Author Topic: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move  (Read 15050 times)

Undreren

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The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« on: December 13, 2012, 09:24:51 AM »
Dungeon World, page 107
Quote
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 had some trouble understanding this move. To me it seems like an inexhaustible Adventuring Gear, since it pretty much lets you do a lot of stuff normally only possible because you "conveniently had that grappling hook", or something like that. You, of course, shapeshift into a bird instead. Or a monkey. Whatever.

Unlike the Adventuring Gear however, you oftentimes can't use it to help your friends. A sparrow can't lift a halfling for example. A gorilla, if you can shapeshift into one, could carry a person on their back. That would qualify as one of the moves associated with the animal though, and therefore require the expenditure of a hold. At least in my optics.

One of my players though, wanted to shapeshift into a bear and use it's strength to attack an orc, and it actually had some weird complications.

First of all, what happens to his shield? Does he keep the +1 armor bonus in bear shape? The "you and your possessions meld into a perfect copy of the species’ form" doesn't address whether it means that your equipment effectively disappears until you revert, or not. Only that they "meld together".

Second, in case his shield magically and momentarily dissappear, would it then be a move that requires expenditure of hold to "Hack and Slash" as a bear, since you make use of it's animal features? If the shield disappears, his weapon would too, after all.

Third, how do I as a GM decide the associated moves? Just on the spot? I would have preferred that the rule looked more to the player to explain what he wanted to achieve. I had a hard time coming up with a move for his "Bear form", since he didn't have a reason to use it, except for the coolness factor, but he kept wanting to know what he could do with the form.

It was a lot easier when he wanted to shapeshift into a mouse and spent hold to sneak past some orcs, since he obviously wanted to make use of his small stature. Would have been fun if he rolled 6- then. Then I would have him attacked by a house cat. It would've been pretty funny.

I know that my questions are very subjective, but I just wanted some advice on how to roll with it.
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Sanglorian

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2012, 12:59:36 PM »
Hey Undreren,

You're definitely not alone here. I also struggled with the Shapeshifter move in the last game that I ran, so I'm looking forward to reading the responses that you get here.

I didn't have any doubts about not letting them claim armour from shields, however. It goes back to the whole 'to do it, do it' philosophy of the * World games. You use a shield to protect yourself. If you can't use it, you don't get the benefit.
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Antisinecurist

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2012, 02:48:50 PM »
Second, in case his shield magically and momentarily dissappear, would it then be a move that requires expenditure of hold to "Hack and Slash" as a bear, since you make use of it's animal features? If the shield disappears, his weapon would too, after all.

Third, how do I as a GM decide the associated moves? Just on the spot? I would have preferred that the rule looked more to the player to explain what he wanted to achieve. I had a hard time coming up with a move for his "Bear form", since he didn't have a reason to use it, except for the coolness factor, but he kept wanting to know what he could do with the form.

I think (can't find the source at the moment) the general rule is that you can make an animal move relating to attacking, but it *doesn't* usually require a roll. On the other hand, if they don't get an animal move relating to attacking, they can still hack and slash (if, you know, they *can* hack and slash at all) without spending hold.

For a bear, I think this is what I used for moves...
- Maim and maul
- Crash through
- Let loose a terrible growling

Maim and maul is basically an attack, it probably removes or renders useless an enemy's limb, plus dealing damage.

Crash through lets them break stuff or get through somewhere, and growling is great for a distraction or scaring people.

Maybe that's helpful? Someone should start an "Animal Form Compendium" with lots of example forms! :)

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sage

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2012, 03:48:10 PM »
First of all, what happens to his shield? Does he keep the +1 armor bonus in bear shape? The "you and your possessions meld into a perfect copy of the species’ form" doesn't address whether it means that your equipment effectively disappears until you revert, or not. Only that they "meld together".

The vagueness is deliberate.

Maybe in your Dungeon World the druid's possessions do meld and reform, so you get a bear with metallic plates (the reformed shield) on it's flanks and haunches. Then, yeah, it still has armor.

Maybe in your Dungeon World it really does completely become part of the new form, in which case it's not worth armor anymore.

Neither will break the game, both have fictional implications—if your shield is still visibly defending you in some form, you're not going to be able to blend is as just your average bear, are you? In general, follow the fiction: if the shield is still in some way protecting the druid, it's still worth armor.

Second, in case his shield magically and momentarily dissappear, would it then be a move that requires expenditure of hold to "Hack and Slash" as a bear, since you make use of it's animal features? If the shield disappears, his weapon would too, after all.

Yes, his weapon melds in the same way—maybe disappearing completely, or maybe becoming in some way embedded in his claws. No matter what his range will change.

The thing is, the druid is now armed with bear claws. I'm not an ursine expert, but I'd say they're at least as much a real weapon as a dagger is. The druid is still able to hack and slash as long as they can trigger the move.

Third, how do I as a GM decide the associated moves? Just on the spot? I would have preferred that the rule looked more to the player to explain what he wanted to achieve. I had a hard time coming up with a move for his "Bear form", since he didn't have a reason to use it, except for the coolness factor, but he kept wanting to know what he could do with the form.

As a GM you ask questions, and this is a great time to do it, which it sounds like you did. When they take on a new form ask "so why are you taking on this form?" It'll give you an idea of what they think a sparrow can do, so you can give them moves or say "I don't think sparrows can lift halflings" or whatever.

In this case, it sounds like the player basically replied with "because it's cool" which is a weak answer, but still an answer. The thing I really pick up on there is that bears are cool—intimidating, awesome, impressive. So I'd give them a move about that: "Terrible growl" or something.

Then there's the obvious thing for a form taken in combat to do: "maul them" or "rip something apart" or whatever.

Then I might tack on one more to twist it a bit: "Find a source of food" perhaps. Or, like Antisinecurist said, "crash through." This is a potential to give the player the unexpected, but it's not really required.

So I guess that's a bit of a formula: what the player wants, the most obvious thing, and a twist. It's not perfect, but it might be useful to get started.

A note on shapeshifting in general: taking on a new form is, in a way, saving up successes for particular tasks. The druid makes one roll and, through the clever selection of a form, can turn that into 1 or more successes. The cost of this is the new form: since everything is triggered by the fiction taking on a new form changes what rules engage. That's the fundamental tradeoff of a new form: that form's strengths turn your one roll into more successes, but that form also limits your options.

Nifelhein

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2012, 07:55:20 PM »
Hmmmm. This trade off between holding success and having moves to automatically succeed is quite interesting and a good reason to follow the advice you have given us, sage. I think that would be a great weay to approach it. Bookmarked for future reference :)
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Undreren

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2012, 12:31:50 PM »
Thank you Sage, you reply was very enlightening.

Maybe I should spent more time explaining the idea behind "the dialog between the GM and the players" before starting the game from now on. It is so damn important! It's just as important for the GM to know what your character tries to achieve, as to know what he is doing.

I think this might be why the Shapeshifter move raised these issues.
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noofy

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2012, 10:26:18 PM »


So I guess that's a bit of a formula: what the player wants, the most obvious thing, and a twist. It's not perfect, but it might be useful to get started.



This should be enshrined as the go-to answer on most things DW (or story gaming in general) It encapsulates the whole 'shared narrative' ethos and playing to see what happens.

noclue

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2012, 01:04:20 AM »
I once turned into a bear while we were being chased by a pack of gnolls (i think it was gnolls). I was unstoppable. was mauling and killing, and killing and mauling.

Three times. That's all you get. Then you're some poor schlub sitting in the middle of a pack of ravenous gnolls...
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Dire Weasel

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2012, 01:23:13 AM »
We had similar issues which I talked about here:
http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=2832.msg24222#msg24222

Sage's advice cleared things up quite a bit for us.

coyotebsensible

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2013, 01:31:25 AM »
I ran my first game of Dungeon World over New Years weekend, and I used Sage's technique for coming up with shapeshift moves. It worked like a charm!

Undreren

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2013, 07:33:04 AM »
Sage does indeed lend sage advice ;)
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jerimiah.gentry

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Re: The Druid and the "Shapeshifter" starting move
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2015, 11:43:39 AM »
Better late than never?

The beginnings of a compendium of druid animal moves, shared and open to edit:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1HMfNyUOg9RBYbesK8Ht11zBJdeUj8i0p2fjO4zcdQZU/edit?usp=sharing