Posted by : David Guyll February 25, 2013

The druid, as well as some unnamed classes (hopefully the warlord and a still-interesting sorcerer), might be available in the near future.

I only played a druid in 2nd Edition once, and for only a single session, so I cannot really comment on it except that I found the Neutral-only alignment (as well as 2nd Edition's interpretation of it) and limited number of druids of certain levels to be silly restrictions.

3rd Edition freed this up a bit, but the druid became a veritable power-house early on due to her ability to transform into a variety of animal forms that allowed her to outclass the fighter, while still casting spells.

4th Edition removed the druid's animal companion (which was restored in the sentinel, a druid sub-class), but let you wildshape at the start, whenever you felt like it. The class also had access to a mix of nature-oriented magic (which required you to be in human form), and some animal-form special attacks, making the class pretty flexible and complex.

My main criticism was that there were some odd limitations to what you could do in an animal form in the name of balance, namely not having to movement modes of the animal form (ie flying, climbing, and swimming), and, if I recall correctly, being unable to pick up objects even if you were, say, a monkey.

Despite this, the 4th Edition druid was my favorite incarnation because it felt unique and played very differently from the other classes, eventually got a swarm-druid in Primal Power, and I loved the druid seasons in the Essentials line.

While I am fully expecting a 3rd Edition clone, complete with per-day spells and wildshaping, alignment restrictions, and so on, what I would like to see is a druid that can adopt something like an animal totem, terrain type, or season (maybe find a way to mesh these all), with a focus on nature magic and wildshaping. Animal companions can be relegated to a rules module or feat tree (which I think is where they are going with this, anyway).

What I would like to avoid are certain global features like immunity to poison, timeless body, and other stuff that we got with the monk.

I liked the inclusion of roles in 4th Edition (or rather, the greater acknowledgement of them). I also liked that the roles were more accurate: a fighter could actually protect her allies. To me it provided an easy way, at a glance, to convey what the class was by default intended to be good at, greatly speeding up the process of finding a class that suited your play-style and/or filling a perceived gap in your party.

It is unfortunate that some players took this to mean that the game was enforcing a specific play-style, or "pigeon-holing" a class, despite many bleeding into one or more other roles (such as the fighter and striker, or the paladin and leader). I think that, ultimately, roles do more good than bad, as long as they accurately depict the class they are applied to.

I am not a fan of the proposed flat-rate healing, even if this is just the simplest standard. By having every character, regardless of Hit Dice or Constitution, heal at the exact same rate, you make weaker characters heal up faster than the tougher ones, which does not make a lot of sense. At the least, I think that making the rate depend on your Hit Dice and/or Constitution modifier would make more sense and still be pretty simple, but would settle for the current per-day Hit Dice rules because even there you have fighters with more staying power.

I also do not want to have to shift to another set of rules just because someone does not want to play a cleric. What about if there is none in a group, but someone rolls one later; do we just shift gears back and forth? I get that cleric as the primary, if not only, source of healing has been around for some three editions, but 4th Edition took a major step in the right direction by providing numerous other, different, viable options, without making it necessary.

4th Edition did a really good job of making it so that you did not need a healer, and that is the baseline that you should work with: make classes with access to healing useful, but not necessary.

{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I wonder if a true healing skill would be viable? A skill any class could invest in. If we allow mages to unlock doors with knock spells, while rogues rely on skill, why not clerics healing with cure spells and other classes using first aid?

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  2. I second that.
    First aid is something that anyone should be able to attempt.
    Clerics, Wizards, and Druids might be able to take a healing specialty feat/feature that lets them get a bonus to the check or HP restored depending on a religion, arcana, or nature check.

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