D&D 5E Wildshape with Spell Slots

TheHand

Adventurer
So in an upcoming game, one of my players wants to play a Druid inspired by the movie (Honor Among Thieves). I remember seeing some discussion a month or two back where someone proposed using spell slots in place of a class resource in order to Wildshape, and that got me thinking. I think this theoretical druid used spell slots to also turn into more powerful forms, so for example a Level 1 Spell Slot might let you turn into a CR 1 creature, and a Level 3 Spell Slot might let you turn into a CR 3 form.

I'm willing to try to homebrew this as a druid subclass 'replacement' for Circle of the Moon, but before venturing into the unknown I thought I would see if anyone has already tried something like this, and if they had, what kind of experience they had with it. Any pitfalls, balance issues, suggestions?
 

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My 2 cents. The problem is lower-level spells. In theory a CR 1 monster is a challenge for 4 or 5 level 1 PC's (how much of a challenge is up to debate), so letting a 1st level character become a critter that is, theory, a match for the whole 1st level party likely will create issues. In theory a 1st level PC should be soloing a CR 1/4 monster and a 2nd level PC should be soloing a CR 1/2 monster. [A lot of people, including me, have issues with how closely that actually occurs]. A 3rd level PC getting to turn into a CR 2 monster isn't so bad (and by then certain casters will be using fireball, which is intentionally overpowered, so I think there is room for a slightly overpowered wildshape spell). As you get higher, the less issue it becomes (conjure spells work pretty well with a similar concept from CR 5 and up).
 

If WOTC continues down the course of changing class features for casters into spells, you might get an entire suite of Druid exclusive spell wildshaping options in the June Playtest.

I haven't tried homebrewing anything like you have suggested, but I am open to the idea. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.
 

TheHand

Adventurer
My 2 cents. The problem is lower-level spells. In theory a CR 1 monster is a challenge for 4 or 5 level 1 PC's (how much of a challenge is up to debate), so letting a 1st level character become a critter that is, theory, a match for the whole 1st level party likely will create issues. In theory a 1st level PC should be soloing a CR 1/4 monster and a 2nd level PC should be soloing a CR 1/2 monster. [A lot of people, including me, have issues with how closely that actually occurs]. A 3rd level PC getting to turn into a CR 2 monster isn't so bad (and by then certain casters will be using fireball, which is intentionally overpowered, so I think there is room for a slightly overpowered wildshape spell). As you get higher, the less issue it becomes (conjure spells work pretty well with a similar concept from CR 5 and up).

Excellent input on the CR's. I kind of threw really fast & loose numbers out.

I also think if I were to implement something like this, that each time you Wildshape gives you "X" amount of Temp HP (based on the spell level), but I don't think I would want to have each form use it's own separate HP.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
So in an upcoming game, one of my players wants to play a Druid inspired by the movie (Honor Among Thieves). I remember seeing some discussion a month or two back where someone proposed using spell slots in place of a class resource in order to Wildshape, and that got me thinking. I think this theoretical druid used spell slots to also turn into more powerful forms, so for example a Level 1 Spell Slot might let you turn into a CR 1 creature, and a Level 3 Spell Slot might let you turn into a CR 3 form.

I'm willing to try to homebrew this as a druid subclass 'replacement' for Circle of the Moon, but before venturing into the unknown I thought I would see if anyone has already tried something like this, and if they had, what kind of experience they had with it. Any pitfalls, balance issues, suggestions?
My instinct would be to limit to Beasts at 1st-4th level, then let them add another monster type at 5th-10th. Or any method that limits their access to monstrosities.

I would use Summon Beast as a way to reverse engineer a CR guideline, since Summon Beast is the earliest summon spell that scales. And then cross reference that against other summoning spells like Find Steed, Animate Dead, etc.

However, at any given spell slot level I'd probably have the Beast form CR allowed be higher than the Monstrosity (or whatever other type) CR allowed. Just because monsters tend to have more potent abilities than beasts.

And I'd also have the druid keep their own hit points, regardless of what form they change into. Instead you could attach "are they forced out of their wildshape?" to Concentration (or another mechanic if you prefer).
 


FitzTheRuke

Legend
It's funny - I think that they've gone too far with making class abilities into spells, but in this case, I wish they would. It would potentially solve all the balance issues with Wildshape if they made WS a class ability that simply gave Druids free access to Primal Shapeshifting Spells and they balanced each spell (ones that come with statblocks like Find Familiar and Find Steed, or Summon Undead - type spells do) by Level, AND organized them by a theme that goes toward FUNCTION (IE Shapeshift into Large Brutish Beast) or (Shapeshift into Tiny Sneaky Scout) or (Shapeshift into Fast Lithe Pouncy Skirmisher).

Obviously my names need work, but you get the idea. Druids could get free 1/LR castings or somesuch. But other Primal Classes could use the spells as well. Heck, if the Statblocks were good enough, they could work for Beast Companions too (or at least, similar statblocks could do it!)
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Oh, one more thing: I would go the other-way-around to the current Druid Playtest: The Tiny Scout should be the LOWEST LEVEL Shapeshift. The first thing a Druid learns to turn into, not a Level 11 thing. They should be useless in combat. A form a Druid turns into for Exploration, mostly.
 


TheHand

Adventurer
Oh, one more thing: I would go the other-way-around to the current Druid Playtest: The Tiny Scout should be the LOWEST LEVEL Shapeshift. The first thing a Druid learns to turn into, not a Level 11 thing. They should be useless in combat. A form a Druid turns into for Exploration, mostly.
Haha, yes this was one of my first thoughts! I was even thinking of letting a tiny scout be the equivalent of a ritual casting.
 

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