Saturday, April 7, 2012

Converting 4E Classes to AD&D: The Druid

The Druid is my favourite class in 4E. You might be thinking "Dude, there already are Druids in AD&D!" but the 4E Druid is fairly different to the Druids of old. In AD&D, shape-changing as a Druid is definitely something you can do, but it's not your defining attribute or anything. 4E Druids, on the other hand, are all based around their ability to transform into their totem animal. In most games I've played with my 4E Druid, I've been shapeshifting every round. Having different powers in human and beast forms makes for a really exciting tactical challenge. The question is always: "What form do I want to be in now? What form will I want to be in next turn?"

So my rebuilt version of the Druid is now called the Shapechanger, and is quite distinct from the original Druid class.

The shapechanger is a character who has a natural affinity for the wilds and for the creatures that dwell there. Depending on your campaign milieu, they may be gifted the power of shapechanging by magic or they may be a separate race from humanity. Regardless, the shapechanger has been able to transform into some sort of beast from a young age. As such, shapechangers have a much more primal and less intellectual connection to nature as compared to Druids.

Shapechangers use 8-sided hit dice but may not wear any armour, and may not wield any weapons except daggers, staves and slings. They do not gain any bonuses to attack rolls, save in beast form (see below). To qualify for the Shapechanger class, the character must have at least 14 Wisdom and at least 11 Constitution.

Druidic Magic: The shapechanger can cast spells from the Druid spell list, though in a more limited quantity (see table below). Spells may only be cast while in human form.

Wild Shape: Shapechangers can transform themselves into other creatures. This may be performed multiple times per day, but it takes 2 rounds to complete the transformation. The shapechanger may only ever change between animal and human forms, never between two different animal forms. While shapechanging, the character is utterly helpless as their bones and organ rearrange, and they may be attacked as though they were unconscious.

The shapechanger begins play with one randomly chosen form into which they may wild shape, and they gain another such form at 2nd, 4th and 6th levels. The forms are as follows:

1 – Crow
6 – Horse (trample 1d6)
2 – Bear* (claws strike for 1d6/1d6)
7 – Shark* (jaws 1d8)
3 – Wolf* (bite 1d6; tracking ability)
8 – Mole (dig through dirt)
4 – Centipede* (bite for 1d2, save vs. poison or take 1d4 extra damage)
9 – Tiger* (claws 1d6/1d6; camouflage in forest settings)
5 – Mosquito (carry pathogens)
10 – Elephant (trample 1d8)
11 – Porcupine (1d4 spine damage when attacked)
12 – Kangaroo (jump 6ft)
Forms marked with a * gain bonuses to their attack rolls based on hit dice as if they were monsters, though this caps out at 6th level. The shapechanger retains the same hit dice and hit points regardless of form.

Form Devouring: At 7th level, the shapechanger gains the ability to acquire forms through a ritual. This ritual requires the heart of a creature killed within the last 24 hours (creatures without hearts cannot be subject to the ritual). It also requires 2 hours of concentration on the part of the shapechanger, and the ritual focus of a silver totem worth at least 200gp. At the climax of the ritual, the shapechanger devours the heart and gains the ability to transform into the creature that has been devoured. Note that this form will have the exact appearance of the devoured one, so the shapechanger may potentially impersonate one whom they have killed. It is up to the Dungeon Master to determine the ethical consequences of form devouring. It is recommended that devouring animals should be considered a neutral act, but devouring sentient beings would be an evil act.

The Shapechanger's other statistics are as follows:

Hit Dice
Available forms
Druid spells per day
1 x L1
2 x L1
2 x L1,1 x L2
2 x L1, 1 x L2
3 x L1, 1 x L2
3x L1, 2 x L2
4 + acquired
3x L1, 2x L2, 1x L3
4 + acquired
4x L1, 3x L2, 2x L3
4 + acquired
4x L1, 4x L2, 3x L3
4 + acquired
4x L1, 4x L2, 3x L3, 1x L4
100,000 XP and +1hp for each level beyond the 10th.

I'm not sure if this class is overpowered compared to the AD&D Druid or any other class, but I guess it doesn't matter too much. What I wanted to capture was the meaningful decision of which form to be in. Where 4E presents that decision on a turn-by-turn basis, this version presents it encounter-by-encounter. Will you want to be in your beast form in order to fight enemies or scout ahead? Or should you be in your human form so you can cast your spells? Transforming takes a long time and leaves you vulnerable, so you'll be most effective if you can be in the right form before you get into combat or some other time-critical situation.

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