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


  1. Are the casting rules (if significantly different from cleric) and spell list forthcoming, or already done somewhere else? I much prefer this to shaman; may steal.

    1. The Ovatic Spellcasting is linked at the very bottom; under Design Notes>House Rules Used. It's a mix of the cleric and arcane styles.

      There's no spell list as of yet; it would be completely fine to use the OSRIC Druid's spell list and spells - that's what I'd be doing anyway; I'm not a fan of reinventing the wheel on that one. I've done a cursory examination of that list and there's nothing that really stands out as out-of-line with ACKS's assumption, nor really should there be much, since it's basically moving from B/X to 1E.

    2. Ah, this is so! Thanks! And yeah, OSRIC's list ought to do.