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DM's: How relaxed are you when it comes to Wild Shape?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as FAQ candidate.

What I mean by that is, how do you handle being familiar?

Wild Shape (Su): At 4th level, a druid gains the ability to
turn herself into any Small or Medium animal and back
again once per day. Her options for new forms include
all creatures with the animal type. This ability functions
like the beast shape I spell, except as noted here. The effect
lasts for 1 hour per druid level, or until she changes back.
Changing form (to animal or back) is a standard action
and doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. The form
chosen must be that of an animal with which the druid
is familiar.

In my games the druid has to have actually seen the creature in person, Knowledge checks don't cut it. I have had people tell me that since they were druids that they automatically knew about all animals, suffice to say, I laughed.

How relaxed are you with Wild Shape?


In my oppinion this is what knowledge checks do.

If they make the check then they are familiar.

Frankly the last thing I want is to spend 2 weeks of game time while the druid that knows all about some animal (made the knowledge check with ease) takes the time to track one down just to look and say "Yep, I knew thats what one of those looked like"

Silver Crusade

Thefurmonger wrote:

In my oppinion this is what knowledge checks do.

If they make the check then they are familiar.

Frankly the last thing I want is to spend 2 weeks of game time while the druid that knows all about some animal (made the knowledge check with ease) takes the time to track one down just to look and say "Yep, I knew thats what one of those looked like"

If that's your house rule then great but it's not one of mine.

What's wrong with treating Wild Shape like a quest? Spellcasters quest for those rare and unusual spell components.


shallowsoul wrote:
What's wrong with treating Wild Shape like a quest? Spellcasters quest for those rare and unusual spell components.

There's nothing wrong with treating particular rare or unusual animals as a quest, before the druid can learn to take the shape. Treating EVERY animal this way seems to require an unnecessary amount of paperwork. The knowledge skill seems like a fair indication of what animals a druid might be familiar with, beyond those he grew up around.


Somehow the thought of having to quest in order to turn into a house cat(extreme example, I know) doesn't seem the same as trying to find 'rare and unusual' components. Need to go to the Elemental Plane of Earth to carve out an Xorn's heart? That's a quest. Going to the stables to see a horse... not so much.

I do think the region the druid is from should have an effect though.

EDIT: Slaunyeh said it much better than I did.

Silver Crusade

Slaunyeh wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
What's wrong with treating Wild Shape like a quest? Spellcasters quest for those rare and unusual spell components.
There's nothing wrong with treating particular rare or unusual animals as a quest, before the druid can learn to take the shape. Treating EVERY animal this way seems to require an unnecessary amount of paperwork. The knowledge skill seems like a fair indication of what animals a druid might be familiar with, beyond those he grew up around.

I'm not talking about every animal but if a druid wanted to turn into a polar bear and he has never seen one and they are not found in the area then I would make the druid take a quest to the north to find one.

Silver Crusade

Just because I have a knowledge of something doesn't automatically make me familiar with it.

They don't have it broken down into known knowledge increments so the DM still has to decide just what constitutes familiar. I can read a book on lions but it still doesn't make me familiar with one.


In my last campaign the DM decided that the druid had to actually see what he wanted to turn into (I was not the druid).....

What that resulted in was the druid having very few forms he could wild shape into, and not being able to use many of the expanded features of his class ability as he leveled. Without completely derailing the campaign he couldn't learn those shapes either... if you decide to do this, I suggest having zoos exist.....

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Mainly by common sense adjudication.


Seeing a lion in the wild also doesn't make you familiar with it... much less so than reading about it actually. If you go so far as to make it a visual thing, take it to the logical "must be studied" conclusion, both in books and in the wild, not just seen.


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I think that you are arbitrarily gimping the druid class by treating it's main class ability like that. Knowledge checks are there to portray what a character knows. Maybe the druid spends spare time researching animals from books. The knowledge nature check should be enough to know what the animal is and be familiar with it. That's why different creatures have varying DC's based on their CR.

Do you ask spellcasters to have seen a spell cast before they can cast that spell?

Silver Crusade

Stubs McKenzie wrote:

In my last campaign the DM decided that the druid had to actually see what he wanted to turn into (I was not the druid).....

What that resulted in was the druid having very few forms he could wild shape into, and not being able to use many of the expanded features of his class ability as he leveled. Without completely derailing the campaign he couldn't learn those shapes either... if you decide to do this, I suggest having zoos exist.....

Wild Shape is a potent ability as it is. Boo hoo that the druid had to actually work for it. The Wild Shape ability doesn't automatically give you the ability to turn into any animal you want. I'm sorry that he didn't get to flip through the bestiary, make a Knowledge roll when he found something that he would like to try and turn into because it has some killer attacks, and add it to his list of Wild Shape options.

Silver Crusade

Lab_Rat wrote:

I think that you are arbitrarily gimping the druid class by treating it's main class ability like that. Knowledge checks are there to portray what a character knows. Maybe the druid spends spare time researching animals from books. The knowledge nature check should be enough to know what the animal is and be familiar with it. That's why different creatures have varying DC's based on their CR.

Do you ask spellcasters to have seen a spell cast before they can cast that spell?

Spellcasters have to research spells. You automatically get the 2 per level because it says so but they still have to research.

Flipping through the bestiary to find an animal that has a great attack is meta gaming.

Liberty's Edge

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shallowsoul wrote:
Stubs McKenzie wrote:

In my last campaign the DM decided that the druid had to actually see what he wanted to turn into (I was not the druid).....

What that resulted in was the druid having very few forms he could wild shape into, and not being able to use many of the expanded features of his class ability as he leveled. Without completely derailing the campaign he couldn't learn those shapes either... if you decide to do this, I suggest having zoos exist.....

Wild Shape is a potent ability as it is. Boo hoo that the druid had to actually work for it. The Wild Shape ability doesn't automatically give you the ability to turn into any animal you want. I'm sorry that he didn't get to flip through the bestiary, make a Knowledge roll when he found something that he would like to try and turn into because it has some killer attacks, and add it to his list of Wild Shape options.

When you post asking for people's opinions then you make rude remarks about those opinions, well people are generally disinclined to help you.

My advice is discuss whatever house rules you wish to implement with your players before they make their characters. If a DM pulled this on me mid game, I'd be furious.


I haven't yet had a wild-shaping druid in one of my campaigns (the only druid PC left the game before he gained wild shape), but I would use the knowledge skill for this purpose, as follows:

Ranks gain you knowledge of creatures of that CR or lower (ie; 5 ranks = CR 5 and lower), and you can roll for higher-CR creatures. I haven't quite decided on how often you can roll, but once per level per creature sounds reasonable.


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Looking through the Core book, APG, UM, or UC for a spell with a great effect is metagaming too then.

Looking for cool feats is metagaming.

Picking Favored Enemies is metagaming.

Smiting because that guy has glowing red eyes is metagaming.

Picking your own Sorcerer Bloodline is metagaming.

The game is built with certain bits of metagaming already in it. Wizards need to research and Druids needing to roll Knowledge(Nature) checks is just how those two are held back a bit.

Silver Crusade

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ShadowcatX wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
Stubs McKenzie wrote:

In my last campaign the DM decided that the druid had to actually see what he wanted to turn into (I was not the druid).....

What that resulted in was the druid having very few forms he could wild shape into, and not being able to use many of the expanded features of his class ability as he leveled. Without completely derailing the campaign he couldn't learn those shapes either... if you decide to do this, I suggest having zoos exist.....

Wild Shape is a potent ability as it is. Boo hoo that the druid had to actually work for it. The Wild Shape ability doesn't automatically give you the ability to turn into any animal you want. I'm sorry that he didn't get to flip through the bestiary, make a Knowledge roll when he found something that he would like to try and turn into because it has some killer attacks, and add it to his list of Wild Shape options.

When you post asking for people's opinions then you make rude remarks about those opinions, well people are generally disinclined to help you.

My advice is discuss whatever house rules you wish to implement with your players before they make their characters. If a DM pulled this on me mid game, I'd be furious.

If you find disagreement rude then I would suggest you stop posting in this thread.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
shallowsoul wrote:
If you find disagreement rude then I would suggest you stop posting in this thread.

Did you make this thread to state your opinion and then disagree with everybody else's? Because that's what it looks like.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
drumlord wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
If you find disagreement rude then I would suggest you stop posting in this thread.
Did you make this thread to state your opinion and then disagree with everybody else's? Because that's what it looks like.

So I'm not allowed to disagree when they disagree with me?


I generally treat it the same way. I'll tell a pc what animals are common to the starting region, but anything else, they have to hunt down to interact with in person.

Though I don't let PC's craft magic items other than scrolls or potions, that don't revolve around quests to find rare components either.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
shallowsoul wrote:
drumlord wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
If you find disagreement rude then I would suggest you stop posting in this thread.
Did you make this thread to state your opinion and then disagree with everybody else's? Because that's what it looks like.
So I'm not allowed to disagree when they disagree with me?

Consider what I said again. I didn't say what you are or are not allowed to do. I pointed out what it looks like this thread was created for.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

I'd say a Knowledge check is sufficient to turn into the animal mechanically, but the look will be flawed proportionally to the amount of familiarity the druid has with the animal. A jungle-born druid may know what a walrus is from oral tradition, but it'll probably come out looking more like an elephant with stumpy legs unless they've at least seen a picture from one There'd be a competence or circumstance penalty to Disguise (and possibly some social) checks in that form, and even more so if they're trying to disguise themselves from other walruses.

If they've actually seen one in person, so much the better for their shape.

A failed Knowledge check ought to preclude them from taking that shape until they fill the gap in their knowledge. This could be as simple as simply asking a druid or ranger to give them an in-depth explanation or studying at a library. (I use the term loosely; it could be, e.g., a sacred natural site with cave paintings or totems depicting the animals.) Beyond that, I'd just play it by ear, erring on the side of inclusion.

Silver Crusade

When you play a Wizard and you *the player* see a new spell in a new book then you can A: Add it to your spellbook when you level or B: Talk to your DM about researching the spell.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

By the way, remember that you can take 10 on Knowledge checks, so you'd know a LOT of animals already.

Silver Crusade

The reason they stated the ability the way they did was every druid couldn't turn into every animal in every bestiary because with a high enough Knowledge roll the druid could say that he is in down time for one day while the player rolls for each animal in each book to add to his Wild Shape list.

They left it open to DM call but that is one reason why a simple Knowledge check is not a good idea.


One thing that I do in my games is that the druid has to have seen the animal or the animals needs to be part of their natural terrain, so a mountain druid can turn into mountain animals, a forest druid can turn into forest animals. If and when they begin to adventure outside of their environment THEN they are able to transform into other animals.


Im curious as to how you treat other knowledge rolls... for instance

If someone has a +35 (or some other high number as to make a check automatic) to k:geography and know what continent they are on can they figure out pretty much exactly where they are due to land formations etc etc, or if they haven't been there before do you say it is impossible?

~~~~~~

A wizard doesn't need to research anything at all.... he doesn't even have to leave town to learn just about any spell known to man... he just has to have a bit of gold in his pocket. 3.5 druids were crazy powerful, and while pathfinder druids are not weak, they are definitely not the behemoths they used to be. I personally just don't see why knowledge rolls wouldn't suffice. If you don't want the druid knowing every form ever making the knowledge roll more like researching a spell, or crafting an item (something like Making Craft Work)... a single roll is.made at the end of the process based on knowledge, but a time scale (possibly based on CR) would effectively limit the effect you are looking to avoid while still making a druids skill ranks relevant and doesn't force a player to derail a campaign just to learn how to turn into an effective meleer. Remember, a druid is much more a caster OR a melee monster, not both anymore.


I haven't yet run a PF campaign with a druid, although I PLAY a druid in a PF campaign.

In general I play this as level based. Up through level 6 I play it as "familiar with" meaning "has encountered and interacted with in nature." From level 7 - level 12 I play it as "Has encountered and interacted with something similar and can make a GM determined DC knowledge nature check". From level 13 up, it's pretty much "anything is fine."


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

Ignoring the nasty and combative portions of this thread...

I'd suggest keeping in mind that not everything that happens to a PC happens on-camera. Indeed, just because a druid PC hasn't had a "quest" to hang out with bonobo apes for a few months in between defeating Big Bad Evil Guys doesn't mean he hasn't.

Further, there's the whole question of "what did this PC do before 1st level"? You'd think someone who's finally gifted with some divine nature powers probably spent some serious time doing nature-y things beforehand. THAT is one of the things Knowledge(nature) simulates. "Oh, I know about that." How? Prior research. Knowledge() isn't about current-time events, it's about past experience. So if a PC rolls well on a Knowledge check about badgers, they've obviously had experiences in the past that provide their knowledge. They are familiar, else they could not have the knowledge the dice have bestowed upon them.

Fighters are not required to in-game practice climbing in order to make a Climb check. They are not required to practice sword-play in order to threaten a critical hit. They are not required to spend nights tied up and helpless in dark dangerous caves in order to build up their bravery ability.

PCs get what it says they get in the book.

The Wild Shape ability is phrased the way it is to prevent a druid player who was raised in a jungle environment from wild shaping into a polar bear (without justification). Nothing more.

Silver Crusade

Anguish wrote:

Ignoring the nasty and combative portions of this thread...

I'd suggest keeping in mind that not everything that happens to a PC happens on-camera. Indeed, just because a druid PC hasn't had a "quest" to hang out with bonobo apes for a few months in between defeating Big Bad Evil Guys doesn't mean he hasn't.

Further, there's the whole question of "what did this PC do before 1st level"? You'd think someone who's finally gifted with some divine nature powers probably spent some serious time doing nature-y things beforehand. THAT is one of the things Knowledge(nature) simulates. "Oh, I know about that." How? Prior research. Knowledge() isn't about current-time events, it's about past experience. So if a PC rolls well on a Knowledge check about badgers, they've obviously had experiences in the past that provide their knowledge. They are familiar, else they could not have the knowledge the dice have bestowed upon them.

Fighters are not required to in-game practice climbing in order to make a Climb check. They are not required to practice sword-play in order to threaten a critical hit. They are not required to spend nights tied up and helpless in dark dangerous caves in order to build up their bravery ability.

PCs get what it says they get in the book.

The Wild Shape ability is phrased the way it is to prevent a druid player who was raised in a jungle environment from wild shaping into a polar bear (without justification). Nothing more.

Well being 1st level doesn't necessarily mean you have traveled the depth of the world and seen a lot. What you can presently turn into at 4th level is probably what you have encountered in your first four levels. You don't get the ability until 4th level so that gives you three levels of "in game" time to come across certain animals that you want to turn into. No DM is going to sit there and allow you to write a backstory that says you have encountered every animal in the bestiary so you can choose what ever you want at 4th level.


There's no mechanical way outside of knowledge checks to check if a character knows about something. You can either use that, you can just assume familiarity with everything, or you can play "yes I have - no you haven't" with the player about whether at some point in the character's history they've run into whatever random animal they want to turn into. I hate the idea of mechanically encouraging players to write a backstory that involves them meeting N different animals, and I also hate the idea of arbitrarily capping the number of animals they've met in their backstory to satisfy my caprices. If I want there to be a cap on how many shapes a druid can know without spending resources (like there exists for wizards and their spells), I'll houserule one explicitly, instead of trying to play fancy games with my players. In general, I hate piling mechanical advantages onto some backstories but not other equally good ones just because the former involves knowing more or better animals or whatever, which means that I can either use knowledge checks or just open the list. I care enough about the story and roleplaying to want to let players play the character they want to play without feeling mechanically punished because their backstory isn't that the grew up on the island of more desirable wildshape forms.

I also find the notion of "researching" animal forms to clash to some degree with how most druid players I know most typically play the druid. The druid isn't a polymorphing wizard who is trying to approximate the shape of a tiger as best as he can with his polymorph magic, but if he's not familiar enough with it he screws it up and the tiger comes out wrong. He can turn into a tiger because a tiger is a real, natural animal. He has a special bond with nature, and can turn into a tiger through his connection with nature, not because he knowledge of tigers is sufficient to use polymorph magic to approximate one. This is optional fluff, of course, but since "what shapes does a druid know?" is a DM judgement call anyway, it does influence my opinions.

Silver Crusade

Stubs McKenzie wrote:


prd wrote:

Base Value and Purchase Limit: This section lists the community's base value for available magic items in gp. There is a 75% chance that any item of this value or lower can be found for sale in the community with little effort. If an item is not available, a new check to determine if the item has become available can be made in 1 week. A settlement's purchase limit is the most money a shop in the settlement can spend to purchase any single item from the PCs. If the PCs wish to sell an item worth more than a settlement's purchase limit, they'll either need to settle for a lower price, travel to a larger city, or (with the GM's permission) search for a specific buyer in the city with deeper pockets. A settlement's type sets its purchase limit.

Spellcasting: Unlike magic items, spellcasting for hire is listed

...

Those aren't rules you have posted, those are guidelines which is not the same thing. Every large city doesn't have what the corebook suggests you have. This is not the thread for this anyway so take that to another thread.

Scarab Sages

General Knowledge:
Taking 10: When your character is not in immediate
danger or distracted, you may choose to take 10. Instead of
rolling 1d20 for the skill check, calculate your result as if
you had rolled a 10. For many routine tasks, taking 10 makes
them automatically successful.

Taking 20: When you have plenty of time, you are
faced with no threats or distractions, and the skill being
attempted carries no penalties for failure, you can take 20.
In other words, if you a d20 roll enough times, eventually
you will get a 20. Instead of rolling 1d20 for the skill check,
just calculate your result as if you had rolled a 20.

Knowledge: You can use this skill to identify monsters and their
special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of
such a check equals 10 + the monster’s CR. For common
monsters, such as goblins, the DC of this check equals
5 + the monster’s CR. For particularly rare monsters,
such as the tarrasque, the DC of this check equals 15 +
the monster’s CR, or more. A successful check allows
you to remember a bit of useful information about
that monster. For every 5 points by which your check
result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful
information.

On an average day, a druid with a single rank in Knowledge (Nature) [level 1] and no intelligence bonus can identify, without any difficulty, all animals of CR6 or lower on a whim. By level 4 (when you get Wild Shape) can identify all CR9 or lower animals on a whim. Not only are these animals identified, but the druid even gains knowledge of special abilities and vulnerabilities. In fact, if a druid sits down and thinks hard enough for 2 minutes, he can identify any animal CR19 or lower at level 4. Hint: There aren't any CR19 animals. (At least that I know of).

If you can identify a creature, you have a familiarity with that creature's appearance, or at least have enough information to recognize one if you saw it.


Nobody in this thread (as far as I can tell) suggests the druid will be able to turn into everything in the bestiary. Requiring knowledge checks to determine familiarity isn't the same thing as giving a carte blanche "do whatever you want".

Silver Crusade

Davor wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

On an average day, a druid with a single rank in Knowledge (Nature) [level 1] and no intelligence bonus can identify, without any difficulty, all animals of CR6 or lower on a whim. By level 4 (when you get Wild Shape) can identify all CR9 or lower animals on a whim. Not only are these animals identified, but the druid even gains knowledge of special abilities and vulnerabilities. In fact, if a druid sits down and thinks hard enough for 2 minutes, he can identify any animal CR19 or lower at level 4. Hint: There aren't any CR19 animals. (At least that I know of).

If you can identify a creature, you have a familiarity with that creature's appearance, or at least have enough information to recognize one if you saw it.

If that's how you wish to handle that in your games then that's your call but that's not how I interpret being familiar.

fa·mil·iar/fəˈmilyər/
Adjective:
Well known from long or close association: "a familiar voice".
Noun:
A demon supposedly attending a witch, often said to assume the form of an animal.
Synonyms:
adjective. intimate - acquainted - conversant - close
noun. intimate

There are several definitions so it does really boil down to the DM.

Silver Crusade

Are wrote:

Nobody in this thread (as far as I can tell) suggests the druid will be able to turn into everything in the bestiary. Requiring knowledge checks to determine familiarity isn't the same thing as giving a carte blanche "do whatever you want".

Several of them have by saying all they require is a Knowledge check.


Are wrote:
Nobody in this thread (as far as I can tell) suggests the druid will be able to turn into everything in the bestiary. Requiring knowledge checks to determine familiarity isn't the same thing as giving a carte blanche "do whatever you want".

I do it that way, in practice - or rather, I just let players decide what they know about, which is liberty to know about everything. It causes no mechanical or balance problems (obviously). If a player did want to do a quest to learn about a certain animal or whatever, I'd be down for that, but in general I just roll with letting the player decide what to do with his character.


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This thread is just wow.

I'm on the knowledge-checks-will-do-it bus as far as this is concerned, and I'm so glad I'm not trying to play a Druid in any games where the DM requires me to run all over the planet to meet every animal I might want to turn into.

The problem with turning into region-specific animals is: there isn't every animal ever in the books. You're going to have to do some approximating. If I played a druid native to a winter tundra environment, I'd probably use the small wild cat (the leopard) as a substitution for a lynx. I'd probably use the wolf to be an arctic wolf. I'd probably say that every time my druid turned into a bear, it was a polar bear.

If I were a druid native to a savanna, I'd say my canine animal form is a hyena, and that when I transformed into a deer just now it was actually a gazelle.

I would under no circumstances play a Druid in a game where I was expected to meet every animal in person before I could wild shape into it, because I already know what would happen. The Druid would say "hey, can we wander out into the desert until we meet a pack of lions?" and the rest of the party would say "are you insane? We have important adventurer business to get up to, we don't have time for your stupid nature walks." Then the druid would go through the whole game unable to use Wild Shape in any meaningful fashion.

Scarab Sages

shallowsoul wrote:


If that's how you wish to handle that in your games then that's your call but that's not how I interpret being familiar.

There are several definitions so it does really boil down to the DM.

See, this is fine. If you want to say that it boils down to DM judgment, cool. I can even agree with your point of view (even if I wouldn't play a druid under those circumstances).

The game gives us concrete rules as to whether or not a character can identify a creature, and the only reason I can see a DM NOT allowing this to be considered familiarity is because the DM, for some reason, wishes to nerf druid versatility.

Also, familiar, as a definition, can be used to passing or otherwise shallow knowledge. The definition really doesn't cut it when describing game mechanics.


shallowsoul wrote:
drumlord wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
If you find disagreement rude then I would suggest you stop posting in this thread.
Did you make this thread to state your opinion and then disagree with everybody else's? Because that's what it looks like.
So I'm not allowed to disagree when they disagree with me?

It's perfectly fine to bring up a topic of discussion and to take an initial stance in the process. Anyone who feels a need to "observe" your intent can be justifiably ignored. :)


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Davor wrote:

** spoiler omitted **

On an average day, a druid with a single rank in Knowledge (Nature) [level 1] and no intelligence bonus can identify, without any difficulty, all animals of CR6 or lower on a whim. By level 4 (when you get Wild Shape) can identify all CR9 or lower animals on a whim. Not only are these animals identified, but the druid even gains knowledge of special abilities and vulnerabilities. In fact, if a druid sits down and thinks hard enough for 2 minutes, he can identify any animal CR19 or lower at level 4. Hint: There aren't any CR19 animals. (At least that I know of).

If you can identify a creature, you have a familiarity with that creature's appearance, or at least have enough information to recognize one if you saw it.

1. Rare monsters have higher DCs (15 + CR), and the GM is free to apply modifiers as with any other skill check.

2. I don't think you can (normally) take 20 on a Knowledge check, because once you've failed a check you cannot try it again. That said, it should be possible on a situational basis, such as when you have access to a large information base.


prd wrote:

Presented below are basic rules for a more streamlined method of handling settlements in your game. Essentially, these rules treat settlements almost as characters of their own, complete with stat blocks. Using these rules, you can generate the vital data for a settlement quickly and efficiently, and with this data you can handle the majority of your players' interactions with the settlement.

Note that for particularly large cities, you can use multiple settlement stat blocks to represent different districts within a city. This allows you to have neighborhoods with distinct characteristics inside one city's walls. GMs should feel free to add other new elements to create the cities they desire. A Settlement Sheet is included in the back of this book to record the details of your own settlements.

You can decide which rules you use in your games, but so we are clear, these are rules no matter what you call them... optional of course, if they weren't how much of the pathfinder playerbase do you think would use them? 2%? As to not pertaining to the discussion, I disagree. Even if optional, it shows what the designers of the game believe is normal and reasonable for the average game... as in, even the class that only gets 2 "freebies" a level has pretty easy access to spellcasters and spells of their level in towns.


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I'd certainly allow anything the druid could summon via Summon Nature's Ally. But in practice, I'd probably allow any Wild Shape form unless I wanted to ban that creature altogether (e.g. the stupid 3.5 fleshraker dinosaur).


shallowsoul wrote:
Are wrote:

Nobody in this thread (as far as I can tell) suggests the druid will be able to turn into everything in the bestiary. Requiring knowledge checks to determine familiarity isn't the same thing as giving a carte blanche "do whatever you want".

Several of them have by saying all they require is a Knowledge check.

Knowledge: Nature for a druid is a given. By the time a druid reaches 5th level, his chance for failing a knowledge nature check to identify an animal (excluding modifiers) is probably minimal.

3 (class) + 5 (ranks) + 2 (Nature's Sense) + 4 (Wis) = 14 (17 with skill focus, as half-elf).

That means on any given roll, unless the creature is above a CR 5 or rare, the knowledge check cannot fail. And even a rare monster less than CR 5 is 75% chance of "familiarity". Seems a bit hokey. With skill focus, it becomes even easier.

People act like (and source material state) skill checks of 20 to 30 are "really tough" and 30+ are practically impossible, but in my experience, 5th level characters (who achieved 5th level in less than a few weeks of a campaign or AP) can easily pull of 30+ skill checks regularly. Of all the complaints I have about PF and D&D, things are seriously wrong with the skill system. :)

Anyway, if you base this on knowledge checks, you're giving a player an easy chance to change into anything in the bestiaries that meet the player's fancy. I'm curious, what's to prevent a 6th level druid from turning into a Dire Tiger with a knowledge nature check of 18 (or if you rule it "rare", 23)? I mean, that's a trivial check for a 6th level druid (and only a tiny hurdle for rare creatures).

FWIW: I would let a druid be "familiar" with any normal animal (Tiger) for instance, but require a knowledge + 5 for any creature with which he would not reasonably be familiar and a knowledge + 10 for any rare creature with which he would not reasonably be familiar. That plus 5 is to indicate "familiarity", not just simple identification. At least, that's my current initial thinking on the subject.


While I agree that the definition of familiarity is vague (could represent anything from book learning to in person observation) there is a larger issue.

Assume two Druids start off two different campaigns at level 1 and those druids have only experienced a small fraction of the world.

Druid A is in a campaign where there is not much downtime and leveling happens every 4 days (in-game) on average. While he keeps advancing his knowledge nature skill his actual experience is limited since he isn't afforded the option to really explore nature.

Druid B is in a campaign where there is significant downtime and leveling happens on average 1/month. He is allowed to conduct research and explore the world.

Druid A is either A) screwed...or B) we handwave it in order to keep game balance and thus we allow his (not very realistic) knowledge to suffice.

Note: this comparison applies to ANYONE with knowledge skills not just druids.

Personally, I would prefer events experienced = knowledge (this was the old way of D&D)...but that isnt the game mechanic and thus for game balance I run ranks = knowledge.

Thus, that does put the druid (for me and my games) in the 'roll a knowledge check' category. BUT, I will assign penalties/bonuses for how far afield the knowledge is. A desert druid wont know much about snow animals or for that matter...dinosaurs. If you want to wild shape into dinos...be from (or near) a region that has them, devote research into them, or suffer the penalty. I wont however state that you cannot be one outright. A circumstance penalty is more than sufficient.

- Gauss

Grand Lodge

I prefer to work off two systems. The first depends on where the druid comes from. For example, a druid from the Mwangi Expanse should have no problem taking the Wild Shape of jungle-based animals, i.e. apes, tigers, monkeys, hummingbirds, etc. But I could not reasonably allow them to take the shape of, lets say, a dire wolf, or a bear. Now, if they come from Brevoy, reverse that.

Aside from that, any animals they see during their campaigns also counts. So for example, a Mwangi druid who adventures in Ustalav is bound to encounter a few wolves, and should from thereafter be able to wild shape into a wolf. But unless they meet a polar bear at some point in their journey, they still can't do that. The only exception are characters who somehow had access to a menagerie, except this raises the issue of what a druid would be doing inside one of those other than working to sabotage it...

Silver Crusade

jupistar wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
Are wrote:

Nobody in this thread (as far as I can tell) suggests the druid will be able to turn into everything in the bestiary. Requiring knowledge checks to determine familiarity isn't the same thing as giving a carte blanche "do whatever you want".

Several of them have by saying all they require is a Knowledge check.

Knowledge: Nature for a druid is a given. By the time a druid reaches 5th level, his chance for failing a knowledge nature check to identify an animal (excluding modifiers) is probably minimal.

3 (class) + 5 (ranks) + 2 (Nature's Sense) + 4 (Wis) = 14 (17 with skill focus, as half-elf).

That means on any given roll, unless the creature is above a CR 5 or rare, the knowledge check cannot fail. And even a rare monster less than CR 5 is 75% chance of "familiarity". Seems a bit hokey. With skill focus, it becomes even easier.

People act like (and source material state) skill checks of 20 to 30 are "really tough" and 30+ are practically impossible, but in my experience, 5th level characters (who achieved 5th level in less than a few weeks of a campaign or AP) can easily pull of 30+ skill checks regularly. Of all the complaints I have about PF and D&D, things are seriously wrong with the skill system. :)

Anyway, if you base this on knowledge checks, you're giving a player an easy chance to change into anything in the bestiaries that meet the player's fancy. I'm curious, what's to prevent a 6th level druid from turning into a Dire Tiger with a knowledge nature check of 18 (or if you rule it "rare", 23)? I mean, that's a trivial check for a 6th level druid (and only a tiny hurdle for rare creatures).

FWIW: I would let a druid be "familiar" with any normal animal (Tiger) for instance, but require a knowledge + 5 for any creature with which he would not reasonably be familiar and a knowledge + 10 for any rare creature with which he would not reasonably be familiar. That plus 5 is to indicate "familiarity", not just simple identification. At...

I would bet almost anything that the designers didn't intend for a player to skim through the bestiaries followed by a simple Knowledge Nature check to add any animal he succeeds at to be added to his list of Wild Shape options. I believe their intention was an actual interaction with the animal in question.

You have proven that it is easy for a player at low levels to mechanically know about most creatures in the bestiary.

What you have shown is that someone could actually go through the books, roll an appropriate check against each creature in the book, write down a list of all the creatures you know about and write down what you have learned before you even fight that creature so you could know the vulnerabilities of most creatures before you have ever seen one.

I go by during the game interaction with any kind of Knowledge creature check. If you come up against an Ogre Mage then you are allowed to make a Knowledge check to see if you know anything about it. I don't allow the player to meta-game and create a list of creatures that he has never fought before and their abilities.


A question: why are you applying Wisdom to knowledge nature? It is an intelligence skill. - Gauss

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