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[SWADE v4.1] Shape Change Size

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  • [SWADE v4.1] Shape Change Size

    Should the Novice level of shape change be able to turn a character into a cat or rat? If yes to either, the Novice ability should probably allow for changing into Size –3 and/or –4 respectively.
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    My thoughts, musings, and general character adaptations on Savage Everything.

  • #2
    Admittedly, I don't have a lot of experience with shape change in Savage Worlds, but plenty experience in That Other System. What that experience has taught me is that sizes both larger and smaller than "normal" are clearly big benefits.

    Becoming a brown bear has obvious strength/combat benefits, but becoming a cat or field mouse has significant stealth/intrusion benefits.

    To draw a comparison, when I houseruled the 3.5 druid ability (i.e., rewrote it completely), it's baseline was "same size category as character," with each step of improvement "+1/-1 category."
    ... I think I would do something very similar for Savage Worlds.

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    • DoctorBoson
      DoctorBoson commented
      Editing a comment
      I was considering something like that, but I kind of figured that the trope of weak shapeshifters defaulting to cats and birds was a good baseline to go off of. I'd be okay with requiring a Seasoned transformation to become Size –3 or –4, but I could definitely see players confused as to why they could transform into a wolf at character creation but not a house cat.

  • #3
    DoctorBoson Right. That's why I prefaced by saying I don't have much experience using shape change in SW. The dynamics may be very different from those in other game systems.

    But I think the idea of small=weak is a bit too narrow of a view. Cats can squeeze through prison bars or other tight spots; they can generally be ignored in populated areas, when not being super stealthy. Referring to them as "weak" seems to focus only on an animal's combat application, while ignoring it's true strengths. Players aren't likely to fight as a cat if they can turn into a wolf instead, but a wolf is not as innocuous wandering around a noble's house as a cat would be.

    Any small creature is also essentially a master spy, able to eavesdrop on most conversations, sometimes while being directly observed. The GM could call for a Performance check to "act like an animal", but even then the shifted character should probably roll at a bonus for "looking the part" (like the disguise power).

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    • #4
      Originally posted by DoctorBoson View Post
      Should the Novice level of shape change be able to turn a character into a cat or rat?
      Do they have that ability? No.
      Should they have that ability? That's a very different question, one of tone and design goals.

      I'd say "no", that should be available at Seasoned. The ability to turn into a cat or large rat and "disappear" from a scene is stronger than the ability to turn into a dog.
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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