The druid class comes with the Shapeshifter move. It states you have the innate abilities and weaknesses. It also states that the GM will give you one or more moves associated with the form.

So if the druid shapeshifts into a eagle, it would seem they should be able to fly. It's an innate ability of the eagle.

If that is so then what are the moves a GM would assign for an Eagle?

If that is false, then what happens to the innate abilities of the animal?

I'm sorry for the slightly rambling question, but I'm stuck between innate abilities and moves the GM makes up.


4 Answers 4


A Druid shapeshifts into a monster. They spend their hold on monster moves.

There's some further discussion of this here, as it relates specifically to turning a pre-existing list of monster moves into acceptable things for the Druid to spend hold on. But let's start at the beginning. When the GM is writing a monster, what do they write down as monster moves? They don't write down that the monster can:

  • fly
  • breathe water
  • see in the dark

They write down the cool plot things that those abilities let the monster do:

  • carry something precious into the sky
  • escape beneath the waves
  • assault them from the darkness

The Druid still has all the new form's basic properties and weaknesses, which can change how appropriate certain moves become - a mouse probably has no way to Hack And Slash at an ogre, a fire elemental can drift over a pool of lava no problem, a treant can bar the way more easily but is also more concerned by fire. The boundary between "spend hold to do it" and "just do it, don't spend hold" is the point at which taking advantage of the new form's capabilities becomes something cool and exceptional.

This isn't a new list of player-facing moves. You know, the kind that have you roll dice and make choices? The Druid's a monster, they get hold for monster moves, and when they spend them, they act like a monster - the cool plot thing just straight-up happens. The player should know roughly what impact that's going to have - tell them the requirements or consequences, right?

It's possible that the Druid may have to make a player move, such as Defy Danger, in order to get into position to use one of the monster moves, since they don't have the GM ability to deploy themselves in whatever position is the coolest. The move may also have aftereffects, like rolling damage or making choices, that would be similar to the way player moves shook out if the dice landed a certain way.

And this isn't a contract signed in advance. When the shapeshift lands, the GM should have a couple ideas on tap -- and of course, the Druid probably had their own ideas as well, or else why did they even pick this form in the first place?

But the GM always has a couple things in the toolbox: show an opportunity that fits a class's abilities. Tell them the requirements or consequences and then ask. So if Leafwillow turns into an eagle with a wooden leg in the middle of combat, the initial suggestions from both the GM and Leafwillow are probably going to relate to combat. But if the fight closes out and Leafwillow still has hold left, and the party has some ground to cover, the GM is perfectly fine to say that Leafwillow can use that last hold to run overwatch until everybody makes camp for the night or finds something suitably diverting.


The innate abilities are just things you use like normal as a PC, and if it triggers another move, you have to go through that move to get what you want. So sure, you can fly, because eagles can fly. That’s just fictional positioning allowing you to say “I fly up to the roof” and there’s no danger or anything to trigger a move, just like a human walking up stairs. Then if you want to use that permission wings give you to fly past the giant’s face to distract her, you’re literally defying danger and are going to be rolling +DEX and finding out what happens, again just like a human trying to distract the giant but not get squashed.

The moves you spend hold on are different. They just happen because you have a good opportunity to use one and spent the hold to do it. You’ve already risked a Missed roll up-front to get this for “free” now. These moves are simple sentences, not rolls. They are things like “trample enemies into the ground”, “rake with talons”, and “dive deep, deep, deep where even merfolk cannot follow”. (That latter I imagine for a dolphin form.) Wheb you pay hold, what it says happens, as thoroughly as if you’d rolled a 10+ on some other move. These moves happen like GM moves: they just happen and have their full consequences for “free”.

This brevity and consequential-ness is also important for the GM, because proper Druid form moves can be rattled off like that during the game, improvisationally, which is essential for not boxing in the Druid’s options as events unfold, and not making the moves weak. (Well, assuming you’re not a mouse and a “weak” move is appropriate. But “sneak into anywhere” is a different kind of powerful too, especially for the price of a mere 1 hold.)


I've had similar trouble while GMing a druid in DW. And I've largely solved them by offloading it to my players. They and I have come to an understanding about "an essence you have studied."

Away from the table my druids and I make up index cards for whatever animal(s) they may want to change into. I, personally, don't have a hard time "statting" the innate animal abilities in a minute or two, and the rest is the player's answer to "what can you do as an eagle that you can't do as a humanoid?"

This way we collaboratively come up with a list of moves like

  • scour the landscape: when you ascend to the heights your eagle eyes see more than you can imagine. Roll + WIS: on 10+ you spot enough to put together pieces of your enemy's plans. On 7-9 you pick up beneficial, though not necessarily crucial, information. On a miss you are spotted....
  • talon attack! when you dive-bomb an opponent roll +DEX: on 10+ they take 1 damage and are blinded. On 7-9 they are distracted and bloody, but can still see. On a miss they saw you coming the whole way!
  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 from everything I've read about druids on this site and elsewhere, this is not how they work. Shapeshifted druids do not get Moves in the way you describe, and the Hold they spend to activate their monster moves just work without having to roll. See the other answers \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 7:48

Here are two clips from the Shapshifter move:

"You have any innate abilities and weaknesses of the form: claws, wings, gills, breathing water instead of air."

So for your Eagle example, yes, flying should be something that you can just do, and it should not take any of your Shapeshifter Hold to perform.

"The GM will also tell you one or more moves associated with your new form. Spend 1 hold to make that move. Once you’re out of hold, you return to your natural form. At any time, you may spend all your hold and revert to your natural form."

So a "Move" can be something that you roll for, or something that just happens when you choose to trigger it. Here are two example "Moves" I might give a player when they are in Eagle form:

1: Snatch Prey: When you snatch up a small creature in your talons, Roll +DEX. On a 10+ choose 2, on a 7-, choose 1:

  • You deal your Damage to the creature
  • You pin the creature, preventing it from moving or attacking you until you drop it
  • You carry the creature into the air with you

2: Eagle Eye: You spot something or someone from a great distance, but you remain unnoticed.

It really depends on the GM as to whether they want to go into detail and write roll-based moves, or if they want to use monster-moves and nerate exactly how then work each time they are triggered.

When I had a Druid plying, I made us some cards that represented the animals they knew how to shapeshift into. For each animal, I wrote up a few different situational moves. This approach made them very versatile, but also let me stop them from being to powerful. Some of the monster-moves are a bit broad, so the more specific you are with the Moves they have, the more control you have over how powerful they are.


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