Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Druid Circles And Wild Shape

Dreams is right up my alley, and may lead to me creating my first druid character in 5e. Starting to feel like we are getting a lot of Fey and Shadowfell themed options in these. Perhaps that's a clue to where the 2017 Fall supplement is going to focus? Elminster's Journey's across the Planes, a guide.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I keep reading here the dispel magic rider on Purifying Light is free, but it specifically says "...using a spell slot..." That can't be an ambiguous way of saying it's free. (Why not "cast at a level equal to the healing spell but does not consume a spell slot"?) It's either poorly designed or exceptionally poorly worded.

If it isn't free then it's horrible and borderline useless. It's very niche to start with, given that it's Dispel Magic only. This particular druid can heal and buff with a bonus action. Meaning they aren't gaining much on the action economy over just casting Dispel Magic (or even better one of the Restoration spells) and using Balm of the Summer Court, a course of action that can also be split between two targets for added versatility. Also you don't get very many high level spell slots, locking it into being used on low level heals. And finally it has it's own unique daily resource to keep track of.

Even if it is free, it isn't very good, and would be better replaced with something like what I suggested above.
 

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OB1

Jedi Master
Then they're not round-tracking. They work for one round and that's it.

Off the top of my head

Sleep - 1 minute (10 rounds) or until awoken
Hold Person - 1 minute, re-save attempt every round, also based on concentration
Fly - 10 minutes (100 rounds) also must keep concentration
Magic Weapon - 1 minute, concentration
Haste - 1 minute, concentration
Enlarge/Reduce - 10 rounds, concentration
Etc, etc, etc....

The only difference with this mechanic is that instead of specifying 6 seconds or 24 seconds or whatever, it's tied to a die roll so that it's between 6 and 24 seconds before you can use it again.

In some ways it's a spin off of a monster recharge mechanic, but flipped so that you know exactly how many rounds it will be before you can use the ability again when you make the first roll. In fact, I might use this as a variant with dragon breath weapons, would be wonderfully descriptive and add some tension to the combat as the party sees the breath weapon slowly recharging.
 

Grazzt

Demon Lord
There are literally dozens of spells that require round tracking (though none are variable). I really like the 1d4 cool-down mechanic as it gives a nice way to create essentially a once per combat encounter ability (since most combat encounters are 2-5 rounds) without it actually being called that. Sure you will get the odd time where you can use it twice in a combat, but you can't count on it.

I think it's an inspired idea that I hope see's more play in other classes.

Rather than introduce a new mechanic like "1d4 rounds", why not just use the Recharge mechanic? Does, basically the same thing.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Does anyone actually bother tracking 1-minute duration spells in combat? I'd say 95% of fights don't last that long, and casters usually lose concentration at some point during the fight anyways.

Personally, I treat a 1-minute duration as "Lasts until combat ends." Much easier and less fussy.
 



Parmandur

Book-Friend
I get the distinct feeling that the Circles of Dreams and Twilight are eventually going to be called Greensingers and Children of Winter respectively...
(Really like the overall initial feel to the mechanics, but definitely have to get tweaked).


Good call, the Children of Winter seem to fit better than the UA fluff, Eberron terrorists. Also, fits the hypothesis that the Big Book of Crunch will have setting support of some kind...
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The subclasses were sort of interesting, but a little too niche. At least for me the big thing was the Wild shape ruling...nerfing. Does anyone think this was necessary? I've always felt like wild shape was terrific from levels 2 to 4 (assuming you wanted to be a bear) and then it rapidly fell behind in terms of usefulness compared to spells and summons. But perhaps I missed something?

Is a high level druid stuck using his low level forms until a DM gives him the opportunity to study rarer animals for an hour?



As a variant, definitely helps: see all sorts of stories about DMs and Druids arguing about what they can wildshape into: it is less of a nerf, and more a common ground to retreat to of negotiations fail. Not needed foe a lot of tables, but helpful for some, probably AL organized play especially.
 

There are literally dozens of spells that require round tracking (though none are variable). I really like the 1d4 cool-down mechanic as it gives a nice way to create essentially a once per combat encounter ability (since most combat encounters are 2-5 rounds) without it actually being called that. Sure you will get the odd time where you can use it twice in a combat, but you can't count on it.

I think it's an inspired idea that I hope see's more play in other classes.

Monsters with cooldown abilities (mind flayer mind blast) are a form of variable round tracking, expressed as a power law distribution over rounds instead of a uniform distribution.
 

Does anyone actually bother tracking 1-minute duration spells in combat? I'd say 95% of fights don't last that long, and casters usually lose concentration at some point during the fight anyways.

Personally, I treat a 1-minute duration as "Lasts until combat ends." Much easier and less fussy.

Retroactively, yes. That is, in any large battle, I always have a record of who declared what action on what round and what the results were, so if I need to figure out when a given effect has been going on for ten rounds I can always do that.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
That's okay if you allow bonus actions to be taken outside of combat?

Nothing says that bonus actions are only available during combat, so yes, I would totally allow someone to use a bonus action ability outside of combat.

After all, you still let bard's use their bardic inspiration don't you?



Circle of Dreams
All about the Fey. More Disney than D&D lore, dreams are normally the realm of Illusionists, or more often Psionics and Aberrations, which makes me question why not an Aberration/Far realm hunter druid? Fey aren't inherently nice, tricksters enough for illusions to be sure, but them being "healers" is like fitting a square peg into a round hole. I suppose Circle of Life is copyrighted, though.

Thematically I can see it, especially since it is tied to the more "goodly" Summer Court. There are plenty of tales and legends of beautiful fey maidens healing wounded Knights, or restoring a youth after a terrible accident. There are some kindly fey, just most of them are amoral.



And how many combats have you run that have lasted for 10 rounds or longer?

You don't count rounds for a 10 minute duration...

I've been in a few, but just because you chose not to track the rounds doesn't mean they aren't designed with round tracking in mind.


I read it as cast at the same level as the healing spell slot used. Might just need better wording to clear it up for others.

That's how I read it as well, and it has an added cool effect when you consider Dispel Magic.

One of the oddities of Dispel Magic is that it only cares if the Dispel is equal or less than the magic you are attempting to reverse, so casting a 8th level dispel magic against a 9th level effect is the same as casting a 3rd level Dispel Magic. With this ability you can potentially get away with a 1st level Dispel magic (which otherwise doesn't exist) to attempt to remove a high level effect. Just have to hope for good luck on the DC check.

Actually, tangent question, when it says "Spellcasting ability" do you guys normally run that as mod+proficiency? That's how I interpret it, but it is a little vague.
 

Actually, tangent question, when it says "Spellcasting ability" do you guys normally run that as mod+proficiency? That's how I interpret it, but it is a little vague.

Nope. If the rules don't specify that it includes proficiency bonus, it doesn't. And ability checks that don't use skills pretty much never do.
 

RCanine

First Post
I'm not a fan of any of these, really.

Circle of Dreams: The feywild one is the most neat; it also feels like it's heavily influenced by WoW's Emerald Dream. The level 6 feature seems incredibly weak and narrative-breaking, but the level 14 one seems super fun. I'm not sure it addresses the Druid's late-game scaling issues. Wild shape should allow classic feywild creatures like blink dog and displacer beast.

Circle of the Shepherd: The name is weak, and a 1/rest immobile spirit as its primary feature seems incredibly niche. Mighty and Faithful summons seem like neat abilities, but summoning a horde of creatures really sucks logistically in 5E.

Circle of Twilight: Seems uninspired. Necrotic damage to kill undead is dumb. The 4E blightbeast paragon path was far better way to approach druids and death.

Wild Shape Forms: Feels rushed. At the least, it should have the same number of land types as Circle of the Land. Secondly, this is an outright nerf, which druids don't need. I'd like to see some updates to Wild Shape, but these aren't those updates.
 

kalil

Explorer
Bleh. As an avid druid player I am thoroughly unimpressed. Circle of Dreams is okisch, but I don't really see why I would take this over Circle of the Land like ever. The rest is so bleak it could just as well never have been written.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The wording of this ability is weird. "spend a number equal to half your level or less" seems to imply that you can spend a number of dice that is anywhere from one up to half of your druid's level. Or it could have been cut off before it was finished and it was meant that you only get two uses of this ability per day, each one spends half of your druid dice. It stopped just short of true clarity on this one, and took me a few re-reads to figure out what it might have been trying to say.
I don't remember any unclarity when I read the document.

You get a number of dice equal to your level (say 10 dice). You can use up to half of that number at any one time.

So you could spend 3 dice, leaving you with 7. Then you could spend 5 more dice, leaving you with 2.

These you could use in drips, spending first one die, then the other die. Total number of usages: 4 (in my example).

What makes you think this example would be wrong, Leatherhead?
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
What makes you think this example would be wrong, Leatherhead?
The ability Harvest Scythe says "You can spend a number of dice equal to half your druid level or less." The Summer Court Ability says "... within 120 feet of you and spend a number of those dice equal to half your druid level or less."
The inconsistent wording, coupled with my grogginess, made me think those two abilities functioned differently.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
But I hate the flavor of immobile "spirits" that grant random bonuses for being near them. So very gamist.
My issue is specifically having WAY too grand fluff for some very basic crunch.

It was similar to the Spirit Barbarian. For all the talk about spirits at the end of the day it's just "aura granting disadvantage" (or somesuch).

Calling that spirits is WAY overblown and cheapens out the entire concept of actual spirit animals or ancestor spirits.

If you're gonna add fluff about spirits you need to give the spirits agency. Spirits aren't tools like hammers and screwdrivers that mechanically do just what you expect of them every single time.

Spirits are things you revere and ask for help. Meaning they need to be able to deny that help, or what's the point of asking them in the first place.

Spirits to me need a modicum of freedom of action, where perhaps the DM is allowed to inject a little personality to them.

Compare familiars. Unlike hirelings, familiars and spirits aren't independent. Sure I let the players control them as automatons, but I still like to play up their existence as an independent critters when this doesn't hose the players. I mean, I'm no dick DM that have familiars sabotage the plans of their masters, but I want the player to have a sense of the familiar being its own thing.

Calling a mechanical aura or zone a "spirit" completely kills off everything regarding atmosphere and roleplying potential I associate with the concept of ancestor spirits and spirit animals.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The subclasses were sort of interesting, but a little too niche. At least for me the big thing was the Wild shape ruling...nerfing. Does anyone think this was necessary? I've always felt like wild shape was terrific from levels 2 to 4 (assuming you wanted to be a bear) and then it rapidly fell behind in terms of usefulness compared to spells and summons. But perhaps I missed something?

Is a high level druid stuck using his low level forms until a DM gives him the opportunity to study rarer animals for an hour?
It's a way to get rid of DM-player "discussions" devolving into arguments.

It's a way for a DM to point to some official-looking tables and say "those are the forms you can choose between".

It's a way to turn the tables. Instead of a DM having to deny a form, making the player resentful, we change things around so DMs approve forms, making the player grateful.

Sure it's a psychological mind trick, but it really does work.

Of course, if you and your players already are reasonable beings that trust each other, you might not see any point of this :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
There are literally dozens of spells that require round tracking (though none are variable). I really like the 1d4 cool-down mechanic as it gives a nice way to create essentially a once per combat encounter ability (since most combat encounters are 2-5 rounds) without it actually being called that. Sure you will get the odd time where you can use it twice in a combat, but you can't count on it.

I think it's an inspired idea that I hope see's more play in other classes.
First off: we all hate the four-sided die, so that can't be it ;)

More seriously, if you actually do have lots of 2 round combats you can view it as a once per combat ability with a small perk on top (getting to use it twice), but more generally I think the unreliability sinks the idea. You don't want that kind of unreliability.

Besides, it adds accounting.

I realize they didn't choose the "monster recharge" mechanism because that doesn't allow you to plan around the fact you'll get back your ability in, say two turns.

But it really needs another round of development. It's not that the d4 mechanism is horrible, I'm just not convinced we can't make it work with the pulls and levers we already have.

I'm sure it can be made to work with a "X uses per short rest" mechanism, for instance.

I just don't see that the advantages of adding this new "per d4 rounds" mechanism outweighs the disadvantages of a) having a new strange mechanism that b) requires someone to start counting rounds.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Off the top of my head

Sleep - 1 minute (10 rounds) or until awoken
Hold Person - 1 minute, re-save attempt every round, also based on concentration
Fly - 10 minutes (100 rounds) also must keep concentration
Magic Weapon - 1 minute, concentration
Haste - 1 minute, concentration
Enlarge/Reduce - 10 rounds, concentration
Etc, etc, etc....

The only difference with this mechanic is that instead of specifying 6 seconds or 24 seconds or whatever, it's tied to a die roll so that it's between 6 and 24 seconds before you can use it again.
Well... no, that's not the only difference, not really.

I mean, if you do count the seconds of your battles, yes. But who does that? Who actually keeps track of the fact that "Ten minutes" is equal to a hundred combat rounds?

I believe many groups use "one minute" as shorthand for "this battle and its immediate aftermath". "Ten minutes" means "while we clear out these rooms, but no longer".

If for no other reason that if you don't inject a small dose of realism into your game, the way PCs act on rounds will shred any pretense of believability in how long it takes you to run up three flights of stairs, search a room, or something that isn't pure combat. If you follow the game rules to the letter, clearing out a house would take WAY less time than is physically possible.

For players that doesn't try to squeeze out every last round out of a Fly spell, this Druid mechanic comes across as a rather unwelcome complexity increase.
 

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