Thoughts on the LevelUp 5e Playtest IV – Druid

No sooner had I started work on the Rogue playtest than the Druid document dropped as well – so we’re on to the Druid.

The quick skim has it being pretty druid-y. I like some of the blurbs on different kinds of druids and the suggestion of finding the reason your character became a druid before starting play – and even better, why a secretive druid would be adventuring in the first place!

I’ve set up a kind of formula for these class playtests now, so let’s get to it.

Things that stay the same up to level 10:
Druidic and Spellcasting at level 1 (and all spell slots thereafter), Wild Shape and Druid Circle Features at levels 2, 6 and 10, ASI at levels 4 and 8, Wild Shape Improvements at levels 4 and 8 (but see below).
Things that are gone:
Dead Levels! There’s only new additions to the leveling.

So what new stuff are we getting instead?
Well, at level 1, we get Exploration Knacksat level 2 there’s a few new features of Wild Shape, at level 3 we get Untamed Demeanour, level 5 gives us an additional Wild Shape ImprovementDruid Lore at level 7, and Ferocity and Serenity at level 9.

I covered Exploration Knacks in the Fighter playtest, but obviously they’re class specific so that do they do? Natural swim speeds, expertise dice (hello Rogue playtest) to certain checks such as Perception from a height, using Survival in place of Arcana for weird plants – basically they’re based on different terrains.

The changes to Wild Shape are interesting – Druids don’t take on the hit points of their wild shapes but gain temporary hitpoints based on a die roll and the CR rating of their new form, which by the way starts at CR 1/2. Oh, and they can turn into plants as well as beasts.
There’s also a handy AC column in the new Wild Shape table, as AC in Wild Shape is now dependent on 1/4 Druid level rounded down.
More on Wild Shape in a second.

Level 3’s Untamed Demeanour gives us some options for expertise dice and some skill quirks. Using Wisdom for Nature checks, expertise die on Animal Handling whilst also being able to speak to them at all times in Druidic, and understand them back, and finally attuning to local leylines to find North, nearby locations and anything untoward disrupting nature.
That last one seems the most flavourful, and I hope the Ranger gets it as an option as well.

Back to that Wild Shape improvement at level 5. The new Wild Shape table has four rows, not three – in this version of the 5e rules, Druids can always turn into a creature of CR 1/2, scaling to CR 2 at level 8 (!), but they can’t fly or swim until they reach level 5.

Druidic Lore at level 7 gives a couple of interesting abilities – scavenging from downed enemies for components worth gold to the right person, a sort of poison and venom intuition and advantage on saving throws against poison, and being able to cast a spell without verbal or somatic components once per long rest – unless someone else speaks Druidic, then they know what you’re doing!

Finally at level 9, Ferocity or Serenity. First of all, let me say I don’t like the name choice for this ability as our choices are – ferocity or serenity.
Ferocity adds a bonus to attack and temporary hitpoints whilst in Wild Shape, and Serenity gives advantage on concentration checks (!) and an option to convert uses of Wild Shape into spell slots.
Serenity seems pretty powerful.

So, over all I think there’s mostly hits for the Druid. I’m not entirely sure about a couple of the abilities, but I also know exactly which choices I’d make if I was building one as a character myself.
There’s a big emphasis on an air of mystery to the Druid, which I like but it feels a bit forced in places – I could play the character as a Discworld-style Witch with very little mystery to them, constantly explaining that what they’re doing isn’t that mystical and it’s just knowing how to do it.

I’ll be looking to see what parts of the class are the most popular now.

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