Treantmonk's Guide to Druids (Optimization)


Advice

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Damien_DM wrote:

You could just buy hide armor barding for your druid's wildshaped form, and have your allies strap it on after you wild shape.

I certainly would not allow shield bonuses from shields merged into the wildshaped form to provide their bonus.

So much for spontaneous versatility ;) But yes, this is an option too.


Quote:

Lets take my level 4 druid for example. No magic items, some masterwork gear and that's about it. If I wildshape, this will be my armor:

Round one:
I wild shape to a medium creature...
10(base)+3(16 dex)+2(natural armor) = 15

That is weak. My buddy who plays a wizard casts mage armor round 1 and has a 18 AC (he has a 18 dex, damn elves ;) ).

Please smack him for me. Why didn't he cast Mage Armor on the melee Druid???

Self-only defense buffs by Wizard on round 1 is weak and selfish.

Quote:
My wizard friend casts shield - he now has a AC of 22.

If your Wizard uses 2 rounds on self only defense buffs you need to kill him yourself.

Quote:
How is it a wizard is now a more viable tank than I am and I'm a melee class?

He's not. Even if his AC is better. Druids are 90% offense.

Druids outdamage Paladin's and Fighters in melee, that's pretty good when you get casting on top of that.

AC is a problem, no question. However, let's not get carried away with the impact of that one aspect on overall melee capability.


Oh nice, I have no idea why, I've played LOTS of wizards in the past, but for some strange reason I always thought mage armor was target:self.

Thanks again Treantmonk, I may just stick to being a caster and using wild shape as scouting / situational use until I get the wild enchant on my armor. If i have residual buffs lingering (barkskin, wizards mage armor etc) I may use it more offensively. Just need to prep before some fights i guess !

Cheers


I really appreciate you putting in the time to make this guide for us. Me and my friends have just started playing and your guides have been invaluable to us. This one's convinced me to play a druid as my first character when I get done with my DMing duties. I do have a few questions though.

In the SotB part you have this in your combat comparison:

"He keeps a Greater Magic Fang up on himself and his Ape animal companion all the time, he also casts Barkskin twice before expected combats."

How can you cast those spells twice?

Another question: what do you think about the barding for an animal form that Damien_DM mentioned? Simple Hide armor is only 30gp and weighs 50lb for a large creature. If I had a Handy Haversack and toted around armor for the form that I'll generally take for combat then I get a +4 AC. It might be tedious swapping out and I wouldn't get that AC bonus if I take a different form but do you think it's a viable option?

The Exchange

bgoodsoil wrote:

How can you cast those spells twice?

You can spend multiple spell slots to memorize multiple castings of a single spell. For instance, if you have the ability to memorize three level one spells you may choose to memorize entangle, entangle, and cure light wounds.


I didn't know that. thanks.

My GM is okay with the animal armor idea. I'm going to be a Dire Ape and since the animal has thumbs I can put it on myself. There are rules for barding in the book so this seems to be perfectly okay within the RAW.

Hide armor for a large animal weighs 50 pounds. A normal backpack only holds 60 so I'll have to get a Handy Haversack. I'm fine with that. I can get my AC to the low 20s at lvl 5 or 6 pretty easy. Like you said in the guide, it's less than a fighter's but not bad.


What about Bracers of Armor? That'd still work in animal form right? It'd get expensive in a hurry but it's better than nothing.


bgoodsoil wrote:
What about Bracers of Armor? That'd still work in animal form right? It'd get expensive in a hurry but it's better than nothing.

No they would not. They give an armor bonus and cease to function because the wild shape ability works like the beast shape spells, which are polymorph spells, and the polymorph rules specifically turn off armor bonuses.

Now Bracers of Armor with the Wild enhancement built into them would work... but the armor would be a better choice.

Scarab Sages

YawarFiesta wrote:

There's been a couple overlooks in the Summoning list regarding the errata:

-Giant Lizard entry in SNA III is, in fact, for Lizard,Monitor; Lizard, Giant Frilled should be in SNA/SM V.

-Riding Dog, in SNA I, should be simply Dog.

-Finally, Ant, Drone from SNA II is an Ant, Worker.

Humbly,
Yawar

this isn't in the official errata download dated 8/19. can you guys give me a source for the info?


underling wrote:
YawarFiesta wrote:

There's been a couple overlooks in the Summoning list regarding the errata:

-Giant Lizard entry in SNA III is, in fact, for Lizard,Monitor; Lizard, Giant Frilled should be in SNA/SM V.

-Riding Dog, in SNA I, should be simply Dog.

-Finally, Ant, Drone from SNA II is an Ant, Worker.

Humbly,
Yawar

this isn't in the official errata download dated 8/19. can you guys give me a source for the info?

D20pfsrd.com

These guys has been compiling every oficial ruling and errata posted by the desingners.

Humbly,
Yawar

PSD: Thanks for the great job guys!


wraithstrike wrote:
TM what is your opinion on the imbue summoning feat from PHB2?

bump


Abraham spalding wrote:
bgoodsoil wrote:
What about Bracers of Armor? That'd still work in animal form right? It'd get expensive in a hurry but it's better than nothing.

No they would not. They give an armor bonus and cease to function because the wild shape ability works like the beast shape spells, which are polymorph spells, and the polymorph rules specifically turn off armor bonuses.

Now Bracers of Armor with the Wild enhancement built into them would work... but the armor would be a better choice.

Yeah, the same rules that shut down armor bonuses(all of them, think mage armor) but allow a shield to provide it's bonus during wild shape, absurd.

You bet I'm houseruling that away.


nidho wrote:
Abraham spalding wrote:


Yeah, the same rules that shut down armor bonuses(all of them, think mage armor) but allow a shield to provide it's bonus during wild shape, absurd.

You bet I'm houseruling that away.

You could easily make it fall under the 'magic items with a passive/continous bonus still function' rule. Bracers of armor gives a passive bonus after all and is a magic item.


It's pretty obvious that the armor issue on the druids isn't perfect. Allowing Shield Bonuses seems silly, disallowing the Bracers of Armor does too.

I'm thinking we might houserule the Shield Bonus out, houserule the Bracers in and make Barkskin last 1hr/lvl instead of 10min/lvl for druids so that it can be on more consistently. I'm going to spend every penny of money I've got on magical armor but since I don't have to buy weapons it makes sense. That still leaves a fairly low AC but maybe it's meant to be balanced that way. We'll see how it works out in practice.

A Ring of Force Shield would still provide a shield bonus.

Dark Archive

As a note, Seeker of Secret's( put out by paizo as a pathfinder supplement ) has a feat called boon companion. It allows you to treat your effective druid level for animal companion purposes as 3 levels higher. That means a Druid that took the animal domain would be able to get a full animal companion at 5th lvl( the first time they get a feat after 4th ). That does leave you without a full strength companion until then though.

As to the armor issue, it is much better to have ludicrous hp, damage mitigation or static protection that doesn't care about your enemies "to hit" bonus( like displacement ). We have a guy in our game with a 28-30 ac( depending on circumstances, we are level 7 ). He regularly gets hit in level appropriate encounters. It seems like trying to play the ac game is an exercize in frustration and dis-appointment.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

There's an interesting discussion/clarification about beast shape type spells in a neighboring thread (http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinder RPG/rules/beastshapeMakingPuppys).

In short, Frost is clarifying that the actual animal you choose is irrelevant, so long as it conforms size-wise. So you could use Beast Shape II (or the equivalent wild shape ability) to become a Large hamster, or Beast Shape III to become a Medium tarrasque.

Assuming that is correct, I would think it potentially opens up more options to the druid in particular. I'm wondering if there are any particularly useful animals, plants, etc. that would be worthy transformations.

The main advantage this would grant is that some formerly presumably banned creatures might have more attacks, or unusually large damage dice for their size. Plus, how cool would it be to run around as Tarrasque, Jr.?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Drat! Frost rescinded his earlier ruling...which makes sense to me, actually. So no huge hamsters, unless you play in a game he's running, in which case, Large Tarrasque here I come! :)


Damien_DM wrote:
Drat! Frost rescinded his earlier ruling...which makes sense to me, actually. So no huge hamsters, unless you play in a game he's running, in which case, Large Tarrasque here I come! :)

You are aware that druids cannot wild shape into magical beasts right?

Liberty's Edge

Hey Treantmonk

Big fan of your guides. I recenty printed out the Druid guide for my son and we just noticed something:

Under the Wildshape section for the Spirit of the Beast build, it seems to be a direct copy paste from the Wild Mystic Wildshape text ... even including the part that says Wildshape is still important, even though as a Wild Mystic you will not be entering melée.

Can you take a look? I think you might want to change that!

Thanks!!!


wraithstrike wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
TM what is your opinion on the imbue summoning feat from PHB2?
bump

So - so.

The spell list that you can use with this feat is actually quite small if I remember correctly.

I never took it, even with dedicated summoning builds.


Marc Radle 81 wrote:

Hey Treantmonk

Big fan of your guides. I recenty printed out the Druid guide for my son and we just noticed something:

Under the Wildshape section for the Spirit of the Beast build, it seems to be a direct copy paste from the Wild Mystic Wildshape text ... even including the part that says Wildshape is still important, even though as a Wild Mystic you will not be entering melée.

Can you take a look? I think you might want to change that!

Thanks!!!

Thanks for the heads up. I'll take a look.


Hi there,

I made an account just to comment on this awesome guide to Druids (though I may stick around...).

I am planning a Druid for a Goblin campaign a friend of mine is running, and when I decided to look online for advice and found this guide, my day was made. You have mirrored my thinking almost exactly in every single detail of the "Wild Mystic" build.

I wanted to make two points on things I think could be improved in the Guide:

First, the awesomeness of the Weather Domain.
You already have this domain as blue, but even so you didn't quite express how overwhelmingly amazing this domain is for the Wild Mystic. The domain's granted ability is Storm Burst, which does 1d6 +1 per 2 levels worth of damage and -2 on the opponent's attacks for one turn...no save. What? You didn't read that correctly? NO SAVE. You just have to hit a touch attack and bam, it's like you just cast 2 1st-level spells at the same time. (Doom and Magic Missile or something) NO SAVE.

Now, at levels 5+, a -2 on attacks for one turn is a pittance. But at levels 1-4, where the Wild Mystic is otherwise weak? It could be a significant portion of an enemy's attack bonus. It could be huge!
This ability is usable 3+your Wis modifier times per day, and doesn't provoke AoO when used. This goes a looong way toward evening things up for the low-level Wild Mystic, in my estimation.

The 8th level Lightning Lord is even more impressive. Do I want to hit 8 enemies with a 3d10 lightning blast using a SINGLE STANDARD ACTION that doesn't provoke AoO? Hell yes I do! And of course the number of blasts per day is level based with no cap, so you're sitting pretty. How do you get that 3d10 instead of 3d6? Well, the lightning works just like Call Lightning blasts, which leads me to...

Second point, Call Lightning should be green instead of orange.
This spell has difficulties, certainly, but it is one of those rare blast spells that goes way up in utility when you get to higher level. I'll explain that in a moment.

Even at lower levels, the draw of Call Lightning is the enormous versatility it gives you in combat. Once cast, and for 1 min/level afterward, any round you don't feel like using Summon Nature's Ally or summat, you can blast. And if you prepared a storm or got lucky, your damage is a whopping 3d10 with each blast (reflex half, but still). A neat trick is that when some creatures are flying and others are directly underneath them, you can hit multiple enemies with one blast! The text of the spell specifically allows this feature. This is especially awesome against mounted opponents, or any other time multiple creatures are occupying the same square.

Then there's the rise in utility. Maybe you missed it, but the spell description specifically mentions that the whirlwind of an Air Elemental of at least large size counts for the 3d10 damage upgrade. "Holy cow!" you say. "Can't I summon one of those with a level 4 spell?" Yes, yes you can. Oh, and "Can't I Wild Shape into one of those starting at 10th level?" Oh yes, you can. So this means you can even make the God Wizard envious: controlling the board in whirlwind form, messing up many enemies, while at the same time blasting away with 3d10 lightning columns of the Call Lightning spell.

The only reason I say green instead of jumping to blue is because you still have to be outside to get the 3d10. This is a spell you should be memorizing almost every day, but not when you're going to be underground or indoors a lot.

Thanks for the guide!
Moox


I'll take a look at the points you mentioned on the weekend - pretty busy for the next couple days.

I'll respond again when I've taken a good look at the spells/abilities you've mentioned.


Treantmonk wrote:

I'll take a look at the points you mentioned on the weekend - pretty busy for the next couple days.

I'll respond again when I've taken a good look at the spells/abilities you've mentioned.

Well, since I've got your attention...

You may want to fix the "riding dog," "ant, drone" and "giant lizard" entries, now that these things have been addressed by the creative director. I actually had quite a headache over the discrepancies between the Bestiary, the SRD, and your guide--until I did a search and found the thread where you asked about these creatures!

Actually, you had the Riding Dog statted incorrectly, lol--its attack is not as powerful as you wrote.

Anyway, thanks again for the incredibly awesome guides.

Moox


Moox wrote:
Treantmonk wrote:

I'll take a look at the points you mentioned on the weekend - pretty busy for the next couple days.

I'll respond again when I've taken a good look at the spells/abilities you've mentioned.

Well, since I've got your attention...

You may want to fix the "riding dog," "ant, drone" and "giant lizard" entries, now that these things have been addressed by the creative director. I actually had quite a headache over the discrepancies between the Bestiary, the SRD, and your guide--until I did a search and found the thread where you asked about these creatures!

Actually, you had the Riding Dog statted incorrectly, lol--its attack is not as powerful as you wrote.

Anyway, thanks again for the incredibly awesome guides.

Moox

Yes - those do need updating. Have official errata been issued yet?

I was glad for the change - those 3 entries were WAY out of line.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The melee druid is working out great! Running it set up as suggested in the guide and having my druid be one of the front line melee. I never thought to use a druid like that before. I am not using "optimal" companions due to me having them match up with a mwangi theme, but its close! Using Elephant till 4, Ape till 7. then T-Rex from that point on. It's a really fun character concept.


Um....is my internet acting up, have you taken them down for maintenance, or did someone vandalize the guides? I've got nothing popping up but the chapter title and blank text.


Beats wrote:
Um....is my internet acting up, have you taken them down for maintenance, or did someone vandalize the guides? I've got nothing popping up but the chapter title and blank text.

I just went to the PFSRD and they seem to be OK. Maybe your internet?


Huh. Not my internet after all, but my browser. Opened it in Firefox instead of Safari, and it popped right up.

*sigh* I think you've confirmed what I already knew - using your animal companion as a mount is suboptimal (and why wouldn't it be, when you could just turn into that mount yourself?). I'm going to have to put quite a bit of thought into making this PC work.

One thing I would mention - in a good chunk of settings, a level seven raptor companion will be better than a level seven tiger companion. You still get pounce and five attacks (none of which are secondary), but you also won't have any trouble fitting through passages/doorways, which a large-sized animal might. So if you do much dungeon-crawling or city-dwelling...


Beats wrote:

Huh. Not my internet after all, but my browser. Opened it in Firefox instead of Safari, and it popped right up.

*sigh* I think you've confirmed what I already knew - using your animal companion as a mount is suboptimal (and why wouldn't it be, when you could just turn into that mount yourself?). I'm going to have to put quite a bit of thought into making this PC work.

One thing I would mention - in a good chunk of settings, a level seven raptor companion will be better than a level seven tiger companion. You still get pounce and five attacks (none of which are secondary), but you also won't have any trouble fitting through passages/doorways, which a large-sized animal might. So if you do much dungeon-crawling or city-dwelling...

I made a Druid build with a Roc companion, the intention was for the Roc to be a mount - just not my characters. As a Druid, you are right, you are not going to be mounted - but that doesn't mean that your AC can't still fill the mount role.

A fighter can easily swing all the mounted charging feats, and you can enable him to use them on land or air. That's a powerful combination.

In my group there are two front liners - and the intention was for my Druid to enable both of them flight. One on my Roc AC, the other on my character (who would be an Air walking dire tiger). It's OK to be the hero of your party after all ;)

As for the Raptor being a decent AC choice...it does get pounce, but the low Str score (15 base for advanced) concerns me a bit (and the Dex is no better - so no relying on Weapon Finesse) in terms of "to hit"

I'm tempted to say the cheetah, bear, crocodile or boar may be better options if you want a medium creature.


I intend to put something up on this in the next week or so but there are some interesting subtleties to Druid AC advancement.

Firstly, its easy to write off the single attack ACs (such as those with Bite or Tail attacks). Actually these get much more effective at 9th level when they get a second attack through Multiattack. Also, in general these attacks are more effective when the creature can only make a single attack in a round as they tend to deal more damage. This comes into play more often than you'd think and is further enhanced by buffs such as Greater Magic Fang and Haste which favour attacks with more damage from the primary attack.

Tyrannosaurs are king of the DPR tables past 8th and that’s even before adding in Animal Growth which makes them true beasts....

The dinosaur ACs are in general pretty interesting actually and, although in general a little more fragile than their mammal counterparts, tend to have much better natural armour.

Hap


@ moox- Storm Burst is nice, but it is also non-lethal, which mena sit is of limited utility against a number of creatures (Undead, plants, constructs, etc)


Great work I must say, just a question:
how viable would be a spirit of the beast taking one level barbarian and the extra rage feat? Could get quite nasty when wildshaping, or are you loosing to much?

Dark Archive

Treantmonk wrote:


What if I wanted to play a Druid that mixes Spellcasting and Melee combat? Can't I do that now?

You can't do it as easily. However, if that's what you're looking for, I would suggest the Spirit of the Beast build. Just make sure you pick up Augment Summoning. Avoid direct offense spells, stick to battlefield control, buff, healing and summmoning. You should be fine.

I agree that the easiest way to follow is the Spirit of the Beast build, but IMO the Wise Mystic build can also be suitable for that role.

FYI I know that my suggestion isn't exactly what you might call a Melee aspect but more like a Melee Support for the Wild Mystic.

As you mentioned a Wise Mystic should choose a Domain instead an Animal Companion and certainly the Animal domain though it is tempting is just not good, (Weather Domain ftw). My suggestion to add a Melee aspect to the Wise Mystic build.

Supposing that you charisma score is your forth best not fifth (estimated value 10-12)at the 9th level you should get the 'Leadership' feat to gain access to a cohort with keeping your Leadership score close to 10 (so as to have full levels for your cohort "that would be your level -2, more than the animal companion from the animal domain")

Now you may wonder why the 9th level and not the 7th, well that depends on your views for your cohort. For me I chose 9th level because I gain access to the Awaken spell, so I awaken an animal making it a magical beast and loyal to me as a good friend instead of a pet, Leadership kicks in the door and make this awakened animal (word of notice it should be a 5 HD animal max gone to 7 HD after Awaken) now I am its Idol. Not to mention that now it levels up as a normal cohort and since it is a magical beast with intelligence it can get actual class levels (Rogue Deinonychus and Barbarian Constrictor Snake will probably be the best Damage Dealer Cohorts you can get).

"Delusional Moment"
You summon a distraction at an opponent and then your cohort Deinonychus/Rogue Pounces him...
120ft movement on charge (60ft Speed x2). Check
1 Bite, 2 Claws, 2 Foreclaws usable with Pounce. Check
Flanking bonuses with Distraction Summon. Check
Sneak Attack Damage for every successful Attack. Happy Time :D


I just read this post and all the replies. Thanks, it's a great piece of work, Treant.
Looking at your guide part 2, you have an example of a druid level 5 vs. a fighter level 5. You use the deinonychus as the druid's wildshape. You then list the damage the wildshaped deinonychus would deliver. Looking at the numbers, it appears you added the druid's strength bonus (+5) to the deinonychus's strength bonus (+2) to arrive at the wildshaped damage.
However, from p.212 of the Core Rulebook (under Polymorph), the rules state: "In addition to these benefits, you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature. These attacks are based on your base attack bonus, modified by your Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, and use your Strength modifier for determining damage bonuses."
I do not read this section to mean you get to add your Strength bonus to the monster's Strength bonus for damage. I read this section to mean you replace the monster's damage Strength bonus with your own Strength bonus just as you replace the monster's base attack bonus with your own base attack bonus.
This change would make the druid's damage not quite so overpowering as compared to the same level 5 fighter.
Thoughts??

Dark Archive

Treantmonk, this might not be the place to bring it up but. The next guide I hope you do is the witch guide once the APG is out and the final rules for the witch is done.


Vorkar wrote:

Looking at the numbers, it appears you added the druid's strength bonus (+5) to the deinonychus's strength bonus (+2) to arrive at the wildshaped damage.

I did? Not intentionally.

Let's see:

1d8+8

1d8 base natural attack damage
+5 Str
+1 Enhancement
+2 Power attack

I think it's OK.


My bad, Treant. I missed the power attack and confused that +2 with the monster's +2 Strength bonus. I should know better than to think you would miss the easy things!


Has anyone considered what might change with the APG out? I was thinking of playing a bear shaman. Do you think that's better then the pure core druid?

Liberty's Edge

The Eagle Shaman would be a good option for the caster Druid, probably a really good option.

Still offers the Air and Weather Domains, generally has bonuses to perception, better summoning for Giant Eagles and Rocs... yeah, that seems like a good option.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Draeke Raefel wrote:

As a note, Seeker of Secret's( put out by paizo as a pathfinder supplement ) has a feat called boon companion. It allows you to treat your effective druid level for animal companion purposes as 3 levels higher. That means a Druid that took the animal domain would be able to get a full animal companion at 5th lvl( the first time they get a feat after 4th ). That does leave you without a full strength companion until then though.

Just remember the qualifier... the maximum effective level for the purposes of the animal companion ability gained through this feat is your character level. This feat will do nothing for a single-class Druid, it will boost a Ranger or a multi-class Druid.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Joe Bots wrote:
Has anyone considered what might change with the APG out? I was thinking of playing a bear shaman. Do you think that's better then the pure core druid?

The options are intended to be different, not "better".

Liberty's Edge

LazarX wrote:
Joe Bots wrote:
Has anyone considered what might change with the APG out? I was thinking of playing a bear shaman. Do you think that's better then the pure core druid?
The options are intended to be different, not "better".

Right, but of course that doesn't stop anyone from evaluating them in terms of "better" or "worse". Since Treant's guides rate things by color-code, one could make the case that he's calling some things "better" than others - and I think he'd be right to do so.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Jeremiziah wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Joe Bots wrote:
Has anyone considered what might change with the APG out? I was thinking of playing a bear shaman. Do you think that's better then the pure core druid?
The options are intended to be different, not "better".
Right, but of course that doesn't stop anyone from evaluating them in terms of "better" or "worse". Since Treant's guides rate things by color-code, one could make the case that he's calling some things "better" than others - and I think he'd be right to do so.

Having written the druid section (among others), it would be amusing or interesting to see the evaluation. They were indeed intended to be "different" and not categorically worse or better. That said, some people will value certain abilities or benefits more highly than others, so by all means go for it. :)


since there as so many options in the APG you might wann give treantmonk more than the few days it been to acutally analyse the changes and what can be done with them XD

it not like he came out with all these guides 3 days after the core rulebook first came out.

putting together a comprehensive guide takes time.

besides druids might not even be first on his list of new guide targets

one could also argue the guides explain why certain abilities and spells are good or bad and most people can extraploate how the various APG options will enhance or hurt the good and bad of the original druid

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Phasics wrote:

since there as so many options in the APG you might wann give treantmonk more than the few days it been to acutally analyse the changes and what can be done with them XD

it not like he came out with all these guides 3 days after the core rulebook first came out.

putting together a comprehensive guide takes time.

besides druids might not even be first on his list of new guide targets

one could also argue the guides explain why certain abilities and spells are good or bad and most people can extraploate how the various APG options will enhance or hurt the good and bad of the original druid

As he's stated before, Treantmonk isn't exactly on a production schedule with these guides. He generally does them when the spirit moves him and generally only on classes he's played. That's the main reason for the gap in the guide he has at present. He doesn't do guides on classes that don't interest him or that he does not play.

So I wouldn't exactly wait for TM to come out with a guide before launching feet first into one of these classes. Who knows you just might beat him to the punch.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

LazarX wrote:
Phasics wrote:

since there as so many options in the APG you might wann give treantmonk more than the few days it been to acutally analyse the changes and what can be done with them XD

it not like he came out with all these guides 3 days after the core rulebook first came out.

putting together a comprehensive guide takes time.

besides druids might not even be first on his list of new guide targets

one could also argue the guides explain why certain abilities and spells are good or bad and most people can extraploate how the various APG options will enhance or hurt the good and bad of the original druid

As he's stated before, Treantmonk isn't exactly on a production schedule with these guides. He generally does them when the spirit moves him and generally only on classes he's played. That's the main reason for the gap in the guide he has at present. He doesn't do guides on classes that don't interest him or that he does not play.

So I wouldn't exactly wait for TM to come out with a guide before launching feet first into one of these classes. Who knows you just might beat him to the punch.

Tru dat! Pick up your dice and PLAY! :)

Then come back and tells us how hard you cheat...


I'm not Treantmonk, and I disagree with him on some of the suggestions he put in his Druid guide (though I agree with the vast majority), but I've written a few guides of my own--here's my take on the first few (if people are interested, I will do more). :

Treantmonk has two Druid types, Wild Mystic and Spirit of the Beast (which I'll call Beastshaper) which cover all the usual cases. Right out front, I disagree with the decision to give up the Animal Companion with the Wild Mystic, so I'm going to be assuming you take the Animal Companion whenever possible. Before I start, I thought I'd take a moment to say that I really liked the flavour of all these Druid variants and I think that JN did an awesome job here. Even the ones I'm about to rate low as a PC pretty much gave me a picture of a great villain or team of enemies to use against the PCs, and I'll be poaching some of the abilities here to rejigger the classes and races in the homebrew setting I sometimes use (I like the Mountain Druid's abilities for the Oread race). Since colour doesn't show up here, I'll use **** to mean "blue", *** to mean "green", ** to mean orange, * to mean red.

Let's start off by analysing the penalty of getting Wild Shape two levels later, as all the non-shamans do (note that the Shamans get Wildshape at level 4 and then at level 6 is when the specialisation in their totem animal gives them the +2/-2, so this applies to them differently).

Obviously this hurts badly at levels 4 and 5, when you don't get Wildshape. It denies the Beastshaper the absolute slaughter potential that is Deinonychus at those levels, and the Wild Mystic doesn't get to fly around as an Eagle for 4-5 hours a day either. At level 6-7, you are using Beast Shape 1 while a normal Druid uses Beast Shape 2. That's not really that bad for the Wild Mystic, but it's quite bad for the Beastshaper, who could otherwise be a Dire Tiger. At levels 8-9, the Beastshaper can be quite content with Dire Tiger (though you don't get Rake), and the Wild Mystic misses out on Blindsense from being a Bat but is still fine as a Hawk. Level 10-11, the Wild Mystic was probably not going to become a Large Elemental anyway, and Beastshaper can also still be just fine with Dire Tiger or Beast Shape III forms, which it would mostly use anyway. Level 12-13 is another big loss because turning into an Elder Elemental is quite good, but by 14-20, you effectively don't have much of a loss at all anymore (granted, though, as Treantmonk says, those aren't the main Druid shine levels anyway) and by level 20, there is literally no difference between you and a regular Druid for Wildshape, except I guess if someone tries to Dispel it or something.

So Beastshaper loses about half of the levels where she shines the most, but Wild Mystic only takes a noticable blow at the beginning (admittedly this is when he is already just trying to stretch out his wings, since the build focuses on longer term investments). With that in mind, it's going to take something pretty significant to get a *** rating for Beastshaper and something truly incredible to get **** for Beastshaper.

Aquatic Druid: (Mystic **** / * , Beastshaper ***/* depending on if the game is Aquatic)

As Treantmonk said in his guide, you are usually either playing an Aquatic campaign or you aren't. In an aquatic campaign, this is extremely useful. In a non-aquatic campaign, even if it has some minor aquatic dips (like my group's Curse of the Crimson Throne game where the Druid keeps going to the Korvosa docks and befriending jigsaw sharks and other random creatures for use in hijinks), the tradeoffs are clearly not worth it (though Deep Diver can be helpful against monsters with slam attacks). I won't go into details on abilities here for that reason. This is also definitely an awesome enemy to encounter in an aquatic setting.

Arctic Druid: (Mystic ***, Beastshaper **--raise this by * for each of them if you know you'll be in cold terrain for a solid chunk of time)

This Druid is pretty nice, especially in a cold or icy area. This applies in countries like Irrisen all the time, and in many areas it will apply for at least a quarter of the year, too.

*** Arctic Native: Woodland Stride is restricted to cold/icy terrain, but in exchange, you get a huge bonus (eventually +10) to Perception and Initiative, as well as Stealth and Survival, and less importantly Knowledge [Geography]. And you get Trackless Step early in this terrain. This is pretty darn huge in those sorts of terrains. If you fight in non-icy terrains with a lot of difficult terrain, you won't have Woodland Stride, but then if you're using this style of Druid for Serpent's Skull or something, you knew you were playing a fish out of water. This is clearly **** if you have good reason to believe you will be playing a sizable percentage of time in these types of terrain.

***Icewalking: Trackless Step doesn't come up much, and you already have it for cold and icy terrains. This extra ability is very useful if you plan to spend a good portion of time in icy terrains or plan to conjure some icy weather conditions up with magic. Note that this seems to suggest that you can fly freely in a (possibly self-summoned) blizzard, which is very nice.

*Arctic Endurance: The dazzled condition is minor, and Endure Elements is a first level spell, and this ability doesn't even duplicate all the way. Still, this is flavourful, and Resist Nature's Lure is hardly useful anyway, so it doesn't matter too much that this isn't good either (wait til you see what the Jungle Druid gets though!)

***Snowcaster: The ability to see through snowstorms including your own spells provides you a huge advantage if you like to conjure them up for battlefield control (I'm looking at you Wild Mystic). You also get free energy substitution of fire to cold (not costing a level like the APG feat does), which is thematic but much less useful than being able to decide between the two on the fly. Still, you lose the quite nice Venom Immunity feature, but it's great that this ability is quite useful wherever you are in the world.

***Flurry Form: Gaseous Form at will is generally better than Alter Self at will when you already have Wild Shape, and as an added bonus, you add your Druid level to Stealth checks in cold terrain, the same terrain where you're already adding half your Druid level to Stealth checks. And they stack. Good luck finding you!

Blight Druid: (Mystic ***, Beastshaper **--These are both **** if you were going to take a Domain instead of an Animal Companion)

Nature Bond: Getting a familiar instead of an Animal Companion is devastatingly bad--Blight Druids will pretty much always go for the Domain. As mentioned above, this makes me like it a lot less, but if you're playing Treantmonk's Wild Mystic, this doesn't hurt you at all and instead gives you options for three new domains.

Wild Shape: Blight Druid does not get the delayed Wildshape, which is why it gets an entry here. This is excellent for Beastshapers!

**Vermin Empathy: This is probably not as good as Wild Empathy, but it's creepy and flavourful, and Wild Empathy usually doesn't come up too often except in very exploration-based games in happy non-blighted natural areas, where you probably don't want to be a Blight Druid anyway, and if you do, you probably hate animals anyway and want to get use of your miasma.

***Miasma: Anything next to you is probably sickened for a round? That's not bad at all, particularly for the Beastshaper who gets up and personal in everyone's face. The added effect on animals, plants, and fey probably won't come up that much, but it's extremely useful on them. The thing is, if it's an animal, a regular Druid would probably empathy it (you can too with a -4) and if it's a fey, you might have actually gotten use out of Resist Nature's Lure. This ability will come up every time something goes next to you, so it's a definite improvement over the more-situational Resist Nature's Lure and Trackless Step that you give up.

****Blightblooded: I guess it depends on your campaign, but I'd put disease, sickened, and nauseated immunity as an improvement to the already-good Venom Immunity ability.

*Plaguebearer: This ability is really cool for a BBEG (at least if your party has a monk or something, it would be nice to apply on successful weapon hits too, maybe with the tainted blood splattering on the character?). It is flavourful and thematic but pretty much useless for a PC--when does the enemy live long enough to really suffer the effects of the disease? If it's a fled mook or random encounter, will the PCs even care? If you're about to mention recurring villains, they will have the resources to get a Remove Disease without blinking an eye at level 13.

If people are interested, next up will be Cave Druid

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Fun to read. By all means continue.

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