Classes of the Summerlands: The Feral Druid

This druid circle is a drastic departure from the “feral child” druid archetype, but it was inspired by the same source: stories of children raised in the wild by animals.

This 5th edition class conversion was inspired by this month’s RPG Blog Carnival topic: “The Summerlands,” hosted by Tales of a DM.

Image by ButterfrogDruid: Circle of Wilding

You were raised in the wild, and are more feral than even your druid brethren. While you cannot read or write, you have a close bond with a single powerful animal. Your bond with that animal is so strong that you can choose that form for your Wild Shape, and an animal of that type accompanies you on your adventures. As you gain levels, your druid abilities tie you more closely to that beast’s environment, and your bond with your companion strengthens.

Raised in the Wild

You were raised among (if not by) animals in the wild. At 2nd level, choose one of the following animals: ape, brown bear, crocodile, deinonychus, dimetrodon, dire wolf, giant boar, giant elk, giant hyena, lion, panther, seal, or tiger. You can use your Wild Shape to transform into an animal of that type.

In addition, you gain the benefits of the speak with animals spell for the purposes of communicating with beasts of your chosen type. You can use this ability even while you are using your Wild Shape ability.

You cannot read or write any of your chosen languages, unless you spend a tool or language proficiency to learn to do so.

Childhood Companion

At 2nd level, you gain a beast companion of your chosen type that accompanies you on your adventures and fights alongside you. Add your proficiency bonus to the beast’s AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any saving throws and skills it is proficient in. Its hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or four times your druid level, whichever is higher.

The beast obeys your commands as best it can, taking its turn on your initiative, though it does no act unless you command it to, unless you are incapacitated, in which case it uses its action to defend you. On your turn, you can command the beast to Move without using an action. You can use your action to command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action. At 6th level, you can use a bonus action to command it to take the Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action, as long as it does not attack that turn. If you command your companion to attack, it may only attack once, even it normally has the Multiattack action.

If the beast dies, you can obtain another one of the same type by spending 8 hours bonding with it.

Land’s Stride

At 6th level, moving through nonmagical difficult terrain costs you no extra movement. You can also pass through nonmagical plants without being slowed by them and without taking damage from them if they have thorns, spines, or a similar hazard.

In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against plants that are magically created or manipulated to impede movement, such as those created by the entangle spell.

Finally, when you are traveling with only your beast companion, and traveling through a terrain type associated with your chosen beast, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.

Primal Strikes

At 10th level, your attacks and that of your beast companion in beast form count as magical for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

In addition, when you use your action to command your beast companion to Attack, you can make a single attack, and your companion may use Multiattack, if it has that attack option.

Nature’s Ally

When you reach 14th level, creatures of the natural world sense your connection and are hesitant to attack you. When a beast or a plant creature attacks you, that creature must make a Wisdom saving throw against your druid spell save DC. On a failed save, the creature must choose a different target, or the attack automatically misses. On a successful save, the creature is immune to this effect for 24 hours.

The creature is aware of this effect before it makes its attack against you.

In addition, when you cast a spell targeting yourself, you can also affect your beast companion with the spell if the beast is within 30 feet of you.

Hacking the Feral Druid

While this druid circle fits best into varanus society in the Summerlands, since the varanus are already unable to read, it could just as easily fit anywhere. The archetype of the child raised by animals is ancient, and even in our modern world, stories persist of feral children raised by wolves. In this archetype, I tried to combine the most interesting elements of the Land Circle druid with both an animal companion and a powerful-but-limited wild shape. The end result is, I think, not quite as powerful as the Moon Circle druid, but more interesting. I wanted every level to improve the connection to the land, but also the animal companion. The trade-off is a lack of expanded spells from the Land Circle, more limited wild shape choices, and an animal companion choice that’s specific and story-focused.

The list I put together isn’t perfect. I simply tried to pick the beasts from the Monster Manual that made the most sense, while not being overpowered. Why would someone pick a panther when the more powerful lion is available? Because, sometimes, D&D isn’t about DPR and power. Sometimes, it’s about picking the most interesting options (and, in the case of the panther, wanting to focus on stealth over raw power).

Next time: Beasts of the southern wilds! Insect swarms, disease, the deinonychus and the dimetrodon!

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Races of the Summerlands: The Varanus Lizardfolk

Who doesn’t love playable lizard-folk? Out of all the monster races, they’re the closest to humans. They’re like people, but with scales!

This particular sub-race (although I include some ideas about the base race at the end) is inspired by a race that appeared in Dragon Magazine: the T’Kel. There were a lot of things about the t’kel that were silly, like the constant wearing of masks, but the idea of a formerly brutal race trying to move into a more modern way of interacting with the world is a great one. It’s a conflict that mirrors some of the challenges that we face, in our own society, and I think it could make for some interesting role-playing. As always, I’ve included a set of bonds, a bit about the history, and some thoughts on hacking the race. In my effort to come up with fantasy names that don’t sound silly, I’ve gone with the scientific name for monitor lizard. I know that doesn’t make a ton of sense in a world that never had Latin, but it’s also a world where the Scottish kelpie exists alongside the Lovecraftian sahuagin and Mayan bird-people, so I should probably relax about that, a bit.

This 5th edition race conversion is inspired by this month’s RPG Blog Carnival topic: “The Summerlands,” hosted by Tales of a DM.

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Summerlands Antagonists: Sea Kin Enemies and Allies

No matter how close your bond with it, the sea is full of dangers. While sahuagin are the most organized threat to coastal settlements in the Summerlands, there are other predators that wait in the depths and some that bridge the gap between sea and land. While there are no cyclops, djinns, hags, giants, kobolds, merfolk, or ogres in the Summerlands, all of the other coastal and underwater monsters in the Monster Manual can be found there. Those with the animal and fey subtypes are most common, but merrows and water-based dragons are not unheard of. Though few ships venture far enough from shore to find their hunting grounds, even dragon turtles can be found in the open ocean. There may be other creatures, including marids and kraken, living in the vast sunken cities deep in the Endless Ocean, but if there are they never interact with land-dwelling Summerlanders. Old sailors speak in hushed tones of the human-seeming selkie and the equine kelpie, however, and caution their children never to give their hearts to anything that walks out of the sea.

Antagonists of the Summerlands is a post for the June RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a DM.

Below the jump: selkie, kelpie, dolphins, and seals for 5th edition, and a new monster: the octagon!

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5e Background for the Summerlands: Farmer/ Fisher

Nothing says “summer” like fishing and farming. There are a few homebrew backgrounds for farmers and fishers out there on the web, but I wanted one that put them together and made sense in the Summerlands. This is part of my series of summer posts inspired by the June RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a DM. Continue reading

Setting: The Summerlands (Part 2)

In my last post, I started detailing the Summerlands setting, a land of eternal summer, ruled by absentee overlord dragons and populated by a variety of races, each with their own motivations and agendas. Throughout the summer, I’ll be writing up the pieces of the setting, inspired by this month’s topic for the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a GM.

Today, we’ll look at creation stories, and some of the limitations a setting like this offers players and GMs, in terms of characters and opponents. (Of course, player races are great antagonists, too!)

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Setting: The Summerlands (part 1)

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival topic is The Summerlands, hosted by Tales of a DM. The idea of creating a world of eternal summer was interesting, and fit in nicely with where I wanted to take the blog. The end result is below. My plan is to post about this world for the next few months, actually. I have about 20 different posts planned, from races and sub-races to backgrounds to classes to thoughts about running adventures here. When it’s all done, I might wrap it up together into a PDF or something, if there’s anyone interested. Then I’ll move on to another world, maybe something involving pirates or space hippos.

This week’s two posts were originally one post, but 2500 words is a bit much for a blog, I think. (I’d have to start calling them blongs.) Today: a basic overview of the land and people. Friday: creation stories of the Summerlands, some limitations on races and classes, and a feat that is central to life here. Here’s to experimenting with fast worldbuilding…

The Summerlands

Land of eternal summer, constant warfare, and internecine conflict 

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