August 29, 2016

Circle of Steel

Druid Circle
Comments from the Finger: You know, this is the closest thing we'll get to a magitech druid for a while.

Circle of Steel

Most druids consider metals to be the domain of civilized races and an emblem of civilization's exploitation of nature. For this very reason, many druids refuse to wear metal armor or wield weapons composed of iron or steel.
     But the Circle of Steel thinks differently. Metals, like all things, come from the earth, and have as much a natural place in the world as any other material. These druids most highly praise the Ironwood Tree, which is a living amalgamation of metal and wood, which to them stands as a symbol of how to use metals in perfect balance with nature.

Bonus Proficiencies 
When you choose this circle at 2nd level, you can wear metal armor and shields and you gain proficiency with martial weapons.

Steel Beast
At 3rd level, whenever use your Wild Shape while armored, your metal weapons and armor become merged with the beast, transforming into a living conglomeration of animal and steel. You can use your armor class in place of the beast's, if it is higher. If you are holding a metal melee weapon when you transform, you can also use your weapon's damage die in place of the beast form's melee weapon attack damage dice, if it is higher.
     At 6th level, your attacks in beast form count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

Magnetic North
By 6th level, your connection with the metal of the land grants you a new magnetic sense. You always know which direction is north and have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks made to navigate.
     You can also use your action to detect the presence of nearby metal objects around you. To do so, make a Wisdom check with a save DC of 10 + 1 for each 100 feet you choose to sense. On a success, you can detect the largest metal object within range, and the precise direction to it. If you beat the DC by 5 or more, you can detect the number of metal objects within range and the direction to each. If you beat the DC by 10 or more, you can detect very small objects, like coins or nails, within range, and the direction to each.

Iron Defense
Starting at 10th level, as a reaction when you take nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, you can reduce the damage inflicted by 1d10.

Metal Tomb 
At 14th level, you can attract magnetic ore from the earth and cause it to rise beneath your enemies. As an action, select a 15 foot square area on the ground. Nonmagical metal walls rises up from the earth, surrounding the area. The walls are four three-inch thick, 15-foot-by-15-foot panels. If the wall cuts through a creature's space when it appears, the creature is pushed to one side of the wall (your choice.)
     The wall is an object made of metal that can be damaged and thus breached. Each panel has AC 16 and 60 hit points. Reducing a panel to 0 hit points destroys it and might cause connected panels to collapse at the DM’s discretion.
     This metal ore crumbles into rust after a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom modifier. After using this ability, you must complete a short or long rest before using it again.

Changelog: 8/29/16: Metal Tomb: Should last Wis mod rounds
Steel Beast: Replaces Iron Flesh
8/30/16: Iron Defense: now 1d10


  1. Love the stuff you guys do here, just a quick question, what's your reasoning behind using Charisma for the 'Metal Tomb' ability?

    1. Oh, it's a really good reason. I'm a little dyslexic, and have trouble noticing my typos XD

      I'll fix it right away

  2. Damn, you guys beat me to it. I was in the middle of developing a 'Circle of Ore' as a big 'fuck you' to a few people who said druids can't touch metal.

    1. In that case, you might have a good suggestion a replacement for my Iron Flesh feature. It's not really my favorite, in its current iteration.

    2. I have a suggestion to replace the iron flesh feature.
      Move a weakened version of magnetic north to 2nd level and have unlockable features at higher level. Instead put a ability for extra attack or additional damage (akin to cleric with divine strike) at 6th level.

      My main view of the class was a non shapeshifter melee druid, if it does not fit your theme I understand

    3. I don't think a weakened version of magnetic north would really be the solution. Here is why I think that:
      I have a similar view of the subclass - that it is suppose to be a more melee focused druid without necessarily having to shape shift. But as with any subclass, it is best to make that clear from the outset. As such, having a melee combat oriented ability early is important, such as the Iron Flesh ability increasing your AC. Magnetic North would not show that off, and as such would not be good to put out first.

      Currently, I am at classes without my D&D notes, so I'll post you my ideas for this subclass once I get home later today.

    4. Can I also add that I find it hilariously ironic that the Circle that views metals as a natural thing decided to name themselves after a man-made alloy?

    5. I see what you mean and completely agree but the thing is I love the magnetic north ability as a ribbon but at the same time think that this class really needs some way to improve in damage scaling, most melee oriented subclass do this at level 5-6 so I wanted it to fit in there.

      I do have a wierd idea for making the class melee viable at level 2 though.
      Introduce a modified version of shillelagh that channels natural energy around the weapon and have that damage scale with level (like a SCAG can trip).

    6. Remember that 6th level is an Exploration feature -- compare Land's Stride. Again, I'm short on time right now, so I'll elaborate a little later.

  3. I want to chime in that it might serve better to let the druid use Armor AC + Con (instead of Dex) instead of the present Ironflesh, as 'can never be less than X' doesn't -feel- good.

    As it is, a Druid of this subclass isn't really encouraged to wear the metal armor that they are given use of, since they will (eventually) have AC equal to their Armored + Dex AC even nude.

    I suggest Con over Wis because Wis to AC makes them MAD, and Con fits the theme that they are becoming 'one' with their metal so-to-speak. Con is important to anything looking to muddle in melee, so it supports a Str/Con melee druid which is presently not represented.

    I can't say whether the Iron Defense is strong mechanically, but it /feels/ boring. I would suggest a 1/long rest Wild Shape into an Iron Elemental or a buffed Enlarge Person instead, or even some ability to rust things.

    Rust should feature somewhere in the subclass, as Rust is a natural process of Metal and druid are protectors of the natural cycles.

    1. 'I suggest Con over Wis because Wis to AC makes them MAD,'
      Excuse me, are we forgetting that we are talking about druids here, AKA one of the few one stat classes in the game, AKA their stat of choice is Wis?

      Other than that comment I like what you suggest.

    2. Here's the thing though; as long as you are a Druid, your AC is X. Not all wildshapes have AC X, and this is really about letting a Druid use metal like the rest of the world, not destroying metal and playing right back into the stereotype of "druids have an irrational hatred of metal."

      Extra Attack would be nice though.

    3. Shardin hit the nail on the head when it comes to the reason I wasn't satisfied with this class at 2nd level: it discourages you to use metal armor. The reason I want with this version of AC was that it mimicked the way that Barkskin worked, but it definitely conflicted with the rest of the subclass. However, giving +Con to AC doesn't fix this problem either -- it still discourages the use of armor.

    4. Here is the thing about just using Dex-to-AC; Medium Armor means in order to have good AC out of Wildshape they need a little Dex; to use Wildshape in combat (which shouldnt be a focus unless you are a moon druid, imho) they need as much dex as they can collect.

      Unless you give them heavy armor, Medium Armor will almost never be used because of the tightness of stats in this edition. Medium Armor itself is kind of a wash, it has nothing it excells at unless you roll for stats.

      Something you might be able to do, is allow them to use their armored AC in Wildshape when wearing Metal armor. It doesn't solve the issue of a melee druid using any but a slim number of martial weapons needs - Strength, Wisdom, Dexterity, and Constitution. Again, without godly stat rolls you're gonna have to compromise somewhere - you will either have crummy to-hit + Damage, hit points, AC, or Spell Save DC; unless you use a Finesse or Ranged weapon, at which point metal armor doesn't help you.

      This is one of the situations that really illustrates the failings of the D20 system at its core.

    5. I'm a little short on time at the moment, so I'll have to investigate this a little more closely later tonight, but allowing armored AC in wildshape (which I imagine looks like a transformer animal thing) is on my list of things to research.

      More on my results later...

    6. I've read arguments both ways about Unarmored Defense type features being allowed while wildshaped, so depending on how you would rule that scenario, an alternate form of AC determination might work. Adding WIS to ac when shifted or unarmored could be interesting.

      Another thought would be something like Collosus from the X-men, a feature that covers the character in metal head to toe, you could even borrow from the Enhanced warlock for the ac rating at different levels

    7. I think, as long as we're going to let this druid pull metal fully formed out of the ground, that being able to do the same and shape it to ones body as full plate is entirely reasonable.

  4. I like the thought of adding a stat to AC instead of a flat number. As it is, barkskin is superior in every way. In regards to Iron Defense, perhaps an ability allowing Wild Shaping into a Rust Monster?

  5. May I suggest instead of Iron Flesh, you allow your metal armor to conformed to your wild shape.

  6. In my opinion, the second benefit of Magnetic North needs reworking. I don't think it's too powerful, but it's pretty fiddly and complicated compared to most other 5e abilities. It's also at-will with no real consequence for failure besides the use of your action, so a player (even a well-meaning one who is simply excited about the ability) could be spamming it any time they think there might be metal about. Could slow things down/annoy the group.

    I would put it on a 1 + Wisdom modifier per long rest limit, like the paladin's Divine Sense, and/or simplify how good you are at detecting things based on your level or Wisdom modifier or some other factor.

    1. Yeah, this might be something to examine more closely. I feel like adding a times/rest qualifier isn't a solution to this issue, however. This just means that players will have to keep track of the number of times they use it, which just makes it more fiddly. Plus, players might mistake the rest delimiter as a sign that the feature is actually deceptively powerful, and might use it more often because of that.

  7. I tried a thing! Let me know what you guys think about the new feature that replaces Iron Flesh.

    1. ooh, Iron Dire Wolf! That's pretty nifty

    2. I am imagining an iron frog with razor claws. Jumping around, clinging to enemy's faces. A frog with 17 ac and 2d6 damage.

    3. I see absolutely no problem with this. Nothing can possibly go wrong.

    4. Much better. The zanny possibilities are infinite, infinite I tell you. You are however missing an E in magnetic in Magnetic North.

    5. Damn, that's a pretty nice ability. May end up being extremely powerful though, such as my personal favorite form - the tiny spider - running around with 2d6 slashing damage and an AC of 17 or 18.

      Anyway, yesterday I was suppose to tell you a bit about the metal druid I was trying to make, but I ended up falling asleep when I got home after classes(was dead tired) so I never got around to it, so I'll do it now. Look for a new comment on this page for the details.


  8. So here goes, a bit about my 'Circle of Ore' druid:

    So I started out with a idea of "A druid that embraces metals as a natural part of nature, seeing as it exists naturally." and then just tried to think about abilities for such a druid:

    Naturally he would remove the metal restrictions on armor, and since most metal weapons are martial weapons, giving him martial weapons proficiency seemed good too.
    This immediately makes the druid into much more of a non-shapeshifting front-liner.

    Another ability I begun to think of was the ability to shapeshift into creatures made of metal, but seeing as constructs arn't exactly made of nature, and the other immediate ability I thought of discouraged shapeshifting, I decided against having this.

    So for a 3rd-level ability I found myself thinking 'I need something that supports the front-liner druid.' and what I ended up with was a damage reduction ability similar to what you gave your circle of steel at 10th level.
    Having thought of the Monk's 'Deflect Missile' I came up with a sort of 'Deflect Metal' ability I called 'Shape Metal'. It goes like this:

    "When the Circle of Ore druid would take damage from a metal object or metal source, he can spend his reaction to reduce the damage taken by 1dX+druid level(+wis mod?). If this would reduce the damage taken to 0, he can then spend a use of his wild shape ability to render the source of the damage useless." - The idea is to help the druid remain in the front-lines, so I give him an ability to spend his reaction to reduce damage from metal sources. This makes him quite good against humanoids, but maybe not so much against beasts and such. The idea behind the shape metal ability is that he uses his connection to metals and his reaction to begin affecting the weapon used against him. Turning swords blunt, softening maces, and such things. I thought it might be too powerful to always allow him to basically destroy weapons whenever he reduces the damage to 0, so I thought he could use a resource to do so. I am debating between Wild Shape and 'a number of time equal to his wis modifer.'

    The druid level 6 ability is an exploration ability, so your Magnetic North is pretty nice. I am personally not to good with exploration based features, so I didn't have much going here. I was thinking about trying to do something allowing the druid to find traps or something, but your Magnetic North is a lot better.

    At 10th level, I gave my Circle of Ore druid extra attack. A bit late, perhaps, but I did not want to break the 6th level exploration bit by putting extra attack there and pushing the exploration to level 10. Though I guess I could've.

    I had not really gotten any definite level 14 ability for my Circle of Ore druid yet, but I was thinking of making something magneto-ish, allowing him to control the metal around him.

  9. If you want to keep Iron Defense, I suggest removing the 'reaction' part of it. It compares terribly to Heavy Armor Master, which applies all the time and is only .5 worse on average but does not risk rolling 1 or 2; potentially, also double it against Metal weapons.

    1. You're right that it's a little weak, though I think I'll probably upgrade it to a d8 or a d10. Mechanically, I still like the idea that it's more like Uncanny Dodge than a constant DR.

    2. I am still not sold that it is worth your reaction. Consider/Contrast what else competes for your reaction and what other classes receive:

      Absorb Elements (1st level spell)
      Uncanny Dodge
      (Wild Shape Forms with reaction actions)

      Increasing the die size does not make the feature better, or less obtuse. You are still very likely to waste your reaction only preventing a single point of damage.

      In no situation ever at tenth level and above will that be a 'fun' situation. Especially considering any magic damage type or monsters with 'as magic' melee swings ignore it entirely.

      It is just not an exciting feature or even one that holds up to CRB class design. There are no instances of subtract 1dX. Only Resistance to X, and Subtract X Flat. And the lattermost example is on a feat that is generally accepted to scale horridly; being ridiculous on a VarHuman but garbage by the ~12+ level it would otherwise be taken.

      If it is a reaction, it needs to be resistance. Subtract X dice are just a funky mechanic, I don't really feel that they have a place in this edition.

      The only other way it could be reasonable would be as Deflect Arrows, but that would make it need to be 1d10+class level+Wis or Con, which would be actually a reasonable use of your reactio .

    3. I think you're misunderstanding a few things here.

      Firstly, this mechanic /is/ present in this edition. I stole it almost directly from a Goliath racial feature. Saying it doesn't have any place in this edition is entirely too narrow-minded. The mechanics are simple, usable, and don't slow down the table. More than good enough for me.

      Secondly, you're falling into the trap of comparing a 10th level Druid subclass feature to other features from other classes, and other features that expend resources. Don't do that. You're not getting Evasion without some serious multiclassing, which just isn't going to happen here. Spells and wildshape stuff isn't free, and this /is./

      Reducing the damage you take by 1d10 is still a reduction, and it's one you can do once a round, without penalty. That's a free ~-5 damage. In my opinion, the class has enough defense - that's basically it's thing, any any more would be overkill.

    4. It should be mentioned, that the Goliath racial feature allows you to add your Con mod to incrwase the floor above 1.

      But, I believe this is just one of the features that we will simply respectfully disagree on. The rest of the subclass is quite flavorful, so kudos on that.

    5. Definitely in Shardin's camp on this subject. A Reaction for DR 1 is pretty weak, and really feels like s let-down for a a 10th level ability. It isn't a massive chance to simple truly steal from Goliath like you have and give the Wis mod bonus to the damage resisted.

  10. I so very badly want to play a warforged druid with this subclass now.