Bad Boy Druids

When I think of druids, I think of human sacrifices, wicker man style burnings, and an extremely ‘zero tolerance’ regime ruling through fear.

This doesn’t really fit well with the Rolemaster’s vision of the druid. I cannot help but wonder if the druid is needed at all as a profession. Are they no just clerics or evil clerics from a Celtic culture?

I can see a lot of role-playing opportunities for playing a druid in a Celtic or Roman-inspired campaign but after that, the profession starts to hit problems.

In the RMC Companion One, the druid is an animist with alternative base lists. It is inevitable then that the discussions this week on druids are going to center on the spell lists.

Animal Mastery

I quite like this list. It provides a lot of utility in almost every adventuring situation from putting guard dogs to sleep to being able to use Blofeld’s cat to spy against him (Animal Tongues + Befriending). Animal summoning can be used to boost the combat abilities of a party, and a bit of animal healing in there as well. It is a good all-round list with lots of uses.

Druid’s Peace

This is the first of the overpowered spell lists, in my opinion. It looks to be a bit like Spirit Mastery on steroids. We said last week that one of the strengths of the Bard was that they could affect multiple targets. Well, the druid can do that with knobs on. The bard needs two lists one for the songs and one to enhance them. The druid can do both at once, with nice long durations, a minute per level without concentration.

The list has that same feel as the Warrior Mage’s attacking list, which is packed with a cherry-picked list of all the best bits of the magician’s base lists. This list has that feel.

Druid’s Staff

So this is the big one. The spell adding, bonus giving uber-weapon of the druid that keeps on giving. The list has no reason for its existence except to pile heavy duty warrior mage style combat abilities on to a druid. Unbelievably there is a pair of optional rules attached to this list, that if the thing isn’t game-breaking enough for you as it is, you can ramp up the power by increasing the bonuses and boosting the spell adder/multipliers benefits.

Natures Forms

This spell list looks normal. Maybe I am just becoming desensitized. There are spells on this list that are giving +50 to +75 to stalk and hide attempts. I am not sure if this is overpowered or not. My Lay Healer character is frequently boosting his perception rolls by +50 using vision and hearing enhancing spells. More of this later.

Stone Mastery

Stone Mastery, or thermo-nuclear war mastery, is another gonzo combat list. This spell list is on a par with being able to cast the best of the magicians base lists but doing the rounds of prep before the battle. Stone Throw gives you the basic directed spells attack, that just gets bigger and bigger as you level up. Magic Stone gives you a free secondary attack that makes the stone explode on contact. At 5th level you are throwing water bolts and by 9th they are Water Ball area of effect spells, in addition to the damage done by the stone. Don’t get me started on Animate Stone or Spike Stones.

Tree Mastery

I think this list is a bit of a trojan horse. I am sure that the entire list exists to be a container for the 6th level spell Plantskin. This gives you an AT4 which is a lot like full plate (AT20) but with no movement or ranged attack penalties.

7th Level God

If you drew a line across the druid lists at 7th level you have a character that can do everything. They don’t really need a party. They have incredibly armour, they can move about almost undetected, they can gather information using animals and plants as their sources. They have incredibly ranged and melee combat abilities and you cannot discount their access to closed channeling lists which give them healing power as well.

They don’t need to find or earn magic items as they can make their own, pretty much on demand.

A lot of GMs start you at above 1st level and others use accelerated development in the first few levels, either will get characters enough power points, hits, and OB to take on more challenging adventures. A druid in that environment could race up to this power watershed at around 7th level in next to no time.

I cannot say that I would allow a player to use this profession in my game. The animist fills the same niche. You have three options, play a cleric of a nature god, play an animist or play a ranger but the druid is way off the power level of all the core rule pure spell casters.

3 Replies to “Bad Boy Druids”

  1. As noted in the Ranger discussion, I’ve never allowed RoCo1 Druids. The historical Druid (or at least De Bello Gallico Druid) is a Scholar or the like, not even magical, just high knowledge and leadership. Bards are the more magical agents. Animist works fine, it’s just not a fighting badass.

    Another approach is the Witch from RoCo2; this is more of a dark, wise woman type, but all the lists except Conjuring Ways are good for lore and natural medicines. Maybe switch that last out with Animal Mastery or another of the like, though demon summoning Druids vs Christian Cleric-led invaders could be interesting in a history-with-magic setting, and it’s closer to their OD&D interpretation.

    The use of a combat-oriented Druid instead of Animist is one of the strikes against RMU.

  2. I will reply fully in Blog form in the next couple of days, but I did want to correct one thing: RMU does not have a combat-oriented Druid at all. I am sorry if I gave that impression. The RMU Druid is essentially the RM2 Animist; he is actually far more Animist than RM2 Druid.

    Compare the spell lists:
    –Five of the six RM2 Animist lists – namely, Animal Mastery, Herb Mastery, Plant Mastery, Nature’s Protection, and Nature’s Lore – have just been given to the Druid now.
    — The Animist list Nature’s Movement is no longer necessary since Open Channeling has the very similar Lofty Movements.
    –RMU has added one extra list (Nature’s Ire) to the new Animist/Druid, and this addition does give some combat ability, but these are a far, far cry from the RM2 Druid. These spells are mainly Shock Bolt (at level 4, as opposed to level 2 for Magician), lightning bolt (but not till level 20), wall of fire (a weak version that does only A criticals), and some non-damaging control (entangling vines). That is a far cry from the RM2 Druid.
    –The RMU Druid does not have any of the overpowered lists either of you mentioned: no Druid’s Peace or Druid’s Staff, and no Stone Mastery or Plant Mastery.

    So the RMU Druid is virtually the same as the RM2 Animist, just with one new list that gives some moderate combat spells.

    Want to know the funny thing? They got criticized for not making the Druid combat-oriented enough. People noted that the RMU Druid was weak in combat, and asked for the old lists. There were posts and discussion threads about this:

    I think one has to face the fact that players nowadays expect a class called ‘Druid’ to be useful in combat. We can engage in academic debate regarding whether the name ‘Druid’ fits the ancient term used by the Romans — and I agree it really doesn’t. But by that token, you’ll also have to rename Paladin, Monk, Sorcerer, Magician and Mystic too. What is clear is that a Druid that can’t defend his forest is going to be a disappointment to many players coming from DnD.

    So what I’m going to do this week is provide updated and sufficiently balanced, RMU versions of the RM2 Druid’s combat lists: Druidstaff; Stone Mastery; and Insect Mastery.

    I agree with Peter that these lists need to be balanced; going back through them and reading Peter’s post as well made me realize how unbalanced some of those spells are. But the lists can be balanced, and I think I’ve done it appropriately. This will happily open up the possibility of allowing players the choice of a non-combat focused, Animist-style Druid, or a more combat-focused, DnD-style, defender-of-the-forest/RM2 style Druid.

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