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Old 05-08-2017, 06:40 PM   #1
lachimba
 
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Default Druid DF advice

A potential player would like to run a 'Beastmaster' Druid in DF.


Any advice on builds? I don't want to go anywhere near Shapeshifting with points, will have it as a spell.

I don't want to have hordes of summoned allies to deal with?

Any advice on limiting summoned animals to a reasonable amount to deal with practically?

Anything else that I should consider?
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:59 PM   #2
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

Have you looked at Pyramif 3*60? It has a Beastmaster template and everything. Spell list as well.
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

In my friend's campaign, I had a character who had the Create Animal spell. He was not a druid, but the situation is parallel.

Neither of us wanted the character to be able to summon just anything, him because of campaign balance and me because I wanted to keep the list manageable. So the rule we used was that I had to study each animal before I could add it to my list. A week of full-time study would do. For exotic creatures, I had to encounter them in person.

It was limiting in a useful way without eating up points.
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

There is no way I'm allowing create animal.


I'm thinking of hard caps on numbers of animals and swarms present.

Maybe four if the player does all the work.
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Old 05-08-2017, 07:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

A few options:

I had one where I bought modular abilities trait limited to summoning animal allies, but with the uncontrollable modifier on the modular ability. This led to the net effect of animals showing up as needed to help out. They pretty much never had the minion enhancement, so they didn't fight to the death, did lots of non-combat things, etc. They just helped as needed at the whim of the nature god (GM) and then buggered off. It wound up being fairly light on GM bookkeeping and easy to balance because it was all as needed and occurrence rolls were modular, uncontrollable, and unknowable. It just worked out how the GM wanted. I did have to have a serious conversation with one player about overusing the Cinderella mice song, though...

The create animal spell is pretty good at self-limiting. It has to be learned separately for each animal, and more powerful combat animals are really expensive to maintain for long periods. Only allow a few, and it should be ok. The study option mentioned above is good, as spell for "study animal" is also not bad, especially if it requires a willing target.

A specialized form of domination or possession will limit it to animals you put in the adventure.
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Old 05-08-2017, 10:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

I don't think Create Animal is automatically abusive, though there are some necessary reminders along with a few safeguards that I'd recommend.

1. The druid cannot upgrade or alter the animal's template. In other words, use the critters from the Basic Set, not from DF5 (where their power levels are upgraded significantly!). Frankly, most animals aren't much of a threat against true monsters or armed and armored people, who just parry the beast's attacks with a weapon or Striker and thus get to deal active and reactive damage.

2. Always assume the animal is the largest SM at which it comes; no "this is a compact grizzly" arguments to get an energy discount.

3. It specifies only animals (real ones). You're within rights to say that this excludes anything with a class other than vanilla Animal -- no Dire Animals, etc.

4. Remember that the created critter is treated like a normal animal. Yes, it will do the druid's bidding, but that doesn't mean he can override its normal fight or flight impulses*. GURPS Bestiary (3E) suggests that any animal should make a reaction roll when wounded, with a penalty equal to the injury taken. On a Poor or better, it flees; on Very Bad or worse, it begins All-Out Attacking. (To be fair, the druid should get a chance to calm the animal with an Animal Handling roll, but even if successful, that takes an action.)

5. While it doesn't explicitly say that created animals have Fragile (Unnatural), that disadvantage states that it's designed to represent conjured beings and magical constructs. As such, feel free to declare (as a rules interpretation) that it's part of their racial template if you feel that this is necessary for balance purposes.

* This is one of the main reasons I gave every conjured critter in DF5 minimum IQs of 6 -- so they can react with sapience instead of instinct.
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Old 05-08-2017, 11:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by PK View Post
I don't think Create Animal is automatically abusive, though there are some necessary reminders along with a few safeguards that I'd recommend.
Thanks for the tips.

Is it ok to allow the summon animals spell to summon the animals from DF5? Edit: I guess not if they are IQ 6.


I still don't want annoying hordes of 'useless' animals

Last edited by lachimba; 05-08-2017 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 05-09-2017, 02:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by lachimba View Post
Thanks for the tips.

Is it ok to allow the summon animals spell to summon the animals from DF5? Edit: I guess not if they are IQ 6.


I still don't want annoying hordes of 'useless' animals
I would allow Summon Animal to summon modified versions of the ones in DF5; most notably, I'd adjust the IQ score back to their sub-sapient levels, or one level above.

Also, and this is just me, I'd have each animal a different Summon (Animal) spell. Same with Create Animal; it'd be Create (Animal). You can be as strict or lenient as you wish with this; you could have Summon Reptile or Summon Crocodile, but the former would also include alligators, snakes, and komodo dragons. Summon Mammal would probably be a bit too much, but Summon Bear would work for Grizzly, Brown, Black, Polar, and maybe even Panda. Likewise, Summon Big Cat working for Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Jaguar, but maybe not cover Puma, Ocelot, and Lynx. Be creative, and limit them however broadly or limited as you see fit.
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Old 05-09-2017, 04:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by lachimba View Post
Thanks for the tips.

Is it ok to allow the summon animals spell to summon the animals from DF5? Edit: I guess not if they are IQ 6.


I still don't want annoying hordes of 'useless' animals
Beast summoning specifically calls existing animals and that they move normally so it can only call what is available in the area even if you use the mass version.

So it can usually fairly easily be used to summon a swarm of small things or very few larger things. Swarms are easy enough with the swarm rules and anything large enough to threaten a human or similar is not likely to exist in large numbers inside a 10 mile radius. Any annoying horde of useless animals is thus likely a swarm with stats according to what they are like.

Create animal is also limited to known things and one creature/swarm for each spell.

If you are concerned with the player repeating the thing again and again to get many creatures you should remember that the things are animals so they tend to wander off to get food and similar.

I would really likely use reaction table a bit differently and treat most basic summoning as being very simple or average request for aid as the animals do not really have a concept of time, but see how well the request succeeds to see how many penalties they can take until they no longer help. And then I would increment the penalty by time and give a big penalty if the animal is wounded.

I would allow the player summon several swarms of critters of appropriate type for the location. So as example in most cities they could get several rat swarms. But if they were in a seaport town and tried summoning both seagulls and rats then seagulls would likely start to pick on the rats immediately and the rats would likely leave...

In the country side they could try for a bear and if lucky get one or a try for wolves and get a pack if lucky and so on. But in general the types of creatures that are useful either came as swarms, singles or small packs. In most situations the swarms are likely the most useful ones.

As for the druid: Protect Animal is a really potent spell but really slow to cast. A pack of wolves with dodge 12 instead of 9 (and DR 6 instead of 1) is suddenly much more effective.
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Druid DF advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by PK View Post
I don't think Create Animal is automatically abusive, though there are some necessary reminders along with a few safeguards that I'd recommend.

1. The druid cannot upgrade or alter the animal's template. In other words, use the critters from the Basic Set, not from DF5 (where their power levels are upgraded significantly!). Frankly, most animals aren't much of a threat against true monsters or armed and armored people, who just parry the beast's attacks with a weapon or Striker and thus get to deal active and reactive damage.

2. Always assume the animal is the largest SM at which it comes; no "this is a compact grizzly" arguments to get an energy discount.

3. It specifies only animals (real ones). You're within rights to say that this excludes anything with a class other than vanilla Animal -- no Dire Animals, etc.

4. Remember that the created critter is treated like a normal animal. Yes, it will do the druid's bidding, but that doesn't mean he can override its normal fight or flight impulses*. GURPS Bestiary (3E) suggests that any animal should make a reaction roll when wounded, with a penalty equal to the injury taken. On a Poor or better, it flees; on Very Bad or worse, it begins All-Out Attacking. (To be fair, the druid should get a chance to calm the animal with an Animal Handling roll, but even if successful, that takes an action.)

5. While it doesn't explicitly say that created animals have Fragile (Unnatural), that disadvantage states that it's designed to represent conjured beings and magical constructs. As such, feel free to declare (as a rules interpretation) that it's part of their racial template if you feel that this is necessary for balance purposes.

* This is one of the main reasons I gave every conjured critter in DF5 minimum IQs of 6 -- so they can react with sapience instead of instinct.
I really wish Create Animal had been mentioned in DF5 anywhere! Even one throwaway line like "don't use these templates for created animals" would have been very helpful to us.

In my group, we have assumed ever since DF5 was published that those are canonical druidic creations, and it wasn't obvious at all that Create Animal should be treated any different from Allies.
The spell does specify mental control, so the animal's intelligence and instincts seemed irrelevant to us: you mentally direct your conjuration the same way you would mentally direct your hand. A side effect of this is that I don't allow such creations to leave the caster's sight (you can't mentally control what you can't see).
I have always treated them as Fragile (Unnatural) though...

All of that said, although Create Animal is an extremely powerful (some would say OP) spell, without it (or with a heavily nerfed version) the Druid is very weak in combat, and our DF games are combat-heavy enough that non-combat archetypes (like the Thief) don't fly, as they result in bored players. As the PCs (and their enemies) grow in power, the usefulness of Create Animal does fade a bit, as the animal templates stay static.
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