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View Full Version : Roleplaying General Fantasy: Why is the druid so rarely picked or offered?



Spore
2017-06-26, 08:15 AM
There are honestly some great druid class concepts out there. D&D druids offer a variety of skills, magic, animal forms. You can RP spirituality, being a shaman, a tree hugger. You can focus on any aspect of nature. The metal thing is weird because wearing leather has almost the same grade of human interaction to it. Warcraft druids revel in the different animal forms and nature's ability to slowly heal any and all wounds.

But then we have other systems: Elder Scrolls never was great at supporting druids. Restoration Magic, Elemental Destruction Magic or summoning were able to be combined but you never had real animal forms, animal spirits or great animal summons (not even animal summons from Hircine). In low magic settings, a druid is often the name for a ritualistic spellcaster. Similar to warlock or even shamans. They often excel in Alchemy (Asterix the Gaul) or are wise ancient lore keepers. Coming full circle often different (D&D) classes are better suited for what you would call a "druid". A divination wizard proficient in Alchemy. A Nature Cleric. A Warlock. Or even a bard. But rarely the actual druid class.

Why? Because I feel the animal transform class features often point to some kind of "professional shapeshifter" rather than a keeper of nature. In the same way the features allow for a pretty broad palette of gameplay roles they limit your fluff. And as someone playing under a DM that insists that bards make music this is doubly true.

So why do you think druids are rarely picked? Is it prejudice (treehugger elves etc.)? Or is it complications (usually my characters are 1-3 sheets, my druid was literally a folder with any and all animal forms?

BWR
2017-06-26, 09:30 AM
Are you sure it isn't just your group?
We've had plenty of druids in our groups. One player has to be strongly encouraged to play anything but a druid.

Keltest
2017-06-26, 09:34 AM
I too have had plenty of druids in my group. And while I find the lack of ability to shapeshift or summon animals in Elder Scrolls to be annoying, theres so much stuff I CAN do in it that it doesn't really bother me.

Vitruviansquid
2017-06-26, 09:56 AM
The core archetypes in fantasy adventures tend to be Warrior, Rogue/Archer (if one exists, the other tends to be folded into it), Wizard, Priest.

Then I think there is a second "ring" of archetypes around the core that are less likely represented, and that includes bard/jester, druid, barbarian, and engineer/tinker.

So I don't really think druids are that under-represented. It's just that Elder Scrolls privileges those core archetypes over the second ring, like most settings do.

Mark Hall
2017-06-26, 10:04 AM
IMO, the D&D druid, especially 3.x versions, combines WAY too many concepts into a single character.

They're shape-changers. They're animal friends ("a pet class" in the common nomenclature). They're spellcasters. They're not bad warriors. This might have worked if it had only been one or two things, but they're EVERYTHING.

Honestly, I think dropping them to wizard levels of HP and combat would do wonders to balance the class concept... remove the cleric-level warrior ability, and put them on spells and pet commanding, with shapechanging as a personal buff.

Aneurin
2017-06-26, 10:04 AM
I can't really speak for D&D and it's clones since I don't play them, but I suspect the lack of druid in other systems is because the shapeshifting thing you seem to be talking about is pretty exclusive to D&D's druid - and I guess Warcraft's druid, which borrows heavily from D&D.

There are plenty of systems that offer herbalists, magic-users of the more shamanic or elemental variety, or can support a more priestly historical version.


But I'm not sure what you're asking here; you start off talking about shapeshifting druids, then go on to say that you could run a druidic character in lots of other ways, using other means.

Are you asking why shapeshifting archetypes are so often unavailable to play or be played? If so, my only answer is the obscene amount of bookkeeping a lot of them involve - but even then, it was my understanding that druids are a popular choice in D&D as are the shapeshifting spells in general.

Or are you maybe asking why shamanic characters are so seldom played (even when that's what the class/career/archetype is called and flavoured)? Because that likely has more to do with tone and setting of the games you play; after all, a feral shaman isn't going to be a good fit in a court-set game about political intrigue.

Spore
2017-06-26, 10:55 AM
The core archetypes in fantasy adventures tend to be Warrior, Rogue/Archer (if one exists, the other tends to be folded into it), Wizard, Priest.

Then I think there is a second "ring" of archetypes around the core that are less likely represented, and that includes bard/jester, druid, barbarian, and engineer/tinker.

So I don't really think druids are that under-represented. It's just that Elder Scrolls privileges those core archetypes over the second ring, like most settings do.

I feel there is some sort of specialization going on when :

Archetype Warrior: Strong/durable or guileful/agile fighting style
Archetype Priest: Cleric (god/entity focussed), Druid/Shaman (nature focussed)
Archetype Rogue: Thief (focus on inanimate objects) and Assassin (focus on living targets)
Archetype Mage: Wizard (scholastic magic user) and Sorcerer (spontaneous caster).

Some of these feel forced (and I am a sucker for categories) but that is how I feel about that. Clerics and their respective organizations mostly make for great stories. Druids or Shamans often do not because they live in solitude, or aren't very organized past the rule of the stronger individual.


IMO, the D&D druid, especially 3.x versions, combines WAY too many concepts into a single character.

They're shape-changers. They're animal friends ("a pet class" in the common nomenclature). They're spellcasters. They're not bad warriors. This might have worked if it had only been one or two things, but they're EVERYTHING.


I agree.


Honestly, I think dropping them to wizard levels of HP and combat would do wonders to balance the class concept... remove the cleric-level warrior ability, and put them on spells and pet commanding, with shapechanging as a personal buff.

Balancing isnt the issue since I am talking about general uses of druids. But I feel there should be one archetype for shapeshifters, one for casters (without any shifting capabilities!) and one for pets or summoning.

Keltest
2017-06-26, 11:32 AM
Given that the shapeshifting is typically portrayed as a derivation of their spellcasting abilities, I'm not certain its possible to separate the two. I could, at most, see an argument for shapeshifting requiring all of a druid's spellcasting resources, so that you have to commit to one path or the other, but an entire class or archtype based around "he turns into animals but doesn't have any other kinds of magic at all" seems extremely limited.

Mark Hall
2017-06-26, 11:32 AM
I tend to get a bit more reductive in dealing with regards to archetypes... there's the Warrior, The Expert, and the Spellcaster. Pretty much everyone else is a combination of these. The Clerical archetype is a Warrior/Spellcaster mix. The Ranger is a Warrior/Expert archetype.. and the assassin is another version of the same.

The Druid, though, winds up filling both Warrior and Spellcaster, but with some expert thrown in (in the person of their natural knowledge). Their Warrior role is usually bolstered by their Animal Companion and Shapechanging.

GungHo
2017-06-26, 03:28 PM
It's going to come down to "define Druid".

Celtic wise man? You can get there hundreds of ways, including bard.

Shapechanging guy?

Nature magic guy?

What does druid mean to you? If it means "D&D expression", it's because that's pretty much a D&D expression. There are lots of games that have nature magic shamanic types, but they don't tie it necessarily into a religious experience beyond a sort of animism, nor do they add "turned into a bird" to the mix. In general, the druid itself was a weird afterthought in AD&D and handled as a quasi-prestige class with its own advanced name-leveling schema.

coolAlias
2017-06-26, 03:40 PM
In D&D, I think that as others have said druids encompass too many concepts. If the designers had restricted shape-changing to a prestige class/archetype, rather than forcing all druids to be shapechangers, I think it might see a lot more play.

Similarly, animal companions are lame. They rarely scale well and you often end up spending a lot of table time trying to find ways to keep them safe, bring them along, or whatever, so the character with the animal companion effectively gets more 'spotlight' than the other characters.

Another strike against druids is they come with some conceptual baggage, that of being 'against' civilization. It can take some real mental gymnastics to go from the written fluff to a character that is willing to travel with a bunch of other PCs to who-knows-where for who-knows-what-reasons, rather than sticking to their favorite grove of trees and being angry at farmers.

In other words, druids as written just seem harder to rationalize as adventurers than the other character classes.

goto124
2017-06-27, 04:18 AM
Nature magic guy?

Magic may or may not be required, but a druid is connected to nature in some way.

Mutazoia
2017-06-27, 05:00 AM
I too have had plenty of druids in my group. And while I find the lack of ability to shapeshift or summon animals in Elder Scrolls to be annoying, theres so much stuff I CAN do in it that it doesn't really bother me.

With the the new update to ESO...you CAN summon animals :)

Altair_the_Vexed
2017-06-27, 07:27 AM
The archetype heroes of myth are less specific than the D&D (or other RPG) classes - warrior, trickster, magic-user. So games designers only feel they MUST offer a choice from those archetypes. Any other classes are local flavour.

In D&D, magic-user was split into Wizard and Priest (your edition may vary). Wizard was further split into Wizard and Sorcerer. Priest was also split into Cleric and Druid - but at heart, a druid is just a kind of priest.
What you (the OP) seem to be thinking of is the legacy of the last couple of decades of fantasy gaming. Druids in D&D weren't defined as being shapeshifters until after WoW made them so.

EDIT: tl;dr version? What Mark Hall said up there.

Keltest
2017-06-27, 08:00 AM
The archetype heroes of myth are less specific than the D&D (or other RPG) classes - warrior, trickster, magic-user. So games designers only feel they MUST offer a choice from those archetypes. Any other classes are local flavour.

In D&D, magic-user was split into Wizard and Priest (your edition may vary). Wizard was further split into Wizard and Sorcerer. Priest was also split into Cleric and Druid - but at heart, a druid is just a kind of priest.
What you (the OP) seem to be thinking of is the legacy of the last couple of decades of fantasy gaming. Druids in D&D weren't defined as being shapeshifters until after WoW made them so.

EDIT: tl;dr version? What Mark Hall said up there.

Druids have been shapeshifters since at least 1e AD&D, well before Warcraft introduced druids to its lore at all.

Anonymouswizard
2017-06-27, 01:04 PM
I tend to get a bit more reductive in dealing with regards to archetypes... there's the Warrior, The Expert, and the Spellcaster. Pretty much everyone else is a combination of these. The Clerical archetype is a Warrior/Spellcaster mix. The Ranger is a Warrior/Expert archetype.. and the assassin is another version of the same.

The Druid, though, winds up filling both Warrior and Spellcaster, but with some expert thrown in (in the person of their natural knowledge). Their Warrior role is usually bolstered by their Animal Companion and Shapechanging.

I'd agree here, but define it in a different way. Simply that the archetype is based off what the character is good at using. Are they a weapon user, a skill user, or spell user? Outside of D&D based systems you can sometimes say that everyone is either a skill user or a spell user, or that everyone is a skill user who uses weapons or magic.

In fact, I'd say that outside of D&D 'pure' warriors are rare. Sure, you might be able to fight with the sword and axe, but you can also make camp, cook meat, haggle at stores, read a map, convince someone you're telling the truth, or any number of skills. Not as many as someone dedicated to them, but you're not the D&D (3.5 especially) 'bash and maybe intimidate' fighter.

As for 'why are druids so rare', I'd argue because on a class role they overlap with nature priests so much. My view of a druid is closer to the Celtic version as well, a priest/wise man who has spent years learning the ways of nature and magic, may do a bit of research into it, may advise kings, and may travel the world. Not so much a guardian of nature as a student of it, they might get asked at you for recklessly destroying a forest but that's due to a mixture of it's effects and what they might still be able to learn from it, not because nature should not be disturbed, so feel free to cut down a few trees to build your house or light your fire of the first will survive.

So to me the druids affect there because D&D has made people to redirect a did to be something else. A druid might be able to shapeshift, they might not be able to, it all depends on what magic they've learnt (I'd also argue that they should be more like arcane casters who memorise spells permanently and then cast spontaneously, like an INT-based sorcerer).

Mark Hall
2017-06-27, 01:38 PM
In fact, I'd say that outside of D&D 'pure' warriors are rare. Sure, you might be able to fight with the sword and axe, but you can also make camp, cook meat, haggle at stores, read a map, convince someone you're telling the truth, or any number of skills. Not as many as someone dedicated to them, but you're not the D&D (3.5 especially) 'bash and maybe intimidate' fighter.

It's a system thing and, frequently, a resource thing, IME. For example, in Savage Worlds, without classes, everyone starts at the same level of fighting ability. What tends to differentiate "warriors" from other characters is how they use other resources... a fighter-type with a d8 Fighting will probably have edges that reinforce their combat role, letting them attack more frequently, harder, survive damage better, etc. A non-fighter type with the same Fighting skill will put their Edges elsewhere. Similarly, in Classless Star Wars Saga (http://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/2013/07/classless-saga-and-other-alterations.html), everyone of a given level has the same BAB... but the warriors put other resources (talents, feats) into fighting, whereas non-warriors do not. Who'se the better fighter? The warrior.


So to me the druids affect there because D&D has made people to redirect a did to be something else. A druid might be able to shapeshift, they might not be able to, it all depends on what magic they've learnt (I'd also argue that they should be more like arcane casters who memorise spells permanently and then cast spontaneously, like an INT-based sorcerer).

I've thought similar things. But I'm an avowed non-fan of the cleric as an independent class.

woweedd
2017-06-27, 01:52 PM
To be fair, shapechanging tends to be both overly-complicated and overpowered. At least, the way D&D does it. Fortunately, I don't need to write why, because the dude the site is named after already did. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=9606712&postcount=3)

Nifft
2017-06-27, 01:57 PM
I've seen (and played) more Druids than Clerics.

I've read several good "campaign journal" threads which involved at least one Druid.

I'm not sure that they are more rarely chosen -- but that may just be the bias of my experience. Was there a study or something?

Anonymouswizard
2017-06-27, 02:18 PM
It's a system thing and, frequently, a resource thing, IME. For example, in Savage Worlds, without classes, everyone starts at the same level of fighting ability. What tends to differentiate "warriors" from other characters is how they use other resources... a fighter-type with a d8 Fighting will probably have edges that reinforce their combat role, letting them attack more frequently, harder, survive damage better, etc. A non-fighter type with the same Fighting skill will put their Edges elsewhere. Similarly, in Classless Star Wars Saga (http://rpgcrank.blogspot.com/2013/07/classless-saga-and-other-alterations.html), everyone of a given level has the same BAB... but the warriors put other resources (talents, feats) into fighting, whereas non-warriors do not. Who'se the better fighter? The warrior.

True, but my point is that besides intentional hyperfocus (such as the SW 'd12 fighting at charger creation' builds) then outside of D&D warriors tend to have decent acres to skills. Someone who focuses on combat, like someone who takes combat edges, will be better at it, while someone who focuses on skills will be better at them. What I'm saying is you rarely get the D&D 'combat and nothing else' in other games (although I have seen it happen). Not that you can't make a better fighter, but that fighters aren't linked to just fighting.


I've thought similar things. But I'm an avowed non-fan of the cleric as an independent class.

I mean, I'm also a supporter when systems use classes, it just tasty comes up as I tend to support classless systems now. I'm also a supporter of more specialised spellcasters.

FreddyNoNose
2017-06-27, 10:02 PM
The archetype heroes of myth are less specific than the D&D (or other RPG) classes - warrior, trickster, magic-user. So games designers only feel they MUST offer a choice from those archetypes. Any other classes are local flavour.

In D&D, magic-user was split into Wizard and Priest (your edition may vary). Wizard was further split into Wizard and Sorcerer. Priest was also split into Cleric and Druid - but at heart, a druid is just a kind of priest.
What you (the OP) seem to be thinking of is the legacy of the last couple of decades of fantasy gaming. Druids in D&D weren't defined as being shapeshifters until after WoW made them so.

EDIT: tl;dr version? What Mark Hall said up there.

Wow, you need to be schooled. Here it is from the 1978 Player's Handbook:

At 7th level (Initiate of the 5th Circle), the following additional powers are gained:

1. Immunity from charm spells cast by any creature basically associated with the woodlands, i.e. dryads, nixies, sylphs, etc.
2. Ability to change form up to three times per day, actually becoming, in all respects save the mind, a reptile, bird or mammal.

A. Each type of creature form can be assumed but once per day.

B. The size of creature form assumed con vary from as small as a bullfrog, bluejay or bat to as large as a large snake, an eagle, or o black bear (about double the weight of the druid).

C. Each assumption of a new form removes from 10% to 60% (d6, multiply by 10) of the hit points of damage,

goto124
2017-06-28, 12:03 AM
IMy view of a druid is closer to the Celtic version as well, a priest/wise man who has spent years learning the ways of nature and magic, may do a bit of research into it, may advise kings, and may travel the world. Not so much a guardian of nature as a student of it, they might get asked at you for recklessly destroying a forest but that's due to a mixture of it's effects and what they might still be able to learn from it, not because nature should not be disturbed, so feel free to cut down a few trees to build your house or light your fire of the first will survive.

I call that a Ranger :tongue:

Martin Greywolf
2017-06-28, 01:44 AM
It's the clash of fluff, IMO. Most of the standard settings are based to various degrees of accuracy and depth, on high to late middle ages, with dashes of renaissance thrown in. Druids are late antiquity to early middle ages at best.

This creates a clash in tone that you don't have with more generic classes (wizard, fighter), or with classes that fit the setting well (cleric, paladin). Effectively, just by playing druid, you are essentially forced into a role of someone who doesn't belong, and someone who doesn't belong in a very specific way. As a result, druid is more of a niche class than most of the core ones.

And then there's the problem that a lot of people just don't know what a druid should do, how he should behave. Clerics are based on catholic priests to a great degree, paladins are something like Knights Templar, but druids? Hell, even academics specializing in them know very little in the way of hard facts about how the real life druids worked.

hymer
2017-06-28, 02:26 AM
Was there a study or something?

One of the 5e surveys Wizards did a lot of early on asked something like 'what do you play the most' or 'which class do you prefer to play', or asked which classes you've played in 5e... Something like that. And the fighter came out on top, with a notable margin down to number two, which was cleric. And then the other classes came in after cleric, with small margins between them. Druids were at the bottom. So they weren't badly outclassed, but they were the least played class in the PHB.

Anonymouswizard
2017-06-28, 02:28 AM
I call that a Ranger :tongue:

There ain't nothing in that description about warrioring :smalltongue:

Spore
2017-06-28, 05:26 AM
I would really love to see a druid class with elemental spells, a knack for fey summons and a beast companion, probably with a bit of focus on alchemy. The shapeshifting should be optional, like "I have not prepared a shapeshifting spell today" optional.

Altair_the_Vexed
2017-06-28, 05:31 AM
Wow, you need to be schooled. Here it is from the 1978 Player's Handbook:

At 7th level (Initiate of the 5th Circle), the following additional powers are gained:

1. Immunity from charm spells cast by any creature basically associated with the woodlands, i.e. dryads, nixies, sylphs, etc.
2. Ability to change form up to three times per day, actually becoming, in all respects save the mind, a reptile, bird or mammal.

A. Each type of creature form can be assumed but once per day.

B. The size of creature form assumed con vary from as small as a bullfrog, bluejay or bat to as large as a large snake, an eagle, or o black bear (about double the weight of the druid).

C. Each assumption of a new form removes from 10% to 60% (d6, multiply by 10) of the hit points of damage,

Yeah, yeah, whatever *shrugs*

I don't care about this tiny little point, and 1st ed AD&D was just a bunch of broken sucky houserules anyway wasn't the D&D I played in the 70s and 80s.

My actual point wasn't about the powers of a druid - it was that "druid" isn't anything more than a special kind of magic user.
So if there's a game system that has no specific druid class, you can pick the nearest class and call yourself a druid and bloody well ROLE PLAY.

Cluedrew
2017-06-28, 07:25 AM
Druids as shape shifters never quite clicked with me. Sure if you are going to have a character who shape shifts into animals it works, but still druids as nature themed casters (as apposed to academic or religious themed casters) seem a more natural fit to me.

Potato_Priest
2017-06-28, 09:47 AM
In 5e the Duid isn't EVERYTHING, as Mark Hall suggests. It's lost its animal companion completely in favor of shapeshifting.

In my opinion, that was a very bad design choice. Druids practically don't get class features outside of spellcasting and shapechanging (and subclass) so they end up being much more mechanically boring than they should be. (They're still very powerful, just boring) You're either a caster or an animal, but never both. When you're a caster your a bland one, and when you're an animal you're a bland one too.

I agree with others that there should be a generic shapechanging class, and it should not be the druid.

Nifft
2017-06-28, 10:21 AM
One of the 5e surveys Wizards did a lot of early on asked something like 'what do you play the most' or 'which class do you prefer to play', or asked which classes you've played in 5e... Something like that. And the fighter came out on top, with a notable margin down to number two, which was cleric. And then the other classes came in after cleric, with small margins between them. Druids were at the bottom. So they weren't badly outclassed, but they were the least played class in the PHB.

Huh, interesting.

It's also interesting that there was so much pent-up Fighter demand.

I wonder if Druid players were unusually high in system mastery, and therefore tended to be in the in 3.5e / PF bucket instead of 5e.

gkathellar
2017-06-28, 12:27 PM
Because it's a pretty D&D-native concept, a hodgepodge of very specific abilities and ideas that don't make sense in a lot of contexts.

Fach
2017-06-28, 12:35 PM
Personally I don't play Druids very often because I don't know what "Druids" are in real life. Some classes like Wizards and Warlocks just don't exist in real life, and some classes like Fighters and Monks that do exist in real life I'm familiar with. But I don't know what Druids are. They're some kind of British shamans apparently? Since I'm not British I know nothing about how they live, what they believed, what kind of lifestyles they had, etc.

ElFi
2017-06-28, 01:08 PM
I agree with what people have said that Druids try to be too many things at once (they're shapechangers, healers, nature casters, beastmasters, warriors, trackers, and a hodgepodge of other roles all semi-haphazardly thrown together into one class) and that their thematic elements can be a big hindrance when it comes to playing them- druids are guardians of nature and forests, and very few DM's in my personal experience will willingly make an entire campaign that takes place in a single small area.

While a cool idea in theory, on paper Druids are kind of a mess for a lot of reasons. They're also far-and-away the most complicated class to play in 3.5 (and arguably 5th edition too) because of the combined paperwork of juggling a full caster, animal companion, and shapeshifting into almost any animal form (which feeds back into my previous statement of how they combine too many ideas at once).

My group plays Pathfinder, where the fluff of the Druid becomes a lot looser thanks to the archetypes system, but the class itself is also a lot weaker due to nerfs to the polymorph rules during the jump from 3.5 (Someone on the forum who analyzed the classes as they shifted from 3.5 to PF concluded that the druid was the only class that was overtly nerfed in Pathfinder.)

It's rambly and all over the place, but those are my thoughts.

Kite474
2017-06-28, 01:27 PM
I never got the hate for shapeshifting, mainly because its the only thing that makes the Druid unique. In terms of fluff you can just have a nature themed cleric.

woweedd
2017-06-28, 04:09 PM
I never got the hate for shapeshifting, mainly because its the only thing that makes the Druid unique. In terms of fluff you can just have a nature themed cleric.
Mainly because it is, as said earlier, hideously unbalanced, especially while the Natural Spell feat is still a thing.

woweedd
2017-06-28, 04:12 PM
I agree with what people have said that Druids try to be too many things at once (they're shapechangers, healers, nature casters, beastmasters, warriors, trackers, and a hodgepodge of other roles all semi-haphazardly thrown together into one class) and that their thematic elements can be a big hindrance when it comes to playing them- druids are guardians of nature and forests, and very few DM's in my personal experience will willingly make an entire campaign that takes place in a single small area.

While a cool idea in theory, on paper Druids are kind of a mess for a lot of reasons. They're also far-and-away the most complicated class to play in 3.5 (and arguably 5th edition too) because of the combined paperwork of juggling a full caster, animal companion, and shapeshifting into almost any animal form (which feeds back into my previous statement of how they combine too many ideas at once).

My group plays Pathfinder, where the fluff of the Druid becomes a lot looser thanks to the archetypes system, but the class itself is also a lot weaker due to nerfs to the polymorph rules during the jump from 3.5 (Someone on the forum who analyzed the classes as they shifted from 3.5 to PF concluded that the druid was the only class that was overtly nerfed in Pathfinder.)

It's rambly and all over the place, but those are my thoughts.
Hmmm...You know, that gives me an idea for a campaign that IS set entirely in a forest but it's like a massive forest, the size of a small country unto itself, filled with monsters and even small settlements to substitute for towns. No one has managed to conquer it simply because it is nearly impossible to conquer in its entirety. Maybe the eventual endgame is finding whoever created this place and giving them what for.

Dragonexx
2017-06-28, 04:27 PM
Druids don't have to be guardians of the forests. Deserts, oceans, caves, mountains, glaciers, plains, and cities are also a part of nature.

woweedd
2017-06-28, 04:53 PM
Druids don't have to be guardians of the forests. Deserts, oceans, caves, mountains, glaciers, plains, and cities are also a part of nature.
Hmmm...All-durid party...

Nifft
2017-06-28, 05:10 PM
Druids don't have to be guardians of the forests. Deserts, oceans, caves, mountains, glaciers, plains, and cities are also a part of nature.

Jackson Bentley: "What is it, Major Lawrence, that attracts you personally to the desert?"

T.E. Lawrence: "It's clean."

== == ==

You know those people on the internet who claim to hate humans and only love dogs and/or cats? They're probably Druids.

Your basic misanthrope could be a Druid.

That kid who wanted to be a bird when she grew up? Druid.

They're everywhere, man.

Kitten Champion
2017-06-28, 10:29 PM
I think - at least regarding D&D and games that borrow from it - that because its identity as a game was built on popular fantasy, horror, and SF tropes from many decades ago that have since waxed and waned in usage, the level of interest is going to rise and fall with it. There have been some works which feature druids recently - like Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles - but the choice of creating a druid protagonist was largely due (I think) to how little that space has been used in general, thus letting Hearne freely interpret it.

Personally the two issues I had as a new player regarding the Druid - some of which has been touched upon.

1. Where does it fit within a team composition? I played numerous RPGs before getting to tabletops, knowing in-game roles is something you do fairly intuitively after a time, that you can usually transfer your knowledge of the mechanics from one to every other. You aren't fishing around for where to put your stats to best use, what you should be doing in combat. and your positioning relative to others. The Druid is the least transparent of the classes with regards to this. Are you supposed to be a support? A damage-dealer? A tank? How does your utility fare against others? There's no instant clarity there even reading the class description as there is in pretty much every other case.

2. I think morphing into animals is cool in concept, but from a role-playing perspective it can lead to having a fairly passive position within the party because you're not free to communicate when you're a bear or such. At least, not much beyond the broadest strokes of affirmation or displeasure at any particular moment. If I'm in a tense situation where a decision has to be made but I'm an owl, I have limited capacity to participate and thus agency over my character's fate at these moments. Dialogue's important in our games, and for a certain percentage of it as a Druid I'm effectively mute... that doesn't feel great.

goto124
2017-06-29, 12:57 AM
Do DMs enforce muteness for shapeshifted Druids? Talking animals, especially those that are actually shapeshifters, aren't new.

Mark Hall
2017-06-29, 12:22 PM
Mainly because it is, as said earlier, hideously unbalanced, especially while the Natural Spell feat is still a thing.

That's pretty edition specific, though. In 1e and 2e, this wasn't a problem, since turning into a Bear meant you had SOME combat ability, but you weren't a powerhouse, by any means, and you lost your spellcasting and ability to talk.

Dragonexx
2017-06-29, 06:40 PM
Do DMs enforce muteness for shapeshifted Druids? Talking animals, especially those that are actually shapeshifters, aren't new.

The rules specifically say you can't talk while in animal form (and also specifically single out parrots to stop that idea). Even with natural spell, you can't actually speak.

Knaight
2017-06-29, 07:03 PM
Because it's a pretty D&D-native concept, a hodgepodge of very specific abilities and ideas that don't make sense in a lot of contexts.

The D&D druid bears little resemblance to earlier druids, but that's hardly the only class where that fits - Clerics and Paladins as implemented are pretty D&D native as well, and that's without getting into the weeds on magic systems in general. Where the druid stands out is that the setting implied by the class isn't the same setting implied by a lot of the other classes, and while the Druid-implied setting can be fit in that other setting at the margins it's not integral to it the way Clerics and Paladins are. It's similar to the Monk in that regard, although the sort of margins each needs are pretty different.

Zurvan
2017-06-29, 11:46 PM
If you mean in general is because druid is less of an archetype and more of a real "historical" thing so it's more limitaded.

Telonius
2017-06-30, 12:31 PM
Why they typically don't get chosen: in my personal experience with D&D 3.5, there are mechanical and fluff reasons why they aren't.

Mechanically, they're probably the hardest of the Core classes for a new player to run. While the notebook full of sheets might not be totally accurate, it's not the easiest thing in the world to get somebody just starting out to figure out how to run it competently. Some players just don't want to deal with it. Switching all that stuff can take a lot of game-time, and some DMs just don't want to deal with that. (On the other hand, if the player is quick on the uptake, it's also the easiest of the Core classes to become much more powerful than everyone else, either accidentally or on purpose; some DMs really don't want to deal with that).

For fluff, Druid has a lot of it baked in to the chassis. You're a member of a secretive society of folks sworn to protect nature. While what it can do mechanically is really broad, that motivation is pretty darn narrow. Yes, you can get creative and re-fluff any number of concepts to work with it. But most often, if that baked-in fluff doesn't interest you, neither will the class.

Vogie
2017-06-30, 01:34 PM
For fluff, Druid has a lot of it baked in to the chassis. You're a member of a secretive society of folks sworn to protect nature. While what it can do mechanically is really broad, that motivation is pretty darn narrow. Yes, you can get creative and re-fluff any number of concepts to work with it. But most often, if that baked-in fluff doesn't interest you, neither will the class.

Precisely - there's no one definition on what a druid is, even mechanically.

Druids in 5e choose between Spells and shapeshifting as a focus, while actively able to do both

Druids in 3.P's thing, in addition to the above was a domain or companion and summoning of additional Nature's Ally(s) and could be almost considered a complicated nature subclass of cleric

Druids in Warcraft have usually one form that they stay in - bear or crow - and World of warcraft gave them more combinations - Resto is always in tree, Balance in Moonkin, Cat form, Bear form, et cetera. They have other forms (for travel purposes) but usually stay in that one across the board.

Druids in Magic: The Gathering are always based on mana and land, - They produce mana, they untap lands, they turn lands into creatures, they fetch lands from the library or graveyard - and occasionally around enchantments (either providing a boon for the player for playing enchantments, or destroying enemy enchantments) or creatures (usually creating squirrels, saprolings, elves, et cetera)

Druids sometimes heal, sometimes use plants & animals, control weather, shapeshift, summon things, or give buffs and debuffs... but never exclusively, across the board. While classes such as clerics, wizards, mages, paladins, monks, and fighters are viewed as fairly straightforward, druids are almost always in the "It's complicated" zone.

Dragonexx
2017-07-10, 01:39 AM
I think something interesting and should be taken into consideration about druids is balance between man and nature. More specifically that they would most likely be on the side of man against nature. The real druids were kinda this. The reasoning being that we're thinking of this from a modern perspective where we have to worry about things like pollution, global warming, and sustainability. Think about it from the perspective of most fantasy settings, which are pre-industrial and mankind is basically at the mercy of nature, and it makes sense that druids could take civilizations side and encourage it's advancement (which is the natural state of society).

Nifft
2017-07-10, 01:59 AM
I think something interesting and should be taken into consideration about druids is balance between man and nature. More specifically that they would most likely be on the side of man against nature. The real druids were kinda this. The reasoning being that we're thinking of this from a modern perspective where we have to worry about things like pollution, global warming, and sustainability. Think about it from the perspective of most fantasy settings, which are pre-industrial and mankind is basically at the mercy of nature, and it makes sense that druids could take civilizations side and encourage it's advancement (which is the natural state of society).

Dark Sun says, "Hi."

Greyhawk looks at the Hellfurnace Mountains (which didn't used to be volcanoes), the Rift Canyon (which isn't natural), the Sea of Dust (which used to be a great empire), the Bright Desert (also used to be fertile land), the Dry Steppes, Paynim, and Ull (used to be a different great empire), the Land of Black Ice (who even knows what and why), etc...

Eberron points to the Demon Wastes to the west, and the Mournland to the east. The Eberron Druids also point to the Daelkyr and how the "natural" orbit of Xoriat almost ruined everything forever.

Bad mojo can screw up your land.

Druids fight that.

Anonymouswizard
2017-07-10, 02:37 AM
Dark Sun says, "Hi."

Athas is majorly screwed up, but a lot of the reason it's currently screwed up is the Sorcerer Kings. Preservers have a very useful 5th level spell that returns life bearing qualities to soil, and we know hitting 9th level is slightly more common in Dark Sun than in most settings (as your average adult is 3rd level rather than 0th level).

Heck, Athas is not what I'd call general fantasy, and it's one of the few times where the world's problems are explicitly the fault of the civilisations that used to live there.

Jerrykhor
2017-07-11, 01:55 AM
Its probably because they are very poorly represented in books, games, movies and the like. I've tried out most major MMORPGs, and besides WoW, they are absent in the class choices.

Also, their fluff is so specific that its like their character background is already set in stone. Its hard to make a druid that is not a hermit or outlander. Plus, wearing leaves as robes is not cool and uncomfortable.

Mark Hall
2017-07-11, 12:32 PM
Also, their fluff is so specific that its like their character background is already set in stone. Its hard to make a druid that is not a hermit or outlander.

I disagree entirely. What about a druid who is part of a local village, helping to guide their use of the land in sustainable ways? Heck, that's pretty much the prototypical druid example... Jaroo Ashstaff, from T1, The Village of Hommlet. He's a local leader of the town (head of one of the two major religious factions), and while he has a large bear as a friend and companion, there's no sign that he's either a hermit or an outlander. Another druid in the town is the local smith, and an aspiring druid works as a potboy at the local inn.

Similarly, you can look to the druids of the Moonshae Islands, in the Forgotten Realms, especially in the first Moonshae Trilogy (Darkwalker on Moonshae, Black Wizards, and Darkwell). The druids there were an integral part of local society, with it not being uncommon for druids to be wives and consorts to local leaders (and, presumably, husbands and such; we just mostly see female druids as characters in that series, between Robyn and Genna).

Also in the Forgotten Realms, you have druids coming to the Edificant Library to study. While they're a lot more insular than my previous examples, they're still coming to a giant library to study, and sharing and interacting with the other faiths there, not acting as hermits, or even as particularly exotic people.

In Lord of the Rings Online, I think you can make a fair approximation of a druid with the Loremaster class... they're not called a druid, but you can have a variety of animal companions, and you use your knowledge of nature to throw fire, call lightning, and all sorts of other things, so they're the druidical archetype in all but name.

This isn't to say the outlander or hermit type druid doesn't exist, but they're not even close to the only type you see in D&D and related realms.

Nifft
2017-07-11, 01:22 PM
I disagree entirely. What about a druid who is part of a local village, helping to guide their use of the land in sustainable ways? Heck, that's pretty much the prototypical druid example... Jaroo Ashstaff, from T1, The Village of Hommlet. He's a local leader of the town (head of one of the two major religious factions), and while he has a large bear as a friend and companion, there's no sign that he's either a hermit or an outlander. Another druid in the town is the local smith, and an aspiring druid works as a potboy at the local inn.

Similarly, you can look to the druids of the Moonshae Islands, in the Forgotten Realms, especially in the first Moonshae Trilogy (Darkwalker on Moonshae, Black Wizards, and Darkwell). The druids there were an integral part of local society, with it not being uncommon for druids to be wives and consorts to local leaders (and, presumably, husbands and such; we just mostly see female druids as characters in that series, between Robyn and Genna).

Also in the Forgotten Realms, you have druids coming to the Edificant Library to study. While they're a lot more insular than my previous examples, they're still coming to a giant library to study, and sharing and interacting with the other faiths there, not acting as hermits, or even as particularly exotic people.

In Lord of the Rings Online, I think you can make a fair approximation of a druid with the Loremaster class... they're not called a druid, but you can have a variety of animal companions, and you use your knowledge of nature to throw fire, call lightning, and all sorts of other things, so they're the druidical archetype in all but name.

This isn't to say the outlander or hermit type druid doesn't exist, but they're not even close to the only type you see in D&D and related realms.

Yeah, absolutely.

In one kingdom in one of of my settings, Druids were the majority of the leadership of the Royal Roads and Aqueducts Cabinet.

"If you screw that sort of thing up, we'll be getting grief from the spirits anyway, so we might as well be the ones to do the work in the first place -- and we'll make sure it's done right."

In a different region in that setting, a faction of Druids were the representatives of the Fertility Goddess, one of three major divinities for that region.

Druids are great inside a civilization. They're also great out in the wilds.

Keltest
2017-07-11, 02:27 PM
Yeah, absolutely.

In one kingdom in one of of my settings, Druids were the majority of the leadership of the Royal Roads and Aqueducts Cabinet.

"If you screw that sort of thing up, we'll be getting grief from the spirits anyway, so we might as well be the ones to do the work in the first place -- and we'll make sure it's done right."

In a different region in that setting, a faction of Druids were the representatives of the Fertility Goddess, one of three major divinities for that region.

Druids are great inside a civilization. They're also great out in the wilds.

Indeed, druids have as much a position in society as any other priest class. Its a different coat of paint on basically the same idea.

Mark Hall
2017-07-11, 02:45 PM
There's a reason why AD&D Druids required a 15 Charisma. They are a social class.

Garimeth
2017-07-11, 10:13 PM
Druid is absolutely one of my favorite classes. The system I've seen it best implemented is 13th age. You get 3 talent points to spread out among the following, with no more than 2 in any one thing:

Warrior Druid
Elemental Caster
Nature/terrain caster
Shifter
Healer
Beastmaster

Its such a simple but elegant way to let the "nature character", even the ranger archetype, be what its trying to be, but without being everything all at once.

Spore
2017-07-12, 12:55 AM
I feel Druids in the Witcher-verse are probably my favorite definition by far. They are primarily healers and protectors of the forest. Due to the way magic works in this world it is very focussed on potions and magical oils. I think assuming animal form isn't far out for them. But it is not the main modus operandi for them. Being able to communicate with animals, to use very effective alchemy and nature magic is enough for me. I don't think I need to turn into another 5 different animals for the day.

Katrina
2017-07-14, 03:39 AM
Druids outside of D&D are very widely defined and redefined. Some features come, some features go. Deciding what is a "Druid" and what is just a "nature priest" gets difficult. Thus why they probably aren't popular outside of a class based structure where you can point at something and go "This guy's a druid because he shapeshifts."

I cannot speak to previous editions of D&D, as they are older than I am, but in 3.5, Pathfinder, 4E and 5E they are specifically cross referenced with clerics. That is they share a lot of the same features, spells and essentially the role in the party. As someone earlier said, the standard four man party is a Warrior, a Rogue/Expert, an Arcane Caster and a Divine Caster. Now, combine this idea with the concept that people tend to think the "Divine Caster" role translates to "Healer". The druid is not as good of a healer as the cleric. Thus, people going for the divine healer role overlook it to play a Cleric instead. In my circles, druid is often brought up as a "5th Man Class." A thing it is great to have in the group, but not optimized for one of the four essential roles.

I think they are interesting, but very specific. In the end, Druid is a very defined character concept by itself. When you choose Druid, you already know you are going to be kinda woodsy, you're going have one of your alignment axises in the Neutral area...Actually, they may not do that anymore. But you're going to come to the table with a lot more things set BY your class than say a Wizard, Rogue or Fighter.

Zardnaar
2017-07-14, 05:32 AM
One of the 5e surveys Wizards did a lot of early on asked something like 'what do you play the most' or 'which class do you prefer to play', or asked which classes you've played in 5e... Something like that. And the fighter came out on top, with a notable margin down to number two, which was cleric. And then the other classes came in after cleric, with small margins between them. Druids were at the bottom. So they weren't badly outclassed, but they were the least played class in the PHB.

Wizard came out in top with 15%. Druid I don't think was the bottom but was fairly close to it.

Druid was broken in 3E, OP in 1E but power doesn't mean popular.

Shapeshifting was not a major thing until 3.0 maybe even 3.5 when natural spell was made core.

hymer
2017-07-14, 05:37 AM
Wizard came out in top with 15%. Druid I don't think was the bottom but was fairly close to it.

My memory was a little fuzzy, but I'm right that fighter was top, followed by cleric, with druid in the bottom: See here (http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/dd-survey-results-summary).

Zardnaar
2017-07-14, 05:51 AM
My memory was a little fuzzy, but I'm right that fighter was top, followed by cleric, with druid in the bottom: See here (http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/dd-survey-results-summary).

There was another survey where they gave the exact numbers.

It was during the D&D Next. Your survey is for 5E classes.

5E Paladin is really good.

Nifft
2017-07-14, 07:38 PM
There was another survey where they gave the exact numbers.

It was during the D&D Next. Your survey is for 5E classes.

5E Paladin is really good.

Paladin has been one of my favorite classes across all editions, based almost entirely on RP reasons. 5e made Paladins strong enough that I don't feel dumb for playing one, but it's not like I wasn't already playing one.

I've been able to make fun Druids, too, but they require a lot more intellectual effort, to design a niche that is both fun and flavorful and fits a party.

Max_Killjoy
2017-07-14, 11:21 PM
This isn't too far off -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid

A druid (Welsh (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_language): derwydd; Old Irish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Irish_language): druí) was a member of the high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celts) cultures. While perhaps best remembered as religious leaders, they were also legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. While the druids are reported to have been literate, they are believed to have been prevented by doctrine from recording their knowledge in written form, thus they left no written accounts of themselves. They are however attested in some detail by their contemporaries from other cultures, such as the Romans.

The earliest known references to the druids date to the fourth century BCE (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Era) and the oldest detailed description comes from Julius Caesar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Caesar)'s Commentarii de Bello Gallico (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commentarii_de_Bello_Gallico) (50s BCE). Later Greco-Roman writers also described the druids, including Cicero (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicero),[2] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid#cite_note-ReferenceB-2) Tacitus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus)[3] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid#cite_note-3) and Pliny the Elder (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliny_the_Elder).[4] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid#cite_note-4) Following the Roman invasion of Gaul, the druid orders were suppressed by the Roman government under the 1st century CE emperors Tiberius (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiberius) and Claudius (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudius), and had disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century.

In about 750 CE the word druid appears in a poem by Blathmac (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blathmac), who wrote about Jesus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus), saying that he was "... better than a prophet, more knowledgeable than every druid, a king who was a bishop and a complete sage."[5] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid#cite_note-5) The druids then also appear in some of the medieval tales from Christianized Ireland like the "Táin Bó Cúailnge (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%A1in_B%C3%B3_C%C3%BAailnge)", where they are largely portrayed as sorcerers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magician_%28paranormal%29) who opposed the coming of Christianity.[6] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid#cite_note-6) In the wake of the Celtic revival (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celtic_revival) during the 18th and 19th centuries, fraternal and neopagan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neopaganism) groups were founded based on ideas about the ancient druids, a movement known as Neo-Druidism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Druidism). Many popular notions about druids are based on the misconceptions of 18th century scholars. These have been largely superseded by more recent study.[7] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid#cite_note-BMD-7)

Temperjoke
2017-07-14, 11:45 PM
One thing to consider is druids are usually considered/seen as preferring wilderness, being less civilized, more animalistic, etc. They don't have to be, but that's what a lot of tropes regarding them are. And a lot of people don't want to play that sort of character. They also aren't seen as fitting in, after all, why would a rugged uncivilized druid be in the middle of a bustling urban metropolis?

EDIT: Another thing problem too is, when you're taking shapeshifting into account, there's extra work involved in managing the stats for the animal shapes, you need to know what your DM wants to make available to you, you or the DM needs the information. There's also the problem that a lot of people use digital playing systems that may not handle shapeshifting characters that well.

NovenFromTheSun
2017-07-16, 06:44 AM
It seems a bit redundant: is it really any more "nature-y" when a Druid shoots lightning than when a wizard or priest does it?

Anonymouswizard
2017-07-16, 07:30 AM
It seems a bit redundant: is it really any more "nature-y" when a Druid shoots lightning than when a wizard or priest does it?

Depends on if I've given the other classes the Call Lightning spell.

In all honesty, I prefer the 2e treatment, where druids were explicitly a variety of priest. Generally weaker than the 2e Cleric*, as specialty priests were supposed to be (although I understand that wasn't always true), and pretty much a nature priest. They were included (in theory) as an example of how a specialty priest might look.

* The 2e cleric was versatile and strong, but mainly suffered from not having a lot of powers. It's not exactly over or underpowered, but it's supposed to be the all-rounder of the priest classes.

Cluedrew
2017-07-16, 08:15 AM
Many popular notions about druids are based on the misconceptions of 18th century scholars. These have been largely superseded by more recent study.Many popular notions about everything are based on misconceptions from somewhere.

Personally, any nature-linked mystic could be descripted as a druid, when you have something close enough in fiction using an approximately accurate word gives a good starting point. Unless you are doing historical I don't see the need to stick to history. And I see no reason at all to stick to D&D's definition either.

Starshade
2017-07-16, 05:57 PM
I personally, think there is possibly more old 18. Century scholar theories in D&D druids than we believe. the Ancient Order of Druids (those guys at Stonehenge in the summer months), descends from Ancient Archaeological Order of Druids, who as the name implies, is based on old Archaeology work and theories, now often quite romantic and outdated research. I think, there is some parallell thoughts in D&D and the druid revival movement.

As a student of Cultural history (archaeology), I suggest the D&D druid is quite dependent on the Druid revival movement, and the historical and archaeological works the guys doing solstice ceremonies in later years at Stonehenge used to build their religion. D&D simply used the same thoughts the "New druids" picked up.
They did, though, cherry pick what they wanted (the neo druids don't have tribes to govern). In fantasy we might go back to the sources, and add the lorekeeper, judge and political parts of the tales. The Celtic Druids must have had great political powers, maybe able to pass judgement, unite tribes in war, etc.