Neverwinter Nights Druid FAQ ======Version 1.0 ======= by Raama Legal: This may be not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal, private use. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission. Use of this guide on any other web site or as a part of any public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright. All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by their respective trademark and copyright holders. Copyright 2003. I. Introduction II. Druid Basics III. Character Creation and Feats Analysis IV. Druid Spells V. Druid Tactics, Roleplaying, and Archtypes VI. Extraneous I. Introduction: Unfortunately, druids are often misunderstood. Players often see them as tree-hugging ritualists fitting somewhere between Rangers and Clerics. Druids can be much more than that. So what are Druids? They are guardians of the earth, who draw strength and power from the forces of nature. If you look at their special abilities, Druids excel in natural settings, making them potent characters in uncivilized areas. These skills allow druids to effectively protect nature and the forests, and keep an entire environment in harmony and balance - the highest charge of affairs within a Druidic Order. Druids derive their power from nature rather than gods, although some may worship deities with an affinity for nature. This allows them to cast spells, some of which are unique to the class, without fear of armor-related chance of spell failure. Nevertheless, a druid's environment and Order may restrict the weapons and armor they may carry. Ultimately, being a druid is unique to the individual. As stated before, being a druid requires a strict adherence to the preservation of balance, a concept to ensure harmony and well-being in the world. In other words, sometimes unpopular decisions or actions must be taken in order to effect the best result for Mother Nature. Although Druids may help assist a city thwart a plague, Druids may just as easily allow a wolf to continue feeding on a farmer's chickens. In roleplaying terms, Druids are treated with skepticism by townsfolk and have difficulty forging long term alliances and relationships. The ethos of balance overrules all other considerations. Of course, most Druids aren't truly neutral in all respects - they do have values unique to each individual; therefore, most druids will attempt to shape the environment in the way he or she thinks best. Neutral good druids will take the time to assist travelers through a dense forest. Neutral evil druids may try to forcefully prevent such incursions from happening. In conclusion, you will be an asset in your party, in any number of roles, from backup tank and to dedicated healer. Your special abilities also provide you independence, giving you greater influence and freedom. As such, druids are only second to the bard in flexibility. Later, I will explain how the class is master of countermeasures, bar none. II. Druid Basics Alignment/Class Restrictions: You must have some measure of Neutrality, or the druid will no longer gain levels. This is a critical restriction, and players should watch their decisions carefully - much like a paladin would. Do not veer in any one "ethical" direction too far. Remember the mantra: Balance is everything. Select from Neutral Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, and Neutral Evil. This also means you will NEVER be able to multi-class as a paladin. Hit Die: d8. This is a rather robust sum of hitpoints, allowing druids to take some big hits. In a party, druids can temporarily take the role of the tank, if need be. Be sure maximize hitpoints every time you level up. Proficiencies: Proficient with druid weapons (club, dagger, scimitar, sickle, spear, quarterstaff, and sling), as well as shields and light and medium armors. Although the weapon selection is rather thin, some racial proficiencies or multiclassing may offset this. Needless to say, scimitars are a good value, as are clubs. Don't dual wield a druid (your few feats should be saved for more critical needs), otherwise get a ranger or fighter. Your druid should be able to fight well with these weapons, but he shouldn't be wading through the hoards like an angry paladin with a holy avenger. Take advantage of having a shield, as any AC bonus will be a boon while you cast spells. And because you don't have armor-related chance of spell failure, be greedy and take the best armor you can use. Saving Throws: Fortitude and Will is Primary, while Reflex is Secondary. Your druid will do well in situations requiring good fortitude or will saves, primarily because of high wisdom scores and decent constitution scores. Dexterity and reflex saving throw Improvements should be considered by the player, especially if you're solo. Take advantage of any equipment that comes your way to do this. Skill Points: 4+ Int Modifer (x4 at 1st character level). Druids have a nice selection of skills to choose from, and assignment of points is determined by your playing style and/or druid concept. These skills include Animal Empathy, Concentration, Diplomacy: Persuade, Heal, Lore, Parry, and Spellcraft. You should always maximize Heal (save $$$ on healing kits) and Concentration (reduce spell failure). I strongly discourage Parry (feel free to disagree) because Druids have exceptional access to high-quality defensive spells. If you play solo or multi, Animal Empathy provides additional allies and sources of information, making it quite useful (remember, it can also backfire if you fail your roll). Persuade is always a good skill, if you are solo. Spellcraft provides some outstanding bonuses, and worth putting a few points in. Lore is purely optional. Class Packages: The game provides some class packages tailored to certain archtypes, but you are always better off configuring your own character. Unless you are lazy or just interested in Bioware's interpretation of a Druid type, stick to making your own decisions. Note that these packages do not provide any special bonuses or features. Feats: Druids get the standard feats (at 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15th, and 18th) that all classes get, so you must be especially prudent in your selection. Feats are covered in Character Creation, but suffice to say, determine how you want your druid to be (concept, playing style, etc.) and choose carefully. Feats that boost saving throws are always good, as well as some of the metamagic feats. Weapon based feat selections should be done with utmost consideration. If you know you will multiclass, do not select a feat that the other class will be able to get for free. All this requires long term planning. For example, don't select the martial weapons feat if you plan on choosing a fighter class level at a later time. Special Features and Abilities: Level 1: Animal Companion. Immediately, you will have access to an animal companion, who will be your most trusted ally. Your choice is half pragmatic, half roleplay - so feel free to experiment. Everytime you level up, you can change your companion. At lower levels, choose more heartier creatures to take the hits for you. At higher levels, choose an animal that suits your playing style or one with special abilities you can maximize to effect. Remember to "FEED" your companion after every battle; they will recover any lost hitpoints and at no cost to you!. This is a huge, and perhaps unfair, benefit you should abuse. You can find a brief description of each animal in the in-game menu; I offer some analysis and insight to aid your decision. Try each one to sample their abilities. Your choices are: BADGER: Its small size, rage feature and spot skill make it a good companion in tight places, particularly caverns, dungeons, and sewers. In combat, it won't be very effective other than as a nuisance or distraction. Druids who put a premium on mobility (or multiclassed with rogue/ranger) may find them a comfortable fit. BROWN BEAR: This animal has the most hitpoints and a strong attack. It is a good choice for low level druids as they are ideal meat shields. You can just hang back and attack from a distance, making them quite effective for druids who emphasize spell-casting or ranged weapons. Unfortunately, they are not nimble enough to walk around large traps or other similar hazards. DIRE BOAR: Much like the badger, with a few more hitpoints and a stronger bite. Itís ideal for a city or indoor environment, with enough speed to make on-the-fly tactical decisions more effective in closer confines. It's a good balance between the badger and the dire wolf. I've noticed that Dire Boars are quite good at harassing enemy spellcasters. DIRE WOLF: Second only to the Bear in sheer hitpoints, the dire wolves can also dish out damage. They are ideal for the forest and open spaces, where they can run to close the gap against the enemy. They are quite effective against enemy rogues because they move often and rarely get backstabbed. Unfortunately, they also tend to go off on their own and chase down the baddies (sometimes into traps), so they require a bit more micro-management when you are engaged in combat. GIANT SPIDER: Quite interesting from a roleplaying perspective. Nevertheless, they are somewhat frail and easy to hit, and will not last long in battle. If you are a melee-orientated druid, they can do some great poison damage from the side while you keep the enemy engaged. They have some good benefits, like being able to cast web (and immune to it, as well), which offer tactical options. This can be devastating against enemies with low reflex saving throws - i.e. wizards and sorcerers. HAWK: Another interesting companion, hawks have immense non-combat value. They are excellent scouts due to their speed and stealth, and can effectively find traps. Hawks will later gain the Disarm feat, which would be a unique way to "soften up" a particularly difficult opponent prior to a battle. They are tough to hit, and can serve as an effective screen while you take action. They are perfect in outdoor settings with narrow valleys and walkways, easily identifying traps and enemy positions ahead. PANTHER: Another unique animal, the panther works like a rogue. With its stealth, it can backstab the enemy while you fight. It has a decent number of hitpoints, but can also be hit - so don't use it like a tank. Eventually, it gains the ability to be invisible, making it a great creature to scout with, especially in rural or forest environments. WOLF: The wolf is a nimble but aggressive animal that can scout and fight. It is rather quick, making it effective in a dynamic battlefield. I suggest using its stealth and speed to entice an enemy into following it, with you waiting with some nasty trick in the shadows. The wolf, IMO, has the best AI and pathfinding, so you won't find it getting stuck next to a tree. It probably shines the most in fluid, multiplayer settings. Level 2: Woodland Stride. This special feat gives you immunity to grease, web, and entangle spells. It's a nice feature to have, especially in areas infested with ettercaps or spiders. Level 3: Trackless Step. This feat grants a +4 competence bonus to Hide and Move Silently checks in wilderness areas. Although pure druids rarely specialize in stealthiness, this is an outstanding bonus for multiclassed druids (ranger/rogue). Halfling druids need only invest a few points into Hide and Move Silently to be effectively stealthy in a wilderness area. Level 4: Resist Nature Lure. This special feat gives a +2 insight bonus on saving throws against fear spells and effects. Another nice bonus for the druid, although itís nothing exciting. Of course, don't use it as a crutch against enemies who induce fear (like red dragons), but it's a nice cushion to have. Levels 5, 6, 7, 10, 14, and 18: Wildshape. The druid can take the shape of an animal at will, and at higher levels, you can do this with more frequency per day. This is great for scouting (but why not just use your companion?) or for engaging in melee if you don't have great fighting skills. Remember, you can't cast spells while in Wildshape, so don't hang back - go into the fray! Choose between Badger, Boar, Brown Bear, Panther, or Wolf. At high levels, you will have access to better shapechanging options, and eventually, Wildshape loses relevance as enemies become stronger. Level 9: Venom Immunity. The druid becomes immune to most poisons, making fights against creatures with venomous bites less dangerous. At this point, Druids are perfect spider-hunters. Squish! Levels 16, 17. and 19: Elemental Shape. The druid can take the shape of an elemental (Huge at 16th, and Elder at 20th), with more frequency per day at higher levels. The duration is about 1 hour per class level, and the druid can choose among Earth, Air, Fire, or Water. This is perhaps the most awesome special ability of the druid. You will be nearly unstoppable if you wisely choose your form in response to the threat. As an Elder Elemental, you can charge right into the battle and start tossing ogres like they were dolls. III. Character Creation Sex: Male or Female, it's all about aesthetics. Choose whatever you prefer. Race: No race has a penalty to Wisdom, so any race can be a good druid. This is purely a roleplaying choice. However, the choices are: Humans: Choose the human for an extra feat and bonus skill points. A good choice if you plan on multiclassing, or want a balanced and safe option. Elves: Elves are a great choice because of their racial bonuses, including access to quality weapons like the bows, longswords, and rapiers. Druids who will avoid melee or use stealth may find elves to be a good choice. Half-elves: A safe choice, sharing some of the benefits of both elves and humans. Dwarves: Dwarves have an amazing array of special racial bonuses, and will be perfect for a robust, rough-and-tumble type of character. Because of their high constitution scores, they can have high hit points and can be effectively multiclassed with rangers or fighters. Gnomes: Most of the racial bonuses aren't geared for the druid, although this makes for a unique character. Gnomes don't make great warriors, but they multiclass well with arcane magic using types (watch the armor restrictions!) Halflings: Best for stealthy druids, and they have some great racial bonuses. Another safe choice. Half-orcs: Like the dwarves, the half-orc is great for a melee-orientated druid. Multi-classing: As you level up, you will have options to multiclass. But like any spellcasting class, you sacrifice some high end capabilities to diversify your talents. This is entirely your option, but you should always consider what you want for your druid during the course of his or her career. Remember, you immediately lose some benefits if you multiclass, including the ability to shapechange into an Elder Elemental. If you must, I strongly suggest rogue (choose rogue at first level to take advantage of the bonus skill points) or fighter. These classes provide immediate benefits with special and bonus feats at early levels. Remember the trade-off you are making. Rangers are tempting because of the dual-wield bonus, but remember that you are restricted to light armor to make use of it. Dual-wielding may be cool, but remember that you are a spell-caster first. I'm not discouraging a multiclass with ranger, but I'd ask you to consider the benefits and drawbacks carefully. Monks are also worth a look (must be Lawful Neutral) because of the benefits they receive from high Wisdom scores; unarmed combat bonuses may aid your melee capability during Shapechange. Ability Scores: The Druid's primary attribute is Wisdom, since it controls every aspect of spellcasting - much like the cleric. Unlike the cleric, you cannot spontaneously cast a curative/heal spell in place of a previously memorized spell. High scores provide spell and will-save bonuses. You should have a minimum of 14 as a starting druid, and you should take note that a druid must have at least a 10 in Wisdom to cast druidic spells. Your spellcasting ability is tied to your wisdom score and you must have a score of 19 in Wisdom to cast 9th level spells. Spell levels are tied to the score 10 base + 1 for every level), so you must have 13 for 3rd level spells, 14 for 4th level spells, et. al. The other major ability scores are constitution and dexterity, to increase your survivability. These should be at least 12 in each. The rest of the attributes can be arranged as you see fit. Although increasing strength is very tempting, remember that within a short time, you will have access to Bull's Strength, so you can hold off. Also note that Animal Empathy and Persuade are directly tied to Charisma, so you don't want penalties. If you have to cut points, do it from Intelligence (try not to have less than 10, as it will affect your skill point totals and your ability to speak properly). I won't suggest any particular combination, because it all depends on your play-style. For first timers, I suggest: STR: at least a 10, but not much higher. Remember, you get Bull's Strength very soon! DEX: at least a 14. This will aid your Armor Class and any stealth abilities you may want to develop. CON: at least 12. This will give you a +1 bonus to your hitpoint dice roll. With a possible 9 hitpoints gain per level, you will be quite healthy. Remember, you aren't a true warrior so you needn't get stack this. INT: keep it at 10, so you suffer no penalties. No reason to raise this, ever. WIS: minimum of 14, and continue to add points as you gain levels. This is very critical. CHA: 12 is enough if you plan on using Animal Empathy and Persuade. Any additional points can be placed where you see fit. Skills: Choose those in accordance to the ideas discussed in Section II. ============================================================================ Feats: This is perhaps the most critical character development decision you have to make. Choose in accordance to the points discussed in Section II. Remember, don't duplicate choices if you plan on multiclassing, as some classes get certain feats for free. Be prudent and know your character. The following is quick synopsis of my analysis: Value Level: Platinum: THIS IS A MUST FEAT. YOU SHOULD TAKE IT. Gold: VERY NICE TO HAVE. STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. Silver: GOOD FOR SPECIALIZED CHARACTERS OR CONCEPTS, BUT NOT FOR EVERYONE. Bronze: A POOR DECISION, PERHAPS TAKEN FOR ROLEPLAYING OR SPECIFIC PURPOSES. Fool's Gold: THIS OPTION HAS NO DISCERNABLE VALUE FOR A DRUID. Alertness: <Bronze> This is only good for scout-type characters. You are a druid. You have an animal companion that may be able to do that. You can shape change for the same purpose. Why bother? Ambidexterity: <Silver> Unless you plan on dual-wielding, don't bother. Taking a level in Ranger and sacrificing Medium armor may be a better option. Armor Proficiency: Heavy: <Fool's Gold> With the outstanding selection of defensive spells you will have, why would you take this for a feat? You might as well take a level of fighter and gain an additional feat. Armor Proficiency: Light: You already have this. Armor Proficiency: Medium: You already have this. Called Shot: <Fool's Gold> Even if you are a melee-orientated druid, you don't need this. You have spells which can accomplish the same thing (Grease, Poison, etc.). Cleave: <Silver> This is a great feat if you can get it, but unfortunately you need to invest in a Power Attack Feat first. Aggressive warrior-druids may take it, but the cost is too high for any other type of character concept. Combat Casting: <Bronze> This is vital for arcane casters who have low Armor Class, but most of your spells will be cast before battle and remember, you will be maximizing your Concentrate skill and have an animal companion to boot. If you find your spells being interrupted often, go ahead, otherwise, skip it. Deflect Arrows: <Bronze> Requires Improved Unarmed Strike as a prerequisite. Unless you are a monk-druid, this is too expensive for a marginal benefit. Disarm: <Fool's Gold> Although this is rather cool, you will rarely succeed against fighter types. Additionally, it requires an Intelligence of 13+, making it a painful sacrifice to acquire. If you really want it, get the Hawk companion and have your pet do it. Dodge: <Platinum> Excellent because it leads to Mobility, which allows effective escape and movement through traffic. The bonus to defense makes this a great choice. Empower Spell: <Silver> For those focused on spellcasting, this is a great feat, although you must prepare it as if the spell is worth two levels higher. One empowered spell can change the course of battle. Extend Spell: <Gold> The spell must be memorized one level higher than normal, but the benefit of extending the duration of some spells (such as Bull's Strength) can be quite rewarding. This is great for buff-type spells. Extra Turning: Not applicable to you as a druid. Great Fortitude: <Silver> Druids generally do good with fortitude rolls - put the effort into reflex saves. But if you can't decide, this feat has its value. Improved Critical: <Gold> Go ahead and choose this. The feat simply provides outstanding benefits, no matter what weapon you use. Improved Disarm: <Fool's Gold> See comments on Disarm. This is not something druids should be doing. Improved Knockdown: <Bronze> You need Knockdown first, and most warrior types will resist this anyway. Unless you are something of a 10/10 fighter/druid, this is not for you. Stick to what you are good at. Improved Parry: <Fools' Gold> You need an INT score of 13+, which is pretty steep. Additionally, if you need this, why the hell aren't you using your outstanding array of defensive spells? Improved Power Attack: <Fool's Gold> You need the Power Attack Feat first and a STR score of 13+. Very significant prerequisites, which are simply too expensive. Even warrior-druids should be wary. The uses are too limited and your offensive capabilities wonít be that much better. With the penalty to attack, you will almost always miss against the very enemies you want this feat for. Improved Two-Weapon Fighting: <Bronze> Are you sure you didn't want to be a ranger? Improved Unarmed Strike: <Bronze> You really don't need this. You can afford weapons. You have spells. Why duplicate your capabilities with the ability to fight unarmed? Take a level in monk and get Cleave as a bonus. Iron Will: <Silver> This is safe choice, but since your Wisdom score will be high, it's not too critical. 10/10 Rogue/Druids may want to pick it up, but otherwise look for better options. Knockdown: <Bronze> First of all, you will most likely fail against any serious opponent. Second, the rounds you spend to do this could be better spent casting spells. It's OK if you want a thuggish druid. Lightning Reflexes: <Gold> This is a great feat because Druids will generally have low reflex saving throws. Feel free to take it at any time. Maximize Spell: <Silver> You must prepare the spell as if it is worth three levels higher, which makes this a bit too costly for the average druid. This is a choice dictated by your playing style. Mobility: <Platinum> This is a must have, especially if you plan on moving about in battle. Perfect for ranged attackers and spellcasters who want to avoid attacks of opportunity. All druids should have this, no matter the role that they play. Point Blank Shot: <Platinum> The value of this feat depends entirely on your playing style. If you use ranged weapons, especially a bow, take this. If not, it won't do you any good. Power Attack: <Silver> This requires a STR of 13+, but gives access to Cleave. Choose it only if you have lots of fighter multiclass levels. Quicken Spell: <Bronze> You must prepare the spell as if it is 4 levels higher. There is no spell in your arsenal worth this sacrifice, especially to replace a slot held by your high level spells. The price is simply too heavy. Don't be lazy and do some scouting ahead, and you won't be surprised to the point of needing a quicken spell. Alternatively, you can sacrifice your animal companion to the enemy as your prepare your spell. Rapid Shot: <Platinum> Ideal for elven druids or mulitclassed druids who plan on using the bow. This feat does not work for crossbows, so be careful. Shield Proficiency: You already have this. Use it! Silent Spell: <Silver> You must prepare the spell as if it's one level higher. Again, this depends on the style of your character. Will it make an impact on your spellcasting capabilities? Skill Focus: <Fool's Gold> No skill is truly worth taking a feat for. You will maximize the most important skills, so don't worry. Spell Focus: <Fool's Gold> Yes, you are a spell caster. No, you are not a wizard. It is not worth an entire feat to boost a narrow band of spells in your arsenal. Spell Penetration: <Gold> If you encounter enemies with high spell resistance, this can be highly effective. Take it if you have a feat to burn. Still Spell: <Fool's Gold> Must prepare spell as if one level higher. You really don't need this because you don't cast arcane spells and have no chance of armor-related spell failure. Bard-Druids may want to take this. Stunning Fist <Fool's Gold> You need Dex of 13+, Wis of 13+, Improved Unarmed Strike, and a high attack bonus to get this feat. Ugh. Too much for so little. Just take a couple levels of Monk. Toughness: <Gold> This is a favorite because you can never go wrong with more hitpoints. Two-Weapon Fighting: <Bronze> Unless you are intent on building a dual-wield warrior-druid, don't waste your time. Take a ranger level, instead. Weapon Finesses: <Silver> An intriguing option, especially for elven druids. It allows you to be less reliant on your STR score. Weapon Focus: <Gold> Choose your favorite weapon and go for it. This feat can provide the difference in combat. Weapon Proficiency: Exotic <Bronze> There are some nice choices, but nothing a druid truly needs. You are better off with a Focus in a druid proficient weapon than with the ability to have a few more options. Weapon Proficiency: Martial: <Silver> Many people will want access to crossbows, bows, axes, hammers, and swords. Choose a level in fighter, or better yet, use an elf. Not the best pick for a feat, but you won't regret it either. Weapon Proficiency: Simple <Bronze> You will be able to use most of the weapons on this list. Better yet, why not just choose the Martial Feat, if you want to expand your options? Weapon Specializing: <Gold> Unless you plan on having several levels of fighter for your multiclassed druid, don't bother. Nevertheless, the bonuses can be tremendous. Use Magic Device: Not applicable to you as a druid. =================================================== Name/Age/Diety/Subrace: Choose whatever you fancy. Appearance: Anything you like. Congratulations! You've created your druid! Remember to make a rogue first, if you plan to multiclass, to take advantage of the bonus skill points. IV: Druid Spells As you gain druidic levels, you will have access to higher level spells. You must select and memorize the spells prior to using them, making it important to have a variety of different spells to facilitate any contingency. Special equipment and high Wisdom bonuses provide additional spell castings. Spell Notes: I won't rewrite spell descriptions which can be found easily in the game, but I will offer my own thoughts and opinions. Level 0: Cure Minor Wounds - This is the easiest spell choice you can make for this level of spells. Always have a couple of them ready to go, just in case. Light - Eventually, you will acquire items that provide light. Nevertheless, this is a nice money saver because you don't have to buy torches. Resistance - Any bonus to saving throws is a good thing. Use this if you know you need it (like prior to opening a trapped chest) or when you face enemy spellcasters. Virtue - a temporary bonus to hitpoints is a double-edged sword. It will help you last longer in battle, but it's only a temporary crutch. The bonus hitpoints will eventually disappear and you may die if you don't heal yourself properly. Level 1: Cure Light Wounds - Another good healing spell. It's good to keep a couple ready to go, just in case. Endure Elements - This is an amazing spell, allowing you to take considerable elemental damage. Perfect against Elemental monsters or magic users. Have at least one in the ready. Entangle - This works great against a group of weak creatures who are hanging in the same area. Use it with glee. Grease - It won't hold down enemies like Entangle, but there is a better chance it will work. Use it slow down advancing monsters as you come up with a strategy or make an escape. Sleep - Hardly ever works against a serious monster. Weak creatures will be made effortless with this spell. Summon Creature I - A badger is not a big deal, but anything that distracts the enemy is worth a spell slot. Ultravision - Unless you are a human stuck in the Underdark, don't bother. Level 2: Barkskin - Use it to reduce damage during combat. This should always be used during travel and battle. Bull's Strength - Like Barkskin, your Druid should always have this "on." Charm Person or Animal - Hardly works on anyone who is a serious threat. Try animal empathy instead. Flame Lash - If you have trouble in fights, use this for a potent punch. However, it eventually becomes irrelevant as you gain in power and get better equipment. Early on, you can also use it to destroy doors and chests. Hold Animal - This is one of those spells that you will probably never use. The only animal worth a hold spell is a bear. Lesser Dispel - Effectively, a weak version of dispel magic. Use it to shake off some basic magical effects on your allies or strip some protections off enemy spellcasters. Lesser Restoration - Removes all effects that apply ability score, AC, attack, damage, spell resistance, or saving throw penalties. Always keep one memorized. Vital in muliplayer settings. Summon Creature II - You get a dire boar, which can actually challenge some weak creatures and defeat them. Resist Elements - An upgraded version of Endure Elements. Keep at least one memorized! Level 3: Call Lightning - Rather decent damage, use it to nail your enemies! This is the first big time offensive spell. Also effective against locked doors or chests. Remember, it works indoors, too. Contagion - disease a target. This can be OK to weaken a specific target, but anyone tough will probably save. Not really worth considering. Cure Moderate Wounds - Healing is always good, so you canít lose here. Dominate Animal - If you MUST have another ally and cannot risk a backfired Empathy check. Neutralize Poison - As described, try to keep healing kits or potions for this type of job. Poison - poison the target; good for weakening a tough target. Protection from Elements - Another upgrade, you should always have elemental defense. Remove Disease - As described. You may have healing spells, but you shouldnít insist on being a cleric. Summon Creature III - Get a dire wolf. See companion description above. Level 4: Cure Serious Wounds - Outstanding healing, but you should be able to afford high-quality healing kits by now. Dispel Magic - Keep this when you know you will battle spellcasters. A potential life-saver. Freedom of Movement - Yes, you may be immune to paralysis, but how often is that the case? Take only if youíre in a party. Flame Strike - Another offensive spell. Use it to burn your foes! Canít target doors or chests. Hold Monster - Tough enemies will resist this. You can use it against a target to block a narrow passageway. Stoneskin - damage reduction spell. You should always have this on. Barkskin can go. Summon Creature IV - Get a dire spider; get notes from above. Level 5: Awaken - Turn your animal companion into a true beast. Always cast this on your companion after your rest. Cure Critical Wounds - Great, but you should be able to afford potions of the same name by now. Death Ward - If you are up against powerful spellcasters, use this to defend yourself. Ice Storm - a great way to soften up a room full of nasties. Slay Living - Sometimes you get a lucky role and can kill some tough beasties. Most of the time, they will make the save. Spell Resistance - Again, if you are against big time spellcasters, use it to frustrate them. Summon Creature V - get a dire tiger. Powerful and nimble. Great for mopping up. Wall of Fire - Good for weakening rushing enemies, but it has more applications in a team-based environment, where you can use it to create traps and the like. Level 6: Energy Buffer - Another upgrade to resist elemental damage. Greater Dispelling - Powerful version of dispel magic. Keep some handy if you plan on running into spellcasters. Greater Stoneskin - Powerful defense, always have this on. Replaces standard Stoneskin. Healing Circle - Sounds good in theory, but will never really work unless you micromanage all your allies. Great in multiplayer. Regenerate - Increase your survival in battle, especially if you find yourself facing a tank. Summon Creature VI - Get a dire bear, he should provide enough distraction for you to cast another spell. Level 7: Aura of Vitality - Great prep spell, especially in a party-setting. Creeping Doom - the IDEAL spell to disrupt and harass enemy spellcasters. Fire Storm - Soften up enemies over a wide area. Harm - Have plenty of these powerful spells, just one lucky roll could make your day. Heal - Keep one on the go, just in case. Summon Creature VII - Summon a huge elemental. Then watch! True Seeing - Find those pesky hidden baddies. Great against clerics who use sanctuary. Level 8: Finger of Death - A nice attack spell. When you face a tough guardian who is solo, you may want to gamble with this. Nature's Balance - Lower enemy spell resistance; use prior to Harm. TRUST ME. Premonition - You will be virtually invincible. Always have this on. Replace Greater Stoneskin. Summon Creature VIII - Greater Elemental; watch him smash and crush! Sunbeam - Great against a hoards of undead. Level 9: Elemental Swarm - Send in Elementals to sweep through the area and take out anything in the way. At this point, you can laugh maniacally as you watch the show. Mass Heal - A fantastic way to turn the tide in a losing battle, but this should only be necessary in a party setting. Shapechange - Become the monster you most fear, including Red Dragon or Iron Golem forms. You can crush through almost any hoard of monsters. Summon Creature IX - a powerful Elder Elemental will demonstrate its anger. Storm of Vengeance: Wide area acid damage, great for softening a large group. Druid Tactics and Roleplaying: Animal Companion: Druids should always have an animal companion with them. They are more than just henchmen. They will die for you (which of your multiplayer friends will o that?), even if you are an ungrateful coward who uses their death to escape attention and flee. Take care of them and they will take care of you. That means Feeding them whenever they are hurt. Additionally, they will almost always take the initial blow of any attack, giving you time to get into spell-prep mode. Donít abuse your pet; use that time to take decisive action while you have the time. Finally, give them an advantage by providing healing and buffing spells. Awaken is the spell that shows you care. Summon Creature: Because of the long time a summon creature will serve you, you should take advantage of this capability, even if its just a badger. Anything between you and the enemy is good to have. You donít really have to care for this creature; you can even summon them on top of traps to set them off. You can send them to their death to check or test enemy reaction and capabilities. The more powerful versions can serve as bodyguards, keeping you safe while you concentrate on spellcasting. Use and abuse them, you have my permission! Spellcasting: You should always maximize the Concentration skill, and always have defensive spells up. This includes Barkskin, Stoneskin, Greater Stoneskin, and Premonition. Imagine the frustration of a fighter trying to kill you. First, he has to get past your pets and any offensive spells you lob at him, and when he finally reaches you, you are absorbing those few hits getting past your AC. In the meantime, you turn to an Iron Golem and give him the smackdown... This is your core competency. Your ability to raise so many walls between the enemyís weapon and your skin makes you very annoying to fight. Take advantage of your spells! Remember, you also have great and unique offensive and healing spells. When you are close to death, cast a Heal. As the enemy approaches you, hit him with a Harm Spell and watch your pet Dire Wolf take him out. Call Lightning is an underrated spell that few are prepared for, USE it. Creeping Doom is ideal for annoying enemy spellcasters. Keep some dispel spells in multiplayer to save your friends. You will be the most irritating SOB any enemy has ever fought. Equipment: Choose a one-handed weapon that provides additional damage, such as acid or fire. You ability to hit often will add up more than the occasional big hit by a two-handed weapon. Scimitars are perfect for this. If you are elf, choose rapier. Weapon Focus is a great feat to take once you choose your playing style. Get the best shield and armor you can find, taking advantage of the high AC you can acquire. You want to make it very difficult for someone to hit you. Donít worry so much about ranged weapons, even a sling is fine. In the end, you ultimately want your shapechange and spells to do the damage. If you must dual-wield, choose to multiclass (ranger, fighter, monk) so that your attack bonuses are higher, otherwise the penalties will only make you miss your target. In DM controlled games, the DM may restrict your weapon or armor choice. This is a holdover from previous versions of Dungeons and Dragons. You may want to ask him or her beforehand, and in most cases, the issue revolves around metal equipment. Shapechange: Yes, you get some animal shapechanging abilities early on, but they are rather puny forms. They can be OK against weak enemies, but you cannot last indefinitely. Itís rather cool for roleplaying, however. Once you get the elemental shapes, use it as often as you can in combat. You will be a one man wrecking crew against most monsters. Healing Spells: You have access to a wide range of healing and restoration spells, but you shouldnít focus on being a cleric. Take a few spells for emergency purposes, but most of your adventures should depend on healing kits and potions. Of course, in multiplayer, you may be the only cleric-type in the party, and players may look to you for help. In that case, do what is best for the party. Abilities: Choose Wisdom, because it ultimately affects every aspect of your capabilities. Donít choose Strength, for example, because you have access to Bullís Strength. The only other ability you may want to increase is Dexterity, because of its effect on AC and ranged weapons. This is better served by Dexterity-enhancing equipment. You really donít need Charisma because you can remedy the deficiencies by putting more skill points into Animal Empathy and Persuade. Battlefield Tactics: Make use of your minions to scout ahead and evaluate the dangers. You can then prepare accordingly. The panther or hawk is perfect for this. Because of this asset, you never need to invest in Move Silently or Hide skills. Have your pet go ahead and take care of this for you. In DM controlled games, use your Animal Empathy to talk to animals and get an idea of the world around you. For a short time, you can even control them. Your summoned creature should serve to guard you. With this system, you should have plenty of time to evaluate the situation and make a decision. Donít be afraid to retreat and sacrifice your creatures. Throw down a Grease spell and have your pets engage the enemy while you scram. Additionally, you have access to True Seeing and Shapechanging. A druid should rarely be surprised. In fact, you should be doing the surprise. Never go up against the strength of another class. If an enemy fighter runs toward you, donít place too much faith your ability to best him with sword and shield. Thatís not your forte. If you meet a wizard, donít get into a spell-throwing contest. You will always lose. You are warrior, cleric, scout, and mage all rolled into one. Use that flexibility to take advantage. Remember, you are the undisputed master of COUNTERMEASURES. The breadth of your class abilities offers a variety of means in resolving an issue. However, this can only come through experience and experimentation. Find ways to exploit an enemyís weakness, because you have the tools to take advantage. Remember, play to YOUR strengths. Developmental Strategy: Your druid will never be able to do everything. No class or combination of classes can ever be ideal in every situation. You will have limits and you must acknowledge it. Thatís why itís critical to have an idea of what kind of druid you want to develop. Play to that archtype. Fighter-Druid: You want Weapon Focus and Improved Critical, as well as Toughness. Your spell selection should be primarily comprised of buffer and healing spells. You will choose a stealthy companion to study your enemy before you engage them. Ranger-Druid: You will probably dual-wield and be proficient with the bow. You will have tough animal companions who may rush to meet the enemy. As they keep the enemy busy, you will pick away the most dangerous monsters with your bow. Then you will follow up by entering the fray. Your spell selection will be composed of summon creatures, healing spells, and Stoneskin-type protection spells. Alternatively, you may choose not to have pets as you travel and get by with stealth alone, only using your minions as need permits. Monk-Druid: You will use your ability to fight without arms to utmost effect by fighting while shapechanged. You will generally rush, with your pets, your enemy and attempt to quickly overwhelm them. Your spell arsenal will involve heavy loads of healing spells, elemental resistance, and saving throw improvement scores. Barbarian-Druid: Much like the Monk-Druid build, without the shapechange. You will find Bullís Strength to be very useful. You will invest in Mobility and Weapon Focus. Bard-Druid: This strange build emphasizes battlefield support. You will keep a distance from the enemy and rely more upon your beefy pets to handle the trouble. Your crossbow will aim at the most threatening target. In multiplayer, you may also use Bardís Song. Cleric-Druid: As a walking hospital, you will win your battles by simply outlasting the opponent. You will take the brunt of the damage as your hard-hitting minions pick away. Dire Wolf or Bear is perfect, and you will cast Awaken upon it. Rogue-Druid: You emphasize stealth and avoidance. Your objective is to sow battlefield confusion while the enemy gets gnawed by your pets. You will employ hit and run tactics, backstabbing, and offensive spellcasting (during Stealth Mode). In multiplayer, you are the complete scout, doing the same job as a pure Rogue but having a much higher survivability factor. Wizard/Sorcerer-Druid: You are equal thirds mage, fighter and cleric. Unfortunately, you must give up armor to avoid spell failure and will probably rely heavily on your pet, your familiar, and your summoned creature to act as a bodyguard retinue. You will avoid combat and focus on keeping your minions buffed, alive, and active. Your success depends heavily upon your tactical decisions and your ability to adapt to dynamic environments. Your wide area spells will be used to soften the enemy, and you will cast magic missile or Melfís acid arrow to finish off enemies close to death. Pure Druid: You are balanced in all respects, and will choose the course of action in an a la carte fashion. The majority of this FAQ dealt with a pure druid build. Extraneous: Regardless of anything discussed in this FAQ, you should never feel inhibited in your character development. Not everyone has to be the supreme power in the multiverse, and sometimes even flawed characters can be rewarding to play, particularly if you have a very good DM in your gaming sessions. Use the freedom and flexibility of the D&D 3rd Edition to create your own original character, and happy trails!