Dragon 370 - The Druid, Levels 1-3

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Dragon 370
The Druid, Levels 1-3


This article presents levels 1-3 of the Druid class, which will appear before too much longer in Player's Handbook II. The druid is a Primal controller with plenty to offer an adventuring group.

Talk about this article here.
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I made a comment in DDI General, but this appears to be incomplete - no level 3 encounter powers are provided. It's really only levels 1-2 (though you could, technically, select a level 1 encounter at level 3).
So, I'm curious why the last two playtest classes have had levels 1-29...and the druid has levels 1-3? When are the next 26 levels going to be released? I can understand not putting all the levels out immediately, but if someone wanted to playtest the druid, they will need the later levels soon. Honestly, I signed up yesterday for Insider mostly because I was so excited to see the druid a few months early. Unfortunately, since my DM's campaign is already at 5th level...I guess I'll have to wait for WOTC to fill in the gaps before I can try out the druid. I'm sure there are only about 10,000 other people in the the same boat. WOTC - please release the rest of the druid class or at least levels 1-10, soon!
Yeah, I'm ticked about that too - this isn't a playtest, it's a preview (less of a preview than the bard, even). This could have been free content.

But, I noticed an interesting thing in there. The developers said they'd made some changes to the barbarian to provide an incentive for them to stay lightly armored - well, it strikes me that the Primal Guardian feature may be applied to the Barbarian as well (or something like it, anyway).

Edit: actually, it is free content. At least, at the moment.
Skittering Sneak + Hedge Wizard's Gloves = Incredibly awesome thief.
http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19670890/Keep_on_the_Shadowfell_Character_Errata
Levels 1-3, seems to be the standard for free content. I guess its a reasonable strategy, because 'free' means, everybody gets a chance to give feedback/critique/playtest.

Levels 1-3 is probably enough to understand the basic crunch and fluff, which is probably the most helpful for a new class. Even conflicts with multiclassing and paragon paths can be detected with this info available.

For higher level Druids, each power can be evaluated on its own.
Levels 1-3, seems to be the standard for free content. I guess its a reasonable strategy, because 'free' means, everybody gets a chance to give feedback/critique/playtest.

Was this supposed to be free content? I wasn't aware of that.

Still, it's only Levels 1-2, technically. I think they forgot a block of powers.
Druid playtest:
Controller. Your beast form gives you access to powers that provide control at close range.

Huh? I dont get it. "[A] Controller that control[s] at close range"?! Isnt that what a Defender is?

A Controller controls the long range to block enemies in the distance (= 'wall'). A Defender controls the close range to block enemies up close (= 'sticky'), like a bodyguard.

So, the beast form is really a Defender?
Does Twisting Vines seem, uh, strange to anyone else? The affected targets are surrounded by difficult terrain rather than just the target area being affected, does it travel around with them?

Is Call of the Beast really weak, or is CA denial more potent than I think it is? The damage doesn't seem like it would trigger too often (the enemy can still move till it's adjacent to whomever it pleases) and the fixed damage doesn't benefit from enhancement bonuses and other damage roll increases.
I was severely disappointed by the idea that this article was a playtest and not a preview but fortunately it looks like a solid character. It appears to be a class that can fit into a party smoothly which the druid seemed not to do very easily in previous editions. I can't wait for the PH II. You did trick me with that playtest thing though, good Bluff.
Huh? I dont get it.

[INDENT][A] Controller .. that control[s] at close range"? Isnt that what a Defender is?[/INDENT]

A Controller controls the long range to block enemies in the distance. A Defender controls the close range to block enemies, as a bodyguard.

They can do both.

The write-up says the class is a controller/defender or controller/leader depending on your picks.
Wishlist: -Alternate ability bonuses for pre-PHB3 races -Lots more superior implements or an official customization rule -Monk multiclass feat that grants Unarmed Combatant
Well first I would like to say druid looks like it will be another unique option to add to a cast of fun playable classes. However I am disappointed with the playtest. It is shorter then the bard preview and really lacks the content to really be playtested, the other playtests had a lot of content as I have had players already using them in a campaign (although they cant wait for the book to see all of their options). I just hope in the future these will be called previews as I have been quite excited since I saw the December release list and very glad I paid for DDI, but now I'm a little disappointed.

However I have noticed the levels 1-3 as mentioned above can be accessed by anyone perhaps this is the free version and the paid for version will be released later. :D Well either way druid looks nice and I can not wait for PHB2 (and the Invoker's little showing).
They can do both.

The write-up says the class is a controller/defender or controller/leader depending on your picks.

actually it says a STRIKER or leader secondary role :O

and i'm a free-person and I can see the content.

and yes it bothers me it says levels 1-3 yet it's only 1-2... thats barely a preview... thats like the preview of a class they would show at the end of the magazine. like they did with tempest fighter...
According to the issue ToC (as opposed to the editorial calender), the Druid article is now an Ampersand instead of Playtest, and the ToC doesn't even mention the Invoker as far as I saw.

But yeah, the missing level 3 is annoying.
Ooh,is this the place for errata on the Druid? I may have one:

Currently Written - "At-Will Attack Powers: You begin with three at-will attack powers. Throughout your career, at least one of those powers, and no more than two, must have the beast form keyword."

Proposed Errata(/Change, if this is in time): "At-Will Attack Powers: You begin with three at-will attack powers. Throughout your career, at least one of those powers must have the beast form keyword, and at least one must not have the beast form keyword."

That would seem to me to be what they're going for (and gives the Human Druids a bit of extra love ;) ). All in all, looks great.
Haplo: The write-up says the class is a controller/defender or controller/leader depending on your picks.

Actually, the word 'Defender' doesnt occur anywhere in the Druid playtest, even tho the beast form seems to be a Defender.

;) Or else, these role names (Defender, Leader, Striker, and Controller) are so vague and wishywashy, they really have no meaning at all.


If the Druid is a Defender, they must call it a Defender.

If the Druid really is a little bit of everything, thats ok, but they need to make it clear that thats what it is: a Defender-Striker-Controller-Leader hybrid.

Traditionally, the Druid has always been a little bit of everything, so I guess its ok, as long as its clear. Personally, Iv always used the Druid as a Gish.
Power Source: Primal. You have gained your powers through a careful study of and communion with the natural world.

Ok. I like the flavor of this power source:

[INDENT]Primal = plants and animals, and weather patterns = biology, ecology, ecosystems, biomes, living organisms and their habitats, etc. = Nature, the Natural World = the plane of the Mortal World.[/INDENT]

But this implies, the plane of Feywild DOESNT equate with Nature. Fey creatures are really supernatural, enchanted, preternatural, unnatural. So, all the scenic 'natural' beauty of Feywild really isnt natural.

Notably, upto now, the Feywild falls under the Arcana knowledge skill, and not the Nature skill check. This too suggests that the Feywild is unnatural.

While this is fine, and can even make sense, the books need to explain the difference.
According to the issue ToC (as opposed to the editorial calender), the Druid article is now an Ampersand instead of Playtest, and the ToC doesn't even mention the Invoker as far as I saw.

But yeah, the missing level 3 is annoying.

I just tried to get to the ToC, and I got a message saying that 'this article is not up yet.' Hopefully we'll get this level 3 soon.
Looking at the powers, in addition to plants and animals, the Druid has power over the elements:

It seems the Druid (and thus the Primal power source) has powers over Water and Air (mist, wind), Storm (lightning), Fire, and Cold (frost).

But it seems to lack powers over Earth (soil, rock, metal, crystal, etc.)?

Do both the Primal and the Arcane power sources share dominion over the Elements and the plane of the Elemental Chaos?
One rather amusing thing to note so far - Elves and Razorclaw Shifters make the best Predator Druids for the Dex/Wis combo, no real surprise there. But dwarves make the best Guardian Druids, for the Con/Wis combo. Heh, in 2e that dwarf druid friend of Drizzt's was some kinda freak of nature, now Druid is going to be one of the dwarves' better classes. :D
Maybe the Shaman or Warden will have Earth powers, leaving the Druid more as the "Weather Wizard."
So, where's the rest of the editorial ? Did Bill take a holiday already :P?

I'm relieved the Druid is a preview and not a playtest. I wanna be surprised when I pick up the PH 2 next year.
/\ Art
Will the Nature knowledge skill answer all questions concering Druids and the Primal power source?
Hmm, there's 8 At-Will attacks, but only 3 are Beast-Form. Seems odd to me. I do like that the Beast-Form At-Wills can all be used as basic attacks though.
Wild Shape ... at will!

This is extremely powerful.

I couldnt find any in the MM, but eventually a Medium-sized 'Natural or Fey Beast' with wings will exist. So, Fly at level 1 will eventually exist. Now in 4e too, the more MMs come out, the more powerful Wild Shape becomes. Already, Medium sized flying animals implicitly exist, if not explicitly. Such as a Condor, Pterodactyl, a smaller winged animal in the Drake group or Wyvern, Medium-sized Bats (exist in other planes, why not Feywild?), etcetera. Animals that fly, can be insectoid, avian, or simply imaginary.

Eventually its gonna happen: Fly at level 1.

Interestingly, Ooze seems to also be an inevitable option with all kinds of interesting applications.

Optimizers are gonna go nuts over Wild Shape.

It maybe better for the Druid class to list exactly which animals, are possible for wild shape. Primal Power books, campaign setting books, and Player Handbooks can all expand this list carefully for balance and robustness against breakability.
Wild Shape ... at will!

This is extremely powerful.

I couldnt find any in the MM, but eventually a Medium-sized 'Natural or Fey Beast' with wings will exist. So, Fly at level 1 will eventually exist. Now in 4e too, the more MMs come out, the more powerful Wild Shape becomes. Already, Medium sized flying animals implicitly exist, if not explicitly. Such as a Condor, Pterodactyl, a smaller winged animal in the Drake group or Wyvern, Medium-sized Bats (exist in other planes, why not Feywild?), etcetera. Animals that fly, can be insectoid, avian, or simply imaginary.

Eventually its gonna happen: Fly at level 1.

Interestingly, Ooze seems to also be an inevitable option with all kinds of interesting applications.

Optimizers are gonna go nuts over Wild Shape.

It maybe better for the Druid class to list exactly which animals, are possible for wild shape. Primal Power books, campaign setting books, and Player Handbooks can all expand this list carefully for balance and robustness against breakability.

too bad wild shapeing into a bird doesn't let you fly...
sorry to burst your bubble but you don't get the abilities of things you shift into...

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Wild Shape ... at will!

This is extremely powerful.

I couldnt find any in the MM, but eventually a Medium-sized 'Natural or Fey Beast' with wings will exist. So, Fly at level 1 will eventually exist. Now in 4e too, the more MMs come out, the more powerful Wild Shape becomes. Already, Medium sized flying animals implicitly exist, if not explicitly. Such as a Condor, Pterodactyl, a smaller winged animal in the Drake group or Wyvern, Medium-sized Bats (exist in other planes, why not Feywild?), etcetera. Animals that fly, can be insectoid, avian, or simply imaginary.

Eventually its gonna happen: Fly at level 1.


Interestingly, Ooze seems to also be an inevitable option with all kinds of interesting applications.


Optimizers are gonna go nuts over Wild Shape.

Nope:

"The beast form is your size, resembles a natural beast or a fey beast, and normally doesn't change your game statistics."

Fly Speed(/anything else out of the ordinary for that matter) would be a game statistic, which would not change from Beast Form to normal form. Could you grow wings? Sure, but you can't fly. Can you grow gills? Sure, but deep sea diving still wouldn't be recommended. Could you grow extra arms bristling with claws? Sure, but you're not getting any extra attacks. And so on.

Really, this is more an aesthetically divergent Rage or Stance ability, wherein it limits some abilities while unlocking others, and is in and of itself not overpowering. Now, as for potential combos? There we always must fear the unknown, but no more so for this than for any other new class.
Wild Shape ... at will!

This is extremely powerful.

I couldnt find any in the MM, but eventually a Medium-sized 'Natural or Fey Beast' with wings will exist. So, Fly at level 1 will eventually exist. Now in 4e too, the more MMs come out, the more powerful Wild Shape becomes. Already, Medium sized flying animals implicitly exist, if not explicitly. Such as a Condor, Pterodactyl, a smaller winged animal in the Drake group or Wyvern, Medium-sized Bats (exist in other planes, why not Feywild?), etcetera. Animals that fly, can be insectoid, avian, or simply imaginary.

Eventually its gonna happen: Fly at level 1.

Interestingly, Ooze seems to also be an inevitable option with all kinds of interesting applications.

Optimizers are gonna go nuts over Wild Shape.

It maybe better for the Druid class to list exactly which animals, are possible for wild shape. Primal Power books, campaign setting books, and Player Handbooks can all expand this list carefully for balance and robustness against breakability.

One huge problem.....that doesnt work, says "The wild shape power lets you assume a form of your size that resembles a natural or a fey beast, usually a four-legged mammalian predator such as a bear, a boar, a panther, a wolf, or a wolverine. Your beast form might also be an indistinct shape of shadowy fur and claws, an incarnation of the Primal Beast of which all earthly beasts are fractured images. You choose a specific form whenever you use wild shape, and that form has no effect on your game statistics."

No were in there does it say you can become anything that flies, it also stats you dont gain any abilities of that animal, its all cosmetic unless power says otherwise.
CelticMut: But dwarves make the best Guardian Druids, for the Con/Wis combo. Heh, in 2e that dwarf druid friend of Drizzt's was some kinda freak of nature, now Druid is going to be one of the dwarves' better classes.

Heh. Your absolutely right about the new glut of Dwarf Druids.

I guess Dwarf Druids make sense now in 4e, since their flavor has surfaced up from the underground. They no longer have Darkvision. They now live in mountainous homes, built into the ground (sort of like energy-conservation houses) but still on the surface. They seem more connected to the Nature.

In reallife mythology and folklore, dwarves personify fertile soil and unusual rocky features.

(Perhaps the Wis-Con Guardian Druid should get lots the Earth powers, so the Dwarf can commingle its flavor?)
Lord Omega,

Regarding Wild Shape, it says, 'usually' a four-legged creature, meaning it CAN be a winged creature less often. But obviously, if flying is an option, players will usually be winged, not four-legged.

The wording of the power itself (which matters more) has no limitations whatsoever except: Medium Natural/Fey Beast.

A bird is a 'Beast', a bat is a 'Beast', an insect is a 'Beast', even a wyvern or a drake is a 'Beast'.

Small Beasts that fly already exist (like the Spiretop Drake), so a level 1 Halfling Druid can already fly at-will!!!!!!!!!!

If a Druid can become a 'Beast' with the 'Swarm' keyword (which presumably it can per RAW), then all Medium-sized Druids can wild shape into a Stirge Swarm. These are just the Beasts that the MM mentions explicitly, implicitly, Medium Beasts with wings also exist, like young Wyverns, etc.

This is an explosion of polymorph abilities, waiting to happen.
Lord Omega,

Regarding Wild Shape, it says, 'usually' a four-legged creature, meaning it CAN be a winged creature less often. But obviously, if flying is an option, players will usually be winged, not four-legged.

The wording of the power itself (which matters more) has no limitations whatsoever except: Medium Natural/Fey Beast.

This is an explosion of polymorph abilities waiting to happen.

Haldrik...IT HAS NO EFFECT ON YOUR STATS...INCLUDING MOVEMENT...YOU CAN NOT FLY...


One huge problem.....that doesnt work, says "The wild shape power lets you assume a form of your size that resembles a natural or a fey beast, usually a four-legged mammalian predator such as a bear, a boar, a panther, a wolf, or a wolverine. Your beast form might also be an indistinct shape of shadowy fur and claws, an incarnation of the Primal Beast of which all earthly beasts are fractured images. You choose a specific form whenever you use wild shape, and that form has no effect on your game statistics."

No were in there does it say you can become anything that flies, it also stats you dont gain any abilities of that animal, its all cosmetic unless power says otherwise.

important part being:
You choose a specific form whenever you use wild shape, and that form has no effect on your game statistics

Before posting, ask yourself WWWS: What Would Wrecan Say?

Lord Omega,

Regarding Wild Shape, it says, 'usually' a four-legged creature, meaning it CAN be a winged creature less often. But obviously, if flying is an option, players will usually be winged, not four-legged.

The wording of the power itself (which matters more) has no limitations whatsoever except: Medium Natural/Fey Beast.

A bird is a 'Beast', a bat is a 'Beast', an insect is a 'Beast', even a wyvern or a drake is a 'Beast'.

This is an explosion of polymorph abilities waiting to happen.

Still cant fly or use any other abilities that that beast would have....Wild Shape says so....only way to gain these other abilities is if an other power says so....so you can look like it but thats it...
The power format of Wild Shape itself is the specific rule. It says, Wild Shape 'normally doesn't change your game statistics', which means it can change the Druids stats in non-normal situations. Whatever 'normal' means.


Looking at it a different way,

Either Wild Shape grants some of the animals abilities, including fly, or else it grants zero animal abilities at all, in which case the power is worthless. It would be nothing more than strictly flavor without any mechanical advantage at all (similar to Genasi 'Ambiance'), except perhaps as an animal disguise.

Moreover, the claim that the Beast Form 'provides control at close range' becomes false, since it provides nothing whatsoever.
The power format of Wild Shape itself is the specific rule. It says, Wild Shape 'normally doesn't change your game statistics', which means it can change the Druids stats in non-normal situations. Whatever 'normal' means.


Looking at it a different way,

Either Wild Shape grants some of the animals abilities, including fly, or else it grants zero animal abilities at all, in which case the power is worthless. It would be nothing more than strictly flavor without any mechanical advantage at all (similar to Genasi 'Ambiance'), except perhaps as an animal disguise.

Moreover, the claim that the Beast Form 'provides control at close range' becomes false, since it provides nothing whatsoever.

The form itself does nothing. The powers based on the form do.
Arright, you guys seem to be right.

The designers intend for the Wild Shape power to be a 'disguise only'. Specific powers related to the animal (such as claw attacks and presumably fly) must be acquired as separate powers with the 'Beast Form' keyword.

I actually like this mechanically. It preserves flavor while maintaining balance.

[Edit: unfortunately, Beast Form powers cant be used while in Humanoid form. Perhaps a Paragon Path can make it possible?] Its also cool that these Beast Form powers can be used while in Humanoid form, so the Druid can also have a kind of werewolf flavor in between the Beast and Humanoid forms. Pretty cool.

Its important the description for the Wild Shape and the power format itself explain this design clearly to avoid future misunderstandings.
and seeing how we have seen what level 1 at-wills and level 1 encounter and dailies, and level 2 ultility. We have no idea what use Wild Shape may provide, we also have no clue what druid based feats they may have, they could vary well gain flying, burrow, swim, etc. Probally not at level 1 tho, imagine most of those being pargon lvl feats, maybe even epic level in case of the flight.

Also seing the Utility that grants +5 stealth, I imagine there will be other powers that do that sort of thing as well.
Its important the description for the Wild Shape and the power format itself explain this design clearly to avoid future misunderstandings.

I'm not sure how you can get clearer than "does not change your game statistics".
Sithobi: The form itself does nothing. The powers based on the form do.

Above is exactly what the Wild Shape descriptions need to say!

Something like:

[INDENT]The Wild Shape class feature grants nothing, except an appearance as an animal. Individual animal abilities, such as claw attacks, climb, burrow, fly, heightened senses, or so on, must be acquired as separate powers with the Beast Form keyword.[/INDENT]
Sithobi: I'm not sure how you can get clearer than "does not change your game statistics".

I think the phrase 'game statistics' is extremely vague. For one thing, Wild Shape prevents the ability to use certain powers or magic items, so at face value, it DOES change certain game statistics. So whatever game statistics the designers have in mind isnt really clear. At a first read, I thought it just meant 'stats', ie, ability scores.
Arright, you guys seem to be right.

The designers intend for the Wild Shape power to be a 'disguise only'. Specific powers related to the animal (such as claw attacks and presumably fly) must be acquired as separate powers with the 'Beast Form' keyword.

I actually like this mechanically. It preserves flavor while maintaining balance. Its also cool that these Beast Form powers can be used while in Humanoid form, so the Druid can also have a kind of werewolf flavor in between the Beast and Humanoid forms. Pretty cool.

Its important the description for the Wild Shape and the power format itself explain this design clearly to avoid future misunderstandings.

I'm pretty sure you can only use Beast Form powers while in Beast Form.
I'm pretty sure you can only use Beast Form powers while in Beast Form.

True, but as your beast form can look like anything you want, you can technically look humanoid while gaining the beast form powers. I'd assume this would be usually be more of a half-man/half-animal (werewolf, for example) form, just to keep with the flavor.

In fact, this would be a good way to create a werewolf type character.

I didn't have the same confusion Haldrik initially did, but he may have a point that the description can be clearer, perhaps with examples.