March 6, 2017

Circle of the Root and Stem

Druid Circle
Notes from the Nails: As a kid, I wanted to be a tree when I grew up. They seemed so reliable and enduring and wise, with hundreds of years rooted to one spot, free to think in peace. It kind of surprised me that there isn't already a druid circle for this, so here we go...

Circle of the Root and Stem

The druids of the circle of the root and stem revere trees and plants above all, identifying them as the foundation upon which all of nature's glory is built. These druids tend to vast and beautiful woodlands, taking painstaking, personal care of every single plant that grows within. The circle's most powerful druids strive to become trees themselves, using their divine magic to transform their bodies into rugged towers of bark and leaf, the better to guard their sacred forests.

Leaf Mask Transformation
Starting when you choose this circle at 2nd level, you can use your Wild Shape to transform into plants as well as beasts. You cannot use this ability to become a spore servant of any kind, however.
     While transformed into a plant, you can cast the cantrips shillelagh  and thorn whip, requiring no material components, even if you would not normally know them.

Thorny Flesh
Also at 2nd level, your skin takes on a rough, bark-like appearance, studded with sharp thorns. Your AC can't be less than 16, regardless of what kind of armor you are wearing. Also, whenever you are hit with a melee weapon attack, you can use your reaction to deal 1d4 plus your Wisdom modifier piercing damage to the attacker. These effects apply while you are Wildshaped.

Forest Wisdom
Starting at 6th level, you can tap into the ancient wisdom of the trees. Whenever you would make an Intelligence check to recall lore or past events, you can make a Wisdom (Nature) check instead.
     In addition, you can cast the spell speak with plants at will, without using a spell slot. This spell does not count against the total number of druid spells you can prepare.

Deep Roots
At 10th level, your connection to the magic of the earth is so strong that you gain a measure of its solidity. You can't be pushed, shoved, knocked prone or subjected to any other form of involuntary movement as long as your feet are on natural ground. You also have advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws.

Arboreal Form
By 14th level, you have finally learned to become a tree. You can now use your Wild Shape to transform into an awakened tree, or you can expend two uses of your Wildshape to transform into a treant. While in this form, you add your Wisdom modifier to damage rolls for your slam attack, which is considered magical for the purposes of overcoming resistance and immunity.



Changelog: 3/6/17: Leaf Mask Transformation: Cantrips can be cast while you're whildshaped
Oaken Flesh: Renamed Thorny Flesh -- 1d4 + Dex Wis piercing damage when you take a melee weapon attack
Deep Roots: No longer requires a bonus action
Arboreal Form: You can use two uses of Wild Shape to become a treant

18 comments:

  1. "By 14th level, you have finally learned to become a tree."

    why do i find this hilarious

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    1. Well I had to say something! I was aiming to sound deep and zen, but it doesn't really work does it?

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  2. This feels very weak, you get to become a plant but at the normal druid rate, for a subclass primarily focused on wildshape it should have wildshape CR of at least circle of moon druids. Also with the lack of decent plants you really need to find and approve lots of homebrews to actually get anything worthwhile.
    Plus the lack of elemental forms really hurts the class.
    It needs some buff to make it stand out

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    1. It's true that there is a lack of plant creatures in the MM, but as homebrewers, we are actively trying to right that. For example, there was a CR 1/4 plant in our Weird West update. Also, the plants that are in the MM offer significant advantages over beasts, both in terms of hiding (many of them have the False Appearance trait) and in utility - twig and needle blights have opposable thumbs, something beasts don't generally have.

      Moreover, I wouldn't say this circle is focussed on Wildshape. Oaken Flesh and Deep Roots help you stand up in a melee without Wildshaping, after all. This circle is supposed to on par with the land druid, but more geared towards fighting than casting.

      The one thing that I would like to buff is the capstone. Originally I wanted to give it a treant form, but they're CR 9 and it just seemed like too much. Perhaps we could write something in between an awakened tree and a treant...?

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    2. I honestly like turning into an awakened tree, especially with buffs to damage and AC. However a buff may be required.

      Taking a page out of the UA's Primeval guardian subclass consider allowing reach, a thorn effect (attacker takes damage when making a melee attack) or an overgrowth type fast healing effect. And you can choose the feature when entering wildshape.

      Also a request, allow the plants to be able to cast thorn whip cantrip for some added ranged usage (we can play as baby Groot)

      Also (I'm sorry for keeping on adding them) one more critique the magical attacks come online way too late

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    3. For the sake of simplicity, I think it would be better to just add reach to the awakened tree form's slam attacks. That seems reasonable.

      Thorn Whip sounds good too, I can definitely put that in there as part of Leaf Mask Transformation.

      As to the magic attacks... you don't *need* them until you get the awakened tree form; your primary mode of combat up to that point should be a humanoid using spells/magic weapons. Land druid doesn't get automatic magic attacks, after all.

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  3. Isn't Nature an Intelligence check???

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    1. Yep, which is why this feature has value. It lets you make checks that would normally be Int using your Wis instead (which, for a druid, is likely your best stat). Also it's replacing several different skills with one, taking some of the pressure off your skill allocations, but the first part is the most important.

      The idea is that you're not using your brainpower to remember the lore, you're opening yourself to the world and... absorbing the knowledge through osmosis. That's what I was going for there.

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  4. I assume the intent of Deep Roots is to reduce your speed to 0, but it doesn't specify. It should also mention how you end the effect (another bonus action or what have you).

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    1. Oh, wait... what I wrote doesn't match what I meant. I'll get that changed.

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  5. This class, right now, seems kinda weak. Since the whole point of this class is to become something different than what you are, I think it should be considered to focus on wild shape more than spellcasting, and therefore should have higher CR shapes than land druids (maybe 1/4 level instead of the moon's 1/3, and with the regular movement limitations). Otherwise it gains no truly meaningful benefits for wild shape, and not for spellcasting either.

    Another option is to allow spellcasting while wild-shaped into a plant (even spells with somatic/verbal components). This would mean the wild shape would be used more for defense and utility than melee, which seems to fit the theme.

    The capstone could be using 2 wild shape uses (all uses) to transform into a treant. sure, CR 9 is high, but at 14th level it isn't actually over-powered (and also, using polymorph a 7th level druid can turn into a CR 7 beast).

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    1. Yeah, I like that about 2 uses of wildshape to become a treant. I've sent some edits to the Finger so that we can get the pdf re-done; they should buff it a little. I'm sure it is on par with the land druid now - and I'd rather be there than up with the moon druid.

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    2. The cantrips should probably not require somatic and verbal components either- many plants can't talk.

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  6. Changes have been made! Let me know how it stands up now.

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  7. The changes make it much better, an overall stronger class (as long as no one has fire on hand)

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    1. "Gary, I see you over there with that torch! You stay over in your corner!"

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  8. http://mfov.magehandpress.com/2015/09/green-knight.html

    Let's talk comparisons between Circle of Root and Bark/Green Knight. I think some form of hybrid between the two of these classes could be entirely useful. (I am currently playing a green knight and am considering this circle or a mash-up instead)

    2nd lvl: Root's Leaf Mask and Thorny Flesh give more consistent offensive options than the Circle spells and (in my case) 1 better AC of Green Form. These two are interchangeable based on what you want out of the flavor. (I will stick with the Green Knight circle spells and ask about the Thorny Flesh)

    6th: Major points to this circle! Forest wisdom is flat out better than Green Empathy if you aren't constantly encountering plant creatures. I would steal this and maybe see if the DM would change my speak with plants circle spell to something else (protection from energy for that extra "knight" flavor?)

    10th: Green magic has great utility once per encounter as long as you keep short resting. Keeping in mind the limit of one cantrip, one spell-slot spell in a turn I would maybe shillelagh-attack first turn then entangle next turn as bonus action to get potential adv on next shillelagh attack action.
    vs. Deep Roots' constant utility for staying on your feet which means no enemies getting prone-advantage melee attacks on you. Advantage on STR saves and checks means your strength build can climb better, grapple better and can't be pushed around (as long as they stay on natural ground). It's like a natural exo-suit. Very well balanced and probably better if you have strength to back it up (or you are in a decently ripped wild shape).
    My choice? I may decide later since I am only level 2. Both are pretty cool though.

    14th: Arboreal form seems more diverse and well balanced against abilities like the circle of the moon's elemental form. Overall stronger capstone against the balancing act our beloved Finger of Vecna was struggling with. I may aim for this one.

    Great work!!

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts! Normally I'm not a fan of mixing-and-matching subclasses, but in this case it might come out alright. Hopefully your DM will play ball!

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