Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread! Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into. Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.
This week, I’m going to highlight the Circle of the Shepherd for the Druid class. These Druids have a special bond or affinity for the spirits of beasts and fey creatures of the natural world. They see themselves as protectors of animals, from everything from threatening monsters, unrestrained hunting, and encroaching civilization. Mechanically, the Shepherd Druid’s abilities focus on) summoning hordes of loyal beast to aid them in their adventures.
Starting at Level 2, the Shepherd Druid learns the Speech of the Woods. In addition to learning the Sylvan language, you gain the ability to understand the sounds and motions that beasts use to communicate among themselves, and beasts can understand your speech as well. Remember that not all beasts are inclined to be friendly, however.
Also at 2nd level, you can call forth a Spirit Totem as a bonus action on your turn. The incorporeal spirit appears at a point within 60 feet of you, and generates an aura in a 30-ft radius sphere around itself for 1 minute. The effect of the aura depends on the nature of the spirit you summon, choosing from 3 options. A Bear Spirit grants you and your allies within the aura’s radius temporary hit points (equal to 5 + your Druid level) as well as advantage on STR checks and saving throws. A Hawk Spirit grants you and your allies advantage on Perception checks while within its aura, and also allows you to use your reaction to grant advantage on any attack roll made against a creature in the aura. Finally, a Unicorn Spirit grants you and your allies advantage on any ability check used to detect creatures in the aura. In addition, any time you cast a spell (using one of your spell slots) that restores a creature’s hit points, all creatures of your choice inside the spirit’s aura also gain hit points equal to your Druid level. You can only summon a Spirit Totem once per short or long rest.
When you reach 6th level, you become a Mighty Summoner. Any beasts or fey creature that you summon or create with a spell, such as Conjure Animals, appear with 2 extra hit points per Hit Die listed in its stat block. Also the damage from summoned creatures natural weapons (claws, teeth, etc) is considered magical for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance.
At level 10, your Spirit Totem also acts as a Guardian Spirit to any of your summoned beasts or fey creatures. If any of those creatures end their turn in the Spirit’s aura, regardless of which spirit you chose, the summoned beast or fey regains hit points equal to half your druid level.
Finally, at level 14, you gain Faithful Summons that appear when you are most defenseless. Whenever you drop to zero hit points or become incapacitated, you immediately gain the benefits of a Conjure Animals spell cast at 9th level. Four beasts (of CR 2 or lower) appear within 20 feet of you to protect you from harm and attack your foes. The beasts remain for up to an hour, and this does not require your concentration. You can only use this ability once per day.
I took over the GM’s chair once again, this time running the group through the D&D 5e adventure “Forge of Fury,” found in the Tales From the Yawning Portal book. The PCs are mostly returning characters from the Sunless Citadel adventure, but this week we also brought in a new player:
- Gash the Furious, a Half-Orc Totem Warrior Barbarian (played by Otto)
- Slowclap, a Kenku Kensei Monk (played by Josephus Brown)
- Seraphina Lathander, an Aasimar Light Cleric (played by The Wasp)
- Oona Maku, a Half-Elf Hunter Ranger (played by Wafflicious)
- Fritzi Flickerfling, a Gnome Evoker Wizard (played by The Hayes Code)
- Edith Stitch, a Gnome Forge Cleric (played by Spiny Creature)
Newcomer Edith provides with week’s recap. Thanks to Spiny for writing this up!
Klaus? Klaus, I’m back. Could you let the Order know I won’t be taking new commissions for at least a month? I need to catch up on this backlog.
Yes, Klaus, I know I’ve been gone. I was kidnapped by orcs, wasn’t I?
Oh, darling, you can go get me hot tea with lemon. You’re a miracle worker.
Yes, so, the orcs. When the Order sent me to look for Durgeddin’s cache of armor – see if the rumors are true, see what divine secrets can be gleaned from his ancient work – I hadn’t counted on the dwarven mines being taken over by orcs with antisocial tendencies.
Their raiding party got me last week and took me down into the mines, bound and gagged.
I had just become desperate enough to make small talk with the cockroaches when, thankfully, a party found me.
The first to turn the corner was a half-orc – and you know I’m happy to work with orcs normally, darling, but after the week I’d had, I wasn’t feeling so open-minded. I just assumed it was a raider back to torment me and didn’t realize it was my lucky day until a gnome showed up with the half-orc! Lovely girl, name of Fritzi.
(I did notice her boots were looking raggedy, so I’ll have to offer to craft her a pair sometime. You could tell she bought them from an elf; flimsy work, but you know how they like their leather thin.)
This group hadn’t come quite on the same task I had; they had a job to cut off orcs’ ears and clear the place out. Worked for me: I needed the place free to find Durgeddin’s cache, and after seven days of dieting, I was feeling bloodhirsty.
(Seeing how hungry I was, a kenku fighting with the party offered me his seeds. Sweet gesture; I’ve always liked birds. I think they make cleaner pets than dogs, don’t you, Klaus?)
We decided to head north through the tunnels until we reached a door to listen at, hearing orcs behind it.
The kenku had a clever idea to mimic orc voices and lure them out for an ambush. But of course, the half-orc lacked the patience and just kicked down the door. I can’t claim I minded: as I say, I was out for blood myself.
I barely had time to bless the fighters in this rescue party; I was feeling quite indebted, and there is no act more holy than making people their best selves, darling.
Gash and Oona, the barbarian and ranger, took the front and started dodging the javelins of five orcs.
The other gnome woman cast a lovely earsplitting Shatter spell, and I followed that up by bludgeoning with my spiritual weapon.
Darling, when I tell you gnomish craftsmanship is divine, I mean it literally: that spool of black thread bludgeoned two (two!) orcs over the head and killed them both.
The rest of the party dispatched with the other three; Gash the half-orc took one of their heads clean off.
When we moved on, I found a sign I was on the right track: a statue of Durgeddin, the dwarven smith! When I tell you I was happy to see him, darling, it’s not a euphemism.
There was a large chamber ahead atop a flight of stairs. Fritzi the gnome had the clever idea to summon the well water and freeze the steps over.
Seraphina, an aasimar priestess of Landathar, opened the door. Now we were at the bottom of the steps, but the creatures inside couldn’t easily come down toward us with ice in their path.
Inside were two wolves and the man of the hour, Ulfe-Alf-Olaf. He roared something like “You come to challenge the great Ulfe?!” – which, as catchphrases go, is a weak one.
Oona cast her hunter’s mark on one of the wolves, shooting as fast as her elven bow would let her.
(Again, darling, gnomish craftsmanship would have let her hit much more often, but I read the room and gathered now was not the moment to say it.)
Gash went into a rage and braved climbing those icy stairs to get closer. Not me, darling! You know me: my boots don’t provide traction, and I’m too old to be taking falls.
Meanwhile, I had been eyeing that enormous axe Alf the ogre was holding: lovely dwarven filigree, darling, but he had been taking bad care of it. He didn’t deserve such work, so I cast Heat Metal until it burned his hand. He dropped that axe and never picked it up again – what anyone should get when they mistreat art, no?
A wolf tried to slip and slide down the icy stairs toward us and nearly bowled us over. I cast Inflict Wounds and killed him instantly, darling – I’m more of a cat person, but I still hated to do it.
Unfortunately, we had been making a racket, and a group of orcs in a side room behind us came to see the commotion.
Seraphina had an enviable little holy spell which let her hold a sphere of fire between the orcs and us. I’ll have to pick that up, Klaus – remind me to make a note of it, would you?
Since the ogre was unarmed after my metal-melting spell, he simply started punching my half-orc rescuer. I also saw Fritzi was badly hurt with the orcs closing in on her from behind. I cast Shield of Faith on myself and got in front of her to take the hits – normally I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, darling, but I had had a rough week.
Slowclap, the darling bird I was telling you about, had been a whirlwind this whole time: kicking and headbutting. He ran off to lure out the armored orc king, but he backed into Durgeddin’s statue and it set off a gaseous poison trap.
Even poisoned, though, Slowclap couldn’t be stopped: he was still landing his punches.
(Are they still punches when a wing is landing them? His flaps, then. He was landing his flaps.)
My fellow priestess and I were back to back with orcs approaching us, both nearly out of spells. Naturally, we ditched the holy symbols and pulled out our maces. That other priest had been a bit wispy, so I was relieved to see she wasn’t above a clobbering.
Fritzi kept hitting the wolves with her Magic Missiles. My mace and Seraphina’s flaming sphere took care of the orcish nobodies.
As for Alf the Ogre, Gash killed him, and his guard wolf tried to flee down the stairs past her. I’m afraid to report we all went soft watching him click-clack down the slippery, icy steps. Like a clumsy puppy – adorable, darling! It was so distracting we all missed our chance to hit him, but Gash speared him before he could run off too far.
That armored orcish leader tried to dodge Slowclap and drink a health potion, but against the wrath of a bird there can be no survivors. With the area cleared, I was able to admire the detailing on that fine stone statue of Durgeddin.
Fritzi cast Detect Magic on the objets d’art we found, and I cast Identify – there was a delicate rapier which went to Oona, being a nimble elf. Also a potion of climbing which I gave to the brave little kenku – though I wasn’t sure if it would be an insensitive gift, highlighting his flightlessness as it did.
We also found money and a few divine gemstones. Some onyx at least I’m keeping, darling – you know how I feel about black.
We decided to camp for the night before heading on. Slowclap entertained us all painting some graffiti at the orcs’ expense, and I was just happy to have a crate for a pillow instead of a pointy rock.
Pfeh! I have talked far too long. You have to stop me when I go off on these tangents, Klaus! I’ll need more tea before I get started on those boot buckles.