Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Druids as Monsters Redux Part 1

Due to the fact that I've been working on a concept for a redux of the Temple of Elemental Evil, I've been inserting various ideas to play test into my current campaign. One such idea is having Druids as the movers and shakers behind the Elemental Cults that vie for power within the Temple. Thus, I snuck in a few druids among the Blighted Fist orcs to see how much fun I could have.

The results were not very inspiring. Whereas I can almost see why someone might enjoy playing a Druid (I've never been a big fan), as enemy combatants…(let me see if I can put this nicely)…they suck…er, they aren't any fun to play. "Do what I say or I'll warp wood!" just doesn't cut it and casting Entangle still requires closing and trying to survive while wearing only leather armor (read: suicide). Even when you get to monster-cool spells like Call Lightning, you have to be outside. Obviously, if I am going to have any fun at all with a Temple redux, it will require a redux of the Druid.

In the past I have posited two simple answers to the identity of pagan priests (aka Druids). The first is to dress up magic users in priestly garb. The second is to make Druids Anti-Clerics who are only able to use the reverse versions of Cleric spells. While both have their appeal (I even began the process of making elemental spell lists by uniting the spells lists of all the various spell casters in AEC), I really wasn't all that interested in playing around with classes, whether old, modified or new. Only when I remembered my own axiom — Druids are monsters! — did things begin to fall into place.

If I embrace Druids as monsters then I am free to scuttle all the trapping of class — spell lists, levels, XP, variable HD, allowable armor & weapons, etc. What I am left with is the beautiful simplicity of HD and special abilities. What has resulted is an alternate vision of Elementals and where they come from. This is compatible with cosmologies that range from the systemization of Gygax and those who simply want to deal with only the "prime material plane."

Since the impetus of this project is the Temple of Elemental Evil, there are four flavors of "Druids." The first in this series will be those dedicated the the Cult of Earth.

Earth Druids

People are mortal, and what they make with lawless hands is dead; for they are better than the objects they worship, since they have life, but the idols never had. — Wisdom 15:17

Number Appearing: 1d6
% in Lair: 30%
Alignment: Chaotic
Armor Class: see below
Move: 120'
Hit Dice: 1 to 7
Attacks: 1 (damage see below)
Special: see below
Save: C1 for every HD
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XVIII
XP: 1HD=10; 2HD=29; 3HD=65; 4HD=190; 5HD=650; 6HD=1570; 7HD=2540

These Chaotic cultists are completely dedicated to the annihilation of the self into becoming one with the element of earth. Within the cult there are eight "circles" that the cultists advance through. Each circle has a corresponding power:
  • 1HD = the cultist begins their journey to "union" by fusing bits of earth to their skin. Thus, the cultist has an AC of 4.
  • 2HD = The cultist begins to be able to manipulate the fused earth on their skin. They are able to form vicious spikes on their fists. They gain a +1 to hit in melee and do 2d4 damage.
  • 3HD = The fusion of earth to skin is complete. The cultist now has an AC of 2.
  • 4HD = Now begins the process of fusing muscle to earth. The cultist gains an 18 STR — +3 to hit and damage.
  • 5HD = The outer crust of the cultist becomes so hard that they are now immune to normal missiles.
  • 6HD = The cultist begins to have control over earth. They may Stone Shape at will and 3 times per day may encase targets in contact with the ground (or a wall made of stone) in earth with the same effect as Hold Person.
  • 7HD = At this point, the cultist is almost completely one with their chosen element. They are able to pass through stone and earth as if it were air.
The eighth circle is the final transformation of the cultist into an 8HD earth elemental. Whatever humanity and personality they had is completely destroyed. They have totally given themselves up in order to become one with earth.


scottsz said...

Love the Earth Druid!

I was working on some homebrew T2 notes and thought that corrupted nature priests could be a good theme.

I was doing a little Medieval research and thought that tying druidic workings with agrarian culture might be worthwhile.

Who loves growth more than a fungal demoness? A farmer... particularly a hungry one...

The Bane said...

This is inspiring! Love to see more/similar posts.


FrDave said...

When I think of farmers and fungus I think truffles. When I think truffles, I think pigs. When I think pigs, I think of one of those under-utilized monsters from B/X the Devil Swine. This makes me think that you could add a whole new level of complication by inserting one or more of these in your version of T2...

@The Bane
More to come...

Erin Smale said...

You have, once again, completely blown my mind.

B/X was very keen on this sort of treatment--making "monsters" out of what might otherwise be classed NPCs (e.g., bandits, merchants, nomads, buccaneers, nobles, pilgrims, et al.).

You've taken it to another level--the 8 circles are great, and you've also explained why there are earth elementals on the Prime Plane.

Wymarc said...

In one of my campaign worlds I used something very similar except the Druids were the ultimate power behind almost everything. I used the orders of Druids. They were NG, N and NE.