For those of you who don't know, for almost a year Wizards of the Coast has conducted a semi-open play test for the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the project being creatively code named "D&D Next." This has been an ongoing process since May 24th 2012. As per the Wizard's website, the Playtest Package download released 19SEP13 on is the one and marks the end of the public testing.
The final public package for D&D Next has been out for a month now and I think it's time to put out some more into on my favorite class. This post is primary just an updated version of "Next D&D Druid, that was written a few play test document ago. Changes have been made and now is the prefect time for an update.
The Good The Bad ...And The Ugly
Wildshape at Level 2 Very Limited Wildshape No Animal Companions
Cantrips - D&D 4.0 Druids are less Versatile, having "Natures Endurance" (Poison/
Style At Will "Weapon to specialize by choosing a Druidic Disease immunity) has been
-Like" Spells Circle Removed as a Default Ability
Evergreen- Slow Aging Large Reduction of "Spell per Day"
Slots compared to D&D 3.0 and 3.5
No Summoning Spells
Quick Update: Since my last Druid post, "Wildshape" has moved to level 2 and "Druid Circe" to level 3. "Nature Endurance" has been removed and replaced with the Circle feature "Land's Endurance." This new ability work just like it's predecessor, providing the Druid with immunity to poisons and diseases. "Nature's Ward" was also moved to a Circle feature and "Healing Trance" was removed completely.
The Circle have been heavy adjusted. "Circle of the Oak" has be replaced by "Circle of the Land," which has different abilities..."Circle of the Moon" remains mostly the same.
This version of the play test ditches "Attack Bonus," "Spellcasting Bonus," and expertise dice of prior packages in favor of a catch all "Proficiency Bonus." It's a straight up level dependent bonus when you use or do almost anything your character is proficient. It looks like this:
1 to 2; +1 7 to 10; +3 15 to 18; +5
3 to 6; +2 11 to 14; +4 19 and 20; +6
This bonus applies to all skills and tools/kits checks your proficient with; attack rolls with weapons your proficient with, and spells casts while using a focus.
Wildshape: The Druid's supernatural ability to change their physical forum to that of an animal they are familiar with has been the classes "signature ability" for many years. D&D 3.0/3.5 Druids gained the ability to shape change into medium sized animals once a day starting at level 4 and would become more powerful as the character takes druid levels. In 4.0 Druids had the opportunity to shape change but it wasn't automatically given. The player would have to choose to take Shape Changing daily powers.
This current incarnation of the Druid class can Wildshape at level two but are restricted on what animal form they can take. By default, the form progress goes like this:
2- Hound, 5- Steed, 7- Fish and Rodent, 9- Bird.
To gain more shape shifting options a Druid has to "specialize in wildshaping" by selecting the Moon as their Druid Circle.
Spell Casting: Basically, it's 3.5 Spell Casting with a few 4.0 traits. Daily Spell Slots are back and Druids once again have nine levels of spells at their disposable. The down side is that the actual number of spells that can be cast per day has be drastically reduced compared to 3.5. At the maximum level of 20, druids will only be able to cast 19 spells, divided between 9 spell levels, per day not counting Cantrips which are at will and free or Circle of the Land extra/bonus spells. This is a vast reduction compared to a D&D 3.5 Druid's 39 base spell slots, not counting 0 level or bonus spells granted by high spell casting ability score.
The "Circle of the Land " is the Druid's spell casting specialization option. It gives the Druid an a free spell slots and added spells to the Druids spell list base on which of the seven lands they became a Druid in: Coast, Desert, Forest, Grasslands, Mountain, Swamp, or Tundra.
Circle of the Land: Originally, this was the Druid's extra spell casting option but it's received a substantial upgrade. In this incarnation, it has a lot more flexibility and a lot more options to players. A Druid that picks this Circle at level three gains a Land Type which grants one free specific spells at 3, 5, 7, and 9 based on their choice. For example, below are two of the seven choices available:
3- Augury, Barkskin 3- Augury, Spike Growth
5- Call Lighting, Plant Growth 5- Sleet Storm, Slow
7- Divination, Freedom of movement 7- Freedom of Movement, Ice Storm
9- Commune with Nature, Plant Door 9- Commune with Nature, Cone of Cold
Also, they gain bonus spell lots and the following unity abilities: Land's Stride, Nature's Ward, Land's Endurance, and Beast Spells. I already spoke about "Land's Endurance, Land Stride (A.K.A Woodland stride) and Nature's Wards (A.K.A Resist nature's lure) work similarly to there 3.5 counterparts. "Beast Spells," allows Druids to cast spells in any forum, is very useful but it's too bad that you have to wait till level 20 to get it. My Pathfinder Druid can do that at level 5 by taking the Natural Spell Feat.
Circle of the Moon: This Circle has not changed much since my last post but there are a few differences. Right when a Druid selects this Circle they gain the ability "Moon Shapes" which heals hit points equal to your Druid level when reverting from a Wild Shape and gives the Druid a +2 to STR/|DEX while in Hound form. Last play test they give extra forms as soon as get a circle but this time around you have to wait level 6 to receive extra forums. here is the breakdown for your Circle fourms:
6- Cat and Bear (Battle Shapes) 14- Ancient Battle Shapes
10- Giant Battle Shapes 16- Behemoth Shape
Lastly, at level 20 a Moon Circle member gets "Instinctive Wild Shape" which allows the druid to Wild Shape an unlimited times per day. Once again, Pathfinder already does this and they don't require a feat or any other specialization either. All Druids can Wild Shape at will it at level 20 by default.
No Animal Allies: I covered this at length on my last post so I'll keep it short this time. In D&D 4th edition Wizard of the Coast moved away from summoning spells and player controlled companions for all classes. When first released there were absolutely no powers or abilities that dealt with summoning or companion creatures but they added in a splash of it with later 4.0 release. Unfortunately, it looks like D&D Next is also going down this road.
To me, it feels like the Druid Class is missing a core element without gaining really anything in return. In the Pathfinder RPG, Druids can choice to forgo a animal companion by selecting a Cleric domain as their "Nature's Bound." Sure they are giving up an animal ally but they are getting something almost as good in return.
Overall: So far, I really don't like what I'm seeing with my favorite class. I'm not saying that D&D Next is bad, that too early to tell but this class really needs an over hull. D&D Next Druid is a striped down 3.5 model with a few 4.0 additions. They took away a lot of what makes a Druid awesome and they give us practically nothing new in return.