How does the naga aspirant druid archetype's naga shape "work like and replace wild shape", exactly?

Rules Questions

Dark Archive

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How does the naga shape ability granted by the naga aspirant druid archetype (pg.196 of the Advanced Race Guide) "work like and replace wild shape", given that it says wild shape is "gained at 4th level, as normal"?

The only reading I can arrive at that seems like a fair trade in power level without completely gimping the ability is that naga shape replaces the forms a druid would normally have available through wild shape from 6th level onward, but continues to progress the duration and number of times per day the druid can change form. Is that correct?

Advanced Race Guide wrote:

Naga Shape

At 6th level, the naga aspirant can use her wild shape ability (gained at 4th level, as normal) to assume the form of a true naga. This effect functions in a similar manner to a shapechange spell with the following exception. The druid's true naga form is unique, representing her personal evolution. When taking naga form, the nagaji's body transforms into that of a large serpent, though she keeps her own head. The naga aspirant loses her limbs and her size increases by one category, granting her a +4 size bonus to Strength and Constitution, a –2 penalty to Dexterity, and a +2 enhancement bonus to her natural armor bonus. She gains a +10 enhancement bonus to land speed and a bite attack that deals 1d6 points of damage. She can cast verbal spells in this form, but cannot cast spells with other components without metamagic or feats such as Natural Spell.

This ability otherwise works like and replaces wild shape.


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You acquire Wild Shape at level 4, and can change into the typical forms at that level. Look up Beast Shape I(1) for reference as to what you gain/don't gain. At level 6, you can actually turn into a True Naga(instead of Beast Shape I).

Basically, it's telling you that once you hit level 6, you can use all of the normal Wild Shape(Beast Shape xx), and all of the other forms, but you may also turn into a True Naga as an Additional Form.

This makes the most sense to me.

Dark Archive

How is that "replacing" wild shape in any way then? I'm happy for that to be true, and I don't think it's overpowered because the naga form is weaker than a lot of the other forms available, but it seems out of phase with archetype design philosophy just to give you something for free without replacing anything. Not to mention, it's a hard reading to even arrive at since the ability itself says (in however an ambiguous way) that it replaces wild shape. Perhaps since all the powers you can choose that augment your naga form replace other "always on" druid abilities, the trade-off is considered baked in?

Hero Lab certainly agrees with your interpretation, anyway. Thanks for your insight!


Think of it this way:

Replace Wild Shape, with Naga Shape. They function exactly the same, but you have the addition of True Naga Shape.

This ability otherwise works like and replaces wild shape.
Let's break that down.
This ability works like Wild Shape.
It is Wild Shape, but with different Title.

This ability replaces Wild Shape.
You replace Wild Shape, with Title-Modified Wild Shape.

The only thing that's really being replaced, is the title.

It would make Zero sense if all you could transform into was True Naga. You just get the addition of True Naga for the sake of flavor/RP I bet.

Dark Archive

Fair enough! I'm officially happy to buy that as RAW.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Benn Roe wrote:
Fair enough! I'm officially happy to buy that as RAW.

It's simply to handle the rules of using archetypes. "This ability replaces X" is standard language so people know that Wild Shape can't be subbed out by another archetype.

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