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Divine Favor: the Druid (Pathfinder RPG) $4.99 $3.99
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Divine Favor: the Druid (Pathfinder RPG)
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Divine Favor: the Druid (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/15/2011 10:19:37

This pdf is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving 16 pages of content, so let's check out the new material for the Druid, shall we?

The pdf opens with a short one-page discussion of the druid's role in an adventuring group and how to play him before introducing 2 alternatives to wildshape: The rather simple swarm shape that lets the druid mimic the swarm skin spell and the other, more complex alternative, Nature's Multitude, which lets you not morph into one animal, but rather split up into e.g. a flock of birds. The rules for said ability need to be concise and concise they are, though I'm reluctant to say whether this form can be considered balanced. Recalling the natural spell feat and the possibility to combine nature's multitude and said feat, my DM-senses start to tingle a bit. While damage that exceeds one animal's HP is handed over to other members of the multitude, I KNOW in my guts that players will find some way to exploit the hell out of this one. Prior to some extensive playtesting, I wouldn't allow this particular option. Similar concerns can be addressed on a lesser scale with reagrds to the option to gain flock companions instead of regular animal companions, though I'm less reluctant to allow them in my game due to the lack of direct casting capability sans massive investment on parts of the palyer. We also gain three alternate qualities for companions, one of which grants spells equal to 1/3 of its HD to the companion, another granting it the ability to speak and a thrid one enabling the druid to magic jar into her companions. Combine Nature's Multitude, Flock Companion and this quality and at 13th level you have a practically unkillable PC. While I can see NPCs pulling this off, I wouldn't allow this particular combination for my players. Some additional restriction might have been appropriate here.

Next are new archetypes, 3 of which pertain to the phases of the moon, 4 (for the animal shaman)to the elements and 2 to forests in general: All Archetypes have in common that they are rather simple and, unfortunately, bland. Channel energy and enhanced domain access? Come on, if I wanted to play a cleric, I would have rolled a cleric! Elements? Snore I've seen that done before - over 9000 times. Some of them more compelling. The Green Warden is a foe of undead who gains disease immunity, channel energy and turn undead (but not to heal) and bonuses against supernatural attacks by undead. Boring? Rather clericy? Then there's the Forest Child, per se a cool idea, as she can damage natural foes7fey etc and undergoes an apotheoses into a plant. However, two abilities feel rather light on the new-ability-section for an archetype. I was utterly underwhelmed by the archetypes, as the alternate class-features felt much more interesting and inspired than these boring archetypes.

We also get 5 new domains (Bird, Hunter, Insect, Transformation, Tree) with 2 subdomains each. The abilities for said domains were nice, however, I would have loved to see some unique abilities for the respective subdomains instead of the usage of already existent ones, especially due to some of the abilities like Primal Cancellation (which cancels all moral distinctions like subtypes of creatures and spells, DRs etc.) being rather creative and neat.

The 5 new animal companions are rather creative, though: A Brain Ooze (!!!), an electric lizard, a mobile flytrap, a forest worm and an acid-spitting green slug are introduced. I would have loved for artworks or small ecologies for them, though, as they seem to be interesting animals, not only as companions. The pdf closes by providing 10 new feats that improve the capabilities of animal companions and druids - a feat that duplicates improved natural attack for wildshaping druids by doing the same and stacking would be one example, better spells with the creation-descriptor being two more. The Totem Aspect feat should have been more detailed/split into several feats, though: It enables you to temporarily add +4 to an attribute corresponding to the animal for uses of wildshape abilities. I think each animal should have come with additional benefits, making them more distinct. Healing Tongue is a strange feat - it enables you to use heal checks via licking wounds. While I can see the druid taking it, an animal companion taking it would be strange indeed, as the user still has to make heal-checks and most animals don't have that particular skill. Nevertheless, that seems to be one of the prime intentions of the feat's design. Strange.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column standard and artworks are stock, but fitting. The pages have an used-parchment look and the pdf comes without a printer-friendly version. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. When all's said and done, this pdf underwhelmed me - while some components are imaginative and haven't been done like this before, the majority of the content left me unimpressed. The options to get flock companions and split into more animals is cool (though I have some minor balance concerns) and the new animal companions are neat. Especially the feats and archetypes left me unimpressed and provided a jarring contrast to the better ideas herein. There is some quality to be scavenged here, though, thus, in spite of the subpar parts, I'll settle for a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3.

Endzeitgeist out.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Divine Favor: the Druid (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2011 19:24:46

Druids have long been known as the potentially strongest class in d20 games, Pathfinder included. While the latter game does tone them down some, it more tries to counter their dominance by bulking the other classes up more than it nerfs this one. But for all its strengths, there’s still a lot the druid can’t do. Divine Favor: the Druid, by Open Design, aims to give nature’s defender more versatility.

Divine Favor: the Druid is a nineteen-page PDF. While I can’t hold it against Open Design too much, it’s something of a shame that there’s no printer-friendly or ePub options available, though the PDF itself is laid out quite nicely, allowing for copy and pasting and having full, nested bookmarks.

The book’s introduction covers some of the basics of the druid class, talking about their wild shape abilities, their spellcasting, and viable feats for them. It’s a good overview, but didn’t feel as holistic in the ones in the Advanced Feats series, which analyzed every portion of the classes they covered.

Two variants for wild shape are given next, one which allows the druid to turn into multiple animals, the other of which allows the druid to become some sort of actual swarm. At first I thought there abilities were similar enough that they should have been one, but there was a subtle distinction that I overlooked. The first power lets the druid become an actual set of singular animals that need not remain contiguous, whereas the second one is a swarm that stays together. It allows for some interesting ideas on what the druid can become (though as alternate class abilities, you can’t choose both).

Unfortunately, this is where I noticed some errors creeping in. The nature’s multitude alternate class ability functions as per beast shape II…except when you use it to become a small animal at 6th level; then it’s as per beast shape I. It’s a minor problem, but it is a problem, and it’s the sort of problem that happens again and again throughout this book.

A single variant option for animal companions continues with the theme of multiplicities of animals, as the flock companion lets you have several animals of a given type.

Nine new druid archetypes are presented, divided into three overarching categories: moon druids (archetypes for full, new, and phasing moons), the greenmen (green wardens who have power over unnatural creatures, and forest children who have power over natural creatures), and elemental shamans (one archetype for each classical element).

It’s unfortunate that these archetypes are the weakest part of the book. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with them per se (though the air elemental shaman’s bonus language is wrong, and its elemental transformation power is poorly explained), but rather most of them seem like slight variants of the other. The elemental shaman archetypes, for example, are one archetype with four slight variations between them. Ditto for the moon druid archetypes, and even the greenmen archetypes. You can see why the book put these into three categories – these are really just three archetypes, with a few changes between them.

The five new domains do a pretty good job of presenting some new options for clerics and druids. Where they utilizes spells from the Advanced Player’s Guide, alternate spells from the Core Rules are provided in parenthesis in case you don’t have the APG. I can appreciate the sentiment there, but it seems like a wasted effort since the APG is in the Pathfinder SRD now. Oddly, they then mention that several subdomains from the APG are applicable here…and then don’t reprint the alternate subdomain power, but do reprint the alternate spells (with, I should add, no parenthetical alternates; and in a few cases, leave out an alternate domain spell or two).

Five new animal companions are presented next. These are in animal companion stat blocks only, with no monster stat blocks or even exposition on what exactly these creatures are. I’m unfamiliar with brain oozes and green slugs…this really feels like an afterthought that was added to fill up space. There’s nothing truly wrong, here, but nothing makes these creatures anything more than stats on a page.

Ten new feats close out the book. Some of them are inspired, such as Healing Tongue, which allows a creature to lick you for a successful Heal check. Most of the others, however, seem fairly lackluster, such as Primeval Counsel, which gives you a +2 to some knowledge checks when in a natural area.

Overall, Divine Favor: the Druid seems like a product that underlines how a book can be good without being great. It’s never poor – though I wish that the small errors I kept seeing had been caught before it released – but it never goes the extra mile to really make what it presents unique, or give any context to show where this can fit into your game. It shows you what its got and walks away. These alternate options for the druid aren’t bad, but as a book they, like nature itself, are rough around the edges.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Divine Favor: the Druid (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/19/2011 09:27:11

The Introduction begins with an overview of the Druid class - a divine spellcaster drawing on the limitless power of the natural world, and with Wisdom as his primary ability. Special abilities include Wildshape, the ability to change form; whilst druids need to concentrate on the things they are good at with their spells - controlling the natural environment, participating in combat and acting in concert with their animal companion. This page is illustrated with a delightful sketch of a Welsh Archdruid from the 18th century, a time when romantics tried to recreate ancient practices, something that led to the establishment of the Gorsedd and the Eisteddfod, something completely different from Druidism as practiced within a fantasy game!

After some advice on feat selection, the discussion moves on to introduce some new class abilities for druids. This begins by exploring a novel option for Wildshape: namely being able to change into several identical animals or even a whole swarm of critters instead of but a single one. Similarly, druids may choose to have a flock of creatures as companions - rats, crows, bats... - instead of a single individual, numbers and size being restricted on a Hit Dice basis, with various options becoming available as the druid rises in level. They can also grant companions the power of speech, and at high levels empower them to cast spells as well.

Next comes some new Druid archetypes. Moon Druids (not, as one single solitary typo would have, Mood Druids!) embody the cycles inherent in nature, life and death, and transformation; and may favour the full moon or the new one. Phase Druids are also interested in change, but for them it is the continuous flux, the fluidity of nature that is important. Green Wardens care about life, growth and renewal, hating anything that disrupts the natural flow or which mimic it in an artificial manner. They are able to harm undead creatures as a result of this hatred. The Forest Child connects with the deepest, darkest reaches of the woods, being particularly close to fey and others who dwell there... including the very plants themselves, enabling them to take on some of the characteristics of a plant. Elemental Shamans form close bonds with one of the elements: air, earth, fire or water; gaining specific abilities related to the element chosen.

These are followed by some new spell domains that druids may acces. Bird, Hunting, Insect, Transformation, and Tree: each with their own specific powers and appropriate spell lists. Then there are a few new creatures suitable - or so tis claimed - to be animal companions. Electic lizards I can understand, but a brain ooze? Or a fast flytrap? (A Venus flytrap-style plant, in case you are wondering. Can you really see your druid wandering around with a plant pot under one arm?). Finally, some new feats.

This is a nice exploration and enhancement of the Druid class, although not all the options sound as if they would be easy or interesting to play. A Forest Child, for example, would thrive in a group that spent a lot of time in wild primordal forests, but would be at a loss in a city or a desert. Some may work better for NPC druids whose location and part in your plot is served by the option in question. There's certainly scope, and druids tend to be rather neglected amidst the flashier and more exciting spell users. Worth a read if you like playing druids, or run campaigns where wilderness adventures feature.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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