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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
You're completely right, of course, and I take your point.

Still, I think that flying as an individual at level 2 (carrying nothing) is significantly less efficacious than using a fly spell (level 5): I'd have no real basis to argue that level 3 or 4 were in some way better.
 

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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Yeah the roving invisible fireballing helicopter of death only works if you can cast spells and attack effectively while flying. Simply flying for scouting or escaping purposes is significantly less powerful than a fly spell.

A lot of these shapes are extremely situation-dependent. Underwater speed and breathing is only for those rare times you need to go underwater, and it's done without your equipment (so no fighting) and without your party. That's a very situational benefit.

Similarly with blindsight - great to fight with blidnsight, but without the ability to fight it's mostly for scouting.

In fact, almost all of these are "you can scout really well". That's far different than the list of abilities implies.
 

pemerton

Legend
So how does a low-level druid compare as a scout to a ranger or a rogue? I must admit that past experiences (GMing Rolemaster) make me wary of the versatility of shapechange abilities even if confined to non-combat utility.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
So how does a low-level druid compare as a scout to a ranger or a rogue? I must admit that past experiences (GMing Rolemaster) make me wary of the versatility of shapechange abilities even if confined to non-combat utility.

Well, the issue with the Druid is that he can only go out and scout once. He goes out, sees stuff, then when he reports back he has to change back into his humanoid form to actual be able to speak. Thereby using up his wildshape. Whereas the rangers and rogues can go back and forth as often as they need, reporting what is happening from several different excursions.

That's one big difference at least.

Another big difference also being the ranger and the rogue can bring down the isolated guard silently and quietly with their combat skills, allowing the group as a whole to move up with less chance being heard. Druids are unable to do that without returning to their humanoid form, but then again are unable to shift back to get back to the group.

So all three classes do their jobs differently.
 

pemerton

Legend
Another big difference also being the ranger and the rogue can bring down the isolated guard silently and quietly with their combat skills, allowing the group as a whole to move up with less chance being heard. Druids are unable to do that without returning to their humanoid form, but then again are unable to shift back to get back to the group.
Just on this point - once the druid has ganked the guard couldn't s/he go back to the rest of the group in human form without too much fear of being detected?
 

Salamandyr

Adventurer
Just on this point - once the druid has ganked the guard couldn't s/he go back to the rest of the group in human form without too much fear of being detected?

Assuming the druid's stealth ability derives from his animal form (as in, not proficient in stealth, maybe with a low dexterity too), then sneaking back through enemy territory to the group may not be possible.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Just on this point - once the druid has ganked the guard couldn't s/he go back to the rest of the group in human form without too much fear of being detected?

Possibly. But then again, the druid might not actually be trained in Stealth, so even if the guard was taken out, other lookouts might be able to spot/hear the druid in human form returning to his party.

But that's all corner cases anyway. The big thing is just to acknowledge that a druid in animal form is a better long distance scout because it can fly and is not going to be seen as a threat overhead... but that he's only going to get that one chance at a flyby because he'll have to return to humanoid form to relay the information. The ranger and rogue are better at short-range excursions-- taking out guards, finding traps and deadfalls, etc... coming back and forth as often as they need. Both groups have their strengths and weaknesses (and which is why I don't see the wildshape to be an unbalancing factor in the druid's favor.)
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I imagine a Ranger and Druid would make an excellent scouting team. Druid flies above while Ranger scouts below. Ranger casts Speak with Animals, to occasionally communicate with Druid (can even be cast as a Ritual, so 10 minutes to cast and no spell slot used). If Ranger gets in trouble the Druid can fly back to get help.

Perhaps the Bard in the party casts Speak with Animals, talks to the Druid in their bird form, and the Druid can then fly back out again without ever changing into their humanoid form.
 
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