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Badger: A Druid's Story

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So, I am playing Dungeons & Dragons again. Playing is not accurate. I have played since 1980. I have played Basic and Expert, Advanced (now 1e),  2e, 3e and 5e. Mostly, I have DM'd. I played Taus the Fighter Elf and Talks Like Falling Rain the Halfing Rogue in college playing  first ed. I played Thair Bannock, a Human Cleric in 2e, and Monsta, a Half-Orc Barbarian in 5e. Playing a character is a gift. Over of 40 year, I have played a character for about 6 years. 

My good friend and old school Ordo regular, Bkieft, offered to DM a few weeks ago.  I was delighted. With two characters in ind, I went with the biggest push for me: a forest gnome druid. 

My weakness is spell casting, so I went with a non-fighting character. I thought Gnome since, I have never gone there. I am playing with my wife, a seasoned a player as there is (she has played in my campaigns since 1991), one newer player, one brand new player, and another very creative player.  I wanted to play a supporting role and let the newer players shine. Druids seems to be to be in that line (at least at lower levels).  

The party has an Elf Ranger, a Human Bard, a Human Wizard, and Goliath Barbarian.  With two half healers, all the roles of the party are mostly filled. There is no rogue. I wanted to be a rogue, but that was not a a stretch to my gaming weaknesses. 

We have played the into game (the level zero game) and the first session. When I am not on mandatory OT, we will play the next session. 

So far, Entangle and the Minor Illusion cantrip (Forest Gnome ability) are my best gifts. 

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Background -


Before its end, the Forest Gnome village of Meeting Creeks had six families. Even now, Badger can imagine what the village looked like and remember place full of his kind with forest animals living side by side with the gnomes, each helping the other in a symbiotic relationship. In those lost time, Badger does not remember Mother Badger, but she was there, a Dire Badger somewhere around the village.

With a vague recollection of a nightmare of the village's destruction, Badger only knows  it was very loud and scary. What he most remembers is the quiet afterwards and Mother finding him hidden in the warrens.

As Badger grew, Mother Badger taught him to care for himself and the woodland animal remnants of the village, who returned days after the village’s destruction.

When Badger was a teen, he asked Mother Badger about the All Tree standing in the middle of the village since it was different than all of the surrounding trees and appeared dead. Mother Badger showed him the dead tree was an illusion to keep the Golden Helms and other treasure seekers away. He asked what the outsider sought and she answered the magic of the All Tree.

A few years later, a group of men and women came to the village. They did not show the reverence to it made Badger angry.  Mother Badger showed him, and the other defenders of the village, how to scare away the invaders that she called Leather Bound. This and the haunting illusions of the All Tree drove the interlopers to paranoia. After the fear set it, she attacked the more stalwart of the party, driving the invaders away.

Mother, then, showed Badger how the All Tree fed and nourished the land of the village its surrounds, keeping it more vibrant than the forests beyond. She even took him as far as a Leather Bound homestead to show Badger that not all humans were destructive, but warned she never met a Golden Helm that did not worry her.

Within the next year, Mother Badger died leaving Badger maintains  to maintain the village. There has been no attacks, but without Mother, Badger is lonely.

One day Badger wakes to sense that something is different, he almost has a sense that Mother is with him, a feeling that he has not felt in some time, comfort but urgency.

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After Mother Badger died, the world stilled. The seasons changed, but the world did not move on. And so Badger waited and then the dreaming came. In the dreaming, the All-Tree sundered and was reborn, placed into the hands of Badger. Time started again. The world opened and transformed.  When the Gold Helms arrived and rent the tree, Badger knew his fate. He would protect the All-Tree. Fate brought the strangers. Where they on the same path or spirits walking in their own dream? Surely the woman, bigger than a bear, and savage like winter storm, was sent by the dreaming to be there. She cried after the destruction of the great tree. And the Silent One, invisible in the wood, she is as much of a spirit as Mother Badger. Both could protect the Acorn of the All-Tree. But the others, the Iron Bound, what path do they take? The woman shares her food and knows odd runes. But the other two, the one who carries heavy things and the sword bearer, are they actors or images in the dream? With the stone path to the Roots of the All-Tree is revealed, Badger is eager to learn more.

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BADGER, Forest Gnome Druid


Armor Class 14     Proficiency Bonus +2        Speed 25        Hit Points 9


St 8  (-1)           Inspiration Points  2


In 12 (+1)        Passive Investigation 11


Ws14 (+2)       Passive Perception    14 ,      Passive Insight 12


Dx16 (+3)        Initiative +3


Cn12 (+1)


Ch 13 (+1)      Dark Vision: 60 ft


Saves:  St (-1),  In +3,  Ws (+4),  Dx (+3),   Cn (+1),  Ch (+1)

Advantage on Magic Saves vs. Int, Ws, Ch


Acrobatics (Dx)              +3         Wander: You have an excellent memory for geography, and can always

Animal Handling (Ws) +4*                                recall the general layout of terrain, settlements, and other

Arcana (In)                     +1                                       features around you. In addition, you can find food and fresh

Athletics (St)                  +1*                              water for yourself and up to five other people each day,

Deception (Ch)               +1                                     provided the land offers berries, small game, water, etc.

History (In)                     +1

Insight (Ws)                    +2                 Age: 23    Hgt: 38”   Wgt: 36 lbs  Size: Small

Intimidation (Ch)            +1

Investigation (In)            +1                  Hair: Black   Eyes: Amber w/ Green Flecks

Medicine (Ws)                +2

Nature (In)                      +1                  Skin: Pale and elusive to tan

Perception (Ws)            +4*

Perfomance (Ch)            +1                  Appearance: Badger looks like a feral gnome, dressed in skins and pelts.

Persuasion (Ch)              +1

Religion (In)                   +1                  Personality Traits: I treat my friends like a litter of newborn pups.

Sleight of Hand (Dx)      +3                                                   I was, in fact, raised by a badger.

Stealth (Dx)                    +3               Ideals: Life is like the season and in constant change.

Survivial (Ws)              +4*              Flaws: Being raised by a badger, I have little social graces.


Languages: Druidic, Small Woodland Animals, broken Gnomish, Common, and Sylvan


Spell Casting Modifier: 12 (+4)

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Cantrips: (3)




Minor Illusion


Mold Earth


1st Level: 3 known, 2 slots




Cure Light Wounds touch         2d4 +2


Earth Tremor             10 ft          d6


Entangle                     90 ft range


Fairie Fire


Good Berry

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Honestly, Wisdom 14 is perfectly fine for a Druid or Cleric. I know, I know, the collective wisdom of the internet will always tell you to maximize the prime attribute(s) for a class... But, really, the difference between a WIS 14 and WIS 16 is basically only a 5% modifier on skill checks and saving throw target numbers (and a pip of damage on some spells).

Maybe it’s because I’m an old grognard that cut my teeth on “3d6, in order, no re-rolls, no adjustments, no whining” but I’ve never quite felt the need to maximize every pip of every attribute. I mean, I’m not gonna run with a STR 8 CON 8 Barbarian or anything. There’s a big difference between “not maximized” and “not viable,” but the armchair experts seem to be unable to make the distinction.

(I would say you missed out on the Shillelagh spell. I find it absolutely invaluable as a druid or cleric... But I also tend to favor the “Oh, you wouldn’t deprive an old man of his walking stick would you son?” approach.)

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We used the standard array from 5e, so all characters are generally equal in their creation, so no rolling up characters.  I like everyone has an 8 to deal with, it helps give the party a variety where the players need to rely on other to boost their flaws. 


Shillelagh is a great spell,  but I am not a front line character. The Barbarian and the Ranger are efficient in combat and the wizard is a battle mage.  Aiding them with Entangle or Fairie Fire and using the remaining spell slots for healing seems the way to go. If I was going for a combat cantrip, Primary Savagery would be more thematic for a gnome raised by a Dire Badger.😀

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, I have the second full game in. 

Two of the players were a bit distracted and unorganized in their play, leaving pauses in play. I pulled out Fairie Fire for the first time and it really aided the sole combat. I really like the advantage concept in 5e, it allows for a better consistency in roll results. 

As to the mechanic, we have discovered the operating mechanic of the game, forgotten teleportation circles that access other teleportation circles set on linear ley lines like a compass. Now, we need a plot push to direct us to our next mission and over all purpose. 

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I adore the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic. After decades of playing games where I memorized table after table of +1 from this, +2 from that, –1 because of something, –3 for whatever... It was just so amazingly, stupidly, incredibly easy to use. One of those rare inventions that’s so obvious in hindsight that you wonder why no one came up with it eons ago.


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So Badger, being an isolated forest gnome, know of the two different nations of humans. One is inherently bad, the others has raiders and bandits, but also farmers and people who are kind to the land. He did not know what elves, dwarfs, or goblins are. At this point, most reacts to other races are a blank slate. 

Elves seem like forest spirits, so they fine. Badger is shy around humans, including those in his own party. The party discovered a massive abandoned Dwarf city that was stripped an abandoned without sign of war or death. Why who a race spend so much energy building a place and then leave without being forced to? The goblins are cowardly and crass, attacking when they have numbers.  

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After DMing yesterday, I sat down and re-crayoned my old dice. When I was in college, I splurged and bought new dice. I had been using dice from the original box sets from the early 80's. Like all dice of the time, you needed a crayon to "ink" the number in a contrasting color. You would take a white or black crayon and rub/smash it around the numbers until the recessed print was filled with the crayon debris. Using a paper towel, you would rub the crayon residue in the number and wipe away the excess. I haven't re-crayon my dice in a decade (they are 30 years old now), so I sat down and worked on a dozen dice last night.  

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