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Thoughts on the Urban Druid?


Advice

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I will, in a couple of weeks, be participating in a city based campaign. I thought it might be interesting to play an Urban Druid from the APG, but I find myself initially weary, due to heavy hit the wild shape ability takes. So I have a few questions and a request for advice.

1. What are your thoughts on the urban druid? Is it still viable with its weak wild shaping ability?

2. As far as the domain choices go, which do you believe are the most useful? The cleric domains don't appeal to me as a whole, with a few exceptions (travel, darkness, protection), so I'm a bit cluseless.

The game starts at 7th level, and rather than point buy, the DM let us roll our stats! I got some damn good ones, if I say so myself: 16, 16, 16, 14, 12, 12.

Thanks all.

Andoran

I'm going to give you the "standard-issue" answer, here, and then my own opinion, which is different.

The Standard Answer: Urban Druid is not great because, even moreso than Wild Shape, you give up the ability to spontaneously convert prepared spells into SNA's. Summoning is a very strong skill, and with Augment Summoning (which you would surely have by 7th level), your SNA's can be quite effective. This hurts your combat ability a lot. Taken in combination with the downsized Wild Shape, this is a pretty weak option.

My Answer: I couldn't disagree with the standard answer more, contingent upon a few things - the primary ones being your GM and the type of game they're playing. If this game is going to be a hack-and-slashy type game, you're probably better off with a standard druid, or heck, something else entirely. But, if the GM is anticipating a lot of intrigue and is in the mood to roleplay, you're potentially incredibly strong. I'd suggest (just what I'd do, by no means the optimal solution) putting your 16's into Charisma and Wisdom (and whatever else), and running a Urban Druid with the Lust subdomain of the Charm domain. You're going to have A Thousand Faces already at the start of the game, and you're going to have Confusion (read: win the fight) as a domain spell at 4th level, to which you can spontaneously convert as needed. The 8th level Domain ability is pretty darn strong ("I really want to possess your +2 chainmail, strip it off, please!" - come to papa), and Suggestion as a 3rd level Domain spell is pretty good in my humble opinion. You're the faceperson (man or woman as you desire or as the situation demands), but with full spellcasting. Your good stats ensure that you don't have any really weak physicals, either.

In fact, now I want to play one of these.


Yeah, Urban druid is actually pretty solid, despite the retarded wild shape progression. Keeping in mind that many urban areas don't quite allow for the space that the effective shapes require, this isn't a bad thing.

Summon Nature's Ally is still a strong option for this sort of druid, so don't discount it. Also, urban druids are defined more by their domains than any other druid. You get 1 domain spell of each level, plus you can spontaneously convert other spells into domain spells. Just be sure the domain you choose is something you're gonna want to cast more than once a day. Otherwise it's a wasted class feature.

Also, the early acquisition of Thousand Faces makes for great opportunities to thieve, ransack, and infiltrate- especially in an urban setting. After all, you were just robbed by a 6'2 half-orc, not a halfling woman.

Thoughts on domains:

Charm - Already discussed. A strong choice for a fey-style druid.
Community - Puts you in the backseat with party support. Some solid party buffs, if that's your style. Pushes you closer to a cleric than most others.
Knowledge - Access to several interesting divination spells & abilities. Excellent for the Seer types.
Nobility - While I dislike any class automatically getting leadership, the spells are top notch. Contains a wide range of buffs for melee, enchantments, and even some good old fashioned storm magic.
Protection - Grants access to some of the defensive magics that druids don't normally get access to. I'd rank this with community.
Repose - Flavorful, but unless your campaign focuses a lot of undead I'd avoid it. Too much going without use here.
Rune - Awful. Most of the spells have expensive material components, which is just bad. The language subdomain helps with this, but pushes you towards a "talking with people" build that could easily be replicated with ranks in Linguistics.
Weather - Among the best for the standard druid, but still pretty mediocre. Lots of blasts, some decent crowd control... overall kinda boring. The storms subdomain pushes the blasting capabilities of the domain, while seasons is terrible.

Just my opinions, of course.

Edit: Adjusted formatting to increase readability.

Andoran

Totally agree with Sean's comments, with a reminder thrown in to not forget about looking over the subdomains for each of those. I'd use Nobility or a related subdomain if you're not into the whole Charm schtick (which, if I could Alter Self at will, I would be).


Jeremiziah wrote:
Totally agree with Sean's comments, with a reminder thrown in to not forget about looking over the subdomains for each of those. I'd use Nobility or a related subdomain if you're not into the whole Charm schtick (which, if I could Alter Self at will, I would be).

Agreed. The pathfinder online SRD has them easily organized so that you see the domain and two subdomains right after it. It's hella useful.


Love the Urban Druid. Can see using it for many different feels, from sear to protector to celtic type.

The hit to wildshape in pathfinder, does make Wildshape more of a travel/environmental feature now for most druids. So depending on your campaign; this might or might not be more noticeable.

On the other hand, you do gain alot with Urban Druids.

You gain A Thousand Faces(su): at 6th level. So you can Alter Self at Will. So you can move around in different cities of almost any humanoid races with ease. ((Turn yourself into a mermaid, which give swim... an form that gives swim gives you the ability to breath underwater; by RAW in polymorph section...for underwater adventures)). Very nice effect at 6th level. +20 to Disguise skill checks, also nice.

Mental Strenght 9th Level: IMMUNITY to charm & Compulsion effects. Very nice to be your own man. One less thing to worry about; no more: Charm Person, Charm monster, Dominate person, Dominate monster, calm emotions, Command spells, Confusion, Daze, Feeblemind, Geas/Quest, Hold spells, Insanity, Mind fog, Suggestion, Sleep spells, Touch of Idiocy, Zone of Truth, ... after just a brows thro. Very nice protection, for a pure caster to have. You do lose poison immunity, but still, now your mind is protected from charms and compulsions. Just tell your party cleric not to cast Heroism or greater... as it will no longer work on you thow.

A good linguistics + Diplomancy skills could also help you be the Man of the Town.

Anyway just some ideas..... wish you good luck


I would say for an urban campaign specifically---where being able to turn into a bear the size of a small house may actually be problematic at times---the urban druid does very well as a divine member of a party with some cool abilities as mentioned by others above.

I also know it's very unpopular to suggest multiclassing full casters, and this is largely speculative, but since you're not going to be relying on wild shape much, multiclassing with fighter or rogue could prove an interesting combination. I'm seeing a self-buffing meleer who can summon his own flanking buddies, with a lot of interesting class skills and abilities to be very useful and flexible in and out of combat.


Looking at the sub domains from knowledge you could build something very similar to a doppleganger using urban druid. Memory particularily has abilities that would be useful in an urban game i think.


Just a word on the subdomains people mentioned... I am pretty sure I read somewhere that the subdomains are a Cleric-only alternate class feature, and not for other classes that can get a domain (druid/inquisitor/etc)
Correct me if I am wrong please, a reference in either direction would be much appreciated. :)


Interzone wrote:

Just a word on the subdomains people mentioned... I am pretty sure I read somewhere that the subdomains are a Cleric-only alternate class feature, and not for other classes that can get a domain (druid/inquisitor/etc)

Correct me if I am wrong please, a reference in either direction would be much appreciated. :)

Yeah other classes can take them. When the book first came out there were some people saying that only clerics could take them. But Sean Reynolds has said otherwise in the APG FAQ.


Interzone wrote:

Just a word on the subdomains people mentioned... I am pretty sure I read somewhere that the subdomains are a Cleric-only alternate class feature, and not for other classes that can get a domain (druid/inquisitor/etc)

Correct me if I am wrong please, a reference in either direction would be much appreciated. :)

Check out the FAQ. It was stated that everyone with appropriate access to a domain could instead choose the subdomain as clerics can.


Sean FitzSimon wrote:
Interzone wrote:

Just a word on the subdomains people mentioned... I am pretty sure I read somewhere that the subdomains are a Cleric-only alternate class feature, and not for other classes that can get a domain (druid/inquisitor/etc)

Correct me if I am wrong please, a reference in either direction would be much appreciated. :)
Check out the FAQ. It was stated that everyone with appropriate access to a domain could instead choose the subdomain as clerics can.

This is good news! While I'm not familiar with the subdomains, I do like the expanded options they represent.

I do like the idea of a doppleganger-type character; am infiltration specialist who uses his alter self abilities to ferret out secrets, while also have full use of druidic spell casting at his disposal sounds very appealing.


Sean FitzSimon wrote:
Interzone wrote:

Just a word on the subdomains people mentioned... I am pretty sure I read somewhere that the subdomains are a Cleric-only alternate class feature, and not for other classes that can get a domain (druid/inquisitor/etc)

Correct me if I am wrong please, a reference in either direction would be much appreciated. :)
Check out the FAQ. It was stated that everyone with appropriate access to a domain could instead choose the subdomain as clerics can.

Awesome, glad to hear it!

Shadow Lodge

I really like this variant class. It's no Mountain Druid with OMG IMMA GIANT-pawamodo, but looks like it can pack a punch in nearly every category of sucesful adventuring, cityslicking through class abilities, nature hijinx via the spell list, thuggery through domains, etc. I imagine a royal gardener, a silent type, who doubles as a secret service enforcer for the court. He's been in the job since the previous king and knows all the nooks and crannies of the city, upside and darkside.

With that in mind, the class conforms easiest to a talkative full caster archetype, especially with the Charm domain. I won't write about that too much, since it's already been discussed in this thread very elegantly.

Nobility domain has got to be one of my favorites, since it means you can spontaneously cast magic vestment and divine favor. These buffs mean that your druid can remain relevant even when wildshape fails or isn't sufficient. A darn good option.

Another is taking the Souls domain and duking it out with some of the best necromancy spells in the game, which you can spontaneously cast. Spell Focus(Necromancy) is a requisite here and the special ability is fairly decent, compared to, say, everything that Rune domain gives you. I'd like to try this some day, along with a Blight Druid with Rage domain.

Finally, a very strong option is taking your basic Community domain, which means people can finally one up Erastil, who has been hogging the thing since the beginning. It's the ultimate suppor domain to rule them all. The only thing lacking is Good Hope or Haste, but let's leave something to the Bards, heh.


I like the Urban druid a lot too. Theres a lot that of roles that you can take on with it. You can be the face of the party, the knowledge guy, the nature/survival guy, the perception guy, and the caster guy.

I think the main thing to realize though is that no matter how you approach it, you will undoubtedly be a primary caster as an Urban Druid.

I definitely think human is the best racial choice here. There are a lot of skills you would want, and the bonus skill point from the race will be very helpful. I'd also use the favored class bonus for the skill point too. And I wouldn't skimp too much on Int.

Cosmopolitan could be a very good feat choice here. Taking Disguise as a class skill would work great with the thousand faces ability. This would also open up Sense Motive, Use Magic Device, or a Knowledge skill that you don't have as class skills.

Your domain choice will greatly define your character, and will influence feat selections. There is a lot of good advice here as far as domains. I'd say take one that suits your character concept best.

Remember that in addition to being able to spontaneously cast from the domain, you have to prepare a domain spell each level anyways. Regardless of your chosen domain, there are likely to be a couple domain spells that won't do much for you. A metamagic feat or two can help with this, as you can always prepare a lower level domain spell in a higher level slot, so if you want to do this you might as well metamagic it. Extend is an obviously good choice for any druid. Heighten could be useful depending on the domain. But the domain spells themselves will somewhat dictate what metamagic feats work best.

A feat that should not be overlooked is Scribe Scroll. Since you have access to every druid spell anyways, you can cheaply and easily have a ready supply of a wide variety of spells on scrolls. Use the scribed scrolls for things like utility spells and low level buff and healing spells.

Your one big weakness is defense. No metal armor, and probably a sub par dex. And you don't get the super duper defense spells that a wizard will get, such as invisibility. And a druids best defense--wildshape--comes later and at a lower version. Still, once you get wildshape, your movement and disguise abilities in wildshape should help protect you. Some of the domains offer some good defensive spells, so if this is a concern you can look toward choosing one of those domains.

For abilities, obviously wisdom is primary. I'd probably put Str as a dump stat. You would think Cha would be key, but I don't think its super important here; you get Diplomacy as a class skill and get a +2 bonus on it, so as long as you put points into it and don't have a negative Cha you will be ok. (Although if you want to go for UMD either through Cosmopolitan or Skill Focus, Cha would be more important). I think Int is important, because there will be a lot of skills you will want, and it helps with the knolwedge skills of which you will have several. Dex is good of course for AC, so that will be important, and of course Con is always important.

For skills, I'd max out perception, diplomacy, disguise, spellcraft,and sense motive (even if its not a class skill, you will have good Wis). And I'd dump various skill points into knowledge skills, linguistics, and some movement skills. And maybe a few into Stealth just for the heck of it.

Oh, and pick up a hat of disguise when you can (it uses a different slot from the headband, so no problems there.) This will give you disguise self at will, so that when combined with alter self at will and a good disguise skill you will be able to pass for just about anybody or anything.

Andoran

Kudos, Father Dale - (my father's name is Dale, how ironic)

That's actually pretty good advice on the Charisma, although personally with this type of character I definitely would take Cosmopolitan. The thing is, with his stat block, there really is no true dump stat; a +1 is his lowest attribute. I really don't think he's capable of messing up his att spread, (outside of putting a 12 in Wisdom or similar nonsense). If I were him, I'd throw the 16's in the mental stats and be an amazing skill monkey (human with favored class going into skill ranks), throw the 14 in Dex or Con as desired and roll with that.

But you're right, it depends entirely on what type of character it is.


What do I love the urban druid for?

Master Spy.

I know, "weak class is weak!" but not in this case:

Alter self as an at will power is incredibly strong for the master spy since it allows almost instant perfect disguises for you -- having wild shape available just adds more disguises to your repetoire. The fact that alter self will give you a bonus to either strength or dex at all times can help make up for the fact that you are MAD too. Also you'll have misdirection or nondetection or simply permanent mind blank available you which is a great way to hide who you are even better. The spell casting of the druid will allow you to "mimic" and act the part of both arcane casters and other divine casters without giving away the full extent of your powers.

Add in to this the fact that natural attacks do well with sneak attack augmentation and the good skill points from druid (plus your class abilities that give bonuses to many skills) and you are in nice shape on skills as well.

If you are going to do this I would use the aasimar as race, and take the following stats (using 20 point buy):

Str 13 Dex 12 Con 12 Int 14 Wis 14 Cha 13

Nobility is a natural fit for this type of character and the spells will help shore up your weak points as well.

For class levels I suggest druid 8/master spy 9/druid 2/rogue 1.


Hello, all! I have an update on the status of our upcoming game. It is set in Kaer Maga; I haven't heard much about the area, other than the bloat mages and the troll seers, but it sounds interesting.

The rest of the party consists of a gnome sorcerer, a half-elf paladin, a human rogue, and a fighter of undetermined race. So lit looks like we have everything covered except for the healer.

Shadow Lodge

Let's see, a druid as a healer?

Perhaps to take care of those pesky adventuring conditions and diseases and poisons, but a druid as a healbot is just asking for it. With your group, there's a character who an use UMD to wield a wand of cures and both you and the paladin can muster enough healing AND zap people with wands to not bog down your spellcasting.

You see, I don't think anyone should play a healbot. I can see that if somebody really wants to play one, then there's no problem, but as such, healbots are often reactionary one trick ponies and playing one isn't necessarily fun. Not to mention, mid-combat healing goes out of fashion about when 3d8+8 won't cut it anymore. Sure, you'll get Heal sometime later which ups your effectiveness to eleven, but that's so far away. That said though, there has to be characters in the party who can remedy conditions and do have the divine utility spells, like Speak with the Dead. The game is just geared that way. Shoring up the party's weaknesses is what the divine characters do.

Just ask me, I played a cleric/radiant servant of Sarenrae(healing, heroism, fire) through RotRL. Having the ability to zap people with a wand of cures is important for levels through 1-7, then the othere folk need to kip up and start to pull their weight, otherwise the game becomes one of frustration since everyone relies on and expects that cure spells are always available mid-combat. Take an example from my campaign: The party were in the troll-infested damworks. This was about the time our effectiveness(or power level, if you may) had become even with what the difficulty expected us to face. Meaning that regular opponents dropped in two rounds usually. So, everyone was pretty hyped. Of course that meant that the valiant melee characters of the group became cocksure as hell. Soon you had both the paladin and the barbarian not giving a crap about advice and instead taking their own initiative to study the complex. Naturally that means the scenario took them down a notch when a couple of seconds later our group was separated by reach attacks into 3 different positions around a Big Bad and all of them were crying about mid-combat healing.

What, did you think I would take max ranks in Acrobatics? I'm playing a healer/dismisser, since you already got the Acrobatics master, my rogue, killed. Sit tight and I'll be there. *SLOTCH* Oh, ok, I'll be there a bit faster.

It was even funnier later on in Spires of Spoiler Spoilest, when the group's barbarian was regularly dropping an opponent every turn(including pretty much one-shotting the campaign BBEG with a 357 damage full attack), but had an AC of 22 with the Reckless Abandon barbarian power. I sat pretty fraking tight behind that Shoanti. Or readied a Heal to touch that dickface when he had the audacity to drop from the sky while dueling whatever eldritch we had the luck to face each day.

Please OP, don't take this role. They'll love you at first, but once the dependence sets in, you're fraked. Explain to the party early that you'll definitely be there to remove a blindness or restore Constitution, but memorizing Mass Cure spells is not for a druid.

Now, if you want to play a Healbot, then an Oracle of Life is a great option. With a cleric they'll just start wondering why you won't melee.


Muser wrote:

Let's see, a druid as a healer?

Perhaps to take care of those pesky adventuring conditions and diseases and poisons, but a druid as a healbot is just asking for it. With your group, there's a character who an use UMD to wield a wand of cures and both you and the paladin can muster enough healing AND zap people with wands to not bog down your spellcasting.

You see, I don't think anyone should play a healbot. I can see that if somebody really wants to play one, then there's no problem, but as such, healbots are often reactionary one trick ponies and playing one isn't necessarily fun. Not to mention, mid-combat healing goes out of fashion about when 3d8+8 won't cut it anymore. Sure, you'll get Heal sometime later which ups your effectiveness to eleven, but that's so far away. That said though, there has to be characters in the party who can remedy conditions and do have the divine utility spells, like Speak with the Dead. The game is just geared that way. Shoring up the party's weaknesses is what the divine characters do.

Just ask me, I played a cleric/radiant servant of Sarenrae(healing, heroism, fire) through RotRL. Having the ability to zap people with a wand of cures is important for levels through 1-7, then the othere folk need to kip up and start to pull their weight, otherwise the game becomes one of frustration since everyone relies on and expects that cure spells are always available mid-combat. Take an example from my campaign: The party were in the troll-infested damworks. This was about the time our effectiveness(or power level, if you may) had become even with what the difficulty expected us to face. Meaning that regular opponents dropped in two rounds usually. So, everyone was pretty hyped. Of course that meant that the valiant melee characters of the group became c%~!@ure as hell. Soon you had both the paladin and the barbarian not giving a crap about advice and instead taking their own initiative to study the complex. Naturally that means the scenario took them down a notch when a couple of...

Oh, trust me, I will not be playing a healbot. I did that once (in RotRL actually) and it didn't end well. From level one my halfling cleric was the life line, always ready with a quick cure spell or positive energy burst. It was fine for a while. But at some point certain members of the party started taking my character for granted. Apparently, according to some, my only role was that of the healer; excelling in combat or using my god given powers to solve problems was considered stepping on somebody elses toes.

It was at that point the game disintegrated, sadly. I refused to be regulated to a walking box of band-aids, so I told them that henceforth I was only going to use my magic for myself. Now normally, i would never be that selfish, but the snide comments and lectures about "a clerics role" enraged me. Needless to say, the DM was on my side in this.

So trust me, I'm not playing a healbot.

Shadow Lodge

*brofist*

Atta boy, down with the healbot being taken for granted!

I'm curious though, what was it about your utility abilities and being able to solve problems that caused the party to react like that? Did your party roster include a dedicated "skillmonkey"? Did you step on some sorcerer's or bard's official "party face" or something?

Maybe it's my luck in finding a good group, in the sense of being easy to come to terms with, but we haven't had these party role arguments too many times. (*rolls for hyberbole* Success:) Only when the druid player that wanted to play an Elvish druid with a wolf companion for the third time in a row because "we needed someone with good perception and survival skills and a nature theme"! As if a shapeshifter ranger with a high wisdom ability score wasn't enough already!


Muser wrote:


I'm curious though, what was it about your utility abilities and being able to solve problems that caused the party to react like that?

Well, it wasn't everyone in the party. Really, it was two guys, the party wizard and the fighter. The fighter was annoyed because I was capable of dishing out as much damage as he was when I was buffed. Apparently, I was "stealing his thunder" because I was fighting in the front lines with him rather than standing in the back ready to cure him.

The wizard player was much worse. He felt that, as a wizard, all the magical glory belonged rightfully to his character. Anytime I outperformed him in the magical arena was a grave insult, regardless of the situation. If a random flame strike caused more damage than one of his fireballs, I was making him look bad. Silly, right?
The final straw for our friendly wizard came when I managed, through great personal cost and sacrifice, to Hallow Sandpoint (all of it...) because I was tired of all the unholy abominations running loose there.
"Dude," he said with a frustrated growl. "Is there any point to me even being here, what with you out-wizarding me all the time?" Even though, I explained to him with what patience I could muster, sanctifying the land in the name of my god was kinda what clerics do! It has nothing to do with some silly spellcaster competition.

At that point, it was revealed to me that I wasn't supposed to be making the fighter and wizard look bad; my role was that of the healer. The fighter fights, the wizard casts spells, and I heal. Never mind the main reason I was outfighting the fighter was because he made poor feat choices and had bad luck with his dice rolls. And never mind the fact that I was out-casting the mage because his tactics sucked; if a spell wasn't a fireball, than it wasn't magic. He couldn't get it through his head that direct damage was not an optimal choice; he would rant and rave because he had to use three fireballs to kill one stone giant.

Shadow Lodge

Really, I would have just changed my group at that point. Or play with players whose sensibilities are not those of fourteen year olds. I've never actually seen a party where people were stealing each other's thunder. Of course there are situations where expertises cross, but that just means things get solved even faster. It's as if your co-players lack spine since they can't stomach not being in the limelight.

And honestly now, I find it strange that the GM let the moaning get that far.

You should have one-shotted both melee Big Bads in the Hook Mountain Massacre via Hold Person. That would have left the wizard scratching his head.

Good luck with the new campaign anyway, hope things turn out better.


It's cool now. The problem was with half of the group, and that half has been cut. So no worries.


Now I want to play an Urban Druid.


Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
sad story

If it makes you feel any better I lol'ed.


Abraham spalding wrote:
Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
sad story
If it makes you feel any better I lol'ed.

Thanks?

Anywho, back to the topic at hand. I'm liking the ideas thus far. The desire to try out an urban druid has been cemented. Now I just need to focus on an actual build.

I do find myself tempted to try out the Soul subdomain, regardless of which direction I go; animating the dead in order to protect nature sounds wonderful.
I am a bit concerned about the urban druids offensive capabilities. Late wild shaping combined with no spontaneous summoning and spells focused on manipulating plants and animals in a city setting makes me nervous.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
sad story
If it makes you feel any better I lol'ed.

Thanks?

Anywho, back to the topic at hand. I'm liking the ideas thus far. The desire to try out an urban druid has been cemented. Now I just need to focus on an actual build.

I do find myself tempted to try out the Soul subdomain, regardless of which direction I go; animating the dead in order to protect nature sounds wonderful.
I am a bit concerned about the urban druids offensive capabilities. Late wild shaping combined with no spontaneous summoning and spells focused on manipulating plants and animals in a city setting makes me nervous.

Hmm, well some quick thoughts on this. I was looking at the Thousand Faces ability. It's based on the alter self spell, and a polymorph spell. So that means you get any natural attacks of the form you assume. Just with a quick glance the base book, both tengu and lizardmen have natural attacks that can be used in combination with melee weapons (lizardmen have 3 primary if you use nothing else). Also, you can basically get a permanent +2 to Str or Dex, depending on whether your form is Medium or Small.


Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
sad story
If it makes you feel any better I lol'ed.

Thanks?

Anywho, back to the topic at hand. I'm liking the ideas thus far. The desire to try out an urban druid has been cemented. Now I just need to focus on an actual build.

I do find myself tempted to try out the Soul subdomain, regardless of which direction I go; animating the dead in order to protect nature sounds wonderful.
I am a bit concerned about the urban druids offensive capabilities. Late wild shaping combined with no spontaneous summoning and spells focused on manipulating plants and animals in a city setting makes me nervous.

I was laughing at their statements, not your situation.

My take on the late game urban druid:

First off by current posts/almost errata from paizo the subdomains are for cleric and inquisitor only -- now if your GM hand waves that no problem.

Part of the reason I like changing to master spy is precisely because of the "weak" late game druid spell list. While having low levels in shape changing can hurt the fact that changing at all gives you natural attacks (all at full BAB and with good use of power attack) to which you are adding sneak attack damage as well really helps. The fact these can last almost all day and be used for out of combat ability helps make up for the lack of access to higher level shapes (which could look much more out of place in an urban setting). The biggest problem with the urban druid/master spy is MAD, but this can be handled with careful thought as to what stats are important to you.

However domain choice is of course key -- I like charm for it's host of town useful spells -- and lust for it's changing out of weaker spells for better ones (in this case). Both are good if you are looking for a dominating/charming socialite sort of character.

Nobility and Leadership are both great for a buffing urban druid with good late game spells. If you are playing the "influence people and make the community great" game this is your meal ticket.

Protection offers some nice additions to the druid's battlefield control options, and purity gives great additions for a healing druid -- though I understand wanting to stay away from this sort of thing.

Rune offers scribe scroll -- something that shouldn't be overlooked and several "trap" type spells which are good on defense. In my opinion ward is just slightly better since it offers dimensional anchor.

If you have access to the fortune teller feat from the campaign settings then knowledge is a great choice. A seer in an urban game is more likely to have the means to actually bring those spells to bear and to have the chance to use divination to help the party know when and where to strike. Thought is only slightly more powerful due to the detect thoughts ability for an area that it offers (losing the free clairvoyance/clairaudience hurts for this type of character though).

Repose offers many nice late game killer spells, a good mid level protection spell, and several useful low level divination spells. Souls is nice too -- except the lack of ability to control the undead you create, which could be a huge issue.


So I've been giving some thought to the druidic spy concept, and I'm very tempted to take a sigle level of Shadowdancer. The feat requirements suck, but having the ability to hide in plain sight along with the alter self at will makes the urban druid the ultimate infiltration specialist.

I'm still up in the air about this, though. Like I said, the feat requirements are really lame; I don't see much use for combat reflexes, and the best way to avoid AoO is by not triggering them in the first place. But still, hide in plain sight... O.o


Lot's of neat stuff.

My issue with the master spy is that it will not advance my spellcasting. I'm more than willing to write off wild-shape; it won't be of much use by the time I get it. But what is a druid without spells?

Andoran

Abraham spalding wrote:
First off by current posts/almost errata from paizo the subdomains are for cleric and inquisitor only -- now if your GM hand waves that no problem.

No Hand Waving needed, Abe!


Jeremiziah wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:
First off by current posts/almost errata from paizo the subdomains are for cleric and inquisitor only -- now if your GM hand waves that no problem.
No Hand Waving needed, Abe!

niftyness! thanks for the info!


Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
Lot's of neat stuff. My issue with the master spy is that it will not advance my spellcasting. I'm more than willing to write off wild-shape; it won't be of much use by the time I get it. But what is a druid without spells?

The question you have to ask yourself is: What am I getting out of these spells? Especially in an urban campaign. With the basic druid 11/ master spy 9 you'll have sixth level spells, constant mind blank, wild shape twice a day (beast shape 2 or elemental form 1) 3d6 sneak attack and the skills/etc you'll get. 7th level druid spells offer heal which is nice, and greater scrying -- but without a means to teleport greater scry offers little you can't already do with scrying. Level 8 spells offers a lot of save effect spells that affect large areas -- not so good in a town full of peopl. 9th level spells are more of the same. Basically all of your bases are actually covered already with druid 11 -- heck even druid 9 with some assassin levels does you good (and assassin levels will stack with the master spy for your death attack).

I would suggest that in this case the spells you have are to help augment your abilities, or provide cover for various disguises (remember just because you are high level doesn't mean the disguise you are using has to be, and the druid spells cover a host of both cleric and arcane functions to those that don't understand magic *i.e. lack ranks in spellcraft).

Now you do give up your highest level casting -- that can hurt -- in this case however I feel that is mitigated by the special abilities you have, and the area you are likely to be operating in. I'm sorry but earthquake is not a discreet or discrimate spell, and as such probably won't cover what you need well.


Don't forget that giving up the spells means giving up higher level domain spells, and no longer advancing 'cleric' levels for purposes of domain abilities. And some of those spells are very nice; community even gets Miracle.

It also means a hampered caster level, meaning your spells become easier to dispel as you face higher level spell casters, and your spells become more difficult to land when facing SR, as well as your spells having less range/duration/damage/etc.

I'll grant that there aren't a whole lot of higher level druid spells that are great for an urban campaign. But there are some very nice spells nonetheless....summon nature's ally, heal, true seeing, wind walk, reverse gravity, shapechange. And having the higher level spell slots means being able to quicken or metamagic other lower level spells.

I can see master spy if thats what you want to be the absolute effing best at, but the urban druid is already an excellent spy. Master Spy becomes just icing on the cake at what I would consider an extreme cost. And it leaves the urban druid without any solid means of effecting combat. The sneak attack damage is not that impressive without an additional source of sneak attack. Its another medium BAB class, which means potentially even worse BAB than straight druid (except for a mix of classes where each is a multiple of 4, such as druid 12/master spy 8). While some of the abilities are nice, none are essential...the druid with certain domains can even get Mind Blank. Other abilities can be mimiced with magic items. Even the feat prereqs are subpar...Deceitful could be useful, but Iron Will seems a poor choice for a class with a good Will save and Wis as a primary stat.

And to top it all off, you lose the favored class bonuses.

Just considering what the Urban Druid can do in combat, I don't see how Master Spy adds to that either. The Urban Druid will likely have poor AC due to no metal armor and dex as a non-primary attribute. Getting up close to deliver sneak attacks seems a bad idea. This guy will work best as a caster through and through. And if melee is what is called for the wildshape abilities (which he will eventually get all forms of) or shapechange will make this possible.

Not to knock your idea Abraham, but I just think that Master Spy is way too focused for someone who is already an excellent spy, and gives up too much for what you get. I see the synergies between the classes, but thats like adding Ranger to Druid levels; you'd generally be better off doing one or the other but not both. For a rogue wanting to be a spy, its awesome. But from an optimization standpoint, I think continuing on as an Urban Druid is the way to go.


Sneak attack does great with natural weapons however -- which the urban druid is kind enough to provide to the master spy. Most of the spells mentioned as good are already mimicked with wild shape (true seeing isn't but is also an expensive spell to cast).

The biggest advancement the druid gets from master spy is the constant mind blank -- with that no divination works on the urban druid which means his disguise is solid. Without this no matter what the urban druid does one detect magic and he shows up like red wine on white carpet.

Truthfully using the druid's spells for combat purposes is a lost cause -- the DC isn't going to be high enough (unless you go strictly wisdom and then you have other issues at being a spy), the summon nature's ally spells are rather weak in pathfinder (actually I'll go on out and say extremely weak in pathfinder) and the good battlefield control spells for a druid don't allow save throws. Metamagics are nice but are just as easily handled with rods as they are burning feats and slots on them. Extra spells can be handled with either scrolls (rune domain provides scribe scroll) or pearls of power -- and again most of the abilities you'll want "buffing" wise can already be coverd with wild shape and thousand faces. Armor can be a bit of a problem but several means of avoiding it are already present -- from dragon hide armor, to the hide shirt/wooden armor/rose armor/leaf armor, to snailplate and the bullette bulwark.

All this said:

Do not take the urban druid/ master spy unless you are extremely comfortable with fast paced improvised tactics and have a flexible mindset that can easily change tactics from round to round -- starting an encounter you might get to spend the first three rounds acting all friendly before death attacking someone. Next round you could be casting wall of thorns to by time while your allies get there followed by some wild shape/alter self clobbering with flanking and natural weapons (natural weapons or a sword of subtlety are going to be key to your combat ability) finishing with some light healing on the team and scrying to see if anyone noticed what happened. You have to be comfortable with changing up to what is needed and knowing what you are going to be needed for before you get into combat.

Personally for such a build I would probably use the following stats:

Strength 10 Dex 14 Con 10 Int 14 Wis 16(after racial adjustment) Cha 14

The build is going to be extremely MAD so do what you can to limit this by using weapon finesse and piranha strike for bonus to your damage (as well as a sword of subtlety) and favoring forms that help your Dex.


So what can a Urban Druid wildshape into

Squirrels
Dogs/Cats
Small birds/Ravens
Raccoons/Possums
Foxes
Rats/Mice
Snakes/Toads/Frogs
Horses/Ponies
Bats
Hawks/Owls
Lizards


Abraham spalding wrote:

You do realize that the druid 11/master spy 9 doesn't get death attack until level 19? Or Mind Blank until lvl 20?

A straight urban druid with the protection domain can cast Mind Blank at lvl 15. And he can do so spontaneously.

I suppose you could jump into master spy at level 10 after picking up the immunity to charms and compulsions at lvl 9 druid (which is definitely worth having), but even then, putting off 6th lvl spells until lvl 20, you don't get Mind Blank until level 18.

But lets stick with the 6th lvl spells and druid 11, and compare the master spy at say level 16 (druid 11/master spy 5) with a straight urban druid 16:

Urban druid has caster level 16 and 8th lvl spells. He can wildshape as a 12th lvl druid (all wildshape forms, including Huge elementals) and can do so 4 times a day for up to 12 hours each time.

Master Spy gets 2d6 sneak attack damage, slippery mind, and a +5 bonus to his Bluff, Disguise, and Sense Motive checks. He gets nondetection and some other anti-discernment buffs. And he can make disguises faster. As for druid abilities, he has a caster level of 11, can wildshape twice a day for up to 4 hours each time, but only gets beast shape II and small elemental forms. Oh, and his base attack bonus is one less to boot.

Even at lvl 19 when the Master Spy gets the death attack...spending three standard actions in order to make a single attack that might kill or paralyze a single foe seems to be a huge waste of actions. Often times a fight will be over after three rounds at that level. Even getting the attack off and landing it, the DC of the Fort save won't be too tough for the things you would face at that level...probably a DC 20 Fort save or so.

The Urban Druid could just cast Finger of Death (with a better DC..22 at the minimum) and be done with it.

With one action.

While disguised as a toad.


Actually I was thinking urban druid 8 master spy 9 then finishing the druid levels.

Shadow Lodge

Abraham, I love your character concept, it's unique and there's a very nice, yet peculiar, rapport between the two classes. It's just that I think this group would find a full caster more useful than a specific spy/caster hybrid. One of the reasons is of course the fact that the DM might as well decide to hit upon a new direction instead of maintaining a espionage urban campaign all the way. This kind of redirection will leave the master spy wanting more.

Another reason being that, even though I'm a huge fan of unconventional class combinations(rogue/horizon walker, sacred mountain monk/stalward defender, etc), I think the increased caster level is way too huge to pass.

Think about it like this: if you had a class who gained a reduced caster level (-5 for instance), but in exchange could gain a wealth of interesting features that help you specialize in espionage. Then suddenly, Paizo would introduce a prestige class which would bumb your caster level to full, but cut some of the espionage abilities short. Wouldn't you jump at the chance to try that out?

It's like the halfling variant racial ability - Wanderlust. First time you look at the thing the reaction might vary from "Wow, increased caster level, I'll get an even better Haste!" to "Hey, not bad" Until you realize dropping Halfling Luck effectively translates to -1 to all saves.

Sure, I'm a bit hyberbolic, but you have to understand where I (and Father Dale with his good points, I'm sure) am coming from. I think Master Spy abilities are nifty and powerful, especially for a campaign like Kingmaker or Crimson Throne, where there's a ton of chances to use those abilities. But for a campaign where a very strict focus of abilities isn't really an option, this multiclassing sacrifices something from just about everything. Many of those things integral(like domain abilities and caster level) to the Urban Druid class itself.


I'll fully agree what I'm describing is building a better master spy than urban druid -- however I think people are discounting some of the abilities that the master spy will have, for example:

With the permanent mind blank and a ring of invisibility there is no combat unless you start it. It's simply 18 seconds -- fort save or die. Finger of death doesn't give that -- it deals damage only and most times not enough to flat out kill the target. The fort save is DC 10+master spy level + Int mod. Starting with an Int of 14 getting a book +4 by level 19 and a +6 head band puts the DC at 26 -- with a feat (ability focus) it becomes a 28. Now is that perfect? No -- I'll freely agree with that, but it's not bad for an ability stat starting at 14, in addition you get your sneak attack damage as well (which at this level isn't much -- but with sniper goggles you'll get another +6 damage too *yay I know*). I also fully agree and acknowledge that the dedicated urban druid/master spy build is much more dependent on campaign -- if the setting and theme of the campaign might change then this build isn't a great idea. However if it is an espionage sort of game, I would maintain that the urban druid/master spy is an excellent means of gaining wonderful abilities for the purposes of an espionage sort of character -- of much more benefit than simply taking more levels in urban druid (all the things that limit the build in a more board campaign actually play in well in an espionage game -- you don't want huge creature shapes as they would probably be rare, the smaller elementals are better for spying and provide the movement bonuses, the skill bonuses become much more worthwhile than the combat bonuses -- etc). I'm still not overly impressed with the spell choices of the urban druid at higher levels, but for a broader choice of combat abilities the urban druid does have an easier time.

However, looking over the master spy a bit more I think a better over all build for a master spy character would be Urban druid 6/assassin 1/ Master spy 10/assassin 3. This would put the Save DC for the death attack to 24 + Int Mod, and get the death attack much more quickly. The alter self would still be there with some spell back up (but not much -- realize back up is the keyword in this case) and the sneak attack dice would be better (6d6 instead of 3d6). The BAB would be 14 which isn't bad for a multi-prestige class medium BAB character.

The sandman bard might actually play in better to a master spy/assassin character too, since it grants trapfinding, another sneak attack dice, invisibility, and stealth bonuses.

I just can't help thinking that any good master spy in pathfinder is going to need a permanent form of alter self -- and the only way currently to get that is urban druid.

In the end I'm just trying to show possibilities -- I'm not that attached to caster levels and spells -- if I'm building a master spy -- however if I'm building a caster then yes such becomes much more important.

To go off in a new direction:

Has witch been fully considered? It has many many many great abilities for this sort of stuff and honestly feels more like what the urban druid tries to do (in my opinion of course).


First, I appreciate all of the wonderful ideas thus far. What started as a little bit of random musing has started to solidify into a very interesting character IMO.
I should state that the game will not be focused on espionage; there may not be any espionage at all. While the bulk of the campaign/storyline will take place in Kaer Maga and its environs, I don't know what that will entail. My knowledge of the city is limited; it is a shame there is no player's guide out, as the DM as said that the book reveals too many "DM only" knowledge to let we players casually read it.

I have considered playing a witch; I have several character concepts in mind that I could play, in fact. The Urban Druid struck me as fascinating, but I am by no means set in stone to play one. The witch, to me, feels too... limited. I'm not a fan of a primary caster that has such a relatively small spell list; while I'm sure later supplements will expand on the list, right now it doesn't appeal to me. The same goes for hexs.
My biggest issue with the witch is the familiar. I don't like how there is little mechanical difference between a witch's familiar and a wizards, especially considering how important it is to the witch. Gods forbid something should happen to it.


I do like the druid 6/Master Spy 10/Assassin 4 build.

I'd note also that if your adventure is in or around Kaer Maga, you will undoubtedly end up in the wilds at some point. The city is a fair ways away from any other major settlements (korvosa to the south is probably closest). To the east lies the great plains of the Shoanti. To the west the grasslands of Varisa. And below the city itself is a massive underground maze of tunnels and caves. You can pretty much expect to be underground at some point in any event.

Another class option to consider would be oracle. The cha as a primary stat is helpful in any city setting, and depending on feats and traits you could be a pretty smooth talker as well. Oracle also offers several different ways to tailor the character...as a healer, a fighter, or a caster, or some combination of the three. I have been playing an Oracle of Lore, and with the Cosmopolitan feat and the Conspiracy Hunter trait he has pretty much every Int, Wis, and Cha skill as a class skill except for bluff.

Andoran

If the campaign isn't anticipating a fair amount of espionage, then a caster with full level progression as a caster is likely to be much more useful than a multiclassed UD/Spymaster/Whatever else.


Gang,

Great thread full of good ideas. Thank you for them.

I'm starting an Urban Druid, too, and wondered what thoughts were regarding the Rune Domain? I'm playing a gnome cartographer/scribe, playing off the exploration of the borderlands between the cities and the wilderness. He's a traveler gnome, so he has the gnome alternative racial traits that support language mastery (Gift of Tongues and Magical Linguist), as well as the gnome social trait, Etymologist. In all, I start at first level with nine languages and learn two more for every single rank of Linguistics.

To round things out on the road, I gave him the Breadth of Experience feat, so that he can make Knowledge and Profession checks untrained. Combining the language aptitudes with high Bluff and Diplomacy skill ranks, along with Alter Self at will, I'm hoping he'll be able to blend into almost any society.

Given the search for new cultures and mapping out the wonders of nature (hopefully all very gnomish), I'm thinking Rune is a strong domain choice. I'm aware Charm is probably more mechanically beneficial, with Community or Knowledge close behind, but Rune seems to play up the more scholarly focus (perhaps, ironically, even better than Knowledge itself). Scribe Scroll gives me "ammo" for battle, the domain powers are fun (if somewhat mechanically lacking), and the domain spells mean I can always place plenty of traps via spontaneous domain casting prior to resting/setting up for a big fight.

Rune might not be mechanically the best, but, given the above, does it sound like a decent fit? Is there anything I'm overlooking for this gnome druidic scholar?

Grand Lodge

Rune is really terrible. The domain power is more likely to damage your team than enemies, and the spells do not benefit from being able to spontaneously cast them. Knowledge fits the concept as well as Rune and is much stronger.

As for the weakness of the severely hampered wild shaping progression, at 9th level take a dip of monk. This will give you wis to ac, and more importantly, allow you to take Shaping Focus, giving you at +4 level bonus to wild shaping to bring you back up normal progression.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

If you are interested in seeing a bit of how Paizo views the Urban Druid from a roleplaying perspective, I highly recommend Blood of the City.


Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
If you are interested in seeing a bit of how Paizo views the Urban Druid from a roleplaying perspective, I highly recommend Blood of the City.

Huh, an urban druid. I hadn't realized that from the other preview chapter I'd read. Interesting take on the archetype.

Andoran

Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
If you are interested in seeing a bit of how Paizo views the Urban Druid from a roleplaying perspective, I highly recommend Blood of the City.

Yep. With the Knowledge Domain. She's cool, and the book's very good.

Surprisingly dark, though.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
If you are interested in seeing a bit of how Paizo views the Urban Druid from a roleplaying perspective, I highly recommend Blood of the City.

Yep. With the Knowledge Domain. She's cool, and the book's very good.

Surprisingly dark, though.

As she adventures and gains levels, you can watch the mechanics happening as she gains new level dependant abilities. At times it is as obvious as watching the Wizard suddenly firing three magic missiles vice two.

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