Friday, August 21, 2009

Bodhmall, the Druidess, er.. Nature Priestess

Regular readers know of my search in 4e for the best Druid class. I have been largely disappointed with the class we got in Player’s Handbook 2 and instead have expressed my fondness for the Nature Priest in Ari Marmell’s Advanced Player’s Guide from Expeditious Retreat Press.
Well now I have the Wokan from Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor 4e.

A bit of background on the Wokan, the Wokani made their appearance in Mystara many years back. They were basically the witches or even witch-doctors of the world. In fact many publications set in Mystara (the Glantri books are a good example) have “witch” in older versions and “wokani” in newer versions of the same copy-pasted text. So I figured they were a good place to look too.

Now for Bodhmall nic Tadg.
Bodhmall (“Bode-vull”) is a character of mine, she is described in Irish myth as the sister of Muirne the White Neck (or sometimes Cumhail) and the foster mother of Fionn mac Cumhail. She is a wise woman and a druidess. In my games I deal with a younger Bodhmall. She is a druidess still, with a penchant for fire and weather based magic. Not quite an elementalist, but close. She also, along with Liath Luchara, form one of the enduring covens of witches in my games, the Daughters of the Flame. The Daughters appear time and time again in all my games, and I usually have Bodhmall and Liath, or their reincarnations, in my games somewhere.

For this experiment I built many different versions of Bodhmall to 12th level. This gave a wide choice in powers and a Paragon Path. Lets go to the data.

First up is the Druid from D&D Player’s Handbook 2
Short: Hate it. I am sure there are plenty of people that like it, but I never used the druid wild shape ability and this is all the stuff I didn’t like in 1st Ed Druids turned all the way up. There are some nice powers sure, but not enough to merit taking the class.

Secondly, using the Hybrid rules for Dragon/DDiThis build is a hybrid Druid/Shaman. Aw now there are more choices, but not enough fire based powers. Sure I could add Warlock into that mix, and given my success with warlock hybrids that is not a bad idea, but it isn’t what I want. Still though a hybrid fey-lock/druid might have some potential and take the Alchemy feat from Arcane Power. Druids can be ritual casters, but druids did not read, that was the deal with being a druid all this knowledge committed to memory.

Though the Keeper of the Hidden Flame is so close in concept to a Guardian from the Daughters of the Flame that I almost can’t pass it up.

Third, The Nature Priest from Advanced Player’s GuideGenerally speaking this class is weaker than the druid. The powers are about the same in terms of effects and damage done. But concept wise it is such a better fit that it is unreal. Lots of Fire-based powers, lots weather based ones. Going through and build Bodhmall to 12th level was so easy that I figured I had time to do this Blog post about it.
The cons here though are there is not a wide variety of powers to choose from, but the powers they do have a re very nice.

For a Paragon path I choose the Hierophant. Not as close as the Keeper of the Hidden Flame, but good enough and it is more “druidy” feeling.

Fourth, the Wokan from Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor 4eThe Wokan is not a perfect either. To pull out something from the half remembered Miller’s Analogies Test, Druids are to Nature Priests as Shamans are Wokans. I think that is what they are supposed to be too. The powers are nice, a little more powerful than the Druid in some ways. Quite a few powers that would make good Fey-lock powers. A Hybrid Wokan/Warlock (“Worlockan”?) might be interesting to see one day.

I did not pick a Paragon path for this one since I could tell right away it was not going to give me what I wanted.

The Winner?
There is a clear winner here. The Nature Priest is exactly what I want in a druid with all the extras that everyone seems to like. Not sure if the Nature Priest could be considered another build of Druid or not. They are so similar in some ways and so different in others; like comparing Warlocks to Sorcerers.

Though I am ready to chuck the druid from 4e and use the Nature Priest instead.

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