A recent D&D playtest left fans divided over the DnD Druid’s Wild Shape feature, Wizards of the Coast has revealed. On May 15, lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford appeared in an official YouTube video (see below) to discuss feedback gathered on the Druid and DnD Paladin Unearthed Arcana, which was released in February 2023. The proposed Wild Shape changes, which saw the most contrasting opinions, had already been playtested in the early days of fifth edition – and were left out due to mixed reactions back then, too.
The playtest is part of a series of Unearthed Arcanas that will eventually become new versions of the core DnD books. Formerly known as One DnD, the 2024 rulebooks will be a revised but continued version of fifth edition.
Several DnD races and DnD classes have already been playtested, receiving largely positive feedback. Examples of low-scoring material include the now-scrapped DnD Ardling and the Dragonborn, which initially scored somewhere around 60% on player satisfaction. Crawford said in a previous discussion of satisfaction scores that anything below 70% was salvageable, but would likely need more development.
In Monday’s video, Crawford has chosen not to disclose the specific satisfaction scores for the Druid. Instead, he explains: “We knew the Druid response was going to be mixed”. This ambivalence appears largely based on the new rules for Wild Shape. In the playtest, players use general templates rather than individual stat blocks to transform into animals. The templates include ‘animal of the land’, ‘animal of the sea’, and ‘animal of the sky’.
“We are seeing, in the feedback to Wild Shape, there are basically two camps”, Crawford says. “There are people who have written in the comments […] that this is their favourite version of Wild Shape they’ve ever seen, and they’re paired with people who, in contrast, said they never want this Wild Shape to appear in print.” “The people in the second group outnumber the previous group – although it wasn’t a huge runaway thing”, he adds.
The reason Crawford expected this is because Wizards has tested this Wild Shape variant before. Crawford says it was pitched during the development of D&D Next (the former name of fifth edition), but they decided not to pursue it after lukewarm responses from fans.
“But then in the 2021 Player’s Handbook survey we did, we saw quite a few people asking for a design direction like that, so we decided to give it another go”, Crawford says. “But we knew there was a higher than zero chance it wouldn’t be the direction the majority of Druid fans wanted us to going.”
Feedback on other aspects of the Druid also suggests further changes. Crawford says “people liked the promise” of the new Channel Nature feature, and “the feedback is they’d like to see us do more with it”. It seems many D&D players also want to see a Circle of the Moon Druid who has more resilience and closer ties to the actual moon.