what druid could be ...

Ability Adjustment : +1 to your Wisdom, Strength, or Constitution score.
Starting Hit Points : 8 + your Constitution modifier.
Armor and Shield Proficiencies : ...
Weapon Proficiencies : Basic weapons, dagger, and simple missile weapons



           Weapon   Magic    Save DC
Level   Attack      Attack   Bonus         Class Feature
1         +2           +2         +0               Nature Knowledge, Nature Magic, Shapeshifting : 1st Shape
2         +2           +2         +0
3         +2           +2         +0
4         +2           +2         +0
5         +2           +2         +0               Shapeshifting : 2nd Shape
6         +3           +3         +1
7         +3           +3         +1
8         +3           +3         +1
9         +3           +3         +1
10       +3           +3         +1


Spell per day :
Level 0 1 2 3 4 5
1       3 1
2       4 2
3       4 2 1
4       4 2 2
5       4 2 2 1
6       4 2 2 2
7       4 2 2 2 1
8       4 2 2 2 2
9       4 2 2 2 2 1
10     4 2 2 2 2 2


Nature Knowledge : You gain training in the Knowledge(nature) skill.


Nature Magic :
You can cast a number of druid spells per day based on your level, as noted in the Druid Spells per Day table. Wisdom is your magic ability score.
...
Casting a Spell: When you cast a spell, choose one of your prepared spells and use a spell slot of that spell’s level or higher.


Shapeshifting
   Animal Shape :
      All animal shape have the following Expertise Dice :
          1 : 1d4
          2 : 1d4
          3 : 1d6
          4 : 1d6
          5 : 1d6
          6 : 2d6
          7 : 2d6
          8 : 2d6
          9 : 2d8
         10 : 2d8
        If you choose an animal shape as your first shape (level 1), you gain new maneuvers while in this shape at the the following druid level : 1, 3, 7.
        If you choose an animal shape as your second shape (level 5), you gain new maneuvers in this shape at the following druid level : 5, 9


    Animal shape list :
        Bear :
            maneuvers : Whirlwind Attack, Iron Root Defense, Great Fortitude, ???
        Wolf :
            maneuvers : Flurry of Blows, Opportunist, Sneak Attack, Spring Attack, Lighting reflexes, Tumbling Dodge, Vault

    Elemental Shape :
        If you choose an elemental shape as your first shape (level 1) :
            - you gain at-will spell in this shape at the following druid level : 1, 7
            - you gain new domain spell in this shape at the following druid level : 1, 3, 5, 7, 9
        If you choose an elemental shape as your second shape (level 5),
            - you gain at-will spell in this shape at the following druid level : 5
            - you gain new domain spell in this shape at the following druid level : 6, 8, 10

        Elemental shape list :
            Fire :
                At-will Spell : burning hand, ???
                Domain Spell :
                    1 : ???
                    2 : ???
                    3 : fireball
                    4 : wall of fire
                    5 : flame strike
            Air :
                At-will Spell : shocking grasp, ???
                Domain Spell :
                    1 : feather fall
                    2 : levitate
                    3 : lighting bolt
                    4 : ???
                    5 : ???


just an idea Wink

edit : For a pure spellcaster, you can choose fire elemental as first shape and air elemental as second shape for example.
For more matial druid, you can choose wolf as forst shape and bear as second shape.
And for a hybrid druid, you can mix one elemental shape with one animal shape. 

Hmm funky. The shift in system resources based on form is kinda cool.


You could add on some kits and schemes that weaken some aspects of the class and strengthen others - like you could make your druid a primary spellcaster which would boost your spells/day and supply a few tricks at the expense of shapeshifting.


Maybe make them pick an aspect at the start and have that determine what maneuvers and spells they get?

Clarification :
For a pure spellcaster, you can choose fire elemental as first shape and air elemental as second shape for example.
For more matial druid, you can choose wolf as forst shape and bear as second shape.
And for a hybrid druid, you can mix one elemental shape with one animal shape.  
I don't think the shapeshifting will be or should be based on expertise dice. Just allow polymorph with lots of restrictions at level 1 and less as you progress. Some of the limits:

Per day usage: Traditionally, you can only wild shape a certain number of times per day.  
Movement types: climbing at 3rd level, swimming at 5th level, flying at 7th level and burrowing at 9th level.
Size: Small/Medium at 2nd level, Large at 4th, Tiny at 6th, Huge at 8th. (Leave Fine and Gargantuan for high-level play.)
Maximum Bonus: Restrict the maximum ability, AC, attack bonus, and damage so a shapeshifted druid cannot be a better fighter than a fighter.
Creature Type: No creature with spell-like abilities or spells.
Concentration: Require concentration to maintain the wild shape, give the druid advantage on the concentration check at 5th level, and allow the druid to auto-succeed on concentration checks 1/level/day. You could also offer a druid an option to choose a signature shape, that he can assume without concentration for 1 hour/level/day.

I don't mind expertise dice being used myself but I don't see why it shouldn't be something else either. The concept of shifting changing your primary resource for funky character abilities is an interesting one in the context of D&D.


My immediate worry is that a druid with daily spells and dice-based maneuvers will have no compunctions whatever about blowing all their magic in a rage, shift, and carry on at pretty much full strength for the day. 'Cause that's totally what I'd do.


I think it'd be better if the druid relied primarily on their spells unless they bought into an option that significantly weakened their spellcasting ability but gave them a wider range of physical combat options.

Hmm funky. The shift in system resources based on form is kinda cool.

Yeah...I like it.  I get that people have this aversion to expanding XD across the board (not entirely sure why, seems highly irrational to me), but this is something I like. 

I really, really want a 'fulltime shapeshift' druid to be viable.  I don't give a damn about per day tradition.

D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I really, really want a 'fulltime shapeshift' druid to be viable.  I don't give a damn about per day tradition.


That could be an option. At the end of a long rest, the druid expends all of his spell slots and dumps that magic energy into his signature form. When he does this, his maximum bonuses increase a bit so he is almost as good a fighter as a fighter (plus he has the special abilities of his chosen form, within the other level-based limits mentioned above). As an action, he can shift between his humanoid and bestial forms as much as he likes. In humanoid form he can still invoke rituals and use magic items. In bestial form, he is a beast and uses only his beast's abilities.
Yeah, it's the perfect thing for a "build choice" level option in the same situation as things like wizard traditions.

I'd also like to break from using the fighter as a yardstick.  It's traditional, I admit, but it really will become problematic if they actually succeed at making the fighter as good as it deserves to be.  Benchmarking basic melee capability around some other class, or even around a non-class baseline of performance that class-specific enhancements layer on top of, seems like a much more viable plan to getting us what we want.

As to the specifics of your idea, I'm a bit hesitant to give up all spellcasting ability, though.  Sure, shapeshifting is the focus, and you could do it completely fulltime, but some level of spell usage should still be encouraged.  Really, I have in mind the 4e model of a druid, or the 3.5 PHB2 Shapeshifter variant.  In both cases the shapeshift form was capable, but not the overpowered juggernaut that was the 3.5 Wild Shape.  But they still retained some spellcasting capability.  The sort of capability that make work is something like the Cleric, where the go-to round action is usually a melee attack, but spells are the icing.

Finding the correct balance between shapeshift melee and spellcasting is the major point of tension in the druid class.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I have in mind the 4e model of a druid, or the 3.5 PHB2 Shapeshifter variant.  In both cases the shapeshift form was capable, but not the overpowered juggernaut that was the 3.5 Wild Shape.  But they still retained some spellcasting capability.



That's wy I let the humanoid form invoke rituals. Otherwise he's just a lycanthroe class. But I think if you are opting for a daylong animal form, you're giving up most of your human powers.

Also, I agree with you about using the fighter as a benchmark. Rather, there should be a table for "combat prowess" against which all classes are measured. There has to be some sort of metric to figure out how to design a class.
Yeah, I'm just skeptical about ritual usage in general.  Maybe this is just poor experience with 4e coloring my perspective on it, but getting the spellcaster schtick through rituals only leaves me more than a little wary.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I think they really should be called Primal Magic and Wild Shape. Also, needs Animal Companion a an option. Plus, needs   Druidic Sect to distinguish. differentkindsof druids.
Yeah, I'm just skeptical about ritual usage in general.  Maybe this is just poor experience with 4e coloring my perspective on it, but getting the spellcaster schtick through rituals only leaves me more than a little wary.


Whereas I am very skeptical of spellcastign shapeshifters based on my Third Edition experience! Laughing
Did you ever play the 3e PHB2 variant? 
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Did you ever play the 3e PHB2 variant? 


No. If it wasn't in the SRD, we probably avoided it.
Alas.  Going by vague memory, it didn't change the base stats much (if at all - will verify), removed the daily usage in favor of at-will, and added simple attacks with a few riders but nothing like the nonsense that was capable by "go buy all of the Monster Manuals and look for the most overpowered beast you can find."  Basically, it replaced the quarterstaff you would have been swinging when you weren't spellcasting with modest beast attacks.

Spellcasting was unchanged from standard druid (which in itself was problematic, but that's not the point).

I'll dig up the details later today.  I think it ended up being a fairly good variant, much more balanced and much more interesting fluff-wise.  Using it as a model for Next may be a very good thing.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Pathfinder makes their Wildshape part of their broader polymorphing subsystem, and it works out really well. Its power level is reasonable without being 4e's "wildshape does nothing" setup.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
4e's "wildshape does nothing" setup.


Er...that's a rather misleading statement.  Wildshape does a lot, and a druid focused on using it will play radically differently from one who doesn't.  It doesn't alter core character statistics, no, but that's not the point of the feature, nor is it required to do so in order to accomplish the goals of a shapeshifting-focused character.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Having both full progression spells and XD kinda bothers me. With this you can Nova at the beginning of the day then use your XD the rest of the day. Seems just a bit overpowered.

I do like the idea to burn all spells to get unlimited shifts into your respected form, which gives you your full on melee druid, but if you wish you can keep your spells and have your casting druid, but you get limited or no shapeshifting. Doing it like that is the only way I can see having full spell and XD progression.
I do like the idea to burn all spells to get unlimited shifts into your respected form, which gives you your full on melee druid


If this is available, then full-on melee druid needs to be just as good as all the other melee classes.  The World of Warcraft druid is a good example of this - its shapeshift forms are directly on par (or, at least, are intended to be) with all of the other melee classes.  Yet, it's still a druid, and still has druid-specific utility features, which ideally would also be the case with other classes in Next.  The monk, fighter, druid, paladin, etc. will all have generally the same baseline melee capability if they're focusing only on that, but with different ways of going about it and situational advantages and disadvantages.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I do like the idea to burn all spells to get unlimited shifts into your respected form, which gives you your full on melee druid


If this is available, then full-on melee druid needs to be just as good as all the other melee classes.  The World of Warcraft druid is a good example of this - its shapeshift forms are directly on par (or, at least, are intended to be) with all of the other melee classes.  Yet, it's still a druid, and still has druid-specific utility features, which ideally would also be the case with other classes in Next.  The monk, fighter, druid, paladin, etc. will all have generally the same baseline melee capability if they're focusing only on that, but with different ways of going about it and situational advantages and disadvantages.



Which is why I said it's the only way I can see giving full XD and full caster progression, you give up one to get the other. Humanoid druid cannot use XD only his shapeshift forms can, Shapeshifted druid cannot use spells. What my concern is if we allow them to just pick and choose, then they can nova everything at the beginning, then still have XD to fall back on. So I have no issues with them getting full XD, I just don't think they should get both every day.

I actually play a WoW druid, this newest expansion is where they actually added stuff in that a primary moonkin druid (spec I play) actually gets bonuses to agi when in cat form or bear form. Before you just sucked at the other specs. However, my moonkin specced cat form is still weaker than a full fledged cat, and I can't tank like a bear.
What if the Druid were kinda a reverse playtest sorcerer? Starts out the day with a boost to damage while in wildshape. As you cast more spells and let go of that energy your damage while in wildshape decreases to your flat bonus (whether that's just dice or dice +ability mod is up to what they decide with that.). It fixes the whole nova and fallback on wild shape, and puts it more or less in line with what happens when the cleric runs out of spells. Just a thought off the top of my head.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/21.jpg)

Why not just make the shapeshifting via spell use?

The Druid spell list can include appropriate Change Shape type spells that improve with level (like wrecan's example level ability increases); or a spell that scales in such a way with the level of spell slot used to cast it.

Otherwise, I like wrecan's suggestions more that I do the XD/maneuvers take on it.

NOTE: WotC, pay attention here! 
Why not just make the shapeshifting via spell use?

Because the main point that I, for one, am pushing for is that at-will shapeshifting is a desired thing.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Could we actually figure out some way to decouple shape-shifting from the Druid? The Druid's always gotten so much stuff, and it sucks that you need to take all of it if you want to play with any of it. What if I just want my character to be a shape-shifter and that's all? That's a pretty basic fantasy trope that has nothing to do with nature magic, but in D&D, the best was to be a shape-shifter basically necessitates getting a bunch of nature spells. Alternatively, most nature-themed spell-casters in other literature don't seem to have any shape-shifting ability whatsoever, so it seems quite undesirable to require that my weather witch, for example, have shape-shifting abilities when those are totally out of theme.  If we want to bring the old beast companion into the equation, there's yet another thing that the Druid does best but that (a) becomes even more unwanted baggage for the simple shape-shifter or nature-caster or (b) requiring taking shape-shifting and nature casting just to play a pet class.

The Druid just has too much under its belt. Let's split it up. Make the Druid the class for nature magic. Make something else (Shape-Shifter?) the class for shape-shifting. Make something else (Warden?) the premier pet class. None of these archetypes are going to be done right if they all have to be smooshed together in one class.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Why not just make the shapeshifting via spell use?  




Or... in humanoid form the druid uses his memorized spells. The druid can only turn into the most basic bestial forms with his shapeshift power... but he can spontaneously expend a spell to get a more advanced form.  (He has to expend such a spell  everytime he rolls initiative, essentially making it an encounter power.)  The more powerful the spell slot, the more powerful the bestial form is.  And, if the druid opts to be a full-time shape shifter, he expends all his memorized spell slots immediately after a long rest and gets the most advanced form he can select, but all day, and can switch between human and that single bestial form with an action.

And regardless he always has his rituals -- though I'd require him to be in humanoid form to invoke them.
Could we actually figure out some way to decouple shape-shifting from the Druid?


No.  Shapeshifting is a druid thing, through and through, both in D&D and in many other games.  There's an argument to be made that the druid has too many toys, but other things shoudl be cut, not the shapeshifting.

Furthermore, I don't thnk that it has to be a qualitative chopping block, even if it is desired.  Make it scale and quantity, but leave the broad toolbase available.  The 4e druid is a particularly good model for this approach, as it has everything that a druid has always had, but the whole package was still balanced relative to other classes.

The argument to separate shapeshifter and weather-witch is valid, but this just means that weather-witch needs its own class.  Which shouldn't be druid.

Edit:  I suppose I'm neglecting the pet.  But I see pets of various kinds as being the ideal thing to be class-independent.  Necromancer's raised skeletons, druid/ranger companions, combat familiars, all of those should be under the same category, and have more or less the same design.  And to do that, separating them from class seems entirely reasonable.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
No.  Shapeshifting is a druid thing, through and through, both in D&D and in many other games.  There's an argument to be made that the druid has too many toys, but other things shoudl be cut, not the shapeshifting.

I am entirely unpersuaded. "If you want to play a shape-shifter, you need to be a nature caster" is nonsensical and unsatisfactory. How about this: For the Druid, move Wild-Shape over to being a spell. That way, the Druid can still wild-shape but not all Druids are required to. Then, create a separate class that's all about Shape-Shifting and leave the spells and other baggage out of it. Everybody wins.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
How about this: For the Druid, move Wild-Shape over to being a spell.

Insufficient, at least for me, because I want at-will shapeshifting to be a thing.

And no, I'm not willing to relinquish the Druid name in order to get a dedicated shapeshifter class.

You're only unpersuaded because you obviously care more about nature casting than you do shapeshifting, and that's the fundamental design challenge for the Druid.  People like many different things about it, to many different degrees.  That we come down so clearly on different sides on this issue is evidence against doing the capability cuts that you describe.  Tone them down, balance them, but leave them present.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Edit:  I suppose I'm neglecting the pet.  But I see pets of various kinds as being the ideal thing to be class-independent.  Necromancer's raised skeletons, druid/ranger companions, combat familiars, all of those should be under the same category, and have more or less the same design.  And to do that, separating them from class seems entirely reasonable.


That seems to be where Mearls is heading, basedon his recent tweets.  Pets would be played as a separate, slightly weaker, and second PC, like a henchman. Meaning it would be something you'd want the group as a whole to decide.

I really do think a Companions' Guide would be a bang-up supplement. You'd include Henchmen, Animal Companions, Spirit Guides, Advanced Familiars (i.e., not tiny-size), Paladins' Steed, even new stuff, like Squires for warlords, Attack Animals for people trained in animal husbandry (a new Specialty), and Undead Minions for necromancers, and Divine Messengers for clerics.
Why not just make the shapeshifting via spell use?  




Or... in humanoid form the druid uses his memorized spells. The druid can only turn into the most basic bestial forms with his shapeshift power... but he can spontaneously expend a spell to get a more advanced form.  (He has to expend such a spell  everytime he rolls initiative, essentially making it an encounter power.)  The more powerful the spell slot, the more powerful the bestial form is.  And, if the druid opts to be a full-time shape shifter, he expends all his memorized spell slots immediately after a long rest and gets the most advanced form he can select, but all day, and can switch between human and that single bestial form with an action.

And regardless he always has his rituals -- though I'd require him to be in humanoid form to invoke them.


Make the basic shape change spell an at-will; then add the features you listed earlier as level-scaling features (or higher level spells). I don't see why it has to be an innate (non-magical) ability; spells would work just as well, done right.

I agree with you on the pet idea as well. Actually, I've never seen the animal companion as a druid thing anyhow; I've always associated that with rangers. Druids change into animals, rangers have animals companions.

EDIT: OOPS, I replied one post with responses to two different posts. 
Could we actually figure out some way to decouple shape-shifting from the Druid?


No.  Shapeshifting is a druid thing, through and through, both in D&D and in many other games.  There's an argument to be made that the druid has too many toys, but other things shoudl be cut, not the shapeshifting.

Furthermore, I don't thnk that it has to be a qualitative chopping block, even if it is desired.  Make it scale and quantity, but leave the broad toolbase available.  The 4e druid is a particularly good model for this approach, as it has everything that a druid has always had, but the whole package was still balanced relative to other classes.

The argument to separate shapeshifter and weather-witch is valid, but this just means that weather-witch needs its own class.  Which shouldn't be druid.

Edit:  I suppose I'm neglecting the pet.  But I see pets of various kinds as being the ideal thing to be class-independent.  Necromancer's raised skeletons, druid/ranger companions, combat familiars, all of those should be under the same category, and have more or less the same design.  And to do that, separating them from class seems entirely reasonable.


Make the basic shape change spell an at-will; then add the features you listed earlier as level-scaling features (or higher level spells). I don't see why it has to be an innate (non-magical) ability; spells would work just as well, done right.

I agree with you on the pet idea as well. Actually, I've never seen the animal companion as a druid thing anyhow; I've always associated that with rangers. Druids change into animals, rangers have animals companions.
I think that's probably going to be the best compromise, and the more I think about it the more I like it.

Shapeshifting is at-will.  Spell resources can be burned for shapeshift-specific enhancements of various kinds.  Whether it's spell slots, points, whatever, depends on how their collective spell system shakes out, but whatever resource it is, using it for shapeshift-specific enhancements definitely seems appropriate.  Give the basic shapeshifting something on par with the cleric's melee ability more or less, with the capability to ramp up with resource expenditure.  Having some mechanism to gain truly at-will capabilities with interesting round-to-round at-will choices in exchange for daily spell resources would be ideal, since that would also allow a fighter-ish style of play, total shapeshift melee combat with fully at-will resources.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
You're only unpersuaded because you obviously care more about nature casting than you do shapeshifting, and that's the fundamental design challenge for the Druid.  People like many different things about it, to many different degrees.  That we come down so clearly on different sides on this issue is evidence against doing the capability cuts that you describe.

Really? Because it sounds to me like evidence for doing the capability cuts that I suggest. Tell me, why should I need to have the extra mechanical baggage of being a nature caster if I just want to play a shape-shifter, a very basic fantasy archetype? Why should I need to have the extra mechanical baggage of being a shape-shifter if I just want to play a nature caster, a very basic fantasy archetype? There is no good reason other than that Druids have traditionally been given anything and everything to be the best at both of these.

How about this? If you're so interested in the Druid being the premier shape-shifter, then how about it be the shape-shifter class and we just give nature casting to the Shaman?

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
You're only unpersuaded because you obviously care more about nature casting than you do shapeshifting, and that's the fundamental design challenge for the Druid.  People like many different things about it, to many different degrees.  That we come down so clearly on different sides on this issue is evidence against doing the capability cuts that you describe.

Really? Because it sounds to me like evidence for doing the capability cuts that I suggest. Tell me, why should I need to have the extra mechanical baggage of being a nature caster if I just want to play a shape-shifter, a very basic fantasy archetype? Why should I need to have the extra mechanical baggage of being a shape-shifter if I just want to play a nature caster, a very basic fantasy archetype? There is no good reason other than that Druids have traditionally been given anything and everything to be the best at both of these.

How about this? If you're so interested in the Druid being the premier shape-shifter, then how about it be the shape-shifter class and we just give nature casting to the Shaman?



Because I also believe that there's conceptual space for a class that combines spellcasting and melee combat without multiclassing, and that the Druid is one way of going about doing that.  The real issue is that there hasn't been a dedicated nature caster or dedicated shapeshifter, and that the druid has been pulling double duty.  It probably shouldn't, but hey we work with what we've got.  But even beyond that, to me the druid is about balance, and that requires the two opposing sides of spellcasting and melee combat.  To take away either entirely at the system level would remove the core concept behind the druid, in my opinion.  Granted, I've been arguing for the ability for a druid to specialize to near exclusion in one aspect or the other, but vestiges of both should still remain.  Even a full-caster oriented druid should still have wild shape for utility or situational purposes, even if not used for direct combat.

I said before that weather-witch is deserving of its own class, and I stand by that.  If you want to call that shaman, then sure.  But even doing that is not something that I think requires siphoning all nature casting away from the druid, no more than the fighter being its own class requires removing martial weapon combat from the paladin.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
So then the Druid becomes like the Paladin? With an identity crisis because many people see that it's mostly just a combination of two different classes? I'm not sure that's what you really want for the Druid. The Druid needs something unique, in the case, to separate if from just being a Shaman-Shapeshifter multi-class.

It might be hard to let go of D&D tradition, but the most logical solution here still sounds like just splitting the Druid up into two classes, the nature caster and shape-shifter. I know that it's not going to happen because Next doesn't seem willing to break these sorts of traditions, but still. Without it, the Druid just ends up like the Cleric, doing way more than it needs to be doing while simultaneously not supporting the basic archetypes that it's expected to.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
The problem with at-will shapeshifting is that it makes the druid a shapeshifitng class. Regardless of whatever else it does.

 Thought, might shapeshifting be a druid build option?

For example a druid of winter may lack the wild shape power but gain at-will/always on cold based powers.

 
So then the Druid becomes like the Paladin? With an identity crisis because many people see that it's mostly just a combination of two different classes?

That some people are shallow and superficial and choose to ignore the fundamental design of a class is not a problem with the class design.

People who fall into that category are ones who insist that the Four Core are the only colors of paint you need for all canvasses.  They're wrong, and giving up on design for everyone else because of that is even more wrong.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
That some people are shallow and superficial and choose to ignore the fundamental design of a class is not a problem with the class.

What s the fundamental design of the Druid class, though. If we have the Shape-Shifter class to handle the characters that want to be shape-shifters and specialize in shape-shifting without other baggage, and if we have the Shaman class to handle the characters that want to be nature casters and specialize in nature casting without other baggage, then if the Druid continues to be just a mash-up of nature casting mechanics and shape-shifting mechanics, then what makes the Druid class worth existing? It needs to find something unique about itself, like the Paladin has consistently needed to. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but what is it for the Druid then?

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I explained that above, the idea of balance between casting and melee via shapeshift.  I believe that should be a thing, and that thing should be called Druid.

I don't see the need to objectively justify that desire by proving that it's better than splitting the components into two classes.  It's purely my preference, based on the associations I have with druids both from D&D as well as other games.

If there's sufficient desire for a dedicated shapeshifter that has nothing to do with how the druid does it, I am fine with that, much in the same way as I am fine with the presence of the fighter, the paladin, and the swordmage as all worthy of existence and yet distinct and different.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
The problem with a shapeshifter class is that almost all mythical shape-shifters derive their power from either racial abilities or special magic often tied closely to the archetype of a different class. It's just not something that gets taught to people independently of some other mystic tradition.

Loki for example was more of a sorceror/warlock/witch type thing than a druid.

While dopplegangers and such are natural shapechangers.

Lycanthropy is one approach but is again tied to a curse or bloodline rather than training in most people's minds. Although some berserk were supposed to shape shift into certain forms. 

Druid is a fairly solid choice for the shape-shifter class, but it needs to be handled carefully.

Options:

1. Make it a build option, so a shapeshifting druid doesn't also have to be a fire druid, a weather witch, and/or a healer.
2. Make the druid THE shape-change class, and have shammy and/or witch take over the other stuff druid usually do.
3. Make shapeshifting a character theme. 
I'm with CC on this one. Druids, across editions and other games, are an overloaded mixing pot of abilities (for example, WoW, where you have tank/melee damage/ranged damage/healer all in one single class, just different specializations). Just saying "Druid" means very little, because everyone's view is very different. I, for one, don't see the need for Druids to have pets, or shapeshift. Others feel differently.

Radically different concepts within the same class is a perfect excuse to branch off. Tradition for tradition's sake is boring game design. Trying to balance a 5E class is going to be a much different beast than the 4e Druid (pun intended). Far simpler to toss an occasional shapeshifting spell in the Druids spell list (for those that want a mix), and leave the at-will shifting to another class (or other mechanical element. I loved the 4e Were-themes. Why not have a shapeshifter background?).

It's a very tall design order to expect a class to be balanced in a mix of melee and casting, and give ALSO the class the option to go full melee/full caster and still be at where it's supposed to be.