What is a druid to you?

What defines the druid to you?  I am asking for any form of definition.  Maybe you define it by certain mechanics, or by a certain place in the world, or maybe a certain appearance, or behavior.  What makes a druid a druid, in the context of D&D?

When 4e set out to handle the druid, it was clear they had to address the CoDzilla from 3e.  They largely did this by splitting the class into 3 seperate classes (the 4e druid, the warden, and the shaman), more or less.

For me, the defining trait of a druid is a connection to nature.  I've always associated druids with flora, rather than fauna, but I suppose that is because I always viewed a druid summoning a badger to be silly.  I never connected strongly with the animal summoning aspect of the class, even if it mechanically very strong.  Shapeshifting held more sway with me, but I still associate that with the legends and lore of animistic cultures like the Native American, Ainu, or Mesoamerican cultures.

Control of plant life, and the earth itself, was a much stronger image in my mind.  The animal connection came about in talking to animal, or animal companions.

What about you?
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I'm really into the shapeshifting aspect of Druids, but the idea of a caster connected to nature is very appealing, as well. My ideal Druid is somewhere between the 4e Druid and the 3.5 shapeshifting variant from PHB2. 

What can I say... I like furries. 
I agree, it's mostly about the plants.  Whenever the topic of shapeshifting comes up, I have to remind myself that druids have actually been doing it for most of their existence, but I still think there's a huge difference between turning into a bird so as to travel unseen and scout around, and turning into a giant bear who claws bad guys in half.

In D&D terms, a druid is like a cleric who can casts plant/animal/weather spells.  Unlike the cleric, they don't wear heavy metal armor, and they aren't terribly averse to blood-shed; they wear un-treated hide, and wield a scimitar.

Druids are one with nature, and represent a balance between maintaining the natural world and utilizing its gifts (food, wood, medicine) for the benefits of society.  They are harmonious, and neutral on the scale between lawful and chaotic.

The metagame is not the game.

A druid is a defender of nature, and the balance of life.  They are also a part of nature:  shapeshifting is critical to the concept, and it is what separates the druid class from everyone else.  While some may choose not to shapeshift, all are capable of it.  As for what they shapeshift into...that can vary rather substantially.  Many druids choose to live their lives almost exclusively in shapeshifted forms.

But caring for nature should not be interpreted to mean that druids are pacifists.  The natural world is an intensely violent place, with death feeding the lives of others.  They will respond strongly to efforts to disrupt natural areas, and have no qualms with killing in order to do it.  They aren't overly aggressive, but will take offensive action toward those outside of nature.  The undead and other aberrations of nature are particularly loathsome.

Mechanically, druids are a mix of melee prowess and casting.  Balance, in all things.  Spells are nature-influenced:  plant growth, weather effects, basic elements.  By shapeshifting, they're able to become quite significant melee combatants, whether that is the form of quick and agile predators, those who dominate through brute force, or the steadfastness of treants.  While druids may prefer one style or the other, all are capable in both.


The summoning and animal companion aspects of prior editions don't hold much interest for me.  There is precious little reason I can think of for a druid to put an innocent animal in harms' way intentionally.  My druid's companion in a 3e game once got eaten by a dracolich:  what the hell was my druid doing bringing his friend to fight a dracolich?  He was incentivized to do so because of the class's structure, but it doesn't make any sense at all.  Summoning is even worse:  you just pull in a random woodland creature and make it fight something in your place?  Who does that?  I can't think of anything more un-druid than that, to be honest.  I wouldn't mind at all if the animal companion was detatched from the druid entirely, and implemented as a non-class-tied specialty, but summoning really is objectionable to me rather completely.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
A D&D Druid for me is an ardent defender and friend of nature, to the exclusion of all other concerns, wether it's law or chaos, good or evil. My ideal druid is an elemental caster who wieldes the raw power of nature, not power granted to them by a god like a cleric. The druid has a strong friendship with the denizens of nature, and has a strong woodlands ally to accompany him, who's more of a close friend and probably chose the druid rather than the other way around.

 Druids should be very knowledgeable of plants and animals, should be almost impossible to track while moving through familiar terrain, and should instinctively know wether certain plants or other vegetation is good to eat or not. Druids are probably often lone wolves, who don't pretend to get along well with other people, and aren't that interested in how people or society views them. They're more of a elemental force themselves in a way, beyond such concerns.

 I've never been big on shapeshifting very much. To a degree I'd rather see shapeshifting moved to a beast warrior sort of class and remake druids into solely casters and pet masters, despite the long history of shapeshift.

As far as summons go, I can see how they may not make sense to people. I choose to see it this way. Any animal a Druid may summon has accepted that in order to protect nature, one has to be willing to fight and sometimes lay down one's life. Death shouldn't be considered a horrible thing to a Druid, as it's simply the final part of the wheel of life. You don't send an animal into combat needlessly or frivolously, and shouldn't treat them as "cannon fodder". A Druid is nature's "General" in a sense, and has the authority to ask animals to make that final sacrifice if the need is great. There's also the reciprocal side. If a Druid is expeted to fight for nature, then it's nature end of the bargain to fight for the druid.



To me? An overly specific and unnecessary class that would be better served as a cleric with nature domains.
My D&D Next Philosophy: In this age of user created content, Wizards needs to take a step toward embracing that. Modularity is certainly a start, but the best possible way for Wizards to encourage homebrew is to strip the mechanics of flavor, and to ensure that they are as balanced as possible. Players today should be able to start with a concept and build that character. They should not have to force it into narrowly-defined classes that restrict the ability to play the character you want.
The druid has too much; spellcasting, wildshape, animal companions... and the line between durid and cleric of a nature diety isn't too clear (though admittedly clearer than the line between cleric of a war diety and a paladin).

Animal companions should be gained through a specialty -- call it "Beastmaster" or something -- much like how you gain a familiar from the Magic-User specialty. In fact, I would be surprised if this isn't the way how animal companions get handled in the final game.

That would leave the Druid to be a nature-based spellcaster who can wildshape. In my ideal world, a Druid could dabble in several forms or focus on just one type of animal and get enhanced abilities with it. 
The druid and barbarian are akin to the cleric and fighter, just different styles based on culture and means to an end. Although a shaman is more of a personal path, and seeking your inner self based on spirit guides, so it is different from the druid and cleric. They are all good concepts.
A druid is a defender of nature, and the balance of life.  They are also a part of nature:  shapeshifting is critical to the concept, and it is what separates the druid class from everyone else.


What about the wizard, with polymorph (self)?  And stepping outside of D&D, magical shapeshifters in fantasy are more often mages and tricksters than nature-dudes.

The summoning and animal companion aspects of prior editions don't hold much interest for me.  There is precious little reason I can think of for a druid to put an innocent animal in harms' way intentionally.  My druid's companion in a 3e game once got eaten by a dracolich:  what the hell was my druid doing bringing his friend to fight a dracolich?  He was incentivized to do so because of the class's structure, but it doesn't make any sense at all.  Summoning is even worse:  you just pull in a random woodland creature and make it fight something in your place?  Who does that?  I can't think of anything more un-druid than that, to be honest.  I wouldn't mind at all if the animal companion was detatched from the druid entirely, and implemented as a non-class-tied specialty, but summoning really is objectionable to me rather completely.


Friends and allies help each other in their struggles.  I don't think you're giving the animals as much credit as an actual druid would.  A wolf may not understand the finer points of grammar or fluid dynamics engineering, but it can understand friendship and danger.  There is no fundamental difference, to a typical druid, between animal and human(oid), and in particular there's no fundamental difference between his loyal companion the wolf and his loyal companion the fighter.  Both aid the druid out of mutual respect and common goals, and the druid aids both in turn.

Sure, if the player plays his druid as someone who treats his companion as a mindless and expendable slave, that might be a problem.  But in all honesty, that's something I've rarely seen in druid players.  They tend to like characterizing their companions and caring for them.
To me? An overly specific and unnecessary class that would be better served as a cleric with nature domains.


You really, honestly think that the sorts of things we're talking about in our posts are adequately represented by a cleric with a mace and nature spells?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
A druid is a defender of nature, and the balance of life.  They are also a part of nature:  shapeshifting is critical to the concept, and it is what separates the druid class from everyone else.


What about the wizard, with polymorph (self)?  And stepping outside of D&D, magical shapeshifters in fantasy are more often mages and tricksters than nature-dudes.


They can fake being like nature, but druids actually are nature.  Big difference.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
As for my own answer to the question, I see the druid conceptually as standing somewhere in between the cleric and the wizard (or even the warlock).  Like the wizard and warlock, he gets his power not from anthropomorphic and easily relatable gods but from sources more inhuman, secret, and mysterious - arcane, in the non-D&D sense of the word.  But like the cleric, his power is tied to his dedication to a philosophy or cause, rather than simply knowing the right tricks to get the universe to do what he wants.

Actually, that sounds a lot like a monk.  That's what a druid is:  a nature monk.  But whereas the monk perfects the self, and so gets really good at feats of pugilism and athletics, the druid perfects his relationship with the natural world, and so calls on it for aid instead of relying on his own body.
They can fake being like nature, but druids actually are nature.  Big difference.


But the ability is the same either way, making it suboptimal as a defining feature of the druid class.  Imagine that the monk had the same powers as the fighter, just different fluff saying he was a contemplative mystic at one with himself rather than just a well-trained armsman.  Unsatisfying, right?

I'd say the animal companion comes closer to saying "nature is my ally".  But it comes with a host of mechanical issues that keep me skeptical of its suitability as a core feature of the class.  And as far as iconic features go, it's really more associated with the ranger, I think.
For me, the Druid is:

Not so much a champion of nature, but an actual part of nature. An extension of nature manifested in the form of a man (or elf, etc.). They are attuned to their surroundings like no one else can be. They smell the autumn wind days before anyone else even feels its first breeze. The trees speak to them and tell what they've seen. They see the individual snowflakes, and know why they look like they do. They know what nutrients are in the ground simply by standing on it. They realize that in order for life to prosper, there must be balance in all things.

Mechnically / game-wise speaking, I feel a druid is little more than a nature-only-based cleric that receives his divine powers not from a deity, but from the world itself. In 4E terms, he would be the very essence of Primal. As for his shape-shifting abilities, I support them fully. I feel the druid should embody the form of animals like no wizard could ever be able to. Yes, a wizard can make himself look like a bear, but a shape-shifted druid actually becomes a bear. He knows what bears know (whatever that is). He should gain their instincts as well as their large claws and massive form. It should mean more, mechanically speaking, when a druid assumes an animal form.
"Mysterious guardian of a sacred grove, wise counselor to monarchs, cunning master of many shapes, friend of animals, and terrible defender of unspoiled Nature: This is the druid of D&D"

When I think of druids I'm also reminded of all the sylvan creatures as well (unicorns, stags, sprites, elves, treants, nypmhs,dryads, and centaurs ets.   With that in mind, all maner of nature magic, enchantments, illusions, divinations, and elemental type spells commonly associated with a sylvan forest are appropriate for the druid class.

Of course there are many variations of the druid class which are also very appropriate.   Druids of the jungle, rain forests, arctic tundra, or even the subterranean Underdark should not be forgotten.


What defines the druid to you? ?



Someone who casts 'nature spells'.  Plant spells, earth spells, weather spells.  Everything else is fluff, whether it's 'reverence for the primal spirits' or 'an arcanist who tells nature to sit down and shut up because I'm in charge here'.  The why and how is up to the player.

Shapeshifting and the animal decoy should be options, not baked-in.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
They can fake being like nature, but druids actually are nature.  Big difference.


But the ability is the same either way, making it suboptimal as a defining feature of the druid class.  Imagine that the monk had the same powers as the fighter, just different fluff saying he was a contemplative mystic at one with himself rather than just a well-trained armsman.  Unsatisfying, right?

I'd say the animal companion comes closer to saying "nature is my ally".  But it comes with a host of mechanical issues that keep me skeptical of its suitability as a core feature of the class.  And as far as iconic features go, it's really more associated with the ranger, I think.


The ability has been the same, which is a mistake.  Wizards shouldn't be as good at it.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition

They realize that in order for life to prosper, there must be balance in all things.

Really? I kind of got the feeling that they were less philosophical and more primal.  So to use (and abuse ) your statement: they realize that nature will prosper and there will be balance in all things in the sense that if there is gross imbalance, nature will stand in violent opposition.  The druid is the personification of this and their spells and abilities are nature's weapons of choice.

Mechnically / game-wise speaking, I feel a druid is little more than a nature-only-based cleric that receives his divine powers not from a deity, but from the world itself. In 4E terms, he would be the very essence of Primal. 

Exactly.  Mechanically they are very similar but then so is the cleric and the wizard.  In game terms, it's really fluff and flavor that separates them.

To me, the real difference between a druid and a nature cleric is how they are (or should be) played.  A nature cleric worships nature and follow precepts laid out by their religion.  The druid is a human extension of nature.  The represent the harmony of nature in balance and the wild ferocity of nature under threat.


I want a Druid that has some pretty cool versatility and the ability to shift into an aimal. Being able to shift into an animal form at 1st level is something I'd really like to see extended into 5E. Perhaps limiting it though to a few "medium" forms so people don't get mad that you cannot turn into a humming bird and fly so early. That and possibly an animal companion at some time during the class progression. 
As someone who started with 3.5, the notion that a druid as it actually exists in D&D is basically just a nature cleric is about as coherant as the notion that a ranger is basically just a shooty wizard.

Mechanically, the defining characteristic of a druid for me is shapeshifting. It's the flashiest and most unique capablity they possess. I do not think 4e did a good job of modeling shapeshifting at all; it's just a lame gating mechanic that turns on some of your abilities and turns off others. (I say this as someone who likes 4e best, so this isn't just a blah blah I hate everything about 4e blah blah post.) I recognize that giving players extensive access to DM material is risky business, but I think there's a middle ground and I think that Pathfinder found it or at least got pretty close.

One thing that 4e did get right (and this is highly subjective) was not having anything like Natural Spell. 3.5 (and PF) have the property that once you have Natural Spell (and every druid ever has Natural Spell), you have very little incentive to ever be in your "normal person" form during a fight, creating the weird visual that every druid is like a bat or something casting fire spells on people. (If they're focused on spellcasting; otherwise they're a tiger or something.) If Natural Spell is in the game, it should have a greater cost to it. "Eagle who keeps entangling people in vines" is a weird character concept. It's one that can concievably be in the game, but it shouldn't be the default.

I'm fine giving the druid's pet to the ranger (that is, the ranger gets the pet from the get-go instead of as a side feature); the ranger needs stuff to help it stand out, and the druid already has way more than its share.

What I would do with the druid is double down on the shapeshifting thing, making that the primary schtick of the druid. Give the druid's pet to the ranger. The druid retains medium levels of spellcasting, perhaps influenced by a "druid knack" (for example, healing, weather, vengeance, plants, animals, might or water). A druid's spell list would have some universals and then some extra stuff depending on the knack. Druids that ignore shapeshifting in favor of being nature-themed casters are just some other class now. (Mostly clerics and sorcerers, I guess.)

And yeah, shapeshifting from level 1, at least for characters whose first class is druid. A class should be what it is at level 1, not something that does four levels of purgatory before it gets its signature ability.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
As someone who started with 3.5, the notion that a druid as it actually exists in D&D is basically just a nature cleric is about as coherant as the notion that a ranger is basically just a shooty wizard.



Exactly this.

The "it's just a nature cleric" contingent is trying to force the druid peg into the 1e hole, ignoring the fact that the concept has grown beyond those confines and can't go back.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
For me, the defining trait of a druid is a connection to nature.

Connection to nature is the key, but that is a broad concept that covers a lot of ground. Trying to pin down the exact philosophy of a druid is misguided, there are a lot of variations in philosophy here. Depending on the campaign there also could be a lot of overlap with cleric of natural gods, possibly some druids might be types of clerics for some heavily nature oriented gods.

Mehcanically, I think druid is really like bard, in that the class covers too many concepts in one class. It should be broken up into multiple classes with different focuses. You could also do it as one class with some sort of class option system to control how good each druid is at each option.

Major focus - These are the three things that you could easily core an entire class around
- Shape shifting (at 1st level this could be self buffing powers rather then full on animal forms, but at fairly low level animal forms and at higher levels enhanced animal forms have to be possible)
- Animal companion (I've known a lot of people who wanted to play an animal companion focused druid who rarely attacks themselves, this has never really been possible in D&D)
- Nature oriented spell casting (obviously)

Minor focus - These are secondary, they are not the prime focus of a druid. Some druids might not have any abilities in some of these areas, and these could be dropped entirely without destroying the class, though losing healing and divination entirely would be harsh.
- Leadership skills and abilities
- Team buffing magic
- Healing magic
- Divination magic

Great responses, everyone.  I think it is interesting that, besides the unanimously supported nature connection, there is a wide variety of opinions on what is the defining feature of druids.  Shapeshifting appears to be the most popular, but not by a wide margin.

Is it safe to say that if the class can support summoning creatures, shapeshifting, healing, and environment control spells, that it would be okay if the class didn't have access to all those abilities at the same time?

What I'm suggesting is that perhaps the druid can have something akin to clerical domains, or a wizard's tradition, that focuses on one specific feature.  Maybe the feature can be called a druid's "circle".  The Circle of the Beast gives the druid shapeshifting, the Circle of the Crone gives healing and divination spells, the Circle of the Green gives plant and earth control spells, etc.

Basically, the druid can be any of the forms it has taken throughout the editions, just not all at the same time.  How's that sound?
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Great responses, everyone.  I think it is interesting that, besides the unanimously supported nature connection, there is a wide variety of opinions on what is the defining feature of druids.  Shapeshifting appears to be the most popular, but not by a wide margin.

Is it safe to say that if the class can support summoning creatures, shapeshifting, healing, and environment control spells, that it would be okay if the class didn't have access to all those abilities at the same time?

What I'm suggesting is that perhaps the druid can have something akin to clerical domains, or a wizard's tradition, that focuses on one specific feature.  Maybe the feature can be called a druid's "circle".  The Circle of the Beast gives the druid shapeshifting, the Circle of the Crone gives healing and divination spells, the Circle of the Green gives plant and earth control spells, etc.

Basically, the druid can be any of the forms it has taken throughout the editions, just not all at the same time.  How's that sound?



Edit: I read it more closely.

Works for me.  I've generally found shapeshifting and summoning to be pains in the butt, so the ability to not have them works fine.  Add 'animal decoy' to the roster of optional class features, too.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Fun thread!

MY DRUID:


  • clad in green and leather

  • armed with a sickle, scythe or staff

  • wears little armor (light hide)

  • sage of the unspoiled wilds

  • reveres the natural world and honors its deities

  • wields the magic of nature (life-giving, plants, the weather)

  • speaks with plants and animals

  • can take the form of natural beasts

Danny

The "it's just a nature cleric" contingent is trying to force the druid peg into the 1e hole, ignoring the fact that the concept has grown beyond those confines and can't go back.




(shrugs.)  It is & always will be "just a nature cleric" to me.  And their their spells, abilities, etc are gifts from their nature based gods.

Wich I find alot more paltable than the spellcasting psuedo were-beast everyone else keeps playing.

    
I'd LOVE Druids to have something akin to Clerical domains.  I think maybe calling them something like "Bonds" or "Fathoms" would be cool.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Fun thread!

MY DRUID:


  • clad in green and leather

  • armed with a sickle, scythe or staff

  • wears little armor (light hide)

  • sage of the unspoiled wilds

  • reveres the natural world and honors its deities

  • wields the magic of nature (life-giving, plants, the weather)

  • speaks with plants and animals

  • can take the form of natural beasts




This.

Though I'd add: May/Can have an animal companion
The "it's just a nature cleric" contingent is trying to force the druid peg into the 1e hole, ignoring the fact that the concept has grown beyond those confines and can't go back.




(shrugs.)  It is & always will be "just a nature cleric" to me.  And their their spells, abilities, etc are gifts from their nature based gods.

Wich I find alot more paltable than the spellcasting psuedo were-beast everyone else keeps playing.

    


So, you're sticking your head in the sand regarding the last fifteen years of Druids?

On what grounds do you justify denying us that which we find cool?  We can't force you to play them, but you're wanting to force us not to? 

Sorry, no.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I hate the shape shifting druid. I'm not trying to start a flame war, it's just a matter of personal taste. Actually, my problem is with being able to shapeshift and cast spells and the mixing of plant and animal abilities and just doing everything else, too. Just too much going on in one class. I'd like to see those abilities separated. Perhaps a shapeshifter build, a spellcasting build focused on flora, and a summoner build focused on animals with a beast master/companion animal baked in. I would remove any elemental abilities having to do with fire, lightning, water, etc. Those work better in other classes.

Just a thought.
I'm really into the shapeshifting aspect of Druids, but the idea of a caster connected to nature is very appealing, as well. My ideal Druid is somewhere between the 4e Druid and the 3.5 shapeshifting variant from PHB2. 

What can I say... I like furries. 

I think this sums up my feelings pretty well. (though I usually fulfill my furry concepts in the race department.) Cept add in the fact that 4e Druid and its Wild Shape rules was a refluffing heaven for all sorts of ideas. Honestly, it's where I would probably go to make a Wilder in 4e. Really stretches my definition of Wilder and the Druid's definition of Wild Shape (still human with finger claws and going CAWAZY) but hey, gotta do what you gotta do.

Turning into a wretched being + swarm of bugs was pretty flapping awesome too. (I kind of had to hybrid and MC and Theme things up to get what I really wanted. But hey, it worked.)


I think I'd be cool with Shaman coming back and filling the Primal caster role more than the druid though. Again, spirit animal thingy was a great place for refluffing… I think Primal might be my favorite power source in 4e, for reasons that all have nothing to do with primal characters. :P
So, you're sticking your head in the sand regarding the last fifteen years of Druids?

On what grounds do you justify denying us that which we find cool?  We can't force you to play them, but you're wanting to force us not to? 

Sorry, no.




And here I thought the question asked was "what's a druid to you".  Maybe I mis-read the title?
Well, I've told you what a druid is to me.
And I've told you what a druid isn't to me.
If you've a problem with that?  I don't care.

As for the last 15 years of Druids?  I dislike the heavy shape-shifting/super animal companion direction they went.  ALOT.  It's mostly an MMO fueled travesty IMO.  So why shouldn't I ignore/reject it?


Now as to denying you.... 
Unfortunately, unless you're trying to play it in a game I'm DMing, I can't deny you "that wich you find cool".
And unlike the rest of you?  My not liking something is not the same as me arguing that that thing shouldn't be an option in the books. 

My hope is that whatever sees print allows for multiple aproaches of how to play (Druids).
That way?  I'll keep playing my (mostly) Celtic flavoured, nature based, priests.  And you'll keep playing your version of the class. 
 

I think I'd be cool with Shaman coming back and filling the Primal caster role more than the druid though.


Now we're getting into a question of nomenclature, but based on the D&D game's history, I'd keep the "druid" as the core nature-caster class.  At its heart, the druid class has always been a caster.  While it has been inordinately effective as a shapeshifter and petmaster as well, those have only been capabilities of the class, not its conceptual essence.  Wild shape in particular was just an incidental class feature until players started realizing how ungodly powerful it was in 3E.  Making shapeshifting the defining feature of the druid would be like making righteous might the defining feature of the cleric.

Of course, it's perfectly fine if WotC decides to spin this ability off into a class that specializes in it.  But that wouldn't be a druid.  It'd be a "skin-changer" or "totemist" or something.  Calling it a "druid" would be doing a disservice to all the players who played their druids in a different way in previous editions - just as calling Mearls' proposed warrior/mage class a "sorcerer" would be doing a disservice to all the players who played their sorcerers differently.
to me the image of a druid comes from the 1980's tv series robin of sherwood.
and the character herne the huner in that series who wears a stag head as helmet.

it doesen't realy show herne using magic, more herbalism and things like that.
But he seems to know everything that happens in herwood forest.

also when inportant things happen in the forest there always seems to be a stag to witness it, and many of the common people think herne can change into a stag though he never sais he can
 
the mysterous protecter of the forest. 
I think I'd be cool with Shaman coming back and filling the Primal caster role more than the druid though.


Now we're getting into a question of nomenclature, but based on the D&D game's history, I'd keep the "druid" as the core nature-caster class.  At its heart, the druid class has always been a caster.  While it has been inordinately effective as a shapeshifter and petmaster as well, those have only been capabilities of the class, not its conceptual essence.  Wild shape in particular was just an incidental class feature until players started realizing how ungodly powerful it was in 3E.  Making shapeshifting the defining feature of the druid would be like making righteous might the defining feature of the cleric.

Of course, it's perfectly fine if WotC decides to spin this ability off into a class that specializes in it.  But that wouldn't be a druid.  It'd be a "skin-changer" or "totemist" or something.  Calling it a "druid" would be doing a disservice to all the players who played their druids in a different way in previous editions - just as calling Mearls' proposed warrior/mage class a "sorcerer" would be doing a disservice to all the players who played their sorcerers differently.



Would having a druid class with the skin changer and totamist you mention and maybe also the shaman as buils options for the class be acceptable to you.
 
Would having a druid class with the skin changer and totamist you mention and maybe also the shaman as buils options for the class be acceptable to you.
 


It would in fact be ideal to me.  After all, some players did play their druids as shapeshifting specialists, and it'd be regrettable if they got their characters shunted into a new class - DDN should strive for a goal of keeping every preexisting character in the same class if at all possible.

The caveat to this, though, is that I'm not sure this can be done and still justifiably be called a single class.  If under the "Druid" heading are three "options" that are functionally three completely different classes, that's not good.

Also, the shaman was a separate class in 4E, so the question of whether it can continue to stand as a separate class needs to be considered carefully.  To take a first stab at a possible distinction:  the druid deals with natural forces, where the shaman deals with spirits.  The druid directs, the shaman persuades.  Think wizard vs. warlock, maybe.

Lots of interesting stuff here. Here's my take:


Socially, I'd like to see druids as the primal philosopher. They seek balance and while that can mean that some druids are just happy to burn settlements and kill woodcutters, the bulk of them are actually trying to bridge the gap between urban and wild. Their attitudes are informed by the assumption that wild places are under threat from civilisation, but their ways of addressing that issue are quite varied. I think of their power as one that derives from contemplation and study - not bookish study, more observation and meditation.


Mechanically, I'd like to see druids as a pure caster that employs spellcraft to channel effects that work with nature as a theme. I like shapeshifting as well but I'd like to see druids make choices about whether they will be a full caster or a shifter with some spells. I want them to be able to cast spells while shifted, but I want the relative power of their shapeshifting to have an impact on their spell selection. Or maybe they have both but their spells are more or less powerful depending on how powerful their current form is.


I could totally see traditions achieving the balance between casting and shifting.


Oh, and I totally see them as primal and not divine in terms of flavouring. I hope 5e retains power sources and lets that inform their class designs.

I haven't had a chance to read any of this thread yet - but maybe that's a good thing. I get to present my opinion without having to think about whatever anybody else has already said.

I see a druid as a magic-user that focuses on manipulation of weather, plants, terrain and to some extent animals. I've always been a little uncomfortable with the animal summoning aspect of the class since the animals must come from somewhere if they're natural, and they're almost always there to soak up damage. It never felt rightly "druidic" to me.

I see them as guardians of natural lore. Educated, but not necessarily in the same ways as those of a more urban bend.

I absolutely do not see them as being shape-shifters in general. In fact my prefered style of druid wouldn't use any wildshape mechanic at all. Save the shapeshifting for the were-creatures and doppelgangers in my opinion.        

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/12.jpg)

Fun thread!

MY DRUID:


  • clad in green and leather

  • armed with a sickle, scythe or staff

  • wears little armor (light hide)

  • sage of the unspoiled wilds

  • reveres the natural world and honors its deities

  • wields the magic of nature (life-giving, plants, the weather)

  • speaks with plants and animals

  • can take the form of natural beasts



MY DRUID too, with an animal companion as well as CCS! Wink

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I think I'd be cool with Shaman coming back and filling the Primal caster role more than the druid though.


Now we're getting into a question of nomenclature, but based on the D&D game's history, I'd keep the "druid" as the core nature-caster class.  At its heart, the druid class has always been a caster.  While it has been inordinately effective as a shapeshifter and petmaster as well, those have only been capabilities of the class, not its conceptual essence.  Wild shape in particular was just an incidental class feature until players started realizing how ungodly powerful it was in 3E.  Making shapeshifting the defining feature of the druid would be like making righteous might the defining feature of the cleric.

Of course, it's perfectly fine if WotC decides to spin this ability off into a class that specializes in it.  But that wouldn't be a druid.  It'd be a "skin-changer" or "totemist" or something.  Calling it a "druid" would be doing a disservice to all the players who played their druids in a different way in previous editions - just as calling Mearls' proposed warrior/mage class a "sorcerer" would be doing a disservice to all the players who played their sorcerers differently.


This.  (Emphasis added.)  I definitely like shapeshifting as a feature of the iconic druid, but I'm thinking turning into a squirrel, a raven, or a dog........not a tiger who leaps into battle!  ; p  While I *DO* think the tiger (et al) option is cool, I think it would be better as an ability unlocked through a specialty or a class build or something rather than a default abilitiy of the "iconic" druid.

To answer the original question, I guess I'd say to me a druid is a nature-based, knowledgable (but not necessarily bookish) sage of old ways who typically puts nature first before concerns of morality or philosophy.  Primarily a caster class, though if this were scaled back a touch to balance other abilities it could possibly still feel like a druid.  Scaling the spells back to something like a Next warlock might work, but scaling back to a warden (4e) would be too far to still be a "druid" imho.
To me a D&D druid is a divine spellcaster who worships a deity whose sphere of influence is the natural world.

He can't wear equipment made of metal (no metal armor, no metal weapon) except for the sickle maybe which is used as a tool and not a weapon.

Shapeshifting is not mandatory in my vision of the druid (although I recognize its usefulness). I was quite annoyed in 4th edition when I realized you were forced to take at least one power working with animal form (I refer to the druid from the player's handbook 2, not the essentials one) and that you could shapechange at will (some players used to shapechange each round during a combat which stripped the magic off the ability). Besides, if a shapechanging ability is designed for the druid, I prefer it to give the druid the physical attributes and special abilities of the animal he changes into.

I prefer him to blend into natural environment (through stealth, camouflage, etc...), walk without leaving tracks, able to recognize any plant he encounters, the ability to decipher the behaviour of animals and call upon local animals to assist him or call upon the wrath of nature when necessary (spells dealing with plants, wind, lightning, water...I've always found wierd to allow the druid fire spells when fire is a big threat to nature itself...lightning is more suitable in my point of view because it refers more to the weather aspect, even it is can cause things to catch fire).