Merlin the Druid


Dark Archive

I have an opportunity to join a new game and I'm considering playing a druid. I've never played a druid before and the class has always intrigued me. My concept is a wizard like Merlin, from traditional legend. Merlin is very in-tuned with nature, can assume various animal shapes and call on the natural world to help him (causing earth quakes, summoning fire or wind, animating plants, etc.). This to me is very much a druid.

I'm looking for advice on a build for him. I'm not really familiar with the druid or how its class abilities really function during the game. I'm not even sure where to start.

Would you any suggest if I wanted to play a Merlin-like druid?

Definitely a caster Druid build. I'd go with a domain. Storm has a fun mass-trip thing.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Stone might also be a good choice. It's Merlin who's credited with raising Stonehenge in some tales. I can tell you that caster focused druids can be very effective.

Definitely use divination spells. I don't think the druid spell list has a lot in that department, but it was a big part of Merlin.

Dark Archive

What divination spells would you recommend? Is there any way to add new spells to the druid spell list other than from a domain?

Silver Crusade

Merlin was also in tune with the fey world. Think about the archetype "Menhir Savant" (able to tap into ley lines that connect standing stones, detect fey) along with Domain option instead of an animal companion. Weather comes to mind as the domain (or subdomain storms as tiny notes). I always associated Merlin with dreams and foresight, so agree with divination-type spells for some flavor (which fits the Menhir archetype for detecting fey and undead).

Beyond those mechanics, the rest is flavor.

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The question is "which Merlin" are you talking about? There are many, many variations of Merlin in literature.

Menhir Savant with the Feather domain and Boon Companion at 3rd level.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dust Raven wrote:
What divination spells would you recommend? Is there any way to add new spells to the druid spell list other than from a domain?

Doesn't the advanced race guide give this to the Samsarans with the Mystic Past Life alternate racial trait? If so, you might go with this with Samsaran as a race, since Merlin was said to be immortal of a sort (or even age backwards).

I also recall some stuff about turning into a tree. Plant, or one of the Druid-exclusive domains in the supplementary books might also be a good place.

Also you don't add spells to your spell list per see with a domain. You get 1 extra spell slot that MUST be used on that spell, and you can't prepare it another slot unless it is also on the druid spell list.

Liberty's Edge

You could also consider playing a Shaman:

New Paths #2: The Expanded Shaman from Kobold Press. I think a shaman would make a fine Merlin-type of character!

Merlin could be an Oracle of Nature as well. That being said, you want a druid. I think druid could work well. Others have already stated some good ideas.

My own opinion is that of the classes that exist in PF, the one that most closely matches the most commonly described Merlin from myth is probably the witch. While Merlin was known to take on animal or plant forms, the vast majority of his "shape shifting" was into different humanoid forms, including taking the appearance of young children, wizened old beggars and even, on occasion, female forms.

Many of his powers (including the ability to induce slumber) are key witch abilities.

Dark Archive

Adamantine Dragon wrote:
The question is "which Merlin" are you talking about? There are many, many variations of Merlin in literature.

That's hard to say, given I'm not even close to an expert on the subject. I have a general idea but that's about it. Something like a cross between Mists of Avalon and the Merlin miniseries... but not quite either. I definitely want something that draws from the mythology of the British Isles though.

I love the idea of the Menhir Savant. It seems almost perfect for my concept. I'm not sure about which domain though. I like the idea of an air/weather type, as I can get behind the idea of turning into wind/flying/blowing things around and such.

Great ideas so far, but keep 'em coming. I don't have to have anything until this weekend (and maybe a little longer) so I have some time to figure it all out.

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I've never played a Menhir Savant, it might be perfect.

A couple of points on the Merlins I know about.

1. Merlin is almost never a combatant. Even in the most epic King Arthur warrior-knight myths Merlin rarely, if ever, engages in anything like combat. The sole exception to this that I can think of is the current Merlin TV series where the young Merlin will occasionally pick up a sword or use his powers in combat, but even then he allows himself to be perceived as something of a bumbling incompetent.

2. Virtually every Merlin I've encountered would qualify in Pathfinder terms as a "spontaneous caster" not a "learned caster." Again the sole exception to this that I can think of is the Merlin TV series where he occasionally will research a spell from an old spell book. But even then the bulk of his magical ability is spontaneous and frequently he doesn't even know himself how he does it.

3. Many of the Merlins in myth and legend are not particularly heroic. In fact some of his exploits are quite arguably evil.

4. The most famous myths that I know of describe Merlin as a sort of demon spawn from a virgin mother. In some cases his father is an incubus. His powers are therefore derived demonically. In a few cases he is described as a potential anti-christ who somehow overcomes his demonic legacy.

5. Merlin also is described frequently as having magical healing powers.

Anyway, Merlin is a sort of pet myth of mine. The sheer number of incarnations of Merlin are staggering. His development as a mythological figure is pretty well established in literary history, and the most common understanding of Merlin being Arthur's "wizard" are actually revisions to the myth hundreds of years after Merlin was first introduced into poetry and legend. The Arthurian myth version of Merlin is regarded in some circles as an attempt to reconcile pagan and Christian mythology so that Christianity would be more readily accepted.

In many tales, Merlin is the son of a mortal woman and an Incubus (Demon). This would technically make him a half-fiend or teifling. Of course, he can still be these things and still look human.

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