstacle.  He doesn't even know the rules, so I have a hard time labeling what he's doing "power-gaming".

What does the player of the druid want out of the game? Ways to circumvent any physical obstacle? If he has 'figured this out' without making any moves or engaing with the mechanics (ie: just authoring stories together), then sure... But your examples suggest that they are driving to 'work the system' (at least with an understanding of the Druid's shapeshifting moves) in order to overcome antagonism? This is creative, and quite synonomous with old school D&D play and a thing to be celebrated!

But remember, you are a fan of the characters yeah? It isn't you Vs the party. Your job is to fill their lives full of adventure, to portray a fantastic world and play to find out what happens. It sounds like you are doing just that :) Just logically extend this beyond the character's immediate situation. Think offscreen too. Is the Druid player feeling like their flags are being met? Are they having fun? Is there enough adventure in their game? If so, well and good. Play on :)

 If its tasting a bit sour because you feel your obstacles are being overcome with little challenge and the (over) use of a particular move.... Change your obstacles, that is your purview as GM after all.

Remember too that you can make as hard a move as you'd like on a miss, and it doesn't always have to be directed at the player's character you failed the roll. Think dangerous, always. Shapeshifting into flies when there are flyswatting creatures around is very dangerous methinks.

So this is Great! Just make your moves as GM and use all of the wonderful suggestions given in this thread so far, James especially has given you plenty of ways to incorporate the consequences of developing this canon in your Dungeon World (using the rules as written).

Don't underestimate the power of asking provocative questions before the move is made. Nut out the why and the how and the consequences. Dig deep and encourage the player's to author their own suggestions into the reality of your world. Then the fiction empowers your (group's) interpretation of the move.

That is the beauty of this system. Every group, every individual game develops its own fictional rules that frame the moves and support their narrative expression in ways unique to that particular character and story.

Your group's druid's fictional iteration will be very different to mine and that's OK (and encouraged by the rules!)
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Quigley on February 02, 2013, 06:22:50 PM
When you boil it down, I suppose there are only two things that can be done: change the GM moves or change the class move.

Changing GM moves includes suggestions like spider webs, pigeon-eating orcs, twanging bows, and ACME DruidX-3000 anti-shifter land mines.  The GM makes a move to balance the ease with which the druid slips past castle walls, locked doors, chasms, and human guards.  It means the GM gives up on physical barriers and substitutes a different threat.  The idol isnít an idol, at all.  It is a mustaschioíd evil twin that is poisoned, has itís own personality, and leaves the seat up.  Getting past the trapped room is no longer the real obstacle.

None of that sits well with me.  If your answer is to make more moves, or make harder moves, then the concept of a broken move is not possible for you.  Players could start with god-like powers and it would not be a problem because the GM can ďbe more brokenĒ in retaliation.

The other option is making a change to the class.  Making the transformation partial, as suggested by Lucacc, is one idea.  Taking the ability tiresome or time consuming were two others.

The best complication Iíve come up with is something like what happens when a wizard fails a casting.  Roll less than 6 and a wizard risks losing the spell.  Perhaps the druid risks losing that specific form until he levels up.  Or maybe the chosen animal loses abilities, or it gets mutated.  Give the player choices.  This doesnít solve the problem, but adding risk reduces the potential for abuse.

Another option is to set a limitation.  Grant the druid three animal forms at first level.  Add more as he levels up.  This allows the GM to better plan the fronts and dangers around the abilities of a few animal forms, rather than the entire animal kingdom.

Iím not sold on any one of those options, but at least they address the real issue.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on February 02, 2013, 09:48:11 PM
Quigley, with respect there is a third option. Play the game as intended. You don't have to nerf the Druid or change the GM's moves. The game wants the GM to ask provocative questions, make moves that follow from the fiction, show them the downside of their class or race, think dangerous, think offscreen, and above all make the lives of the characters not boring. I'm not pulling these phrases out of my ass. They're what the GM is supposed to be doing above all else.

This discussion started with the statement that the Druid was too powerful and could easily overcome any obstacle and the GM seemed powerless to do anything. It's a refutation of that premise. It's chock full of options for the GM to keep doing his job in the face of even the most generous use of Transform. The GM has tons of choices to keep making everyone's game fun. To suggest that anyone is recommending using all if these options and turning the Druid into your personal spank monkey is just unfair.

Let the Druid have his success at getting past the trap. But that's not the end of the obstacles. And if the Druid rolls a 6, its your job to make a move. Period. What move you make follows from the fiction you've established up to that point.

Here:

Player: I transform into a pidgeon and slip through the bars!
GM: Awesome, calling on the spirits? I told you that you were penetrating into the heart of the Snake Demon's demesne right? She can be a mite territorial when it comes to strange spirits entering her home. (Announce an imminent threat). But hey, she might still be slumbering. She might not wake up and notice you (tell them the consequences and ask)."

Here:

GM: So Rhadagast, what does calling on the spirits entail? And why do the spirits listen to you? Just who are these spirits anyway (ask provocative questions and use the results).

I want to know so much. Is calling on the spirits a chant, a dance, a ritual prayer. Do they need candles, special herbs, totemic carvings, sight of the full moon, water from the mountains of Avalon? I have so many questions to ask and I'll never learn enough in the time we have. But your damn tooting I'm going ask some of em.

Folks in this thread have had great games with Druids. I'm certainly not suggesting that their games boiled down to changing the Druid or changing the GM moves. Maybe they know something.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noofy on February 03, 2013, 01:01:06 AM
I wanna play a Druid with Jimmy as my GM :) <3
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Quigley on February 05, 2013, 06:26:06 PM
This discussion started with the statement that the Druid was too powerful and could easily overcome any obstacle and the GM seemed powerless to do anything.

Strictly speaking, no, thatís not accurate.  I proposed that the Druid is able to overcome any PHYSICAL BARRIER AT LEVEL 1.  Pardon the screaming emphasis, but Iíve read too many posts suggesting that I add something other than physical barriers to compensate.  This is not a solution.  It is merely replacing a physical barrier with a different threat.

What Iím being told is: the druid IS that powerful.  Give up on physical barriers and do something else instead.

This is an oversimplification, but I break down most adventure obstacles into three categories: combat, social, and physical barriers.  A level 1 druid is capable of subverting everything in the last of those three with a single move.  Imagine if the bard had an ability that could charm all NPCs at level 1.  Or if a level 1 fighter could destroy all creatures.  Go ahead and play this game when all combat or NPC interactions are resolved with a single ability or even a single die roll.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Cerisa on February 05, 2013, 07:38:08 PM
The thing about Dungeon World is as long as everyone has similar bonuses to their dice rolls, all classes are equally as powerful. Why? Because they all have an equal chance to A: Solve a narrative problem, B: Introduce or escalate a new problem, or C: Do both at the same time. I feel like it's a really big deal to you that the druid is solving problems you're introducing, but remember that you are a fan of the characters, and you can always turn the volume up (because if there isn't any danger of escalating, why are you even rolling rice?) in response to their actions. Unlike, say, video games, Dungeon World DMs do not (and should not) have the power to create unsolvable problems (or impassable walls). On the note of your other two examples, I let my Bard use his charm on some skeletons, as well as an entire horde of goblins in order to distract and delay them, entirely because his narrative descriptions sold me on it. I also nearly killed him several times when he attempted similar stunts, whenever his poor rolling allowed me to. I also have let (and plan to keep letting) my fighter kill enemies in a single blow when the narrative encourages it, even one that could've been considered a "boss monster." Why? Because he (and everyone else) enjoyed it. There are always more monsters.

So what if my druid has saved the day before by turning into a whale in mid-air and crushing some obstacle? She also has failed rolls to do just that and ended up landing on top of her allies. Personally, I think it's AWESOME that I let her turn into a giant eagle and carry people around, because I can throw "physical obstacles" of epic scale at my players without worrying about whether or not it's an unsolvable problem. And I always know how to ramp things up. I want a wall that's a challenge to get over? Well, sure you can fly your allies over, but you can only do it one at a time, and each one is a single use of your hold, so you'll probably have to roll multiple times (and risk failing), and if the orcs are right on top of you and the building is about to explode you may be able to afford the time necessary to gently airlift each ally one at a time.

So, no, we're not telling you to give up on physical barriers. We're telling you to give on the idea of having "barriers" at all, because an impassable wall is not a threat, it's a decree. Dungeon World works because of the constant rhythm of player moves and DM moves, and as long as you let players have their successes when they've earned them (via the dice and narrative), and their failures when they're deserved (also via the dice and narrative) nobody will be "too powerful" because they will all alternately be solving and creating problems. It's not your job to say which problems get solved and which don't, it just your job to supply (or better yet: discover) the problems in the first place.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Colin on February 05, 2013, 08:35:49 PM
Quigley, when you present an obstacle and the Druid shapeshifts with a roll and bypasses it how is that procedurally different than when say the Thief does some crazy acrobatics and makes a roll to Defy Danger bypassing the obstacle?

Not trying to argue, just want to see how you handle this at your table as I think part of the disconnect here is that most people are seeing that any character can bypass an obstacle with a roll or less based on the fiction which doesn't make the Druid anymore special.

So there is a big pit with an idol in the center right? My thief climbs up the walls then the ceiling over the idol, then using the skills he learned as a cat burglar he is going to drop a length of rope with a loop and snag the idol and then make his back down to the rest of the party. As the GM what do you do?
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noofy on February 05, 2013, 11:11:05 PM
Wot Cerisa said. *handclap*
I hope that helps Quigley, truely that seems to be at the heart of your disconnect: that you are breaking down your obstacles into 'types' and perhaps (since I don't know what your prep entails) having your pre-prepared 'barriers' thwarted with little challenge via the Player's clever use of the Druid's shapechanging ability.

As Cerisa says... So What? Its only a 'godlike power' if you all agree it to be. Saying that they are capable of subverting any physical barrier with just one move requires your story to allow that to happen. Fiction First always, remember?

So if the druid says 'I want to use my shapechange move and turn into an eagle and fly over all the entrapments and opposition to grab the Idol and whisk it away safe in my talons' You reply with 'Great! So what do you do?'.

This isn't being facetious. You need to establish the fiction first. There may be all sorts of moves (and wonderful story) embedded in there, not just for the Druid. So you have their intent right? And they describe (quite poetically) their ritual shift into the eagle form they have studied since a child wandering the steppes of their homeland... and they roll.

A 6 or less: They get an XP :) Plus they have one hold but You get to make as hard a move as you like! I think this renders any 'physical obstacle' irrelevant to the current state of affairs at at this point. Make your move and make it immediate and make it un-ignorable.
A Hit: So they have hold to make moves, great! These are spent to make moves 'just what the animal naturally does'. You stipulate (with discussion of course) the moves as GM that the player can make... I don't think 'grasp the magic idol in my talons and fly away' is enough. That sounds like 'take wing and soar above it all' and 'swoop down and grasp prey in my talons' (2 hold) The act of getting the Idol then sounds like Defy Danger to me! Plus this all needs narration, you can't just state a move and roll, the game devolves to a humdrum experience at that point.

And even so, at that initial point of transformation you may turn to another player, after describing them seeing the druid morph into a majestic eagle and take flight and describe any number of other 'obstacles' now apparent (social, combat, trap or otherwise) and ask them what to they do. The conversation is a flow yeah? Depending on what happens you may get back to the druid making their Defy Danger to grab the idol, or maybe not, play to see what happens....

The druid still has to make the move (with a roll) and the fiction has to trigger that move. So there is always the potential for GM Hard and Soft Moves throughout the snowball, and the resultant shift in the fictional outcomes. (which may be far far removed from the player's initial intent.)
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on February 06, 2013, 04:47:53 AM
Its true I'm not concerned about the Druid flying over my pit traps. It's like my pit traps have an additional move: "Turn Druids into pigeons". That's awesome.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: (not that) adam on February 06, 2013, 08:11:45 AM
my 2 cents (and I don't know if someone else said something similar; if yes, then forgive my laziness):
in my games, that the druid could fly unnoticed above every obstacle was of a narrow utility. The rest of the party had to subvert the obstacle anyway. It's not like the thief that disarms a trap for everyone or a magic ritual that teleports everyone at once.

I remember one time when the druid flew ahead to be sure that there were some survivors beyond a wall of zombies, but then she came back and fought the zombies together with the rest of the party. Another time, she pursued a fleeting boss underwater, but when she reached him, she couldn't beat him all alone. And while she had an easy time going down a pit full of prisoners and also helped carrying one in the form of an eagle, the rest of the party had to consume an obscene amount of rope to get down, take the prisoners, and come back upstairs.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: noclue on February 06, 2013, 08:36:21 AM
Quigley, here's the thing, I'm not saying do anything to compensate. That implies there's a problem. I'm saying that the GM should do their job and follow their agenda and stop worrying about whether the Druid gets by an obstacle or not. The GM is not a fan of their obstacles. Why does it matter if the Druid flies through the bars on a roll+wis, or the fighter rips the gate off its hinges with a roll+str, or the thief picks the lock with a roll+DEX? The GM's job is the same. Use moves to pursue your agenda. 1. Portray a fantastical world; 2. Fill the characters' lives with adventure; 3. Play to find out what happens. The GM's agenda does not include anything about how hard physical barriers should be.

Quote
Everything you say and do at the table (and away from the table, too) exists to accomplish these three goals and no others. Things that aren't on this list aren't your goals. You're not trying to beat the players or test their ability to solve complex traps...Page 161.

The problem in your examples is not that the Druid can roll+wis and get by a physical barrier, its that the GM allows the Druid to become a super spy, ninja and the other characters become bit players. The remedy is simply for the GM to do their job.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: timmyd on February 10, 2013, 12:16:18 AM
It's interesting to see how this thread has morphed into something other than the original post.

My comment on the current discussion is that the shapeshifter is sometimes going to be at the mercy of the spirits of the wild. When they are in animal form (I don't think I will allow insects), they may fall prey to natural predators, and they may be overcome by the instincts of their new form. That ought to help me balance things out and keep them from gaming it too much.

Start with the fiction.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Nifelhein on February 18, 2013, 06:16:22 PM
I have a druid in my game and he is the same in this thread, solving everything with shapeshift, but also he is turning into animals in a wild frenzy between actions he decides to take in the combat. All this is cool to me, if i didn't want someone morphing into the most fitting form to solve problems I would not have presented the Druid playbook at the table.

What was a minor concern was how shifting a lot during combat was putting more of a spotlight on him than in everyone else, thus on his first failure he wasn't able to shift any more during that scene, i told him the spirits refused to aid him. After combat he talked with the spirits and they considered him to be too far removed from their needs, as a result they required him to pray in 3 different shrines in the world, I went ahead and told the player that he could transform again, but at every session he would have to actively move towards the goal they set for him.

I didn't even set the consequences for not trying to get to the shrines. This was (to me) a show a downside of the class (i.e. it relies on the spirits).

And as someone else pointed out, the Druid's forms allow him to bypass obstacles, the remaining characters are stuck with it, though, and the druid just gave you a free move: separate them.

I would not punish any character for outsmarting an obstacle, the druid merely creates a fast and easy way to do that, meaning I need obstacles that are actually defying the druid, or that simply require more than one person to overcome them.
Title: Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
Post by: Jingo on February 21, 2013, 04:31:57 AM
Heh. This is a timely thread. I was just about to start one called "Druid Runs Amok" when I saw this. There's some really good ideas here. I was playing two days ago with my two kids (14 year old son playing a Druid and my 13 year daughter playing a ranger). We were playing lvl 3 chars.

The Druid decided on being an elf so he got the great forests forms and after enjoying 20 minutes looking up weird sea animals on google, decided on the open sea as his second category of forms.

We had a blast. The Druid certainly had the limelight though, and was shape-shifting every other turn to counter every threat. He rolled 10+ on almost every shapeshifting move the entire night so it was a little difficult to reign it in.

It was great to see such creative roleplaying from my son.

The first fight, a wizard they knew was running away from 5 wargs chasing him across a field. The PCs ran to help. The Ranger was shooting the wargs in the eyes and throats, downing one, her companion tangled with another.

The druid turned into an African King Eagle. The thing had a wing span of over 6 feet, massive claws and he swooped down and picked up the scrawny mage dodging the salivating maws of the wargs and depositing the wizard to safety, then leaping back into the air, swooping down and at the last instant turning into a venemous snake  that bit the warg but didn't kill it. The warg trapped the mage in it's paws and was about to bite its head off when poof, he turned into a giant sea turtle with a shell diameter 35'. The warg was so confused it almost meowed. They tidied up the fight after that.

The giant sea turtle was a familiar staple in other encounters. One I didn't even see coming: so they were tasked to get the Book of Luthroth, required by the mage they rescued, from the bowels of a library in a city under attack by a goblin horde. The druid easily sneaked into the city--flew high--duh and into the library, overcoming most physical obstacles. My challenge was what to do with The Ranger so she wasn't completely left out. (You know bro and sister players--they don't always form the best teams.)

Anyhow, after a brutal fight with an orcaster and a lizard man, who were also after the book, the druid coming out victor, and the ocraster fled. The ranger eventually made it all the way through the sewers and into the city by the time the druid finished up this fight.

He eventually made it a subterranean large circular room--special collections area--there was a pedastal on the which rested the book bathed in a shaft of obvious magical light. A suit of armor (obviously a guardian) stood nearby ready to engage anyone who messed with the book. Druid flew in as a small bird, circled the pedestal, and then when it was right above the armored suit, turned upside down, shape shifted into a giant sea turtle and crushed it like it was a tin can! Squish. We all just started laughing. My daughter was laughing so hard she could hardly breathe!

He got the book, shapeshifted to an ant, and crawled out of the room, the guards that rushed down not being the wiser. After all who would see an ant?

Later, he did the turtle move again, flying lazily above the goblin command post of the goblin horde as a humming bird then upending and crushing the platform. I wonder what they thought seeing a giant turtle fall out of the sky and kill their leader and two of his orcasters? He then zipped away as the humming bird again, while being trailed with bursts of magical energy from the one remaining orcaster.

The goblins not used to seeing it rain giant turtles pulled back their assault. The heroes had saved the town (well okay the druid hero). The ranger at this point, the druid outdistancing her.

It was fun but, he did tend to hog the limelight. Thanks for the ideas here.