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I'm running a Dungeon World adventure in a forested location, and my party had an encounter with some displacer beasts hunting down a blink dog.

An interjection: I was unaware blink dogs were actually a Dark Woods monster at the time. I was working off a deck of fantasy prompt cards and dealt out something that gave me the idea, so knowing that displacer beasts were probably not going to be an official Dungeon World thing because Copyright Reasons, I sketched out the whole "invasive shadow cat vs. fey tele-dog" thing from scratch, so the blink dogs in this example are more fey beasts than sorcerous creations.

After they fought off the beasts and tended to the dog's wounds, I had it blink away back to its lair, thinking I was just dropping a hint their good deeds would be rewarded later.

But then my Druid, Leafwillow*, asked me if blink dogs lived in the forest. I asked her where she was going with it and she said she wanted to turn into one.

She's an elf, so the Great Forest is always her Land; that's not the issue. The issue is that blink dogs are more than just "animals", aren't they? Because of the blinking? I asked her to let me think about it, and we wrapped for the night not long after.

Druids do have two moves that expand their repertoire:

  • Thing-Talker lets them turn into natural inanimate objects, plants and rocks and such, as well as creatures made out of them
  • World-Talker lets them turn into pure elements, as well as creatures made out of them

But neither of those categories really fits a blink dog, any more than "animal" does.

How do I decide whether Leafwillow should get to turn into a blink dog, or what she should have to do first? This really applies to the entire body of fantasy creatures that can be described as "animals with special powers and maybe a weird fur thing or ear or whatever". Like displacer beasts, come to think.

*the names have been changed to protect the innocent

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Druids talk to the whole world, not to separate parts of it.

Ultimately what wound up working as a guideline was thinking of the blink dog in terms of what powers it; it's both "an animal that lives in the forest" and "a creature that can channel the power of the fey forest".

If Leafwillow wanted to turn into a creature made entirely of the fey forest, such as a treant or a frost mushroom, Thing-Talker would let her do it, no question. So, I ruled, she can also turn into anything that takes power from the fey forest, as long as she can talk to all of its parts, and she could turn into a blink dog, which was native to one of her Lands, as long as she took Thing-Talker first.

In general, when thinking of a magical animal, think about what powers it: could you say it draws power from some kind of natural source, or does it go beyond nature and channel the pure elements? (Displacer beasts, in my estimation, are channeling pure shadow.) Then tell your Druid the (move) requirements and ask.

Also, for the curious:

  • blink to strike from an unexpected angle
  • blink to safety, possibly with a passenger
  • detect a menace, even through illusions
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You missed one

Druids do have two moves that expand their repertoire

This is false. Druids also have the move Studied Essence (page 105), which reads:

When you spend time in contemplation of an animal spirit, you may add its species to those you can assume using shapeshifting.

This is a bit vague. Perhaps each animal contains a bit of spirit which can be studied, Perhaps each animal has one or more spirit essences that must be studied instead. Ask questions and use the answers. Leafwillow is the expert here; ask her to find out.

Spirits

The first thing you have to decide is what the nature of a blink dog is.

Blink Dogs are, according to page 265, unnatural creations of a sorcerer lord that got out and started breeding with the local wolves and wild dogs. Based on your description, it seems you've amended this to be a bit more fey-magic based. Great! Embrace the fantastic, then Play to find out what happens. This means they're likely animals with something altered and unnatural about their spirits.

Druids are all about spirit magic.

So when Leafwillow comes across a wounded Blink Dog and helps her party tend to it, she is in a pretty unique position. She know more about tending animals than the rest of her party. She is also uniquely aware of the spiritual damage it may have sustained from the equally spiritual Displacer Beasts. During its brief time in her care, surely she would have taken the time to tend the whole creature, not just its body, and thus spent time in contemplation of its animal spirit.

In summary, this lets Leafwillow become a Blink Dog because she's had time to interact with and study one. It develops your world more as the group learns about how spirits work. Finally, it provides a limit you seem to be looking for as a DM on why she can't just turn into all kinds of fantastic creatures.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You know, I completely missed blink dogs in the monster chapters? I went looking for displacer beasts, couldn't find those (or a reasonable copyright dodge), and then made both sides of the rivalry up out of whole cloth. If I'm reading this correctly, magical animals aren't "native" to any Land but can still get in with Studied Essence? That's an angle I hadn't considered. \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Jan 12 at 16:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Glazius I found them via the index in the back. Anyway, I tried to account for your changes assuming you were using the book as a baseline. If you want to provide a bit more on how they work in your world, then I can update this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Jan 12 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer's fine and raised an angle I hadn't thought about, but I will edit the question for posterity. \$\endgroup\$ – Glazius Jan 12 at 17:09

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