December 14, 2019

Circle of the Mantis

Druid Circle
Notes from the Nails: A druid, built around battlemaster maneuvers?! They said it couldn't be done, that it was folly to even try. But where they saw madness, I found brilliance. Behold, my finest creation! The CIRCLE OF THE MANTIS!!

Circle of the Mantis

Druids belonging to the Circle of the Mantis believe that the natural world is in danger, and that they need to fight to defend it. By emulating the combat techniques used by animals, from the swift, surgical strikes of the praying mantis to the heavy kicks of the kangaroo, these druids develop martial skills to rival those of any monk.

Combat Superiority
When you choose this circle at 2nd level, you learn maneuvers that are fueled by special dice called superiority dice.
     Maneuvers. You learn two maneuvers of your choice from among those available to the Battle Master archetype in the fighter class. Many maneuvers enhance an attack in some way. You can use only one maneuver per attack. You can use maneuvers as normal while wildshaped.
     You learn two additional maneuvers of your choice at 7th, 11th, and 15th level. Each time you learn new maneuvers, you can also replace one maneuver you know with a different one.
     Superiority Dice. You have three superiority dice, which are d8s. A superiority die is expended when you use it. You regain all of your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.
     You gain one additional superiority die at 7th, 11th and 15th levels.
     Saving Throws. Some of your maneuvers require your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:
Maneuver save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier
Bonus Proficiencies
Also at 2nd level, you gain proficiency with all martial weapons.

Leaf Camouflage
At 6th level, your druidic magic warps your appearance such that you can camouflage yourself as plant. You learn the spell invisibility, which is a druid spell for you. If you spend your turn in an area of dense foliage, you can cast invisibility without expending a spell slot as long as you do not move for the duration of that turn.

Stance of the Mantis
When you reach 10th level, you can expend two uses of Wild Shape at the same time to transform into a dire mantis (see below).

Improved Combat Superiority
At 14th level, your superiority dice turn into d10s.


  1. We're back from PAX and back to business as usual!

    1. Wait, Finger, no! You weren't meant to publish the druid first!!

      This was meant to be the really adventurous one where I push the boundaries of what's possible... You can't just throw it out there with no build up!

    2. *Looks at release queue*

      Oh. Yeah. I was about to do that whole set backwards. Because I'm an idiot.

  2. Hmmm... I can see it.

    Druids have always been odd ducks (and geese, and spiders, and bears) in 5e; They have the melee potential, but it never quite gets to be used the way you hope.

    A Moon druid's wild shape is quite enough to be a good HP buffer- but not truly for offense (maybe only in LVL 3-6), and while druids get Shillelagh and a few other interesting choices, they're never enough to offset the fact that as a full caster, you're better off playing an area controller.

    However, Maneuvers offer a fascinating solution- Riposte enhances your action economy, for example, giving you a chance to finally attack with that Shillelagh without giving up pure spellcasting on your turns. Other maneuvers can help the already-defensive druid keep his precious concentration (Parry, Footwork), or be used while in Wild Shape to be a better tank (Goad)- all without sacrificing caster levels, and while staying very fair & balanced- and, maybe most importantly, avoid the complexities of Multiclassing.

    Overall, with this druid, you'd still never want to make an attack rather than cast a spell- But you'd have amazingly versatile (and cool!) play choices with your bonus, reaction, and pre-combat preparation.

    10/10, so many strong points here, might look like a weird amalgamation but I think it'll be amazing to play.

    1. (Leaf Camo is crap, though. An almost useless ribbon. But I like the rest so much I barely care.)

    2. I agree. Overall a great archetype but Leaf Camo seems out of place. Also this is missing a way to regain Superiority Dice like the other Maneuver archetypes so someway to do that could work. Like maybe spending spell slots like sorcery points or meditating.

    3. To address "out of place": it was inspired by real-life mantises, which mostly mimic leaves (or soil) in order to ambush their prey. So that's where it comes from.

      As for "almost useless", yes it's a low impact ability. That's deliberate, since the subclass has loads of power in its other features. You can't have everything at once! And I mean. Invisibility is a good spell that's not normally on the druid list. It's better than a kick in the teeth.

      As for not regaining Superiority Dice, again that was intentional. I have a manoeuvre barbarian in the works that *does* regain dice, but if we end up writing 12 subclasses that all have Combat Superiority, they can't all have the same features or there won't be anything to set them apart. I figured druids don't need the dice regain, since they have wildshape and spellcasting. That's plenty of resources to spread across an adventuring day.

      You'll notice as well that this subclass gets one less superiority die and one less manoeuvre to start with. That's to offset the fact that it gets the moves at level 2. And like I said, full spellcasting is expected to fill in the gaps.

    4. Huh. I actually didn't notice it also adds Invisibility to your list; that makes it quite good enough.

    5. Plus, let's leave something for the poor battlemaster. Fighters suffer from Chronic Vanilla Syndrome anyway, there's no need to crank out subclasses for every other class that can look at the battlemaster and say "I am you but stronger".

    6. Scaalpel: Not entirely true... Fighter is somewhat bland, that's true, but it's also one of the strongest classes and possibly the one to get the most out of the action economy. It'll be more like "I'm you but I have fluff/flavor".

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    8. That's debatable in my opinion, they get nice bonuses but they are extremely susceptible to battlefield control in my experience, especially melee fighters. Even a rookie caster can fairly easily neutralize them, trap them or outmaneuver them for the most part.

  3. Welcome back. Did you have a nice con?

    Will you be selling T&T softcovers online, or were they a PAX exclusive?

    1. We'll be selling them online for sure! I'll keep you posted as we get things together for that.

    2. Cool. I'll definitely be buying one.
      I was also wondering if you had any updates on Dark Matter shipping?