Author Topic: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid  (Read 11859 times)

vsh

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #15 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."

LD

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #16 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. That alone is worth some points.

BraveStarrrrrrr! Eyes of the hawk! Ears of the wolf!
BraveStarrrrrrr! Strength of the bear! Speed of the puma!

Quigley

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #17 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. 

Quigley

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #18 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".

noclue

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #19 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).
« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 01:55:33 AM by noclue »
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

vsh

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #20 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.

zmook

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #21 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. 

noclue

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #22 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.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

noofy

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #23 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!)

Quigley

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #24 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.

noclue

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #25 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.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

noofy

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2013, 01:01:06 AM »
I wanna play a Druid with Jimmy as my GM :) <3

Quigley

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #27 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.

Cerisa

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #28 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.

Colin

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Re: Shapeshifting animist is a poor substitute for Druid
« Reply #29 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?