D&D 5E Is this power gamey?

graypariah

First Post
Are you choosing Half Orc and Circle of the Moon Druid because of the theoretical synergy between the race and class? Or are you choosing it because you think it would make for a neat story?

The first is my definition of power gaming although I am sure a lot of people don't consider it power gaming. Would I allow it at my table? Of course, but I would probably make you devote twice as much effort to your backstory as other people who want to roleplay as a race and then pick a class they think would be fun to play.

As for the ruling, I would probably fall on the side of only allowing that racial ability to work while in their normal form. Even if the RAW could be interpreted to allow for that racial to affect wild shape, I would probably say "nah too cheesy" unless their was actually a post or something from WotC stating that it was intentional that the racial work in wild shape.
 

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keterys

First Post
My "good reason" would be that it creates a rather large imbalance in power levels which isn't fun for other players at the table.


Do you also stop the halfling druid from rerolling 1s and the human druid from using their bonus feat?

I'll cheerfully agree that the druid has some power gamery problems balance problems, mostly in a certain level range. That's no reason to need to deny them the benefit of half-orc when they've already lost almost all of the benefits of half-orc by wild shaping in the first place. (You get a bonus to physical stats for being a half-orc? Good for you!) Even this particular instance you cite: it's not like they get to do it that often. It's very visible when it happens, but it has less overall impact than, say, the Healer or Sentinel feat on a human.

Seriously - go look at the difference between a human variant druid who bumps their mental stats and gets an effective bonus feat, and a half-orc druid who is shapeshifted most of the time. Do you still think he's being a power gamer by making that choice?
 
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graypariah

First Post
Do you also stop the halfling druid from rerolling 1s and the human druid from using their bonus feat?

I'll cheerfully agree that the druid has some power gamery problems balance problems, mostly in a certain level range. That's no reason to need to deny them the benefit of half-orc when they've already lost almost all of the benefits of half-orc by wild shaping in the first place. (You get a bonus to physical stats for being a half-orc? Good for you!) Even this particular instance you cite: it's not like they get to do it that often. It's very visible when it happens, but it has less overall impact than, say, the Healer or Sentinel feat on a human.

Seriously - go look at the difference between a human variant druid who bumps their mental stats and gets an effective bonus feat, and a half-orc druid who is shapeshifted most of the time. Do you still think he's being a power gamer by making that choice?

My response to this if a player brought it up in a private message would be to say that the human bonus feat and the halfling's "luck" are different from the half-orc racial as that the half-orc relentless endurance is part of their physiology. TBH though the way the rules read the player would be right and my reason for saying no is because the combo would be too cheesy. Although after thinking on it some if the rest of the party was not very optimized I might allow it.

As for it not being as optimum as a human druid that is going to have to be a difference of opinion. To me, even bad power gaming is still power gaming.
 

My "good reason" would be that it creates a rather large imbalance in power levels which isn't fun for other players at the table. This means you could be at 2 hitpoints in your wildshape form then get hit for 40 damage from a fireball that rolled really well and only take 1 point of damage.

That is extremely powerful, given you are also still at full hitpoints in your normal form. You might even survive the battle with full hitpoints and require no rest, healing or resources spent(except one wildshape).

One wildshape and your once/day Relentless Endurance. You are overestimating the impact of Relentless Endurance + wild shape combo, or rather you are underestimating the utility of saving Relentless Endurance for humanoid shape. Wild shape is a 1/short rest resource, HP are restorable through short rests, RE is 1/day; RE is more precious, and as long as you have it, your humanoid form is less fragile than it appears. (Had a 3rd level half-orc fighter survive a failed save vs. red adult dragon breath the other day, because RE. He had 34 HP and it does 63, so he had just barely enough HP to not be killed outright, and therefore remained standing.) Blowing RE to stay in wildshape longer might occasionally be tactically advantageous (if a 40 HP Fireball just happens to hit when you're at 2 HP in beast shape) but that situation will be rare and unpredictable. Usually it's better to keep your RE as a buffer, even if that means taking a little damage in humanoid shape from falling out of wildshape, and just heal the HP with Goodberry or something. More options are good but I usually wouldn't use this option.

Speaking as a powergamer, this combo does not excite me. It's there, it works, it's nothing special. I'd much rather be a Mobile Dire Wolf from variant human.
 
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keterys

First Post
As for it not being as optimum as a human druid that is going to have to be a difference of opinion. To me, even bad power gaming is still power gaming.
As long as you're happy with what you declare badwrongfun, and so are your players, more power to you.

I'll just continue to point out that this combination is not optimal, not overpowered due to half orc, and not worth generating ill will with any player.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Is a Half-Orc Druid powergamey? No. Of course not.

If you are choosing to be a half-orc and/or choosing to be a druid, specifically, so you can gain these perceived "extra/bonus" abilities [a.k.a. powers] or to, specifically, become more "powerful" than other characters because you choose this combination...then, yes. THAT'S powergamey/-ing.:D

Honestly, I see no problem with this particular combo. It is, as others have pointed out, subject to DM adjudication and how your DM is going to rule for how/which racial/class features apply while in animal form. But I can't see how it would be overpowered. So I'd be fine with it.

My first/initial reaction/question, actually, was "Can a druid wildshape into a Brown Bear?" I was pretty sure I read somewhere that a Black Bear was their CR limit, but brown bears were above it...at least at 2nd level. Could be wrong/remembering something from some other game. But, I suppose, that's neither here nor there.
 

My first/initial reaction/question, actually, was "Can a druid wildshape into a Brown Bear?" I was pretty sure I read somewhere that a Black Bear was their CR limit, but brown bears were above it...at least at 2nd level. Could be wrong/remembering something from some other game. But, I suppose, that's neither here nor there.

Brown Bear is CR 1, Black Bear is CR 1/2. Either is allowed for a level 2 Moon Druid. Although I like the Giant Hyena suggestion better. Throw Mage Armor on the Mobile druid and that hyena will have AC 15, 45 HP, 60' of movement, and an attack at +5 for 2d6+3 plus a bonus (move + attack) on a kill. That is a good synergy right there.
 


Majoru Oakheart

Adventurer
Speaking as a powergamer, this combo does not excite me. It's there, it works, it's nothing special. I'd much rather be a Mobile Dire Wolf from variant human.
Is it the most powerful combo in the game? No. But here is my beef: when I ran the last low level campaign with a Druid, battles almost always ended the same way. Nearly everyone would be near 0 hit points and badly in need of healing. Also all their spell slots would be used. The Druid would be completely unharmed with none of their spell slots used. He was constantly arguing that battles were super easy. The rest of the party, I think, wanted to kill him.

It wasn't a huge surprise that the Druid was being played by the guy in our group who was constantly bringing up weird rules interactions that I didn't even think of and trying to use them in order to gain huge advantage.

The only time he only slightly began to worry is when all the enemies focused him. When I'd do that, he would just barely lose all his hit points in wild shape and take a couple of points of damage to himself before the battle ended. But most days only involved one combat so he wasn't worried about using his wild shape every combat. There was only one combat because they were mostly traveling and I was rolling one random encounter a day since more than that was getting boring.

This combo just seems like something he'd come up with in order to prevent even the one hit past his wildshape that he took each combat just so he could brag that he took 0 damage all combat. Given the only way to make one encounter a day hard was to use enemies with really powerful single attacks, it would have been especially useful against them.

Plus, it fails my standard "smell test" for power gaming:

1. does this combination seem "intended" by the rules? No, I doubt the designers anticipated this particular combination. When the racial ability was created wildshape didn't work the way it does now. You got temporary hitpoints instead of replacing your own hitpoints. The rules were changed, likely to make it a little easier for some people to understand. With the side effect that now you reached "0 hitpoints" before switching back to humanoid form. It's very likely that the designers made this change without realizing the other effects it would have on the rules. Which is a common cause of rules holes and other opportunity for power gaming.

2. Does it seem to make sense in character? Not really. Half-Orcs are tough because they have big, strong bodies. They are able to withstand one blow more than anyone else before going down. I don't even really think of them as being hurt at all while in wildshape form. It seems more like a magical construct that prevents them from getting hurt given that part of hitpoints are pain and morale and Druids can lose 0 of their own hitpoints while in wildshape. The Druid themselves is perfectly fine when their wildshape reaches 0 hitpoints, so the in game premise seems to fall apart.

3. Are there 2 or more reasonable interpretations of the rule, one of which is significantly more powerful than others? Is the player arguing for the most powerful interpretation? In this case, sure, one interpretation is that YOU aren't reaching 0 hitpoints when your wildshape reaches 0, it is just an arbitrary threshold that your magic ends at and for simplicity it uses the same mechanics as the hitpoint rules. The other interpretation is that it uses the same mechanics so it's exactly the same and therefore can be used. The second interpretation means you can use it to prevent a lot of damage from a big attack, it can decrease the number of resources you need to spend that day since you won't need healing or hit dice because of it. Even if it only prevents 5 damage, that is one healing spell you don't need. If the Relentless Endurance ability is used the normal way, it can't prevent any more than 1 point of damage given that all damage below 0 goes away anyways. The only effect it has normally is to allow you one more round of attacks before you go down. Which, not coincidentally, is the special ability of Orcs in the last couple editions. It has no effect on resources for the day since healing from 0 or from 1 is almost identical.

4. Does it seem more powerful than similar options? Most of the "damage shield" powers in the game have very small numbers. Things that give out temporary hitpoints are often below 5 points, so when compared to the ability to stop 5 points of damage, the ability to stop 40 damage is extremely powerful. Always assume worst case scenarios when comparing power because power gamers will use it in worst case scenarios. Especially when you assume that in normal use it absorbs ONE damage, it does seem way more powerful than similar options. It pales compared to wildshape itself, which is one of the most overpowered abilities in the game, but that's precisely why I'd disallow this...the character already has a huge advantage over the other players, they have wildshape. They don't need any other benefit to put them further ahead.
 

Green1

First Post
Mechanics and theorycrafting aside, min/maxing a character is not "powergamery".

Powergamers would roll max level with all the best weapons and armor and go stomp something like the latest module. Perfectly okay. But, in DnD circles, never understood the stigma with wanting power romps.

If it is a cool concept, go for it.
 

5e neatly side-steps these sorts of concerns. Your DM is meant to rule how that combination of race & class abilities will work, 'RAW' notwithstanding, and it will also be the responsibility of your DM to assure that, whatever the ruling, it doesn't get in the way of the campaign delivering the intended experience to all players.
 

keterys

First Post
Is it the most powerful combo in the game? No.
It's even on the weak end for druids.

The critical takeaway is that you don't like the 5e druid's wildshape. Which is totally fine. It has a potentially game warping effect, particularly at 2nd and 3rd level (and, like, 20th).

It is also my interpretation that you're taking out that dislike of the druid's wildshape power, and possibly even that particular player's preferred method of playing D&D, on the half-orc side of the equation. Which is misguided. Once a day being able to avoid some damage is negligible compared to getting 5x the hp of other characters, per short rest, at 2nd level. It's also negligible compared to a host of other effective options, especially long term.

So, again, I don't see a point to denying the half-orc ability. I do encourage you to talk to the player and explain that the druid is being a problem at the table, so please play some other class. Or even discuss with the table alternative means of handling the druid that don't offend quite as much.

Or just play slightly higher level D&D, when the druid's wildshape rapidly turns meh. That's basically what happened at the last couple tables I saw. Crazy at very low level, the DM having to work with the shapeshift druid so they weren't so darn ineffective at higher level.
 

Mechanics and theorycrafting aside, min/maxing a character is not "powergamery".

Powergamers would roll max level with all the best weapons and armor and go stomp something like the latest module. Perfectly okay. But, in DnD circles, never understood the stigma with wanting power romps.

IMO, powergamers are more likely to want to run with min level than max level. (C.f. "How to kill the Tarrasque with a 5th level wizard".) Powergamers are those who enjoy the challenge of optimization, and 5E is so easy that the only way to get real powergaming satisfaction is to do something crazy like take on Orcus at level 7, which actually is a challenge and probably gets you dead.
 

Or just play slightly higher level D&D, when the druid's wildshape rapidly turns meh. That's basically what happened at the last couple tables I saw. Crazy at very low level, the DM having to work with the shapeshift druid so they weren't so darn ineffective at higher level.

To be fair, the shapeshifting druid is only ineffective if you're married to the idea of shapeshifting as your sole modus operandi. If you're willing to focus more on spellcasting (Call Lightning, Conjure Animals, Spike Growth, etc.) from e.g. levels 5 to 9, until elemental shape comes online at level 10, your druid will be fun and powerful for his whole career. He just has an odd trajectory.
 
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Li Shenron

Legend
I see Relentless Endurance as an interrupt (for lack of a better word) based on this wording: "you can drop to 1 hit point instead." The feature gives you a choice: go to 0 hit points like you were going to or use the feature and go to 1 hit point instead. For me, the wording of the half-orc feature puts the continuation of Wild Shape in limbo until the player decides whether or not to use that feature.

Personally I would probably not let Relentless Endurance apply in this case since you aren't really dropping to 0hp, you are just losing all hp of your wildshape form and revert to normal form, without dropping unconscious. The wildshape form just ends, like a spell expiring.

But it's not a problem to rule that wildshape is more natural than magic, and so an ability to "endure" physical wounds would help you stay longer in wildshape.

It's only the part about leftover damage which makes me favor the first interpretation (i.e. disallow Relentless Endurance). When you really drop below 0hp you ignore excess damage beyond the part that takes you down to 0 (except that you may need to check for instant death from massive damage, but if that's not the case, then it doesn't matter if damage would take you to -1 or -10, in 5e you just default to 0hp).

However in wildshape the excess damage does matter, it is not ignored but subtracted from your original form's hp. Relentless Endurance would then also negate any excess damage.

Example:
- you have 100hp + 1 wildshape hp left
- you take 100hp damage
- normally you lose wildshape and drop to 1hp
- with Relentless Endurance, you keep wildshape and still have 100hp+1hp

It's only 1/day however, so it's not a big deal if you let it happen. Or alternatively, you could rule that Relentless Endurance holds your wildshape but at the same time it drops you to 0hp+1hp, meaning that you drop unconscious as soon as your wildshape ends.
 
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keterys

First Post
To be fair, the shapeshifting druid is only ineffective if you're married to the idea of shapeshifting as your sole modus operandi. If you're willing to focus more on spellcasting (Call Lightning, Conjure Animals, Spike Growth, etc.) from e.g. levels 5 to 9, until elemental shape comes online at level 10, your druid will be fun and powerful for his whole career. He just has an odd trajectory.
Yep, if you stop shapeshifting for several levels (since you're more likely to lose concentration if you go into melee and are less equipped for spellcasting), you stay reasonable. Of the 3 druids I've seen, none have been willing to make that step, so they'd do a spell (or not), then lose it rapidly.

Elemental form is certainly cool, but costing 2 shifts makes the druid really want to short rest a lot, and that can also be problematic.

Overall, I'd say the failed scaling of the moon druid is one of the bigger blemishes in 5e.
 

Uchawi

First Post
Every version of D&D allows for DM fiat and final rulings. So I would approach it from the RAW perspective and then discuss it with your DM if he or she comes up with an entirely different interpretation. The rules are the basis for any discussion and without them it is a free for all. With that stated I do not see it as power gaming as long as you role-play the concept.
 

Yep, if you stop shapeshifting for several levels (since you're more likely to lose concentration if you go into melee and are less equipped for spellcasting), you stay reasonable. Of the 3 druids I've seen, none have been willing to make that step, so they'd do a spell (or not), then lose it rapidly.

Elemental form is certainly cool, but costing 2 shifts makes the druid really want to short rest a lot, and that can also be problematic.

Overall, I'd say the failed scaling of the moon druid is one of the bigger blemishes in 5e.

You don't have to stop shapeshifting at the middle levels, you just can't use spells and shapeshifting simultaneously. There's nothing wrong with becoming a Giant Constrictor Snake to restrain an enemy, or a Polar Bear to exploit your "free" HP and save on resources. There's also nothing wrong with casting Pass Without Trace and using your shapeshifting abilities to scout around, especially once you get flying at 8th level. Even if you do want to spellcast and shapeshift simultaneously, the aforementioned AC 15 Giant Hyena has a +2 to Con saves, to which you can add another +3 if you take Resilient (Con) at level 4, thus passing 80% of your Concentration checks. While those are not great odds on concentration, they're not terrible either--by the time you lose concentration you've probably lost most of your hyena HP too. If you wanted to do something cheap like cast Entangle + shift into Giant Hyena form, you could do that without regret. If you lose the Entangle on round 3, oh well.

It doesn't look like failed scaling to me.
 

keterys

First Post
It doesn't look like failed scaling to me.
*eyes 2nd level moon druids, raises an eyebrow*

The moon druid drastically changing how they play every few levels isn't an intentional feature here, even if you can spackle over it.

I'm also referring to things like the moon druid ending up 3-6 to hit worse than the rest of the party depending on the level and magic item level.

I've seen a _ton_ of complaints on forums, and also witnessed 3 different groups go through a similar "WTF" process with the druid, as it leveled. Many more than I've seen for Ranger, which they're apparently willing to do surgery on. Weirdly, for what I think many moon druids want, a patch that let Rangers shapeshift sorta might have actually worked better. Being a full caster is, in theory, highly limiting on what you can get, so if you primarily want to be a big bear or wolf or whatever, you're setup for disappointment.
 

*eyes 2nd level moon druids, raises an eyebrow*


2nd level is weird and disproportionately strong, yes. But by "failed scaling" I thought you were referring to your experience of shapeshifting petering out over time.


If you think moon druid is brokenly good at 2nd through 4th levels, I don't disagree.


The moon druid drastically changing how they play every few levels isn't an intentional feature here, even if you can spackle over it.


Well, that's an opinion. When it comes to D&D though, Death of the Author works for me here: Moon Druid looks to me like it's built for versatility, and versatility is what it does quite well at levels 2 through 20. You think that's a mistake, but so what? It works.


No "spackling" required.


I'm also referring to things like the moon druid ending up 3-6 to hit worse than the rest of the party depending on the level and magic item level.


I've seen a _ton_ of complaints on forums, and also witnessed 3 different groups go through a similar "WTF" process with the druid, as it leveled. Many more than I've seen for Ranger, which they're apparently willing to do surgery on. Weirdly, for what I think many moon druids want, a patch that let Rangers shapeshift sorta might have actually worked better. Being a full caster is, in theory, highly limiting on what you can get, so if you primarily want to be a big bear or wolf or whatever, you're setup for disappointment.


Winding up "3-6 to hit worse" doesn't concern me. A 20th level wizard may have +11 to hit with his 4d8 Chill Touch Cantrip, whereas the Moon Druid has +11 at 4d6 for Produce Flame and/or +8 at 2d8+5 x2 as an Earth or Air Elemental. Produce Flame works just fine as a cantrip, and against most enemies 28 points of damage (elemental) at +8 is better than 18 points of damage (Chill Touch) at +11 anyway, not to mention the extra HP aspect. And the druid is still a spellcaster.


Argumentum ad populum doesn't impress me. "A ton of complaints" on forums concerns me only to the extent that the content of those complaints is valid. Most complaints I've seen about the Moon Druid are from people who don't really want to play a Moon Druid--they want to play a shapeshifter--just as most complaints about the Necromancer are from those who don't really want to play a 5E Necromancer--they want to play a Necromancer (Wizard) more than a (Necromancer) Wizard, which is what 5E actually has. E.g. lots and lots of necrotic and undead-related abilities to the exclusion of things like Contingency and Scrying. It's a valid desire but not a valid complaint about the Moon Druid or Necromancer.


The Moon Druid is not a failure. He works perfectly well as what he is, and whenever I roll a mediocre-stats (N)PC with 11, 10, 13, 11, 12, 10 the Moon Druid is my go-to class for making that guy awesome anyway.
 
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