Wild Shape, Summon Creature and The option of too many choices.

8 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hello!

The purpose of this thread is to discuss the handling of options where too many rational choices are present. This can result in stagnation or game lag, which I experienced a few times in the last week. The druid of the group never knows what it wants to wild shape into. My solution then, is to simplify the choices because my player is a visual learner and I want to take advantage of that.

I like to print things on 3x5 cards, such as miniaturized spell lists, class templates, and other things. The goal is to give the player a nice, small handout that can be quickly and easily examined for quick decision making.

My challenge this time is to create a list of Wild Shape creatures, and a list of Planar Allies.

At this point, I am looking for a simple list of animal archetypes. I don't have the best working knowledge of all of the relevant groups. (Ophidia, Bovine, Equine, Primate, Avian, etc.) I want to target my list on ambiguous, vague aspects (Crustaceans) rather than specified targets (Giant Lobster). I am breaking my 3x5 card into a few rows. 1 for name, 2 for hit points, 3 for key ability, 4 for saves, 5 for powers, 6 for skills. This should make it easy to look at.  It will help the player choose whether to be a "small, medium, large" of said type of animal. Beasts/Dire Animals are really just different skins and Plants while different skin might need a Card of their own. I hope the Animal card is sufficient for Beasts.


So, what do some of you do to simplify decision making when a player has "too many spells to pick one"? (Or any ability for that matter). Does anyone else create visual aids such as stat-blocks for players to use? Does anyone else use 3x5 cards to print material for the players? Any advice to improve on this area?

I find them very helpful, my players love them and having 1 page (front and back) sheet plus a 3x5 card makes "player fishing" work faster.

Edit:  This was from Google Search.

anserine - geese
aquiline - eagle
assinine - donkey
bovine - cattle
cancrine - crab
canine - dog
cervine - deer
corvine - crow
equine - horse
elapine - snake
elaphine - deer
feline - cat
hircine - goat
leonine - lion
leporine - rabbit, hare
lupine - wolf
murine - rodent
pavonine - peacock
piscine - fish
porcine - pig
rusine - deer
serpentine - snake
ursine - bear
vulpine - fox

Within; Without.

Off-topic: I thought wild-shape doesn't change your stats and is purely a visual thing in 4e, and in 5e you are already given the type of animal?

On-topic: I haven't come across this myself much, except for "I have so many group tactics" rather than individual player choices. I had a talk to my players a week back about what they considered the most boring part of DnD, and all they all agreed it was the wait in battle, or the wait before they do something (depending who you talked to). To get around this, I'll be doing what my own DM does, and install a timer. If your timer runs out, then then your turn is over. The players are all familiar with their character and with DnD, so chances are 9 of 10 times they will finish their turn easily before the timer runs out.
From the terms used, I'm 99% sure this is a 3.5 query.  Please include the edition you are using, as it makes a difference.

This is a significant class change, in that different animals of the same size and family can still be wildly different abilities (Leopards have a climb speed, improved grab, pounce and rake; Cheetahs have trip and sprint.  They are both CR2 medium cats)

Have you considered the "Shapeshift" Druid variant in PHB2?  It's less powerful, but much, much easier to use.  (would benefit from different stat-spread, so let them rebuild if they would want to change)

re: visual aids
I've helped players produce a quick look-up sheet of their abilities and common rolls/modifiers.
I've produced my own 'summoned monsters' stat-cards for characters who summon a lot.
The character sheet from the 4ed character builder is laid out so that the spells/powers can be cut out in playing-card size, but to be honest, I've found that more distracting than useful.
A sheet of scrap paper does the job for resource-tracking, IMHO
3.5, I should have mentioned in first post.

I am using my own varient of a Druid.

Variation of animals is massive, even within their own species. Leopards and Tigers behave very differently and hunt very differently. I would give a Tiger a special bite and pounce attack while giving the leopard the ability to become hidden and make sneak attacks. For now, I am completing an easy stat block the player can look at on a 3x5 card with 10 or so Animal Types which contain minimal vital information, in a way which can be modified (just in case the player decides to be a lion instead of a tiger or leopard).

Within; Without.

Variation of animals is massive, even within their own species. Leopards and Tigers behave very differently and hunt very differently. I would give a Tiger a special bite and pounce attack while giving the leopard the ability to become hidden and make sneak attacks.

I guess I'm not clear what you're asking in the OP. Because if you're looking to simplify choices - just don't do what you're doing here. Big cats may behave differently, but have some pretty obvious common threads. Not to mention the fact that leopard behavior can certainly include pouncing and biting, and tiger behavior includes using stealth to make sneak attacks - so the distiction here is actually pretty arbitrary.

Going for realism and in-depth variation is cool, but when it starts to effect the game (such as your player thumbing through 5 kinds of great cats with different possible abilities), it may be counterproductive to the overall experience.
I am saying I am NOT going to deal with 20 primates, 15 cats, etc, etc.

Only making a quickstat card with bases which can be easily adjusted.

Within; Without.

I am using my own varient of a Druid.


This makes it a bit harder to give advice since I don't know your system, how it works, or what design goals you have with your system.  But I'll give it a shot.



This makes it a bit harder to give advice since I don't know your system, how it works, or what design goals you have with your system.  But I'll give it a shot.

Variation of animals is massive, even within their own species. Leopards and Tigers behave very differently and hunt very differently.



Abstraction is your friend here.  Animals have plenty of similarities to draw on.  And many of the differences between species would only matter to the long term survival of the entire species in their specific ecological niche, rather than the usefulness of their form to an adventurer during an encounter.  And the later is the only time when game stats matter. 

For example.  There are some 600 species of venomous snakes in the world.  The common theme between them?  They are ambushed predators that kill their prey using their venom.  So what do you make stats for?  An ambush predator that kills using venom.  So when your player decides to wildshape into a venomous snake, they can use the same set to stats for any species of venomous snake they can think of, or just turn into a "generic venomous snake" if they can't think of any specific species.

Likewise, you could make generic stats for other well known animal groups, such as small cats, large cats, canines, fast ungulates, birds, cetaceans, shark, an so on.  Anything that's really niche can simply be handled on a case by case basis.


Alternatively, you could cover even more animals while further simplifying mechanical by giving the druid a menu of options to choose from, and letting them "create" the animal that they want by mixing and matching features.  Want to turn into an owl?  Select flight, stealth, and night vision.  A dolphin?  Select swim.  Want to be a shark instead of a dolphin?  Add underwater breathing and a powerful bite.  How about a leopard or tiger?  Stealth, pounce, and a powerful bite.  House cat instead of tiger?  Remove powerful bite and add tiny size.

And to expedite decision making, you can provide your players when some reference cards sample wildshape forms using preselected features.  So they can either choose a ready-to-go form, or come up with their own on the fly.


Hmm...I should probably put that latter idea on my to-do list.
Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
Alternatively, you could cover even more animals while further simplifying mechanical by giving the druid a menu of options to choose from, and letting them "create" the animal that they want by mixing and matching features.  Want to turn into an owl?  Select flight, stealth, and night vision.  A dolphin?  Select swim.  Want to be a shark instead of a dolphin?  Add underwater breathing and a powerful bite.  How about a leopard or tiger?  Stealth, pounce, and a powerful bite.  House cat instead of tiger?  Remove powerful bite and add tiny size.

I like this a lot. It seems more like how a druid would actually approach a situation. Start with what you need to do, and then figure out what animal has those skills.
Sign In to post comments