Monday, October 28, 2013

ACKS: Sorcery! : The Colour of Magic

Previously, we combined the Arcane and Divine sources into a single "Sorcery" class build category.

Next, we'll import some Swords & Sorcery flavor.

The Colour of Magic

For the full Swords & Sorcery effect, some magicks must be worse than others, else, whom will the barbarians immediately attack, and whom will they merely greatly mistrust?

We have handy categories available to us thanks to the ACKS:PC, and we'll utilize those to quickly divvy up the spells between the categories of Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic. (or Good, Neutral, Evil, or White, Grey, Black, etc.)

I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty of each spell available. There's wiggle room all over, and to each his own. The table here paints a broad brush, following the example that Crypts & Things led with, though ACKS's spell selection is much larger.

Essentially, it boils down to a checklist:
  1. Is it necromancy?
  2. Is the only purpose of the spell dealing damage/death?
  3. Does it compel humanoids to act or transform against their will?
  4. Does it summon creatures from beyond the natural world or in unnatural ways?
  5. Is it a reversed version of a Cleric spell?
then it's probably Chaotic/Evil/Black.

Crypts & Things posits that Teleportation and things like Invisibility are Chaotic, as they put you in or through some shadowy netherworld; it's a neat enough concept I dropped Teleportation into Chaotic in this example.

And there's exceptions - take the Divine 1st level spell Fellowship, ACKS pg 76. It's a low-level Charm affecting intelligent creatures. Creatures treat the caster as if they had a 2d4 higher CHA on a failed save. It's got an out, though, in that a successful save penalizes the caster's interactions with the ones that made it. It's probably Neutral/Grey, but I'd completely accept Chaotic/Black.

There's a decent amount of wiggle-room in Neutral, and I'm probably being generous.

That Old Black Magic

So, you've decided to dabble in the raw power of Chaos! What's next? Let's ask Conan, in the form of Mongoose's d20 Conan - the closest d20 ever got to having it's own Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. It had a very original system of magic, completely divorced from anything Vancian, and that included a chance to corrupt yourself working with powers beyond what mortal men should toy with.

For each Chaotic spell you add to your repertoire, you must make a Corruption check - make a save vs spells, with a penalty equal to the spell's level. If you fail, gain a point of Corruption.

For each Chaotic spell you cast, save vs Spells, unmodified. For each failure, gain a point of Corruption. If you gain a point of Corruption,  you must make a second save vs Death or be shaken, taking a -2 penalty to all rolls and AC for 1d3 rounds.

Corruption has increasing effects.

Corruption 1-3 (Troubled): You are troubled; having occasional nightmares full of horror; each time you sleep, roll 1d6. On a result of 1, you toss and turn all night, and you may not recover spells or regain hit points. This is as result (16-20),(2) on the Tampering With Mortality table on ACKS pg107. If you also gain that side effect from that table, the effects occur on a roll of 1 or 2 on 1d6.

Consuming sufficient quantities of alcohol or other sedatives grant you a +1 to the 1d6 roll. The next morning, you suffer a -1 to all rolls for 1d6 hours.

Corruption 4-6 (Disturbed): You are disturbed and distracted. Each time you sleep, roll 1d6. On a result of 2 or less, roll 1d3. The rolled effect lasts until the next time you rest.

It is a fine line between calming one's inner demons, and addiction, and you may cross it. Becoming addicted to a substance grants you a +1 on the 1d6 roll and a +1 on the subsequent 1d3 roll. Every hour you do not consume some amount of what you are addicted to, suffer a cumulative -1 penalty to all saving throws.

Do note the nightmares still continue while you sleep. They don't bother you anymore.

Corruption 7-9 (Detached): You are becoming detached from the normal ebb and flow of the natural world. The lives of other creatures seem to be nothing but tools to use or obstacles to destroy. You suffer a -2 reaction penalty with normal animals, and they will not bear you as a rider. You gain a +2 to reaction rolls to intimidate. You gain a +2 to reaction rolls with Chaotic creatures or individuals.

Each day, roll a 1d6 on the Disturbed table, appending the additional effects below:

You may start or continue an addiction to dull your remaining moral core to receive a +1 on the roll. Every hour you do not partake, suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls.

Corruption 10-13 (Corrupt): You are fully corrupted. The Chaos infusing you begins to reveal itself physically on your body. You take an additional -2 reaction roll penalty with normal animals, and a -2 penalty with all non-chaotic intelligent creatures. This stacks with Detached modifiers.

Roll each day on the Detached table. You may still gain a -1 to the roll by holding an addiction.

Additionally, each time you reach Corrupt, roll on the following table, and record the result, and the roll. When you reach Lost, do not roll - choose the effect that matches your roll on this table.

Reroll if you gain a corruption you've already suffered. If your reroll is the same result, or you already have all the effects, roll instead on the Effects of Being Lost.

Corruption 14+ (Lost): Chaos erupts from your body, causing a permanent change. Take your previous result on the Effects of Corruption table and choose the equivalent result.

You must roll on the Detached table once per rest. Reroll results of 1 forever more, no matter your Corruption score - you are beyond doubts. You may no longer gain modifiers from addiction.

If you recognize the structure of the above system, congrats! You also own/read Mongoose's d20 Conan system, which was actually pretty cool!

Continuing Effects of Corruption

Continue to track and add Corruption as the sorcerer continues to earn it. Every 10 points, roll on the Effects of Corruption table. Every 14 points, roll on the Effects of Being Lost table (so, at 24 and 28, 38 and 42, 56 and 60, etc.) The lists provided are by no means exhaustive, and the DM is encouraged to come up with their own, or inventive ways to double-up on the existing list. Rerolling duplicates, at the very minimum, gets any given sorcerer to....178 Corruption, I believe.

I'm pondering the existence of a third table with more severe effects, but don't have anything solid at the moment.

Acquiring Corruption

So, what's the math on this? A sorcerer's Spells save changes every 3 levels, starting at 12+ and going down one at 4,7,10, and 13.

Let's see how that looks at various bonus values from ability score, class/race power or proficiency:

A 1st-3rd level Sorceror can cast, on average, 25 spells before reaching 14 Corruption. A 1st level Sorceror might burn up in a month, essentially, if he casts Magic Missile once per day. At the end of the table, sufficiently high bonuses may mean you're never susceptible to Corruption - which, as part of a custom race, say, an analogue of ACKS' Zaharans, can make perfect sense.

Shedding Corruption

Corruption may be healed over time, through deliberate action. It also may be shed as a molted skin, by just letting your mind go.

This option requires the most work on the DM's part to make sure these insanities actually plague the character, rather than being a notation on a character sheet. They don't work for everybody.

Minor Insanities

By letting your mind loose, just a little, you may shed Corruption. Each minor insanity takes away 1d4 points of Corruption. You must (should) restrict yourself to bed rest for 1d6 days.

Delusion: This may be a mild paranoia, or a complete misunderstanding of a minor aspect of how the world works. You may believe that Lich King of Marladai prefers diplomacy over conflict, viewing his trampling over the baronies of South Tarshere as simply helpful garrisoning. You may be excessively tight-lipped around stonemasons, knowing they're part of a grand conspiracy.

Phobia: Choose a common animal, creature, or type of creature (ambulating fungus, perhaps). Whenever you are in the presence of a creature that can trigger the phobia, make a save vs Death or be panicked, as if you failed a save versus the Fear spell.

Insomnia: Sleep eludes you. Save vs Death every morning or wake up fatigued. You are at a -1 to all rolls and throws that day.

Major Insanities

By relinquishing yourself to a full breakdown, you may shed more. Each major insanity takes away 2d4 points of Corruption. You must (should) restrict  yourself to bed rest for 2d6 days until the mania has passed.

Paranoia: This is similar to delusion, but much more severe. The sorcerer believes in a number of highly personalized delusions, all relating to persecution or treachery, from all fronts.

Voices: The voices in the sorcerer's head become more insistent. Anytime the sorcerer is in a stressful situation (at the DM's purview) he must save vs Paralysis or become controlled by the GM for 1d6 turns.

Hallucination: The sorcerer sees objects that are not there, and real objects may be distorted. The sorcerer takes a -1 penalty to Surprise rolls, and the same to all melee or ranged attack throws.

Cleansing Corruption

A sorcerer can renounce the call of Chaos to clean themselves of Corruption.

He must first divest himself of all Chaotic spells from his repertoire, and any remaining taint - this takes one week per Chaotic spell of rest, meditation, and fasting. Afterwards, the sorcerer must save vs Death once per week. Success means he reduces his Corruption score by one point.

Digressing from this path and reengaging Chaos causes each failed save to result in 2 points of Corruption gained until the sorcerer is back at his highest level of Corruption originally gained.

A sorcerer may never reduce his or her Corruption score below 1, nor may he or she divest themselves of the physical manifestations of the Chaos that once suffused their being via this method. Likewise, insanities gained may not be healed in this manner.

Forgiving Corruption

A sufficiently powerful priest of a Lawful god, if such a thing exists in the world, may forgive a properly penitent sorcerer of Corruption, the physical mutations of Chaos, and any insanities.

The sorcerer must first divest herself of all Chaotic spells from her repertoire, taking one week per Chaotic spell of rest, meditation, and fasting in a location of the priest's choice.

Once that task is complete, the sorcerer must submit herself to a Quest, as the spell, from the priest. This will often be a task beneficial to the priest's church, and may also be for resources that will aid the priest in the last step.

That last step is a Miracle, cast by the priest, on behalf of the sorcerer, to remove all Corruption and it's effects from the sorcerer.

It would be remiss to not note that the priest, and that priest's god, will continue to expect Lawful behavior from the sorcerer from that moment on, and that ramifications for the sorcerer that breaks that trust may be dire.

Escaping Corruption

The final option available to the sorcerer is apotheosis. A sorcerer may transform himself into an inhuman form, and in doing so remove all of himself that Chaos taints. This may be via necromancy (lichdom, perhaps), transmogrification (into a dragon, maybe), or encapsulation (into a construct, for example).

The sorcerer's Corruption ceases to exist after transformation, and he need not check for gaining Corruption.

Middle Road: Grey Magic

To be honest, I'm drawing a blank on this one. Crypts & Things does this as HP damage, which I'm not necessarily a fan of.

 We either get a bit (more) fiddly with things, or instead grant boons to those who have only White magic in their repertoires, or, alternatively, muddle White and Grey together, and just have Law magic vs Chaos magic.

An "easy" alternative would be to continue to utilize the Corruption system presented above, but slow it down greatly:

Neutral, or Grey magic, has some base in this world; and the flow of those energies is much less corrupting. Corruption checks gain a bonus of (7 - spell level), +6 for a first level spell, down to +1 for a 6th level spell.

For each Neutral spell you add to your repertoire, you must make a Corruption check - make a save vs spells, modified by the relevant bonus. If you fail, gain a point of Corruption.

For each Neutral spell you cast, save vs Spells, with the relevant bonus. For each failure, gain a point of Corruption. If you gain a point of Corruption,  you must make a second save vs Death or be shaken, taking a -2 penalty to all rolls and AC for 1d3 rounds.

This takes the previously shown table (Avg. Chaotic Spells Loosed) and shifts it over to the left quite a bit - in fact, I think that a character with a +4 total bonus to saves vs. Spells would never be subject to Corruption.

A 1st level Sorcerer with no save bonuses at all would reach Corruption 14 after 140 castings of a level 1 spell, on average. Compare that with 25 on the original table.

Characters with a proper proficiency or high enough stats may not really need to worry about Corruption from Neutral magic, which seems like a good enough feature.

Removing Corruption would work in essentially the same way.

The DCC Way

The current gold standard in spell corruption is the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG; and it'd be certainly flavorful to steal their corruption system outright. It's more direct than what's presented above, but it also doesn't build upon itself. This would require a bit of DM research to determine if what's presented in the DCC effects would fit the tone of her game, as some of the effects are...complex.

For each Chaotic spell cast, roll a Corruption check. On a roll of a natural 1 or 2, corruption has occured. Roll either according to the nearest matching DCC spell (Animal Summoning, for example, has a more detailed corruption table) or a 1d6 for a more general corruption result, where 6 indicates a Greater Corruption, 4-5 a Major Corruption, or 1-3 a Minor Corruption, as on the DCC RPG Corruption tables.

For each Neutral spell, roll a Corruption check. Corruption happens on a natural 1.

Otherworldy Promises

In the previous post, we talked about Turn Undead, and made a possible set of proficiencies:

Lesser Pact: You have reached an agreement with an otherworldly being, possibly a god. You may Turn or Control undead as befits your alignment and that of the being as a default Cleric of half your level. You may also utilize Divine Power, as explained in Chapter 7 of ACKS.

Greater Pact: You have solidified your relationship with an otherworldly being. You may Turn or Control undead as befits your aligntment and that of the being as a default Cleric of your level. You must already have a Lesser Pact in place with the same being.
For any given "cleric" build, Turn Undead is much more "expensive" - it doesn't come prepackaged with a Divine casting progression.

One way around that is to expand it's reach.

First off, since we've drawn a strong dividing line between Law and Chaos as it comes to magic, we can therefore declare certain creatures - summoned from elsewhere - as Chaotic.

Allow Turn Undead to effect them as undead of their Hit Die +2 -  your common Manes would turn as a Ghoul, a Marilith as a Vampire, a Balor as an Infernal.

Secondly, allow them to turn Chaotic sorcerers of corruption level 10 or more. Treat the sorcerer as an undead of their Hit Die +4 - the particular Detached result overrides this value. Treat results of T or D as a fear effect.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

ACKS: Sorcery!

In a previous post, I'd expanded the ACKS "caster types", and thereby the categories you can spend build points on in custom classes, with the Ovatic type, which would include things like Druids and other nature/world oriented spellcasters.

Now, let's go the other way. It is a staple of Sword & Sorcery that the priests and clerics are the same sorts of charlatans the wizards are; they just dress theirs up in damnation or salvation, depending on the flavor. They're a specific oddity of DND. In fact, Delta's DND Hotspot put up a post while I was working on my own that shows this very thing revealed through OD&D's Gods, Demigods and Heroes itself, as pointed out by Geoffrey McKinney of Carcosa - it was apparently tough to justify the class from even mythological sources.

I'm inspired by Crypts & Things' combination of the Cleric and Mage into one class; the Magician.

As a bit of balance, the general spell list is then split out into three classifications of magic - "White", which are generally the clerical spells, and spells that would align with the side of Law, "Grey" magic, which gets into the more "wizardry" selection - a lot of the utility spells and non-direct-damage spells fall into this area. Finally, "Black" magic contains direct damage spells, necromancy, and any sort of summoning or planar movement/communication (which in the setting includes invisibility).

The assumed setting in C&T is strongly typed as Swords & Sorcery, and therefore the spell list is divided into how 'unnatural' each spell is. White magic operates as normal; casting a Grey magic spell causes HP damage, and Black magic calls for a Sanity check - also, even memorizing a Black magic spell causes CON damage (equal to the spell level) if they do not sacrifice a sentient creature per spell being memorized. The Sanity mechanic is simple, and not terribly punitive.

It's a good strong Law vs Chaos framework, where Chaos is winning.

I'm attempting here to blend the Cleric and Mage together to some sort of middle-ish ground, it's possible some decisions may be too generous for some, particularly in spell & XP progression.


In the ages lost to history, there were the serpentmen, who ruled the planet through dweomercraft; binding the lesser races and their own creations to their will.

The secrets of sorcery were no secrets at all, however; plainly written in the stars of the sky and the lay of the earth. Man, true inheritor of the world, bided his time in secret, having the Power but waiting for the Time. Eventually, the serpentmen overextended, and caused catastrophe; weakened, they fell. Their names now history, their great works buried, they are forgotten to most.

Man made attempt to further master the Art, sometimes to poor end. Empires rise and fall, civilization ebbs and flows from enlightened Spring to tyrannical Winter. The quest to channel the power of sorcery for ends good or ill rides eternal.

There are no meddlesome gods holding back secrets from the faithful; nor do those same gods deny access to certain forms of magic from the infidel. The secret structures of the multiverse are laid out for any of the enlightened to see; to what purpose one bends these forces is upon their soul alone - often, dissolution is the best a soul can hope for.

Sorcery Value

The Sorcery Value determines the extent of the class's sorcerous power. Assign 0 to 4 Build Points to
the Sorcery Value, noting down powers and XP cost.

Sorcery 1: A value of 1 gives the class the ability to cast spells and engage in magical research as a sorcerer of 1/3 the character's level, as shown in the Effective Level By Value table.

Sorcery 2: A Sorcery Value of 2 gives the class the ability to cast spells and engage in magical research as a sorcerer of 2/3rds the character's level.

Sorcery 3: A Sorcery Value of 3 gives the class the ability to cast spells and engage in magical research as a sorcerer of the character's actual level.

Sorcery 4: A Sorcery Value of 4 gives the class the ability to cast spells and engage in magical research as a sorcerer of the same level. Available spells are multiplied by 1.33, rounded.

The XP cost for each Sorcery value follows that of the Mage. After 8th level, a Sorcerer requires an additional 150,000XP for each level.

Sorcery Saving and Attack Throw Progression

The Sorcerer takes Petri. & Para., Blast & Breath, Staves & Wands, and Spells from the Mage. It takes Poison & Death partially from the Cleric (the progression is slower), representing the inner fortitude the Sorcerer develops from harnessing magical energies.

Sorcery Strongholds

A class constructed with a Sorcery value of 2+ may choose either the "Fortified Church", "Cloister" (from the ACKS:PC Priestess) or "Sanctum and Dungeon" stronghold type, or any other stronghold type marked for use by spellcasters of any type.

The Sanctum stronghold type may fit better with Sorcerers following the classic 'Wizard' archetype, ruling alone from a tower or other structure, and cycling through apprentices as time passes.

The Fortified Church or Cloister works better for those whose quest for power may spawn cults or other fringe organizations, or an established religion which includes some use of sorcery as an acceptable or encouraged behavior.

Sorcerous Repertoire and Rituals

Sorcery is based on the same foundations as the Arcane, in that it will require the management of the spellcaster's Repertoire, and extra spells are gained from a high Intelligence.

It uses the Arcane limits for Rituals - up to 9th level. Sorcerers may perform advanced dweomercraft of all types allowed to Mages and Clerics, such as cross-breeds, constructs, and necromantic rituals.

Sorcery Spell Progression

Presented is one of many possible options. The table is a "best of" of ACKS' Arcane and Divine spellcasting tables. 

Use the Arcane or Divine table if you'd like, or my Ovatic table. Do a best-of or averaging with any two or all three.

As in all things, the choice is up to the resident DM. This document is proceeding with the idea of attempting to average-out the capabilities of the Mage and Cleric into something new, with the caveat that it will err towards the  Mage side when logic dictates, as it would with XP progression; but be somewhat permissive.

Dividing the spell progression for values of Sorcery less than 3 will follow the same rules as for Arcane.

Sorcery & Armor

Sorcerers may cast in whatever armor they are proficient with.

Sorcery & Magic Items

There are a handful (ok, one I've found so far) of magical items in the ACKS core rulebook that may need some massaging.

Rod of Resurrection: At a minimum, eliminate the Cleric/Bladedancer entry, using the Mage entry for all types of sorcerers. Alternatively, if the sorcerer has a connection to the divine through the taking of possible Turn Undead proficiencies, allow them to resurrect at the Cleric/Bladedancer cost. The same choices can be made for who can use the item.

The Change in Class

So, what happens to our existing classes under this?

The Mage gets quite a boost, actually. Sorcery 4 grants him more spells and a faster road to the 4th and 5th level spells, plus gaining the ability to have Divine spells in his repertoire at a advantageous level.

The Cleric gets a bit mugged. A Fighting 1, HD 1, Sorcery 2 build maxes the cleric out at a 9th level of spellcasting ability, with a 3/3/3/2/2 spell load, as compared to 6/5/5/5/4. It's about half, but it's still the same maximum level.

On top of that, it loses the built-in Turn Undead.

In return, though, it gets a lot of Arcane spells, but also the unlimited, but costly, "repertoire" spellbook system.

The Bladedancer fares the same, as does the Dwarven Craftpriest, though he maxes out at 10th level as a 7th level caster, at 3/2/2/1/1 spell load.

The Elves make out well, if you keep the 1:1 ratio between Sorcery progression and Elf progression, as do the Zaharans. Gnomes get a slight boost - they'll go 1/3 level Sorcery at Gnome 2/3, and then 2/3rds level at Gnome 4.

Dropping into some ACKS specific things, Nobirans get turned around completely, and the Wonderworker most so. Instead of being Nobirus 2/Arcane 4, they'd likely be Nobirus 2/Sorcery 4, thereby having a virtual Sorcery 6.

If we keep our "thirds" progression (1/3, 2/3, 1), rather than (1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1) as Arcane does, that gets us:

Nobiran Wonderworker: Nobirus 2/Sorcery 4 - spell multiplier of 100%, max level 12 (Nobiran Heroic Spirit).

At level 12, he'd have a spell load of 10/10/8/8/6/4.

That's....rough, but, if we just straight add up what the Wonderworker gets by default:

Arcane: 4/4/3/3/3/2
Divine: 5/5/4/4/3

Total: 9/9/7/7/6/2

That's one less at spell level 1 through 4, with the additional restriction that all his spells are sourced from an arcane-style repertoire. That cuts the number of spells he has access to almost in half - his Divine "repertoire" had 10 spells in it by itself, each level!

Whence The Cleric? 

Speaking of, where does the concept of the armored, faith-powered spellcaster lie?

The major thing we lose here by dropping the Divine category is the acquisition of Turn Undead.

If that's important to your world, add it back. We know from the ACKS:PC Turn Undead at half-level value is worth a proficiency (see Grey Lore, etc.) A Turn Undead proficiency with no added value but the ability to take it twice, the second time for full-cleric Turn Undead would probably be simplest. That would be a good way to unlock the use of Divine Power for spell research/etc.  as well...let's do this:

Lesser Pact: You have reached an agreement with an otherworldly being, possibly a god. You may Turn or Control undead as befits your alignment and that of the being as a default Cleric of half your level. You may also utilize Divine Power, as explained in Chapter 7 of ACKS.
Greater Pact: You have solidified your relationship with an otherworldly being. You may Turn or Control undead as befits your alignment and that of the being as a default Cleric of your level. You must already have a Lesser Pact in place with the same being. 

Stopping here, we leave Sorcery as a simple marriage of the divine & arcane, not looking to challenge any of the default DND assumptions about spell types - that Protection from Evil isn't different from Fireball, from a moral perspective.

The fictional source does do so, however, and so does Crypts & Things. We'll look at that next.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Druid (ACKS Class)

Source is, obviously, the 1E/OSRIC Druid, with a bit of other stuff thrown in.

October! A good month for druidism.

I'm a big proponent of the "science & source" of magic, and having this third wing of magic that comes from the natural world, be it some sort of Gaia-style subsentience or ley lines or the Force or what-have-you appeals to me. Specializing a wizard or subclassing a cleric just doesn't do it for me - let the clerics to their gods and the wizards their stars.

The Druid

In ancient, dark ages, mankind found itself under the thumb of the races that had come before it; enslaved, put to labor, danger, horror, and death. Mankind was a fledging race that looked to never come into it's own.

In secret grottoes and dark hollows, though, the Wise labored, and with stolen knowledge of the workings of the arcane, found the secret magicks tucked away within the very earth, within the essences of the natural creatures and plants, and, perhaps most importantly, within humanity itself. This knowledge was hoarded, kept secret, passed only along to the trusted few - and used, lightly, gently, a nudge here and there to turn the paths of fate. When the hubris of the ancient ones finally brought about their downfall, the Druids were there, and guided mankind from it's bloody birth into infancy.

As with all children, they grow, they do not listen, they take paths unlooked for - they rebel. Today mankind calls upon selfish gods who delight in strife. They listen to the same whispers of distant, incomprehensible entities that taught the ancient races their power. They strip the lands that gave them succor in those dark times, erecting cold, lifeless stone walls to shield themselves from the cycles of life.

The druids, ever patient parents, still watch over humanity. There is balance in all things, and their power is still used, lightly, gently, a nudge here and there to turn the excesses of mankind back to balance. Though, sometimes, a more direct reprimand has been required, as with any unruly child...

Druids are introduced to the natural combative ability in every human. At first level, Druids hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of  10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws by two points every four levels of experience, just as clerics. Druids are only introduced to a small selection of weapons, always made of natural materials. They may wield clubs, daggers, slings, and staffs. They may only wear armors of natural, non-metal material of leather or lighter. They may wield shields (of natural, non-metal materials)..

They may use any magical item usable by ovatic casters. Druids gain spells at the regular progression for ovatic casters.

Druids know the druid's cant, a secret language of sign language and symbols known to all druids, dating back to prehistory. They share this language with no outsiders. They are also introduced to the secrets of flame and lightning, and gain a +2 bonus to saves versus the same. They are attuned to nature's patterns, and gain a +1 to surprise when in the wilderness. 

At second level, a druid has learned to be one with the natural world, and is a friend of birds and beasts.  She  can identify plants and fauna with a proficiency throw of 11+, and understands the subtle body language and moods of birds and beasts (though they may not understand the character). She gains +2 to all reaction rolls when encountering normal animals, and can take animals as henchmen. At 3rd level, the druid can go to ground, seemingly disappearing into woods and underbrush with a proficiency throw of 3+ on 1d20. In dungeons, if the character is motionless and quiet in cover, he can escape detection with a proficiency throw of 14+ on 1d20.

The secrets of nature begin to unravel for the druid at level 4. She may speak with animals at will, tapping into the common sentience that suffuses the world. At 5th level, she begins to understand the mutability of individuality, and the power that is the hive, the flock, or the pack. She has a thousand faces, and may alter her shape every 8 hours; each alteration lasting for 6 turns plus 1 turn per level (after fifth). 

The druid, at fifth level, may also begin researching spells, and may craft potions and scrolls.

At seventh level, the druid's study of the places of power in the world grant her the secrets of immunity to fey charms, and she is no longer seduced by their powers. At level nine, the druid is able to tap into the vital essences that suffuse all life, and extend her longevity. She becomes ageless and enjoys a lifespan three times longer than normal. She also becomes immune to ghoul paralysis. The druid may create more powerful magic items, such as weapons, rings, and staves - these must be made of natural, non-metal materials - at this level.

Also at ninth level, a druid may establish a grove. This must be within a wilderness area, and if the area the grove is in ever becomes borderlands or civilized (a process the druid is most likely to resist) the grove must be moved. The grove cannot be used to secure a domain. When established, all ordinary animals within 5 miles will become friendly and helpful to the druid. She will then attract 1d6 apprentices of 1st-3rd level plus 2d6 normal men and women seeking to become druids. Their wisdom scores will be above average, but many will become discouraged from the rigorous mental training and quit after 1d6 months, if failing a throw of 14+ modified by their Wisdom modifier. Those who succeed become 1st level druids. Each year the druid tends to her grove, she may attract an additional 1d6 normal men, until she has a maximum of 6 apprentices of any level, and 12 normal men, studying at any time.

From this grove, the druid may engage in several types of hijinks, designed to keep an eye on the world of man. The druid may engage qualified followers or henchmen in carousing, spying, and treasure hunting hijinks. If capable of doing so, the druid may be able to send especially prepared animal henchmen on the same, whether normal animals of magically enhanced intelligence or more naturally intelligent animals, such as the black-winged crebain.

For reasons lost to prehistory, the upper levels of the druidic hierarchy have strict limitations. There may only be a total of 6 High Druids (12th level), 3 Archdruids (13th) and a single Supreme Druid (14th) at any given time. If a druid gains enough experience to increase to one of these contested levels, a vacancy must be made. A formal challenge is issued, and the competitors resolve their conflict through a contest of some kind, often, but not always, a duel.

The loser of the contest goes down to the next lowest level (dropping experience to the very minimum required). If that previous level is also contested, further contests may be required.

A druid who forsakes this hierarchy is forsaken in turn, and her grove will be occupied and taken over by druids chosen by the High Druids, as will any other groves established by the forsaking druid, when found. While a grove established by a forsaken druid will still gain the benefit of friendly wildlife, she will only attract 1d2 normal men each year, and none when the grove is first established. She may not rejoin the hierarchy unless she reaches 14th level, and successfully challenges and replaces the Supreme Druid. There are likely no rules to that particular contest.

At 11th level, the druid may learn and cast ovatic ritual spells of great power (6th and 7th level), as well as forming a triptych to cast ritual spells of the 8th and 9th levels.  She may craft magical constructs such as golems and animated statues, which must be made of natural, non-metal materials.

Druid Proficiency List: Alchemy, Animal Husbandry, Animal Training,  Battle Magic, Berserkergang, Command, Contemplation, Diplomacy, Divine Blessing, Divine Health, Elementalism, Fighting Style, Healing, Laying on Hands, Leadership, Loremastery, Magical Engineering, Magical Music, Naturalism, Passing Without Trace, Prestidigitation, Quiet Magic, Sensing Evil, Sensing Power, Theology, Tracking, Unflappable Casting, Weapon Focus

DESIGN NOTES: Imagine, if you will, a single wilderness hex, surrounded by 6 borderland hexes, in the middle of a civilized area of hexes. That's a grove in there - it and it's druid have resisted all efforts to civilize the area, and after a while, it just becomes a terrain feature - the haunted, spooky, fey forest. It doesn't necessarily follow ACKS' default hex type assumptions, but it's cool, and that counts.
ACKS BUILD POINTS: Hit Dice 1, Fighting 1, Thievery 0, Ovatic 2
TRADEOFFS: The 1.5 Ovatic proficiencies were used on the +2 vs Fire/Elec (1/2), and Attunement to Nature. Weapons were taken to Restricted and dropped a Weapon Style for powers at 2,4,9. Armor was taken from Unrestricted to Narrow for powers at 3,5,7.
HOUSE RULES USED: Ovatic Spellcasting