D&D (2024) Fix for the Druid's Wildshape: A limited number of beasts

DavyGreenwind

Just some guy
Though I do not like the templates very much, I agree that needing to refer to the monster manual is a chore. Here is my take on how they could fix Druid's Wildshape:

"At level one, your connection to nature allows to change into beasts, or wildshapes. As an action, you can transform into a wildshape. You know a number of wildshapes equal to your Wisdom modifier plus your druid class level, chosen from the beast appendix in the player's handbook. The beast must have a Challenge Rating equal to or lower than half of your druid class level, rounded down. Whenever you finish a long rest, you may replace one wildshape you know with another. If you meet a beast in the wild for which you have the prerequisite level, you may choose to learn that beast's form, replacing a wildshape that you know.

You can wildshape [or channel nature] a number of times per day equal to your proficiency bonus, and must finish a long rest before you may do so again. Your wildshape lasts for 1 hr, or until you end it as a bonus action.

While in your wildshape, your gain the beast's statblock, except that:
Your Dexterity and Strength scores equal your Wisdom score, and you maintain the rest of your ability scores;
You maintain your hit points, except that when you wildshape you gain a number of temporary hit points equal to your Wisdom modifier plus your druid class level;
Your attacks use your spell attack modifier in place of any attack bonus; and
You maintain your proficiency bonus."

The beast appendix would probably have 40 or 50 beasts from CR 0 to 10. Enough to fill all the niches.

Moon Druid would keep combat wildshape, using spell slots for healing, and all the cool elemental stuff. To make them pop, instead of upping the CR, I would give them the ability to freely change between animals during the one hour their wildshape is active without expending additional uses of wildshape (but getting the temporary hit points only on the first time they use it) in order to really live that Doric from the movie Druid fantasy.

This way, there is no endless searching through the monster manual, because they are all in the PH, and you only know a limited number. The CR is a little higher on the beasts available, but I feel this is balanced by knowing less beasts, having THP instead of full HP, and by replacing some stats with your own.

Thoughts?
 

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FitzTheRuke

Legend
That's decent work, but do you think"40 or 50" statblocks don't count as "endless searching"? I mean, you're right that at least it's not in a separate book, but I'd much rather have 3-5 useful statblocks that can fit on ONE PAGE that I can have at the table. My preference would be for it to fit ON THE CHARACTER SHEET, along with the rest of the character, AND still be versatile enough that I could change into multiple animals for various purposes AND have a unique ability that speaks to that particular animal.

This really shouldn't be that hard to design, IMO. Most monster (beast) statblocks are not much more than HP, ability scores, & an attack for a damage type. If we're lucky, they have one or two abilities. A tiny "scout" animal can give up good HP, STR, CON, & damage for a cool ability or two (say, sneaking (rodents), perception (birds); leaping (frogs & monkeys), or whatever); a large "brute" animal can instead have good HP, STR, CON, & Damage while only having "ribbon" features (by comparison); while a medium "skirmisher" animal can be somewhere in-between.

A solidly built list of special abilities can, first of all, be easily gathered from the extant ones in the existing beast statblocks, but can also be "filled out" with more.

I mean, does it really matter if your Druid wildshaped into a Lion has the same HP/STR/CON as the one wildshaped into a Bear, if one has a "pounce" ability and the other a "hug"?
 
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Personally I think it would be simpler to just make a template with more options to pick from from monstrous abilities. I mean if you throw in enough options that you can basically build any typical sort of animal, why do you need it to be monster statblock?

Off hand I'd say easy examples are:
  • A web attack
  • Some sort of poison/venom ability
  • A grapple/prone ability
  • A charge/pounce option
  • Pack tactics
  • A ranged option like rocks/acid spit
  • A swallow/constrict ability
  • A flyby/dodging trait that prevents OOAs.

The only stuff you'd be missing then is passive stuff like
  • Climb/swim/burrow speeds
  • Faster land speeds
  • dark vision
  • keen senses
  • camouflage (stealth bonuses)
  • amphibious/hold breath/water breathing

Personally the other reason I'd prefer this route is because it would be easy for Circle of the moon druids could to be granted stronger abilities like fire breath, teleport, amorphous shapes (the squeezing thing oozes do), stone gazes, etc. The type of stuff monstrosities tend to get.

The main issue I take with a non-template approach though is if they don't it basically kills thematic druids. Like currently if I want to play a "cat" or "wolf" druid after level 6 or so I basically and deliberately choosing to be suboptimal just because I like the theme, where as a template would allow otherwise. It would also open up the options to play stuff like elephant druids at lower levels.
 

Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
With very minimal effort, here is a simple change to the Animal of the Land as presented in the 4th UA (my additions are in red):

ANIMAL OF THE LAND
An Animal of the Land is a flightless terrestrial
animal, such as a bear, deer, horse, cat, dog,
velociraptor, or big rodent. While in this form,
you use the Animal of the Land stat block,
choosing whether you are a Defender, Lurker,
or Striker.


ANIMAL OF THE LAND
Small, Medium, or Large Terrestrial Animal (Your
Creature Type Doesn’t Change)

Armor Class 10 + your Wisdom modifier or 13 + your
Wisdom modifier (Defender only)

Hit Points you continue to use your Hit Points and
Hit Dice + your Constitution score (Defender only).
Speed 40 ft., Climb 40 ft. (requires 5th+ level)
STR, DEX equal your Wisdom score
CON, INT, WIS, CHA use your scores
Senses Darkvision 60 ft.
Languages the languages you know
Proficiency Bonus equals your Proficiency Bonus
Keen Senses. You have Advantage on Wisdom
(Perception) checks.
Silent Stalker. You have Advantage on Dexterity
(Stealth) checks (Lurker only).
Pounce. When you attack a creature that has
yet to take its Action, your damage against it increases
by 1d6 for every 2 Druid levels you have. (Lurker or
Striker only).

ACTIONS
Bestial Strike.
Melee Attack: your Spell Attack Modifier
to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d8 + your Wisdom
modifier Bludgeoning, Piercing, or Slashing damage.
Predatory Strike. Melee Attack: your Spell Attack Modifier
to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2d6 + your Wisdom
modifier Bludgeoning, Piercing, or Slashing damage.
(Striker only).

Multiattack (Requires 5th+ Level). You make two Bestial Strike attacks or two Predatory Strike attacks.
 
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FitzTheRuke

Legend
With very minimal effort, here is a simple change to the Animal of the Land as presented in the 4th UA (my additions are in red):

ANIMAL OF THE LAND
An Animal of the Land is a flightless terrestrial
animal, such as a bear, deer, horse, cat, dog,
velociraptor, or big rodent. While in this form,
you use the Animal of the Land stat block,
choosing whether you are a Defender, Lurker,
or Striker.


ANIMAL OF THE LAND
Small, Medium, or Large Terrestrial Animal (Your
Creature Type Doesn’t Change)

Armor Class 10 + your Wisdom modifier or 13 + your
Wisdom modifier (Defender only)

Hit Points you continue to use your Hit Points and
Hit Dice + your Constitution score (Defender only).
Speed 40 ft., Climb 40 ft. (requires 5th+ level)
STR, DEX equal your Wisdom score
CON, INT, WIS, CHA use your scores
Senses Darkvision 60 ft.
Languages the languages you know
Proficiency Bonus equals your Proficiency Bonus
Keen Senses. You have Advantage on Wisdom
(Perception) checks.
Silent Stalker. You have Advantage on Dexterity
(Stealth) checks (Lurker only).
Pounce. When you attack a creature that has
yet to take its Action, your damage against it increases
by 1d6 for every 2 Druid levels you have. (Lurker or
Striker only).

ACTIONS
Bestial Strike.
Melee Attack: your Spell Attack Modifier
to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d8 + your Wisdom
modifier Bludgeoning, Piercing, or Slashing damage.
Predatory Strike. Melee Attack: your Spell Attack Modifier
to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2d6 + your Wisdom
modifier Bludgeoning, Piercing, or Slashing damage.
(Striker only).

Multiattack (Requires 5th+ Level). You make two Bestial
Strike attacks.
That's good stuff that improves the UA version, but I think that dividing the statblocks by Land, Sea, and Air is a HUGE mistake. Your Defender, Lurker, & Striker divides are better, and make the Swim/Fly/Etc abilities as the options (gated by level, if need be).

I also think that SIZE can be mixed in with these categories, which is why I have defined them as Tiny/Small Scout; Medium Skirmisher; & Large Brute. At any rate, I'm sure that "my" method and "yours" could easily be combined into something that works much better than what we were given.
 


Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
That's good stuff that improves the UA version, but I think that dividing the statblocks by Land, Sea, and Air is a HUGE mistake. Your Defender, Lurker, & Striker divides are better, and make the Swim/Fly/Etc abilities as the options (gated by level, if need be).

I also think that SIZE can be mixed in with these categories, which is why I have defined them as Tiny/Small Scout; Medium Skirmisher; & Large Brute. At any rate, I'm sure that "my" method and "yours" could easily be combined into something that works much better than what we were given.
Yeah, as I said this was very minimal effort since I'm at work right now (shhh, don't tell my boss I'm on the interwebs). If I applied more thought, and your advice, I'm sure I could make it better. But this is basically what I am expecting/hoping for in the next Druid UA iteration.
 


mellored

Legend
Also, instead of THP.

How about resistance to physical damage (with the lower AC).

And then have the minimum concentration DC lowered to 5. (I.e. half damage).
 

mamba

Legend
Scaling stat blocks are the right solution. Have maybe a handful of them, and plenty of skills you can point-buy to add to it, with the number of points increasing with the Druid level.

Extra attack, poison sting, climbing ability, etc., buy it and add it to a stat block
 

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