Druids are practitioners of primal magic, which blends vital essence (the essence of life, instinct, and faith) with material essence (the essence of matter and the natural world). Thus, primal traditions are rooted in an instinctual connection with and faith in the surrounding world: the cycle of day and night, the turning of the seasons, and the natural selection of predator and prey. Druids are the iconic primal spellcasters; they call upon the power of nature for magic through their deep faith, as opposed to primal sorcerers, who harness the power of fey or other natural creatures that flows through their blood to access the same sorts of primal energies.
Since this is the last class, before we go deeper into the druid's mechanics, I want to show you some extra pieces each class has that you might not know about. Every class entry starts with some bullet points to help you get a feel for what playing the class might be like.
Playing a Druid
Players of druid characters might approach gameplay in the following ways:
- During combat, you call upon the forces of nature to defeat your enemies and protect your allies. You can cast spells drawing upon primal magic to summon deadly animals to fight at your side, grant resilience to you and your friends, or heal their wounds. Depending on your bond to nature, you might also call upon powerful elemental magic or even change shape into a terrifying beast to fight with tooth and claw.
- During social encounters, you represent balance and a reasoned approach to problems, looking for solutions that not only are best for the natural world, but also allow the creatures within it to live in harmony and peace. You often propose compromises that allow both sides to gain what they truly need, even if they can't have all that they desire.
- In exploration mode, your skills in nature are invaluable. You can track down enemies, navigate through the wilderness, or use your spells to detect any magical auras around you. You might even ask wild animals to assist your group in your travels with their extraordinary senses and scouting abilities.
- In downtime mode, you might craft magic items or potions. Alternatively, your tie to nature might lead you to tend to an area of the wild, befriending its beasts and healing the wounds caused by civilization. You might even attempt to teach people sustainable techniques that allow them to subsist off the land without harming the natural balance.
Roleplaying a Druid
Druids are the living embodiment of nature, acting as its agent; you protect the wild places from harm and speak for their interests in more civilized lands.
If You're a Druid, You Likely...
- Have a deep and meaningful respect for the power of nature.
- Are in constant awe of the natural world, eager to share it with others but cautious of their influence.
- Treat plants and animals as allies in your quest, working with them toward your goals.
- View you as a representative of nature, and might even assume you can control it.
- Assume you're a recluse who avoids society and cities, preferring to live in the wild.
- Treat you as a mystic, similar to a priest, but answering only to the forces of nature.
Druids are full prepared spellcasters, able to cast the same number of spells per day as the cleric and bard, rather than gaining extra spells through bloodlines or schools as the sorcerer and wizard do. However, just as the cleric has channel energy and the bard has compositions, the druid has more than enough tricks up her sleeve to make her a primal powerhouse. And figuring those out starts with...
As the druid's initial architect, Jason pulled the concept of orders from the sidelines of lore directly into the spotlight, making your choice of order a major part of your druid. As with the bard's muse, you can choose abilities that belong to another order, but unlike for the bard, you gain extra benefits from feats and abilities that belong to your own order, incentivizing you to check out your own order's feats first. An order member gains a new skill and an order power that druids of other orders can't gain, and each order adds its own component to the basic druid anathema forbidding actions like despoiling nature. The four orders presented in the playtest are animal, leaf, storm, and wild, though more orders are all but certain to arise.
An animal druid (known by names like druid of the claw or druid of the wing depending on her preferred animal) has a strong connection to animals. She is trained in Athletics, which is a signature skill for her. She also gains the heal animal order power (exclusive to that members of order) and the Animal Companion feat. Committing wanton cruelty to animals or killing them unnecessarily is anathema to her. (This doesn't prevent her from defending herself against animals or killing them cleanly for food.)
This is the order that's all about having the coolest animal companion. Other druids can easily get an animal companion (and they're a solid choice for all druids) and take the same upgrade feats, but with each feat, the animal order druid will get something cool or extra for the animal. As an example, an animal druid's companion can have multiple specializations, which are like animal companion archetypes, if the animal druid commits more to this path.
A druid of the leaf reveres plants and the bounty of nature, acting as a caretaker and warden for the wilderness, teaching sustainable techniques, and helping areas regrow after disasters or negligent humanoid expansion. She is trained in Diplomacy, which is a signature skill for her. She also gains the Leshy Familiar druid feat and the goodberry order power (exclusive to that members of order). Committing wanton cruelty to plants or killing plants unnecessarily is anathema to her. (This doesn't prevent her from defending herself against plants or harvesting them if necessary for survival.)
This style of druid is all about plants, with options including Verdant Metamorphosis, where you flat-out become a plant, and the druid of the leaf's leshy familiar, which has more powers than a typical familiar. Let's check out Verdant Metamorphosis to see a special benefit only druids of the leaf receive:
Verdant Metamorphosis Feat 18
You transform into a plant version of yourself. You gain the plant trait and lose any trait that's inappropriate for your new form (typically humanoid). You can change from a form that looks mostly like your old self into a tree or any other non-creature plant as an action (this action has the concentrate trait). Perception checks don't reveal your true form, but a creature can attempt a Nature or Survival check against your class DC to determine that the plant is new to the surrounding area. While in this form, you can observe everything around you, but you can't act other than to spend an action (this action has the concentrate trait) to change back, which ends your turn. In this form, your AC is 30, your TAC is 20, only conditional bonuses, conditional penalties, and circumstance bonuses and penalties can affect you, and you treat all successes and critical successes on Reflex saves as failures.
Special If you are a druid of the leaf order, if you transform into a non-creature plant and take your daily rest during daylight hours, the rest restores you to maximum Hit Points and removes all non-permanent drained, enfeebled, sluggish, and stupefied conditions.
A druid of the storm carries nature's fury within her, channeling it to terrifying effect and riding the winds and storms. She is trained in Acrobatics, which is a signature skill for her. She also gains the Storm Born druid feat and the tempest surge order power (exclusive to that members of order). Creating unnatural weather patterns that could be damaging to the local environment (such as by using a 9th-level control weather ritual) is anathema to her.
In addition to healing magic, the primal list contains powerful energy blasts, including fireball and other spells newly available to druids. Armed with this magic, druids of the storm are elemental dynamos who focus on the power of the tempest, flying around in storms and ignoring penalties from weather. Notably, their tempest surge order power is an extremely good blast for a 1 Spell Point power, particularly after if they take a feat that ups the d10s to d12s. Let's take a look, since you'll be slinging it around a bunch of times each day.
Tempest Surge Power 1
Casting [[A]] Somatic Casting, [[A]] Verbal Casting
Range 30 feet; Targets one creature
You surround a foe in a swirling storm of violent winds, roiling clouds, and crackling lightning. The storm deals 1d10 electricity damage to the target, depending on their Reflex saving throw.
Success Half damage.
Critical Success No damage.
Failure Full damage, and the target is sluggish 1 for 1 round.
Critical Failure Double damage, and the target is sluggish 2 for 1 round.
Heightened (+1) The damage increases by 1d10.
After increasing the damage to d12s, the damage scales at the same rate as lightning bolt. But it doesn't just deal damage! The sluggish condition penalizes AC, attack rolls, and Reflex saves, so taking double damage on the critical failure is just the beginning of the horrible pain. When we were playtesting, every creature that critically failed against tempest surge was in for a very bad round.
The savage, uncontrollable call of the natural world infuses a druid of the wild, granting her the ability to change her shape into the ferocious form of a wild creature. She is trained in Intimidation, which becomes a signature skill for her. She also gains the Wild Shape druid feat and the wild claws order power (exclusive to that members of order). Becoming fully domesticated by the temptations of civilization is anathema to her. (This doesn't prevent her from buying and using processed goods or staying in a city for an adventure, but she can never come to rely on these conveniences or truly call such a place her permanent home.)
Notice the wild order druid starts with Wild Shape? Any druid with Wild Shape feats gets a free extra casting of certain polymorph spells, heightened to her highest possible level, eventually rising up to two free castings if the druid takes enough Wild Shape feats. But the thing that makes a wild order druid particularly different is that, in addition to these, she gains a number of additional bonus castings of these spells equal to her Strength modifier (if it's more than 1). That means a druid of the wild tends towards higher Strength than a typical member of other orders.
Aside from an order, you gain spellcasting and primal spell proficiency at the same levels as all the other spellcasters, new spell levels at every odd level save 19th, expert proficiency in primal spells at 12th level, master proficiency at 16th level, and legendary proficiency at 19th level. You also get the secret Druidic language (don't teach it to nondruids—that's anathema!) and wild empathy, which lets you use Diplomacy to Make a Request of animals, and possibly of plants if you're a leaf order aficionado.
I covered many feats that connect to orders, but many feats aren't affiliated, like this powerhouse:
[[F]] Leyline Conduit Feat 20
Frequency once per minute
Trigger You start to cast a spell of 5th level or lower that has no duration and a maximum of 2 spellcasting actions.
You add a Somatic Casting action to the casting of the triggering spell, and you don't expend the prepared spell as you cast it.
This means every minute, you can cast a 5th level or lower spell without expending it. That's really useful! There are some interesting effects of how Jason designed this feat, though, that make it more than just a simple repetition, particularly the fact that you can use Leyline Conduit only if you were already able to cast the spell, meaning you had to prepare it and then avoid using it up by casting it without Leyline Conduit. So the feat gives you somewhat limitless uses of the spell, but if you really need to cast it again before the minute is up, while Leyline Conduit is unavailable, you'll expend the spell for real (at least for the rest of the day).
Before I go, let's talk about animal companions. While Jason was deep in preliminary design of the druid, he bestowed upon me a strange primal chart of flowing options, almost in Druidic itself, and explained it to me. This chart combined all the best aspects of the 4th- and 7th-level animal companion advancements with animal companion archetypes and new unique features for each different animal, all while moving away from having to make tons of basic feat selections for the companion. What I built from that chart was the first draft of the animal companion system in the playtest. Let's show off the companion most often overlooked in Pathfinder First Edition, the noble bear. The bear has generated a plethora of threads dedicated to how neglected it is, so let's see how the playtest handles it.
Your companion is a grizzly, panda, polar bear, or other type of bear.
[[A]] UnarmedStrikes jaws, Damage 1d8 piercing;
claw (agile), Damage 1d6 slashing
Abilities Str, Con
Hit Points 8
Speed 35 feet
Work Together Benefit Your bear mauls your enemies when you create an opening. Until your next turn, all your weapon Strikes against a creature your bear threatens deal 1d8 additional slashing damage. If your bear has a specialization, the additional slashing damage increases to 2d8.
Advanced Maneuver Bear Hug
Requirements Your last action was a successful claw Strike.
Make another claw Strike against the same target. If your Strike hits, the target is also grabbed, as if you had succeeded at the Grapple action.
The bear starts out Small. Don't worry—when it grows up, it can eventually become a Large bear (in the first book, too; there's no need to wait). The bear's boost in Strength and d8 damage die for its jaws make it the most directly damaging companion, tied with the snake, which it edges out in terms of Constitution, Hit Points, and land Speed. (The snake, for its part, has better AC and lots of special Speeds.) The Work Together benefit is something you can have the bear do instead of attack, and it again deals the most direct damage, adding 1d8 (later 2d8) to the damage of your weapon Strikes. The bear is a great companion for someone who plans, much like the bear itself, to wade into the thick of the fight. Finally, the bear can eventually learn the Bear Hug advanced maneuver. This maneuver essentially means that if the bear hits twice in a row, it gets a free automatic grapple. Handy for keeping foes in place!
So that about wraps up the druid. If you were a druid, which of the four orders would you be?