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Oh well, now I read that far. I should have known that page 5's section on Psychic Magic which says "and forgoes the physical components of spells entirely" was just way too good to be true.
Still it's a really good class, and the occult rules on the material components are much more flavourful than the core rules.
I've just been having a look at my shiny new book, and the Psychic just jumps out as awesome.
An intelligence based full spontaneous caster is cool enough.
But combine that with Psychic Magic, which are automatically Silent and Still, but more importantly don't use material components. And the way I read the rules, that isn't just Eschew Materials "don't use material components" but no components at all.
So with this in mind, and a limited number of spells that you can learn, what spells do you choose?
Obviously, Stoneskin and Permanancy, without having to worry about the GP costs, just spring straight out at you? But which others?
Be careful with the Fabricate spell.
The Fabricate spell, combined with crafting, is one of the most broken parts of the game, allowing instant creation of masterwork, special material items, at 1/3 the "book" cost. The perfect base for creating a custom magic item.
It is also, by book, one of the fastest ways of making money, either just for the straight cash, or as funding for the magic item creation process, have a wince at the profit margins on this beast:
Adamantine Full Plate:
Market Price GP 16500
A straight 50% profit on the crafting materials, as an immediate cash boost with a Fabricate spell and a caster with the appropriate skill, or alternatively, a reduction of 11000 gp on the cost price of the base item to be made into a magic item.
Try reminding your players that you are a first time GM.
Tell them that you have a story planned out, but are a bit nervous and not confident that you can handle things if it goes off track.
Say "please" go with me on this, I know it's a bit of a rail road, but I really want to make my first adventure work.
Most players are adults, who are there to have a good time with their friends, and won't take the opportunity to stick the boot into you. Some players are also GM's and will almost certainly buy into helping out the new kid if asked politely.
Once you get your confidence, you'll learn to go with the flow, roll with the punches, and judge when to nudge the players back on your main track or just free form whilst they are motivated to do their own thing.
The first rule of GM'ing is don't say "NO", set the difficulty.
The Second rule is don't say "NO", make up a mini encounter/scenario..... on the spot if need be.
Is one of the players a cleric? If they are then you are going to really do him over on this if his god or a closely related god able to grant him spells is not available.
If his god is active on this other world, then their priesthood would have the same Spiritual language (Celestial, Infernal whatever) as that is based on the home plane of the worshipped god, not the plane/planet that the worshippers happen to be on.
This gives you an option to have the players have a link to a small number of individuals with whom at least one member of the party can plausibly share a common language. This will let you drop adventure hooks, general advice about the setting and language tutoring without cutting into your general concept that the new planet/plane itself is totally alien, and that there are very few people that they can communicate with.
I would then see how it goes. If the players are enjoying the challenge of not being able to communicate with the vast majority of the local population then 3 or 4 points of linguistics should be fair to learn the local lingo, if they are not, a few weeks downtime at the local abbey (which might be an adventure to find/get to in itself) for realisms sake and 1 point of linguistics should do the trick.
Don't forget to boost your skills, particularly the weapon and armour making ones.
Fabricate is an awesome spell for a crafter, allowing you to immediately craft masterwork items and make them out of special materials, but with the standard 1/3 cost. This is one of the few ways to make large amounts of money fast from crafting:
Adamantine Full Plate:
Market Price GP 16500
The real benefit from boosting the craft skills though comes from when you are actually crafting the item. You always have an option of using an appropriate craft skill as alternative to Spellcraft when making items. It is much easier to get bonuses to craft skills through equipment, traits and racial bonuses than it is to get boosts to Spellcraft and you can also get the benefit of the spell Crafter's fortune for a straight +5 to your Crafting roll.
As an aside, Cevah, above mentions that you can get followers up to third level, with crafting feats. Note that the Forgemaster gets Create Magic Arms and Armour at level 3 as a bonus feat.
For Trample, I would go for the Hippo (Behemoth). you get a 15ft space and 50ft move, so you can cover a lot of ground with the trample (more with Longstrider)
When you are not trampling you get a solid bite, with a grab, and a 15ft reach.
Is your DM applying the -4 penalty on AOO's against trampling creatures?
Improved Overrun should allow you to avoid the AOO, but if I was the GM I would house rule that you no longer got the auto success and had to roll CMB for the attempt (though you would still get the damage)
Trampling is a great option for area effect for a Druid. There is no reason why you can't choose a favourite trampling form, commission some barding, and then have other player characters put it on for your. Remember wild shape is a 1hr per level effect.
Are you remembering to cast Barkskin on yourself? If you don't want barding get the arcane caster to Mage Armour you... these effects stack.
Make sure you also have longstrider in effect, increasing the distance that you can trample.
If your DM is going to have everything AOO you anyway, then make sure that you cast Thorn Body to get some of your own back.
In a lot of fantasy settings dead kings are simply dead to avoid any issues with succession.
It makes an interesting idea that some of his loyal minions had him True Resurrected. He's no longer King, and he is very unhappy about it, and unsurprisingly blames the PC.
I always wonder why Fighter builds seem to ignore Handle Animal, for an investment of 1 skill point, you get a skill that can be used as:
1. An extra attack, make your own flanking buddy.
And these are just of the top of my head, but handle animal seems very cheap for just 1 skill point, even after dumping Charisma (IMHO A short sighted move which practically invites the GM to hose you in any non-combat interaction)
Robert A Matthews wrote:
It's no different than just paying someone else to cast the spell for you to craft the wand (which you can totally do using the price for spellcasting services). Pay a Wizard 10GP to cast Mage Armor for you to make yourself a wand of Mage Armor
Whilst you can certainly do this if you are crafting a permanent item such as a weapon or amulet, RAW seems pretty clear that you can't do this if you are crafting a wand or similar item...
"The creator must have prepared the spell to be stored (or must know the spell in the case of a sorcerer or bard)"
Whilst the section on cooperative crafting also states that this sort of item is an exception to the rule that you can get the spell from another source.
"In addition you cannot create spell trigger and spell completion magic without meeting their spell pre-requisites"
Which brings back the original question, If I have a Page of Spell Knowledge, do I "Know" the spell well enough to craft wands with it?
It does feel like a bit of a cheat though.
If a sorcerer has craft wondrous item, then they can make their own Page of Spell Knowledge with a +5 DC because they don't have the spell, then make the wand using it, bypassing the usual restrictions on spontaneous spellcasters and wands, and then just sell the Page of Spell Knowledge so that they wouldn't have to worry about going over the wealth guidelines for crafter's.
It basically means that a spontaneous spell caster just has to add to the length of time it takes to make a spell item, because they would get the cost of making the page back on sale.
I'd think that the issue of a crafter cohort is covered in Ultimate Campaign, pg 173, section Adjusting Character Level by Wealth.
You've invested one feat in what is effectively a very flavoursome craft feat, you can use it to increase your character wealth by 25%. That 25% value to be spread across the whole party if you make stuff for others as well.
Of the course the value of crafting isn't so much in the wealth table but the ability to customise magic items to suit character needs, and having a specialist crafter does increase the ability to customise, but I'd still reckon a 25% increase in that players wealth spread over the party is a fair and reasonable way of balancing the feat.
If the player has a strange, off the wall idea for an action, even (or especially) if it is something that you have not though off for that situation, don't say "no", just set a difficulty and let them roll the dice.
An idea for a "fun" rogue to play, not particularly combat optimised, but able to handle himself, and do lots of stuff outside of combat.
The character relies on movement to stay reasonably safe in combat, whilst allowing sneak attacks when the opportunity arises. The character relies on sneak attacks for damage.
It is slightly outside of the spirit of the initial challenge as I take it to level 11.
Weapon Familiarity for City-Raised (proficiency in Whip, we'll be using that a lot later, and +2 Knowledge (local) one of the more useful skills.
Armor Expert: This character is all about skills and movement.
Acrobat: Again skills and movement.
Sneak Attack +1d6, trapfinding
Sneak Attack +2d6, trap sense +1
Sneak Attack +3d6
Trap Sense +2
Sneak Attack +4d6
Improved Uncanny Dodge
Sneak Attack +5d6, Trap sense +3
Advanced Talent: Skill Mastery
Sneak Attack +6d6
Skills: (SM indicates skill mastery talent)
The character has plenty of things to do out of combat, being a great scout and with plenty of movement options it would be difficult to stop them sneaking,climbing, jumping, squeezing, Lock picking their way into anything.
In Combat, the customer spring attacks using acrobatics/mobility to get into flanking positions whilst avoiding being out of position, note that this character can effectively use walls like floors when considering lines of movement.
He's also on the look out for situations where numbers of creatures are committed to combat. First round spring into position, second round Whirlwind attack. With Enlarge person you have a reach of 30ft with your whip, so you can hit a lot of people with this with clever positioning.
Can you cook? Is there is good local take away?
Ask your local friends if they want to come round for Dinner and a Game. Emphasize the Dinner.
Don't try to start a campaign. Have a con style one off, one session scenario ready to go with pre-rolls and everything. Try to catch their interest and see if anyone wants to make it a regular thing.
Make sure that the food is really good. And keep the beer flowing enough to remove the inhibitions.
Don't try this on the night of the big game.
Take advanced talent Skill Mastery at level 10 with at least Acrobatics and Escape Artist, so that I can take 10 under stress, and you'd be hard pressed stopping a rogue from going anywhere on the battlefield.
I agree with comments that you have to look at Rogues in the whole not just in combat.
Rogues are really good skill monkeys, and some of those skills are very good in combat as well as out. These are skills that the Rogue is likely to be focusing on as well, rather than the more out of combat skills that the other 3/4 BAB classes look at.
Take acrobatics. Very useful for getting into flanking positions, moving over tactical obsticles like difficult terrain and then if things go really wrong and you are left in a difficult position gives you a bonus to AC on the fighting defensively and total defense options.
Escape Artist. Gets you out of any number of problems. Grapples are the obvious, but you can also use this for entangling problems like nets and the entangle spell. Again good uses both in and out of combat.
Handle Animal. Easy to pick up as a class skill using a trait. You can train your own flanking buddies. Train things to attack. To defend. You can use it to drive a chariot. Again lots of out of combat uses. Unlimited Equipement gives you plenty of good options
Intimidate. Useful out of combat, and also an option to give a minor de-buff in combat.
Perception. Don't really need to go into lengths about this, the benefits are clear.
Use Magic Device. Again if you really need to you can pull tricks in and out of combat with this. Wands for instance, don't provoke, so you can use these in combat to great effect.
I haven't really had time to think this through, so I'm sure that there are other skill uses in combat to give an edge without using feats or talents, but the point I'm making is that the things I'm reading on this thread, seem to be trying to hedge against the rogues weaknesses, instead of playing to their strengths. You wouldn't expect a Wizard to play the role of a Cleric as main party healer, so why expect a Rogue to take over from a fighter as a main source of combat power?
I've just starting playing a fighter and I'm looking at the different options available.
Obviously Sunder is on the list, but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of advice on it.
Obviously, weapons and armour are hard targets in that they have high hardness, lots of hit points, scale as you increase in level as magic bonuses make them harder to sunder, whilst breaking them doesn't seem to deliver a massive de-buff but destroying them also destroys the treasure.
The description says that you can sunder anything worn or carried so there seem to be a lot of good targets available that don't scale, are quite soft and won't hurt the treasure split.
So here are the obvious sunder targets:
1. Component pouches. 5gp, so won't hurt the treasure split. My guess is that it's leather, so 2 hardness and 5hp. Destroying it should be fairly easy and would be a fairly major debuff to any spell caster. Can't do this on characters with Eschew materials of course, but a look at the NPC codex, showed not one single Wizard, Druid, Bard or Cleric with that feat, so this isn't so much an opportunity as an invitation.
2. Holy symbol. Not that expensive in the general run of things, so you aren't really destroying treasure. One of the few items where it seems to get easier to destroy as you face higher level characters because they use softer metals. Get rid of this, and you get rid of the Divine focus and stop channelling, so again a major de-buff.
3. Familiar satchel. This should be fairly easily identifiable with a perception check. Nice of the wizard to place his familiar in such an easy to kill place. The description says armoured, but doesn't go into detail. I'm guessing leather. Would damaging the satchel injure the familiar? Are you attacking the familiars CMD or the Wizards? Does the follow through of damage from a greater sunder go to the familiar, the wizard or both?
4. Quivers. We don't want to destroy the bow. But destroy the quiver and the archer will have trouble using it. An archer without arrows is a man with stick right?
So the question is, what am I missing? Please can you add other nice targets for a sunder in this thread?
Have a look at the fate system, where "compelling aspects" is a key part of the game.
Have the character write down 3 or 4 aspects, such as "hates elves", or "I owe everything to character xyz".
When something like this comes up in play, send him a note that the voices in his head are forcing him to act on it, then let him decide how to play out the encounter from there.
You might want to give the character the option of buying his way out of this by paying a hero point.
#35 Remember that it is just a game. A big game with lots of different options and conflicting ideas on how to do things so don't be afraid to see the character as an experiment, the more characters that you build the better you will get a building them, and if the experiment fails and you don't enjoy your character... let it make a glorious sacrifice for the good of party, rip up the sheet, and try something different.
OK, let me give you a hypothetical scenario.
I am a half orc fighter, wearing spiked armour, a spiked shield on the off arm and a spiked gauntlet on the primary hand. I have taken the "Toothy" Alternative racial trait, granting me a bite attack.
Each of these weapons is +5 with the Defending quality.
I also have a bodywrap of mighty strikes, again +5 with the defending quality.
At the start of my turn, I have the option of attacking with any of these weapons, or taking a bite, or a combination of these actions, alternatively, as free action at the start of my turn, I can apply the defending option to myself and add the wielded weapon bonus to my AC instead. The description states that the defending option is an untyped bonus which stacks with all others.
What I am intending to do is throw a dagger at my enemy. The dagger is also +5 defending.
Am I wielding 3 weapons and my bite, allowing me to add +20 to my AC?
Am I wielding the Dagger, if it is ready to throw and get an addition +5 to my AC, or would I only be wielding the dagger if it was actually in hand at the start of the turn?
Malachi Silverclaw wrote:
LOL, I can be dumb sometimes. I hadn't seen that ruling, though to be honest it does kind of make a game balancing sort of sense.
The description on armour spikes is very clear that you can use them to make both attacks and off-hand attacks. (the only restriction discussed in the core rulebook is that you can't use it to make a second off hand attack, if you have already made one, which by impliction confirms that armour spikes are not hand associated, but still allow attacks)
I got the idea of armour spikes after reading the section on Gillmen in the Advanced Race Guide, where they give the Sea Knife equipment option, which explicitly states that you can make an off hand attack using them whilst also making a two handed weapon attack.
Still, the option to have two weapon fighting whilst retaining a shield bonus by using armour spikes, is well worth considering.
Have you considered the benefits of Armour Spikes?
You can use them as an off-hand weapon, but they don't actually use up a hand, so your primary weapon could be a two handed weapon (maybe with reach?) or you could stick to a one handed weapon and also carry a shield.
It would require some work to convert, but there is a fairly good abstract trading system in the old Traveller "Merchant Prince" supplement.
Its not a perfect fit, but as a starter, it'll give you something to work with.
Mounts (and animals trained for other purposes)are a powerful addition for any character.
If you have a Druid and someone with the animal handling skill in the party they are pretty easy to get and train, on a similar time scale to making a magic item, whilst they scale comparatively well against animal companions and special class mounts.
See Peterrco's guide to Druids section 3 on animal training.
Patrick Juola wrote:
The Animal handling skill allows for both. Whilst the distinction is not made clear in the main body of the description, it is clear from the section on untrained use:
***Untrained: If you have no ranks in Handle Animal, you can use a Charisma check to handle and push domestic animals, but you can't teach, rear, or train animals. A druid or ranger with no ranks in Handle Animal can use a Charisma check to handle and push her animal companion, but she can't teach, rear, or train other nondomestic animals.***
The implication of this is that a Druid or Ranger with ranks in Handle Animal ***IS*** able to train other nondomestic (i.e. wild) animals.
The benefit of the "rear animal" skill is that untrained characters can use them as "domestic" animals.
Hope that this is clear.
Great that you are bringing someone new to the game. We rp geeks sometimes get a bit worked up about how new players... particularly ones we care about.... see the game. But at the end of the day it boils down to a dinner party a conversation and a game.
Having said that. A multiclass character, with the additional complexity of an animal companion? That is a lot for an experienced player to deal with, let alone a new player.
Rogues and ninjas do not suck. But you should still roll her a fighter. It is traditional and relatively easy way for a new player to come to grips with the concepts of the game and ensures that she will have something to do all the time whilst allowing for growth and complexity as the character levels.
The character you have designed is great as a second character to build on the concepts learned with a pure fighter.
A lot of the baseball and cricket skills crossover so if you enjoy watching one you will probably like the other.
Dilshan - Alchemist
The Australian Team - Kobolds
Are you able to perform Combat Manouevres on other party members, as the description often states that these are used against foes.
If I did use a Combat Manouevre on a fellow party member would:
1. The fellow party member be required to carry out an AOO? (I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't)
The scenario I have in mind is where, say, a Wizard has got himself badly positioned in the front line and, say, a fighter uses the Reposition Manoeuvre to reposition him to safety. Useful as this would mean that the Wizard would be moved out of the way of danger, and his movement whilst being repositioned would not attract AOO....
Xarthos Darkblade wrote:
This is a really good guide. I love the detail on everything, especially the animal companions and summoning options. The feat options for animal companions only seems to include the base option feats though. Once the companion has some int, a lot more feats open up and teamwork feats become amazing. Nothing like having Outflank with your companion. Or Lookout with a high perception companion.
Thank you, I hope you enjoyed reading it.
I initially left out feats that an animal companions could look at with a higher Int score, as what is available is subject to GM approval, and I didn't want to start speculating beyond what the rules specifically allowed. However, on reflection, I think I was being over cautious so I am planning to expand on that section (with suitable health warnings).
Xarthos Darkblade wrote:
I'm still reading through it all, so I'm not sure if you have touched on effective 1 level dips or multiclassing at all. I really like 1 ranger/19 worldwalker druid. You have to take a feat (from UC, can't remember name right now) but effectively you end up with full favored enemy and terrain on top of all the normal druid goodies.
I haven't looked at multi-classing at all. It's on my list of things to do, but probably not in the next update. I've found that just dealing with the single class druid is a bigger job than I thought, so this might have to wait for a bit. But you are certainly correct, there are a number of dips and multi-class options that deserve a look.
Thank you for your input.
Yes, I'm planning an update, and more detail on Summon Nature's ally is definately going in there. I like the idea of going into more detail on equipment as well. Thank you for the input. Glad you enjoyed the guide.
This is going to be a brute of a character once you hit level 7, and should be more than playable before then. My only thoughts are that you probably don't need superior summoning quite so early, and I think Powerful Shape is so useful to a druid, particularly a shaman where animal wild shapes are a key part of the mix, that I would want to try and slip it in at ninth level if possible. Looks an awesome build though, have fun.
Yes, I agree, I've kind of focused on the core rulebooks on this version, but I will add this to my next update. Thank you for the idea.
Link Arcane Archer Adventures.
This is a nice start to your guide. I enjoyed reading it.
Are you able to combine imbue arrow with phase arrow? That would be a nice way of putting an area effect into a room full of enemies before kicking down the door.
Takes real grit to play a character like this. Real old school gaming.
An undead cleric with wisdom 11 wouldhave serios restrictions on the max level of spellthey could cast.
I would build on the charisma strength and push it up to 16, and then play an undead lord Oracle.
moon glum wrote:
Tendriculous makes a decent tank because it has regeneration.
Quickwood is probably a better option than Treant as a Plant form because of it 60ft reach and good resistances.
The great Paizo gods of balance have declared that all classes are equal.......
More seriously they do if different things and a good player will be able to make both of them powerful whilst a weak player will struggle whatever class they play.
What a sweet idea. Sadly it doesn't work. Even if there was a creature that could spit poison, the "spit" special attack is not on the list of abilities available on Beast Shape 3. It would make an interesting house rule though.
Hmm... I could be sold on poison being useful, but only with a different mindset than the one you are currently using...
The mindset that I am currently using is that poison is ONE of MANY options that a druid can choose from dependent on the situation.
I'll admit to being a little surprised that a thread which I thought (and hoped) was going to be about druids has turned out to be a thread about poisons.
That said, the question has been asked, and I stand by my position that poison is an interesting and useful part of the much larger druidic toolkit, so I'll try and answer.
As stands, I can't see it being used by a wildshape druid, due to their low DCs. (No, DC 20 at level 12 isn't good... My 3rd level conjuration spells have a DC 20 at level 5.) But a caster druid is already sporting a good wisdom, ahd I could see a good poison-spitter form being better than call lightning style spells when the caster doesn't want to waste spells.
If I was to choose a form with purely with combat in mind, then I agree, a poison using form is not the first (or even second or third) option that would come to mind. I don't see poison as a primary attack form for druids in wildshape.
There are situations where I could see it coming into play. For example an Emperor Cobra, with it's climb and swim (which comes with a free waterbreathing effect) would be an excellent form for exploring a tomb raider style dungeon with lots of climbs and flooded sections. The sort of environment that a Dire Tiger is not built for, but an Emperor Cobra is. If I was to be attacked in that situation then I would certainly want to get the benefit of the poison attack.
Remember that in this case it would be a natural poison attack, not one that is stuck to a blade. Which means that every time I successfully attack, the opponent has to make a save or be poisoned. It only takes one failed save with a poison that does 1d3 con and requires 2 consecutive saves to cure for the poisoned creature to be on a very slippery slope.
That said, this is a fairly restricted situational benefit where poison might assist a druid in wildshape.
I think that poisons actually become a powerful part of the druids arsenal if you see the druid not as a USER of poisons but as a SUPPLIER of them.
There are a number of classes that provide the poison use, the alchemist being the most obvious. Yet most of the time these classes just don't get the full benefit of all their abilities because poisons generally take an age to make, cost a fortune and because they have a save are not sure to work. This also removes from the general role playing table builds that are based on poison use. With a Druid to supply large quantities of free poison either from a wildshape or from a captured animal you can activate the poison users ability, and at the same time increase their enjoyment of the game and the effectiveness of the party as a whole.
Alchemists (and to lesser extent the Poisoner archetype of rogue) can pull all sorts of tricks with poisons, increaseing their potency, making them sticky and most interesting of all changing their form.....There are role playing opportunities in having quantities of snake/octopus etc venom converted from injury poisons to contact/inhaled and injested poisons.
Of course most parties don't have a specialised poison user, but that doesn't mean that the option loses it's value. Its fairly easy to convert a normal character into a temporary poison user. It's not much use to a melee character because the poisons wipe of the blade after a single use, but an archer or crossbowman would benefit.
First: cast Delay Poison on them, so that "The subject becomes temporarily immune to poison"
Second: Give them a selection of poisons to put on their arrows (100 doses would allow an efficient quiver to be filled)
Third: Make sure that you have a Neutralise Poison in memory or on a scroll in case there is an accident so that you can cast it before the end of the delay poison spell.
......Which character would you rather have at your side, the archer with normal arrows, or the archer with poisoned arrows?.....
But again. To stress, I am not saying that a druids main ability is with poisons, all I am saying is that creative use of the tools that you have is the key to playing a versatile class, and that as poisons are one of the druids tools, then he should make sure it is used to its full effect, for the benefit of the party even if it does not directly benefit himself.
Why do I care about poisons when they effectively do less damage than an attack? Let alone an 18 dc fort save is pretty easy to pass at level 9 for a good amount of creatures. Let alone a lot of things a immune to poison. 1d2 con damage and some pathetic attack damage for two standard actions? On top of that you have to hit their ac and they have to fail their save. I know it's not saying much but my level 4 druid saves on an 8 against that. I just don't see how you can justify trying to take a weak poisonous snake over a pouncing, grabbing, raking tiger.
Hmm, I think we agree on the point that the Dire Tiger is a truly great combat form to take. No argument on that.
Where we disagree, is that I don't think that just because we have the Dire Tiger available to us, that this means we can draw a line, and stop thinking about the class.
Dismissing all other options out of hand, without considering the situational (perhaps even non-combat) benefits that they have, seems a little complacent at best.
Please don't take this as a criticism. I am sure that you have an amazing game just turning into Tigers, that you have great fun doing it, and that you maximise the role playing opportunities of the "Tiger Only Druid" to the full.
Play the passive aggressive.
Do you have selective channelling? Remove the character with the offending mount from your heals...
Declare that by owning an undead hose that they cannot be considered an ally when casting bless etc...
You do not have to go destroying the mount to make it very clear in role playing terms how much you disapprove.
It doesn't matter their strength still sucks. an ape at level 4 has 22 strength. it has 11. Poison isn't worth investing in considering that anything with okay saves can ignore the effects. The DCs on poison are pathetic and should be treated as such.
The save DC's on poison's are pretty good when you take on wild shape. With polymorph's the DC is based not on the poison DC of base creature, but 10 plus the spell level plus your wisdom, so making a conservative assumption that your druid would have a Wisdom of 16 at level 8, even normally quite poor creatures start to look pretty nasty.
Take the Viper (Familiar), one of the weakest poisons in the Bestiary.
Base animal Poison is: Bite - injury; save Fort DC 9; Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect; 1d2 Con; cure 1 save.
Not good, but apply wildshape to it, using Beast Shape 3, a 5th level spell, and the save jumps to Fort DC 18, which is something that you can't just handwave away.
Take one of the better poison options, the Snake, Emperor Cobra:
Bite - injury; save Fort 17; Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d3 Con; cure 2 consecutive saves.
Increase the Save to Fort 18 in wildshape, and keep biting. Sooner or later the target is going to lose the initial save and will then have to make 2 consecutive saves to get out of the mire. Unlikely whilst it's losing 1d3 points of con per round.
Plant poisons are potentially even better, as Plant Shape 3, a seventh level spell, at lvl 12, with a 16 wis (how likely is that?) would have a save of 20.
I don't think that you can just write of the power of the poison attacks that the druid has available, especially when you consider that you get the attack damage on top, and unlike manufactured poisons, your not limited to one attack and then re-apply to your weapon. You get to keep on biting for the whole fight.
I think it is because whats fun in the game is different to whats fun on a forum.
In game cooperation is what counts and the only interpretation that matters is the GMs. In forum we are here to discuss and debate the game and sometimes a good (non flaming and constructive) well argued disagreement can be fun and help peoples understanding of the game.
Reading this, I'm not sure that you've understood how Wild Shape works.
It isn't 1 round per level, it's 1 hour per level per wild shape.
The abilities that you get when you are wildshaped are based on your Druid Level, which effects which polymorph spell you are able to use, as well the form that you are taking. So as a sixth level Bear Shaman you would be able to change into a Bear for 8 hours, using the Beast shape 3 ability, but would have to wait until you were level 8 before you could use the Elemental Forms.
The spells that you have listed are good caster druid spells, but as combat druid, there are better options. At first level, Longstrider springs to mind, allowing you to move more quickly for 1 hour per day (stacking with the Barbarian bonus). Remember that Druids cast spells like Clerics so that you can change your spell selection every day.
In terms of having a Bear Companion, they are not great, have you considered instead taking the Strength Domain (Ferocity Subdomain) which sounds like it would suit your concept really well, give you extra spells (Enlarge Person at level 1, Rage at level 3), some cool powers, and is available to you as a Bear Shaman?
Whilst the Bear Companion is fairly weak, the Base animals, the Grizzly Bear and Dire Bear are pretty good,you can use Call Animal to capture and then Train a bear for fighting/guarding or even as a mount quite easily. You can do this with Call Animal on the Grizzly Bear at caster level 4 as a druid (learn Wartrain Mount that day as well to ensure that you can get it home to your training area), and the Dire Bear at caster level 7.
But because of your specialization you're actually limiting your options. Not only that but poison sucks and a lot of creatures you're not going to effect them with trip. On top of that the Giant Chameleon can't grab and attack in the same turn and has 17 strength at level 4. Another thing to consider is the Stegosaurus sucks at until level 7. It only has a strength of 10 so it's not going to hit anything.
Any choice that you make limits your options, the reason that I rate the Saurian Shaman so highly is that they have such a wide range of options that the restrictions hurt less..
I think we will have to just disagree on the suckiness of poisons. I am not saying that they are always the best option, but I would rather have them in my tool kit than not.
There are a lot of creatures that cannot be effected by tripbut that does not mean that we should ignore the value of the attack on the creatures that it does effect.
In your Str calculations, have you remembered to add in the normal Str progression of animal companions?
There is a different way of getting good mounts apart from riding other players or your cohort.
A Druid can cast the Call Animal Spell, this calls an animal of the same CR (not HD) as the caster level of the spell. The spell has a range of potentially dozens of miles, with it effecting any animal of the chosen species within range, which is one hours travel for that creature per caster level. The animal comes to the Druid with an "indifferent" attitude, which allows "Wartrain Mount" to be cast on it, which temporarily adds the Combat Training general purpose to the mount, so you can take it back to a training area for more permanent instruction. With your expert trainer ability you can be riding it within six days. So a 9th level Druid (level 6, with the right traits and feats) could call you a fully fledged Mastadon, and you could be riding it into combat a week later.
You can make additional use of your handle animal skill by getting the druid to summon animals not as mounts, but as fighting or guard animals, to assist you in combat.
If you want to follow through on the cohort idea, why not have the Druid cast Awaken on your favourite mount, it then gets an intelligence score and two extra HD....
The Druid is one of your best friends in the party. But I think riding him as mount is not the best way to go about it.