Monday, 6 July 2015

Ill-informed druids!

So in D&D 5th ed., druids can use their Wild Shape ability to turn into any animal they've previously seen. My wife's character is a druid who grew up on a remote tropical island, so she's familiar with all the animals that live in that habitat, but not with most of the typical animals you might find in a D&D game -- the island doesn't have many large mammals, so she doesn't know about bears or wolves or lions or what have you.

Not .., quite.
Not long after she joined the party, some of the other members of the party were explaining about all the exciting animals that she could learn about if she joined their mad quest to become big-name pirates, steal a fabulous jewel from the Pirate Queen and use it to take on the dark gods that threaten the world's very existence. She got very excited about the idea of bears, so now every time she encounters a new animal she inquires: "bear?"

Over her various adventures, she's encountered various depictions of bears, bear skins, etc., largely because Nornic warriors who've been initiated into the mysteries of the bear totem lodge are entitled to wear bear skins. One of 'em's even called "Harrek," too. No shame in my game.

Anyway, this brought up a dilemma for me. The character's quest to become a bear either has to end with her learning how or her not being able to. The first one ends the joke, and the second one is just frustrating.

With that in mind, I came up with the Ill-informed Druid Table! This is what happens when a druid tries to Wild Shape into an animal that they are not 100% certain about the anatomy of. The character turns into the animal they intended to become, but with one (or 1d3 if you feel they're particularly ignorant) of the following changes:

  1. Brilliant Plumage. Disadvantage on Stealth rolls. 
  2. Inadequately-explained scale. 1-3 one size category too large, 4-6 one category too small. "Well, that's the size it was in the picture!"
  3. Poisonous. One attack becomes poisonous: target must take Con save at druid's spell DC or be poisoned for 2d6 rounds. 
  4. Water Breathing. Animal can only breathe underwater. If the animal can normally breathe underwater, it becomes amphibious. 
  5. Prehensile appendage. A tail or other appendage (e.g. proboscis) becomes prehensile. 
  6. Bipedal locomotion. The animal gains upright stance and working hands but loses 10 ft. of movement and any attack that relies on fast movement (like Charge). 
  7. Big bat ears. Animal gains Blindsight 120 ft., ineffective while deafened. When exposed to loud noise, the druid must make a Con save (DC dependent on volume) or be deafened. 
  8. Pointy little hooves. The animal becomes sure-footed, gaining advantage on Dex or Str saves to avoid being knocked prone. 
  9. Tentacles. Replace 1d3 limbs with tentacles. Replace one attack with tentacle: reach 10 ft., damage 2d6 + Str, grapples creatures, escape DC 13+Str. Grapple restrains. 
  10. Bioluminescence. Creature sheds bright light in a 10-foot radius and dim light for an additional 10 feet. 
  11. Wings. Creature can fly clumsily at walk - 10. If creature already has wings, gain an extra pair and reduce flying speed by 10. 
  12. Lashing tail. Add one extra melee attack; reach 10, +Str +prof. 2d6 + Str damage. 
  13. Powerful legs. Add long jump of 20 ft, high jump of 10 ft. 
  14. Bizarre coloration. Fur or hide covered with wild, unnatural patterns and colours. 
  15. Armoured hide. Increase AC by +2, decrease move by 10. 
  16. Addictive quality. The animal gives off a pleasing odour or a delightful, enchanting sound, or secretes a delicious nectar. People who experience this must pass a DC 8 Wis save or become fixated on having more of it. 
  17. Defensive cloud. When startled, the animal can spray a cloud of (roll 1d6) 1 - acid, 2 - stench, 3 - ink/inky fumes, 4 - blinding venom, 5 - webs, 6 - blood
  18. Horns. Gain additional butt attack, 2d6 +Str, target takes Str save (DC 10 + Str) or knocked prone. 
  19. Sticky feet. The animal can move at its walk speed on walls and ceilings. 
  20. Mutable. Roll again for a feature. The first time the animal takes damage or fails a saving throw, roll again on the table and replace the first feature with the new one. 
Whether I'll actually use the whole thing I don't know, I am not consistent about these things. It also seems like, overall, this is mostly a table that improves animals (for combat purposes, if not for blending-in ones), so if you want to keep "balance" you can always remove a hit die for every bonus feature, or require that it swap out for one of the animal's existing ones. I don't really mind myself. 


  1. If South American animals are permitted, jaguars and capybaras are great mammals that live in tropical climes. They both have mean bites and are excellent swimmers, especially the capybara, though a jaguar is quite a bit meaner.

    1. We do love the noble capybara.

      In this case, the island specifically has no large mammals -- it has large reptiles and amphibians as well as abnormally-large insects. But that's a specific fact about this specific island.

  2. That is awesome. :D