Friday, October 4, 2013

Rules Cyclopedia Oddities Part 2 (The Druid)

One of the odd birds in the Rules Cyclopedia is the druid-class. It's advertised as an alternative to the cleric, some sort of prestige class you can switch to as soon as your cleric reached level 9. If changing classes at level 9 doesn't seem odd enough, look at level advancement, the new spells and the special abilities. It's a bluff package. Level advancement is the same as with the cleric, there are no special abilities, only restrictions the cleric didn't have and the spells may be good for some flavor, but aren't anything special. So it's less than the cleric for the same xp and you loose Turn/Control* Undead (which is a shame). There is really no good mechanical reason to switch to the druid.

Although it seems not enough material to make a new class from it (which I believe to be the reason for this oddity), I hate it when material is not accessible. Other than googling for a druid variant usable with the Rules Cyclopedia, I can think of at least 3 possible ways to make this happen just by using the book at hand.

Variant 1: As written, but from level 1

Spell progression is the same, level advancement is the same, hp are the same, just change/add the spells as suggested, use the restrictions as written and you got a complete class going. As easy as that, just not that different to the cleric. And lots of restrictions without any benefits. Nonetheless, it's an easy fix and it only uses material already presented in the book. So that's something.

Variant 2: Add special abilities, calculate new advancement

This is a slightly tweaked variant, also derived from ideas already present in the Rules Cyclopedia and with the calculations for level advancement as proposed here. I wouldn't go for a straight conversion of the AD&D druid just yet. It's the opportunity to create a new class from the material already manifest in the Rules Cyclopedia and I'll try and use it. So what do we have:
  • I'd go and borrow some ideas from the mystic like I did here to give the druid a special advantage. This leaves us with %-chance to identify animals, plants and pure water after the following formula:
d% roll vs. ([3 x Wisdom] + [2 x Lvl])
  • I'd steal the Turn/Control Undead Table and repurpose it for the druid to Turn/Control Animal. Consider this: Turning is ranked by hd, one hd per column on the Turning Table. A druid won't be able to slay living creatures with this, so every result of "D" is an attempt to control the creature. Intelligent animals get a save vs. spell if the result is "D" and the attempt is "control", a successful save treats them as turned instead (intelligent animals are those with an INT of 3 or more, humans and halflings count as intelligent animals, penalties for low intelligence should count for the save).
  • Take cleric spells, add druid spell, take away those spells connected to good and evil. Spell progression as the cleric.
  • All other special abilities and changes suggested in the book apply.
  • I'd also steal the hide (outdoors) ability from the halfling.
Prime Requisites: Wisdom
Experience Bonus: 5% for WIS higher than 12, 10% for WIS higher than 16
Hit Dice: 1d8 per level up to level 9, then +1 hp per level (no CON-modifiers)
Maximum Level: 36
Armour: All, but restricted to organic material, shields are allowed, but with the same restrictions
Weapon: No edged or pointed weapons, only made from organic material
Combat Progression: like Cleric
Weapon Mastery: like Cleric (normal)
Saving Throws: like Cleric

xp needed to reach level 2: 1800 (progression like the Cleric)

Variant 3: Add shape-shifting ability

Gains the ability to change into another animal as per the spell Polymorph Self at level 4, usable 1 time per 4 levels. I do not think it is necessary, though. But it makes the class feel a bit more like D&D. This lifts the xp needed to gain level 2 up to 2200 (still, level progression like the cleric).

There are several attempts to achieve this for the Rules Cyclopedia and clones, of course. The three above are just what I would use if I had nothing else but the Rules Cyclopedia at hand. I hope some of you find it useful. I'll go now and build a ranger class for the RC. It's something I wanted to do a long time ago, but the druid needed to be done first.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the other oddities in this series. Comments are, as always, very welcome. Especially if they praise the Rules Cyclopedia :)

* I allow Control Undead as an option, just like AD&D suggested (allowing control for some time with a "turn" and absolute control with a "destroy"). So it's not RAW. Anyway...
[Edit] Forget that this is not RAW, the Avenger could control undead, so the RC is already doing that one, too. Thanks to the Random Wizard for pointing me in the right direction!


  1. I think if you did variant 1, then that would start a precedent that the Avenger, Paladin could be classes unto themselves which brings the game to a more AD&D feel.
    Wasn't there a dervish class in the Ylaruam Gazetteer. I seem to recall it was like a desert druid.

  2. You're right about the variants, but it's a can of worms I didn't dare opening yet (and I just found out that the Avenger already has the option to control undead, so there is that, too). The Avenger for instance can "learn" to meditate like a cleric if his WIS is 13 or more, but for a price. Does it mean everybody could do that, if he's worthy and the price is right (or for free if you're becoming a paladin...)? Stuff like that. It also screws with level progression (in my opinion) if fighters are able to cast spells after name level (decided by alignment, no less). Thinking about it, it's almost necessary to make them classes of their own. It's those junctions in the Rules Cyclopedia, I think, where AD&D had to evolve from.

    The desert druid is another odd bird in that it's only a NPC class with a few new spells and the ability to turn undead. So actually it's even more a cleric than a druid.

    Gotta love the Rules Cyclopedia :)

  3. A fighter reaches level 9, and suddenly he can be a paladin! But I guess this makes a little more sense than a cleric suddenly going back to nature and becoming a druid.

    1. Fighters are a bit different, as they really grow stronger with those options. The Druid, on the other hand, is just a very weak Cleric. And still, I believe it shows the origins for what would become the Paladin and the Cavalier in AD&D (to name but two ...). And if the D&D RC is great for one thing, it's to see how tweak it, as it is done in the book so very often with all kinds of variants like those described above ...

  4. I like variant two, but I would drop the restriction on edged and pointed weapons. If the players can find and/or make an edged or pointed weapon using only organic materials, I say let them use it. A spear made from the stinger of a giant scorpion would be nasty, and still in keeping with the philosophy of Druidism.

    1. Thinking about it now, I'd agree. It would raise that xp range, though. Not much, I think (maybe to 1900 or 2000? Would have to check ...) but it will get more expensive. Anyway, good call. You'd leave the shape changing ability (point 3) out?