D&D (2024) Playtest 8 Druid discussion

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
Come on WotC, let druids wild shape into owl bears. It's in your own movie! This just seems like such obvious, low-hanging fruit that I cannot understand why WotC isn't grabbing it.
Similar to this, I'm surprised the initial recommendation for wild shapes aren't related to Doric either. Deer, mouse and axebeak would be much more fun than riding horse, spider and wolf
 

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Horwath

Legend
As long as I can play a spider from 2 to 20, and not be forced to take mammoth.

Which can be done plenty of ways.

Including (but not limited to)
having 7 different spiders.
Or 1 spider with scaling stats.
Or some blend of those.
small spider: lvl 2
str 12, dex 16, AC 13+wis
medium spider: lvl 2
str 16, dex 12, AC 13+wis
tiny spider: lvl 4
str 8, dex 16, AC 13+wis
large spider: lvl 4
str 18, dex 12, AC 13+wis
huge spider: moon lvl 6
str 22, dex 12, AC 14+wis
gargantuan spider: moon lvl 14
str 26, dex 12, AC 15+wis

add your proficiency to attacks.
 

I love the flavor of the Druid and how the class description presents it.

Here is a running commentary on the description.



Wisdom as Perception, makes sense for animal senses and a class in tune with nature.

As an auxiliary ability, I also get an Intelligence vibe, as the attention to the dynamic complexities of an ecology is sophisticated and precisely technical. There is a wisefolk ambiance of sages, experts, and healers.


I read "forces of nature" to mean animism, and generally the class handles this sacred concept well. I might emphasize even more, the Druid is a member of a community of "neighbors" that include animals, plants, weather, and elements, who value mutual respect and helpfulness (or at least civility) as neighbors.

The attention is correctly the forces of the nature of the Material Plane.


Here the player has a choice of character concepts: animism ("nature itself"), polytheism ("a deity"), or both.

My own interest in the Druid class is animism.

The polytheism is also an option. The historical druids are a priestly caste who serve Celtic deities. If D&D is going to appropriate the cultural term "druid", I like that a player can use the class to try represent a mythologically accurate druid as a character concept. The D&D Druid is more like a mish-mash of the reallife Celtic traditions about druid and bard, plus later fairy tales, and modern environmental concerns. Yet, since the historical druid itself remains obscure and tangled, the D&D versions seem somewhat reasonable enough. A mythologically accurate Druid would be a member of a sacred clan, whose members had a choice to serve as a priest. The ordination meant a sacred status who could not longer use weapons as warriors, but who defended the community by means of magical spells instead. The D&D Druid fighting by wielding weather magic, buffing allies, and attacking in Wild Shape kinda have this vibe. Apparently, the historical druids would look to the clouds in the sky to divinate the future, and may have something to do with brewing potions with sophisticated ingredients and precise timing. The historical druidic priests worship Celtic divinities, and are the spiritual leaders of a community who probably function much like Irish Catholic priests do today.

The D&D Druid allows options for both the animistic nature beings and the polytheistic divine beings. Consider the general difference between a "nature being" and a "divine being". A river itself is a nature being, a helpful neighbor. By contrast, a separate being who controls and rules over rivers is a divinity, a worshiped master with an institutional personell of servants.

In D&D terms, the nature beings are aspects of the Primal magic of the Material Plane, and the divine beings are aspects of the Divine magic of the Astral Plane, especially its Celestial creature type.

The neighborliness of the "Old Faith" means animism, while the "worship of gods in temples" means polytheism. Sacred traditions can be a mix where there are aspects of both. Probably the D&D Druid is always at least partially animistic.

Even in the context of certain Druids who revere a "nature deity", namely an Astral Celestial archetypal ideal, the Druid class seems uninterested in the Astral Plane itself and entirely focuses on the Material Plane. The this-worldly view can be concerned about the Celestial ideals that seek to materialize within the nature of the Material Plane. Likewise, the Druids generally dont care what is going on in the Feywild or the Shadowfell, but care intensely about how Fey Crossings and Shadow Crossings interfere with the Material Plane.


Re "Primal magic".

Primal magic is the Material Plane. The D&D Druid tradition has many moving parts across the editions. The game mechanics can be nonsynergizing and a bit all over the place. Yet the class description does a decent job of pulling together all of the facets into a comprehensive whole. It conveys an animistic worldview that attends to the actual features of nature: "the tooth and claw" of animals, the literal sun itself in the sky, the Thunderbird-like storm cloud that people can look up and plainly see. In other words, the Material Plane.


This part of the Druid class description caught my attention. These tropes about the environmental harmony of the four elements − earth, water, air, and fire − that makes life possible, are central to the Dark Sun setting. WotC seems to discontinue Dark Sun (even literally throw it into a blackhole) mainly because of problematics akin to normalizing slavery. But the compelling, interesting and relevant, environmental tropes seem to be resurfacing within the context of the Druid class.

Dark Sun did many fascinating things about the ecology, how it works and how it failed. Indeed, the Druid class is dedicated to making sure the Dark Sun ecological cataclism never happens.

In Dark Sun, on planet Athas, the Humans descovered way to convert the element of water into magical energy. The technique reminds me of nuclear fission converting matter into energy by destroying the atom. The magical process annihilated the existence of elemental water. The absence of water on Athas threw the rest of the elements into chaos: earth, air, and fire. The planetary ecosystem failed, and life is almost extinct.

The setting emphasizes a "Positive Material Plane" and a "Negative Material Plane". The Positive is vestigial areas surviving here and there, where some water survives, making the elemental harmony possible. These locales of harmony allow an influx from Positive Energy Plane, within which the positivity vitalizes lush plant life and teaming animal life. The positivity is life force. Oppositely, the areas where water is utterly absent connects to the Negative [Void] Plane, within which life is extinguished, plants cannot grow, and deathliness prevails within the negativity.

In a 5e context, in light of the 4e tradition, the Positive Material Plane is the same thing as the Fey Crossings, and the Negative Material Plane is the Shadow Crossings.

Meanwhile, the Athasian Cleric class revered the elements as abstract principles, sacred cosmic forces, in a way resembling Daoist elemental traditions. The Athasian Druid class is also elemental, but focusing on local natural features such as rock formations and remnant pools of water. The features of nature are also psionically resonant. So some rock formations and so on are stong mindful presences, in an animistic way. These places where life thrives are "sacred sites of unspoiled nature", and the Druids guard them.

The 5e Druid class description evokes these Dark Sun concepts. "Nature exists in a precarious balance. The four elements that make up a world − air, earth, fire, and water − must remain in equilibrium." "Druids are also concerned with the delicate ecological balance that sustains plant and animal life." "Druids are

I appreciate the following 5e Druid attitude because it is humanist. It seeks "the need for people to live in harmony with nature". A Human and other Humanoid civilization strives to synergize with wild nature. It isnt human versus nature.
I like your animist druid take. Now that PF2E is doing an animist class, that has become my preference as well. It lets me expand beyond nature as well and into human ideas.
 

The class is already a full caster. It doesnt need to also get to become a dire osquip for the ability to ignore hardness when chewing through stone or whatever ultra niche special property the pro MM combers want to trot out.
And here lies part of the problem with how the entire druid class concept is flawed.

  • If you want a nature mage, half your class abilities are wasted on wildshape stuff you don't want or care about.
  • If you want to play as a monster or shapechanger, your entire class power budget is spent on being a nature mage, when you don't want to be a spellcaster at all.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I think the fundamental problem is that WotC are nerfing Moon Druid pretty substantially at certain levels. Buffing them at others, but not to the same degree. Players never like nerfs, even when necessary. And Moon Druids are something like 60% of all druids. The other issue is that the nerfs also seem to violate the class fantasy for a lot of players.

If they are gonna sell this, they need to come with something amazing to offer as part of the deal. They should have included a list of the creatures that druids could wild shape into, that will be in the PHB, and for Moon Druids that should include a bunch of beast-like monstrosities - owlbear, griffon, and so on.

Additional moon-themed spells? Nobody cares. That's not why people play Moon Druids. The people who love the class love changing into beasts and, yes, elementals, and wrecking face.
 

Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
Additional moon-themed spells? Nobody cares. That's not why people play Moon Druids. The people who love the class love changing into beasts and, yes, elementals, and wrecking face.
The list of spells that can be cast while Wildshaped reminds me a lot of the Moonkin form from WoW. It’s a very popular Druid build in that game, so that may be where WotC got their inspiration.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I think the fundamental problem is that WotC are nerfing Moon Druid pretty substantially at certain levels. Buffing them at others, but not to the same degree. Players never like nerfs, even when necessary. And Moon Druids are something like 60% of all druids. The other issue is that the nerfs also seem to violate the class fantasy for a lot of players.

If they are gonna sell this, they need to come with something amazing to offer as part of the deal. They should have included a list of the creatures that druids could wild shape into, that will be in the PHB, and for Moon Druids that should include a bunch of beast-like monstrosities - owlbear, griffon, and so on.

Additional moon-themed spells? Nobody cares. That's not why people play Moon Druids. The people who love the class love changing into beasts and, yes, elementals, and wrecking face.
The issue was that moon druids are played as a class that was a spellcaster and had a special power called: bonus action: become a warrior. The only check is that monster stat blocks scaled terribly enough that you got diminishing returns as you leveled. Every other fighting caster class was balanced about being a caster with extra combat ability, rather than going from squishy to beast mode. It needed to smooth out that curve and that was always going to cause pain.
 

And here lies part of the problem with how the entire druid class concept is flawed.

  • If you want a nature mage, half your class abilities are wasted on wildshape stuff you don't want or care about.
  • If you want to play as a monster or shapechanger, your entire class power budget is spent on being a nature mage, when you don't want to be a spellcaster at all.

Oh I absolutely think there is both design space and demand for a dedicated shapeshifter class. Maybe one subclass gets spells, and one gets a pet, but the core class should be all shifting all the time.
 

Remathilis

Legend
And here lies part of the problem with how the entire druid class concept is flawed.

  • If you want a nature mage, half your class abilities are wasted on wildshape stuff you don't want or care about.
  • If you want to play as a monster or shapechanger, your entire class power budget is spent on being a nature mage, when you don't want to be a spellcaster at all.
Considering that the druid originally gained wild shape at 7th level and only 3/day, I'd say the shapechanging element has been overblown. It should be a caster first and shapechanger second.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
I think the fundamental problem is that WotC are nerfing Moon Druid pretty substantially at certain levels. Buffing them at others, but not to the same degree. Players never like nerfs, even when necessary. And Moon Druids are something like 60% of all druids. The other issue is that the nerfs also seem to violate the class fantasy for a lot of players.
I've got to quibble with you assumption on the class fantasy for Moon Druids. I think the 60% adoption rate for the subclass isn't tied to the fantasy of the class, but rather the metagame knowledge that being a Moon Druid means you essentially have 4-5x the total HP of other players at your level thru an adventuring day, and that the choice to become a Moon Druid is largely out of the desire to not have your character drop/die. Which is fine!

For some newer players, I think there is a lot of anxiety around the idea of your character dropping/dying in combat, in a way that can make the game unfun for them and the 2014 Moon Druid was the go to class to help alleviate that anxiety. All that said, the survivability of the Moon Druid is still very good (2x total HP of other classes thanks to those THPs and in combat Cure Wounds with the 2d8s also increases survivability) while allowing the Moon Druid to be much more effective in fighting enemies and assisting allies in combat.

It's going to be a painful change for existing players who really love the subclass, but I think new players who have anxiety around character death will still flock to the Moon Druid for it's survivability in combat.

I do agree that Wizards needs to put together a very smart list of beasts in the PHB for players to transform into, and I think they will. I'd be shocked if the Owlbear doesn't make it in as a CR3 beast, both because of DaDHAT and BG3. And give the Owlbear the Crushing Flight bonus action from BG3! Such an insanely satisfying ability :)
 

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