Druids have been my favourite character class in Dark Sun for a long time. I have played some as a player and many as a DM. Here is some of the stuff that has come together during many games...
(written as a 3.5 example and subject to modification - revised after feedback from Wintergreen. Thanks!)
Athasian rangers and clerics worship elements. Athasian druids affiliate with them. Occasionally, a different kind of bond is formed between these classes and elementals. If a ranger, cleric or druid shows a truly strong affinity for an element or performs a deed that impresses his or her element, such as a heroic defence against defilement or a rival element, a being from the elemental plane might decide to become her companion. An elemental might also recognise the mutual benefits that come with the companion bond such as the advancing in levels. Such companions are very powerful, but also come with their drawbacks. The relationship between an elemental companion and a druid, cleric or ranger is not one of mastery over the elemental companion. The nature of the bond may be one of mutual respect, but also one of elemental devotion (e.g. a cleric worshipping his/her elemental) or even elemental dominance (e.g. a para-elemental pushing the cleric to further the proliferation of its kind).
Elemental companions are much like animal companions, but tend to be a little more 'high maintenance'. For example, elementals have difficulty crossing territories dominated by rival elements. They therefore most often associate themselves with Guardians of Shrines rather than Wanderers, unless they are on a more active crusade. They are also frequent companions of genasi (half-elemental/half humanoid, see Planescape's Planewalker's Handbook). Some strong-minded or more intelligent elemental creatures also show a tendency to influence their 'chosen' heroes and even grow to see themselves as their masters.
The companion elemental is of the same level as the druid/cleric. Companion elemental to rangers have half the level of the ranger.
Elementals companions come in the following categories:
Elementals - lesser, standard, greater etc. depending on the hero's level (see Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium I)
Elemental creatures - e.g. genie, Elemental Beast (see Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium II).
Upon reaching 20th level, a druid or cleric may wish to begin a transformation into a higher being. This also affects the bond with the elemental companion. This sometimes happens naturally as an elemental begins to 'absorb' its protégé. In other cases, an elemental advises a metamorphosis and continues to protect the druid or cleric during the transformation. In very few cases an elemental companion opposes a transformation, for instance, if it is not satisfied with its protégés performance.
Immunity: All elementals have immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, and stunning. They are also not subject to critical hits or flanking, due to their unique physiology.
|Class Level||Bonus HD||Natural Armour Adj.||Str/Dex Adj.||Bonus 'Tricks'||Special|
|1st - 2nd||+0||+0||+0||1||Link, Share Spells|
|2rd - 5th||+2||+2||+1||2||Evasion|
|6th - 8th||+4||+4||+2||3||Devotion|
|9th - 11th||+6||+6||+3||4||Multiattack|
|12th - 14th||+8||+8||+4||5|
|15th - 17th||+10||+10||+5||6||Improved Evasion|
|18th - 20th||+12||+12||+6||7|
Bonus HD: Same rules as with animal companions apply: extra d8 plus constitution modifier, which also improves the
elemental companion's base attack and base save bonuses. In addition, the close bond between the druid/cleric/ranger and the elemental companion allows the protégé to shake off other influences, which gives her/him the opportunity to make a second Will save
a round later.
An elemental companion's base attack bonus is the same as that of a druid/cleric of a level equal to the elemental companion's hit dice (rangers count as half druid/cleric levels). An elemental companion gains additional skill points and feats for bonus hit dice as it would normally do if it progressed as a monster.
Bonus tricks: Elementals would be very upset if you thought of them as performing 'tricks'. Most elementals think of their the humanoid they have chosen to bond with as protégés, vulnerable and in need of teaching. This is particularly the case on Athas, as Athasians often have little access to knowledge and even sufficient protection from bodily harm. Over time, however, the elemental tends to grow more respectful of its protégés abilities and cunning. Still, control over an elemental is rarely as complete as it is over an animal companion. Because of this, the power should be seen as 'discovering' a new ability or task an elemental companion can perform.
Link (Ex): Druids/clerics/rangers can communicate with their elemental companion as a free action or get it to perform a task as move action (e.g. rise up, expand, contract, flare up, stomp).
Share Spells and Abilities (Ex): Druids/clerics/rangers can make any spells they have cast upon themselves upon their
elemental companions, if the elemental companion accepts it. The elemental companion must be within 5 feet of the caster
to be affected by it. If it moves out of the range, the spell ceases to work. Alternatively, spells can be cast directly
onto the elemental companion as a touch range spell, so the effect remains in place no matter where the elemental companion
The elemental companion can also share abilities with its protégé, such as making its skin harder/more ethereal or making it withstand extreme heat or cold.
Because of the strong bond, psionic abilities/wild talents can also be shared.
Evasion (Ex): If an elemental companion is subjected to an attack that normally allows a reflex save for half damage, it takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw, unless the attack comes from a rival elemental.
Devotion (Ex): Druids/clerics/rangers are devoted to their elemental companion and not the other way round. Because the elemental companion feels protective about its protégé, the +4 morale bonus (on will saves against enchantment spells and effects) is shared between the bonded.
Multiattack: An elemental companion gains Multiattack as a bonus feat if it has three or more natural attacks and does not already have that feat (see Monster Manual). If it does not have the requisite three or more natural attacks, the elemental companion instead gains a second attack with its primary natural weapon, albeit at a -5 penalty.
Improved Evasion (Ex): When subjected to an attack that normally allows a reflex save for half damage, an elemental companion takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw and only half damage if the saving throw fails.
Athasian city druids have the tricky task to fulfil their role as nurturers of the city under the rule of a powerful defiler whose vision shapes the city down to the appearance of the spirit of the city. The druid forms a bond with the spirit of the city - a form of the spirit of the land, formed through the transformation of previous city druids. The spirit tends to appear as the city's totem animal or plant. Druids also tend to mimic these characteristics through wild shape, companion animals or their dress, whenever they feel safe. Some druids operate in secret, allying themselves with the Veiled Alliance and sabotaging acts against nature and society, while others try to work with their Sorcerermonarchs, hoping to influence them in their actions.
A city druid's primary goal is to strengthen the symbiosis between the inhabitants and the land of the city. Their methods tend to be subversive and, at times, border on sabotage. Examples of druidic aims are to encourage plant and animal life within the city as well as animal welfare, for instance for livestock or animals raised for the arena. Elemental and human welfare are also on their agenda. Druids care about clean water supplies, e.g. by introducing detoxifying plants to wells (often, they get mistaken for weeds or pollutants) or are working as healers and midwives. Some city druids live entirely underground, taking care of sewers, underground lakes, sacred groves, rare rock formations, undercities and the occasional tribe of streetkids. More than any other Athasian druid they are responsible for fighting the spread of Undeath.
Although one expects most city druids to be humans and half-elves, they are much more diverse. Quite a few ex-gladiators, slaves and even ex-templars have become city druids, filling their ranks with many unlikely races such as muls, dwarves, halflings, thri-kreen and even half-giants. City druids tend to be loners. If a city has different environments (or too many Undead) that require the attention of more than one druid, these are likely to occasionally meet to exchange information or combine forces in times of need.
From their initiation onwards, city druids are able to pass through walls and blend with their urban environment.
Advisers have the ambition to influence how a city conducts its dealings with nature after the fall of the city's dragonmonarch. Advisers will try to rise as high as possible in the new governements to ensure that the needs of either the land in general or their respective sphere of interest are seen to. Depending on the character of the druid, an adviser can be more of an observer or downright manipulative.
This is a very common druid type. Nowhere do druids see the land suffer as badly as on Athas. The defilers must be stopped by any means. And an avenger has got the amount of rage and hatred it takes to get rid of at least a good few of them!
Athasian beastfriend are vicious saboteurs of trophy hunts and arena spectacles. They try to set examples what happens to people who do not respects animals. They often risk their lives for this, the most recent example being the druid who was dubbed the Bane of Gulg.
Desecrator druids seek to destroy symbols of a Sorcerermonarchs power. These can be illusions of nature a Sorcererking has set up to pretend, for example, a garden. A druid could use his powers to change or re-shape the vegetation into something that mocks or offends the Monarch such as covering a Dragonking's sanctum with mould.
An explorer druid is constantly looking for new plant life that has developed on Athas. He is interested in the uses and potential of mostly plant, but also animal life and is trying to spot any mutations. Explorers have different motivations: curiosity, economic potential, finding a cure for something, finding a weapon against the Sorcerers, ... or sheer madness.
There are lots of places on Athas that need special guardianship. Usually the most important ones have been protected by Pyreen for millennia. From personal experience guardians don't make good player characters, but great cranky NPCs!!
There are usually two types of hivemasters: kreen druids who take naturally to this kit,
and non-kreen (usually humans, half-elves or elves) who tend to have more sinister
goals than their insectoid colleagues. Ah, and there are the wanna-be kreens of course, those
who admire and try to emulate the insect people...
While especially kreen hivemasters have a strong tendency to try to convert non-kreen to more communal living patterns based on their respective kreen society, non-kreen with the same ambitions are definitively the more fanatic folks in this respect. However, they have managed to find a multitude of other satisfactions ranging from infiltrating courts, kank-farming, poison trading to pest controlling or punishing people who harm insects/spiders. One hivemaster is even known to provide a rare type of exquisite kank honey to the Oba of Gulg. His fellow druids in Gulg do not dare thinking about what makes it so special...
Athasian Lost Druid
Athas is the world with the proportionally largest number of Lost Druids thanks to too many little talented magic-users
called defilers. When a druid's land is defiled, he/she is either expected to nurture their guarded lands back
and if possible hunt down the source of destruction.
A fairly constant number of druids, especially high-level druids, are driven insane each year by the destruction of their guarded lands. As a result they may even turn to defiling magic to destroy the people who destroyed their land... they may even want to destroy all magic-users regardless of their definition as defiler or preserver. They will eventually succumb to the temptation of defiling anyway...
All Athasian druids used to be outlaws during the time of the Cleansing Wars. After the
former Champions realised that the land which powers their magic will die without druids,
this class was not hunted down anymore.
Few Athasian druids are still openly pursuing the guerrilla warfare of the time when they were outlaws. The 'new outlaws' usually have become more subtle. However, there is rumour that a large band of druids has formed, united by the belief that the time has come for the druids to reclaim the land from the perverted rulers of Athas. Indeed, many outlaw druids aspire to revive the ancient guerilla warfare in some way or another...
Pacifist druids are rare on Athas. They are frowned upon by fellow druids and often not even respected by the ones they intend to protect. Pacifist druids believe that all life is sacred and that even the life of a defiler should be protected. They will not kill or attempt to kill a defiler. They would try to negotiate and let the defiler see his twisted ways. One has to admit that some pacifist druids have developed interesting methods to make defilers realize their errors, especially those with psionic powers. Maybe they are not crazy after all...
Athasian Savages can belong to a savage tribe such as a feral halfling tribe or they can be part of a slave-tribe either
as a non-literate ex-slave, an educated 'enslaved' druid or as a free druid who joined the tribe.
However, there are also 'solitary savages' that have embraced a 'savage' lifestyle as a more 'natural' or 'honest' option to other ways of nature experience...
Shapeshifter druids are quite numerous on Athas. Athas loves its mutants... What sets Athasian shapeshifters apart
from shapeshifter druids on other worlds is that they cannot train to become shapeshifters.
Athasian shapeshifter druids have to be born with this ability. It is a mutation which usually occurs in people with a druidic gift. People not becoming druids remain 'wild talents' or simply pass on this ability to their children.
Most shapeshifters feel that they are closer to nature than any other kind of druid.
Athasian Totemic Druid
Totemic druids worship a particular kind of animal they identify with. They either pick an animal native to their guarded lands or serve the animal instead of taking responsibility for an area of land. I am currently working on some Athasian totems which will hopefully soon fill the section below.
Athasian Village Druid
Village druids believe that humans are just another type of sentinent creature and thus need protection like any other part of nature. Because of the small number of people under their protection, they either have to be even more secretive about what they are - or gain the support of their village. The latter is most often the case when a druid lives with a slave tribe.
There are lone wanderers and there are gregarious wanderers. There are wanderes who are curious and wanderes who
don't feel they want to settle just yet. There are wanderers who don't want the responsibility over guarded lands and there
are wanderers who have lost their lands and want to take a break before taking on new lands... Different druids
wander for different reasons...
Here are some ideas if you choose to play a totemic druid.
I have dropped the 'no larger than a bear and no smaller than a mouse' rule of thumb from the original druid guidelines as Athas is a world of superlatives and eccentricity. I don't think there were many druids with stats above 20 in the original setting...
I have written down three primary character traits that are associated with the animal totem. I thought it
would be logical if feats are chosen for the character that are also owned by the totem. The 'feats' section
gives suggestions for choosing feats (I have not got a list of all the feats, so forgive the incompleteness...
The 'special' section gives additional ideas for possible advantages or disadvantages of the totem.
Character traits: Self-reliance, Sincerety, Survival.
Feats: Endurance, Alertness.
Special: Aprig druids are natural survivalists. They can sleep anywhere, eat anything, and they seem to have an innate danger sense. On top they get on with people easily, despite their often unkempt looks and prejudices against their totem animal.
Character traits: Strength, Power, Sincerity.
Feats: Alertness, Endurance, Toughness, Run.
Special: Bear/Takis shamans are rather placent people most of the time, but they also can be overcome by a powerful rage. Never enrage a bear shaman!! Bear/Takis shamans should get bonuses to STR and CON or have them major attributes.
Character traits: Alertness, Self-reliance, Loner.
Special: Boneclaw druids are immune to boneclaw saliva and the poison of other reptiles. They are rarer than boneclaws themselves and usually loners.
Character traits: Nurture, Endurance, Protection.
Feats: Alertness, Endurance.
Special: Carru druids, however cranky they may be, have got a caring side to them. They receive a bonus on healing.
Character traits: Strength, Transformation, Survival.
Feats: Alertness, Toughness.
Special: Cha'thrang druids are immune to all reptile/amphibian poisons and a number of other animal poisons. They also have a bonus on 'hide' checks and when able to transform partly, they get the ability to make their skin blend into vegetation around them.
Character traits: Power, Speed, Resilience.
Feats: Great Fortitude, Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush.
Special: Due to the enormity of the totem animal the druid is not able to shapechange into a full adult drik from the start. He either partly shapechanges into a drik or into a younger drik rather than a full adult. At higher levels, however, the druid can shapechange into an adult drik. The druid gets a bonus to dealing with driks.
Drik druids are immune to all known poisons and can analyse them by ingesting them. Drik druids are sturdy people with an exceptionally high constitution.
Character traits: Endurance, Social, Alertness.
Feats: Alertness, Endurance, Improved Initiative.
Special:Erdul/Erdland/Cordlu druids tend to be restless, edgy fellows. They feel they need to be on the move and have a very high danger sense.
Character traits: Gregarious, Loyal, Transformation.
Feats: Bluff, Spell Penetration?
Special: A gorak druid has the ability to 'paralyse' an opponent as both animal and human. Gorak druids work well together with other people on missions. They are charismatic fellows who can pull people together. They also tend to go for rather colourful items of clothing e.g. brightly patterned scarves or wrap skirts.
Character traits: Ferocity, Cunning, Adaptation.
Feats: Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack.
Special: Hatori druids are surpringly calm people. You don't want one as an enemy, though! Hatori druids also make good hunters and survivalists.
Character traits: Endurance, Loyalty, Force.
Feats: Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge.
Special:Inix druids are, like their totem animal, a lot stronger than they look. They are quite social and often end up helping less able people to carry their things... but when angered they might just pick you up and throw you against the next wall...
Character traits: Protection, Curiosity, Social.
Feats: Improved Initiative,
Special: Jankx druids are immune to jankx poison and other mammal-secreted poisons. They are usually quite pretty/handsome and usually have no trouble proving to non-druids that their totem has its uses, especially when it comes to part-shapeshifting - ouch!!
Character traits: Persistence, Ferocity, Alertness.
Feats: Track, Mekillothead.
Special: Jhakar druids are known among all druids for their stubbornness. They tend to be awesome trackers...
Character traits: Observant, Defensive, Social.
Special: The druid can reproduce the effect of 'aversion' in both bird and human form. Normally kes'trekel can only do that as a group. The kes'trekel tends to chose very destitute people as its druids and empowers them with its gifts. This is why kes'trekel druids are so extremely devoted to their totem. Kes'trekel druids are good survivalists as they stay out of trouble where they can. They need to have a very good reason (e.g. 'we outnumber them' or 'i desperately need this spell component') to engage in combat. Kes'trekel druids have no problems living off garbage and lesser quality food. In fact they sometimes deliberately choose such foods & devour them with pride.
Kes'trekel druids look down on all people who think they are something better than someone else & tend to side with the 'underdog'.
Character traits: Strength, Power, Passion.
Feats: Improved Initiative, Power Attack.
Special: A kirre druid is usually also a psionicist or at least a wild talent. Kirre druids have a strong connectin with forest areas. They can be quite arrogant, even towards nobles, and are not terribly social.
Character traits: Intelligent, Dextrous, Protection.
Special: A kivit druid is immune to kivit musk and other mammal-secreted poisons. Kivit druids are much more social and less arrogant than kirre druids.
Character traits: Wisdom, Strength, Patience.
Feats: Improved Initiative.
Special: Kluzd druids are usually quite restricted in their territory. They get a bonus on intimidation.
Character traits: Flamboyance, Strength, Majesty.
Feats: Alertness, Combat Reflexes.
Special: The druid can imitate a lirr's stun roar. Lirr druids are quite laid-back. That is usually because they are aware of their/their totems greatness. Lirr druids can be told from other druids by their eccentric clothing which is even more eye-catching than that of a gorak druid...
Character traits: Endurance, Force, Reliance.
Feats: Toughness, Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Mekillothead.
Special: Due to the enormity of the totem animal the druid is not able to shapechange into a full adult mekillot from the start. He either partly shapechanges into a mekillot or into a younger mekillot rather than a full adult. At higher levels, however, the druid can shapechange into an adult mekillot. The druid gets a bonus to dealing with mekillot. Mekillot druids, like Jhakar druids, are notorious for their stubbornness, but also their persistence, sacrifice and great courage.
Character traits: Intelligence, Cunning, Curiosity.
Special: The druid is immune to plant poisons, at higher levels his skin may develop a metallic shine and become natural armour. Rasclinn druids are usually vegetarians. They are quite peaceful and social people and are very good at identifying and looking after plants. Rasclinn druids take well to travelling.
Character traits: Power, Passion, Ferocity.
Feats: Alertness, Great Fortitude.
Special: Due to the enormity of the totem animal the druid is not able to shapechange into a full adult roc from the start. He either partly shapechanges into a roc or into a younger roc rather than a full adult. At higher levels, however, the druid can shapechange into an adult roc. The druid gets a bonus to training and riding a roc.
Roc druids are often loners. They can be quite aloof and can fall into terrible rages when angered/attacked. The totem can be quite a harsh master and will only take druids that can stand up to it.
Character traits: Force, Endurance, Determination.
Special: A sandhowler druid is able to imitate the howl of the sandhowler. At a higher level sandhowler druids will gain the ability to paralyse anyone looking at them. Sandhowler druids favour sandy terrain.
Character traits: Communication, Entertainer, Social.
Special: Sitak druids are dependent on the company of humans or animals. They have a very good memory. They could be quite eloquent and possibly the only type of druid that makes a great entertainer at parties...
Character traits: Ferocity, Loyalty, Fortitude.
Feats: Great Fortitude.
Special: Sloth druids are immune to poisons and are usually not on good terms with half-lings... they don't eat them though! Sloth druids will fiercely defend any people they consider their family, friends or proteges. They receive a bonus on intimidation checks.
Character traits: Nurture, Independence, Alertness.
Special: Sygra druids quite are never entirely comfortable among people and prefer to live as hermits or travel by themselves. If travelling with a group, they will keep a bit of distance and occasionally wander off.
They are usually light sleepers...
Character traits: Power, Transformation, Invincibility.
Feats: according to element
Special: To be chosen by a drake is an honour bestowed upon a very special kind of druid - and very rarely. Drake druids are a mixture of druid, cleric and psionicist. They have harsh and eccentric masters but are given great powers in return to protect the drake and its environment.
Wintergreen and I made this character into a special prestige class:
The Drake Guardian
Insect druids usually fall into the category of 'hivemaster'. There may be exceptions e.g. a mastyrial druid (Character traits: Precision, Silence, Intelligence) or a kank druid (Character traits: Nurturing, Gregariousness, Adaptability).