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Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #4: Druid

Welcome to the fourth Level Up playtest document. This playtest contains a candidate for the first 10 levels of game’s druid class.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Stalker0

Legend
Desperately want to be more specific but also not to break the NDA, so this as much as I feel alright relating: concerns vis-a-vis Wild Shape and components are addressed elsewhere in a part of the A5E rules not quite ready to make it out into the light of day just yet.

🕵
Good to know, I noted this in my table.
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Desperately want to be more specific but also not to break the NDA, so this as much as I feel alright relating: concerns vis-a-vis Wild Shape and components are addressed elsewhere in a part of the A5E rules not quite ready to make it out into the light of day just yet.

🕵
Good enough for me, thanks!
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
You lost me on this one. Wildshape is one of the best things that happened in 5e, so much simpler and consistent than all previous editions, few corner cases to worry about, and the combat uses are powerful but well limited to a single subclass (hence easy to ban for those who just don't want it in the game).

This version goes backwards on many accounts, can you explain for what purposes? I was expecting level up to increase tactical options but with wildshape I see only more fiddly bits. Some people might say this version fixes their problems, but I don't see problems to fix.
I can only speak for myself and my table, but to us 5e's Wildshape is a complete show stopper. The feature as written is more or less '' pick a beast. While you describe your shapeshifting, you DM will frantically search for the stats of said beast, then hand you his MM that he will later need back because his monsters are in it. You can also make a bunch of cards with the beast stats to juggle along side you spell card!''

No fun.

In this version, its way more quick, is only a template you apply to your base PC instead of replacing it with another stat block: note the natural attack of your 3-5 beasts, add any particular skill or movement if any and their Str,Dex,Con. This way when you wildshape, is only a matter of picking which one, then rolling your THP; its can be contain on the same character sheet as the base character.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
The class is backwards compatible with all existing 5e druid circles. The team has not yet written their archetypes. This is a test for the base class.
backward compatiable, sure....but I thought I wouldn't even need the PHB.....so you are saying the circles LevelUP will use are somewhere else? That's kind of important here, or I'm missing something....or that I'll need the PHB to see circles?
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
backward compatiable, sure....but I thought I wouldn't even need the PHB.....so you are saying the circles LevelUP will use are somewhere else? That's kind of important here, or I'm missing something....or that I'll need the PHB to see circles?
Any core 5E archetype will work with an A5E class—that's one of the tenets for backwards compatibility here. A5E archetypes are waiting for design and development after the basics of each class (1st–10th level) have been playtested to make sure we're on the right track with everything. The final A5E book will have original archetypes for every class.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
backward compatiable, sure....but I thought I wouldn't even need the PHB.....so you are saying the circles LevelUP will use are somewhere else? That's kind of important here, or I'm missing something....or that I'll need the PHB to see circles?
You won’t need another game to see circles in the final book. For the purposes of this small playtest document, you can use the original circles.
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm reading through the Druid and I'm not sure I like the Druid ability Waste Not. As it stands, it feels like a Druid with that ability is basically a trophy hunter, rather than someone who can harvest a valuable component. It seems like the primary purpose is to make gold selling them to collectors and such.

I'd much rather see it as harvesting something that can take the place of a valuable spell component. Perhaps make the harvesting worth 25x CR towards a valuable spell component. Need 500gp worth of diamonds to cast a spell, well that horn harvested from the CR 23 blue dragon body will do the trick.

Sure, you could also sell those components and make some gold, but that wouldn't be the primary purpose of the ability.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I'm reading through the Druid and I'm not sure I like the Druid ability Waste Not. As it stands, it feels like a Druid with that ability is basically a trophy hunter, rather than someone who can harvest a valuable component. It seems like the primary purpose is to make gold selling them to collectors and such.

I'd much rather see it as harvesting something that can take the place of a valuable spell component. Perhaps make the harvesting worth 25x CR towards a valuable spell component. Need 500gp worth of diamonds to cast a spell, well that horn harvested from the CR 23 blue dragon body will do the trick.

Sure, you could also sell those components and make some gold, but that wouldn't be the primary purpose of the ability.

I like this idea a lot, feels much more in tune with "natural magic" than "big game hunting druid"
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
*** I don't actually know if this ever comes up, but since the vanilla Druid makes a specific note about it and levelup does not, I noted it for completeness.
Last I checked there are zero beasts with legendary/lair actions & effectively none with any skills worth mentioning on otherwise useful forms.
 


Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
Is it possible to have a character that can Wild Shape into another form and just be in that form for an hour? If not, why not? If not, what's the basis for having such a limited option that could otherwise lead to some very cool roleplaying and character narrative options?

I think the people who wrote this should look at how Druids were done in 13th Age. Now THAT was a Druid.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I'm reading through the Druid and I'm not sure I like the Druid ability Waste Not. As it stands, it feels like a Druid with that ability is basically a trophy hunter, rather than someone who can harvest a valuable component. It seems like the primary purpose is to make gold selling them to collectors and such.

I'd much rather see it as harvesting something that can take the place of a valuable spell component. Perhaps make the harvesting worth 25x CR towards a valuable spell component. Need 500gp worth of diamonds to cast a spell, well that horn harvested from the CR 23 blue dragon body will do the trick.

Sure, you could also sell those components and make some gold, but that wouldn't be the primary purpose of the ability.

I agree. I actually like the ''trophy gathering'' feature, but for a rangers.

Gathering component worth would be awesome. One thing I still use in my 5e game from 4e is the generic magical components used for rituals (and other costly spells): Sacred Incense (Divine), Rare Herbs (Primal), Alchemical reagents (Arcane). So instead of a diamond worth 500 gp, the cleric spends 500 gp worth of Sacred Incense. So in A5E, the druid could have a feature where, once per long rest, he can gather 1d4 x 5 gp worth of Rare Herbs.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Is it possible to have a character that can Wild Shape into another form and just be in that form for an hour? If not, why not? If not, what's the basis for having such a limited option that could otherwise lead to some very cool roleplaying and character narrative options?

I think the people who wrote this should look at how Druids were done in 13th Age. Now THAT was a Druid.

It is possible, yes. While you do know a few form, nothing forces you to use them all. You could spend almost all your waking hours in beast form (at higher level), should you want to.
 


tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
This version seems extrordinarily weak compared to the fighter & rogue we have seen, but it's really difficult to judge without the spell list, is there any estimate on when we might start seeing some of that?. This new version has limited spellcasting with "While in a wild shape you may only cast spells with a range of Self or Touch, and you can’t cast spells that deal damage or inflict conditions.", but that's basically barkskin, darkvision, guidance, longstrider, & stoneskin with every single one of those crippled by concentration."

Embraced ferocity sounds great getting 1d8*cr temphp sounds great until you consider that the CR shifts to getting access to CR2 at level 8 when 2d8 temphp is almost meaningless & thr beast form itself will be absolute trash against opponents being faced by a level 8-10 party A level 10 moon druid is going to have cr3 creatures till 12 when they unlock cr4 ones, but one batch of 3d8 & 4d8 temp hp is only a hit or two at those levels compared to something like the rogue's defense styles that are usable every round as a reaction.

The AC bump in wildshape sounds cool & all, but there are two factors there. Firat is that a lot of classes will trivially have equal or better AC at level 1 in their starting gear even compared to the level 8 cr2 awakened tree. Second is just how bad beast/plant creatures are. Take the awakened tree
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6 to hit with 2d6+4 nonmagic bludgeoning damage at level 8?... Sure that might sound impressive for a caster, until you consider that a level 5 fighter in plate with a greatsword & 18 strength has had 2d6+4 & +6 to hit since level 4 when he bumped strength from 16 to 18 is going to have +7 to hit on two attacks that each deal 2d6+4 two levels earlier and a bunch of maneuvers assuming that fighter has not found even a +1 greatsword by now or just how badly concentration & thenaturalSpell-esque casting limitations restrict the use of their spell list. Yes Moon druid would improve some of that by replacing wildshape but now they can't have magic armor adjust to barding and don't have anything like their beast form's gear merge into the base form like vice versa. I realize that it can be hard to index druid wildshapes but dndbeyond has a list & here is a pdf compellation of the available forms from all of 5e till fairly recent It's not like a moon druid is trading that grey area for cr3 & up beasts mislabeled as monstrosities & they don't have any spells worth casting in wildshape that meet the allowed requirements in their core list.

The metal armor grey area wording is cleared up, but that used to be because barkskin worked like this
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with natural armor stacking with actual armor, it's +whatever, and spells like shield being almost impossible to get otherwise. rather than this trash
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A lot of classes have starting gear with ac16 and no concentration requirements, spell slot usage, or duration on it... To add insult to injury "you are never proficient with metal armors or shields." literally nullifies feats and proficiencies gained through multiclassing. Either this is a medium armor class or it's not because "ask your gm if something other than dragonscale armor exists let alone if you can purchase it" is hardly reasonable. If some custom not metal medium armor exists the gm who created it can do the same thing as elven chain & waive the proficiency requirement. Weapons are enumerated individually, what is the point of this metal armor song & dance over "The wooden shield you start with or buy at the shop, padded, leather, LOL:hide,dragoncale, & askYourGm"? I'm not even sure how/if "more distinct weapons and armor" will affect this either.

Even within the knacks to other knacks it feels off. Compare Mountain climber the rogue's agile athlete
1602891144436.png

Agile athlete gives you a nice expertise die on athletics checks. Mountain climber gives you a ribbon not likely to come up ever by letting you be acclimated to high altitudes above 20,000 feet?... This is like the high altitude version of "I'm running an underwater campaign is be sure you can breathe water or you can't play that character" except you might use the ability t breathe underwater to cross a body of water or something in a regular campaign

embraced serenity will make land/dreams/shepherd druids better, but without the new spell list I don't know how to judge that
The druid is balanced as if it's a medium armor caster with a natural armor barkskin ac bump & very powerful spell list that created the CoDzilla, but I went into barkskin earlier & concentration absolutely cripples the druid spell list into something far from even powerful let alone capable of standing in the shade of the CodZilla.
1602895050089.png
1602895658039.png

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I feel like I'm being very negative and maybe too much so... but I don't feel like I'm capable of judging this with the a5e stuff we have so far & if I sub in core stuff the results are pretty bad. Without at least some broad strokes from the missing bits a survey would likely have a lot of very low numbers that are maybe undeserved just because what we have is practically trying to judge the quality of "A gourmet chocolate cake contains oil flour and... $missingPage" compared to "prepackaged cake mix." Who knows, maybe this will simmer across a few brain cells & seem better in a day or so.
 
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I haven't played a druid since 3e, and I barely remember her, so I can't try to convert one of my characters this time. So just my initial thoughts:

Expertise Die: I'm glad to see it's back.

Cantrips: A large part of me thinks druids should just automatically get druidcraft for free.

Wild Shape: I actually like the limited shapes, in a way. It reminds me of skin-walkers, and in a lot of mythology and stories, shapeshifters who aren't gods or monsters/spirits usually only have one shape. I also like that the druids can shapeshift into plants. Not only is this sorely needed for druids, but it's also very mythic-feeling. However, not having played a druid in forever, and not shapeshifting the time I did, I can't compare this to 5e druids in terms of ease of use.

However, I'm feeling mathematically challenged at the moment: Druids get temp hp equal to 1d4 × the creature’s CR (minimum 1d4). So this means that unless you're turning into something that's CR 2--which is going to be the maximum for most druids except for moon druids--they'll always get 1d4 temp hit points. Because most of the time, they'll be changing into creatures that are CR 1 or lower. That's not a lot of temp hp. Don't druids normally get more than that?

First-Hand Naturalist: Haven't all druids learned the intricacies of nature through first-hand experience rather than academic study?

Leyline Awareness: as @NotAYakk said, this is pretty limited, since you can get a lot of the information from animals, and it's less useful or thematic for non-forest druids. In "real life," leylines are a source of magical power. Perhaps this grants a limited version of Natural Recovery, letting you gain back a spell slot or two once per long rest. Or something else like that.

Druidic Secrets: I've never quite gotten why druids would operate in secret. Nevertheless, I like the idea, but personally, I'd frame it as "you've learned to cast quietly, so as not to disturb the tranquility of nature."

Waste Not: I'm sure players will be thrilled with the gold piece value of the corpses they loot, but are druids the type to care about it? I don't know if you're interested in working on crafting for LU, but you may want to say that druids can use the body parts to pay the gp cost for crafting. Since druids in general are likely to want to make their own armor, weapons, tools, and other equipment.

Exploration Knacks: I feel like there should be a few more here. Thematically, a temperate forest druid isn't likely going to know from tundra or desert, so a few more generic knacks should help. Trapmaking, camouflage, making natural poisons, making tools, weapons, or armor from natural ingredients (as per Waste Not, above), and so on. If anyone is going to need Exploration Knacks, druids (and rangers) is the class to want a bunch of them!

Perhaps include a few new types of land: fresh water has been sorely neglected by D&D, which seems to think that aquatic equals ocean (sorry, one of my current games takes place in a world with a world-river, and it's been hell trying to find things like creatures and adventures that are built along rivers). How about a boating ability? Rafts and canoes are perfectly in-flavor. You could use a grasslands knack as well.

I'm glad you included Eldritch Survivor, but I feel you could go a bit further and divvy that up into two, three, or more types of landscapes. Faerylands are going to feel different than Hellscapes or Blasted Heaths or Mana Wastelands, and they all have very unique dangers.

And, of course, the much-desired urban druid needs love. While "Urban Druid" is probably more of an archetype than you want for the base class, a knack for a druid who has learned to get along in a cityscape wouldn't go amiss.

Have you given any thought to having all the knacks in one chapter, and then letting some be taken by more than one class?
 
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DeviousQuail

Explorer
The changes to wildshape are interesting. I like the idea but I'm not sold on the execution. Adding THP instead of getting access to a new set of hit points is something I hope sticks around. But I would scrap the rolling and just do THP=Druid Level. Maybe max of 10. Embraced Ferocity could double the THP and any max level of THP.

I like the minimum AC but would prefer 12+Wis mod. It's technically the same range of ACs but with the ability to start higher and hit the max sooner. Certainly more powerful but perhaps that is the tradeoff for the reduction in overall HP. I may draw up a couple stat blocks and see how they compare side by side.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I can only speak for myself and my table, but to us 5e's Wildshape is a complete show stopper. The feature as written is more or less '' pick a beast. While you describe your shapeshifting, you DM will frantically search for the stats of said beast, then hand you his MM that he will later need back because his monsters are in it. You can also make a bunch of cards with the beast stats to juggle along side you spell card!''

No fun.

Yeah that sucks.

When I got to DM a Moon Druid the first time, the player was my youngest kid, probably around 6 at that time. I went to the SRD and found all the animals of the maximum CR the druid could turn into, asked the kid which ones were most cool, and printed them out on a single page (although just in case, I also printed more of them on the back of the same page). When the Druid levels up and unlocks better beasts, we print another page, so for example now we have a separate page with 5-6 good aquatic creatures. They are just extra pages along with the character sheets. We never consult books at the table.

I had Land Druids also, but for them wildshape is not really meant for combat. I wouldn't even recommend to print out stats in that case, because when you use it for exploration it's enough to know movement speeds and stealth/perception scores in almost all cases. We can check the SRD if necessary, and if the player uses a beast often, they can write a couple of numbers on their sheets.

It's a shame that the books blambers about trivialities sometimes and don't teach you how to organize yourself, then make you feel something's wrong with the game and you need to buy more to fix it. We are well organized and it IS fun.
 

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