Elemental Druid Archetype: Inupt Desired!


Homebrew and House Rules


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Hey y'all. I'm interested in content and balance input on this archetype of the druid. The theme is a druid that focuses on the elements (fire, water, earth, air), rather than nature. I may modify the spell list a bit to reflect this, but I haven't done that yet.

The summoning is modeled after the Shaman archetypes, except for elementals, rather than a type of animal. This is the part I'm most concerned with, balance wise, since restricting summons to elementals is much less of a restriction than restricting it to a type of animal (e.g. canines). This is balanced out somewhat at low levels by the limited wild shape, but I'm not sure it's enough.

Any input is appreciated! Most particularly, if you think it is too powerful, how can it be toned down?

CLASS SKILLS: An elemental druid removes Handle Animal as a class skill and adds Knowledge (Planes).

ELEMENTAL BOND
An elemental druid gains neither a domain, nor an animal companion, but rather forms a bond with all of the elements. He does not receive any domain abilities, but he does receives a single bonus spell slot of each spell level he can cast, much like a domain, and the slot can be used for the following spells:
1st: hydraulic push, whispering wind, magic stone, burning hands
2nd: fog cloud, soften earth and stone, produce flame
3rd: stone shape, water breathing, call lightning, fireball
4th: wall of fire, control water, spike stones
5th: TBA
6th: TBA
7th: TBA
8th: TBA
9th: TBA
These spells are not added to the druid spell list, and so may not be prepared in normal druid spell slots unless they are already on the druid spell list.

At 5th level, the druid receives a small elemental as a familiar, using his druid level -4 as his caster level to determine familiar abilities. He may use the Boon Companion feat to increase this to his full druid level, if desired. He may NOT use the Improved Familiar feat to select a non-elemental familiar. The druid may dismiss his familiar and receive one of a different elemental type using a ritual that takes 8 hours (but costs nothing).

ELEMENTAL TONGUE
At level 1, the elemental druid chooses one of the four elemental languages as a bonus language. At levels 3, 5 and 7, he receives an additional elemental language.
An elemental druid does not know Druidic, and cannot choose Sylvan as a bonus language (unless it is normally allowed by his race).

ELEMENTAL KNOWLEDGE
An elemental druid gets +2 on Knowledge (planes). At level 6, this bonus increases to +1/2 his level when making knowledge checks about elementals, or the elemental planes.
This replaces Nature Sense.

ELEMENTAL EMPATHY
An elemental druid adds 1/2 of his level on any charisma or wisdom based skill checks and ability checks when dealing with elementals.
This replaces Wild Empathy.

ELEMENTAL ENDURANCE
At level 2, an elemental druid is subject to a constant 'endure elements' effect.
This replaces woodland stride.

ELEMENTAL RESISTANCE
At level 4, an elemental druid gets fire, cold, acid and electricity resistance equal to 1/2 his level. At level 9, this increases to 5 + 1/2 his level.
This resistance stacks with resistance from racial traits, or extraordinary abilities, but NOT with resistance from spells such as resist elements, supernatural abilities, or the resistance gained from taking elemental form.
This replaces Trackless Step, Resist Nature's Lure & Venom Immunity.

ELEMENTAL SUMMONS
An elemental druid can only channel prepared spells into Summon Nature's Ally spells when used to summon elementals.
At level 5, an elemental druid can cast summon nature’s ally as a standard action when summoning elementals, and summoned elementals gain temporary hit points equal to his druid level. He can choose to increase the level of summoning required by one in order to apply the advanced template.
At level 7, an elemental druid does not need a divine focus for Summon Nature's Ally spells when used to summon elementals. This allows him to cast the spell in elemental form, without need of the Natural Spell feat.
This replaces A Thousand Faces

ELEMENTAL SHAPE
An elemental druid can ONLY take the forms of elementals, with the progression following the standard druid progression for elemental shapes. Thus, he cannot use elemental shape until level 6, but receives 2 uses per day at that level, as usual.

At level 14, the elemental druid gains additional abilities of the elemental. If transformed into an earth elemental, he gains the tremorsense ability. If transformed into an air elemental, he gains use of the Flyby Attack feat, as well as the Air Mastery ability. If transformed into a fire elemental, he gains immunity to fire. If transformed into a water elemental, he gains use of the Drench and Water Mastery abilities.

At level 16, in addition to the immunity to bleed damage, critical hits, and sneak attacks that he already has in elemental form, he gains immunity to poison and sleep effects, better approximating the true nature of an elemental.

At level 18, he cannot be flanked in elemental form.

At level 20, the elemental druid gains immunity to paralysis and stunning when in elemental form.

This ability otherwise functions like Wild Shape, and counts as Wild Shape for the purposes of feats and abilities.

TIMELESS BODY
This functions as the druid ability, except that it is accompanied by visual changes to the druid; this can be anything from hair constantly blown by wind, to flaming eyes, but it always imposes a -5 penalty to any disguise check.

ELEMENTAL APOTHEOSIS
At level 20, the elemental druid's nature fundamentally changes, encompassing all of the elements in his person; the signs of his elemental nature become extremely prominent, and the penalty on disguise checks increases to -10. He will no longer die "when his time is up", and his type becomes Outsider (native, elemental). He no longer needs to eat, sleep or breathe. The elemental druid can be resurrected as normal, but if reincarnated, he invariably comes back as an elemental of some kind (the details of this are left up to the GM).
When in his "normal" form, the elemental druid has a 75% chance of negating any critical hit, sneak attack or precision damage (this does not stack with similar Fortification abilities). He is immune to bleed, and has a +4 bonus to saves against poison, sleep, paralysis and stunning effects, and gains +2 natural armor. [For evaluating balance, note that all of the abilities in this paragraph are somewhat irrelevant, as they are *all* are inferior to the abilities of the elemental druid when in elemental form, and do not stack; an elemental druid of this level will probably spend all of their time in elemental form in any case.]


Looks a little weaker than vanilla Druid but it seems on a par or better than most archetypes. Losing Druid language seems odd to me. Do any other archetypes have that? Not a huge deal as that is very rare to matter in most campaigns but it makes them less Druid-like to me.

An elemental companion sounds like fun.


Thanks for the input.

Losing the Druidic language is not really necessary of course, and this is the only archetype that loses it, as far as I'm aware. I'm picturing this guy as being far removed from other druids, though, as he's not interested in the natural order of the material world so much.


Hmm... I'd really like this to be "on par" with vanilla druid, but you say it's still weaker. Is it mainly the lack of animal companion that makes it weaker? The lack of animal forms for pounce ridiculousness?

What about giving the class the Evocationist's Admixture ability? It would certainly be in theme.


As written its seems really wordy...but I like it cuz I've wanted an elemental druid archetype for awhile.

Just had an interesting thought though...I was puzzling over the lack of a spontaneous "druid list" caster. Could an elemental druid be build on a spontaneous casting chassis?


Your idea is near in power to the regular Druid, just to be clear. One big problem, so to speak, when I played a caster Druid was Elemental Body made you so large at mid to high levels that over half the time I had to take inferior forms just to fit in a given space. Giving the Elemental Druid the advantages of larger elemental forms while taking one less size category would help out. Standard action casting makes all the specialty Druids tempting, yet the same size problem happens for our Elementalist. At 13th level, for example, if I want to S.N.A. VII for a greater earth elemental, it comes in huge size. When we were outdoors that was fine, but indoors with myself in a large plus size, party members, and foes it got clunky very fast. A similar size adjust down while retaining powers fixes that.

That said, I really like your notion of this specialist and think it's pretty close as is to regular Druid. Devil's advocate says that giving the Druid any more options is terrible as they're tough enough/ overpowered as is!

I'd like to know what other people think.


Rudy2 wrote:

Hmm... I'd really like this to be "on par" with vanilla druid, but you say it's still weaker. Is it mainly the lack of animal companion that makes it weaker? The lack of animal forms for pounce ridiculousness?

What about giving the class the Evocationist's Admixture ability? It would certainly be in theme.

The admixture ability would certainly amp up Rime Spell metamagic which is a great option. Obviously it helps our Elementalist get around immunity issues which is not only handy but fits in well with the theme.


Rudy2 wrote:
...At level 7, an elemental druid does not need a divine focus for Summon Nature's Ally spells when used to summon elementals. This allows him to cast the spell in elemental form, without need of the Natural Spell feat.

This implies that a Druid needs Natural Spell when in elemental form. As elementals can speak I think that they don't need the feat. I didn't know that was in question so I'll go post on rules forum.

EDIT- A search in rules has a rough consensus that indeed Druids can cast while in elemental form as they have verbal and somatic capability. However, they would need to have time to put down and then pick up their materials for spells pouch before shape changing as it would simply meld to their new form.


The size thing is a very good point; I'll think about if there is a way to accommodate that without making the rules too confusing. It shouldn't be too hard for Elemental Shape (just give the ability adjustments and attack DCs of the larger form to the smaller ones), but the summoning will be trickier. The ability to apply the "advanced" template to elementals helps at mid-levels, since you can summon an Advanced Medium elemental in place of a Large elemental, but it doesn't help when you get to the point where all the elementals are huge.

Right; I knew Elementals could do the somatic and verbal thing. It's just a very, very minor ability that ensures they don't need to "drop" their divine focus and pick it up again if they are going to summon.


Sandbox wrote:
Just had an interesting thought though...I was puzzling over the lack of a spontaneous "druid list" caster. Could an elemental druid be build on a spontaneous casting chassis?

I think you could do so, but at that point you're building an entirely new class, I think. It's not a bad idea, but it's not what I want to do here.


Alright, EpicFail (and others!); if you have a chance, please see if you think these changes fix the size issues you were talking about. I also started editing the spell list of the druid (losing many of the plant/animal oriented spells, gaining some elemental spells that the druid did not already have).

Elementalist

For the admixture option, I decided instead to go with giving the class the ability to use Elemental Metamagic a number of times per day for free, without changing the level of the spell. I think giving the ability to do the "Rime" trick to this class is too powerful; I want the Elementalist to be good at blasting, but not be the *best* at blasting (that should still be a blaster sorcerer/wizard).

I really, really like this guy from 5th level onward, and I think he's balanced compared to the primary Druid at that point. However, at levels 1-4 he's inferior to the standard druid, I think, due to the lack of animal companion, the lack of 4th level wild shape, and the lack of spontaneous SNA for anything but elementals (which there are none for SNA I). It was for this reason that I left 'entangle' on his spell list. I'm considering moving his standard action summons to 3rd level, but I don't know if that would be *too* good.


Here is my work up of an elemental focused druid Forcebound.


I think you covered the size options very concisely- that should be clear enough and makes sense thematically. There's so much that's different that I'm not sure how he compares power-wise to regular Druid, which is ok by me. I think the elemental adaptation is a compromise that works well as the rime spell abuse would be too cheesy. I'm thinking I'm liking it.

Edit- I know I've brought up power comparisons, but the elemental aspects of the Druid I ran was really all about utility. I think any party would benefit from having your archetype around.

Edit II- I wonder if it would make the Druid too powerful if he had the equivalent of selective channel for the blast spells- i.e., designated people within area of effect are exempt.


Thanks for the link, inkedmsd. Why did you feel the need for such a non-standard BAB progression?

EpicFail, thanks for your words and input. I *do* think adding in the selective thing would be too powerful; I think this archetype is right on the edge where any more significant powers would be too much. I don't mind adding minor powers, but I think any majors boosts are out, without removing something else.

I *could* change it so that they could choose between gaining the power to switch the elemental type, and the power to selectively exclude squares, I suppose.

Shadow Lodge

I think the initial archetype was pretty interesting and balanced as it was.

I do prefer how the newer Elemental Bond works, though. And the "condensed" elemental shape and summons are also probably a good idea.

Elementalist wrote:
Elemental Resistance (Ex): At 4th level, an elementalist gains resistance to fire, cold, acid and electricity equal to ½ his druid level. At 9th level, this increases to 5 + ½ druid level. At 13th level, it increases to 10 + ½ druid level. This resistance stacks with resistance from racial traits, or extraordinary abilities, but NOT with resistance from spells such as resist elements, supernatural abilities, or resistance gained from taking elemental form.

This is weird. Either increase it 5-10-20-30 or make it consistently equal to 1/2 level. I'd recommend using steps since that's what most other classes granting elemental resistance do.

EpicFail wrote:
Edit II- I wonder if it would make the Druid too powerful if he had the equivalent of selective channel for the blast spells- i.e., designated people within area of effect are exempt.

Yes. Giving someone the effects of a good metamagic feat on every spell without level adjustment is OP. Also, it's not more relevant to this archetype than it would be to other blaster types (who don't get this benefit).


Thanks for the comments, Weirdo. I definitely did come to the conclusion that the selective channel would be too much. I'm pretty happy with the archetype where it is now.

You're probably right about the Elemental Resistance. I tend to prefer abilities that scale up gradually, as it offers more reward to leveling.

A consistent 1/2 druid level would be far too small at the higher levels. I might change it to either be consistently equal to the full druid level (which is good from mid to high levels, but perhaps too strong at the earlier levels), or do the steps as you suggest.


Changed the minimum size of condensed summons to medium instead of small; no good reason to give the ability to add a free +1 attack / +1 ac by going from medium to small.

Shadow Lodge

I think a consistent full druid level for resistances would be OK. I'm playing a Suli right now and trait-enhanced acid/cold/electricity/fire resistance 7 has been useful but not overpowered up to level 5. As you pointed out the archetype is a bit light in the lower levels.

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