December 2, 2020

Urban Druid Redux

Druid Circle
Comments from the Finger: Our old Urban Druid has long been a staple of nontraditional druids everywhere, but it has definitely shown its age. We’ve learned a lot about how to make subclasses really sing in the years since its original release, so we’ve redesigned it from the ground up. Enjoy the new and improved Urban Druid!

Circle of the City

The city lives; it has a pulse. Its skin is of walls and towering stone structures, its breath is of chimneys and rivers. While the city exists, it lives in harmony with its people, a delicate balance mediated by the urban druids. These urban druids belong to the Circle of the City and are a direct antithesis to the conventional idea of a druid; whereas a normal druid lives among majestic forests or breathtaking mountains and dresses in the greenery of the forest, an urban druid wears unassuming clothes and wanders the back alleys of a well-trodden city. But their powers are not to be underestimated. Druids of this circle can channel their natural powers to twist the streets into knots, uproot towers, and animate the cobblestones. Their charge might be unorthodox, but their authority over the cityscape matches any other druid’s power over the forest.

Urban Arcana
Beginning when you choose this circle at 2nd level, your druid spells lose the aesthetic trappings of nature and instead appear inspired by the jungles of buildings, columns, and cobblestones. For example, entangle and spike growth might cause growths of metal wires and twisting pipes. Barkskin might grant you the appearance of pitted iron or brick.
Additionally, you can wear armor and wield shields made of metal.

At 2nd level, you have advantage on Intelligence (Investigation) checks to gather rumors or find a creature or location within an urban environment. 
    Additionally, you learn thieves’ cant, a secret mix of dialect, jargon, and code that allows you to hide messages in seemingly normal conversation. Only another creature that knows thieves’ cant understands such messages. It takes four times longer to convey such a message than it does to speak the same idea plainly.

City Shape
Starting at 2nd level, as an action, you can expend a use of your Wild Shape feature to warp the city around you. Choose one of the following effects: 
    Cobbleshift. You magically manipulate the components of a constructed floor—bricks, cobblestones, planks, and similar objects—within 60 feet. Each component can move up to 1 foot, and doesn’t cause instabilities in their structures. When you use this effect, you can cause any sections of floor that you choose within the area to become difficult terrain, and can cause any creature standing in one of those sections to make a Dexterity save against your spell save DC or fall prone. You are unaffected by this difficult terrain. 
    Additionally, you can use your action on each of your turns to raise up to three low walls from the floor, each each 2 and 1/2 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 1 foot deep. Such a wall can generally provide half cover for a Medium creature. These walls provide no instability in surrounding structures.
    This ability lasts for 1 minute. After this time, all components and walls magically revert to their original positions.  
    Passwall. You cast the spell passwall without expending a spell slot or material components. 
    Wall Warp. A wall that you can see within 30 feet magically shifts, grows, shrinks, or rotates. This wall must be a contiguous surface without corners, at most 1 foot thick, and must be made out of wood, plaster, stone, or must otherwise be not naturally-occurring. The wall must remain vertical, but you can move it into any position you choose within a 60 foot radius of its previous position which doesn’t occupy the same space as creatures or objects. If you cause the wall to grow or shrink, you can only change its dimensions vertically. These changes to the wall create no instability in their structures. After 1 minute, the wall reverts to its original size and position.

Whispers of Walls
Beginning at 6th levels, the walls speak to you in a quiet tremor. You can use your action to touch a constructed part of a building, such as a wall, pillar, ceiling, or floor. You learn how many humanoid creatures are within that building, and how many are within each room. If there are more than fifty humanoids in a building, you only detect the closest fifty. 

Breath of Smog
Starting at 10th level, you can exhale a 10-foot radius sphere of toxic smoke, centered on yourself, as a reaction whenever you take damage. This area is heavily obscured. If a creature other than you is completely within the smog at the start of its turn, it must make a Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC or be poisoned until the start of its next turn, as it coughs uncontrollably.
This smog dissipates after 1 minute. A moderate wind (at least 10 miles per hour) disperses the cloud after 4 rounds. A strong wind (at least 20 miles per hour) disperses it after 1 round. 
Once you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you use your City Shape feature or you finish a short or long rest.

Twisting Architecture
By 14th level, you command total mastery of the city’s architecture, warping to any shape you might imagine. You can expend two uses of your Wild Shape feature to activate any and all effects of your City Shape ability at one time. 
    Additionally, when you use your City Shape feature, you can warp the gravity along any surfaces you choose within a 60-foot radius. For the next minute, creatures and objects within 15 feet of one of these surfaces fall toward it as if it were the ground. A creature can walk on this surface as if it were level ground, even if the surface is perpendicular to the ground or upside down. At the end of this duration, all creatures and objects fall from the affected surfaces.

12/7/20: Breath of Smog: Imposes Poisoned
City Shape: Cobbleshift: Action damage replaced with Action cover


  1. For the most part, I actually liked the previous iteration better...

    Cobbleshift really rubs me the wrong way. Druids already have sooo many spells that use your action to keep dealing damage (flame blade, moon beam, call lightning) and a few more than use your bonus. That's the last thing they're in need of.

    Wild shape options are, usually, for giving a druid an offensive power other than spells, but while the action is cool, and certainly useful, it just seems like a pretty boring option.

    Breath of Smog (not to be confused with the breath of Smaug) gives disadv. on attacks and ability checks. That's exactly the poisoned condition. Why not just make it that?
    (Also, should be as a reaction WHEN you take damage, not whenever you take damage.)

    As for twisting architecture... That's the kind of feature I'd love to have as a player, and completely hate as a DM, because of the huge amounts of added complexity and DM decision-making involved.

    1. All that being said, this is really innovative and very thematic. It just feels kinda... clumsy, while the previous version seemed simpler and more elegant.

    2. All of that's fair! We're reworking this so we can place it in a book alongside some of the more melee-centric druids (without being redundant or underpowered in direct comparison), and have it be substantially more compatible with different campaign settings. The idea is to push this as a crowd control druid, with a focus on manipulating the environment to your advantage. It's not a radical take by any means, but getting Escheresque with the features should lead to some fun character moments.

      Cobbleshift was a struggle -- it's gone through a few iterations, and giving a bunch of difficult terrain just wasn't cutting it. Would you prefer it also offer a bonus action thing? Some other bonus within its range?

      The point about Breath of Smog is a good one; I'll change that shortly to imposing poisoned on a target.

      I don't know if I fundamentally agree on Twisting Architecture; it seems less intrusive than Wall Warp, and by 14th level, a spider climb-like ability is hardly revolutionary.

    3. would being able to rearrange and re-trip within the original area for the duration be a reasonable alternative to a not!cantrip? Or if the one-off casting could go as far as to make 5ft pits/"hills" initially but not have secondary activity over the duration?

      Or maybe you can use it to create "caltrops" in spaces as you desire (possibly rearrangeable) as a kind of weaker not!spike growth?

    4. What about creating instant cover? Cover is an underused staple of urban combat, so being able to immediately create a number of 1/2 covers (equal to Wis modifier+prof bonus, for example), maybe spending 2 for a 3/4 cover...

      And moving the covers as a bonus action.

  2. I like this a lot better than the older version! Especially the pivot away from construct wild shape, that was weird.

    The disguise self bit is the only part that seems 'missing' in this version. Maybe add that as a fourth option? Actually, passwall at 2nd level seems very strong, so maybe replace passwall with disguise self at 2nd level and gain the passwall option at 6th.

    1. Though maybe restrict that to when you're "in a crowd", operationalized as within 100 ft. of 12/20/50 other humanoids.

      (Also, for clarity, I am the same author as for this comment, #c3260383707738558553 from July 23, 2017.)

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