I was looking at the Druid and the shapeshift move. I can imagine consequences for failing the wizard's spellcasting and the thief backstabbing moves, but how can you make shapeshifting turn out bad?


3 Answers 3


Looking over the GM moves, here are some ideas that come to mind.

  • Deal damage is simple, direct, but will get boring quickly.
  • Use up their resources could cause them to break something they were holding, wearing, or carrying during the transformation.
  • Turn their move back on them could get them stuck in a suboptimal form for a little while. As GM, I would be very careful about this. You could also transform an opponent into something more dangerous—this sounds a lot more interesting and fun! The spirits are angry with you, and here's what you get for bothering them with your inane request.
  • Show a downside could be the enemies taking the Druid for the biggest threat.
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget that time is a resource that can be used up. "You do it, but it takes too long." is a great GM move in most situations. It can be hard or soft with very little effort, too. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 4:30
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ While @okeefe 's suggestions are good, I believe that there is great benefit in using moves unrelated to the PC's action. For example, reveal an unwelcome truth; the pack of wolves you were attacked by is led by a werewolf. It also helps you keeping the heroes heroic, not making them fail at their core abilities. \$\endgroup\$
    – Undreren
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 8:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Undreren These ideas aren't meant to be exhaustive. Post an answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Apr 3, 2013 at 15:58

Some things I've done and seen done in my games - in the vein of "turn the move against them."

  • Give them a "scar" when they return to their original form. The scar is a prominent feature left over from their transformation (wolf ears, spider's eyes, feathers) that negatively affects their social interactions in addition to the charisma penalty. Require something interesting to be done to get rid of the scar. (sidequest, ritual, or as an option for spending a hold the next time they get a 10+ on a transformation roll)
  • The transformation affects their mind as well as their body. They can't tell friend from foe, are overwhelmed by instincts (give them defy danger rolls vs wis to avoid doing certain things), don't remember who they really are, etc. You can treat this as a mental enchantment, which gives your Bard a chance to be useful by helping them shake it off.
  • The transformation affects their body, but not their gear. They rip out of their clothes (if the new form is bigger) or have to climb out of them (if it is smaller). They can act as their animal form, but when they turn back they are naked and need to recover their gear. (This can create an amusing problem, good for a comic-relief moment)

In the game I've been running, we've decided that the simple act of transforming doesn't trigger the shapeshift move. I always ask the druid to make the transformation part of a larger action. I.e. turning into an animal and immediately doing something with that new form. From there, it becomes a lot more obvious what the failure results might be.

For example, the druid pounces on an enemy cultist, shapeshifting into a wolf while in mid-air, hoping to pin and bite the cultist. Rolling the shapeshift move, he gets a...

  • 10+: The druid gets 3 hold, and the wolf moves of "pin" and "bite and tear", which he may spend hold to automatically trigger (if in the right situation, with no roll require; that's the reward for rolling 10+). The druid spends one hold immediately to bite and tear into the cultists neck, dealing damage, and has two more to use later as he wishes.
  • 7-9: As above, but with 1 hold. Generally this means the hold is spent immediately to do an animal-form move, and the druid reverts back immediately, but not necessarily.
  • 6-: Hard move as usual, but now that the shapeshift is in the context of pouncing on the cultist, it can be easier to see what the consequences of failure might be. @Okeefe's examples are a great start.

I know this isn't necessarily the rules as written, but I find it makes the druid very dynamic, shapeshifting on the fly and doing some really creative things with the various animal forms.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I used this technique for my game, and it worked wonderfully. Along with other techniques. But the key of asking "OK, so you're turning into an anaconda...and doing what?" was invaluable! \$\endgroup\$
    – gomad
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 12:55

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