"Some people fear the wild, clustering into cities where the largest beasts they have to contend with are scurrying rats. I'd never want to live in one of those so-called bastions of civilization. Why, they build their own cages! Walls, they call them, to stave off the dark and the unknown. The energy of nature sings through my veins. It connects me to everything that moves and breathes. Through it, I am truly alive."
Illustration by Ramon Puasa Jr
Looking to play a character who thrives in the wild? Not in the mood for playing another city-slicker? Let me tell you a bit more about what we have in store for you in the upcoming Ultimate Wilderness. Stephen showed off the shifter in Tuesday's blog, and talked a bit about two of the three featured races: ghorans and vine leshys. Let's take a closer look at all three of these races.
Ghorans are an ancient race of plant creatures whose memories trace back thousands of years. Their bodies can only last a couple of decades, but they continually renew themselves by planting seeds that sprout into new vessels for their consciousness. If you play a ghoran, check out the delightfully odd aromaphile archetype. These mesmerists can produce clouds of sickeningly sweet odors. By making subtle changes to the aroma, they can alter the way it affects those who inhale it. These clouds can hypnotize and debilitate their foes, and they can also help their allies recover from negative effects.
Vine leshys are a new race in this book. Unlike most leshys, they don't devote themselves to a particular ward. Instead, they prefer to wander and explore, taking on new wards for only a short time before taking off in search of new and exciting vistas. I wrote these little guys, and they are leshys, so of course I love them. I've been playing a vine leshy named Verdant Taleweaver in a home game. She uses one of the new archetypes from this book: the herbalist alchemist. Herbalists rely upon their insights into the natural world rather than raw intelligence, and they can harness some of the secrets of druidic magic. Instead of throwing bombs, with their risk of harming innocent plants, herbalists use seedpods. These pods harness the powers of other leshy types to weaken and hamper their targets. Playing Verdant wasn't 100% about wanting to play a leshy PC, honest. I also got valuable playtest feedback. Please just ignore the fact that my door is plastered with pictures of leshys. *whistles innocently*
And that brings us to this book's third featured race, the gathlains. These playful fey are capricious and free-spirited to a level that makes even gnomes raise their colorful eyebrows. They soar through the air on winds of wood, venturing far from their homes on the First World. If you want to play a gathlain who loves a good prank, check out the fey prankster rogue archetype. These tricksters can harness their connection to plants to distract, trap, and befuddle. They can also weave illusions that sow confusion by disguising pairs of people as each other. These illusions work on objects too, allowing the gathlain to, say, make a piping hot bowl of soup appear to be a hat and vice versa.
You certainly don't have to play one of these new races to make use of the new archetypes in this book. There are over 60 pages of archetypes for all sorts of characters. There are new options for the classes you'd expect to see highlighted in a nature book, like druids, hunters, rangers, and kineticists. One of the druid options is a rot warden, a druid who can transform into vermin and command swarms. Plant master hunters form bonds with plants instead of animals, and they take on the aspects of creatures like assassin vines and giant flytraps. Several of the new ranger archetypes give rangers additional powers based upon natural features that help them wherever they go, like the flamewarden, who wields the power of fire to immolate enemies and restore the spark of life and health to her allies. If you want to play a character whose powers are intrinsically tied to her environment, try the terrakineticist, a kineticist who taps into the strongest nearby source of elemental power, giving her powers over water in the ocean and air in the skies.
These traditional nature classes certainly don't get to have all the fun, though. How about a slayer who is a master of death from above? He's called the avalancher for a good reason. Bacchanal skalds thrive on drinking, dancing, and wild parties. Even animals dance to their merry tunes. If you'd rather play a class that turns its attention to the skies, try the star watcher investigator, who combines navigational skill with a penchant for astrology. Star watchers produce horoscopes imbued with magical power. To pick one last archetype at random, summoners can become leshy callers. Leshy callers call forth extraplanar plant material and imbue it with leshy spirits, and they can summon adorable plant creatures to aid them in combat. These are just a few of the archetypes that caught my fancy, but the book has a lot more to offer.