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View Full Version : [3.5] Building my first proper Druid Ė Any advice?



Rinzy
2008-12-20, 04:36 PM
Hey folks!


So a friend of mine is running a three PC game in the near future, and Iíve been given the option to change from a warmage to a druid. I was originally planning on playing a warmage because I find the class reasonably fun and its fluff fit the storyline well. However, the DM has expressed a concern that we have too much nuke and not enough utility/buffing/healing/ etc. He hinted that he wanted me to change characters, because the other two players are a lot more set in their choices and Iím sort of co-DMing (this is his first time DMing), so Iím allowed to know certain plot points in advance.

I donít mind changing my class, but I really donít like arcane spellcasters much (Yes, hypocrisy I know! :smalltongue:) and Iím already playing Clericzilla in another game, so I decided on a druid. Iíve played a druid once before, but it was an RP only game, my first D&D character ever, and the DM houseruled so much that it functioned nothing like RAW. It was tons of fun, but Iíve still wanted to play a Ďnormalí druid ever since. Nowís my chance! So Iím looking for any advice on how to build a great druid to both satisfy my desire to experience the class and the DMs desire to have some healing/battlefield control in our party.

I know that the campaign will take place in a relatively low-magic setting (Iím lucky he allowed a druid) and will have some limited technology. We will be fighting a lot of demons. This is something he let me in on and said he wonít consider it metagaming if I act on that knowledge, since apparently my character is going to know some things that the other PCs donít. Whether Iím going to or not, Iím not sure. The other two PCs are a monk and a warlock. The player of the former is a role player, and the player of the latter is concerned with doing a lot of damage above all else. Iím required to play human as the race.

Iím allowed to use any source that my collective gaming group has access to, including anything from 3.0 that was never updated. This includes the core books, most of the complete books (missing only complete scoundrel, if I recall properly), Exalted Deeds/Vile Darkness, and various other ones that I doubt would be usefulÖDraconomicon, Drow of the Underdark, Libris Mortis, etc. However, we do not have PHB II, DMG II, or Masters of the Wild.

Wild shape and Natural Spell are both allowed, Iíve always discussed this with the DM. However, he hates the extra paperwork and whatnot involved with animal companions and told me I could have ďAn extra feat or somethingĒ instead, and has strongly encouraged me to do so.

Iíd prefer to play druid/20 rather than taking a PrC or multiclassing. Iím looking at natural spell, possibly a couple wild shape feats (extra wild shape?), and anything that will help with the support/healing idea. Iíve had Purify Spell from BoED mentioned due to the large amounts of demons we will be facing, but Iím not sure how I feel about it. Iíd rather not be casting a lot of straight up evocation spells, due to both personal preference and character fluff. If I need to do some straight up fighting (which should happen), Id rather go wild shape melee if itís viable. My concern isnít to be perfectly optimized, but I do want to be effective at providing some support for the others and fighting when the time comes.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated :smallsmile:

AslanCross
2008-12-20, 05:03 PM
I don't think you're going to have any problems. You're a full caster and have Wild Shape. Even if you don't have an animal companion I don't think you're going to be horribly sub-optimal.

Unfortunately, looking at Crystal Keep's Feat index, it seems that most Druid feats are related to animal companions. Check out Complete Champion for the Devotion feats (some of them don't have prereqs). Touch of Healing is also very helpful for you, since you can't do spontaneous conversion to healing spells.

EDIT: The Wild feats are druid feats too.

Kaiyanwang
2008-12-20, 10:42 PM
In Complete Champion there is a feat allowing to wildshape as a swift action.
Has another feat (in complete divine, if I remember well) allowing to wildshape as a move action as a prerwquisite.

For the healing side, Complete Divine has spontaneous healer, a feat allowing to convert x spells prepared per day on cure spells, where x is your wis modifier.

further, there is an alternative class feature for druids allowing to convert a spell in fast healing X for 3 rounds for all nearby allies (X is the spell level) but you have to give up your ability to spontaneously convert spells in summon nature ally spells.

Natural spell mandatory (obviously), metamagic at high levels. Concerned about most wild feats, in truth.

Flickerdart
2008-12-20, 11:04 PM
What about the Druidic Avenger (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#druidVariantDruidicAve nger)? You give up your Animal Companion and take -4 on Wild Empathy checks for Fast Movement and Rage. Or just take something nice as a first level bonus feat. If you're feeling audacious, demand Wildshape at level 1.

Keld Denar
2008-12-20, 11:29 PM
Human or Strongheart Halfling

1 Spell Focus: Conjouration
B Augmented Summoning
3 Natural Bond (upgrading to a full level -3 animal companion)
6 Natural Spell (WIN!)
9 Skill Focus: (Underwater Basket Weaving)

Because at that point, you don't need any more feats. You already win.

MAYBE Extend Spell, for nice things like Barkskin. Would be good. Maybe Quicken Spell, you know, for Quickened Snakes Swiftness and whatnot.

Eldariel
2008-12-20, 11:55 PM
Consider Greenbound Summoning [Lost Empires of Faerun]. An absolutely wonderful summoning-feat, it turns all your summons into plants (and so they have all plant immunities) and gives them a bunch of spell-likes! (such as Entangle) Allows you to cast a summon and have your summons cast stuff for you. Other summoning feats of interest are Rashemi Elemental Summoning [Unapproachable East] and Ashbound [Eberron Campaign Settings].

And really though, Animal Companion is a great addition to a party, especially if your party is less than 4 players. It gives you an extra frontliner and extra target to buff, and it has its own share of actions. I'm fairly sure having one creature along that basically only acts in combat wouldn't be much of a problem.


Wildshape feats...well, you usually don't need Extra Wildshape as you can spend an entire adventuring day in a Wildshape form (that's why the ability is great; it lasts hours per level). Feats that would probably be of interest to you are ones granting extra forms, such as Frozen Wildshape (12-headed Cryohydra!), Aberration Wildshape or Dragon Wildshape. Just ones that grant interesting forms (of course, the base list is already pretty awesome). Also, some combat feats for your Wildshape forms such as Multiattack and Flyby Attack [Monster Manual] may be worthwhile if you intend on Wildshaping a lot. Having the ability to turn to creatures qualifying for those should qualify you.


Finally, spellcasting; I suggest getting Extend Spell (in addition to being great for your buffs, there's Creeping Cold, which is a nice offensive spell to extend), Quicken Spell (on level 12 or so) and naturally Natural Spell.

If you're interested, The Druid Handbook (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=1354.0) can be found here.

Rinzy
2008-12-21, 12:11 AM
I'd rather keep the animal companion, personally. Hopefully these ideas will help me make a good case for it XD Though I doubt he will mind if I ask to keep it.

I hadn't thought about spontaneous healer! That sounds like an excellent idea if it turns out that we need healing often. I'd much rather prepare other spells and have the healing available than have to go "Well, Im sure we will get the crap beaten out of us today, better prepare 6 healing spells..." I guess I'll make that call once I see how the game is running, assuming I'll meet the prereqs (Im away from my books right now).


A lot of the wild feats in Complete Divine seem rather pointless to me :smallconfused: I see potential use in some, but I fail to see the point in spending a wildshape use in order to grow wings of claws or whatever when you could just use that wildshape use to change form and be able to 1) get any other benefits within the parameters of the whildshape ability and 2) keep it longer. Maybe I'm missing something.

Those variants seem interesting as well. I'll make sure to look in to them and see if he will allow it if one of them strikes my fancy.

Thank you for the help, guys :) Much appreciated.

Behold_the_Void
2008-12-21, 12:22 AM
I'd rather keep the animal companion, personally. Hopefully these ideas will help me make a good case for it XD Though I doubt he will mind if I ask to keep it.

I hadn't thought about spontaneous healer! That sounds like an excellent idea if it turns out that we need healing often. I'd much rather prepare other spells and have the healing available than have to go "Well, Im sure we will get the crap beaten out of us today, better prepare 6 healing spells..." I guess I'll make that call once I see how the game is running, assuming I'll meet the prereqs (Im away from my books right now).


A lot of the wild feats in Complete Divine seem rather pointless to me :smallconfused: I see potential use in some, but I fail to see the point in spending a wildshape use in order to grow wings of claws or whatever when you could just use that wildshape use to change form and be able to 1) get any other benefits within the parameters of the whildshape ability and 2) keep it longer. Maybe I'm missing something.

Those variants seem interesting as well. I'll make sure to look in to them and see if he will allow it if one of them strikes my fancy.

Thank you for the help, guys :) Much appreciated.

Why not ask if you can get the Cleric spontaneous healing ability in exchange for the Animal Companion? Most DMs like characters to have more accessible healing anyway, so he may go for it.

Mark Hall
2008-12-21, 12:39 AM
A druid, even without an animal companion, is pretty hard to screw up. I agree with Behold the Void; since your DM doesn't want an animal companion, see if you can get spontaneous healing. It's not a bad trade-off (there's even a feat for it in Complete Divine; Spontaneous Healer. If he'll waive the Religion requirement and per day restriction, it's pretty close to the same level of trade, since).

The difficulty comes in that, if he doesn't want you having an animal companion, how does he feel about you summoning everything you can get your fingers on? That's a major part of the druid, as well, as can be seen from the few suggested builds. If he's OK with it, I'd come up with several "stock" animals for every level of summon spell you have, and write them up on cards (complete with the augment summoning bonuses, if you go that route) so you can lay them down quickly, without him having to keep track of what they can do.

If he's not cool with you being a summoner, and he's not big on the animal companion, you might look elsewhere than a druid... that's two big features of the class gone, and if he doesn't want to keep track of those, how's he gonna feel about you changing shape all the time? I might look at a spirit shaman for a similar type of character, who would fill a very different role in the party.

Eldariel
2008-12-21, 12:44 AM
It's also worth remembering that you can spontaneously summon creatures; on level 4, you've got the wonderful summon in Unicorn, which is a very capable healer on its own right. So on level 7, you'll be able to cast a bunch of spontaneous heals. There's also an alternative class features for "Fangshield Druid", which has a level 4 substitution that gives up your Resist Nature's Lure (worst ability ever; you're a Druid, your saves are already off the charts) for spontaneous Cure Light Wounds. You may want to ask if you could get that.

But yea, a big reason not to get rid of the animal companion is that it'll alleviate the need for healing by tanking in the front, taking hits and kicking ass. You can use Wands of Lesser Vigor (although not while Wildshaped) for out-of-combat healing and a Unicorn is a fine in-combat healer. But yea, the best way to survive is to minimize the damage you take, which is naturally achieved by taking the opponents out ASAP.

Rinzy
2008-12-21, 12:50 AM
If he's OK with it, I'd come up with several "stock" animals for every level of summon spell you have, and write them up on cards (complete with the augment summoning bonuses, if you go that route) so you can lay them down quickly, without him having to keep track of what they can do.

I ran a wizard/alienist for a short time in a previous game and used a method similar to this :) It worked quite well.

I dont think he's horribly opposed to the animal companion, so it shouldn't be difficult to convince him. I just got a vibe of 'I'd really prefer not!' and figured I would mention it, in case any variants were floating around that I don't know about. If nothing else, I'll promise that he won't have the touch the paperwork (which was my plan to begin with, what if it works it works). He told me outright when I asked about Natural Spell and Wildshape that he wasn't planning on completely disallowing any 'feats or class features', so if I tell him that I really want it he should be fine with it.

Eldariel
2008-12-21, 01:18 AM
Then I strongly suggest on keeping it, Natural Bonding [CAdv] it up and profitting. If your party has two nukers, they'll really appreciate a second guardian protector; it's hard to cover all the opponents by yourself, but the two of you plus your summons is already much better.

Since the animal companion's role would be tanking, I'd go with a large Animal Companion ASAP, getting it some armor and equipment and whatnot and having it wipe the floor with guys interested in troubling your pals. I think the first large Animal Companion you could pick up is an Ape. As a bonus, you can present him as your mentally retarded, unwashed, hairy brother who doesn't wear clothes out of principle. Of course, it's no Fleshraker, but Fleshraker is a pretty mean thing anyways. Of course, if allowed, getting a Fleshraker is a fine idea; it may not be Large, but the combination of tripping and grappling usually immobilizes opponents pretty well, and even if neither of those work, it's still a poisonous pouncing charger.

Rinzy
2008-12-21, 02:40 AM
I think the first large Animal Companion you could pick up is an Ape. As a bonus, you can present him as your mentally retarded, unwashed, hairy brother who doesn't wear clothes out of principle.


This concept fills me with joy.


On another note: I spoke to my DM a short while ago, he's OK'd both the animal companion and either variant that I wish to use. This also fills me with joy.

Id like to thank you all again for your help. I've got a pretty clear direction on what I want to do for this character now, but any other suggestions are more than welcome.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2008-12-21, 10:14 AM
Get a few Wands of Lesser Vigor or Cure Light Wounds to heal up between encounters, so you don't run yourself out of spells. In that case, both Spontaneous Healer and Augment Healing wouldn't be very good to take. I'd go with the feats Keld Denar suggested, and get a Fleshraker dinosaur (MM3) for your animal companion at level 4. Get a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Extend and use it to put Greater Magic Fang on your companion each day, and get another party member to use its other two charges to put Mage Armor on both you and your fleshraker. You'll want a Monk's Belt to get your Wisdom bonus to AC and to be able to use Unarmed Strikes in animal forms. A few Lesser Strands of Prayer Beads are good to have so you don't have to worry about keeping any of the Bead of Healing spells prepared.

woodenbandman
2008-12-21, 10:39 AM
Honestly you don't need any feats at all to make an awesome druid. The only thing you really need is Natural Spell, and you'll be awesome forever. I'm serious. You could take all the fancy summoning feats or take combat feats and stuff, but all you really need is Natural Spell, Wild Fullplate, a Monk Belt, and the spell Bite of the ______, and you're officially awesome. It's nice to have swift action wildshape, though, and you can get that for 2 feats (fast wildshape from Complete Divine and the upgrade from Complete Champion).

imperialspectre
2008-12-21, 10:49 AM
You could take all the fancy summoning feats or take combat feats and stuff, but all you really need is Natural Spell, Wild Fullplate, a Monk Belt, and the spell Bite of the ______, and you're officially awesome.

Wouldn't Monk Belt + Full Plate be kind of a waste?

On the other hand, Bite of the Werebeast + Wild Shape isn't just awesome, it's ridiculously powerful. At 9th level, you have STR 33, DEX 19, CON (yours +6, should be 20) with no equipment at all (that's Ape wildshape plus Bite of the Weretiger). With Large size and the ability to use a longspear, you can also lay down ridiculous battlefield control and protect your squishy compatriots (Entangle + any weapon you want also works wonderfully).

Curmudgeon
2008-12-21, 12:50 PM
I think the first large Animal Companion you could pick up is an Ape. As a bonus, you can present him as your mentally retarded, unwashed, hairy brother who doesn't wear clothes out of principle. Hey, why not dress up your Ape? The real question is what's the Handle Animal DC to teach your animal companion to use a Hat of Disguise?

Greg
2008-12-21, 02:00 PM
In Complete Champion there is a feat allowing to wildshape as a swift action.
Has another feat (in complete divine, if I remember well) allowing to wildshape as a move action as a prerwquisite.
Do these feats exist? Not finding the one in CDiv.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2008-12-21, 02:36 PM
Fast Wild Shape is in the Complete Divine, in the Wild feats section, and Complete Champion has Swift Wild Shape. Since you don't even get Wild Shape until level 5, you'd need to get Natural Spell at 6, Fast Wild Shape at 9, and Swift Wild Shape at 12. You should be wild shaping and re-equipping your magic items out of combat anyway, so I don't see much point in taking either of those unless maybe you have VoP. Before the errata when any gear you could still wear would stay active those would have been great, but as it is you don't really want to change forms during combat. I'd take Extend and Quicken Spell over those.

Curmudgeon
2008-12-21, 02:38 PM
Swift Wild Shape is in Complete Champion. Its prerequisite feat Fast Wild Shape is in Complete Divine on pages 81-82.

Paul H
2008-12-21, 08:39 PM
Hi

Seems you're the Party Healer. One problem is that Druids don't have the same healing spell progression as Clerics.

One option is to take a level dip into Cleric for the Sacred Healing feat. (CD).Turn Undead grants Fast Healing 3 to every living thing within 60'. Otherwise consider a dip into Favoured Soul. Dont forget to take Augment Healing to make your Cure spells more effective.

Alternatively you can take the Spontaneous Rejuv alternate class ability from PHBII. You lose the ability to spont Summon Animal, but gain abiliy to spont spells into Fast Healing for you & party within 30' for 3 rnds. The amount of fast heal is equal to spell sacrificed. Eg. Lose Bull's Strength to grant Fast Heal 2 for 3 rnds.

As to PrC's - Stormlord is a good one if you don't mind not increasing your Wildshape abilities etc. It requires Gt Fort, Endurance & Wpn Focus feats, which might sound a bit heavy, but do allow you to be more effective in combat. (Shocking Wpn to spears etc). It also has full caster levels.

Cheers
Paul H

PS My WLD character is a Human Clr5 (Magic, Travel)/FS1
Feats: Extra Turning, Augment Healing, CWI, Sacred Healing

Leon
2008-12-22, 07:08 AM
Get the Reserve feat "Touch of healing"*






*AFB - name may be not 100% correct

Seffbasilisk
2008-12-22, 07:25 AM
If you want to go Summoner (Easy to do, with spontaneous summons, and very viable with 'Snakes Swiftness, Mass' to give them all an attack), take the feat 'Ashbound'. Fluff? You're anti arcane spells/casters. Crunch? All the summons from Summon Nature's Ally spells are doubled in duration, and recieve a +3 luck bonus to attack.