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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Default Swarm Shaman - Pathfinder Druid Archetype

    Hey everyone. I made a topic recently (here) asking if it was possible to play as a swarm of butterflies in Pathfinder, not as a race, but as a character concept where the character turns into butterflies but can still contribute.

    There were a couple of ideas tossed around. The spherewalker was the winner, but unfortunately the spherewalker's ability lasts for a maximum of 5 minutes per day, whereas I wanted the ability to last for... well longer than that. A couple of other ideas floated around, such as the Master of Flies from Savage Species which, while mechanically does fit the bill somewhat (aside from the evil requirement), wasn't really what I was looking for. There was also some confusion whether a druid can just normally assume the form of a swarm, since swarms have the animal type, just with the "swarm" subtype. However, I felt like that would be stretching the abilities listed by beast shape I (at least until I hear differently), so I didn't want to assume that that was possible if in fact it wasn't supposed to be. No other spells, class abilities, or anything else really fit what I wanted.

    Originally, what I was planning to do was created my own Master of Flies prestige class, but I realized that, for what I wanted, an entire prestige class was unnecessary. That's what the Pathfinder archetypes are for after all. Basically, all I wanted was the ability to turn into a swarm, an entire prestige class doesn't need to be dedicated to that when the druid's shtick is already turning into other creatures. So I made this archetype, modeled off of the various "Animal Shaman" archetypes. So if you don't mind too much, read through it and let me know what you think? Are swarm abilities just too powerful (being immune to weapon damage), even without the +2 to druid level for assuming the shape of a swarm (that other "shaman" druids receive for turning into their totem animal)? Keep in mind that an enemy spellcaster could really mess up the day of a druid in swarm shape.

    So anyway, thanks in advance!

    Swarm Shaman

    A shaman with this focus calls upon the energy and freedom of the vermin swarm, from beetles and spiders to butterflies and ladybugs. Vermin swarms share their intelligence and spirit and guard their homes with tenacity and grace.

    Nature Bond

    A swarm shaman who chooses an animal companion must select from the following list: giant ant, giant butterfly, giant centipede, giant ladybug, giant mantis, giant scorpion, giant spider, or giant wasp. If choosing a domain, the swarm shaman must choose from the Animal, Luck, Madness, and Protection domains.

    Wild Empathy

    A swarm shaman can use wild empathy with any vermin swarm as a full-round action with a +4 bonus.

    Totem Transformation (Su)

    At 2nd level, a swarm shaman may adopt an aspect of the swarm while retaining her normal form. She gains one of the following bonuses:

    - movement (move at normal speed while prone without penalty)
    - senses (low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft.)
    - armor (+2 dodge bonus to AC)

    While using totem transformation, the swarm shaman may speak normally and can cast speak with animals (vermin only) at will. Using this ability is a standard aciton at 2nd level, a move action at 7th level, and a swift action at 12th level. The swarm shaman can use this ability for a number of minutes per day equal to her druid level. These minutes do not need to be consecutive, but they must be used in 1-minute increments. This is a polymorph effect and cannot be used while the druid is using another polymorph effect, such as wild shape.

    Totemic Summons (Su)

    At 5th level, a swarm shaman can "lose" a prepared spell of 2nd level or higher in order to cast summon swarm, and summoned swarms gain temporary hit points equal to her druid level. The swarm will attack fleeing creatures normally, but the druid can direct their movement as a move action. At 11th level, the druid can lose any prepared spell of 5th level or higher to cast insect plague. Each swarm summoned by this spell gains temporary hit points equal to the druid's level, and the druid can direct the insect plague as a move action each round, so long as each swarm is adjacent to at least one other swarm, up to the swarm's maximum movement speed. At 17th level, the druid can lose any prepared spell of 7th level or higher to cast creeping doom, and each swarm summoned gains temporary hit points equal to the druid's level.

    This ability replaces a thousand faces.

    Wild Shape (Su)

    A swarm shaman gains the ability to become a swarm of vermin. This is a polymorph effect. The swarm of vermin must all be the same kind of animal. At 6th level, a swarm shaman's wild shape ability functions at her druid level -2. If she takes on the form of a swarm of vermin, she instead uses her normal druid level. The type of swarm a swarm shaman can become is tied to her druid level. At 6th level, a swarm shaman can become a swarm of Tiny animals, which grants her a +2 bonus to Dexterity but a -2 penalty to Strength. At 10th level, she can become a swarm of Diminuitive animals, which grants her a +4 bonus to Dexterity but a -4 penalty to Strength. At 14th level, she can become a swarm of Fine animals, which grants a +6 bonus to Dexterity but a -6 penalty Strength. If the animal the swarm shaman becomes a swarm of has any of the following abilities, the shaman gains the listed ability: climb 30 feet, fly 60 feet (good), darkvision 60 feet, and low-light vision. If the animal the swarm shaman wishes to become a swarm of does not have listed statistics, it gains a climb speed of 20 feet, a fly speed of 30 feet (good) if the animal can fly, and low-light vision.

    In addition, as she levels up a swarm shaman can become more than one swarm to affect more space. A swarm shaman can assume the form of multiple swarms by becoming animals larger than her minimum size. So a 10th level swarm shaman that could normally become a swarm of Diminiuitive creatures could instead become two swarms of Tiny creatures. A 14th level swarm shaman could become two swarms of Diminuitive creatures or three swarms of Tiny creatures. Every three levels after 14th, a swarm shaman can assume the form of an additional swarm for free.

    In swarm form, a swarm shaman gains many of the traits and advantages of swarms, but also its disadvantages. A swarm shaman in swarm form must always remain in continguous squares while in swarm form. A swarm shaman assuming the form of multiple swarms that are not in adjacent squares cannot reassume her normal form, and cannot perform any other abilities (including spellcasting, directing an animal companion, and so on) except those specifically granted by the swarm shape. If a separated swarm is killed, the swarm shaman's consciousness snaps back to the living swarm and she can act normally. A single swarm occupies a square (if made of nonflyng creatures) or a cube (of flying creatures) 10 feet on a side, but its reach is 0 feet, like its component creatures. In order to attack, it moves into an opponent's space, which provokes an attack of opportnuity. A swarm can occupy the same space as a creature of any size, since it crawls all over its prey. A swarm can move through squares occupied by enemies and vice versa without impediment, although the swarm provokes an attack of opportunity if it does so. A swarm can move through cracks or holes large enough for its component creatuers.

    In swarm form, the swarm shaman gains swarm traits. As a swarm of vermin, she has no clear front or back and no discernable anatomy, and so is not subject to critical hits or flanking. Swarms made of Tiny creatures take half damage from slashing and piercing weapons. Swarms made of Fine or Diminuitive creatures are immune to all weapon damage. Reducing a swarm to 0 hit points or less causes the swarm shaman to immediately reassume her natural shape and begin dying as normal. Swarms cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple an opponent.

    Swarms are immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms). A swarm takes half-again as much damage (+50%) from spell or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and many evocation spells.

    Swarms made up of Diminuitive or Fine creatures are susceptible to high winds, such as those created by a gust of wind spell. For purposes of determining the effects of wind on a swarm, treat the swarm as a creature of the same size as its constituent creatures. A swarm shaman rendered unconscious by means of nonlethal damage cannot reform until her hit points exceed her nonlethal damage.

    In most swarm forms (but not all, see distraction abilities below), a swarm shaman also gains a swarm attack. A swarm of vermin don't make standard melee attacks. Instead, they deal automatic damage to any creature whose space they occupy at the end of their move, with no attack roll needed. Swarm attacks are not subject to a miss chance for concealment or cover. The amount of damage a swarm of vermin deals is based on its Hit Dice, as shown below.

    Swarm Shaman's HD ........... Swarm Base Damage
    1 - 5 ........................................ 1d6
    6 - 10 ....................................... 2d6
    11 - 15 ..................................... 3d6
    16 - 20 ..................................... 4d6
    21 or more ................................. 5d6

    Damage reduction sufficient to reduce a swarm's attack's damage to 0, being incorporeal, or other Special Abilities usually give a creature immunity (or at least resistance) to damage from a swarm. If the base creature has an acid, blood drain, poison, or other special attack, the swarm shaman gains it while in swarm form. These special attacks are only used once per swarm, regardless of the number of creatures that make it up.

    Swarms do not threaten creatures, and do not make attacks of opportunity with their swarm attack. However, they distract foes whose squares they occupy, as described below.

    Swarms possess the distraction ability. Spellcasting or concentrating on spells within the area of a swarm requires a caster level check (DC 20 + spell level). Using skills that involve patience and concentration requires a DC 20 Will save. If the swarm that the shaman assumes is made up of animals that do not have an attack or that it would not make sense for that type of animal to have a natural attack (such as butterflies), the DC for any distracting abilities is instead raised by 2.


    I realize the "wild shape" entry is quite long, but all the information there I felt was necessary for building your own swarm.

    Questions? Comments? Opinions? I think this would be a fun archetype to play. My main design philosophy was to make the ability to turn into a swarm of creatures without requiring it to be eeeviiiiiiil, as other other vermin- or swarm-related abilities I've found are. What if you want to be butterflies??

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Default Re: Swarm Shaman - Pathfinder Druid Archetype

    I know it's not as exciting as a new base class or something, but I am honestly wondering whether something like this is balanced, or anything that could be changed or fixed? Really hoping to get some help with this.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Sep 2011

    Default Re: Swarm Shaman - Pathfinder Druid Archetype

    looks good.

    if your using butterflies or some such: can they attack as normal when surrounding a target? howis this reasoned?

    im not a fan of having an animal companion as normal, in the middle of a massive swarm of wasps or butterlies theres a random rat/preying mantis?

    what about instead gaining a seperate SWARM as an animal companion, with increasing stats?
    or you could have a "favoured" swarm type, and your animal companion is either one of them, or a swarm of them if smaller than "tiny"?

    what happens if your totally seperated apart, ie if you get hit by a whirlwind or something?

    on the whole though, nice class, i love the idea of a load of butterflies/ravens/whatever just coalescing out of nowhere into an angry druid

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