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Class Acts: Druid Archetypes $1.50
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2012 02:37:50

This pdf is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 2 pages of content for three new druid archetypes, so let's take a look at them!

The first new archetype would be the Earthspeaker would probably be most appropriate for dwarven or gnomish druids, since they take the aspect of "communing with nature" to the logical extreme, developing the ability to literally communicate with the earth and stones: They can essentially speak with plants as the spell, with the caveat that they can communicate with stones and earth instead, making this druid type a prime candidate for exploration in the deepest reaches of the underworld as well as for long mega-dungeon style campaigns. They can also influence [earth]-creatures via this ability, but do not gain regular wild empathy. Furthermore, earthspeakers are not penalized regarding stealth and acrobatics when moving across earth-related terrain like steep slopes, scree or rubble - valid as a replacement for woodland stride and trackless step. The coolest ability of the earth speaker, though, would be the option to make a special level-check of d20+Cha-mod+druid level against set DCs to duplicate spell-like effects ranging from a DC 25 expeditious excavation to the DC 35 move earth (albeit only a 15 ft. square). I'm not wholly sold on this ability, though: While a natural 1 means that the druid can't use the ability any more for the remainder of the day, there is no other balancing factor and the fixed DC (instead of a scaling one - like +2 to the DC per usage, reset on the following day) as well as the possibility of almost unlimited usage of spell-like abilities make this feel too strong for my tastes.

The second archetype would then be Faerie Thrall, a druid who is enslaved/indebted to the fair folk and thus gets the additional class skills Bluff and Knowledge (Arcana) and must choose the seelie or unseelie path: Whatever the choice, they get a -4 penalty to saves against spell-like and supernatural abilities of members of the path they serve. At 4th level, they also get a +4 bonus on saving throws against arcane spells and non-fey spell-like abilities, though. At 6th level, the druid gains a rather interesting ability, namely the option to transform darts (whether thrown, blowgun etc.) into magical projectiles, that, while they deal no damage, have an interesting effect: Seelie Thralls duplicate charm monster, while unseelie druids duplicate a sleep effect with their darts. The DC for the respective will-save is equal to the damage the dart would otherwise have dealt, before DR is applied. The ability can be used 1/2 class level times per day and makes for an interesting substitute or wildshape. At 9th level, a Faerie Thrall may temporarily apply the fey creature template from bestiary 3 to himself or his animal companion for class level rounds per day. A cool ability per se, but one that leaves me asking: Can a Faerie Thrall transform his animal companion and himself, bruning through two rounds of this fey form or not? The ability needs clarification there. The Capstone ability is plain awesome: At 20th level, whenever the Thrall bluffs a foe successfully, he is subjected to a modify memory effect sans save - great story-telling tool there...

The final archetype would be the Greenmind, who loses proficiency with scimitars and armors, representing his ascetic-like outlook. To compensate for that, the greenmind gain access to a constant barkskin-like effect that improves to a bonus of +7 at 18th level, ignoring the regularly imposed cap. Greenminds may also add this bonus to stealth-checks when hiding in verdant areas. At 4th level, Greenminds gain a +2 bonus to saves against detrimental conditions like sleep, stun, paralysis, poison and polymorph. At 4th level, he also gain access to a +4 bonus to saves that affect plants, which needs slight clarification, since the druid can turn into plant creatures starting with 8th level. However, does this mean that the druid is e.g. subjected to spells and effects that deal additional damage to plants when not in plant-form? Also, the shape into plants ability mentions it grants the druid access to wildshape at 8th level, usable exclusively to turn into plants. Does a Greenmind lose the regular wildshape ability? Does this second plant-wildshape stack with the regular wildshape? I don't know and I consider this archetype in need of clarification.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, though some wordings could have used some additional precision. Layout adheres to a no-frills standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. This pdf provides us with three interesting archetypes, with especially the Faerie Thrall having potential and coolness galore. What really galls me about this pdf are minor problems - the earthspeaker's fixed DC/ "doesn't work anymore on a natural 1"-limitation could use some minor tweaking - we all know how skill-based casting, no matter how limited, can otherwise go awry. The Faerie Thrall oozes coolness, but suffers from the presentation as a archetype: The concept, at least to me, screams complex variant class. Think about it: Unseelie and Seelie Paths and further courts of the seasons for both (unseelie summer: Rampant growth etc.) to represent bloodline-like abilities for further customization. It's a nice start, but I'd rather have a full-blown class to represent the concept. Also, one ability is not perfect in its wording. The Greenmind feels in direct comparison like a shoddy bonus to the mix, an archetype that needs clarification for one of its two signature abilities and which has done a plethora of times. All in all, this pdf has more issues than some of the other archetype-based class acts, with unclear wordings and design-decisions I'm not too big a fan of. The ideas are cool, with especially the Faerie Thrall having the potential to be expanded - the non-damaging darts with their unique DC calculation screams signature ability of a new class to me. As provided, though, the pdf remains a mixed bag that is haunted by some problems. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Class Acts: Druid Archetypes
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