Druid Build Advice


Advice


So I want to get some advice about a druid build. I don't play druids usually becuae of various things. I don't like wild shape though it is obviously very powerful (too much work as a player) and I don't like animal companions (again lot's of work as a player and also kinda steals the show being effectively a second character during combat).

Here's what I've got so far. It's a more melee focused build that should play more like a hybrid caster rather than a full caster.

Human 20pt buy, Heart of the Fey

13 18 12 12 15 7

Classes
VMC Rogue
1) Fighter (skirmisher archetype)
2-20) Druid (Nature Fang)

Feats/Talents
1) Weapon Finesss, Weapon Focus Scimitar, Slashing Grace
2) Druid Herbalism
3) Trapfinding
5) 1d6 sneak attack, Additional Traits (Blade of Mercy, Bruising Intelect), Enforcer
7) 2d6 sneak attack, Shatter Defences
9) Lunge, combat reflexes
11) 3d6 sneak attack, Dreadful Carnage, Evasion
13) Opportunist, Accomplished Sneak Attacker (sneak attack 4d6)

Skills are some what variable oviously intimidate will be maxed.

So what are everyone's thoughts? Suggestions?


Depending on how exactly herbalism works at your table you might look at one of the druid specific domains, plains for pounce, crocodile for more sneak attack, or wolf for trip and easier flanking.


Seconding Java Man. Brewing Potions isn't terrible, but you can only brew up to 3rd level spells. A Domain would help you a lot more in my opinion. Since you're picking up Accomplished Sneak Attacker as a feat, Crocodile Domain would help add to your sneak attack... unless you have an aversion to familiars as well?

You can't take Shatter Defenses without Dazzling Display. I guess that would bump off Dreadful Carnage?

Also why Skirmisher Fighter of all archetypes?


Enforcer, Dreadful Carnage and Shatter Defenclses come from slayer talents spent on a ranger fighting style and so don't have to meet prerequisites. The skirmisher archetype was in of the few fighter archtypes that don't give up the first extra feats. It gives a couple of extra skill points and class skills. I don't really lose anything since this build is sex focused heavy armor and tower shield wouldn't be used anyways. Other options exist, but this seemed like one of the best ones.

Getting a familiar/animal companion through a domain is a great idea from a power standpoint, but doesn't really fit my prefered playstyle. However the extra slots and domain powers could be worth dropping herbalism. I'll have to look into it more.


While you have a decent perception to find traps with your disable device isn't going to be as impressive. You might find trapfinding less than useful unless you spend at least 1 trait on it. Also combat reflexes on a medium sized character who uses a scimitar exclusively (and who doesn't have any more feats backing it up) isn't that good.

If you drop both and also drop the additional traits feat (maybe get bruising intellect as a normal trait?) you could get Sarenrae's divine fighting technique via combat trick at 3rd, great fortitude at 5th so that you'll qualify for the advanced DFT when it becomes available at 10th, and pick up some interesting talent at 9th - umbral gear, or underhanded/unbalancing trick, or blood reader, or whatever.


Nature Fang has a nice niche, but there are a few other options for a non-Wildshape hybrid Druid that I'd say are at least as good in their own way.

Urban Druid + Nobility Domain: Spontaneous Divine Favor, at-will Alter Self. +4 attack and damage with Fate's Favored and at-will +2STR.

Eagle Shaman + Nobility Domain: Domain slots/pearls for Divine Favor, Fly speed wings in humanoid form, free access to Flyby Attack.

Halcyon Druid: greedy grabs from Wizard spell list... Haste, Greater Invisibility, Heroism/Greater, Blade Tutor's Spirit, Dazzling Blade, Sense Vitals, Monstrous Phisique, and so on. Like a 3/4BAB full casting Eldritch Knight.

For a non-Wildshape Druid, note the spell Aspect of the Wolf and Wolf Domain. Swift action tripping is brutal with Greater Trip.

Grand Lodge

It is worth noting that without fate favored study out performs divin favor for bonus and action economy at every level. With it it is a head on bonus, but behind on action economy so if you can cast a useful spell in its place you can end up in an equal or better position. You also have to consider the opportunity and cost.

Is divine favor (domain and a trait) better then an animal companion to flank with with?

What if you replace the feats avr talk about with outflank and paired oppertunist? How about getting trip abilities with the wolf domain or sneak attack and a familair (mailer or protector) from the crocodile domain.

You don't need trapfinding because you will have dispel magic to deal with magical traps unless you play in a really trap heavy game.


The main thing with those three Archetypes I mentioned is that besides Divine Favor, they have further benefits. Permanent Alter Self is at least another '+1' to combat, granting an Urban Druid a '+2' over Nature Fang for a long time. Urban Druid can also eventually start to use medium Elemental Body Wildshape, which can work fairly seamlessly with 'humanoid' features (wielding weapons, speaking, somatic components). The Eagle Shaman's non-Wildshape wings and free Flyby Attack opens up brand new tactical options - Flyby Attack Felling Smash, for example. The Halcyon Druid is... well, just a whole other ballgame. Run Persistent Dazzling Blade and Sense Vitals for example, to swift-blind and then murder with Sneak Attack dice. Hell, run Sense Vitals and Dimensional Savant by level 10 with Retraining.

But yes, there's no double that Study Target is a great ability and Nature Fang is a great Archetype.


BadBird wrote:

The main thing with those three Archetypes I mentioned is that besides Divine Favor, they have further benefits. Permanent Alter Self is at least another '+1' to combat, granting an Urban Druid a '+2' over Nature Fang for a long time. Urban Druid can also eventually start to use medium Elemental Body Wildshape, which can work fairly seamlessly with 'humanoid' features (wielding weapons, speaking, somatic components). The Eagle Shaman's non-Wildshape wings and free Flyby Attack opens up brand new tactical options - Flyby Attack Felling Smash, for example. The Halcyon Druid is... well, just a whole other ballgame. Run Persistent Dazzling Blade and Sense Vitals for example, to swift-blind and then murder with Sneak Attack dice. Hell, run Sense Vitals and Dimensional Savant by level 10 with Retraining.

But yes, there's no double that Study Target is a great ability and Nature Fang is a great Archetype.

there is nothing in the rules about Elementals using weapons.

they fight with slams, they are slabs of stones with 2 slams.
where it tells you they have opposesd thumbs?
where is a single elemental in the monster's books that use any weapon ?

and i prefer skinshaper over urban druid.


666bender wrote:

there is nothing in the rules about Elementals using weapons.

they fight with slams, they are slabs of stones with 2 slams.
where it tells you they have opposesd thumbs?
where is a single elemental in the monster's books that use any weapon ?

and i prefer skinshaper over urban druid.

Elemental Traits wrote:
Proficient with natural weapons only, unless generally humanoid in form, in which case proficient with all simple weapons and any weapons mentioned in its entry.

Elementals can be "generally humanoid" in form, in which case they can wield weapons. Nothing about using an elemental shape with Wild Shape precludes shaping into a "generally humanoid" form, which is then capable of wielding weapons.

Elementals wrote:

Fire elementals vary in appearance—they usually manifest as coiling serpentine forms made of smoke and flame, but some fire elementals take on shapes more akin to humans, demons, or other monsters...

When an earth elemental lumbers into action, its actual appearance can vary, although its statistics remain identical to other elementals of its size. Most earth elementals look like terrestrial animals made out of rock, earth, or even crystal, with glowing gemstones for eyes. Larger earth elementals often have a stony humanoid appearance.

...and so on.

Also note that Pathfinder Polymorph simply changes a character's physical shape; you do not completely become that type of creature or take on its essence. Turning into an Air Elemental doesn't even prevent critical hits or bleed damage until Elemental Body III; you still have a fairly normal physical body.

Skinshaper has some interesting uses, but it's too bad that Skinshaper ability bonuses are enhancements and don't stack with items, thus only being truly useful for secondary ability scores.


BadBird wrote:
666bender wrote:

there is nothing in the rules about Elementals using weapons.

they fight with slams, they are slabs of stones with 2 slams.
where it tells you they have opposesd thumbs?
where is a single elemental in the monster's books that use any weapon ?

and i prefer skinshaper over urban druid.

Elemental Traits wrote:
Proficient with natural weapons only, unless generally humanoid in form, in which case proficient with all simple weapons and any weapons mentioned in its entry.

Elementals can be "generally humanoid" in form, in which case they can wield weapons. Nothing about using an elemental shape with Wild Shape precludes shaping into a "generally humanoid" form, which is then capable of wielding weapons.

Elementals wrote:

Fire elementals vary in appearance—they usually manifest as coiling serpentine forms made of smoke and flame, but some fire elementals take on shapes more akin to humans, demons, or other monsters...

When an earth elemental lumbers into action, its actual appearance can vary, although its statistics remain identical to other elementals of its size. Most earth elementals look like terrestrial animals made out of rock, earth, or even crystal, with glowing gemstones for eyes. Larger earth elementals often have a stony humanoid appearance.

...and so on.

Also note that Pathfinder Polymorph simply changes a character's physical shape; you do not completely become that type of creature or take on its essence. Turning into an Air Elemental doesn't even prevent critical hits or bleed damage until Elemental Body III; you still have a fairly normal physical body.

Skinshaper has some interesting uses, but it's too bad that Skinshaper ability bonuses are enhancements and don't stack with items, thus only being truly useful for secondary ability scores.

as for skinshaper :

it gets BOTH the +2 of alter self AND a +4 ....
it stacks.
also , the ability can be for ANY ability....

my character move it to charisma when in a city (with diplomacy full ranks).
than i move to int for some knowledge Q's.
than i move to wisdom for a off caster .
than i move to dex, con or str in melee....

also, with a full mount i kick a$$#.
(Roc mount with reduce animal for med mount, i turn to halfling to ride or to troll for full attack).

Grand Lodge

BadBird wrote:

The main thing with those three Archetypes I mentioned is that besides Divine Favor, they have further benefits. Permanent Alter Self is at least another '+1' to combat, granting an Urban Druid a '+2' over Nature Fang for a long time. Urban Druid can also eventually start to use medium Elemental Body Wildshape, which can work fairly seamlessly with 'humanoid' features (wielding weapons, speaking, somatic components). The Eagle Shaman's non-Wildshape wings and free Flyby Attack opens up brand new tactical options - Flyby Attack Felling Smash, for example. The Halcyon Druid is... well, just a whole other ballgame. Run Persistent Dazzling Blade and Sense Vitals for example, to swift-blind and then murder with Sneak Attack dice. Hell, run Sense Vitals and Dimensional Savant by level 10 with Retraining.

But yes, there's no double that Study Target is a great ability and Nature Fang is a great Archetype.

I agree. I was just helping the OP balance the full benefits of either. There is definitely a lot to consider with druids build as they have many of the best class features in the game.

Grand Lodge

Quote:

also, with a full mount i kick a$$#.

(Roc mount with reduce animal for med mount, i turn to halfling to ride or to troll for full attack).

Mounts are indispensable; flying ones more so. Though how are you rinding to an enemy and full attack (dip Sohei?)?


First of all thank you to everyone for their responses. I appreciate the help and now have more to look into.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned, but that seems like a huge benefit to me is the DC increase provided by studied target.

PFSRD said, emphasis mine wrote:

A slayer can study an opponent he can see as a move action. The slayer then gains a +1 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks attempted against that opponent, and a +1 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against it. The DCs of slayer class abilities against that opponent increase by 1. A slayer can only maintain these bonuses against one opponent at a time; these bonuses remain in effect until either the opponent is dead or the slayer studies a new target.

If a slayer deals sneak attack damage to a target, he can study that target as an immediate action, allowing him to apply his studied target bonuses against that target (including to the normal weapon damage roll).

At 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th levels, the bonuses on weapon attack rolls, damage rolls, and skill checks and to slayer DCs against a studied target increase by 1. In addition, at each such interval, the slayer is able to maintain these bonuses against an additional studied target at the same time. The slayer may discard this connection to a studied target as a free action, allowing him to study another target in its place.

Since druid is the class granting studied target one would usually substitute the class name. As spells are a "druid class feature" studied target increases the DC of your druid spells against the studied creature. This is AWESOME for making spells land to full effect. I'm not planning on this being a straight caster, but I can see this being a benefit that offsets the lower DC's a druid with less than stellar wisdom would have.

If I am wrong please let me know, but to me this is one of the greatest benefits of studied target.


I'd run the whole "Slayer abilities" spell DC thing by the GM, as it's a bit ambiguous. A lot of the Nature Fang text is written as if you shouldn't assume Slayer = Nature Fang.

If going for a Nature Fang, you could look at exploiting Ranger Styles to lock-in Sneak Attack damage through Dirty Trick or feint. Accomplished Sneak Attacker adds a die for a feat to bring up Sneak damage.


I was doing that via shatter defences though the ranger ayles, but dirty trick would be able to effect a wider range of opponents. I'll have to consider the tradeoffs compared to the action economy of a free intimidate on the first hit vs making a dirty trick manuver.


Giving up attacks just for weak sneak dice usually isn't worth it, but blinding things has it's own benefits. The Weapon Trick Feint and Bash can turn feinting into a better combat option, as can Disengaging Shot. Disengaging Shot plus Feint and Bash is like a two-hit Spring Attack that provides its own DEX denial.


I don't understand, you don't give up any attacks. I'll break it down and maybe you can show me where I am confused. We'll do this at 9th level druid (10 overall) as this is when the nature fang can swift study which is a big boost in action economy.

- Swift action to study
- Attack an opponent
- If I hit, I do nonleathal damage (blade of mercy)
- Free action intimidate (Enforcer) intimidate is very likely to succeed (the way the intimidate DC scales basically means I succeed by this level) and they are shaken for a number of rounds equal to the damage dealt (should be more rounds than most combats)
- Finish full attack, because of shatter defenses when I take my second iterative my opponent is flatfooted I get to use my admittedly weak sneak attack dice on this attack and they are shaken and flatfooted.
- Next round repeat, except that my opponent is still flatfooted because shatter defenses lasts until the end of the next round.
- and so on

Now there are definitely some benefits to the dirty trick, but I'm not sure how it matches up from an action economy point of view. Dirty trick can provide a wider range of effects, but it generally easy to undo.

Maybe you could do a breakdown for dirty trick like I did for the shatter defenses routine? That should help me understand it a little better. Otherwise I'll spend some time looking into it later.


I meant in general, giving up attacks through Quick Dirty Trick or Two-Weapon Feint or whatever isn't worth it for weak dice, but it depends on a lot of things.

Enforcer or Cornugon Smash is definitely efficient in this case.

One option you could use would be to take one level of Snakebite Striker Brawler for another Sneak die, then go TWF with a scimitar and Brawler Unarmed Strike. Your offhand is then 1d6, counts as a free hand, doesn't suffer offhand STR penalty, counts as a natural weapon, and can inflict non-lethal without penalty.


Hellcat Stealth might be kinda cool for your build.

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