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Sophistemon
2008-10-01, 05:02 PM
The Animist
Much as the druid is natureís priest so to is the animist her crusader, waging a desperate, ongoing battle to further the Will of the Wild. To accomplish this, the animist can draw upon the might of special Animal Totems, the power of which increases her own, and eventually even change her shape into that of a beast in order to improve or augment her already impressive natural abilities.

Adventures: Animists adventure so that they might better understand the Will of the Wild, which is their instinctive interpretation of natureís unspoken wants and desires. Animists travel the world to hone their skills and gain a closer rapport with nature and her children. Animists have no trouble with the dangers, the uncertainties, and the wandering that adventuring involves. Like barbarians they have a noted distaste for that which they consider unnatural, including undead, demons, and devils.

Characteristics: The animist is an excellent warrior. Where the fighterís skill in combat comes from training and discipline, however, the animist has succeeded in emulating the movements and fighting styles of various birds and beasts, and after she proves herself a devoted follower of the Will of the Wild the animist may even take on animal form, granting her even greater combative prowess. The animist is at home in the wild and able to easily adapt to and survive situations that would leave others befuddled or, worse, destroyed.

Alignment: Animists are never lawful. They may be honorable, but at heart they are wild. This wildness is their strength, and it could not live in a lawful soul. At best, animists of chaotic alignment are free and expressive; working tirelessly to protect the wild from being encroached upon by spreading cities, maintaining the balance between tamed and untamed. At worst; they are thoughtlessly destructive in their attempts to return the world to a more natural state, skewing that balance in the favor of the Wild.

Religion: An animist reveres nature above all. She gains her power directly from the force of nature itself. The typical animist pursues a mystic spirituality of transcendent union with nature rather than devoting herself to a divine entity. Still, some animists revere or at least respect either Obad-Hai (god of nature) or Ehlonna (goddess of the woodlands). Animists are incapable of having a fierce devotion to a god, as a divine demand may interfere with the animistís duty of carrying out the Will of the Wild.

Background: Unlike barbarians, animists do not exclusively come from uncivilized lands or from barbaric tribes on the outskirts of civilization. An animist adventurer is as likely to have been lured from the settled lands as the uncivilized by the Call of the Wild, a silent, instinctual summons that functions as the animistís first encounter with the Will of the Wild. Animists share no bond with each other, even if they come from the same land, as each animist has her own idea of natureís desires and how to best fulfill them.

Races: Elves and gnomes have an affinity for natural lands and often become animists. Humans and half-elves also frequently adopt this path, and animists are particularly common among savage humans and half-orcs. Dwarves and halflings are rarely animists, finding their more civilized comforts too hard to leave behind, and avoid the Call of the Wild, choosing instead to remain in their mountains and cities.

Other Classes: The animist shares with rangers, druids and many barbarians a reverence for nature and a familiarity with natural lands. She doesnít much care for the urban mannerism typical of a rogue, and she finds arcane magic disruptive and slightly distasteful. The typical animist also dislikes the paladinís devotion to abstract ideals instead of ďthe real world.Ē Animists, however, are nothing if not accepting of diversity, and they take little offense at other characters, even those very different from them.

Role: An animistís typical primary role in a group of adventurers depends on her choice of an Animal Totem. An animist has the potential to be a front-line melee specialist, a ranged combatant, a stealthy, subtle warrior and much more. No other character can match her sheer toughness and versatility on the battlefield, and her ability to wild shape (see below) only further enhances what she can do. Whatever her Animal Totem, an animist is good to have around.

Game Rule Information:
Animists have the following game statistics.

Abilities: Depending on her choice of an Animal Totem, all abilities are important to an animist. Strength is important for animists because of its role in melee combat, Dexterity is useful to those animists who wear light armor and prefer fighting at a distance, Wisdom is important for several of the animistís class skills, and a high Constitution score lets an animist live longer, because it gives her more hit points. Charisma allows an animist to better deal with all of natureís creatures, be they intelligent or not, and Intelligence gives the animist more skill points to spend.

Alignment: Any nonlawful.

Hit die: 1d12.

Class Skills
The animistís class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), and Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Int modifier) ◊4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: The Animist
http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff266/Regisrex/tableanimist.png

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the animist.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: An animist is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light armor, medium armor, and shields (except tower shields). They are also proficient with all natural attacks (claw, bite, and so forth) of any form they assume with wild shape (see below), and that they possess naturally.

Bonus Languages: A drifterís bonus language options include Sylvan, the language of woodland creatures. This choice is in addition to the bonus languages available to the character because of her race.

Fast Movement (Ex): An animistís land speed is faster than the norm for her race by +10 feet. This benefit applies only when she is wearing no armor, light armor, or medium armor and not carrying a heavy load. Apply this bonus before modifying the animistís speed because of any load carried or armor worn. For example, a human animist has a speed of 40 feet, rather than 30 feet, when wearing light or no armor. When wearing medium armor or carrying a medium load, her speed drops to 30 feet. A halfling animist has a speed of 30 feet, rather than 20 feet, in light or no armor. When wearing medium armor or carrying a medium load, her speed drops to 20 feet.

Wild Empathy (Ex): An animist can use body language, vocalizations, and demeanor to improve the attitude of an animal (such as a bear or a monitor lizard). This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person (see Chapter 4: Skills). The animist rolls 1d20 and adds her animist level and her Charisma modifier to determine the wild empathy check result. The typical domestic animal has a starting attitude of indifferent, while wild animals are usually unfriendly.
To use wild empathy, the animist and the animal must be able to study each other, which means that they must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time. A druid can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2 (such as a basilisk or a girallon), but she takes a Ė4 penalty on the check.

Totem Power: At 1st level, an animist must select an Animal Totem from among those given on Table: Animal Totems. Due to her extensive study of her chosen Animal Totem the animist can emulate that animalís talents and characteristics, enhancing her natural abilities to superhuman levels. At first level these bonuses are limited, but at 3rd level and every two levels thereafter (5th, 7th, etc.), the Wild grants the animist another Totem Power from her chosen Animal Totem, and these accumulating abilities make the animist mighty indeed.

Woodland Stride (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, an animist may move through any sort of undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at her normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that have been magically manipulated to impede motion still affect her.
Trackless Step (Ex): Starting at 3rd level, an animist leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked. She may choose to leave a trail if so desired.

Wild Shape (Su): At 5th level, an animist gains the ability to turn herself into any Small or Medium animal and back again once per day. Her options for new forms include all creatures with the animal type. This ability functions like the alternate form special ability, except as noted here. The effect lasts for 1 hour per animist level, or until she changes back. Changing form (to animal or back) is a standard action and doesnít provoke an attack of opportunity. Each time you use wild shape, you regain lost hit points as if you had rested for a night.
Any gear worn or carried by the animist melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional. When the animist reverts to her true form, any objects previously melded into the new form reappear in the same location on her body that they previously occupied and are once again functional. Any new items worn in the assumed form fall off and land at the animist's feet.
The form chosen must be that of an animal the animist is familiar with.
An animist loses her ability to speak while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds that a normal, untrained animal can make, but she can communicate normally with other animals of the same general grouping as her new form. (The normal sound a wild parrot makes is a squawk, so changing to this form does not permit speech.)
An animist can use this ability more times per day at 6th, 7th, 10th, 14th, and 18th level, as noted on Table: The Animist. In addition, she gains the ability to take the shape of a Large animal at 8th level, a Tiny animal at 11th level, and a Huge animal at 15th level.
The new formís Hit Dice canít exceed the characterís animist level.
At 12th level, an animist becomes able to use wild shape to change into a plant creature with the same size restrictions as for animal forms. (An animist canít use this ability to take the form of a plant that isnít a creature.)
At 16th level, an animist becomes able to use wild shape to change into a Small, Medium, or Large elemental (air, earth, fire, or water) once per day. These elemental forms are in addition to her normal wild shape usage. In addition to the normal effects of wild shape, the animist gains all the elementalís extraordinary, supernatural, and spell-like abilities. She also gains the elementalís feats for as long as she maintains the wild shape, but she retains her own creature type.
At 18th level, an animist becomes able to assume elemental form twice per day, and at 20th level she can do so three times per day. At 20th level, an animist may use this wild shape ability to change into a Huge elemental.

Magic Fang (Sp): The Wild has granted the animist the power to enhance the ferocity of her natural attacks. At 6th level, the animist gains the spell-like ability to use Magic Fang (as the spell, cast at your character level) a number of times per day equal to 1/4 of the animistís class level.

Gift of the Wild: An animistís service to the Wild does not go unnoticed, and at 8th level the forces of nature grant the animist the following boons, which mimic the acute senses and abilities of some of natureís hardier children:
ē The animist gains darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision.
ē The animist gains immunity to all poisons, sleep effects and paralysis.
ē The animist gains the Scent ability, allowing her to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell.
ē The animist gains Endurance as a bonus feat at 8th level even if she does not qualify for the feat.

Two-Totem Path: Due to her service to the Will of the Wild, the animist is granted the ability to emulate a second Animal Totem, adding its powers to her own. At 12th level, an animist must select an Animal Totem from among those given on Table: Animal Totems. She begins to study and emulate the second animalís movements and abilities in much the same way as she did the first, though not to the same extent. At 12th level and every two levels thereafter (14th, 16th, etc.), the Wild grants the animist another Totem Power from her second Animal Totem, and these accumulating abilities can stack with and enhance those of her first.

Table: Animal Totems
http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff266/Regisrex/tabletotempowers.png

(*Using the scheme described in the last column it is possible to design and utilize other nature-related Totems. These player-created Totems do not have to be animals, as it has been found that other aspects of nature such as plants, stones and rivers can be used to great effect. I may update this post with non-core Nature Totems as I develop them, and I encourage people to come up with their own to further customize their animist.)

Sophistemon
2008-10-01, 05:09 PM
For those of you that don't know, the animist is the final stage in the life-cycle of the drifter, an earlier base class that I was working on. Please note that it's only recently hatched from its cocoon, so it's still a little drippy and misshapen, but you can help fix that with your comments and constructive criticism! If anyone has any comments, concerns or suggestions please don't hesitate to post them, as I would love to hear what you think.

thegurullamen
2008-10-01, 05:26 PM
I like most of what I see here, but my biggest qualm is that two-three of the totems are better than the others. Physical>Mental totems because this is mostly a melee class. You need to spruce up the Mental Totems a bit more to make the mental scores more relevant.

Zeta Kai
2008-10-01, 06:06 PM
So wait, this thing has d12 Hit Die, a full BAB progression, 2 good saves, 6 skill points per level, a large skill list, & no dead levels. I dunno, man, it seems more than a little overpowered. You might wanna tone it down a little.

MythMage
2008-10-01, 06:31 PM
I would say this is only mildly overpowered. The totem effects are too weak to overpower it by a lot even if it does get something every level.

Gift of the Wild is too much for a single level. Compare to the druid's Venom Immunity or ranger's acquisition of Endurance, which Gift of the Wild vastly overshadows. You should spread it out across four or five levels (which you should have room to do if you follow through with my next suggestion).

Stylistically, I think Two-Totem path should be something merely optional (perhaps available via a feat chain). It seems that flavor-wise, the animist should be able to stick to a single totem throughout his career. I'd cut this out to make room for spreading out Gift of the Wild, and then make the upper-end totem benefits stronger or more numerous.

I really like there being no dead levels, but one or two coinciding with bumps in BAB and all saves (such as 6th or 16th) wouldn't hurt either.

I agree with the earlier comment about the mental benefits. Perhaps you could add finesse-style abilities which allow the mental scores to help out with melee and/or possibly ranged combat.

Sophistemon
2008-10-01, 06:44 PM
I like most of what I see here, but my biggest qualm is that two-three of the totems are better than the others. Physical>Mental totems because this is mostly a melee class. You need to spruce up the Mental Totems a bit more to make the mental scores more relevant.
I was worried about that myself, but hit more than one mental block in trying to find ways to balance everything, which I find to be the most difficult aspect of the homebrewing process. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. At the moment I'm thinking of replacing the natural attacks with a Spirit Howl ability that would do sonic damage... but that sounds more like a class ability than a Totem Power. Maybe it could replace the Magic Fang ability? Hm. Well, maybe someone else will come up with ways of balancing the totems?


So wait, this thing has d12 Hit Die, a full BAB progression, 2 good saves, 6 skill points per level, a large skill list, & no dead levels. I dunno, man, it seems more than a little overpowered. You might wanna tone it down a little.
To be fair, the ranger has d8 Hit Die, a full Base Attack Bonus, two good saves, six skill points per level, a large skill list and the ability to cast spells at later levels, not to mention an animal companion that can grow in power alongside its master. Really, the only reason that I have the d12 Hit Die was because, like the barbarian, the animist is expected to be a front-line melee combatant limited to light and medium armor.


I would say this is only mildly overpowered. The totem effects are too weak to overpower it by a lot even if it does get something every level.

Gift of the Wild is too much for a single level. Compare to the druid's Venom Immunity or ranger's acquisition of Endurance, which Gift of the Wild vastly overshadows. You should spread it out across four or five levels (which you should have room to do if you follow through with my next suggestion).

Stylistically, I think Two-Totem path should be something merely optional (perhaps available via a feat chain). It seems that flavor-wise, the animist should be able to stick to a single totem throughout his career. I'd cut this out to make room for spreading out Gift of the Wild, and then make the upper-end totem benefits stronger or more numerous.

I really like there being no dead levels, but one or two coinciding with bumps in BAB and all saves (such as 6th or 16th) wouldn't hurt either.

I agree with the earlier comment about the mental benefits. Perhaps you could add finesse-style abilities which allow the mental scores to help out with melee and/or possibly ranged combat.
I agree that Gift of the Wild might be a but much... perhaps I could replace it with the Spirit Howl ability that I was mentioned above? It would work, I'm thinking, similarly to Magic Fang, but allow the animist to do sonic damage based on her level. Or perhaps Gift of the Wild could be split in two, the first half being available at one level and the other half being available at a higher level? Also, I'm not sure about removing the Two-totem Path, because without it the class seems to be far too streamlined. Two-totem Path allows for the player to customize their animist in a way that I compare to a ranger choosing his or her Favored Enemies or a fighter does his or her Bonus Feats. It's just a little something extra that adds power to the class while also allowing you to make the character a little bit more your own.

Thanks for posting, everyone. I really appreciate your taking an interest.

EDIT

I'm noticing some problems with the tables, where the Class Abilities listed are sometimes not correctly named and/or listed to occur at the correct level. Since getting the screenshot I must have made some corrections and then not updated the picture. I will be fixing that shortly. In the meantime, please refer to where the Class Abilities are written out, which would be the more correct version. I am sorry for the inconvenience that this may cause.

thegurullamen
2008-10-01, 10:49 PM
Okay, basics. Implement 2 or 3 of the following:
--Knock the d12 HD back a step to d10
--Drop skills to 4 + Int (at least)
--Drop BAB to 3/4 progression
--Have only one good save (Fort probably)
--Split Nature's Gifts over several levels from weakest to strongest.

New Scheme
{table=head]Totem Power|Scheme

1st|Skills (As is.)

2nd|Speak With Animals (As is), +2 bonus on Wild Empathy checks with same type of creature

3rd|Natural Attack (See below.)

4th|Ability Score (As is.)

5th|Totem Spell (See below.)

6th|Skills bonus (See below.)

7th|Transformation (See below.)

8th|Greater Transformation (Below.)

9th|Ability Scores (As is.)

10th|Greater Totem Spells (See below.)[/table]

I reordered the natural attacks to fit the base creature. The enhancement bonus spells are going to be nearly worthless because by the time you can use them, you'll have an item for that ability anyway and the boons don't stack. We'll keep them for flavor (or the odd low-magic campaign) but add something else. The skill bonus is such a boring ability, I decided to tweak it. Instead of mimicing class abilities, which is uninspired, I decided to play up the animal nature of the class by incorporating the ley things from the Comp. Divine's Geomancer. And I finished up with another spell boost. Changes below.

{table=head]
Totem Power|
Bear|
Bull|
Cat|
Eagle|
Fox|
Owl

3rd|Bite- 1d8|Gore 1d6|2 claws-1d4 each, Finesse-able|Screech- 1d6 sonic damage, 15ft. cone usable every 1d4 rounds|Bite- 1d6, 19-20 x3 crit|Screech- 1d6 sonic damage, 15ft. cone usable every 1d4 rounds

5th|Bear's Endurance 1/day, Longstrider 1/day|Bull's Strength 1/day, Jump 1/day|Cat's Grace 1/day, Pass Without Trace 1/day|Eagle's Splendor 1/day, Charm Animal 1/day|Fox's Cunning 1/day, Camoflage 1/day|Owl's Wisdom 1/day, Lesser Vigor 1/day

6th|+1/4 Animist level to Fort save|+1/4 Animist level to all Str skills|+1/4 Animist level to all Dex skills|+1/4 Animist level to all Cha skills and checks|+1/4 Animist level to all Int skills and checks|+1/4 Animist level to all Wis skills and checks

7th|Grow Claws: gain 2 more natural attacks 1d6 each|Grow Greathorns: Gore damage increases to 1d8, x3 crit|Light on Your Feet: +10' to movement speed in medium or lighter armor|Grow Wings: Gain a fly speed of 30' in medium or lighter armor, average maneuverability|Keen Senses: Gain blindsense out to 30 feet|Grow wings: Gain a fly speed of 60' in medium or lighter armor, clumsy maneuverability

8th|Claw damage increases to 1d8 each, bite increases to 1d10|Gore critical increases to 19-20 x4|Full attack is 4 claws, crit increses to 19-20 x3|Screech increases to 1d6 sonic damage/2 animist levels, 30 ft. cone|Bite increases to 2d6, 18-20 x4 crit|Screech increases to 1d6 sonic damage/2 animist levels, 30 ft. cone

10th|Mass Bear's Endurance 1/day, Energy Immunity 1/day|Mass Bull's Strength 1/day, Stoneskin 1/day (no material component needed)|Mass Cat's Grace 1/day, Summon Nature's Ally 1/day|Mass Eagle's Splendor 1/day, Dominate Monster 1/day|Mass Fox's Cunning 1/day, True Seeing 1/day|Mass Owl's Wisdom 1/day, Find the Path 1/day[/table]

KKL
2008-10-02, 02:19 AM
not to mention an animal companion that can grow in power alongside its master.
You mean extra baggage right? Because quite honestly, the Ranger's animal companion is terrible because it lags so far behind the Druid's animal companion. But this sin't exactly on topic.

I personally feel that the totems are disgustingly weak as is. In addition, if you do listen to thegrullamen who is pretty much on a good track for this class, don't reduce the BAB to average. For the love of god, that would gimp this class even worse. I feel the natural attack should come sooner. Totem Powers 1 and 2 should be consolidated, and hell, just move everything up one step. The buffs should be replaced by the untyped bonuses to the relevant stats, same with the skills. The non physical forms (Eagle, Fox, Owl) should be changed to different animals, what they do is just basically not worth it for this class. As for the extra spells that come with the buff spells, I have no idea.

thegurullamen
2008-10-02, 03:50 PM
You know, it occurs to me that I'm slightly bored by my own fixes. I've never been a fan of natural attacks. They're just unarmed strikes with slightly better damage and no scaling potential unless you add more. The spells are a nice addition but don't provide much in the way of mechanics, the transformations are--let's face it--uninspired, and I've done little to differentiate between the animals. The fundamental scheme needs something more invasive done with it. It needs to be shaken up and probably broken down and rebuilt several times.

Basic thoughts: give physical totems maneuvers from one of two martial disciplines (Tiger Claw and one other one suited to the animal) and give the mental totems spells of some kind, possibly to be used per encounter. To make up for the lack of physical stats, give the mentals more of a ranged bent with the option to go melee and give the physicals more of a melee bent with the option to go ranged should either feel like being quirky. (This is 3.x after all) Mentals can take a feat to get a maneuver instead of a spell at the appropriate level and vice versa for the meleer. I think I like this option much more.

I think I just flamed the hell out of myself with that first paragraph. What level of self-loathing is it where you troll yourself in a D&D forum?!

Sophistemon
2008-10-31, 04:45 PM
I would like to apologize for not posting in (goodness, has it really been more than a month?) quite some time. In my defense, though, I've recently been bombarded by my college mid-terms and mid-year papers, some of which got to be rather lengthy, and an unfortunately bothersome upper-body cold that I am just now beginning to get over with. Over the last month I have lacked the time and, in some cases, the willpower to force myself to return to working on the Animist. But, now that I'm feeling better, I would like to continue, should any interest in the the project still remain among GitP's populous.

That said, I would also like to extend my thanks to anyone who has posted thus far, as you have provided me with a lot of suggestions that I plan on implementing, with your more expert consent. Here's the basic outline. You will notice that some things are staying the same, but I plan changing some other things to be more in line with what has been suggested to me.

* Hit Dice, Skill Points and Skill List will be as the Barbarian. This means a smaller list and fewer skill points than the Animist currently has, in an attempt to rectify what some people saw as being a balance issue.
* Base Attack Bonus and Saves will continue to be as a Ranger, as I don't find this to be much of a problem in terms of balance, though my opinion can be easily swayed, given proper evidence to the contrary.
* Wild Shape will continue to progress as a Druid, as once again I do not see a balance issue in letting it do so, and to change the progression is, I think, counter-intuitive. Again, you can change my mind.
* From what I understand, the Animist's Totem Powers need to be strengthened, and rather badly, and are also in need of something that sets them apart and makes them unique. It has been suggested (by my lunch-table companions) that I rely less on spell-like abilities and stolen class abilities and instead focus on having the Animist become more and more like their chosen Totem Animal via taking on that animal's traits and special abilities, like their natural attacks and feats. This would imply, as has been suggested here, a progression of increasingly powerful natural attacks supplemented by feats related to how that animal might fight, at least in a stereotypical sense. In order to prevent abilities from overlapping, the Two-totem Path ability will be removed and possibly rewritten to act as a feat that allows the Animist to change their Totem Animal.

And that's it. Do these changes sound like good ideas? Do you have any other suggestions before I implement them? I know that a month has gone by, but I am still very eager to finish the Animist, as it has become something of a hobby of mine. I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

Thank you in advance for your time.

EDIT

I should mention, I think, that I've not yet made the changes and am asking you guys what you think of the ones that I have proposed. I'm not sure if that was clear, so I'm attempting to make it so. If you guys approve of these changes, or suggest others, I hope to have made all needed alterations to the first post as soon as possible. Thanks again.

MythMage
2008-10-31, 05:41 PM
I think that sounds pretty good. Don't worry about losing customization in dropping double-totem. Don't think of it like a favored enemy; rather, think of it like a ranger's combat style or a wizard's school specialization. It really should be just one animal at a time, except perhaps in unusual cases, which could be covered by a feat or feat chain.