A druid of 5th level can change into a Small or Medium Animal.
A Large animal at 8th level.
A Tiny animal at 11th level.
A Huge animal at 15th level.

It makes sense for a Halfling, a human or the like.

I was thinking that a Hill Giant druid should be able to morph into a Medium and Large earlier than Small, and that a Pixie druid should be able to morph into a Diminutive and tiny way earlier than a Medium or Large.

As it is, morphing into a bear gives a pixie a significantly better boost in size than a it gives a human, and a giant gets a decrease in size by morphing into a bear.

Would it be balanced to house rule the progression of available wildshape sizes to better match the Druid's initial size?

  • \$\begingroup\$ “Should” you and “would it be wise” are very subjective questions that might only be answerable with opinions, and may mean this ends up closed. Thinking about what would qualify as “wise” to you, and asking about that instead may help. Are you wondering whether it would be balanced? or what side-effects on the rules this change would have? or something else? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's what i hate most about this site. Battling with semantics. Yes, i'm wondering if it would be balanced. And what ramifications that would happen to cause. I believe the initial morph is to be around the size of the caster since being tiny / Large is a definite improvement on the size of the caster. What's the smallest creature in the game that can have a class? What's the biggest size increase a spell can bestow, it's like 1 or 2 size class increase. Can a level 3 class feature beat that? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 19:08
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Hey, you gotta ask the question you want answered. We can't read minds, so do please put the things in your head into the page. :) We can't give you “wisdom”, but we can do a balance analysis — if that's what you're asking for. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ now that looks prettier \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 19:34

3 Answers 3


Changing the sizes of creatures a druid can assume using wild shape based on the druid's size would be even more unbalanced

Usually, unbalanced means too powerful. Not in this case. Such a house rule doesn't vastly increase the PCs' power because PCs typically already pay a premium for being smaller than Small or larger than Medium; instead, it's unbalanced for the PCs' opposition, who, if at extreme edges of the size category chart, will find themselves increasingly limited in the forms they can assume.

Thus, while keeping things as they are seems dumb, doing so puts all druids at the same balance point. The current rules have druids no matter their actual sizes assume the same size forms; a house rule changing this might look like this:

House Rule

At 5th level, a druid gains the ability to turn herself into any animal of his size category or one size category less than his own.

A druid can use this ability more times per day at 6th, 7th, 10th, 14th, and 18th level, as noted on Table: The Druid. In addition, she gains the ability to take the shape of an animal one size category more than her own at 8th level, two size categories less than her own at 11th level, and to take the shape of an animal two size categories more than her own at 15th level.

The new form’s Hit Dice can’t exceed the character’s druid level.

At 12th level, a druid becomes able to use wild shape to change into a plant creature with the same size restrictions as for animal forms.

At 16th level, a druid becomes able to use wild shape once per day to change into an elemental of one less size category than her own, equal to her own size category, or one more size category than her own.

At 18th level, a druid becomes able to assume elemental form twice per day, and at 20th level she can do so three times per day. At 20th level, a druid may use this wild shape ability to change into an elemental two size categories more than her own.

The consequences of this are severe. Consider a grig druid. Here's his shapes by level as per this house rule:

Then consider an ogre druid1 that has the following options:

Now, while Monster Finder isn't 100% accurate (for example, it lists as an animal the ankheg), it's close enough to get a feel for what's happening. Excluding swarms (unavailable to most druids) and outlying elementals (so far as I am aware, most DMs exclude elemental forms besides basic ones), this doesn't leave the grig druid with a whole lot of options, yet the ogre druid has many, many forms it can assume from the moment it acquires wild shape.

Without this house rule, the two druids have the same amount of versatility at the same price; with this house rule, the grig druid's class feature is demonstrably less useful than the ogre druid's.

Further, low-level druids of extreme sizes will be in even worse positions than these two druids. They'll sometimes have either very few or even no forms they can assume using wild shape. For example, there aren't any Huge or Gargantuan 5-HD-or-less creatures whose forms a Gargantuan druid can assume, and there are only two Diminutive and no Fine creatures whose forms a Diminutive druid 5 can assume.

The counterargument: just don't be a big or little druid

In a campaign using this house rule the grig druid, for example, has simply made a bad choice in electing to take levels in the druid class, just like it would be a bad choice for it to take levels in monk. However, druid is a bad choice for the grig and similar creatures only because the house rule punishes the creature; usually, druid is an excellent choice for such a creature, and one reason it is an excellent choice is because of wild shape's functionality. The house rule changes the choices NPCs make for taking class levels, and the DM must recognize this house rule as now having an impact on his campaign's demographics, which can make for a lot of work.

Finally, if running a published adventure, the DM will have to adjust the tactics of any nonstandard-sized druid, making more work for himself when using a tool intended to make his life easier.

Such a house rule creates a whole new dynamic for NPC druids (which are already complex) for little or no benefit (and sometimes to their detriment) and affects the PCs only rarely (but see below).

Size changing isn't that difficult

Size isn't a constant. Even if a PC druid isn't a Tiny jermaline (MM2 131) or muckdweller (SK 71) (both LA +0) or a Large incarnate maug or half-minotaur (Dragon #313 94-5) (both LA +1), a Small humanoid druid becomes Tiny when the subject of the spell reduce person and a Medium humanoid druid becomes Large when the subject of the spell enlarge person. Either effect is available for as a little as 50 gp through a potion (the 100 gp price a D&D 3E artifact) or permanently from a level 20 caster for under 4,000 gp. That is, even a DM who doesn't plan for this house rule to affect the PCs may see it affect the PCs anyway.

Hence a DM who implements this house rule may find PCs stockpiling such potions of size change solely to improve the variety of forms they can assume using wild shape; published monsters won't have done the same, but they would have had they known of the house rule. A DM wanting to maintain his setting's verisimilitude may have to customize such published monsters' gear, further increasing his burden.

A compromise: the feat Proportionate Wild Shape

The Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition sourcebook Masters of the Wild presents the feat Proportionate Wild Shape, the benefit of which is as follows:

You use your wild shape ability to take the form of an animal whose normal size category matches your own. For example, a cloud giant druid (size Huge) with this feat could use wild shape to become a Huge shark or a giant squid. (24-5)

This is an interesting workaround for the oversized or undersized druid at the price of a feat. (Because this is Third Edition material, the DM can adjust the feat to bring it in line with 3.5 standards.)

1 Hey, ogres don't have a Wisdom penalty. Sure, wild empathy will be a problem, but whatever.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There is also the "Undersized Wild Shape" ACF in the Halfling Druid package... \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 3:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I guess i forgot to look how many animals there actually was for a given size. Those feats/ACF seems like interesting leads, tho. say, @Shalvenay, what book is that package in? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 12:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe just impose a bonus/penalty on the size of the caster relative to a human to the new animal. a grig could be a Medium dire-bear instead of a Large one. i guess i'll give it a try. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 12:52

Extremely Unlikely to Cause Balance Issues

Most Large, Huge, or Tiny playable races in 3.5e come with huge amounts of LA or Racial Hit Dice. The notable exception to this is the Brownie.

Given that any character who is playing a Tiny or Huge druid is going to be at least - at least - 4 levels behind, and even the cheapest option for actual Large (a Dragon Magazine template) costs 1 LA, with a more reasonable source costing 4 lost levels, allowing them to have wildshapes of their size will be unlikely to make up for their weaker animal companion and lower CL and spell levels. A human or elven druid of the same ECL will probably still outperform them in every aspect.

The Druid is a hugely powerful class because it has three major options that boost it - Spells, Animal Companion, and Wildshape. Wildshape is powerful but not as powerful as the spellcasting with splatbook access, and it does not have the action economy advantages of the buffed Animal Companion. Losing caster levels and animal companion advancement by taking a race with racial hit dice and/or Level Adjustment will not be made up for by a better wildshape, at least without significant cheese.

If someone wished to optimize a druid, there are far easier ways, and likely would not even consider this option as powerful.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's not always about the PCs; it unbalances their enemies. (That ogre Drd5 is, as currently written, arguably CR 6.) Anyway, a Medium humanoid is Large or a Small humanoid Tiny for under 4,000 gp through a permanent enlarge or reduce person spell ((20th-level caster × 10 gp for a 1st-level spell = 200 gp) + (20th-level caster × 50 gp for a 5th-level spell = 1,000 gp) + 2,500 gp for the XP component = 3,700 gp). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 2:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan - If you're using the CR system as written, without actually balancing encounters to your group, you're a) a terrible GM b) going to get them all killed. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 6:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I realy can't get it how this was at -1 before my upvote. What large+ forms are you guys talking about? That ogre drd5 can't wildshape even into a brown bear! Also ogre druid 5 would be CR 8 as written. Exactly as human drd 8 (hello, brown bear). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp There's the dire ape and bison for a start. Further, druid levels are likely nonassociated for an ogre because it usually "relies on its fighting ability." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 3:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Ok, now already large ogre can change shape into another large creature. Bison is mostly inferior to an ogre, and dire ape is slightly more dangerous. Just slightly. So why not? He already paid for that increase by taking druid levels instead of levels in other more strictly contributing classes. As for non- vs associated... may be. And may be not. Wild shape actually improves "fighting ability". If you think nonassociated druid will be more powerful than it should be, then make him associated. It is what non-/associated is about - do those levels contribute enough? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 6:20

The change you mentioned would be horribly imbalanced.

Druids are already one of the top three power-classes in the game next to Wizard and Cleric, due to the effectiveness of their spell list, wild shape, a powerful animal companion, and Natural spell. Giving them access to Medium and large monsters from Level 5 onward would destroy any notion of balance and shoot your druid into a class of its own.

If I took one feat using the proposed rule change I could dominate your campaign with impunity. That feat is City-Shape. Once you have the ability from level 5 on to transform into Large Vermin, you can turn into That Damn Crab and suddenly nothing can fight you.

A hill giant druid at level 5 playing as That damn crab at would completely dominate every encounter it happens to be a part of for many, many encounters. That damn crab could also take natural spell and cast spells while grappling and applying damage from constrict, further increasing their effectiveness in combat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ May I suppose that That Damn Crab is likely the Monstruous Crab ? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 7:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. That Damn Crab is the Monstrous Crab. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 7:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ You make a good point, but it's actually kind of complicated for the typical Medium druid with the city-shape alternative class feature to assume monstrous crab form. (Under the house rules I posed in my answer, such a Large druid with the city-shape alternative class feature is still waiting until level 8.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 7:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Still, That damn crab with Natural spell man. GAME OVER MAAAAN GAAAAME OVER. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 7:38

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