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D&D 3E
Minor Artifact for a druid? 
5th-Dec-2008 10:18 am
Disney-LionKing Hope
In my game, our druid has recently been given a gift by his deity, an artifact. The party is in the 8-9th level range and he's one of the few members who didn't have an artifact yet (mostly due to the magic-heaviness of the pre-published module that I'm running). So, I'm trying to figure out what kind of abilities this armor should have.

The armor (which was just altered by his deity) is currently a rhino-hide armor (only made of dragon hide) with the wild ability. The druid in question prefers to use wildshape to go into battle, though his next favorite tactic is call lightning.

My current idea is that the armor allows druid to expend an extra wildshape/day in order to gain the use of the creature's extraordinary qualities (scent, blindsense, fast healing, etc). I'm definitely not willing to give him the creature's spell-like abilities and I'm really hesitant about supernatural ones, though perhaps if he expends 3 or more wildshapes/day?

I realize that this is a powerful ability, but most of the party already has powerful artifacts. My hope is actually that this ability will give the druid skills that aren't necesarily combat specific (which the party excels at already) but that would allow him to be more creative outside of combat.

Please, offer your suggestions? Is this too powerful for a minor artifact?
5th-Dec-2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I got stuck here "The party is in the 8-9th level range and he's one of the few members who didn't have an artifact yet (mostly due to the magic-heaviness of the pre-published module that I'm running)."

... My 25th level epic adventures party had 1 (ONE) artifact, ever. It caused us as many problems as it solved.

Unless you are using artifact to mean magical item, in which case just make it armor that works in shapeshifted form.

Artifacts are extremely powerful, and should almost be used by DMs as tools to achieve a story plot.
5th-Dec-2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
This certainly just sounds like more like a "unique magical item" than "the hand of Vecna". I wouldn't be too worried.

This particular idea is a little like giving the druid a bunch of the Wild Feats for free. Most of these feats are pretty weak, so I don't see this as being overpowered. Gaining fast healing is pretty strong though.

The more mundane qualities (sensory especially) are unlikely to cause any issues. Fast Healing could be pretty bad though, so you might want to consider capping the duration of that to 5 mins per Wildshape charge.

In my campaign, I've houseruled that you get most mundane sensory/movement/racial skill bonuses for free when shapeshifting. For example, monkey form should make you a good climber. This has not caused any balance issues. Maybe you could have the artifact give the player this ability?
5th-Dec-2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
I typically grant that as well. If an animal has a bonus to a skill based on str, con or dex, I think that the druid should get that bonus as well. A druid in the form of a shark gets a +8 bonus to his swim checks, for example.

The only grey area I've come across is spot. With hawks and eagles, you would think that spot is based on their physiology, but spot is wisdom based. I've never come up with a good resolution to that dilemna.

As to your comments about the item, thank you. That's kind of what I was thinking. The catch with fast healing is, of course, that the druid would have to be changing into something that has fast healing. I don't even know if there are any animals that do! And if there is, that quality will be offset by other weaknesses in the animal that the druid will have to accept as well. But you are correct that I'll have to keep a close eye on some of the abilities. Currently, however, the druid is kind of underpowered compared to the rest of the party, so I'm not worried about him overshadowing everyone else.
5th-Dec-2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
Believe me, I know. And I probably exagerated a little. But not by much. The party has 4 artifacts.

*1 VERY minor artifact (really just a powerful magic item)
*1 REALLY powerful artifact with historical implications (everyone wants to kill them because they have it)
*1 artifact that really has no purpose outside of achieving a storyline
*1 healing artifact

These are all artifacts that are written into the module. The problem is that the setting is naturally low-magic so that they can't just walk into a town and buy whatever magic items they want. They have to find everything. So, I've tried to balance it by giving several other members items of legacy. They are currently mild magic items, but as the players gain levels, so do the items themselves (assuming the players pursue the rituals needed to unlock the items). These items also have penalties that come from using them, so they're not true artifacts. In fact, some of my players have decided not to use their items of legacy at all.

Compared to some of the minor artifacts in the DMG, I can't help but think that a wild rhino hide armor with the ability to expend a wildshape/day to get the creature's extraordinary qualities is NOT as powerful as smallest of artifacts, and that's really what I'm asking - I'd rather this item be on that fine line between a decent-to-powerful magic item and a minor artifact.
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