Starting a Druid
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Druids are a beginner-friendly class with excellent healing capabilities, good buffs, and debuffing potential, but the druid's greatest strength is that they are the embodiment of crowd control: every druid build has multiple ways of locking their opponents down, making them easier to be killed. Animal forms provide a solid option for melee builds, providing a survivable, self-sufficient attacker while spellcasting druids have excellent damage and healing.
There are 3 main styles of druid.
- Wolf: Focused on shape-shifting in wolf and winter wolf animal forms. Wolf builds usually have very high attack speed and mobility, making them great for damage-based melee builds and amazing for solo players that want an efficient, self-healing class. Wolf druids can also be wisdom-based and become hybrid melee spellcasters, dishing out decent damage while providing crowd control through spells, stuns, and knockdowns.
- Bear: Focused on shape-shifting in bear and dire bear animal forms. Bear builds are usually sturdy and survivable with extremely high hit points and are good at holding the attention of enemies and protecting allies, all-the-while providing spectacular crowd control in the form of area stuns and knockdowns. Their melee damage can be either strong or middle-of-the-road, depending on whether you are going for a sturdy damage build or an unstoppable tank.
- Caster: Focuses on spells and healing, most often using the fire and water elemental forms. Spellcasting druids have very potent spells in regards to debuffing and crowd control, and can dish out some fairly significant damage when built for it. In higher levels and harder difficulties, druid spell damage tends to become lackluster compared to other, more damage-oriented spellcasters, but their crowd control, healing, and debuffing capability skyrockets, making them extremely useful to any party and effective, if slow, soloers.
- Aasimar: The only non-iconic +2 wisdom race makes them an excellent choice for spellcasting druids, and their racial tree greatly helps with healing.
- Human: One extra of 2 stats can be nice for one extra Wis and Con/Str. An extra feat is always good, as well as an easy source of healing amplification. Solid choice.
- Elf: Extra Dex doesn't give you much, and less Con hurts quite a bit. You can pick up displacement dragonmark for extra survivability though.
- Halfling: Extra Dex and saves. Bonus sneak attacks even out with Str penalty for a wolf build.
- Dwarf: More Con and save bonus vs spells are good both for tanks and casters. Less Cha doesn't really matter. Solid choice.
- Warforged: More Con and all those good resists. However the penalty to Wis really hurts so it's not a good option for druids.
- Drow: More Dex, Int and Cha, less Con. There isn't much synergy. If you unlocked Drow with 400 Favor, you're better using this race for another class.
- Dragonborn: +2 strength is an asset to any melee druid, and their breath weapon and evocation bonuses can be useful to a spellcaster.
- Gnome: +2 intelligence can mean a few extra skill points, but druids have a decent amount of skill points as it is. The -2 strength penalty doesn't help much for any druid.
- Half-Orc: Good for a melee druid thanks to Str bonus. Less Int can hurt skill points, less Cha doesn't really matter.
- Half-Elf: One extra of 2 stats like human, but without extra skill and feat. Very customizable thanks to dilettante feature. Solid choice.
Humans and Aasimar are often the best choice, although other races can work well depending on the goal of your build. Of minor note, the size of wolf and bear wildshape forms depends on the race: gnomes and halflings make for tiny, cute animals while half-orcs and dragonborn can make huge, menacing beasts. This makes no difference other than aesthetic looks, however.
- Strength: Main ability for melee druids. Dump ability for casters.
- Dexterity: If you have points left, this will increase your reflex save. Not a priority. Often 8. More might be needed on Wolf multiclass builds.
- Constitution: A recommended minimum is 14. The more the better.
- Intelligence: Druids receive more skill points per level than other casters and they can often afford to start with less Intelligence.
- Wisdom: Start with 18 here on a caster.
- Charisma: Dump stat unless you want UMD.
As for feat there are a few ways you can go.
- Augment Summoning makes your class pet, summons, and hirelings better. If you plan using those, consider picking up this feat.
- Quicken Spell allows you to successfully cast your spells under enemy fire when Concentration is no longer enough.
- Empower Healing Spell is a cheap way to make your healing spells stronger.
Remember that you can apply metamagic feats to your spell-like abilities for free.
- Spell Focus: Evocation increases the DCs of your main offensive spells and it can be important at epic levels to twist Evocation Specialist (+3 DC).
- Greater Spell Focus and Epic Spell Focus for Evocation increase your DCs even higher.
- Maximize Spell and Empower Spell increase your spell damage.
- Heighten Spell increases your spell DCs. Particularly important if you are using spell like abilities a lot.
- Mental Toughness and Improved Mental Toughness are useful to help compensate for the druid's lower SP pool.
- Spell Penetration is a trap. Druids have only few spells affected by spell resistance.
- Spell Focus: Necromancy is a trap. Druids have strong and cheap single target evocations which can quickly kill.
- You will want to max out double strike chances.
- Once you hit level 9 you will want to start stacking the Natural Fighting feat for even more double strike and damage potential
- Power Attack is also nice for the extra damage.
- Cleave and Great Cleave can be useful for melee builds that want more area damage.
Caster Human Druid Build
A leveling order would be: ()
- 1st: Augment Summoning (for fun, will swap later)
- Human bonus feat: Spell Focus: Evocation
- 3rd: Extend Spell (for longer buffs and Body of the Sun, will swap later)
- 6th: Maximize Spell
- 9th: Quicken Spell
- 12th: Empower Spell
- 13th (druid): Wild Shape Fire Elemental
- 15th: Improved Shield Mastery after swapping Augment Summoning for Shield Mastery
- 17th (druid): Wild Shape Water Elemental
- 18th: Heighten Spell
- 20th: Feat Swap Extend for Greater Spell Focus: Evocation any time between L18-20
- If you can craft or can buy from a crafter, get a heavy wooden shield with Invulnerability ASAP.
- Ring of Elemental Essence for early on.
- 3 or 5 piece Goggles of Time-Sensing can be fun for a few levels. and
- House C challenge items: Cloak of Flames, Frozen Tunic, Bracers of Wind are awesome for druid because they cover spell power and crit chance for a druid’s 3 primary elements: fire, cold and electricity, plus they have lots of other goodies like blur, fire absorption, dodge, Heightened Awareness, Haste guard and Freezing Ice. Get heroic versions (starting with L7/8 versions and upgrade them as you level) and epic versions of each.
- Wall of Wood and its Epic versions, both on normal will suffice and easier to find and much more affordable.
- Torc is awesome if you’re a TR and have it. even your caster/healer druid can and should be in the middle of combat, taking lots of hits and generating lots of Sp.
- Vibrant Purple Ioun stone (upgraded) is also very nice for any caster to have big sp at L5.
- A Greensteel lit II scimitar or Alchemical scimitar is very nice to have, if not available other scimitars/sickles/daggers to consider while leveling are Swailing Blade, Thunderstorm Crescent, Royal Scimitar, Flint, Guardian of the Liturgy, Skiver, Threnalian War Dagger, Sacrificial Dagger.
- Caster druids can swing Scepter of Healing (not proficient though) or Forgotten Light (higher level versions require UMD) which use Wisdom modifier for melee damage.
Those are a rough list of items that would be nice to have, but they are not essential, just try to get a non metal light or medium armor and a nice weapon to melee or one with nice spell power bonus. Your pet will be of great help at lower levels so keep him buffed and geared.