Using the Druid’s ‘Wild Shape’ Ability in Fantasy Grounds – Part 1
Every class has certain things about it that make it a little problematic to play, but the “Wild Shape” feature for Druids is probably one of the most discussed as to how it should be played using Fantasy Grounds.
For the most part, there are two ways to play a Druid changing into “Wild Shape.” In this article, I will discuss the first, and easiest way to use the “Wild Shape” feature. This method is to use an actual NPC of the beast, and let the Druid PC take “control” of the character.
I recommend watching Zacchaeus’ video on Players controlling NPCs to see how a player is given control of the NPC when they “Wild Shape” change.
Note that all information contained within this article is based on the SRD, so is available to all players to access using the Fantasy Grounds program.
Description of the “Wild Shape” feature
Starting at level 2, you can use your action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before. ** You can use this feature twice. You regain expended uses when you finish a short or long rest.
Your Druid level determines the beasts you can transform into, as shown in the image below. At 2nd level, for example, you can transform into any beast that has a (CR) challenge rating of 1/4 or lower that doesn’t have a flying or swimming speed.
You can stay in a beast shape for a number of hours equal to half your druid level (rounded down). You then revert to your normal form unless you expend another use of this feature. You can revert to your normal form earlier by using a bonus action on your turn. You automatically revert if you fall unconscious, drop to 0 hit points, or die.
The Transformation happens
While you are transformed, the following rules apply:
Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the creature. If the creature has the same proficiency as you and the bonus in its stat block is higher than yours, use the creature’s bonus instead of yours. If the creature has any legendary or lair actions, you can’t use them.
When you transform, you assume the beast’s hit points and Hit Dice. When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed. However, if you revert as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to your normal form. For example, if you take 10 damage in animal form and have only 1 hit point left, you revert and take 9 damage. As long as the excess damage doesn’t reduce your normal form to 0 hit points, you aren’t knocked unconscious.
You can’t cast spells, and your ability to speak or take any action that requires hands is limited to the capabilities of your beast form. Transforming doesn’t break your concentration on a spell you’ve already cast, however, or prevent you from taking actions that are part of a spell, such as call lightning, that you’ve already cast.
You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so. However, you can’t use any of your special senses, such as darkvision, unless your new form also has that sense.
You choose whether your equipment falls to the ground in your space, merges into your new form, or is worn by it. Worn equipment functions as normal, but the GM decides whether it is practical for the new form to wear a piece of equipment, based on the creature’s shape and size. Your equipment doesn’t change size or shape to match the new form, and any equipment that the new form can’t wear must either fall to the ground or merge with it. Equipment that merges with the form has no effect until you leave the form.
The Wolf NPC
Let’s take a look at the Stat Block for the “Wolf” NPC. You can see the wolf’s stats on the right, and see that it has a +3 to Perception rolls that are based on hearing or smell only. If the Druid has a higher Perception modifier, the higher modifier is used.
The Wolf also gets a +4 to Stealth rolls. Once more if the Druid has a better Stealth modifier, you use the Druid’s modifier.
Note that the Wolf has “pack tactics” (see the bottom of NPC sheet), which allows him/her to get advantage on attack rolls when one of his/her allies is within 5 feet of the creature they are attacking and the ally is not incapacitated.
Then, lastly, the wolf can also make a “bite” action where they can possibly knock an opponent prone if they fail a DC 11 Strength saving throw.
Going back to the previous section, I mentioned that when in “Wild Shape” the Druid retains his/her alignment, personality, intelligence, wisdom and charisma.
Druid PC: Ceyla Moonwind
Let’s take for an example my 3rd level Druid: Ceyla Moonwind. She has the Circle of the Land Druid Circle, which is the only one available in the SRD.
Her stats are shown below. You can see that her Int, Wis, and Cha are all higher than the Wolf. So, she keeps those. She and the wolf both share the +3 perception modifier, so that will be the same no matter what type of perception check is done. Because some of her stats are greater than the wolf, we would edit the NPC Wolf to reflect the greater int/wis and cha. Then, save the NPC Wolf file as WS Wolf, so when she does a Wild Shape to the Wolf shape, the DM would let her have access to the NPC Wolf character sheet with the correct stats. This file would have to be edited if her abilities changed for any reason, but for now, it is tailor-made for her use only. The same technique would be done with other beasts that she would choose to “Wild Shape” into.
I hope this helps your Druid characters and players to play the “Wild Shape” ability correctly when using Fantasy Grounds.
I will post part 2 of this topic in my next article. It will feature the second method of playing “Wild Shape.” That method involves adding the beast’s effects to the PC character sheet instead of having the PC play the NPC character manually.
Of the two methods of playing “Wild Shape” in Fantasy Grounds, this is by far the easiest method. The only adjusting that needs to be done is to create a new “Wild Shape” NPC for each of the beasts that the Druid wishes to use their “Wild Shape” ability. The GM will have to create a special NPC with the appropriate ability changes where the player’s abilities in Int, Wis and/or Cha are higher than the beast. Simple. The appropriate beast is then shared with the player who can then control the beast using its character sheet. I recommend removing the player’s token from the current map if one is being used while the player is in “Wild Shape” so that no one is confused by which character they should be moving, or if the character is in the way of someone else.
** DrakePD was kind enough to help me with understanding the “Wild Shape” function in Fantasy Grounds. Drake added the following comment at the ** mark above
When I GM, I prefer that the Druid spend some time with the creature or creatures that they wished to use for their “Wild Shape,” as it makes sense that the Druid would have to examine the beast, and learn how it moves, etc. in order to accurately “Wild Shape” into the creature. **Update**, there has been a new way to handle FG Druid Wild Shapes for DnD5e, please check out this new and amazing module on the DMG, the works of Diablo Bob and Rob2e! https://www.dmsguild.com/product/261591/Critically-Awesome-Essentials-Fantasy-Grounds?src=newest_community&filters=0_0_0_0_0_0_45545_0
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