---This post is primarily about the fighter's Stalwart Defender enhancement line, but also deals with the druid's Nature's Warrior line--
On live, I have a 14/6 druid/fighter who fights in Dire Bear form and takes advantage of the Stalwart Defender I prestige enhancements. She's purely a flavor character, but ends up being a decent tank with solid AOE damage capabilities (she's garbage for ST though). Anyway, on live, she benefits from the Stalwart Defender AC and stat bonuses as well as similar bear-form bonuses, and her typical main/offhand combination is scimitar+shield.
Out of curiosity, I loaded up Lamannia to see what I'd gain and lose with the enhancement pass. The results... well, they don't look good. Not because the new enhancements suck -- they don't: on paper, she actually should see considerable improvement.
Lamannia: Equipped with a shield, invested rather heavily in the Stalwart Defender line including the greater improvements: Hardy Defence (+6 competence to Con while wielding a shield in Stalwart Defence), Tenacious Defense (+20% competence to max HP while wielding a shield in Stalwart Defence), and Strong Defense (+6 competence to Str while wielding a shield in Stalwart defence). These bonuses do NOT work in bear form despite the fact I'm equipped with a shield -- other Stalwart Defence bonuses which do not specifically require a shield, such as the PRR bonuses, do however work.
I recognize this is likely due to treating the animal forms as being equipped with natural weapons, but I am curious if this is completely intentional or not? If it is, will there be any efforts to further improve the druid bear forms?