Posts Tagged ‘Variant’

Hey everyone, happy New Year! It’s been a great year so far here at World Builder Blog. Some of you have been here since the beginning, some of you came along later, and for others of you this might be your first post. Maintaining this blog is a lot of work, but your comments, likes, +1s, retweets, favorites, bumps, views, shares, and more have really kept me going. Thank you for encouraging me.

Here’s a quick look at what I’ve accomplished in the world of tabletop roleplaying in 2014 with your help and support.

  • 300+ Pages of the Exploration Age Campaign Guide written
  • 175 Blog posts here on World Builder Blog
  • 57 Podcasts recorded, edited, and posted on The Tome Show
  • 22 PDFs added to the Free Game Resources section of this site
  • 11 Podcasts recorded where I appear as a guest or guest host
  • 6 Videos of 3 livestreamed D&D games on YouTube
  • 2 Campaigns in Exploration Age launched
  • 1 Life goal of finally attending Gen Con achieved

So thank you for that. Here’s looking forward to more in the future. In 2015 there will be even more (including Gamer to Gamer interviews with Erin M. Evans and Ed Greenwood) especially if Wizards of the Coasts reveals their OGL.

Special Shoutouts

I need to throw some special shoutouts now. First of all I live with an incredibly supportive woman who is smart, funny, beautiful, passionate, creative, and (most importantly) the kindest person I know. Bonnie MacDonald is the greatest person ever, and if you like cooking or eating checkout her blog. She’s the one who encouraged me to finally go to Gen Con this year where I interviewed Mike Mearls!

Of course, I didn’t interview Mike alone. Rudy Basso is a man with big ideas, big humor, big fun, and a big heart. Not only did Rudy interview Mike with me, he’s a force of creativity and inspiration, constantly coming up with ideas to be used on podcasts, blogs, at the game table, and more. He’s also the one who pushed for more Round Table episodes at the beginning and is basically the reason the show is now a weekly podcast. My new favorite podcast is hosted by Rudy and his super amazing brother, Alex Basso. It’s called D&D V&G and you should be listening. Episodes of the hilarious and informative show can be found on The Tome Show’s website.

Speaking of The Tome Show, this blog and all the podcasts and livestream games would not be a thing if it weren’t for Jeff Greiner taking a chance on me and letting me produce The Round Table and later Gamer to Gamer and Bonus Action. He deserves a huge thank you and applause for running The Tome Show for over seven years as well! Of course I also have to thank Sam Dillon, The Tome Show’s editor, the host of Bonus Action, and all-around awesome dude as well. Sam’s putting up the episodes you love to hear and that’s no small task.

Another shoutout goes to Mike Shea of slyflourish.com. Mike is the one who told me I should talk with Jeff about podcasting and his own site served as inspiration for World Builder Blog. Mike graciously and masterfully DMed all the live games I put together and even invited me over to his house to play some D&D. I know, I’m jealous of me too.

Greg Blair is a great friend and one of the nicest dudes around. He’s a brilliant D&D player, wonderful podcast guest, and amazing editor. Greg is a huge help with this blog because regularly sends me emails informing me of my typos and grammatical errors. He also comments on the blog and provides a lot of cool insights and thoughts on the work. If you want to know a thoughtful, cool dude get to know Greg.

Speaking of great commenters, this year I got to know the blog’s top commenter personally, Joe Lastowski. Joe is super creative, funny, and has a sharp intellect. Talk about your nice dudes, Joe is right up there with everyone else in this post. A lot of Joe’s feedback has helped to shape the Exploration Age Campaign Guide, so thank you very much for the comments here and on all the podcasts Joe!

There are too many guests to list, but if you’ve ever been on a podcast with me thank you so much. I have enjoyed those immensely and can’t wait to talk to you again on or off the air waves.

Finally, since birth I have been the number one fan of a guy who gives the best advice, tells the greatest jokes, and lives his life in a way we all should emulate. My big brother Andrew listens to every podcast and reads every blog post. He hasn’t played D&D in years, but he did introduce me to the game so without him you get none of this. More importantly he sets the example for living I strive to follow every day. He’s honest, friendly, compassionate, and kind. A big shoutout to him for all his support and love.

Yeah, Yeah… But What Did You Get Me?

So to thank you all for this year, I went back to a popular post I wrote titled You Only Live Thrice. In this post I discussed making death have a little more of a consequence for PCs and presented a few rules modules. Well those rules have been added to the Free Game Resources section of this site as a downloadable PDF. That PDF is also available in the link below.

Death and Returning Modules

Based on the feedback I got in the comments and on the various sites and forums where these modules were shared I created an add-on to one of the modules suggested by fans. This idea actually came from top commenter Joe Lastowski and got a lot of support. Check it out in all its glory and thank you so much for reading this post on World Builder Blog! Here’s to another great year!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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We need to talk. I really like fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. And it’s not just like, it’s like like. Loving a game doesn’t mean there aren’t details I’d like to see changed about it. Today, my friends, we need to talk about the druid.

Every Animal Ever

At second level in D&D’s latest edition druids get what has become their signature ability in D&D, known as Wild Shape. Many who read this blog already know the details, but for those who don’t here’s a quick overview of how the ability works in fifth edition D&D.

Wild Shape is an awesome ability both flavor-wise and mechanically. It allows a character with levels in the druid class to become an animal. The forms are limited at first, a fish, a wolf, etc. As the druid grows in power, the number of different animal forms one can adopt increases. Certain druids can become mammoths, elementals, and giant scorpions among other beasts. That archetype of druid is called the Circle of the Moon. There is another archetype option for druids who want to be able to cast even more spells than their already on-par with base bards, clerics, sorcerer, and wizard spell progression allows. That is the Circle of the Land. I know no one who is playing a Circle of the Land druid (and I know a lot of D&D players).

Why is that? Well, it’s not that the Circle of the Land benefits are bad, they’re actually pretty dope. It’s that the Circle of the Moon benefits are amazingly over-powered and create the greatest tank in the game of D&D. The greatest tank with the spell progression of a wizard. Awesome. This all has to do with Wild Shape.

You see when a character uses Wild Shape, he or she basically adopts all the statistics and benefits of the animal into which the druid changes. This seemed like a simple idea which made a ton of sense. It’s very easy for a druid to change into a beast form. The player just needs to see the stat block of the animal and away we go. When the animal form drops to 0 HP, the druid changes back into his or her normal self, basically unscathed. The druid can stay in animal form for an hour or longer, without any concentration check required, so it can carry over a form between battles. It turns out that this allows the druid to soak up tons of damage. A Circle of the Moon druid can become a bear at second level twice before needing to recharge the ability with a mere short rest. That’s right, a second level Circle of the Moon druid can have all the awesome abilities of being a bear and soak up a bunch of damage two times before having to rest. All that and two attacks to boot!

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 10.14.22 AM

Wow. Look at that HP and those attacks.

If you have been following The Tarrasque Takedown, a stress test of fifth edition high level combat, you know the power of a Circle of the Moon druid. Joe Lastowski’s level 20 character had no limit to the number of times a day he could wild shape, and therefore an unlimited pool of hit points. Even in the stomach of the Tarrasque, Malachi Moonriver had no fear of dying. Granted, most druids being played aren’t level 20 and a lot of folks don’t play the final level of their character class that long, but look at the stat block above. You’ll see how powerful a second level a druid can be.

Granted a lot of animals also have a low AC and lots of hit points to make up it. I don’t want to be unfair to players who want to be a shape-shifting Circle of the Moon druid. It’s a cool concept, and becoming a bear isn’t something I want to stop, I just think we need to rework the way it’s being done so the druid doesn’t outshine every other class in D&D. You can hear us discuss some of these ideas on the Round Table Tarrasque Takedown Wrap-Up podcast, which drops on Monday.

Also, I want to let you know that Joe Lastowski and Mike Shea will both most-likely be writing about this problem sometime in the future. I have no doubt that eventually you will read Joe’s thoughts at his awesome site, Acts of Geek, and Mike’s thoughts on Sly Flourish, my favorite DM advice site ever. Both are smarter than I and came up with a lot of the thoughts below, so definitely keep checking their sites!

Rule Variants, I Choose You!

Thanks to the Tarrasque Takedown, Joe Lastowski, Mike Shea, Topher Kohan, Chris Dudley, and I have come up with a few different ideas about different ways to fix (or nerf if you prefer) Wild Shape. Take a look and then vote in the poll below to let us know your favorites (or if you hate them all). We want to hear what you think!

Wild Shape Variant Rule: Carry Over

Your Wild Shape ability works as normal, except in regard to AC and hit points. You always keep the AC of your normal form. In addition, any damage you takes in a beast form carries over to any new forms you assume and vice versa. So if you take 30 damage as a beast and then revert to your normal form, you have 30 less hit points than before you changed into your beast form. If this damage drops you to less than 0 hit points once Wild Shape ends, you are unconscious and dying or die as applicable.

Wild Shape Variant Rule: Retain AC and HP

Your Wild Shape ability works as normal, except in regard to AC and hit points. You always keep the AC and hit points of your normal form. If you drop to 0 hit points in a beast form, Wild Shape ends and you are unconscious and dying or die as applicable.

Wild Shape Variant Rule: Concentration

Wild Shape works as if you cast a spell which requires concentration. If you lose concentration while in a beast form, you revert back to your normal form and that use of Wild Shape has been expended.

Wild Shape Variant Rule: Healing Shape 1

Your Wild Shape ability works as normal, except in regard to hit points. Any damage you take in a beast form carries over to any new form you assume and vice versa. If this damage drops you to less than 0 hit points once Wild Shape ends you are unconscious and dying or die as applicable. Each time you change forms, you heal a number of hit points equal to the Constitution modifier of the form into which you are changing multiplied by half your druid level.

Wild Shape Variant Rule: Healing Shape 2

Your Wild Shape ability works as normal, except in regard to hit points. Any damage you take in a beast form carries over to any new form you assume and vice versa. If this damage drops you to less than 0 hit points once Wild Shape ends, you are unconscious and dying or die as applicable. Each time you change forms, you heal a number of hit points equal to your druid level.

Wild Shape Variant Rule: Temporary HP

Your Wild Shape ability works as normal, except in regards to hit points. Any damage you take in a beast form carries over to any new form you assume and vice versa. If this damage drops you to less than 0 hit points once Wild Shape ends, you are unconscious and dying or die as applicable. Each time you change forms, you gain a number of temporary hit points equal to the Constitution modifier of the form into which you are changing multiplied by half your druid level.

Wild Shape Variant Rule: Half and Half

When you take damage in a beast form, half of the damage taken applies to your beast form’s hit points, and half the damage taken applies to your normal form. Healing applies in the same way as damage. If your normal form drops to 0 hit points, Wild Shape ends and you are unconscious and dying or dead as applicable.

Wild Shape Variant: Bloodied

If you have half or less hit points remaining than the hit point maximum of your current form and use Wild Shape to assume a beast form or end it to assume your normal form, that new form only has half of its hit points.

Wild Shape Variant Rule: Mind of the Beast

Whenever your Wild Shape ability ends, you must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC = 8 + the beast form’s challenge rating). If you fail this saving throw, the DM takes control of your character as its mind is overtaken by the beast into which it has transformed. Your stay in this Wild Shape form with the mind of the beast until lesser restoration or a similar spell is cast upon you. If you die, your body reverts to its normal form.

Conclusion and Survey

So what do you think of these? Which is your favorite? Do we even need a Wild Shape variant rule?  Do you have your own method you like better? Let me know your thoughts!
If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!