Level Up (A5E) Will a Druid ruin my exploration heavy game?


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MattW

Explorer
I don't think it will be a gamebreaker. The Druid's "aerial recon" could actually help you make the game more fun! The PCs will have specific destinations to explore. Randomly wandering around can be very uninteresting.

IMHO, the main thing you have to worry about is HOW LONG it will take for the Druid to scout. Other players will get bored while the Druid player is monopolising your time. It might be wise to set time limits.

I suspect that you want to impose a few limitations.. Something that you might emphasise is that (while in eagle form) the Druid can't make sketches and might misinterpret what they've seen. Or they may interpret it in their own particular fashion. (How many Druids are trained in Civil Engineering or Military Fortifications ?). In other words, don't tell them "It's the ruins of an octagonal keep". Tell them something like "It's an 8-sided structure, about 200 paces at the widest point. The walls are heavily overgrown with ivy and other creepers. Inside the walls are younger trees and bushes. But they look a little "thirsty", so there may not be enough water for them. There might be animals in the trees, but everything is probably hiding from the huge eagle". Don't give specific names to the structures . Don't say "That must be the gatehouse and the Great Hall is just across the courtyard". Be vague, but use terminology that would make sense to the Druid.

Be sure to make your players understand that the jungle can hide vast areas, even from aerial survey. In Real Life, we're still discovering the ruins of Mayan towns and cities in Guatemala. So, let your players know that the Druid's scouting will be useful, but it won't reveal everything.
 

aco175

Legend
Having a scout like that allows you to plan for next week better. If the eagle spots an old temple and a beach settlement, the players can tell you where they are heading next and you can plan better.

Of course you can throw these at them from the Avatar movie and limit flight to ground hiding during certain times of the day.

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Or trump everything and have a few of these always about. The will limit things and focus on the refugees- who also double as spare PCs when the first group dies. Players may not like it that much.

1637246191662.png
 

Timespike

A5E Designer and third-party publisher
I think just in terms of general GMing philosophy, when you start thinking along the lines of "how can I make X character ability useless?" you have gone down the wrong path. I've seen it with flight, sneak attacks, eldritch blast, high stealth checks, divine smite, etc.

Your job as the GM is to make a fun experience for everyone (sometimes that includes making things a tough challenge, sometimes it doesn't) and making it so a core PC ability is useless at best and suicidal at worst makes a lot of players feel like you're trying to send a message to them that they shouldn't play certain types of PC. Generally-speaking, the earlier in a character's class progression an ability shows up, the more they should be able to rely on it.

A better way to look at adventure design, IMHO, is to say "with a character that can do X in the party, what kinds of scenarios can I construct to make things interesting?" For example, let's say that the flying druid finds a place that they'd really like to access, but they can't get in because the lock is too good. Now you need to figure out how to get the rogue up to the peak it's on/across the lava lake/whatever so they can pick the lock you can't touch on the stone doors your strongest wild shape can't break down.

You'd have never seen the thing if you couldn't wild shape, but you still can't solve the problem alone.

Or maybe you do spot some hostile forces ahead of time. Like, a LOT. More than you can just handle with an ambush. Now everyone needs to help make a plan. Are you going to make some temporary fortifications? Find another way around? Try to sneak past? It doesn't matter what they choose, the druid gets to feel cool for keeping the party and those they are protecting from stumbling into a massacre and now they have an interesting decision to make.
 

tommybahama

Adventurer
Sounds like a fun adventure! Make it a rainforest during monsoon season with routine tropical downpours and threats of flash flooding. You can control what the druid sees with storm clouds and when he can fly with thunderstorms, lightning, downpours and galeforce winds. Thick fog like gorillas in the mist could help obscure features on the ground.

You could also say that the forest canopy is so thick that they may get lost from the party. Tell them that they are wise enough to know that they will have to do an INT check to avoid getting lost and separated.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Design your encounters and sessions so they'll have a much harder time if the druid doesn't do their thing.
One of the things I am trying in this campaign (which I have not done in a very long time) is a true sandbox style. I am going to make all of the regions and the landmarks in the campaign before the game begins, so I don't actually know what my party will play.

So where the party goes will be completely up to them. I won't really be tailoring encounters to the party, a lot of it will be where they go, and random encounters will be rolls of the die.

A part of this too is not the druid just finding everything out, I mean the goal is to explore this crazy large new land....my fear is they feel so good at it compared to the others that they will want to just explore themselves. Now maybe they will get killed for it, maybe not....but it feels like a lot of DM time could be spent in telling them what they find, and dealing with encounters... that the other players may get bored.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
A part of this too is not the druid just finding everything out, I mean the goal is to explore this crazy large new land....my fear is they feel so good at it compared to the others that they will want to just explore themselves. Now maybe they will get killed for it, maybe not....but it feels like a lot of DM time could be spent in telling them what they find, and dealing with encounters... that the other players may get bored.
In addition to the (good!) advice others have given you, one thing to remember is to talk to the player. If you find that the druid is finding encounters and dealing with them themself instead of sharing with the party, then tell the player that they're not letting the other players shine. The game is a group game, not one where one player is off to the sides doing their own thing.
 

Timespike

A5E Designer and third-party publisher
One of the things I am trying in this campaign (which I have not done in a very long time) is a true sandbox style. I am going to make all of the regions and the landmarks in the campaign before the game begins, so I don't actually know what my party will play.

So where the party goes will be completely up to them. I won't really be tailoring encounters to the party, a lot of it will be where they go, and random encounters will be rolls of the die.

A part of this too is not the druid just finding everything out, I mean the goal is to explore this crazy large new land....my fear is they feel so good at it compared to the others that they will want to just explore themselves. Now maybe they will get killed for it, maybe not....but it feels like a lot of DM time could be spent in telling them what they find, and dealing with encounters... that the other players may get bored.
So go back and look at my previous post and extrapolate while doing setting design. "There's big nasty stuff here, here, and here. There's inaccessible stuff here, here, and here."

Then do the same for the classes being played by the other players. Let's say you've got an adept, a bard, and a herald in addition to your druid. Put some places with weapon checks where trouble will occur for the disarmed characters in for the adept. Stir in some places where amazing social skills will pay off in a big way for the bard. Stick a couple of regions populated by things the herald's divine smite does extra damage to between the PCs and places they're likely to want to be. and so on.

Or to put it more succinctly: design a world that would have produced the adventurers walking through it.
 

So I understand-
They're in a jungle / heavy forest to begin with.
They're a party of capable "have come into their own" adventurers.
One party member will have the ability to do some pretty major distance scouting.
They have a significant number of mostly useless dependents. Sure they make great farmers or carpenters, but not great assets when it comes to bloodshed.

I presume at this point that the party + refugees would stay put when the druid was scouting. That would slow their progress to a place of relative safety. If they are traveling then I would have the party deal with their caretaker issues "first" and then focus on the druid "second". I put those in quotes as they lose meaning when you're just switching between sides. But I would put the majority of focus on the party since they're the most complicated. If that player wants more than "here's what you see in the morning pass" then I would be strict in no more than half time on the druid. Sure, they may find something really cool, even something that could only be noticed from a vertical vantage point. But delving into a "Mayan" style pyramid alone would be ill-advised to begin with.

You might consider it fair warning to mention that what's in the site is what's in the site. The encounters aren't balanced in regard to a single druid on patrol. But, otherwise, yeah let them flex!
 


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