Supplement Review: Divine Favor: The Druid by Stefen Styrsky from Open Design

Druids. I tried to play one in the last D&D 3.5e campaign I was in, but it never clicked with me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that a druid should be more of a solitary
“keeper of the grove” kind of character for some reason.

But recently I was introduced to the Iron Druid series from Kevin Hearne. Hearne’s druid Atticus O’Sullivan, a good Irish lad who’s lived for 2000 years, managed to shake that old-fashioned notion a bit. And a player in the 4e Forgotten Realms campaign I joined last month introduced me to the concept of a “Swarm Druid,” which also gave me a bit of a kick in the pants.

So I was curious to take a look at Divine Favor: The Druid (DF:TD) by Stefen Styrsky that was published by Open Design fairly recently. What I discovered was that druids are more than tree-hugging warriors and spell-casters of nature. They come in all sorts of interesting shapes and sizes, and can most definitely kick some tail.

Though Paizo updated druids quite a bit in the Pathfinder RPG, DF:TD goes even further to offer some other cool ideas. For instance, what if a druid had not just one wolf as an animal companion, but a small pack of them? Or what if a druid could change into a mass of animals like a flock of birds or a school of fish? Or what if a druid was bonded to raw elements like air or fire and summon element allies to fight in battle? These are but a few of the cool ideas in this short book.

The book is broken into a few chunks – starting with an overview, then covering new class abilities, archetypes, domains, animal companions, and feats. Switching up the class a bit by swapping out different aspects offers quite a few new options to play with.

The “New Druid Archetypes” section provides nine different ways to construct these natural wizards and warriors. Included are archetypes tied to the life and death qualities of moon worship as well as the more traditional “Green Man” visage of the forest and elemental druids tied directly to the air, earth, fire, or water. As a student of myth, I really liked the “Green Man” approach, which binds these figures to the sacred grove without making them completely immobile. And the elemental druids really appeal as well, drawing power from the basic energies of nature.

The new domains of magic also add some interesting crunch to these characters. Instead of using more traditional domains like weather or healing, you get the opportunity to explore the domains of birds or hunting, insects and transformation, and so on.

With the new animal companions, I’m not sure I’d ever pick a “Brain Ooze” as a druid’s animal companion, but it definitely offers something different to think about. There are a few unique critters to choose from in the list, from a mobile plant (the “Fast Flytrap”) to creatures that slowly crawl along the forest floor. None of the animals really appealed to me personally, but they might be useful to grant the occasional druid NPC a bit of variety.

But I definitely like most of the new feats listed. I can see Hearne’s Atticus using “Primeval Counsel” to communicate with the spirit of a natural place and “Rampant Growth,” which will turn any creature you summon into a giant. Druids are definitely not pushovers in combat if they can turn into tigers and tear their enemies hearts out or summon giant allies to fight on their behalf. I think I’ll have to tread lightly the next time I enter a place that might be inhabited by a druid.

As far as the look and feel of the book goes, it’s another solid layout with some great black and white artwork showing everything from ceremonial cups to plants, animals, and symbols of the natural world. Content-wise I think the book was fairly well written. I was a bit surprised to find some missing punctuation (a period here or there) and inconsistencies when referencing class abilities, feats, and so on. For example, there were multiple instances where a class ability like “Wild Shape” was listed as “wild shape,” which sometimes made it difficult to ascertain the context of such a reference. But these are minor nits in the grand scheme of things.

If you’re looking for cool ways to beef up druids in your Pathfinder campaign, I’d encourage you to add Divine Favor: The Druid to your list of resources. If nothing else, you’ll get some great ideas to scare the crud out of your PCs the next time they tick you off in a forest!

Look for Divine Favor: The Druid at Kobold Quarterly store, Paizo’s site, and at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.