In this installment I'm going to tackle the new PC class – the Druid. But before I dive in, it should be noted that Druids have appeared in D&D before this, as a monster. So what do we already know about them from Supplement I – Greyhawk?
They're priests of a neutral religion, and combine the powers of Clerics and Magic-Users. They can also change their form into the shape of any reptile, bird or animal. They also have barbaric followers. That's pretty much it, and it's a nice broad canvas to paint on. If memory serves, I posited that the Druids had recently heard tales of new activity in the Greyhawk dungeons, and were making forays to investigate themselves.
The Druid PC class adheres to the monster description pretty closely. They are a sub-class of Cleric, and neutral in nature. Instead of serving a specific deity, they are attuned to Nature, and use mistletoe as a holy symbol. They are more dedicated to protecting plants and animals than helping humans. And given that their powers lie in different areas, they aren't able to turn undead (huzzah, says the DM!). A Cleric has to roll a Wisdom of 12 and a Charisma of 14 to become a Druid. So they won't be particularly common when using the regular 3d6 in order method.
Once a Druid becomes an Initiate (which means 2nd level) he can do the following at will: identify pure water, indentify plants, identify animals, and pass through undergrowth such as briars. I'm probably going to play these as skills and learned knowledge rather than magic, with the possible exception of the last one.
At 6th level, Druids get the shape-changing powers assigned to them from Supplement I, and are immune to charm spells from woodland and water creatures like Nixies and Dryads. In addition, the shape-change ability gets a minor tweak – whenever the Druid changes, some of his wounds will heal.
There's an off-hand mention that Druids have their own special language, which I'm going to treat as a secret tongue that no outsiders may learn. I'll probably model it on Celtic if it ever comes up. From 4th level, they also get a host of monster languages to pick from every time they gain a level.
The Druid has it's peculiar weapon restrictions even at the earliest stage – they can only use daggers, sickles or crescent-shaped swords, spears, slings and oil. How I explain this I have no idea. Perhaps it's a cultural thing, with the Druids only using the traditional weapons of the ancient people who originated their religion. They are also forbidden from wearing metal armour, and can only wear leather and use wooden shields. In general terms they get the same magical items as Clerics, but they can't use scrolls or other written materials.
Druids fight and save as Clerics, but they get a save bonus versus fire for some unknown reason.
Though Druids are tasked with the protection of woodland animals and plants, their MO runs more towards vengeance than prevention. They try not to slay animals, and can never willingly destroy a copse, woods, or forest. Presumably a loss of powers will be involved should they take this action, but the books don't say.
Much like Assassins and Monks, Druids have a strict hierarchy that limits their advancement. So far as the World of Greyhawk goes, there may only be four 10th-level Druids, two 11th-level Archdruids, and one 12th-level Great Druid. In order to advance, the Druid will have to defeat one of the existing guys in spell battle.
So, with Druids already making forays into the Greyhawk dungeons, I need an explanation for why they ally with the Guilds and become a PC class. This is pretty simple, given the Druidic mission of safeguarding nature – what is more unnatural than an underground catacomb that is home to all manner of warped creatures, where the laws of reality do not apply? Such a place has to be kept in check, and so the Druids, after initial exploration, decide to make dungeon-delving a regular thing. Of course, given their reclusive and generally unhelpful nature, it is the Guilds who will have to approach them, and I'm sure I can eke a quest or two for the PCs out of that set-up.
Next time: Monster alignment! A new system of initiative!