Druid Wild Order Fixes


Classes

Grand Lodge

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I am a big fun of Wild Shaping Druids, having played them in every edition of Pathfinder and its predecessor. I have been taking a look at the Wild Order druid extensively and realized that this option has a number of problems that need to be addressed in the final version.

First, pre level 4 you don't wild shape unless you want to die. Pest Form should be an option but there should be an option to give you a small animal form with AC 17, +4 to attack, 1d8+3 damage.

Second, the Wild feats give you access to forms but you have to take them in order to scale, with a few exceptions. Furthermore, the feat breakdown really blows with multiple options coming at the same tier that should be redone for better feat progression or better yet combined with other options.

These feats should offer very small bonuses to wild order druids to make them just a little better shapeshifters. For example as it stands right now a wild shaping druid can't attack ghosts or incorporeal critters. Either the spells need to count as magic attacks or the Wild Claws power should let all your attacks while Wild Shaped count as magical. In addition, there is no difference between a Sorcerer casting Elemental form versus a Wild druid assuming that form with the exception that the Druid is a level behind. These small benefits could make the difference.

Ideas for this might include:
Animal Form, Wild Order druids gain magical attacks while wild shaped and can spend there unused highest level spell slots to wild shape.

Insect Form as normal but includes the benefits of the Form Control Feat. Form control should also include an option to transform into Pest Form level for 8 or more hours. Druid and other shapeshifters in stories often sleep or travel long distances in there wild shape, something that the current version doesn't allow.

Dinosaur Form - Increase the athletics bonus of forms for wild order druids by 1 while wild shaped.

Aerial Form - increase the speed of forms while wild shape by 5'.

Elemental Form - Increase the AC but not TAC of forms by 1 while wild shaped.

Dragon Form - Increase the damage of forms while wild shaped by 2.

This makes the Wild Order Druid a slightly better shapeshifter than other casters.

Third, forms do not scale after level 15. They need to put in options for scaling to level 9 and level 10. The current option is the druid vestment which in my opinion is bad design. Furthermore it doesn't allow damage to scale so the forms fail to advance. This needs to be addressed by either a way to scale forms like Monstrosity, Dragon, Elemental and Dinosaur to more powerful but same size versions, and even include high level versions of animal/aerial spells.

Furthermore Monstrosity form should be a feat at level 16. Since you don't get a class feat at level 16 I suggest gaining this feat instead of Master Spellcaster and replacing legendary spell caster with the ability to scale forms to 10th spell level. As long as the final version is just a bit behind the fighter it should be fine.

Fourth, the Shapechange spell is broken. The capstone ability of Wild Order Druid actually penalizes them for using it and given its short duration the ability to change what you are is not as strong when you are dealing with 1 min duration abilities. Wild order druids are better off grabbing a 10th level spell for Nature Avatar but then they fall behind Wizards who can use their arcane focus to do it twice. Shapechange should either provide a scaling bonus to other shapes (in essence giving a bonus to AC/TAC, attack, athletics and damage based on the difference between levels and allowing the wild shape druid to be functional from level 16 onward and not just for 1 min per day at level 20.

Fifth, there should be more than 2 items in the game for Wild Shaping druids. Right now there is a Gorget which doesn't really work since it is hard to include intimidate in the builds because of the need for Str, Con, Wisdom and Dex even though it is a signature skill and the druid's vestments which is very disappointing in its bad design. There should be a low level item to either address the magic attacks issue, unless the design is that Wild Shaping druids can't fight versus some monsters or included in one of the druid feats. This could also be an upgradable item allowing the druid to gradually overcome different DR types but offering no other mechanical benefit, cost similar to the magic weapon


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Honestly, the fact that Wild Order gets Intimidate as a signature skill still confuses me. Yeah, it fits a bit with the idea of a feral druid, but that's not every wildshaper. As pointed out above, you already want Str, Con and Wis; even with the new stat ups, adding Cha to that group can be difficult. Not to mention you probably want a little bit of Dex early to boost your AC out of shapeshifting, as Pest Form is a terrible combat option especially with how high low-level monster attack rolls are!


I agree very much with the original poster's recommendations.


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Wildshape is just too weak and too limited in PF2. The low duration and number of forms cripples it.


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I think it'd be cool to be able to burn your highest spell slot for an extra wild shape.

You can get a ghost touch rune for your handwraps to hit ghosts. It is 35 more gold than +1 rune. You wont be needing potency rune till you get your druid vestments anyway. At that point your potency will do for your druid what it does for all other melee classes...also, wild druid fans may not like it, they can also just cast a spell at it.

Your elemental form's AC bonus would be negated by druid vestments unless it said otherwise.

I would be fine getting rid of the druid vestments. Adding wild as an armor rune would let you use your AC in place of the form spells while wild shaped and I think that while wild shape is being used the caster should innately be able to use their attack bonus if its higher than the form spell's. I'm fine with the form spells themselves not allowing this.

I think there should be feats to buff wild claws incase people want to go a different route than wild shape. I think wild druids should be able to gain access to expert prof without multi-classing. Both clerics and rogues can. I think pest form should have a 1 hour duration for wild shape utility or at least heighten 2 or 3 for it. Let them take a feat at 12, 16 and 19 in place of proficiency casting.

Grand Lodge

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So running the numbers again I realized that I was comparing dragon to the wrong levels. The stats seem to be in line with one level lower than they should be. So as a 6th level spell Dragonform stats are in line with the fifth level forms rather than other 6th level options. Damage also seems lower when compared to other options. I suggest that the statistics for dragon form be revisited and put onto line with similar level forms.

This fact makes the viability of druid wild shape only viable from level 5 to level 13, after the forms stop scaling upwards appropriately. Additionally the fact that dragon form shows up at level 14 means that when the druid accesses it is is a spell level behind making it less useful initially until level 15 when it becomes the only scales option to 8th and with stats not in line with that level.

Level 4 currently in playtest does not have enough wild shapes to cover the usual number of encounters. I have offered a solution to this above.

Grand Lodge

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Considering this problem and the idea that wild order druids may want to focus on melee over spells I suggest that at 12, 16 and 19 wild order druids be given a feat option instead of spell casting increases. Level 12 could be Dragon shape, level 16 monstrosity form and level 19 be a special enhancement boosting lower level forms to expected values for attack, athletics, armor class and damage.

Grand Lodge

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I wonder if there is a way to make Intimidate viable for these druids. Right now Charisma is not as critical a stat given the need for Strength, Constitution and Wisdom, with Dexterity being important do to the lack of scaling at higher levels. It would be great if Intimidate could be based on Strength as an option.

Another option is to replace wild claws with a wild shape ability and base wild shape uses on Charisma instead of Strength. A druid in melee would wild shape and not use strength but the provided stats and Charisma works well with Wild Empathy and Intimidate.

Scarab Sages

Taenia wrote:

First, pre level 4 you don't wild shape unless you want to die. Pest Form should be an option but there should be an option to give you a small animal form with AC 17, +4 to attack, 1d8+3 damage.

Well, the pest form was not intended for battle. So it should not have top AC and attacks. 17 would be reasonable for level 3 character, when the Pest form is obtained. However, this probably also should be scaled with heighten. For the damage, I think it should be animal form that starts earlier with some inferior form for battle. Pest form is for avoiding fighting with sneak, which should probably also scale with heightening.

Taenia wrote:

For example as it stands right now a wild shaping druid can't attack ghosts or incorporeal critters. Either the spells need to count as magic attacks or the Wild Claws power should let all your attacks while Wild Shaped count as magical.

That is a good point. Maybe not to just make it count as magical, but at least allow to spend a use (spellpoint ) for magical +1.

Taenia wrote:

In addition, there is no difference between a Sorcerer casting Elemental form versus a Wild druid assuming that form with the exception that the Druid is a level behind.

Actually, Druid gets all form spells at the same time as everybody to cast through spell slots. So you can't say it is behind. The feats just allow you to cast them with wild points and without preparation. In fact this already makes you better then the sorcerer as you do not have to choose the exact form in the morning. This is also the reason, why the shapechange is useless for druids.

Taenia wrote:

Additionally the fact that dragon form shows up at level 14 means that when the druid accesses it is is a spell level behind making it less useful initially until level 15 when it becomes the only scales option to 8th and with stats not in line with that level.

Well, it is actually avaliable from character level 11 as all other 6 spell level spells. And regarding blindsence, resistance fly 100 and breath weapon up to 11d6 is quite comparable to other forms. It is a pity that it is not included in wildshape till 14.

Scarab Sages

Taenia wrote:
... and base wild shape uses on Charisma instead of Strength. A druid in melee would wild shape and not use strength but the provided stats and Charisma works well with Wild Empathy and Intimidate.

It is an interesting idea to make heigh charisma druid. Maybe I evel like it. However I do not think that locking the core ability of melee offensive character to noncombat mental ability is a good idea. First of all, basing the wild shape on charisma will restrict those who want strength-based melee builds. As you said they need Strength constitution, dexterity, wisdom. And they are MAD :- ) Do not forget also the druid vestment.

I would recommend to use constitution for wild shape as a secondary druid ability important for any build. So we have both options (charisma or strength) avaliable. Furthermore you benefit from constitution every time everywhere.

Scarab Sages

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I really don't like the idea of particular magical items being essential for certain builds, and druid's vestments are looking that way. The problem with these items is they are fundamental enough that characters are assumed to acquire them, thus those types of characters are assumed to possess these items when determining powers/abilities. Magical items should not make up for a class's shortcomings - the class should be fixed.

If Pest Form is not a combat shape (and it isn't) it needs a duration suitable for a utility form - preferably unlimited.

Constitution seems the most thematically appropriate stat to use when determining wild shapes.

Personally, I find dragon form thematically inappropriate for a druid. I could imagine various wild shape "packages" that fit various themes though:

Every wild shape would get pest and animal forms

1. Beast: adds dinosaurs and magical beasts
2. Cave: adds vermin, plants and oozes
3. Forest: adds plants and magical beasts
4. Desert: adds vermin, plants and dinosaurs
5. Planar: adds selected outsider group (elemental, azata, agathion)

Wild shapes should also stay viable throughout a character's career. I think the best way to do this is like in PF1 and modify the character's stats, but if Paizo pushes ahead with generic stat replacement, then these stats should improve as level does.

Grand Lodge

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Referencing when druids get wild shape they do not get then as fast as the spells:

Insect Form at level 6, casters get it at level 5
Dinosaur Form at level 8, casters get it at level 7
Aerial Form at level 8, casters get it at level 7
Elemental Form at level 10, casters get it at level 9
Dragon Form at level 14, casters get it at level 11

Monstrosity Form, casters get at level 15, no wild shape option.

So wild shape is always a level behind the caster except for animal form and Pest form.

Now wild shape still let's you auto heighten so at level 7 you have animal form at the 4th spell level.

Now druids can use spell slots for the polymorph spells but nothing based on wild shape would apply.

Grand Lodge

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The idea behind Charisma assumes that a druid can always wild shape to fight. It also invalidates the druid vestments. It could be made to work but requires a number of changes to implement.

Easier and what should be done is to make Intimidate a Strength or Charisma skill. This would give fighters and barbs a bigger role in social situations and let the wild order druid actually use their signature skill.

It could have made a great skill feat but they went in a different direction that fails to solve the problem.

Scarab Sages

Horselord wrote:
I really don't like the idea of particular magical items being essential for certain builds, and druid's vestments are looking that way. The problem with these items is they are fundamental enough that characters are assumed to acquire them, thus those types of characters are assumed to possess these items when determining powers/abilities. Magical items should not make up for a class's shortcomings - the class should be fixed.

Is the vestment so essential? The forms give you attack no worse then Str +3 including levelled potency (though only trained proficiency) and average damage better then Str +5 longsword including potency. The AC is no worse then dexterity-matched +1 potency armor (trained proficiency). And you get all these for free.

So we can say that the vestment is no more essential for druid than a +5 potency sword with +1 potency armor for a fighter.

Scarab Sages

Taenia wrote:
So wild shape is always a level behind the caster except for animal form and Pest form.

I know and I am unhappy with this too. But you are a caster and actually it do not seem to reduce the combat capabilities. Only versality.

Taenia wrote:
Easier and what should be done is to make Intimidate a Strength or Charisma skill. This would give fighters and barbs a bigger role in social situations and let the wild order druid actually use their signature skill.

I totally agree. Note, however, that there are the following words in the skill rules:

"If the GM deems it appropriate, she may have you use a different ability modifier for a skill check or when determining your skill DC" (p 142.)
So this is not impossible as is.

Grand Lodge

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Oo good catch, I will remind my gm about that for my druid build in our playtest using intimidate.

Grand Lodge

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Druid vestments are required for scaling from level 14 onward. This leads to investing in feats that ultimately become costumes rather actual abilities


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I'd like to put my vote in for disliking the Druid Vestments. I'd rather they make a Wild Rune for armors and that Wild Shaped druids use their attack bonus automatically if its higher than the Form Spell or better yet that Form spells use Proficiency + a Form spell bonus such as Animal Form is Proficiency+5, heightened 4 Prof+7 and heightened 5 Prof+7. I think forcing Wild Druids to use Str for the number of Wild Shapes per day makes sure they are not dumping their physical scores.

I'd guess having separate rules for attack bonus for Wild Shape and the Form spells could prove complicated but using Wild Shape should mean more than reach and bonus hp.

Dinosaur Form Spell Level 4 Prof+7, heightened 5th Prof+7, heightened 7th Prof+10

Elemental Form spell level 5 Prof+8, heightened 6 Prof+8, heightened 7 Prof+8

These numbers were taken from the attack modifier given at each spell level-the minimum level of the druid to cast the spell. IE to cast Animal Form a druid must be level 5. Animal Form attack modifier is +10. 10-5 would give a Prof+5 attack modifier as stated in the first paragraph.

Grand Lodge

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I was playing around with the wild shape druid, and I agree with the general assessment of this original thread, and some of the suggestions make a lot of sense. However, I think the problem is more fundamental.

All the wild shape forms give 100% static stat blocks.

This is the biggest problem, IMO, and leads to the discussion of the Druid's Vestments being an irreplaceable item. It means the forms fail to scale, which leads to the wild druid falling behind at higher levels. While I thoroughly enjoyed making a wild druid, and think it would be quite a lot of fun in the middle levels, it will fall sadly behind in high end play. If you reach a point where you'd be doing more damage and hitting more often with a higher AC in normal form than transformed...then the concept has clearly hit a brick wall.

I think Dragorine has the right idea with the formulae he's discussing. I think you could get away with most forms having a set stat block, but I think it would be immeasurably better and more satisfying to write it as, using animal form for instance:

• AC 22 (TAC 20) or use your own unarmored proficiency + Dex + 5 if it is better, ignore armor’s check penalty and reduced Speed.
• One or more unarmed melee attacks, which are the only types of attacks you can use. You’re trained with them. Your attack modifier is +10 and your damage bonus is +5, unless your own would be higher (assuming trained unarmed proficiency and a strength-based damage bonus). These are Strength based (for the purpose of enfeebled, for example).
• 10 temporary Hit Points while you have the form.
• Low-light vision.
• Athletics bonus of +11 unless your own is higher.

That writing is a little clunky, but I think it would go a long way towards letting wild shape scale, and incentivize wild druids to really invest in their physical stats.
(Edit to fix a copy/paste error)

Grand Lodge

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The advantage to this scaling allows for forms to have a longer shelf life, though you would fall behind on the damage scale. Have single level changes make a difference, so a level 9 druid versus a level 10 druid both in dinosaur shape are different.

I think druid vestments should either be lower level and grant an additional wild shape use per day (this would be great if they don't make any suggested changes as a level 3 item for level 4 druids) or provide a benefit when you wild shape such as make it one action, make allow you to move as part of wild shape or provide a small circumstance benefit to the ability.

Scarab Sages

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Well, the -form spell issue is not only the wild druid concern and probably should have a separate discussuin under spells topic.

Dalzarin wrote:

All the wild shape forms give 100% static stat blocks.

I think that Paizo made this to simplify the spells and let the player not to calculate the ststs. Why ther decided that the calculations are hard is unclear as we do them for the character itself. For me it would be best if the forms just tweaked the ability scores as it was before: let the animal form redefine the strength score to be 18 (22 for heightened) with magical +1 and it solves all problems:

You get the appropriate scaling formulas
You do not have strength 10 (+0) huge bears.
You do not have to dig through the whole book to find that all attacks of polymorphed creatures are magical.
You do not have to build complex tables to compare yourself with the fighter.

If you make a table, you will find that each level you are about the same as a fighter with 4 strength, some d8 weapon with level-matched potency rune, nonmagical dexterity-matched armor. All for free. This consideration neglects some other things like feats and magic. The fighter has his feats, but forms also give you Athletics, damage types, movement types and senses.
We have some problems with scaling at 18-19 levels, when the monstrosity form do not scale and is not included into wild shape.

What I do not understand is why all those forms-spells are separated into different spells, being effectively all the same. The differences are minimal. It could be just one spell, heightenning from 1 to 10 spell levels like "summom monster". Well 3 spells actually to separate utility form, battle form and probably magical form (for arcane spell list).

Taenia wrote:

Druid vestments are required for scaling from level 14 onward. This leads to investing in feats that ultimately become costumes rather actual abilities.

These costumes give quite good damage, movement types and senses. Probably, the price gap is too heigh: you need to buy all the gear in addition to the vestment to get those +4.

Grand Lodge

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Some additional feedback.

Playtested a group of level 13 characters through a high level module, translating the monsters into equivalents as best I could from the Playtest Bestiary. Had a Druid, Wizard, Cleric and Fighter with the Druid playing the role of second melee and the Wizard with rogue dedication for Thievery. I chose 13 to test the druid because they fail to scale appropriately after this level. Dragon Shape is tuned to lower levels then it should be (except on attack bonus) and you don't get a higher level form til you can cast 10th level spells 1/day. After 3 encounters with the druid and fighter comparison I can express some concerns:

At level 13 the AC/Att of the druid was only 1 point behind the fighter, would be two points at level 14. This was until they entered that twin parry stance and gained another point of AC.

Damage was interesting. On a single hit the Druid did more damage but overall the fighter using double slice would do more damage per round but when the druid got lucky the damage stacked up. The fighter attacking round one versus the druid having to wild shape let him have a couple of extra attacks each combat.

The Druid had the edge on Athletics even with the item purchased by the fighter. This led to the question can a dinosaur use Athletics for Trip, Grapple, or Disarm? I assumed it could which led to the question can you use athletics in place of an AoO strike? I assumed it couldn't but it would be cool if it could.

Going fighter dedication to grab Attack of Opportunity as 2nd/6th feats was quite valuable considering the only feat I really lost out on was Insect Shape (and was down a wild shape since I only had 3 wild feats, Wild Shape, Animal Form and Ferocious Form. I instead used spell slots to grab aerial and elemental.) The attack of opportunity came up more frequently on the druid then for the fighter, since with a 15 - 20' reach you cover a massive area. Since the druid lacks any class based reactions this was a great investment for the build.

I did not take Elemental Shape at 10th level and instead wanted to try Healing Transformation. Since my wild shape was using a 7th level spell this meant i would heal 7d6 at the beginning of every fight. This cost me an extra action each turn I used it but I was basically able to leave a little damage on the druid after every fight and heal it up as the fight started. Combined with the extra temp hp I did not feel like i was down hit points compared to the fighter (even though both characters had an 18 con and toughness)

Three major problems arose during the scenario however. First action economy, requiring 2 actions to cast at the start of every fight puts the druid down a whole round worth of offense. More an more I wish it was a single action letting me either cast move attack in one round or cast a buff spell, wild shape the first round. Strangely enough, the Druid was the preferred target of Haste by the wizard since they could then wild shape move and attack first round.

Second was size. In order to gain the appropriate level benefits at level 13 I needed to be either Huge (elemental/Aerial) or gargantuan (dinosaur) this led to some problems during fights where I could not fit into a room appropriately. Only by using Earth Elemental Form and burrowing could take part in the fight (luckily it was prepared).

Third was useless class features. First Druids are the only class that gets less trained skills then signature skills. Second Wild Claws was forgotten completely letting my Spell points sit uselessly by, I could potentially take a feat at second level but summoning fails to scale at all so there was no point so they sat wasted. Finally, Expert Spellcaster was completely wasted on the build. It would have been much better to have another wild order feat at that point.

Overall the problems were difficult to surmount when they showed up and the lack of scaling is going to be a major problem. The size/action economy issues added up every fight. Druid spells were generally used for out of combat healing and utility especially since the druid took more damage than the fighter and was crit more often. The fighter was missing his level 14 riposte ability since that would have triggered more than his AoOs.

The form spells need to be tuned. Right now Dinosaur form does quite a bit of damage and may need to be tuned down a little. The only hesitation i would make is dropping it now would hurt if they don't scale Wild Shape with higher level options. I miss the ability to use wild shape for utility, like sleeping through the night, acting as a mount for an injured PC though dinosaur form made a great bridge when it came to crossing a 20' wide river.

Grand Lodge

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Scaling the forms in my opinion would be the easiest option. What I would love to see is the following:

Animal Form (8th) You turn into a massive dire version of the animal your size is Huge and you gain a +26 attack bonus, AC/TAC of 36/33, Athletics of +27. Damage should average around 32 - 36 for the strongest attack in the build.

Aerial Form (8th) 1 higher AC/TAC, 3 -4 lower damage.

Other forms could add other effects

Legendary Form (9th) You turn into an avatar of your particular forms. Pick one shape you can turn into and assume that form with the following changes. Your can be Medium, Large, Huge, or Gargantuan based on the limits of the spell this effects only your size and reach. You gain an attack bonus of +29, AC 40/37, Athletics +30 and damage in th 34 - 38 range for the best attack possible. Damage would probably scale by form or level.

Legendary (10th) Your stats upgrade to + 31 to hit, 43/39 AC, Athletics +32 and damage should be 37 - 40. Same rules apply as for the 9th level version just with better stats. This could be applied to either just wild shape users or as how Shapechange the spell could be built instead.

Another Option is rather than Shapechange add Nature's Incarnate to the wild shape ability as the level 20 capstone.

Designer

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Noted, thanks!

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