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Some updates to modernise
I've been asked about this more times then I can count so here it is, a Druid FAQ. Or more correctly these are the Not Asked Questions. Hopefully I can fix some misconceptions as they are knee deep. Now first I need to say this is what I have come to see about the class, I have been told certain things by people who are very much in the know if you know what I mean, and the rest I have spent countless hours figuring out for myself. If you believe something to be incorrect....fine. Keep it to yourself, I am not going to bicker. But I will say that I am not going to put anything in this that I feel is a hunch, tingly feeling, sixth sense, or itchy nose...I will only put in here what I believe to be true. By the way, I wrote this before the moonbeam/sunray changes, and while Ive heard about the tweaks I cant comment on it. Gabe has a copy of this he may put up but thought Id post it.
On with the show:
Races: This of course comes first as its your first choice to make. I have said in the past I like gnome but have come to spread the love about a bit more among the races. Here is how they break down with Pros-cons.
Gnome PROS=Nice mana gains, near mage gains in fact and mana is very important. You are NOT a weapon swinger as a druid, don?t even have enhanced dam. Mana heals you, hurts them, and does maledictions galore. Small size can be considered a PRO if you care to. Reduce potions can help you along the way easily though I don?t personally partake as I hate getting preps. Lots of HP from trains on Gnome, combine this with OUTLANDER strengthen (should you choose to) and you have VERY nice hp. CON=Naturally they are vuln_blunt which I have come to hate more in recent times then I used to. With my last druid I estimate Cranial was involved in 80% of my deaths. The up side is that Treants are resist_blunt and can rescue you. You can dirt kick to block the redirect after.
Human: Pro: No exp pen from the race choice, no vulns. Con: No real downsides other then some less hp and mana
W-elf: PRO= Nice mana as well. This race is more adept at "natural" abilities and various druid skills/sups were mentioned by name. Quiet movement is nice but the class gets it anyway. Acute vision can and will save your buns on occasion if you pick Woodie as your race. You are in the wilds A LOT with a druid, you can and will acquire ranger enemies just as you do any other class. Them seeing you and you not seeing them until they lay ambush on you is going to not be fun, so this is a nice perk. Especially when you consider how much a good ambush hurts with w-elf hp. CON=Low hp, very low. Half vuln to Iron, but this is I believe partially or fully negated via 'protection from metals'. So that isn't an issue as far as damage goes as long as you keep that sup up all the time.
Cloud: PRO: Giant resist, can wield large axes, nice strength for carrying extra EQ. CON: Low mana, Low int, low wis, exp pen. NO benefit from the bash/enhanced damage bonuses. Yes, you can fly but the druid class gets the fly commune anyway. IMHO the worst choice, but many people seem to like it. Up to you.
The other races I haven't tried and don't see enough of to make an assessment.
A General Overview: I will single out what I feel people's main bitch about a druid is when playing them as well as playing against them, and that is their diversity. Nepenthe said a couple years back when I was the about only person consistently playing the damn class that "A druid is good at many many things, but isn?t really the best at anything." I still quote this because its so damn true. They are a half assed healer, tank, utilitarian (support), and damage to a group. When alone they excel in damage some with the addition of your mobs but the other weaknesses start to come through.
Herbal Forage: This can be to some the biggest mystery of the class and is at the same time the biggest asset. Recently they took the power of a druid away from moon cycle (as is still the common thought of players) and put it more into the player and the herbs gathered. Therefore herbs got a tad more powerful so what you have gathered will be of use. The full moon now has one major benefit left, and that is the hunt. Of course even that is HEAVILY based on your herbs, likely more then anything else in your repertoire. If you gather Defensive herb sets you will now get some damage reduction, the more you get the more dam reduction you get but of course you then forsake other nice herbs. Its hard to have your cake and eat it too, though everyone has their personal preferences on herbal forage. I personally go heavily in protective herbs as I HATE gathering preps and any bonus that gives me is helpful. The way your dam reduction works is on a sliding scale, by that I mean having 2 protective herb sets will likely protects you more then 2x a single set. You get more benefit the more you toss on. Much like invoker affinity points. Utility has LOTS of little affects for a druid. Some but not all of them are Frenzy strength, commune duration, healing speed, Mana regen speed, among other things. A hero druid with a mess of Utility herbs can have the best frenzy in the game, if that?s important to you. Natural Herbs also effect a few things but most notably your beasties. The general damage of COW and treant will not really be increased much but they do have nice little skills as with most mobs. Dirt kick, bash, trip and others most notably. Increasing your amount of natural herbs will increase how often they do these special tricks, it of course still random though. Odd job?s law clearly states when you need the treant to bash, he wont....not with 4 natural herbs even. *sob* Certain COWs have nice abilities that don?t even get revealed until you start stacking on some Natural herbs. The Forest Witch is the most notable from what I can tell, as with 4+ sets of natural herbs its like having a druid and shaman with you. Maledicts galore! Natural herbs also govern how long your charmies stick around with you, there CAN be some overlap even. Curative herbs are just that, curative. They increase how much hp you heal with each cure crit and herbal medicine, as well as the effectiveness of herbal medicine to cure bad things that are on you (or recipient). The full potential of a herbal medicine when you have a few curatives can be sick, I will certainly agree there. Think of all the horrid (non physical) maledictions you can. Granted the down side is that few druids walk around with a ton of curative herbs on hand. Offense herbs are nice but I have a hunch their bonus was tweaked downwards a while back. They made sunray damage lower and offense herbs don?t seem to be able to crack the cap they put on it, which sucks but is fine for me. People think the class is a sunray dispenser anyway, which it isn?t. Fire seeds will still see some benefit from this. To be honest this is the LAST herb set I choose to gather. Protective come first, then natural, then curative, then offense. Utility you just get when you don?t want them, they seem to be the default herb in every area ;)
Here is the glory of herbal forage though, it will really change the way your druid works and its strengths/weaknesses. If I am going out ranking with a team I find out who is going, who is tanking and their ability. I then tell them I will be along when I gather up fresh herbs. I then get what I feel I will need. Curative if I think I am going to be a healer for the group, protective if I think there is a possibility I may tank, offensive if the group seems stable and I will just be along for damage/support.
Some Notable Skills/Sups: Pathfinding= Priceless, when you consider the rough ground they spend so much time on and all the ways various classes can suck your movement its an under rated skill. Damn near unlimited movement when coupled with 'refresh'.
Herbal Medicine= Nice healing and instant, allowing you to flee heal and pop back into the fight a bit better off. At higher ranks this also takes on a few nice perks like refresh, giant strength (which lasts a LONG time), and cures some bad maledicts.
Protection Elements= This is highly under rated because of its distant but similar sounding cousin, 'protection heat/cold'. Protection heat/cold is just that, elements are......elements. Think of all the elemental damage weapons, invokers, conjurer elementals. I am not going to start a shit storm here so I wont drop the actual number (but I have figured it out), but protection elements is a HUGE damage reduction from elements. Invokers pay attention here: Lag them. Pebble to boulder, quicksand, rain of stone. Also druid mobs are very fragile and are easily killed now. But do not rely on damage to kill a druid like everyone else in 4-6 rounds.
Serpentine Staff= Now, when this skill came in I was pretty high ranked with my last druid so I saw little use for it, but I think at lower ranks the added damage could sure be beneficial. Its simple really, find a staff and commune it. Different staves make different snakes with different abilities.
Transmute Metal to wood= All your metal armor/weapons are going to need to be transmuted before you can use them. Be prepared to blow up armor, nice armor....lots of nice nice nice armor. If I had a nickel for every primo item I blew to pieces trying to transmute it I would have like...a bunch of nickels! Usually when a nice progged non metal item comes my way now, I just give it away. Something about blowing up a titanium spear (for example) that just isn?t right.
Protection Metals= Druids are vuln metal and take extra damage from all of it. This skill makes up for that with a bit of resistance to it. Keep it up or you wont know what hit ya.
Armor of thorns= arguably the best bash protection in the game, and low rank to at level 15. I cant count the number of times I have watched some idiot lowbie warrior see me and think "Mmmm, rank 18 gnome druid! Me bash to death!" They run up, spam bash and take damage from it the entire time, I spam cure crit and watch them die.
Entangle: 100%mv --> 50%mv --> 24%mv --> 12%mv All with 3 communes. It halves movement each time and reduces dex which stacks. You fight people in the forest, its hard moving in the forest, suck their movement and they don?t move far. To few druids/rangers use this commune. Think like a shaman sometimes with a druid, kill them before they know they are dead. ;)
Forest Haven= This is like assassin vanish IF you are in a large forest. What they define as large is pretty messed up. It pops you to somewhere else in THAT forest. Odd job?s law also clearly states when you need this to work, you wont be in the right spot for it. Also just like vanish it likes to pop you into the one room you do NOT want to be in, like the same room you haven from with your enemy in it.
Fire seeds= damage, fire damage. Simple enough. Works worst on full moon. The more time you spend out of wilderness the more you will see this go downhill, as with other things. Bitch all you like about its strength because you get plenty of one hit 'mauls' out of it as well. Very similar to Ice shards. Damage increases in the 4th hit if you get it. I believe 1.5x.
Whirling Simoon= Now this is something I wish I had more chance to use. Its basically like wind wall but only in the desert. Area affect with chance to blind. How many desert areas are there in the game? Lets see there is Araile, Sands of Sorrow, Wastes of Noveil.....that?s all I can come up with.
Treeform= ok, this can save your butt or be your worst nightmare as well. I got Nepenthe to lower it to rank 20 a while back from its previous standing at like 35 or some shit. Even now at that rank its very limited. People can see "You see something different about the trees here" Or something like that. At which point they can area attack and you will be in combat and living with the long lag that accompanies coming out of treeform. If this happens take your hands off the keyboard put them together and begin praying. (If you believe in that) But at higher ranks it takes you off radar completely, though you can still be hit with area attacks. This commune is nice when you are getting pounded and use it in tandem with forest haven.
Thornheart= Sweet supplication, reduces strength and does damage to the victim every tick. Maybe even more often, not sure. This lasts a LONG time. Sadly the strength affects are pretty minimal though I am unsure of exact numbers so I wont quote. Very nice for keeping people from concealing themselves for long, and healing much.
Spike Growth = Reduces dex as well by a very nice amount. Down side is it can only be communed where plants can grow. (No roads, indoors, etc)
Swarm of Leeches= I know next to nothing about this. I used it once in Ysigrath on someone but I killed them before I could begin to discern its affects on them. Any info would be greatly appreciated. I know it drains, something. Health, Mana, Move..something. Only can be communed in a swamp.
Thorn= Man, this is under used for sure. This is nice consistent damage you can dish out when in a forest and best I can tell goes around magical dam reductions. When my sunray does nominal damage I try a thorn and usually get good results.
Spores= When communed it drains mana every tick from the victim. Lasts a very long time and if you don?t know how to get rid of it, you are going into negative digits on your mana. If you do know how to get rid of it, its irritating at best. Just take care of it as fast as you can before it puts you in a sticky situation. Nice to use on mana intensive classes. It very subtle and they often don?t even notice their mana is being drained until its very low.
Plant Growth= Grows plants on one spot. Be VERY careful here as there is a horrible lag associated with it. The lag is related to your wilderness % so if you are say, Sylvan then its not so bad but still harsh. I remember trying to set up a trap in Dwarf forest, JUST as I grew plants the target group walked in and I was standing there lagged to hell.
Briartangle= When combined with plant growth its very nice. People will hit briars when they don?t expect it like on a road. When people step on these briars its -2 dex (each time they step on them) and 2 round lag. Wait for orc/duergar to step onto it and sunray the second he does and you can get 2 off before he knows what hit him.
Liveoak= Call a treant. They bash, dirt, and trip from time to time. Immune blunt and can rescue you. Can do nice damage. By the time you get this you will be sick of getting kicked around through the mid ranks and its a welcome sight. Not sure if its a bug but I have seen their attack type vary from pound/pierce/slash.
Primordial Vengeance= Very nice, Very underused. This causes all sorts of headaches for people and they are rarely the same. Lightning hitting them, slipping and falling on rocks, bugs attacking them. To sum it up, it makes them feel very unwelcome in the wilderness. The things that happen seem to vary depending on where you are when you call it on them. I'd love to see more info on this if anyone has it.
Sunray= light based Damage, possible blind. When they decided to make ALL of Shadar Logoth as well as Aridhol indoors (including the streets) druids took it in the pants. Being able to rank in Shadar after 40 slow ranks with sunray on these mobs was a blessing. Gone now. Consequently its very likely that you will hero your druid by spamming cure crit and fireseeds most of the time. Both below level 20 sups.
Birdform= Lets all say together now "I am not a falcon, I cannot fight in bird form." Good, now lets talk about why, and shifting for druids as a whole. Shapeshifting for druids runs solely off their foraged herbs and sucks mana as well. You shift, BAM you just made one of your herb sets inactive. The longer you stay in you will see echoes that tell you when you are using more herbs. Now here is the bad part, you still have all the timer delays on the herbs just as if you still had them, only you don?t really have them. Your affects will show which ones are dead and which ones aren?t. You run out of herbs, even if in mid-air you revert. This form is for travel and travel alone. Do not fight with it in any fashion. If you fly up and see a air major up there, GET DOWN and revert! Figure out if he is your friend or not after. The condor takes a ton of damage, but uses little mv. There is also considerable lag shifting into and out of druid forms. Think of it as a gimpy albatross with heavy side affects.
Bearform= Maybe its just me but I see no reason to use this form. It eats your herbs up to use and does a couple MANGLES a round. Herbs are just to precious to me, especially when in normal form I can toss damage sups as well as weapon damage. The choice is obvious here for me. Its impressive and decent for roleplay I suppose, same as condor. I am told that you can get better at the form with usage but after spending a lot of time in form and wasting countless herbs for the short shifter period it gave me I decided I didn?t care, it cant be worth it.
Last but most certainly not least, the two skills that cause hands down the MOST whining next to Sunray.
Call of the wild (which I am known to refer to as COW)= This is simple, its a skill not a sup that you use in a wilderness area and call some form of animal who follows you for around 24 hours. You can get a crappy one or you can get a good one. Each area has certain animals and some have 2 and you will get those in their corresponding areas. They have recently changed it so a rank 38 druid cannot go fetch a level 55 falcon anytime he wants but he gets something more his speed. Conversely a level 51 druid wont get crap ones as easily. The catch? They made COWs very very fragile.(as well as treants) Invokers can rip your zoo to pieces before you can say "DRUIDS ARE OVERPOWERED ITS SUCH BULLSHIT, I CANT BELIEVE THIS CRAP!"....and I think you know how quick people are to say that! Beasties dies, you have to wait for the timer to run down before you can call another.
The Hunt= The hunt is a commune called on someone in the same wilderness area as you during the full moon only. It sends a mob after them that tracks like a normal mob but slightly faster. It prevents them from concealing themselves and magical transportation. Yes, we have seen logs of the hunt ripping folks a new one. The hunt is easily the most herb dependant sup in a druids repertoire. You get offensive herbs it will be a wrecking ball but very very fragile. I had 4 offensives and a thief killed it once without fleeing. With my normal set which is like 4 defensive herbs it would take minimal damage (like injures) and has a TON of health. Of course it only inflicts like DISMEMBERS damage and hits less. I usually stuck with this because it added the other factors of no magical transport and concealment, as well as kept them occupied a while. If you attack a group of 3+ during the full moon send the hunt after the support classer like healer. He will be to busy saving his own bacon to worry about his group. Then you attack them. This can be a strong ability yes, but when you consider how herb dependant it is, how location dependant it is, and that it can be used 25% of total game time with a timer in between usages...its really not to bad.
To those of you who are thinking you want to play a druid be fore warned to ignore much of the hype. Druids are not at all unstoppable. Unconventional lagging abilities (cranial, pincer, pebble to boulder, headbutt, etc) will eat them up, killing their mobs, driving them away, draining their mana, worldbind, forget, shaman dispel, fighting them indoors, summon, getting rid of their weapon/shield, gangbang, and a whole multitude of other ways can really wreck a druid's day.