New Druid Spell Lists (RMU, Houserules): Druidstaff; Insect Mastery; Stone Mastery

Catharsis, by Kevin Moran:

I’ve just adapted and reworked three of my favorite old RM2 Druid lists for RMU. You can download them in the Downloads>RMU section at the top of this website (just click on ‘downloads>RMU if you don’t get a dropdown menu). Let me know what you think!

This is of course part of our ‘Druid Week’. Peter and Brian and Mark have already weighed in on the Druid in their own blogs, so here is my take. I think we do have a split here between on the one hand Mark and Peter, who tend to prefer the RM2 Animist, and on the other hand myself and Brian, who generally feel that the Animist’s spells sucked. I personally play a combat-heavy game, which I imagine deeply affects my expectations, so keep that in mind: these lists are made to give the Druid some mojo.

Despite our different perspectives, I think we can all agree that the RM2 Druid’s spells had balance issues. I agree with Peter’s critique of the power level of several of the RM2 Druid’s spells and lists. However, I would also note that RMU has corrected most if not all of the general Druid issues (apart from the three specific lists I redid) of yesteryear:

–The Druid’s Peace list is unnecessary (and absent) now in RMU, since the Druid already can take spells to put animals to sleep (Druid Base: Animal Mastery) or calm other living targets (Closed Channeling: Calm Spirits).

–There is also no longer any Plantskin spell in RMU, and indeed the wider issue that made Plantskin so great in RM2 (namely, the wonky attack charts and the fact that armor types such as 1, 4 and 12 were ridiculously good) has been corrected across the board in RMU. RMU has also more appropriately balanced armor-granting spells.

–RMU has also tempered the effects of spells such as Spike Growth and Animate Stone, to make them more balanced. For example, instead of the Spike Stones giving 1d4 +100 dagger attacks, we now have Earthen Spikes which just gives a single A puncture critical.

So, RMU has pretty much fixed the general balance issues with the Druid. They have added one combat-oriented list, Nature’s Ire, true, but it is much more balanced than the old RM2 Druid lists. I think this will allow more people to accept a more combat-oriented Druid into your RMU game if you wish. And if you don’t wish, and instead prefer the original RM2 Animist to Druid, then you can just cut out the RMU Druid’s Nature’s Ire list, and you’ll have your Animist virtually intact from what he was in RM2. The spells will be almost exactly the same.  

But the old RM2 Druid spells were really great, and they have not survived into RMU. I still love the flavor and the feel of the old RM2 badass Druid, so I’ve tried to resolve the balance issues by reworking these three lists, to give the Druid more combat options while keeping the balance in-line with other casters.

–Druidstaff brings back the beloved (or behated!) list from the original RM2 Companion I. I’ve tried to solve the issues here by toning down bonuses across the board. I’ve also made the ability to throw the Druidstaff a separate spell that costs Powerpoints (rather than being an inherent quality of the staff). This list is especially good for a Druid who wants to use spells at a long distance and a staff up close/medium distance.

–Insect Mastery brings back a list that was first introduced as an extra Druid list in RM Companion V, and later copied in slightly modified form into the RMFRP Channeling Companion. I have modified it to fit the new RMU action economy. Since the original list often did not give very good guidance on specific spell effects (esp. attacks), I have also given specific statistics for the insects themselves in the notes at the end (basing them on the templates one finds in RMU Creature Law, which gives stats for Bee/Wasp, Giant Wasp, and Ant Colony). I’ve also given stats for the insects’ enlarged versions. I’ve also added a few new spells (Detect Insects and Speak With Insects) to fill a few gaps (thanks to JDale for some suggestions there!). This list is especially good for a Druid who wants to be more of a controller, harassing and poisoning enemies with swarms of insects.

–Stone Mastery rebalances one of the original RM2 Druid lists that was overpowered. I have tried to maintain the flavor and distinctiveness of this list, though, because it was one of the unique things about playing a Druid. I have toned down the most problematic spells in various ways: Magic Stone is now Bursting Stone, which is more in line with the general power level of other casters’ spells of that level (it just gives an A Krush critical). The list also provides variety insofar asa its attacks are not bolts or balls, but real physical items: Hurl Stones uses RMU’s Rock attack table, for example. Druids have been literally brought down to earth. This list is especially good for the Druid who wants to focus on medium- to long-range combat.

As with my other spell lists, these are drafts, and my main concern is balance. So do enjoy, but if you see something that you think is still to powerful, let me know!

2 Replies to “New Druid Spell Lists (RMU, Houserules): Druidstaff; Insect Mastery; Stone Mastery”

  1. Animist spells didn’t suck, but they weren’t powerful. They had to be subtle, and make use of nature. Not a lot of players are into the effort, outside of the MERP or RM Express games where they had no other choice for healers, but the occasional Animist with Mastered bears as front-line fighters made an impact. And they’re constantly useful NPCs.

    The RMU (beta) Nature’s Wrath is the one that gave me the stronger “Badass Druid” impression; lightning from your fingers, treehugger to Sith Lord? But it’s true it didn’t get all the crazy RoCo Druid stuff.

    I think there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with Insect Mastery, except that it gives swarm summons 3-5 levels earlier than it should, I wouldn’t want a lowbie to be in any range of such a Druid. The use of water, smoke, torches, herbs, or other cheap, mundane repellents should be called out, because to non-creative players these are unbeatable unless they have a fireball-chucker around. Summoning even a single insect at low levels can be a good distraction or tiny bite, you don’t need a swarm for a wasp to be an effective summon, or like Gandalf escaping a tower, a single moth messenger. There’s also the servant Entoma in the anime Overlord, which may be relevant at high levels. But with some changes this is a viable list, I might go ahead and rewrite it for my own use.

    Stone Mastery is as powerful as Magician’s Earth Law, and doesn’t even have any astronomical applications like Stonehenge! Not in a million campaigns would I let a nature priest have this. Maybe some all-new elemental priest equivalent of the Magician, but Elemental Companion does that (admittedly OP).

    This Druidstaff has the makings of a good Wood Mastery list, interrupted by a lot of overly-magical hoodoo, but it’s far less dangerous and much more nature-themed. I would base the Throw spells on Directed Spells, not Melee skill, range should always cost skill development. The PP bonuses should be their own enhancement spells with a material cost in GP if they’re permanent, and at least in RM2, spell adders not PP multipliers, but that may be fine with RMU PP inflation.

    1. Thanks very much for taking a look at the lists; I really appreciate that!

      I understand what you’re saying about the Animist, and I imagine I would have a lot of fun playing one in your group, seeing as I am fine with either hack and slash or more RPing. My group members are all hack and slashers, though, which is why I am offering these extra combat options for the Druid.

      The Insect Summons spells can be quite powerful, but I did make an important change from the RM2 and RMFRP versions. The earlier versions had a duration of 1 min/lvl, which allowed the caster to control them just with words, but I changed the spell to concentration (C). In RMU, concentration doubles the cost of all activities — so it basically reduces the caster to 50% activity if s/he wants to keep controlling the swarm. And any party that does not have area spells also has another option: attack the dude concentrating on controlling the swarm. The spells only have a range of 100′ — well in range of an archer.

      The Druid’s Stone Mastery is more attack-oriented than the Magician’s Earth Law, so it is more useful in combat, but it is still not quite as strong as something like the Magician’s Fire Law, which is more combat-oriented. The Rock attack chart is much less damaging than Fire Bolt. Stone Mastery does offer a little more flexibility in giving a low level AoE spell (Bursting Stone), but it delivers only an A critical, and thus pales in comparison to Fireball. So overall, yes, it is a good attack list; but it doesn’t reach full Magician (or RM2 Druid) levels.

      As for Druidstaff, I like the suggestion of basing the Throw spells on Directed Spell. The reason I based them on melee OB is that I had a Druid in my RM2 campaign way back when, and while throwing the staff may seem awesome, it never actually happened due to the fact that the Druid had to pay a lot of DPs to develop weapon skills (6/20 was the cheapest weapon skill), and could only develop one rank per level. This meant the Druid who developed Thrown was probably not developing melee skills, and that could cause problems. So I was trying to make the melee skill with a weapon do double duty, as well as offering a distinctive Druid-style attack. But maybe your right: maybe I should just make it Directed Spells. Note that there is a separate category for Directed Spells: Hurling in RMU, which covers things like hurling objects with Telekinesis, and I use it in Stone Mastery for the Hurl Stones spells.

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