How to transform into a buck in Red Dead Online

Frolic as a deer without mods.

If you bought the Outlaw Pass, you’ve probably noticed that “Vitalism Studies Pamphlet” redemption. Today’s update sheds some light on that mysterious redemption. As part of the Naturalist Role, Harriet discovered a plant that can transform you into an animal, gameplay-wise, you become a buck. Whether or not your character is hallucinating the event is up to you. Note that you must be at least rank five in the Naturalist role to begin the Vitalism Studies.

screenshot via Rockstar

Upon logging into the game, players will notice a yellow content cloud around Harriet’s tent. The game picks the closest Harriet location to you when you log in. When you enter the range, you initiate a cutscene. Harriet has a lot to say in it, but the gist of it is she’s discovered a plant that will turn you into an animal. After the cutscene, you get the first Vitalism Studies Pamphlet. The pamphlet is labeled as Vitalism Studies: Buck, having it lets you transform into a buck.

Read the pamphlet right away. You can’t transform without reading it. 

To transform, you have to actually find the plant, Harrietum Officinalis. It’s scattered throughout the map. The best places are in West Elizabeth, New Hanover, and Lemoyne. There doesn’t appear to be much in New Austin.

Screenshot via Rockstar

After gathering Harrietum Officinalis, go to Big Valley. There’s a big, broken tree in the middle of Big Valley, across from the ranch. Use Eagle Eye to see the transformation spot. It will glow red instead of the usual gold. Interact with the spot when prompted, and it will begin the transformation.

For now, the only available animal is the buck. Others will likely appear in the future as part of the weekly updates. 

Transformations only last for five minutes by default. If you have more Harrietum Officinalis in your inventory, you can extend the transformation time.

While transformed, there’s a very limited area to roam. It’s a small circle in Big Valley. There’s not much to do thanks to the tiny range. You can harass non-player characters or players if you choose, as long as they’re in the area, but be warned, you don’t have any weapons other than a charge, and they have guns. You will lose the fight, even if you take a few with you. Non-player characters will treat you as if you’re human. If you wander into a hideout location, such as Hanging Dog Ranch located right behind the transformation spot, they will treat you as human and begin attacking you.

There’s not a lot to do as a deer. You can charge, call, drink water, and run around. This is limited already, but the tiny transformation range and the effort required to get all the plants makes transforming a wasted gimmick that’s not worth the time.