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Author Topic: The Druid Handbook  (Read 342455 times)
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Blade2718
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« on: August 02, 2008, 10:54:45 PM »

The Druid Handbook

Because Druids and Druid derivatives are so popular and powerful, I think that BrilliantGameologists should have its own Druid Handbook.  I had some time on my hands so I figured "Why not me?"  I must confess that I am no expert on the topic, that I stand on the shoulders of giants, and that this is primarily a recompilation effort.  Much of the material presented will be derived from sources from the Wizards of the Coast d20 Character Optimization forums, including but not limited to:
Dictum Mortuum's "CO Project: The Quickstart Druid
A Man In Black's "Druid Handbook revived"
Dead Weasel's "Alternative Class Features III"
Lord_of_Rivendell's "Revisiting Spells for the Optimized Druid"

This should not be considered an authoritative guide.  I welcome any collaboration and polite feedback.  Thanks for reading!

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Class Features and Alternatives
3. Skills, Skill Tricks, and Feats
4. Spellcasting
5. Animal Companion
6. Wild Shape
7. Equipment
8. Controversy and Miscellany
9. Appendices

Changelog
2008-08-05: "Animal Companion" section completed and linked.
2008-08-03: "Class Features and Alternatives"; "Skills, Skill Tricks and Feats"; and "Spellcasting" sections completed and linked.  Link to a Primary Ranged Druid added.
2008-08-02: Guide created, "Introduction" completed and linked.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2008, 09:29:45 PM by Blade2718 » Logged

Blade2718
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2008, 10:55:08 PM »

Druids are guardians of nature, able to call down the wrath of the natural world, befriend wild animals and take on their aspects, yadda yadda yadda.  You didn't come for a flowery description of druids, though given time I could come up with one.  We're here for the crunchy bits that matter to many players.

Attribute Distribution
  • Strength: Not a priority, unless you are a melee combatant early in your career and you need the extra damage.
  • Dexterity: Not a priority, unless you are a melee combatant early in your career and you need the extra AC
  • Constitution:  This is a very close second to Wisdom for your most important stat, as it determines your HP in both native and alternate forms.  It also modifies your Concentration skill.
  • Intelligence:  Not a priority, but good to have.  This class has 4+Int skill points, and there aren't too many skills that you would need to keep at maximum, anyway.
  • Wisdom:  This your first priority stat, as it determines bonus spells, spell DCs, and highest spell level known.  It also modifies several important skills.
  • Charisma:  Not a priority, unless your character concept requires a strong social ability.  It also modifies your Wild Empathy ability.

Party Role(s)
The Druid's variety of class abilities allow for an equally diverse number of roles in the party.
  • Primary Melee: Medium armor, shield proficiency, and several good weapons make you a good candidate for front line work.  Greater emphasis on physical stats will become necessary at lower levels, while animal forms will predominate at the later levels.  You also have a number of spells that enhance your damage or boost your defense.
    • Sample Builds:
  • Primary Ranged: Your only projectile weapon is a sling, which doesn't allow for iterative attacks.  Elves and Outsiders have the advantage with natural access to martial weapons.  You have several spells, though, that can be used at range such as produce flame and fire seeds.
  • Primary Skillmonkey/Stealth Expert: Your high Wisdom and access to Listen and Spot as class skills also make you a good scout.  Wild shape further enhances this, allowing you to take the form of innocuous wildlife like songbirds.  Access to Diplomacy also lets you be the party's face.
    • Sample Builds:
  • Primary Healer: Though not as obvious a choice as the Cleric, you still have access to healing spells, can use healing wands, and can summon unicorns to heal for you.
    • Sample Builds:
  • Primary Buffer: Your best buffs apply to your animal friends, but everyone benefits from barkskin.
    • Sample Builds:
  • Primary Caster: Summoning is a natural strength for you, and your have a variety of damage-dealing and control spells to choose from.
    • Sample Builds:

Racial Selection
I won't waste time with every racial option, just highlight some interesting options.  Most unlisted races either clearly suboptimal or simply mediocre.
  • Human: With their racial feat and racial bonus skill point, Humans are the perennial favorite.
  • Strongheart HalflingFRCS: Small size and a free racial feat.
  • Ghostwise HalflingFRCS: Trade the standard +1 to saves for a supernatural form of telepathy to make it much easier for you to communicate with your allies while wildshaped.
  • Anthropomorphic BatSS: Huge bonus to Wisdom and blindsense are an attractive package.
  • DragonbornRotD: Good for a Constitution bump.  The magic really happens when you start creating Dragonborn from obscure races, like...
  • BuommanPla: Bonus to Wisdom, but a vow of silence.  Note that the racial vow of silence buommans have is waived should you opt to undergo dragonborn transformation.  Like plastic surgery, but better, because it also gives you a Constitution bonus.
  • Half-orc: There are great half-orc druid substitution levels, so this race bears mentioning.  Unearthed Arcana has a Desert Half-Orc that trades Strength for Constitution, and doesn't penalize Cha, making it a superior choice if the variant race is allowed in your game.
  • ShiftersECS/RoE/MM3: At low levels, any Shifter with a natural attack shifting ability can be using the druid spells to enhance their natural attacks. Later on, your shifting bonus will stack with Wild Shape (Shifting is a supernatural ability, so you keep it in Wild Shape), which not only means stat bonuses, but also gives extra AC, new move types, or even possibly extra attacks. Dreamsight Shifters (RoE), in particular, give +2 Wis and Speak With Animals while shifting, but all of the Shifter traits give untyped bonuses to stats that still work while shifting, so any of them can work quite nicely. Plus, it allows you to take, say, Improved Natural Attack (claws) or INA (bite) even if your GM won't usually allow you to take those for forms you can only take with Wild Shape. Shifters can also take Moonspeaker (RoE), one of the few good druid PrCs.  Beasthide, Dreamsight, Longtooth, and Razorclaw Shifter traits are good for druids, because those benefits stack nicely onto whatever animal form you might be using.  Taking Shifter also allows you to use the Shifter sub levels. The first Shifter sub level costs you your Animal Companion, but replaces it with a Beast Spirit that can buff you, buff your summons, cuts your summons to a standard action, and can eventually cast quickened spells for you. (All the bonuses make this an absolutely awesome choice for any sort of druid.) Most druids will want to avoid the fifth sub level, unless you're planning to specialize heavily in shifting.
  • KalashtarECS: Their mindlink ability (you definitely want to use the XPH version of mindlink for a much longer duration) allows them to communicate even while Wild Shaping, and they can take psionic feats to boot, like Speed of Thought.
  • JermalineMM2: Tiny Fey with penalties to Str, Cha, and Con are offset by LA +0 with massive Wis and dexterity bonuses.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 07:32:34 PM by Blade2718 » Logged

Blade2718
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2008, 10:55:20 PM »

Standard Class Features
"I am a Druid, I have special abilities that are more powerful than your entire class!"  'Nuff said.

I'd like to start this section by introducing my own visual rating system.  Derived from Dictum Mortuum's Blue/Red SystemTM, I chose to go with Green/Red, to correspond to traffic lights.  Green means "go" and red means "stop/danger."  To modify the colors, italics are used to emphasize real steals or Admiral-Ackbar-sized-traps.

  • Spells: Spellcasting is one corner of the trifecta that is Druid.  The fact that it will receive its own section in the guide should attest to its awesomeness.
  • Bonus Languages: I only mention this because Druid is the only class that adds an automatic language (not to be confused with bonus languages), Druidic.  This language is usually the major stumbling block for players wishing to enter the Fochluchan Lyricist prestige class.
  • Animal Companion (Ex): At first glance, you'd wonder what makes your animal companion so awesome, but you realize how very useful an obedient animal can be for you.  Especially after you buff it into an engine of destruction.  This will also get its own section, review the different companions you can get.
  • Nature Sense (Ex): Sort of like the ugly sweater your grandmother gives you: love her, hate the gift.
  • Wild Empathy (Ex): Animal Diplomacy.  But it's a lot harder to get an animal to be helpful, because the check is harder to modify.
  • Woodland Stride (Ex): While it's not exactly a medal-winner in its own right, it helps you if you have to be the scout.
  • Trackless Step (Ex): Nice if you're being followed, but...that's about it.
  • Resist Nature‚Äôs Lure (Ex): If you're facing a lot of Fey, it's okay, but otherwise it's just a step along the path toward...
  • Wild Shape (Su): This is the reason you picked Druid.  It's own section is later, but suffice it to say that this is where the Druid's Real Ultimate Power comes from.
  • Venom Immunity (Ex): At least we won't have to worry about assassins...
  • A Thousand Faces (Su): Free disguising is good, but true seeing has been available for a while.
  • Timeless Body (Ex): Say goodbye to aging penalties!  If you're starting at this level, feel free to age yourself to venerable for the extra untyped +3 to mental stats.


Alternate Class Features
Many of these abilities are situational, so I won't rank any of them.  Decide which ones you like best for yourself.

Alters Armor/Weapon Proficiencies
Deadly Hunter (UA, p 58): Gain bonus to AC when unarmored and fast movement (as monk). Gain favored enemy, track, and swift tracker as a ranger. Lose armor and shield proficiency and wild shape.

Alters Spellcasting
Druidic Avenger (UA, p 51): No Animal Companion or Spontaneous Casting, penalty to Wild Empathy. Gain Fast Movement and Rage.
Fangshields Druid 4 (CoV, p 40): Must be non-humanoid.  Spontaneous Curing.  Replaces Resist Nature's Lure.
Halfling Druid 1 (RotW, p 157): Add Climb, Hide, Jump, and Move Silently to skill list.  6 skills points per level.  Spontaneous Casting (Special list of spontaneous spells), Enhanced Link (bonus to ride animal companion)
Half-Orc Druid 6 (RoD, 159): d10 hitdice, Add Intimidate as class skill.  6th level: Augmented Nature's Allies (+4 Str/Con on SNA's), lose one wildshape/day.
Goliath Druid 1 (RoS, p 151):  Elemental Bond (better earth summons, can't summon other elements)
Spontaneous Affliction (EoE, p 21): lose ability to spontaneous SNA, gain ability to sicken humanoids.
Spontaneous Rejuvenation (PHB2, p 39): Lose spontaneous SNA spells. Gain the ability to sacrifice spells to give allies fast healing.

Alters Animal Companion
Aquatic Druid: (Storm, p 50): Choose an aquatic animal companion.
Druidic Avenger (UA, p 51): No Animal Companion or Spontaneous Casting, penalty to Wild Empathy. Gain Fast Movement and Rage.
Elemental Companion (CM, p 33): Gain an Elemental as a companion instead of an animal.
Halfling Druid 1 (RotW, p 157): Add Climb, Hide, Jump, and Move Silently to skill list.  6 skills points per level.  Spontaneous Casting (Special list of spontaneous spells), Enhanced Link (bonus to ride animal companion)
Half-Orc Druid 1 (RoD, 159): d10 hitdice, Add Intimidate as class skill. Animal Companion gains Toughness.
Goliath Druid 6 (RoS, p 151): Earth Companion (animal companion gains earth-type and some stat changes)
Phynxkin Companion (DrM, p 13): Gain a phynxkin instead of your normal animal companion.
Shapeshifter (PHB2, p 39): Lose animal companion and wildshape. Gain the ability to change into several forms, with set bonuses, at will.
Shifter Druid 1 (RoE, p 126): Add Balance, Climb, and Jump to class skills.  Beast Spirit (grants powers and abilities as level increase). Replaces animal companion.
Urban Companion (City, web): Instead of a normal animal companion, instead gain something similar to a familiar.

Alters Nature Sense
Urban Sense (City, web): Lose nature's sense, gain a +2 bonus to sense motive and knowledge: local checks.

Alters Wild Empathy
Druidic Avenger (UA, p 51): No Animal Companion or Spontaneous Casting, penalty to Wild Empathy. Gain Fast Movement and Rage.
Half-Orc Druid 4 (RoD, 159): d10 hitdice, Add Intimidate as class skill. Bully Animal (use Str instead of Cha for wild empathy), lose resist nature's lure.
Root Walker (DS, p 9): Lose Woodland Stride, Resist Nature's Lure, and Wild Empathy. Gain Wild Empathy towards vermin; move over earth, stone, and rock debris; and +4 bonus on saving throws against spell like abilities of abberations.
Voice of the City (City, web): Lose wild empathy to gain the ability to communicate with people who speak languages you do not know.

Alters Woodland Stride
Crowd-Walker (City, web): Exchange woodland stride for the ability to move in crowds more easily.
Root Walker (DS, p 9): Lose Woodland Stride, Resist Nature's Lure, and Wild Empathy. Gain Wild Empathy towards vermin; move over earth, stone, and rock debris; and +4 bonus on saving throws against spell like abilities of abberations.
Sandskimmer (Sand, p 47): Gain Sandskimmer, lose Woodland Stride.

Alters Trackless Step
Go to Ground (City, web): Lose trackless step, gain the ability to hide from Urban Tracking.

Alters Resist Nature's Lure
Fangshields Druid 4 (CoV, p 40): Must be non-humanoid.  Spontaneous Curing.  Replaces Resist Nature's Lure.
Half-Orc Druid 4 (RoD, 159): d10 hitdice, Add Intimidate as class skill. Bully Animal (use Str instead of Cha for wild empathy), lose resist nature's lure
Heat Endurance (Sand, p 47): Gain Heat Endurance, lose resist nature's lure.
Iron Constitution (City, web): Lose Resist Nature's Lure. Gain the Strong Stomach feat, and +2 bonus to saves against disease.
Planar Druid 4 (Pla, p 31): Gain Knowledge: The Planes as a class skill.  Resist Planar Might (+2 bonus to saves to resist spell-like abilities of outsiders).  Lose Resist Nature's Lure.
Root Walker (DS, p 9): Lose Woodland Stride, Resist Nature's Lure, and Wild Empathy. Gain Wild Empathy towards vermin; move over earth, stone, and rock debris; and +4 bonus on saving throws against spell like abilities of abberations.
Shifter Druid 4 (RoE, p 126): Add Balance, Climb, and Jump to class skills. Reckless Nature (+2 initiative checks and reflex saves, -2 to will saves) replaces Resist Nature's Lure

Alters Wild Shape
City-Shape (City, web): Smaller wild shapes, but gain the ability to change into vermin.
City-Soul (City, web): Lose the ability to wild shape into an elemental, turn into animated objects instead.
Aspect of the Dragon (DrM, p 11): You don't gain wildshape. Instead take on various aspects of dragons.
Drow Druid (DotU, p58): Wildshape into a monstrous spider instead of animals.
Halfling Druid 5 (RotW, p 157): Add Climb, Hide, Jump, and Move Silently to skill list.  6 skills points per level.  Undersized Wildshape (wildshape limited to smaller forms, usable more times per day)
Half-Orc Druid6 (RoD, 159): d10 hitdice, Add Intimidate as class skill.  Augmented Nature's Allies (+4 Str/Con on SNA's), lose one wildshape/day.
Fangshields Druid 5 (CoV, p 40): Must be non-humanoid.  Wild Shape Hands (form hands while wildshaping)
Fangshields Druid 7 (CoV, p 40): Must be non-humanoid.  Wild Shape (Humanoid), lose 1 use of wild shape.
Goliath Druid 12 (RoS, p 151): Earth Wild Shape (change into an earth elemental instead of plant)
Shapeshifter (PHB2, p 39): Lose animal companion and wildshape. Gain the ability to change into several forms, with set bonuses, at will.
Shifter Druid 5 (RoE, p 126): Add Balance, Climb, and Jump to class skills.  Wild Shifting (can use racial shifting an extra time per day, and add Wisdom bonus to duration. At 8th level claws are treated as one size larger, at 15th level they are treated as two sizes larger. Gain additional uses each time you would gain more uses of wildshape.).  Replaces normal wildshape ability. At 16th level, gain the ability to change into an elemental as normal.
Waste Vermin Wildshape (Sand, p 47): Wildshape into a wasteland vermin, lose 1 wildshape/day.

Alters Venom Immunity
Planar Druid 9 (Pla, p 31): Gain Knowledge: The Planes as class skill.  Planar Tolerance (become attuned to planes).  Lose Venom Immunity.

Alters Thousand Faces
Halfling Druid 13 (RotW, p 157): Add Climb, Hide, Jump, and Move Silently to skill list.  6 skills points per level.  Camouflage.  Lose Thousand Faces.
Planar Druid 13 (Pla, p 31): Gain Knowledge: The Planes as class skill.  Counter Summoning (counter summon monster spells).  Lose Thousand Faces.

« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 01:17:02 PM by Blade2718 » Logged

Blade2718
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2008, 10:55:28 PM »

Druid Class Skills
  • Concentration: Because you'll probably be casting in melee after you get wild shape, you need to max it out. Even if you use wild shape forms as a defensive form for casting (such as a high AC flying form), it would be a major risk to not max this out.
  • Craft: Unless you want to fulfill a certain requirement, don't get this. This skill, however, has some use. To create a bogun with the beget bogun spell, you need to make a craft (basketweaving or weaving) check of 12. If the little critters appeal to you, get 2 ranks in craft (basketweaving or weaving) skill and take 10.
  • Diplomacy: With this you can even be the party's face if need be. You can also use it to haggle and get a discount on items.
  • Handle Animal: Important due to the synergy with animals and your animal companion. You need a total score of +20 to make the most of this skill, which means that you need to spend ten ranks more or less (assuming you take 10 on its use). Get 5 ranks if you want the synergy bonuses. See The Handle Animal Guide for more information on how to make optimal use of this skill.
  • Heal: Not much here. If you feel like it, you can spend 5 ranks and take 10 to use some of the skill's functions.  10 ranks lets you remove exhaustion, nausea, and sickness with healing lorecall.
  • Knowledge (Nature): It's your only knowledge, so it would be best to max it.
  • Listen: Spend at least 12 ranks in this skill to make use of the listening lorecall spell.
  • Profession: You make more money adventuring, anyway.
  • Ride: Only useful if you want to use your animal companion as a mount. Still, only a few ranks are needed.
  • Spellcraft: It's usually a good idea to max it or at least keep it high. If you are going to play in an epic campaign, you must max it, as you'll need it for epic spellcasting.
  • Spot: This usually comes with listen. Spend a few points if you feel like it or your party is in need of a scout.
  • Survival: Get 5 ranks for the synergy bonus. You can max it out, it's a skill with druidic feel. You can get the track feat to benefit most from it.

Cross-Class Skills
  • Balance: Getting it to 5 ranks will make sure that you won't be flat-footed when you are balancing. Also you'll be able to use balancing lorecall to a greater effect.
  • Knowledge: Try to get one rank in each other subdivision of Knowledge.
  • Use Magic Device/Use Psionic Device: If you have ranks to spare, invest just one here.
  • Autohypnosis: It has wisdom synergy and a synergy bonus from concentration, so you can get it at high levels without investing many ranks. It has cute functions, too.

Skill Tricks
Introduced in Complete Scoundrel, tricks provide little abilities that are usable once per encounter but are not deemed as powerful as a feat.  Each trick has skill prerequisites and requires
two ranks to learn.
  • Listen to This: Useful if you are going to be the party's scout.
  • Swift Concentration: Druids have enough concentration-duration spells to make this skill trick a good buy.

Feats
Feats are a very limited resource, barring embrace the dark chaos/shun the dark chaos cheese.
  • General Druid Feats
    • Natural Spell:  This is the reason Druids rock so hard.  You can wild shape into an itty-bitty sparrow and rain Empowered Maximized fire seeds on your opponents.  You can cast produce flame while fighting in melee as a dinosaur.  The potential is limited only by your book collection and imagination.
    • Initiate of NaturePGtF: This feat allows you to rebuke animals and plants. You have the ability to control 2HD per class level, which results in quite a few creatures. Combined with the animal buffing spells you receive, it's like creating a personal army.  Oh, right- it adds briartangle, mold touch, and tree healing to your spell list, too.
    • Ironwood BodyRoE: A must-have for Warforged druids, assuming your DM allows it.
    • Manifest DruidPGtE: A flavor feat, with a handful of nice bennies (although the Sudden Empower for a first-level arcane spell is just weird).
    • Natural BondCAdv: Helps out multiclass Druids with their animal companions. May offset the penalty for stronger-than-standard Animal Companions (ask your GM), which makes it not just good, but borderline cheese.  But hey, whatever he's allowing...

  • Summoning Related Feats
    • Augment Summoning: +4 bonus to strength and dexterity is a good bonus, but the problem is that it requires a useless feat, spell focus (conjuration). Luckily for us, there are ways around that (like initiate of malar or the 7th half-orc substitution level).
    • Greenbound SummoningLEoF: Very powerful feat, especially at low levels. It's so good, it's cheesy. Most DMs will ban this outright.  The only downside is that you can't use your animal buffs on your summons anymore.
    • Rashemi Elemental SummoningUE: Lets you turn your air elemental summons into orglashes with 3/day cone of cold and earth elemental summons into thomils that engulf.
    • AshboundECS: Doubles the duration of summons and gives them a luck bonus to attack.
    • Beckon the FrozenFrost: +1d6 cold damage on all your summoned critters' attacks. Good for summoning specialists. Just be careful; your BtF-enhanced summons will be vulnerable to fire. Not available if you bypass the Spell Focus (Conjuration) prereq of Augment Summoning, as the Spell Focus is specifically called out in this feat's prereqs.
    • Imbued SummoningPHB2: Essentially a free Quicken for low-level buffs on Summoned creatures. (Personally, I suggest Greater Magic Fang or the ridiculously good Venomfire.) It's not terribly useful on spontaneously-cast Summons, though.
    • Initiate of MalarPGtF: Gives animal-only Augment Summoning for free, and also gives some pretty lame extra spells. You have to worship Malar, though, which conflicts mechanically with Exalted feats (seeing as Malar is evil and all) and thematically with Rashemi Elemental Summoning. (The Hathrans do not often teach their secrets to followers of Malar.)

  • Wild Shape Related Feats
    • Dragon Wild ShapeDrac: Another great feat, a must have at level 12. You get all supernatural and extraordinary abilities of the dragon you wild shape into. Note that dragons normally speak and can cast spells, so you probably don't need natural spell, but a consensus is needed here.  More on fun dragon forms here.
    • MultiattackMM: Many forms have secondary natural attacks. This makes them more accurate. Some GMs may disallow this because you don't always have the natural attacks, however. (This is assuming you're not a Shifter or something.) Probably only worth taking in a core-only game, though.
    • Improved Natural AttackMM: Extra damage on a single type of natural attack. INA (bite) or INA (claws) is very handy, and counts as a Shifter feat if you're a Shifter.
    • Exalted Wild ShapeBoED:  Free, if minor, bonuses while Wild Shaping, as the Celestial template can be applied to any animal form you can usually take. It also makes blink dog and Unicorn (as well as some other, mostly useless) forms available, all Ex and Su abilities included. You may be able to talk your GM into including Scent, Blindsense/Blindsight, and other Ex abilities of animal forms you can take. (The feat does say you get the Ex and Su abilities of forms you can take with this feat.) If this is allowed, this feat is much more useful. Note that this feat doesn't benefit your Plant, Elemental, or any other type of form you can take; just animals or the limited list of Magical Beasts.
    • Frozen Wild ShapeFrost: This feat should just be renamed Twelve-Headed Cryohydra Wild Shape.
    • Assume Supernatural AbilitySSp: Totally broken feat.  If you're a GM, don't say I didn't warn you. If you're a player, well, welcome to flavor town.

  • Spellcasting Feats
    • Extend Spell: A good choice to extend buffs.
    • Energy SubstitutionCA and Energy AffinityMini: If you do a lot of blasting, you may want this. I'd recommend cold or acid, since most of the best and most popular druid blasts are fire or electric. If your GM is silly enough to allow Energy Sub (Sonic) (from Tome and Blood), by all means take advantage.
    • Empower Spell: Handy for druids who do a lot of blasting, but only druids who do a lot of blasting. Definitely choose this over Maximize Spell or Energy Admixture. (Leave those to Incantatrices and Blastificers.)
    • Ocular SpellLoM: Turns touch spells into rays, and lets you cast two spells as a full action. Druids can't cheese it out quite as much as some classes, but this broken feat benefits them greatly.
    • Persistant SpellCA: Reeeeeally expensive, but as usual it's an exceedingly powerful feat even for casters who can't abuse Divine Metamagic. Apparently Help Desk thinks it can work on touch spells; that's probably not a good idea to allow as a DM, but a ridiculously powerful option if it's allowed to you as a player.
    • Quicken Spell: A staple of high-level prepared casters. Quickened buffs are always a good choice.
    • Sculpt SpellCA: Sculpt Spell is always handy for blasters and controllers, and Druids can do a bit of both. This can be handy to use on limited or weird areas of effect, to make them more useful.
    • Gatekeeper InitiateECS: This druid-only Initiate feat gives you Knowledge (planes) as a class skill, and gives a ton of great defensive spells, including Protection From Evil, Dimensional Anchor, and Mind Blank. A great pick, especially in high-level parties with no cleric.
    • Greensinger InitiateECS: Adds Bluff, Hide, and Perform to your class skill list, and adds a ton of handy enchantments (plus some oddballs) to your spell list.
    • Initiate of GruumshCoR: Not a great Initiate feat, but once a day you can quicken a Cure spell. but the one time it saves a life, you'll be praising Gruumsh all night long.
    • Initiate of MalarPGtF: Mentioned above, this gives you a handful of mostly-useless spells and free Augment Summoning on all of your animal summons.
    • Initiate of SelunePGtF: This is one of the weaker Initiate feats, but it gives an improved version of Produce Flame, as well as a shield-typed AC buff, so it's not all bad.
    • Nightbringer InitiateFoE: Adds the sneaky skills (Hide and Move Silently) to your skill list, and gives you access to Darkness, Deeper Darkness, and a handful of negative energy spells and spells to create or call natives of Mabar. Enervation is the nicest spell of the lot.
    • Warden InitiateECS: +2 to AC when in a forest, plus a handful of useful utility spells. Not as good as the other Eberron Initiate feats, but still a good feat.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 05:08:49 PM by Blade2718 » Logged

Blade2718
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2008, 10:55:38 PM »

Druids are full casters, no matter how much you beat things up with your bare paws.  Your ability to escape from danger or create danger for your opponents is, at least, partially dependent on what spells you have available.

0th Level
Create Water: Never run out of water. Plus, you can make a scrying pool.
Cure Minor Wounds: One point isn't a lot, but this can stabilize a dying ally.
Detect Magic: One of the most powerful and versatile zero-level spells, for any caster.
Guidance: Tell your Rogue to ask for "guidance" prior to every trap he attempts to disarms or UMD roll he has to make (outside of combat). That +1 bonus can be critical.
Light: Remember, you lose darkvision when you Wild Shape, even if your chosen form has it. (Obviously, this doesn't apply to situations where you're getting Ex special qualities of your form, as with Exalted or Dragon Wild Shape.)

1st Level
Acquatic EscapeCSc: Change into a fish for 1 round/level. Good for sudden escapes or quick responses to getting dumped into water.
Aspect of the WolfSC: This is a fairly handy melee self-buff for early levels (instead of going the wooden club route with Shillelagh). At later levels, you can share it with your Animal Companion to help deal with the practical issues of traveling with a snarling bear the size of a bull elephant.
Babau SlimeSC: Great for grappling druids, and a general-purpose damage buff for any Wild Shaping Druid.
Beget BogunSC: Creates a small little creature to do your chores.
CamouflageSC: +10 to Hide, and it works in any environment.
Endure Elements: A great travelling spell, and especially handy in any game that takes you into harsh environments.
Enrage AnimalSC: A solid buff for your animal companion, enabling it to rage like a barbarian without the fatigue.
Entangle: A best-in-class battlefield control spell.
Eyes of the AvoralBoED: Long duration, big Spot bonus.
Faerie Fire: Good for dealing with invisible foes.
Lessor VigorSC: This spell actually outperforms Cure Light Wounds, especially out of combat. Wands of Lesser Vigor are great for healing between fights.
Magic Fang and Silvered ClawsBoED: Decent buff to help your Animal Companion bypass DR. Not very good for anything else.
Obscuring Mist: The next best thing to invisibility, when it comes time to get out of a fight. Cast Mist, walk 5 feet backwards, and run away in a different direction.
Omen of PerilSC: Poor man's Augury. Quite possibly the most versatile first-level divination in the game, and doesn't even have a costly component or XP cost, like many similar divinations.
Pass Without Trace: Not for the druid, but to cover the tracks of her companions.
Produce Flame: Fairly powerful attack spell. You'll probably be relying on this to attack until you get Wild Shape, and makes a decent buff (due to the way holding touch spells works) after you get Wild Shape.
Rot of AgesDrM: lol no sneak attack 4 u. Too bad about the short duration, though.
Shillelagh: It's pronounced "shi-lay-lee." Dramatically increases club/quarterstaff damage (to the point where you'll actually want to wield a club or quarterstaff), and stacks with Spikes and Brambles. Decreases in usefulness after you get Spikes, until you're high enough level to Quicken it.
Spider HandBoVD: Best. Scouting. Spell. Ever. Send out a nondescript spider to do all the scouting, with only negligible consequences if it dies? Yeah, I'll take that. It's not even an evil spell.
ThunderheadSC: 1d6 damage per round/level unless they make a reflex to negate, and also acts as a tracker against targets who turn invisible
Twilight LuckBoED: +1 on saves is always handy, especially at higher levels. Just lay off the booze.
Winged WatcherCSc: Change into a bird for 1 round/level. Good for sudden escapes or quick responses to needing to fly.
Wood WoseSC: Unseen Servant, only druidic. It just can't handle doorknobs.

2nd Level
Acorn of Far TravelWotC - A nice spell from the "Far Corners of the World" article series that lets you emulate forested terrain to improve spells such as deadfall, creaking cacophony, fey ring, or splinterbolt.  You can also use the acorn as an oak tree for spells like tree stride or transport via plants.
Align FangSC: Handy for DR problems.
Animalistic PowerPHB2: Versatility over the animal stat buffs, traded for half the power. It's a style thing; either way is good.
Barkskin: Excellent for use while Wild Shaped, since your AC will often be pretty poor.
Bear's Endurance and Bull's Strength: As useful as it is for everyone. Bear's Endurance will be your main in-combat healing spell for low levels; just keep people alive until you can use Vigor.
Bite of the WereratSC: A variety of handy stat buffs, plus an additional bite attack for forms that don't have a natural bite.
Blinding SpittleSC: Absolutely broken. Blindness with no save, with a ranged touch attack at:4. Why do they keep reprinting this spell?
Blood SnowFrost: Only prep it during the winter or when in an arctic or otherwise frozen area, but d2 Con damage/round is awesome.
BramblesSC: Excellent weapon buff, especially coupled with Shillelagh.
Briar WebSC: A handy entangling spell that may also cause damage.
Creeping ColdSC: A great attack spell, and replaces produce flame.
DesiccateSand: d6/level (max 5d6) on a single target, with a weird damage type that ignores DR and energy resistance. Can even cause dehydration (which is fatigue on steroids).
EarthbindSC: Ground those fliers.
Embrace the WildSC: and Listening LorecallSC: Hopelessly nerfed in Spell Compendium. Unless you really, really need Scent for something, Blindsight is just plain better, save for duration. Embrace the Wild is generally better because of the skill boosts, until you have 12 ranks in Listen, when Listening Lorecall's Blindsight kicks in. Either way, Blindsight is worth it, despite the higher spell level.
Gust of Wind: Very underrated utility spell. Clears fogs, blows away small foes, extinguishes torches, and disperses swarms.
Halo of SandSand: Yet another druid AC buff. This one is deflection, though, so it stacks with Barkskin and armor.
KelpstrandSC: I like to think of this spell as webshooters. This spell is excellent for tying down not-particularly-strong foes, and remember that you can throw multiple strands on one target. The low grapple DC and the slow scaling for multiple strands means that this spell goes stale quickly, however.
Lesser Restoration: Very handy for healing ability damage.
Luminous ArmorBoED: An AC boost while you're Wild Shaping, plus light and another -4 for enemies to hit you in melee. Stacks with Barkskin, but not Wilding armor. Mind the Str damage, though.
Master AirSC: Self-only flight, with short duration. Still handy, though.
Nature's FavorSC: Excellent (swift!) animal buff spell; cast it on your Animal Companion or summons. Technically better than Greater Magic Fang, but has a shorter duration and doesn't bypass DR. The Complete Divine version is even stronger, but the spell was nerfed in Complete Adventurer.
Resist Energy: Fairly handy when you know a certain type of energy damage is in the offing.
Share HuskSC: A great scouting spell. Use it if Spider Hand isn't available.
Snake's Swiftness, MassSC: The lower-level, single-target version of this spell isn't anything special, but giving a free attack to all of your party members, plus your animal companion, plus any summons you have nearby is just too fun.
SplinterboltSC: its the druidic scorching ray, but with no SR (and coupled with a nice high dex animal form, (e.g., Legendary eagle) its nearly as easy to hit with). 4d6 x3 with a 18-20 threat range isn't half bad. thanks jackmojo
Wild InstinctsRoE: +1 to spot + listen just for preparing it, swift cast for +10 to both and retain dex when flatfooted or vs unseen opponents for min./level.

3rd Level
Alter FortunePHB2: Fantastic spell. Great for emergencies (reroll a save!)
Arctic HazeFrost) and HaboobSand: Damaging and opaque fog. Useful as battlefield control. TremorSC: can be used similarly, but it doesn't damage and doesn't block line of sight.
Attune FormSC: Immunity from planar effects for caster level/3 characters. A handy spell for high levels, and much more useful than the lower-level Avoid Planar EffectsSC: due to the longer duration.
Bite of the WerewolfSC: Again, a variety of nifty stat buffs and a spare bite attack.
BlindsightSC: 30' Blindsight. Who needs See Invisibility?
Call Lightning: Good damage, and gives you plenty of turns of attacks. The attack spell you'll be using when you get 3rd-level spells.
CrumbleSC: Think of this as druidic Knock. Lots of things won't stand up to a casting of this spell.
Cure Moderate Wounds: Should be self-explanatory.
Energy BarrierKey of Destiny: It lets you put up an immobile protective barrier against acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic energy and their residual effects (e.g. fire: also blocks heat, acid: water, cold: snow, etc.). This amorphous barrier can completely surround you if you like and the duration is "concentration +1 round/level," which could be huge in some circumstances.  If your DM allows Dragonlance materials, this is a great protective spell.
Entanging StaffSC: Free action grapples with a +8 bonus. Great for when you're out of Wild Shape for some reason or if you're using a Spikes-enspelled staff as a Legendary Ape.
Evard's Menacing TentaclesPHB2: To the extent that you have a good strength bonus, this spell provides some battlefield control and meets out some damage and gives a climbing bonus to boot
ForestfoldSC: +10 on Hide and Move Silently checks in a natural environment of your choice.
Giant's WrathSC: An interesting alternative to Call Lightning. At early levels, the lack of a need for an attack roll, the lack of DR issues, and the greater number of uses per cast makes Call Lightning the better choice. At higher levels, though, the high strength of Wild Shape forms, the caster-level based damage bonus, and the lack of SR on Giant's Wrath helps it catch up.
Girallon's BlessingSC: This spell gives the creature touched an extra set of arms for 10/minutes per level, which can be quite handy if your wildshape form could use some arms to manipulate objects.  There are probably better ways to mete out damage, but solid choice if you think your shark form may need to open a door, chest, etc.
Greater Magic Fang: Handy self-buff and good to share with your Animal Companion.
Junglerazor[sup]SC
: Does 1d10/level (up to 10) in a 120ft line. Because it's target specific, shoot through your friends to damage only plants, plant critters, vermin, fey and animals.
Plant Growth: A powerful battlefield control spell (or a nice way to help the local economy) in the right circumstances.
Poison: Con damage is always handy, and the DC scales upward as you increase in level. A much-overlooked spell.
Primal FormSC: This spell isn't overwhelmingly powerful, but it's a versatile self-buff. Flight and swim speed are easy to get with Wild Shape, but this spell is available before plentiful Wild Shape uses, and you can choose on the fly among a melee buff, a defensive buff, or a source of flight.
Protection From Energy: A versatile, effective defensive buff. You'll rarely regret prepping it.
Remove Disease: Not something you're going to prep every day, but handy when you need it.
Sleet Storm: Handy battlefield control. Great for covering an escape. Not as good as Arctic Fog or Haboob, though.
SpiderskinSC: Barkskin, plus a save bonus against poison and a Hide bonus. Use it on the party sneak, or when you're fighting monstrous vermin or Yuan-Ti.
SpikesSC: Improved Brambles. Higher attack, better threat level; what's not to like?
SpritjawsSC: I love this spell, and it's one of a druid's few good force spells. Throw this spell out there and it's a combination of Spiritual Weapon and Telekinetic Grapple. It damages and confounds enemies, doing an especially good job of pinning down spellcasters and incorporeal foes.
Stone Shape: Good for making your own entrance or exit. Great for throwing the GM a loop in a dungeon crawl.
Swift Lion's ChargeMiniHB/Lion's ChargeSC: Pouncing is very handy, but this spell can start to eat up spell slots pretty quickly. A similar, overpowered spell named Lion's Charge is in Savage Species, and, while it isn't swift, it gives the Pounce ability for a duration.
ThornskinSC: Good as a wildshape buff, especially for grapplers, since even trying to escape hurts your enemy.
Touch of JubilexBoVD: Evil. A great early save-or-die. Whatever it is, in four turns, it'll be dead. Not something you can safely use repeatedly, though, because of the Corruption cost.
VenomfireSK: Ridiculously broken spell at high levels. For level/hours, +d6/level damage with no cap added as an additional effect to a poisonous natural attack. Great for Fleshraker Wild Shape, or a poisonous breath weapon or AoE effect.
Vigor and Mass Lesser VigorSC: Both can be better than Cure Moderate Wounds at low levels, but only outside of combat. It works when you can't summon Unicorns yet and you don't have that handy wand of Cure Light Wounds. Doesn't work with Extend Spell (see CD FAQ), but Mass Lesser Vigor does work with Persistent Spell.
Wind Wall: Another highly underrated spell, this stops archers, swarms, and foes size Tiny or smaller cold.

4th Level
Arc of LightningSC: A decent no-SR spell, with damage competitive with that of a wizard or psion. It's a conjuration spell, so, that Spell Focus: Conjuration feat you had to pick for Augment Summoning might be useful.
Aspect of the WerebeastRoE: Nothing about this Shifter-only self-buff says it only works when you're in a humanoid form. Add +4 to two different attributes, and add Improved Grab, Pounce, or wolf-like Trip to whatever form you're in.
Bite of the WereboarSC: Useful stat buffs, a spare bite attack, and one of the better AC buffs around.
Blast of SandSand: Cone of Cold lite (cone, d6/level, max 10d6), only without the energy type. No SR!
Boreal WindFrost: Does decent cold damage, has a fairly big AoE, blows enemies away, disperses fogs and swarms, and keeps going for multiple turns without concentration. Compares favorably even to Flame Strike.
Claws of the SavageBoVD: Got claws? This gives you a +2 enhancement bonus on them, and also gives increases your claw damage as if you were two sizes larger. It is an Evil-typed spell, though.
Enhance Wild ShapeSC: You can pick up plant forms early or get minor stat buffs, but the big bonus is the access to extraordinary abilities. Pick up the Blindsight of a Desmodu War BatMM2, or abuse Master of Many FormsCAdv.
Flame Strike: Excellent damage and an AoE. Should replace Call Lightning as your attack spell of choice.
Freedom of Movement: Makes you immune to grapples, able to fight underwater, and immune to spells that impede movement. A very handy defensive spell.
Giant Vermin: Ridiculously powerful at high levels: at level 20 you can make a 40 HD monster.
Greater Luminous ArmorBoED: As Luminous Armor, only +8 AC instead of +5. Again, mind the Sacrifice cost.
Hibernal HealingFrost: Self-only Heal...as long as you're in a frostfell area, anyway.
Last BreathSC: In Complete Divine, this is druidic Revivify, but with a caster-damaging side effect. In Spell Compendium, this is a no-level-loss Reincarnate that must be cast immediately. Both are useful as an emergency option.
Passage of the Shifting SandsDrM: Druidic Gaseous Form, but with an actual move speed, the ability to blind people, and other bennies.
Scrying: The gold standard in sneaky divinations.
Sheltered VitalitySC: Immunity to ability damage or drain is situational, but very powerful when you need it. Cast this before fighting yuan-ti, giant vermin, undead, or anything else with a nasty ability damage or poison attack. The immunity to fatigue can also be handy for the party barbarian.
Superior Magic FangSC: GMF on all of your attacks. It's self-only, though.
Unholy BeastCoR: This is an odd one. It's a lesser, single-target Animal Growth...but with a Dominate Animal effect tossed in. Great for stealing Animal Companions, but still usable as a general-purpose buff.
Vortex of TeethSC: A spell that does force damage, and can tear apart anything that can'tget away. This makes a mess of anyone caught in Entangle.
Wall of SaltSand: Not quite Wall of Stone, but effective for battlefield control and deterring pursuit.
Wind at BackSC: It lets you double the party's overland speed, lasts 12 hours and can let you speed up multiple beasts of burden, as well.

5th Level
Animal Growth: Multiple animalsyour pet and any summons running around) get bigger and get some nice bonuses. One of the best buffs in the game, let alone in core.
Anticold SphereSC: Immunity to cold and great protection from anything with the Cold subtype, with a nice long duration and an area large enough to protect the whole party.
Baleful Polymorph: Turn your opponent into something inoffensive. Toad and cat are both classy forms that offer no advantages to your target. Also handy for transporting oddly-sized Animal Companions or water- or air-breathing Animal Companions Pokemon-style, since, as a permanent spell, it's dispellable.  Classy tricks include polymorphing your Roc Animal Companion into a raven for cramped quarters, or polymorphing your T-Rex companion into a frog to go underwater.
Bite of the WeretigerSC: A very high str boost, a variety of other boosts, extra attacks, and free Power Attack.
BlizzardFrost: Instant battle ender. Great for buying some time to parley or obscuring your plans. Huge area of effect.
Call AvalancheFrost While it doesn't cause overwhelming damage (only 8d6), it can bury many opponents in its huge area (size of creatures you can bury scales up as well). It only works outdoors, but it does damage and potential immobilization at long range. For a good trick trick, follow it up with Blood Snow and all the poor buried victims start taking CON drain while trying futilely to escape.
Call Lightning Storm: Call Lightning, only more so. 5 dice of damage instead of 3.
Choking SandsSand: Miasma, only less so. Alternately, nonpsionic Crisis of Breath. Good for shutting down a caster for a turn.
Cloak of the SeaSC: When you're underwater, it's Water Breathing, Freedom of Movement, and Blur, all in one neat little (long-duration!) package. A must-have for any underwater adventures.
Control Winds: Gets you a minimum of hurricane force winds (assuming no wind when you cast it) at Caster Level 13, which covers a 520ft radius, lasts for over 2 hours, and slaughters medium enemies while stopping anything smaller then gargantuan from doing anything useful. And again as soon as you hit 15 its gets even worse, cause you get tornado winds, which will stop anything and destroy cities and non fortified structures.
Death Ward: Powerful, if conditional, defensive buff.
Owl's InsightSC: A long-duration scaling boost to Wisdom with an unusual bonus type? Yes please.
PancaeaSC: A broad-based restoration spell, removing pretty much any condition other than ability damage/drain, disease, or death.
Phantom StagSC: Conjure a very fast mount that it gains a lot of useful additional effects based on caster-level, so that even though its only level 5 its well, it's worth preparing at higher level still, since it, for example, can make you ethereal (as the 9th level cleric sor/wiz spell). (thanks jackmojo)
Quill BlastSC: After the Spell Compendium rewrite, this once-broken spell is now not quite as hot. It still outperforms typical blasts for a couple of levels, but by level 9 blasting is probably not the most optimal thing to be doing. It is a really mean spell for a GM to use on the PCs, though.
Rejuvenation CoccoonSC: A decent out-of-combat Heal alternative.
Ice ShieldFrost and Stoneskin: Excellent defensive spells (Ice Shield is stronger but has a shorter duration), but both are too monetarily expensive to use too often.
Tree Stride: Poor man's Teleport. Saves on overland travel time, but that's about it.
Wall of Thorns: This is a nice battlefield control/stop pursuers/obstruct sight spell, with nice size and a nice duration.  Not always useful, but sometimes key.  Of course, if you're summoning Greenbound creatures, choose something else.

6th Level
Antilife Shell: Exceedingly powerful defensive spell. Anything living without SR just can't touch you.
Bite of the WerebearSC: Bite of the Weretiger only moreso.
Chasing PerfectionPHB2: Handy as a self-buff, since it's hard to use magic items in Wild Shape. Won't be terribly useful to the rest of the party at level 13, though.
DrownSC: Save or dying (0 hp). Handy for capturing enemies alive. Not death magic, but obviously doesn't work on non-living creatures, water-breathers, or creatures with no lungs. This has replaced the repeatedly-nerfed MiasmaSC.
Energy ImmunitySC: Powerful, of a bit situational, defensive buff. Has a long enough duration to have it on all the time.
Enveloping CocoonSC: This will let you turn the save of any number of nasty spells (Miasma and Baleful Polymorph being the nastiest) into a Reflex save, essentially, or just tie up one enemy that doesn't have a light/natural weapon handy (including incorporeal foes).
Find the Path: Never, ever, EVER be lost.
Fire Seeds: Excellent trap spell when used to make holly berry bombs. Couple it with some sort of fire resistance or immunity and you have a killer emanation-from-yourself nuke.
Fires of PuritySC: A hefty melee damage buff, plus Flame Shield lite. Note that, while this spell is three levels higher than Venomfire and only adds one point per caster level instead of d6, it's still a good spell. That's how silly Venomfire is.
Greater Dispel Magic: Unlike mages and clerics, druids very rarely lose caster levels, so this is often a worthwhile spell to prep.
Greater Scrying: Scrying without the long casting time and relatively short duration; the minor spells you can cast through the sensor aren't that useful.
Liveoak: Handy if you need a Treant to guard your camp or home. The casting time and casting limitations limit its general usefulness, though.
MummifySand: Save or die. Plus, it's not death magic.
Spellstaff: One extra spell slot, of whatever level you can cast. Clerics with Miracle have no reason not to duplicate this very handy spell.
Superior ResistanceSC: +6 on all saves, all day. Its utility is obvious. (Spell Compendium upped the level, but also the duration. It's still worth it, unlike the pounding Major Resistance took.)
Tortoise ShellSC: Basically, Greater Barkskin. Not as good as Greater Luminous Armor, but is natural armor instead of armor.
Valiant SteedBoED: Calls a Unicorn or Pegasus that serves you for an entire year.

7th Level
Constricting ChainsBoED: Whatever it is, it's entangled and can't move. No save, no SR. Unless it has at least a +20 Escape Artist mod or a 34 Strength, it's staying stuck unless it wears down the chains with attacks (and half of that damage is in turn redirected to the chained target). Mind the Sacrifice cost, though (which doesn't take effect until the spell ends).
Cry of YsgardBoED: Calls 2d4 defenders of Ysgard that serve for a year.
Death By ThornsBoVD: The Corruption cost is very painful, but this will take the target out of the fight, no matter what. Obviously an evil spell.
Heal: Its uses are obvious.
Master EarthSC: Quite nice as it allows teleportation, a rarity for druids, without chance of error to any location touching the earth, and also  it doesn't have the teleportation descriptor so it can thwart problems such as forbiddance, dimensional anchor/lock, etc.
Rain of RosesBoED: Continuing Wisdom damage over an area, to evil creatures only. Great if you can limit the target's mobility, as the Wis damage doesn't allow a save.
True Seeing: Magic bullet for illusions, invisibility, and shapechanging.
Word of BalanceSC: Somewhat unreliable because of the odd alignment restrictions, but very powerful when it works.

8th Level
CocoonSC: Lets your Cleric buddy cast true resurrection 2 levels earlier, or if you don't have friends lets you reincarnate with no level loss a week later; it has an XP cost, but it's negligible at best at this level.
FrostfellFrost: Caster level/20' cubes freeze, and anyone in this area rolls a Fort save or turns to ice (and still takes caster/d6 frostburn damage if they save). Think of it as shapable super druid Wail of the Banshee, with an extra heaping helping of awesome.
Leonal's RoarBoED: Druidic Holy Word, plus some sonic damage. Sweet.
StormrageSC: Flight, the ability to throw respectable lightning bolts, and immunity to projectile ranged attacks and wind effects of all kinds.
Word of Recall: A quick escape spell, and one of the very few teleportation spells available to druids.

9th Level
Nature's AvatarSC: Very, very powerful animal buff, and now a swift spell. Cast it on your Animal Companion, and go to town.
Shapechange: Broken spell, but you already know that. Ridiculously powerful, even if you don't abuse the ChronotyrynFF or Choker or Efreeti or ZodarFF or...well. You get the idea.
Summon Elemental MonolithSC: The elemental monoliths are ridiculously powerful, especially given the very high save DCs of the whirlwind and vortex abilities of air and water monoliths.  This spell's true value comes to life when you have the skill trick Swift Concentration.
TsunamiSC: The fight is over. This spell will end anyone smaller than Gargantuan who can't immediately get out of the way of the 40-ft-high wave. The spell component is rather expensive, however.
UndermasterSC: Awesome power indeed. This gives you a whole variety of great spell-likes, some of which aren't even on the druid list.

Summon Nature's Ally
Druids have the ability to spontaneously cast Summon Nature's Ally, making memorizing the spells pointless. Given the short duration of these spells and the disposable nature of summoned creatures, you're going to want to use them as distraction and cannon fodder. Speak With Animals is especially handy when you're summoning animals, as it allows you to direct them to flank, concentrate on particular foes, or do other useful things other than "attack closest foe or biggest threat."
  • Summon Nature's Ally 1
    • Wolf: Not much worth summoning at this level, so the wolf is it.
  • Summon Nature's Ally 2
    • Crocodile: Unless the foe is small enough to grapple, have it slap with its tail.
    • Hippogriff: A little less hard-hitting than a croc, but it flies and you can talk to it. No animal buffs, though. (Bonus style points for having it grapple a foe and fly up until the spell runs out.)
  • Summon Nature's Ally 3
    • d3 Crocodiles: An ad-hoc swarm of crocs is great for shutting down spellcasters or other weaker, grappleable or low-AC foes.
    • Dire Wolf: Other than the low AC, this is an all-round combat superstar.
  • Summon Nature's Ally 4:
    • d3 Dire Wolves: Dire Wolves hit hard enough and have enough HP to make them useful in numbers.
    • Brown Bear: Hits hard enough to be on the front line, and grapples spellcasters and such. Oh yeah.
    • Giant Crocodile: Compared to the Brown Bear, it has one big bite instead of multiple medium hits, with better grappling to make up for the lesser damage. Whether you use this or Brown Bear is a matter of style.
    • Tiger: Another Brown Bear alternative. Slightly less damage in a straight fight and a slightly lower grapple check, but does more damage when charging or when in a grapple.
    • Unicorn: Summon Unicorns for on-the-spot healing. Three uses of CLW, a use of CMW, a use of Neutralize Poison, and at-will Detect Evil. Plus, it can bypass DR X/magic and is smart enough to talk to.
    • Yellow Musk CreeperFF: A very unusual summon, Yellow Musk Creepers are super-tough (good HP plus Regeneration), have Blindsight, and can use their Musk Puff ability to enthrall and devour anything with a bad Fort save. Just don't expect them to do any straight slugging, with their weak attacks, or keep up with fast-moving foes, due to their near-inability to move.
  • Summon Nature's Ally 5:
    • d3 Brown Bears (or Giant Crocodiles or Tigers): A pack of grapplers can shut down many foes and outstrip even a single Polar Bear.
    • Large Elemental: This is where Elementals start to get good. Earth Elementals will be your general-purpose tanks (although Fire Elementals can fill this role equally well), and double as caster-killers if you have Rashemi Elemental Summoning (UE). Air Elementals are great for shutting down swarms of mooks, fliers smaller than they are, and casters, but aren't quite as hard-hitting as the other Elementals. (Remember, a Large or larger Air Elemental in Whirlwind form counts as a storm for Call Lightning and Call Lightning Storm.)
    • Rhinocerous: Very deadly if summoned with room to charge an enemy.
  • Summon Nature's Ally 6:
    • Huge Elemental: A single Huge Elemental is worth more than three smaller ones. Keep using this in the same way you used the Large ones.
    • Large Storm ElementalMM3: Think of it as a Fireball and a summon, all in one. Storm Elementals aren't quite the fighters the other Elementals are, but the first turn they are summoned, they do 12d6 damage to everything in 60 feet (plus 4d4 nonlethal to a single target) instead of attacking normally. Make sure you speak Auran to keep it from blasting your allies, or else be careful where you summon it.
    • Dire Bear: Tears casters to bits. Great for anything that can't handle its +23 grapple mod, not so great for anything else.
    • Elephant: Raw damage machine. Not as tough as a huge Earth Elemental, but hits very hard or tramples mooks.
    • OreadFF: Not a melee monster, but has an awesome array of spells, including Transmute Rock to Mud, Stone Shape, and Earthquake(!). Don't ever bother prepping Earthquake if you can just summon an Oread.
    • Pixie: Not much in melee, but can cast Dispel Magic (poorly but repeatedly) and Detect Thoughts for you.
  • Summon Nature's Ally 7:
    • d3 Huge Elementals: Greater Elementals are only marginally better than their Huge counterparts.
    • Huge Storm ElementalMM3: A Huge Storm Elemental is significantly better than even two or three Large ones.
    • Pixie (w/sleep arrows and Otto's Irresistible Dance): You're casting a 7th-level spell to summon a creature that can cast an 8th-level spell (Otto's Irresistible Dance), then keep fighting after that. Do the math.
  • Summon Nature's Ally 8:
    • d3 Greater Elementals: A pack of Greater Elementals far outstrips any of the limited choices at this level.
    • Greater Storm ElementalMM3: Definitely better than a Huge Storm Elemental.
    • SporebatFF: A very specialized choice, this is good for Enervating foes you can't otherwise hurt. Otherwise, they're pretty wimpy.
  • Summon Nature's Ally 9:
    • d4+1 Greater Elementals: Elder Elementals are marginal at best.
    • d3 Greater Storm Elementals: Think of it as spontaneous druidic Meteor Swarm, only it leaves Greater Elementals in its wake. A fun tactic: have them stagger their use of Thunder And Lightning to heal each other if they take damage.

Aquatic Summons
If you're underwater, you might want to instead summon...

  • Level 1:
    • Porpoise: Not exactly a combat dynamo, but it's something. Blindsight is handy in the dark depths at the ocean's floor (I always wanted to use that line) or against invisible foes.
  • Level 2:
    • Crocodile: Just as good in the water as it is on dry land.
  • Level 3:
    • d3 Crocodiles: None of the other options are worth fiddling with.
  • Level 4:
    • Giant Crocodile: A great all-rounder, especially underwater.
    • Sea Cat: The underwater equivalent to the Brown Bear, only with Rend instead of Improved Grab.
  • Level 5:
    • d3 Giant Crocodiles: A pack of killer crocodiles is still your best combat summon.
    • Large Water Elemental: The Water Elementals don't become as dominating as their Earth equivalents on land, but Vortex shuts down spellcasters and mooks cold and DR 5/- frustrates lesser foes.
    • Orca Whale: Lacks the Improved Grab of the Giant Crocodile, but has Blindsight and more HP.
  • Level 6:
    • Huge Water Elemental: NOW we're talking. Huge size is when Water Elementals come into their own, and get the AC and HP to stand (swim?) on the front line while maintaining the ability to shut down lesser combatants with a Vortex.
  • Level 7:
    • d3 Huge Water Elementals: Greater Elementals only get marginal improvements over their Huge predecessors.
  • Level 8:
    • d3 Greater Water Elementals: Like Earth Elementals, but underwater, get it?
  • Level 9:
    • d4+1 Greater Water Elementals: For the same reasons you were summoning them last level.
    • Octopus TreeFF: The Fiend Folio strikes again. This critter has nine competent attacks, Improved Grab and Swallow Whole, a (mostly useless) frightful presence ability, Quickened spell-likes, and Regeneration to boot.


Greenbound Summoning
If you took Greenbound (LEoF), things are a bit different. Obviously, you're going to want to summon animals, and the bonuses make multiple lower-level creatures, particularly grapplers, more powerful. As such, you'll spend a lot of time summoning d3 grappler creatures. Remember, you can still summon utility creatures like Unicorns or Pixies. They just don't benefit from Greenbound.  If you cast Speak With Plants, you can have your Greenbound summons cast Entangle or Wall of Thorns for you. Take advantage of this!
« Last Edit: January 20, 2009, 10:23:06 PM by Blade2718 » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2008, 10:55:45 PM »

Animal Companions don't talk, and they share buffs with you. In practice, this means that they're really only useful as partners in combat and/or fighting mounts.

Save for war-trained animals (of which there are few), your Animal Companion isn't going to be proficient with armor. Despite this, get them some masterwork or magical leather or padded barding; every little edge is worth it, and they take no penalties as long as there are no armor check penalties. Likewise, remember that your animals get feats from their bonus hit dice (but they don't get size increases).

This list assumes that size Medium or smaller is the ideal size for an animal companion, so that the companion isn't getting in the way of the rest of the party. Companions larger than Medium are marked as such. The best Medium Animal Companion is without a doubt Fleshraker Dinosaur, but if that is inappropriate for your game you'll probably want to stick with Riding Dog or Crocodile, or look into the alternate Animal Companion feats (like Exalted Animal Companion or Vermin Companion.)

Implied by not explicitly stated is the suggestion that you could make any dire animal a Horrid Animal and take it as your Animal Companion at effective druid level -3. In that case, a Horrid Eagle is far superior to a Horrid Bat, and a Horrid Tortoise would be absolutely unstoppable. In general, Horrid gives much better bonuses than three levels of druid boosts.

Level 1:
  • Riding dog: Make sure yours is trained for war, per the monster entry. Tough, relatively hard-hitting, can wear barding without wasting feats. Superior in every way to a wolf. Good mount (small druids only) and substitute low-level tank if you give it barding.
  • Heavy horse: Fast mount for medium druids. Large.
  • Swindlespitter DinosaurMM3: Harasser with paralyzing AoE attack
Level 4
  • Fleshraker DinosaurMM3: Pouncer/tripper/grappler with poison.
  • Crocodile: Grappler and general slugger. (PHB 3.5 and PHB2 confirm that this is a level 4 choice. The SRD lists it as available at level 1 for aquatic druids; the SRD is wrong in this case.)
  • Dire Bat: Flying mount for medium druids. Large.
Level 7
  • Brown Bear: Grappler. Not as good in a grapple as Giant Crocodile, but better-rounded and harder-hitting in a straight fight. Large.
  • Cave AnklyosaurusMiniHB/PHB2: A tough trampler that hits almost as hard as a Giant Crocodile. Large.
  • Giant Crocodile: Hard-hitting grappler. Huge.
  • Dire EagleRoS: Flying mount for medium characters, for games where Horrid animals aren't available. Large.
  • Horrid BatECS: Flying mount, replaces Dire Bat. Large.
  • Magebred Ghost Tiger5N: Hard-hitting and tough pouncer. It's only arguably better than Fleshraker. Large.
Level 10
  • Allosaurus MM2/PHB2: Hard-hitting grappler and quite passable trampler. (Not as good at trampling as the Dire Tortoise, though.) This is your ideal offensive choice at this level. Huge.
  • Bloodstriker DinosaurMM3: An offensively- and defensively-balanced choice. (Don't mistake it for a game-balanced choice. It eats melee attackers alive.) It has tons of HP and decent AC, but can still deal respectable damage (especially with Powerful Charge). Plus, anyone who tries to attack it in melee will take a dozen damage per hit.
  • Dire TortoiseSand: Trampler, unlikely-but-effective scout and mount. This is the ideal defensive choice at this level (bordering on being broken; many CR-appropriate foes won't be able to do much against it), with plenty of HP and AC. Huge.
  • Dragonhawk5N:Fast flying mount, with Blindsense and some fairly decent attacks. It's big enough to carry several party members, depending on encumbrance. Huge.
  • SmilodonFrost: Pouncer. It's not better than the Allosaurus, but it's better than a Ghost Tiger and marginally better than a Brown Bear in a straight fight.
Level 13
  • Dire Bear: Grappler and just generally mean brute. You could use it as a mount, I guess. Large.
  • Giant Banded LizardSand: Grappler and general combatant with poison, possible mount. Huge.
Level 16
  • Dire ElephantSand/MM2: Trampler and possible mount. Gargantuan.
  • Tyrannosaurus Dinosaur: Grappler and very stylish mount. Replaces Dire Bear. Huge.
  • Horrid BearECS: Grappler, replaces Dire Bear where Tyrannosaurus is inappropriate. Large.
  • Dire Tiger: Pouncer, finally replaces Fleshraker Dinosaur (arguably). Large.
  • RocSand/MM: Flying mount for the entire party, replaces Horrid Bat (assuming size isn't an issue). Gargantuan.
Level 19
  • Horrid ElephantECS: Trampler, replaces Dire Elephant. Gargantuan.
  • Horrid TigerECS: Pouncer, replaces Dire Tiger. Large.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2008, 09:55:34 PM by Blade2718 » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2008, 10:55:56 PM »

Wild Shape
Here lies the majority of the Druid's ultimate power.  Powerful forms come from almost every supplement, and with so many different forms available, take advantage of the opportunity to specialize!

Grappler
A specialty of the various varieties of bear and squid, and one of the most powerful Wild Shape strategies, as it maximizes your strengths (high Str, large size) while minimizing your weaknesses (generally poor AC). These forms are generally some of your best pure combat forms, whether or not you decide to actually grapple.

All of these forms have Improved Grab, and most of them have high strength, large size, and/or Abilities like Constrict and Swallow Whole.  Swallow Whole is a double-edged sword: yes, you're damaging the victim and keeping it from harming your friends or casting spells, but it can attack your very, very low gullet AC and do nasty damage. (If you get a chance to Swallow something with no light slashing/piercing weapon or natural attacks, go for it.) And never, ever, ever eat anything immune to acid. (Grapple checks, where noted below, don't include BAB. Just add your BAB to the grapple number listed below to get your grapple check total when in that form.)

Charger
Bipedal dinosaurs and big cats specialize in charging into battle and dealing as much damage as possible as fast as possible. The best forms usually have pounce and rakes, but a few forms with a single powerful natural attack and the powerful charge ability are also worth using.

Not many charger forms are bolded as recommended; this is mostly because charger forms are a matter of taste. Big cats dabble in grappling and can only bring their rakes to bear when charging or grappling, bipedal pouncer dinosaurs hit slightly harder and don't grapple, triceratopses have the Triceratops Shuffle, and rhinos have one powerful gore that does double damage on a charge. If you use big cats and bipedal dinosaurs often enough, you may want Multiattack, and if you use horned chargers often enough, you may want Power Attack.

Trampler
A specialty of elephants, herbivorous dinosaurs, and Treants. Most tramplers are Large- or Huge-sized, and have a high-damage attack or two. Trampling is great for taking out mooks (including swarms!), but most of the tramplers can also do a decent job of slugging it out with individual larger enemies. When buffing, remember that increased Strength ups the save DC for your trample as well as your damage.

Defensive
Sometimes you just need to avoid or shrug off attacks. Maybe you're focusing on spellcasting, or maybe you just want to get away. These forms have high AC, sometimes paired with defensive abilities (which will need to technically be "Special Attacks", due to the limitations of Wild Shape).

Aerial
Besides the obvious long-distance travel and scouting uses, druids who favor using their spells for offense will spend most of their time in aerial forms, not just because of the maneuverability but because of the high Dex for touch attacks, AC, and initiative checks. (Contrast this with grappling forms, where combat spellcasting is usually confined to buffs before or at the beginning of a fight.) Generally, they aren't as good in melee as the land- or water-bound alternatives, but maneuverability does come at a price.

Aquatic
Sometimes, you're going to have to spend some time in the water. Look for forms with swim speeds, and, water breathing.

Spy
Sometimes you need to sneak in, all subtle-like. These forms will help you do that; nobody will ever be suspicious of a horse.


Level 5
  • Baboon: Str 15 Dex 14 AC 13 - It probably has better stats than your physical stats, and it has natural armor and a bite attack. All in all, not too bad.
  • Crocodile: Grapple check: +4 - The grappler form of choice if Fleshraker is out of the question. Hard-hitting enough to be useful even outside of a grapple.  Swim speed, but doesn't breathe water.
  • Fleshraker DinosaurMM3: An absolutely OMG form, if it's allowed. Fleshrakers can charge, pounce, trip, pin, and poison, all in one round, and also has great AC to boot. It remains awesome whenever you have to charge something, especially if it's medium-sized or smaller.
  • Deinonychus Dinosaur: Charger.  Nothing can compare to Fleshraker, but this is fine in a fight on its own merits.
  • Leopard: Charger.  The core-only and no-dinosaur alternative to the Fleshraker and Deinonychus.
  • Protoceratops DinosaurSand[/b]: Charger. A bit tougher and harder-hitting than Deinonychus, but not as good when it comes to stand toe-to-toe, and definitely not as good as the Fleshraker.
  • Desmodu Hunting BatMM2: AC 20, Con 13 - Your starter defensive form, with AC 20 and touch AC of 17. Doesn't hurt at all that it flies 60 ft/round.
  • Dire HawkRotW: Speed 80 ft. (average) - Faster than Desmodu Hunting Bat, but has slightly lower Dex and AC, and isn't as hard-hitting.
  • Eagle: Speed 80 ft. (average) - The best core-only flier at this level, but has mediocre AC and Dex, and abysmal attacks.
  • Squid: Aquatic grappler. Not as strong as crocodile, but has more attacks and breathes water.
  • Medium Shark: Utility form. Fast swimmer, decent biter.
  • Dog, Riding Dog, Donkey, Pony: Forms to snoop around town in
  • Swindlespitter Dinosaur(MM3): AOE blinding poison attack (combine it with Venomfire from Serpent Kingdoms!), and may double as a spy form in certain areas. (MM3 says some cultures consider Swindlespitters to be sacred.)
Level 8
  • Brown/Polar Bear: Grapple check: +12 - The quintessential grappler form, with strong attacks, fair AC, and a great grapple check. The bears are versatile enough to fight a crowd, then grab a tough foe and tear it apart in a grapple. (Choose Polar if you want to min-max every tiny bit; the two are identical with regard to Wild Shape save for the Polar Bear's swim speed.)
  • Dire Lion: Grapple check: +11 - If the Fleshraker isn't available, this is an interesting compromise between first-strike-charger forms and slugger/grappler forms like the Polar Bear. It isn't as hard-hitting as most traditional grappler forms, though.
  • Cave Triceratops (MiniHB): The first form where you can try the Triceratops Shuffle. Charge a foe (doing double damage because of Powerful Charge), then Trample that foe and move away as part of the Trample move. Then charge again, and repeat. This isn't the best charger or trampler, but the combination is killer.
  • Megaraptor Dinosaur (MM errata): This is harder-hitting than Dire Lion and doesn't rely on Rakes to deal damage (and is thus better in a toe-to-toe fight), but it doesn't grapple. Use it for charging and fighting foes you couldn't grapple anyway.
  • Rhinoceros: WHAM. One big nasty hit, especially when charging but even in a toe-to-toe fight.
  • Cave Anklyosaurus (MiniHB): Large, 3d6+7, DC 18 - Awesome AC and its single attack is still quite effective, when trampling isn't practical.

    * Level 9
          o Cave Tyrannosaurus (MiniHB) - Grapple check: +11 - Not quite as hardhitting as Polar Bear, but this is your first form with Swallow Whole (which only works on Small or smaller foes, mind).
          o Smilodon (Sabre-Toothed Tiger) (Frost) - Grapple check: +11 - A marginal improvement on Dire Lion: x3 critical on bite, best attack is primary, claw attacks can start grapple.
    * Level 12
          o Dire Bear - Grapple check: +14 - Like the Polar Bear, only moreso.
          o Warhound Impaler (Lesser Battlebriar) (MM3) - Grapple check: +10 - This isn't the hardest-hitting or strongest grappler, but it can impale (Medium-sized or smaller) grappled foes on its thorns with a free-action grapple check, rendering them helpless. Not pinned, not grappled, but helpless. Plus, it has an AOE attack and tramples! Plant.
    * Level 15
          o Giant Banded Lizard (Sand) - Grapple check: +17 - Comparable to the Dire Bear in damage output, but has better grapple check and poisoned claws. It has terrible AC, though.
          o Ironmaw (FF) - Grapple check: +N/A - This isn't strictly a grappler, but it fights like one. Ironmaws have six tendrils with ridiculous reach, and a tendril hit can attach to a foe, pulling them within reach of the Ironmaw's so-so bite or OMG Engulf ability, which does fair damage and suffocates. Tendril hits also cause bleeding and Con damage. Did I mention the Ironmaw has great AC? The only drawback is the exceedingly low speed, which keeps you from staying in Ironmaw form all day. Plant.
          o Octopus Tree (FF) - Grapple check: +18 - Eight(!) Improved Grab attacks, Swallow Whole, great damage, and frightful presence. A top-tier grappler form. Too slow on land to spend all your time in this form outside of an aquatic campaign, and it isn't clear if it breathes water or air. Plant.
          o Tendriculos - Grapple check: +17 - The ultimate Swallower. Anything that can't make the DC 20 Fort save before cutting its way out will die. Plant.
    * Level 18
          o Dire Polar Bear (Frost) - Grapple check: +23 - The ultimate grappler form.
          o Tyrannosaurus Dinosaur - Grapple check: +17 - The core-only alternative to the Dire Polar Bear or Giant Banded Lizard. Isn't as tough or hard-hitting, but it's a heck of a lot more stylish, and it does have Swallow Whole.



Charger:
Bipedal dinosaurs and big cats specialize in charging into battle and dealing as much damage as possible as fast as possible. The best forms usually have pounce and rakes, but a few forms with a single powerful natural attack and the powerful charge ability are also worth using.

Not many charger forms are bolded as recommended; this is mostly because charger forms are a matter of taste. Big cats dabble in grappling and can only bring their rakes to bear when charging or grappling, bipedal pouncer dinosaurs hit slightly harder and don't grapple, triceratopses have the Triceratops Shuffle, and rhinos have one powerful gore that does double damage on a charge. If you use big cats and bipedal dinosaurs often enough, you may want Multiattack, and if you use horned chargers often enough, you may want Power Attack.


    * Level 9
          o Smilodon (Sabre-Toothed Tiger) (Frost) - This is a marginal improvement on the Dire Lion. It has x3 critical on its bite, its best attack is primary, and its claw attacks can start a grapple). That said, you're unlikely to notice the difference between the two in practice.
    * Level 16
          o Dire Tiger - An incremental improvement on Smilodon and Dire Lion, and good for the same reasons.
          o Triceratops Dinosaur - The real deal when it comes to the Triceratops Shuffle. Charge, trample and move away, charge, trample and move away, repeat until dead. If you've got Power Attack, you're going to want to use it.


Trampler
A specialty of elephants, herbivorous dinosaurs, and Treants. Most tramplers are Large- or Huge-sized, and have a high-damage attack or two. Trampling is great for taking out mooks (including swarms!), but most of the tramplers can also do a decent job of slugging it out with individual larger enemies. When buffing, remember that increased Strength ups the save DC for your trample as well as your damage.

    * Level 8

    * Level 9
          o Diprotodon Dinosaur (Sand) - Large, 2d6+12, DC 22 - It tramples, doing a better job than the Cave Dinosaurs. Other than that, it's fairly unremarkable, besides the pathetically low AC.
    * Level 12
          o Warhound Impaler (Lesser Battlebriar) (MM3) - Large, d8+9, DC 22 - Besides rendering grappled foes helpless and blasting everyone nearby with an AOE attack, it also tramples. Not well, but it tramples. Plant.
    * Level 15
          o Dire Tortoise (Sand) - Huge, 4d8+12, DC 25 - Respectable trample damage, great AC, and it always gets a surprise round. An OMG form.
          o Elephant - Huge, 2d8+15, DC 25 - The first core trampler you'll get access to, but it's inferior to the non-core alteratives.
          o Grizzly Mastodon (MM2) - Huge, 4d8+18, DC 29 - A massively hard-hitting trampler, either in a trample or a melee. It isn't as tough as the Dire Tortoise, though.
          o Saguaro Sentinel (Sand) - Huge, 3d6+16, DC 27 - A compromise between Grizzly Mastodon (it's almost as strong) and Dire Tortoise (it's almost as tough). It doesn't trample as well as either, though. As a nice little bonus, though, it talks. Plant.
    * Level 16
          o Triceratops Dinosaur - Huge, 2d12+15, DC 28 - Not quite the trampler the Grizzly Mastodon is, but it can do the Triceratops Shuffle.


Defensive - I need to hit my books, because this section is out of date. Now, I need to check for high AC without worrying about Con.
Sometimes you just need to avoid or shrug off attacks. Maybe you're focusing on spellcasting, or maybe you just want to get away. These forms have high AC, sometimes paired with defensive abilities (which will need to technically be "Special Attacks", due to the limitations of Wild Shape). Note that this list doesn't include any non-core choices without AC of 20 or better or Con of 22 or better. (This means that there are few core defensive forms.) Exceptions are made for forms with exceptional special abilities.

* Level 8
          o Cave Anklyosaurus (MiniHB) - AC 24, Con 21 - Ridiculously high AC for this level, as well as decent attacks and effective trample.
          o Dire Bat - AC 20, Con 17 - This will be pretty much your only core defensive form for most of your career, if you don't have any access to non-core choices. AC 20, with touch AC 15, goes a long way.
    * Level 12
          o Ironthorn (Sand) - AC 24 - A massively tough form, and has ridiculously high-DC paralytic poison (along with decent reach and some mediocre grappling ability). Too slow to stay in this form all the time, though. Plant.
          o Legendary Eagle (MM2) - AC 25, Con 17 - A very evasive form, with a ridiculous touch AC of 21. Doesn't hurt at all that it's a fast flier.
          o Treant - AC 20, Con 21 - Plant immunities, decent AC, and fairly good Con, rounded out with decent attacks and okay trample. It's not great at one thing and there are non-core forms that eclipse it, but it's a versatile mid-level form. Plus, it talks! Plant.
    * Level 14
          o Legendary Wolf (MM2) - AC 24, Con 27 - A well-rounded defensive form, but not strong or large enough to be an impressive tripper or even much of a melee combatant.
    * Level 15
          o Dire Tortoise (Sand) - AC 25 - The Dire Tortoise is one of the toughest forms in the game, and it's nearly impossible to ambush to boot.
          o Saguaro Sentinel (Sand) - AC 22 - Plant immunities and great AC, paired with strong attacks and usably-strong trample. It hits, it takes hits, and it even talks. Plant.


Aerial:
Besides the obvious long-distance travel and scouting uses, druids who favor using their spells for offense will spend most of their time in aerial forms, not just because of the maneuverability but because of the high Dex for touch attacks, AC, and initiative checks. (Contrast this with grappling forms, where combat spellcasting is usually confined to buffs before or at the beginning of a fight.) Generally, they aren't as good in melee as the land- or water-bound alternatives, but maneuverability does come at a price.

* Level 8
          o Desmodu Guard Bat (MM2) - Speed 60 ft. (good) - Exactly like Dire Bat, only faster. A balanced flier form.
          o Dire Bat - Speed 40 ft. (good) - A typical aerial form, with good AC, good Dex, and a single, mediocre attack. Inferior to the non-core options.
          o Dire Eagle (RoS) - Speed 60 ft. (average) - Very strong for a flier, able to attack somewhat effectively or carry a party member or two. Compared to the other fliers, its AC and Dex aren't very good, but they're passable.
          o Dire Vulture (Sand) - Speed 80 ft. (average) - Inferior to the other choices for fliers, but not egregiously so, and it's handy if you need to fly and need a monstrously high fort save for some reason. Plus, its Stench ability can disable low-Fort enemies.
    * Level 12
          o Desmodu War Bat (MM2) - Speed 40 ft. (good) - A fairly hard-hitting attacker, large enough to carry party members. Only slightly less evasive than Legendary Eagle, but physically much stronger.
          o Legendary Eagle (MM2) - Speed 100 ft. (average) - Renders obsolete all the previous flying forms. Massive Dex means great AC and initiative checks.
    * Level 15
          o Dragonhawk (5N) - Speed 120 ft. (average) - A hard-hitting and fast flying form, large enough to carry your allies. Not as agile as Legendary Eagle, though. It has Blindsense you can pick up with Enhance Wild Shape, as well.


Aquatic:
Sometimes, you're going to have to spend some time in the water. These forms have swim speeds, and, unless noted otherwise, can breathe water indefinitely.

    * Level 8
          o Polar Bear - Grappler (Grap +??) form. Same as the reasons above. Doesn't breathe water.
          o Giant Octopus - Grappler (Grap +??) form. Not as strong as polar bear, but has vastly many more attacks, Constrict, and water breathing.
          o Large Shark - Utility form. Speedy swimmer, but not terribly handy in a fight compared to the alternatives.
    * Level 15
          o Giant Squid - Grappler (Grap +??) form. Hard-hitting and awesome in a grapple. One of the best aquatic forms period.
          o Octopus Tree (FF) - Grappler (Grap +??)/utility form. Eight Improved Grab attacks, Swallow Whole, great damage, decent swim speed, and frightful presence. Still need to compare this to Giant Squid.
    * Level 18
          o Dire Polar Bear (Frost) - Grappler (Grap +??) form. Like the Polar Bear, only moreso. Doesn't breathe water.


Spy:
Sometimes you need to sneak in, all subtle-like. These forms will help you do that; nobody will ever be suspicious of a horse.

    * Level 8 - Mule and Heavy Warhorse
    * Level 11 - Tiny Viper (use Venomfire (Serp) and it's the perfect assassination form), Cat, Rat, Hawk, and Raven
    * Level 18 - Legendary Horse (MM2) - One of the very few spy forms with some combat ability.


Tool-User
Medium-sized, more-or-less-human-shaped forms which can use your equipment normally instead of having it meld into your Wild Shape form. This is a hideously powerful strategy at high levels, but you need to drop all your stuff and pick it up again, meaning you'll need a long Wild Shape duration as well as time to prepare. (Many GMs will house-rule this controversial rule; see more below in the Controversial Options section.)

    * Level 5
 
    * Level 12
          o Vine Horror (FF) - Str 18 Dex 10 AC 18 - Inferior to Legendary Ape (except in that it can talk), but Vine Horrors are naturally intelligent and tool-using, so a strict GM may be more lenient. (Plus, spiffy plant-type immunities.) Useless at this level except as a tool-user. Plant.
    * Level 13
          o Legendary Ape (MM2) - Str 30 Dex 17 AC 19 - Massively strong and surprisingly tough, and has a full set of powerful natural attacks to go with any weapons you might have. It's still useful without the item-melding rule, because of high Str, powerful attacks, and rend.


Utility
Everything else. They may have useful or unusual in- or out-of-combat abilities, or otherwise deserve special mention.

    * Level 5
          o
    * Level 8
          o Dire Wolf - Has the strength and size to actually use trip ability, in those situations where tripping is possible but grappling isn't feasible. AC is fairly low, however.
          o Valenar Riding Horse (EbCS) - Long distance travel form, with its 80 ft. land speed. Plus, you can carry a party member.
    * Level 12
          o Ironthorn (Sand) - This tough form has a paralytic posion with an insanely high DC for the level. Use it to paralyze your foes.
          o Myconid Sovereign (MM2) - The Sovereign has a range of spell-likes that aren't really spell-likes. Handy ones you can use include telepathy spores, animate dead spores, and pacifying spores.
          o Warhound Impaler (Lesser Battlebriar) (MM3) - It grapples foes and makes them completely helpless. It has an AOE attack with decent damage. It tramples. It's just a handy, versatile form.
    * Level 15
          o Dire Tortoise (Sand) - The perfect form for while you're on guard duty. Yeah, other forms may get boosts to Spot, Listen, or Hide, but how many forms guarantee that you can't be ambushed? Always acting in the surprise round (even if you don't surprise your foes at all!) is a great ability.
          o Grizzly Mastodon (MM2) - At Str 35, this is almost the strongest Wild Shape form there is. Use it when Walls of Stone need to be pushed over, or you need to win a tug of war against the entire clan of orcs on your own.
          o Treant - Besides being a versatile combatant, Treants do double damage against objects. When you need to sunder an Unholy sword or break down a door, the Treant is the form for the job.
          o Yellow Musk Creeper (FF) - The Yellow Musk Creeper's Mind Puff ability makes enemies helpless at range. Plus, you can eat your opponent's brain, and then as long as you stay in that form, they will serve you until they die in two months.
    * Level 18
          o Dire Polar Bear (Frost) - Besides being a great grappler, at Str 39 this is the single strongest Wild Shape form you can get. (Can anyone find any that are stronger?) Use it when you need to lift a house off its foundations or break through an adamantine door.


« Last Edit: June 07, 2009, 11:03:08 AM by Blade2718 » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2008, 10:56:09 PM »

reserved until finished
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 12:58:54 AM by Blade2718 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2008, 10:56:23 PM »

Venerable Dragonwrought Kobolds
There have been several suggestions that Venerable Dragonwrought Kobolds are "teh ub4r" and need to take the top spot as far as optimized races go.  As a practitioner of practical optimization, this is a bit more juice than we need to squeeze out for most campaigns.  Games that involve not just high-level, but theoretical optimization will lend themselves better to +9 mental stat boosts for a feat.  Furthermore, any class that benefits from high mental stats can benefit from being a VDK, so it isn't a Druid-specific optimization either.

With that said, if your campaign demands nitrous just to keep the game moving or you are dying to play an ancient kobold shaman, by all means do so.  But don't expect to change this author's mind about the Druid-specific utility of the VDK.

Prestige Classes

Moonspeaker
Arcane Hierophant: Druid 3/Sorcerer 1/Mystic Theurge 6/Arcane Hierophant 10
Planar Shepherd
Fochluchan Lyricist
« Last Edit: August 26, 2008, 11:44:19 PM by Blade2718 » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2008, 10:56:30 PM »

reserved until finished
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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2008, 10:56:39 PM »

And...go!  If necessary, I can edit this post for more space.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 01:01:46 AM by Blade2718 » Logged

BobismyRhino
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« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2008, 02:36:45 AM »

Ooh! I like this. *makes self at home*

This is making me very happy.
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« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2008, 05:25:39 AM »

Ooh! I like this. *makes self at home*

This is making me very happy.
Ah, another fan of the druid, excellent Big Grin *high fives Bobismyrhino*

Looking forward to this, Blade2718 Smile
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« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2008, 06:26:35 AM »

What's the deal with basketweaving anyway? I've noticed it mentioned on Gleemax, too, but never really got to the bottom of it...
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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2008, 06:29:00 AM »

Yeah... a fan... We'll call it that...

Favorite Class Type: Divine casters
Favorite Class: Druid. That's pretty much the only thing I'm ABLE to play. Even when I don't play a druid, I find myself wishing I could be one. I've given up trying to be diverse. I play low level druids. I rock at them.
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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2008, 06:32:52 AM »

Yeah... a fan... We'll call it that...

Favorite Class Type: Divine casters
Favorite Class: Druid. That's pretty much the only thing I'm ABLE to play. Even when I don't play a druid, I find myself wishing I could be one. I've given up trying to be diverse. I play low level druids. I rock at them.
It must be an OCD fixated on the Druid... Can't blame you though, Druids rock  Big Grin
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« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2008, 08:59:07 AM »

Dictum Mortum's Dragonwrought Jungle Kobold has the following stats: -4 STR, +2 DEX, +1 INT, +3 WIS, +3 CHA. It costs you a feat, but I think it is worth it. (proof once again that kobolds can do anything better than anyone)

Druids are not good multiclassers and there are not alot of PrC for them that are worth taking. The only one that is worth mentioning is Planar Shepherd from faiths of Eberron. If your Dm thinks that druids are overpowered...take this PrC and make him weep.


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« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2008, 10:20:16 AM »

Dictum Mortum's Dragonwrought Jungle Kobold has the following stats: -4 STR, +2 DEX, +1 INT, +3 WIS, +3 CHA. It costs you a feat, but I think it is worth it. (proof once again that kobolds can do anything better than anyone)

Druids are not good multiclassers and there are not alot of PrC for them that are worth taking. The only one that is worth mentioning is Planar Shepherd from faiths of Eberron. If your Dm thinks that druids are overpowered...take this PrC and make him weep.
I was going to put it into the Controversy section because of Dragonwrought-aging cheese, but if the consensus shows it to be acceptable, I'll move it back.  Also, any venerable character would get the +3 to mental stats.
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« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2008, 03:32:55 PM »

Dictum Mortum's Dragonwrought Jungle Kobold has the following stats: -4 STR, +2 DEX, +1 INT, +3 WIS, +3 CHA. It costs you a feat, but I think it is worth it. (proof once again that kobolds can do anything better than anyone)

Druids are not good multiclassers and there are not alot of PrC for them that are worth taking. The only one that is worth mentioning is Planar Shepherd from faiths of Eberron. If your Dm thinks that druids are overpowered...take this PrC and make him weep.
I was going to put it into the Controversy section because of Dragonwrought-aging cheese, but if the consensus shows it to be acceptable, I'll move it back.  Also, any venerable character would get the +3 to mental stats.

but no penalty to phisycas stats, right ?  Big Grin
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« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2008, 04:24:19 PM »

Dictum Mortum's Dragonwrought Jungle Kobold has the following stats: -4 STR, +2 DEX, +1 INT, +3 WIS, +3 CHA. It costs you a feat, but I think it is worth it. (proof once again that kobolds can do anything better than anyone)

Druids are not good multiclassers and there are not alot of PrC for them that are worth taking. The only one that is worth mentioning is Planar Shepherd from faiths of Eberron. If your Dm thinks that druids are overpowered...take this PrC and make him weep.
I was going to put it into the Controversy section because of Dragonwrought-aging cheese, but if the consensus shows it to be acceptable, I'll move it back.  Also, any venerable character would get the +3 to mental stats.

but no penalty to phisycas stats, right ?  Big Grin
I don't know what is a "physycas" stat is, so I couldn't comment.  If you mean "physical stat", then I should redirect your attention to the part where I said I might put it in the Controversy section because I don't support Venerable Dragonwrought Kobolds as low-level characters.  Furthermore, 15th level Druids also ignore additional aging penalties (incorporating ones already accrued).

Also, I probably won't comment on multiclassing much at all.  Maybe a short list in the Miscellany section.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 09:11:58 PM by Blade2718 » Logged

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