December 1, 2016

[Unearthing the Arcana] Druid Circles and Wild Shape, Part 2

Unearthing the Arcana is a column for me to study the design and thought process of the latest Unearthed Arcana rules put out by Wizards of the Coast. This column aims for me to point out some observations I've made on the rules, imagine its impact at the table and raise discussions of how it would be used or played if it becomes official.

My last post on the new Unearthed Arcana for druids covered the new Druid Circles that were introduced. That wasn't the only new things that were introduced in the Unearthed Arcana, however, as it also included an optional rule for druids to select their Wild Shape forms.

Initially I had thought it was going to be a variant of the Wild Shape feature, but after reading it through it was more of a codified way for DMs and players to decide on what Wild Shape forms that the Druid can have starting at 2nd level.

In the Player's Handbook, Druids were expected to seek out the beast form that they want to be able to Wild Shape into. In this optional rule, Druids can decide which beast forms they can wild shape into based on the terrain that the Druid is living in.

Without looking too deeply into the selection of beasts that the Druid can select from, I think this would be welcomed by any DM who wants to bypass the nitty gritty details of the Druid being able to wild shape into a certain beast or not. Not saying that some DMs or players would not find the original ruling in the Player's Handbook to be of less opportunity, but it's a fair alternative to have.

The rule that I appreciate more is how to gain extra beast shapes, which might not sit well with some players. Having to make an Intelligence (Nature) or Wisdom (Animal Handling) may seem to control the Challenge Rating of beasts that the Druid can take shape of, but also bear in mind that the highest Challenge Rating they can take is CR 1, so the highest DC that the Druid can shape into is 11. And for beasts with lower CR than 1, like 1/2 or 1/4, what should the DC be exactly?

So that's all I have to say about the new Druid Circle and the optional rules for Wild Shape. I'm already looking forward to the next Unearthed Arcana, which is for one of my favourite class.

See you in the next Unearthing the Arcana.

Last Updated: 1/12/16

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