Friday, January 26, 2018

Druid vs. Druid

This post is mainly being written to get my thoughts organized into a form that others - specifically, my players - can access without me having to speak to them one at a time. Since I may be soliciting comments from them, I'm turning on comment moderation for the time being, so as to prevent any personal details escaping into cyberspace.

Now then: I've been entering and adjusting the rules for my primary campaign, set in the Kingdom of Duemerus. The base ruleset is Basic Fantasy, but I've made a handful of adjustments already. I'm adding a few additional classes, solely for the purpose of grandfathering in (or rather, grandmothering, since both of the characters are female) some existing characters.

A major reason for using Basic Fantasy is that it has a large number of free supplements that I can use either as-is, or as inspiration for my own rules. Not all of these supplements are great; the supplement on Bardic Characters has numerous versions of the class which are all too fiddly - especially disappointing considering that one of these grandmothered characters will be a bard. Fortunately, I found something much closer to my preferences in the Jester class, which is a perfectly functional bard with just a little re-skinning and tweaking. The other character is a druid.

The Default BFRPG Druid

The Basic Fantasy supplement on druids is pretty good, giving them the same spell progression as clerics (i.e., no spells at 1st level), but with an Animal Affinity power instead of Turn Undead; it also has Assume Animal Form as a normal spell. I won't get too deeply into further details; if you're interested, you can download the supplement on this page. I like this interpretation of the druid, and I would have just used it as-is if not for the conditions that led me to develop...

The Hybrid Druid

This is based on the BFRPG druid, but with a change: I replaced the Animal Affinity ability with a variable, not-always-successful version of Assume Animal Form. Here, the Hit Dice of the animal is still cross-referenced with the druid's level to determine a target number on 1d20; but instead of calming or befriending an animal, the roll is to assume that animal's shape. Since I may be making some serious changes to the class, the version of the hybrid druid as it stands now can be found at this archive page.

I'm kind of proud of this one, but I'm not sure whether to use it going forward. The reason I made modifications to allow druids to "wild shape" even at 1st level was to accommodate a player - and longtime friend - who enjoys having early wildshape access in D&D 5th Edition. But said player (and I say this with no disrespect or judgement) would prefer to just have unlimited access to wildshape outside of combat; this player, I've figured out, prefers storytelling activities to roleplaying games. Which is fine; the former can be a lot of fun, but generally D&D is more suited to use as a game, due to its pages upon pages of... you know, rules.

If I don't use the BFRPG druid (I might still use it) or the hybrid druid (I probably won't use it), then my third option is...

The Eldritch Wizardry Druid

The druid as introduced (to players) in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry for original D&D is very similar to how it would become in AD&D 1st and 2nd Edition. Unlike clerics, oD&D druids have spell access much sooner, as well as some cool non-spell abilities as they increase in level, but at the cost of slower advancement and some equipment restrictions (no metal armor). At 2nd level, they can identify plants, animals, and pure water, as well as passing through undergrowth without a movement penalty; at 5th level, they can start learning additional languages; and at 6th level, they gain their shape change ability.

Not sure if the person on the right is a druid, but this picture comes from the
section on druid spells. (Originally from Eldritch Wizardry)

I quite like this one; the only changes I would make would be to smooth out the spell and XP progression. I've thought about shifting the awarding of spell-like abilities as well, and I might remove some entirely so as not to create too much of an advantage over standard clerics.

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So, to anyone reading this (especially if you might be playing in this campaign): what do you think? Would you prefer the default BFRPG druid, or the druid as presented in Eldritch Wizardry?

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