How useful are druids in deserts?


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    How useful are druids in deserts?

    This came up last week as we were gaming. Many of the druids spells are plant based or designed to manipulate plant life; in fact, many of a druids special abilities seem dependent on plants and/or woodland areas. With that in mind, how useful are druids in desert settings, or for that matter, any area other than forests? While I'm not claiming that no plant life exists in deserts, it tends to be a bit scarce.
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    From a purely 3.5 perspective there's quite a lot of spells in Sandstorm the make the druid pretty handy to have around in a desert. And anyone who can cast Create Water and Endure Elements is bound to be pretty popular.

    But you're generally right - the druid spell list largely assumes Generic Temperate Quasi-European Fantasy World, and isn't really optimised for desert (or arctic, or deep-sea, or high alpine, or airborne) conditions.

    As a GM, if no other sourcebooks were available, I'd certainly consider allowing a druid PC to use 'reskinned' versions of spells such as entangle that operate using sand rather than vegetation - obviously such a spell would have to be memorised separately from the regular plant-based variety.

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    Druids can still wildshape, spontaneously summon animals and have a decent list of buff/blasting/healing spells. I don't think the loss of plant control spells will have any real impact on their effectiveness.

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    How effective is a druid in the desert?

    It depends on what the DM and the group thinks a desert is. The archetypical desert of nothing but sand dunes is relatively rare in the real world. Take a look at pictures of the American southwest. Plants remain plentiful in most arid regions, especially plants with thorns and twisting vines, which is the bread and butter of the druid's plant-based magic. True, there aren't many trees, but there are lots of low-growing plants such as grasses, shrubs, and flowers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by humble minion View Post
    From a purely 3.5 perspective there's quite a lot of spells in Sandstorm the make the druid pretty handy to have around in a desert. And anyone who can cast Create Water and Endure Elements is bound to be pretty popular.

    But you're generally right - the druid spell list largely assumes Generic Temperate Quasi-European Fantasy World, and isn't really optimised for desert (or arctic, or deep-sea, or high alpine, or airborne) conditions.

    As a GM, if no other sourcebooks were available, I'd certainly consider allowing a druid PC to use 'reskinned' versions of spells such as entangle that operate using sand rather than vegetation - obviously such a spell would have to be memorised separately from the regular plant-based variety.
    Sandstorm does not just have desert druid spells but also describes desert druids cultures, especially the Bhuka.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmrscorpio View Post
    How effective is a druid in the desert?

    It depends on what the DM and the group thinks a desert is. The archetypical desert of nothing but sand dunes is relatively rare in the real world. Take a look at pictures of the American southwest. Plants remain plentiful in most arid regions, especially plants with thorns and twisting vines, which is the bread and butter of the druid's plant-based magic. True, there aren't many trees, but there are lots of low-growing plants such as grasses, shrubs, and flowers.
    This.

    I think the question you are really asking is, "How effective is a druid in an erg?"

    The answer is, "Probably less effective than they are when they are surrounded by vegetation, but still effective." My response questions would be, "Does every class need to be equally effective in every situtation?", and, "Given that Druid is considered by many to be the strongest class in the game, isn't it ok if the Druid is minimally less effective in some relatively rare situations?"
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    If you have Sandstorm: switch out some class features, pick up some great spells and a desert animal companion. You're just as good (if not better) than a core druid in the woods.

    If you don't: avoid plant-based spells (and Call Lightning) and make sure your animal companion can handle the weather. You're maybe a tiny notch down from a core druid in the woods; remembering that druids are the most powerful class you're still pretty useful.
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    Quote Originally Posted by humble minion View Post
    But you're generally right - the druid spell list largely assumes Generic Temperate Quasi-European Fantasy World, and isn't really optimised for desert (or arctic, or deep-sea, or high alpine, or airborne) conditions.
    Or UNDERGROUND.

    Considering how much stuff takes place in dungeons and the underdark, there's no spells that work underground except the few Stoneshape/spike spells out there.

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    In general, I think Druids should be more useful in areas where the terrain or natural elements or more dangerous or deadly. With Sandstorm, Druid's pretty good in a desert. Without it, he can at least keep the group hydrated and not suffering from heat stroke. The core spell list is pretty limited, though, not in a power way, more of a "why are druids only familiar with forest terrain?" kind of way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rechan View Post
    Or UNDERGROUND.

    Considering how much stuff takes place in dungeons and the underdark, there's no spells that work underground except the few Stoneshape/spike spells out there.
    Call Lightning works underground.
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