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Solo Druid (HoF) ramblings

AerichAerich Member Posts: 159
Yes, I like druids enough to have them in almost every party and to do a lvl 1 HoF solo with one. I’ll post thoughts as they occur to me.

I’m currently soloing a totemic druid, and nearly done Dragon’s Eye. You lose shapechange of any kind in favour of spirit animal summons. You absolutely have to be able to kill beetles and other early trash to get to level 5, and totemic is the best Druid for that. Shapeshifter might be ok, avenger and vanilla will struggle.

Druid power is largely independent of equipment. This is good, because helpful Druid items are scarce in the beginning. This doesn’t help your general inability to hit things. A F/Dr multi will be ok, and can wear better armour, and a shapeshifter is at least better than any other non-F/Dr in melee.

Saves and self-buffs are a problem. You have no access to freedom of action items or spells early, which hurts because you will use a lot of Entangle. If targeted by casters, Slow and Hold Person are problematic. Luck helps. You have only four core self-buffs in the first 6 spell levels, and they are just enough: Protection From Evil, Barkskin, Iron Skins, and Entropy Shield. You also get assorted elemental protection spells. With max Dex you can get down to about -11 AC with all protections up (note: PfE does not seem to show), which is a little short of optimum.

You lack any invisibility until Pixie Dust at spell level 5; compare to Sanctuary at spell level 1 for clerics and invisibility at spell level 2 for arcane casters. Special mention goes to Sunscorch, as the blindness can persuade monsters to switch targets - helpful if your pc is the target instead of your summons. At spell level 7, Nature’s Beauty and Sunray both have mass blind effects, which are sorely needed, especially after getting swarmed upon coming through an area transition.

A totemic Druid is at risk of missing out on loot. Beast Claw gives 18/72 Str, and Animal Rage gives 19, but there may be no way to get higher Str to open containers. A Druid has no Knock or Open Locks skill of course, and totemic cannot shapechange to a high-Str form. Any thoughts on this? Giant strength potions aren’t useable.

The animal summoning spells are ok, but spirit animals and beetles are the early workhorses, with elementals, stalkers, and spirit animals doing the damage later on.


  • AerichAerich Member Posts: 159
    Further thoughts:
    - I just realized I forgot to pick up a decent item that grants Free Action once per day and +1 AC. Fixed that!
    - AC thought - I bought the yeti armor, but it’s not better than AC 6 bracers and the item above. It’s better vs 2 kinds of damage, and worse vs the other two. The armor and the item are not compatible. The yeti armor is not very good…
    - Armor of Faith is not a great spell for a totemic Druid, because it should want to spend no time in melee, having no shapechange. Beast Claw is ok at lower levels vs goblins and such when spell resources are more limited, but at higher levels you have way better things to do. Either way, you don’t want to be targeted and should pull back when your summons that is being attacked reaches ‘nearly dead’. No sc druid that isn’t shapechanged should seriously consider a 1v1 battle in HoF where it takes the hits instead of a summons. Armor of Faith helps a shapechanger considerably.
    - Stats: I went with 9 Int to use items and scrolls instead of going for 16 Con. 9 Con is sufficient. 18 more hp is nice to have, but use of items gives more options, including in situations where the extra hp would help.
    - Identify is done at shops, bc a Druid’s lore is pitiful. I didn’t identify a potion in my bag for the longest time because I thought it was the useless action transference one, then when I did, I found it was a permanent +5% MR potion. Dang.
    - I’m already thinking about how I’m going to take out the final boss with a Druid solo. I’m assuming summons to tank (will Shamblers or Spirit Animals hurt him?) and I may have to resort to oil of speed and weapon damage.
    - The Y boss went down hard and without scratching me due to meta gaming and getting caught in a spell trap. Summons for mages, summons to tank, invisibility potion to reposition, spell trap, summon replacement summons, and she finally goes down to Spike Growth.
    - A Druid’s direct damage level of choice is spell level 3. My Druid has directly killed maybe 15% of her earned experience (not sure what % that is with quest xp taken out - maybe up to 20% tops through Dragon’s Eye?) and probably 90% of her kills are from either Call Lightning or Spike Growth. Since they kill over time, one must be prepared for long battles, like most solos.
    - This solo is substantially easier/quicker than others I’ve done. Only early summons make a straightforward run possible (e.g. not going Invis past content in search of easier battles or quest xp to level), and the beetles are tougher and hit harder than Animate Dead’s undead. Together with the level 3 spells and pulling mobs through area transitions to outside (orc cave, Orc chieftain, Vale) for Call Lightning, any Druid is a strong solo choice. A totemic has it even easier, with summons available from level 1 that scale well and are immune to normal weapons at caster level 10.
  • AerichAerich Member Posts: 159
    Small groups in inside areas start skewing the numbers, as Static Charge kills more, Call Lightning drops off, and Spike Growth gets harder to set up. A high level Druid will get a few kills from Nature’s Beauty (humanoids) and Sunray (undead), but nothing major.

    Severed Hand gives better Druid items than Dragon’s Eye. The Sanctuary ring is useable by druids (bug?), there’s a couple of AC items, there’s a good sling and magical ammo, and the key (random) item is the Ring of Dwarven Bone, giving +1 Str. I built my Druid with 18 Str mostly for carrying purposes and didn’t use much weapon damage, but with +7 damage it’s now a viable option to help kill things with weapons. Bone Marrow Belt is the other key random item here, which I never seem to get. Boots of Speed are incredible for any solo, as repositioning or straight running away is as easy as goblin pie.

    Melee weapon upgrades are limited and late. By Wyrm’s Tooth, my Druid is still using the Lucky Scimitar and the Spear of White Ash, both purchased from Conlan.

    Entropy Shield is such a beast of a defensive spell. I always memorize at least 2 (up to 5 in Severed Hand due to area transitions) and with more of a melee build I’d cast it even more.

    Drow are tough enemies. Your summons won’t take them down quickly, spell damage gets resisted, and they cut through summons very quickly. Lots of summons is the only solution.
  • AerichAerich Member Posts: 159
    Update through Wyrm's Tooth is much the same. At this point there's no new tactics. With Call Lightning back on board after a long time underground, it goes a little faster. It's a little frustrating that one of a druid's main paths to full cold immunity is based on Storm Shell, which has a set duration of 10 rounds and competes with Call Lightning. Entropy Shield with Armor of Faith works too, but it makes no sense to me to always have a 6th level spell active just for the cold protection it allows. I mostly just ran fast to avoid salamander auras and pulled them out the door into summons, and repositioned so I could cast. Shamblers, with 90% crushing immunity (trolls, ettins) and 50% cold immunity are the winning summons here.

    Finally with a second decent scimitar, this character can dual-wield, with the Lucky Scimitar in the offhand until Valiant comes along. Weapon damage is still very low generally in comparison to damage from summons and spells, because of the base 1 ApR. I quite often still use sling and spear to avoid being targeted.

    I ran across an ancient post on the forum trying to value summons on HoF based on volume of summons and HP, saying that HoF summons are just meatshields to allow your characters to do other things. It concluded that spirit animals were useless, Animal Summoning I was the best 4th level divine summoning spell, and so on. I'll rant here that this has to be incorrect, the methodology is flawed, and a numbers comparison using only two numbers is completely wrong. The AC of the animals is fairly terrible, with beetles and other summons being better. Totemic animals get special abilities (cause fear, poison, paralyze) and are immune to normal weapons which is incredibly valuable in Dragon's Eye. Bears are slow and get stuck and wolves are weak; bombardier beetles have a great special ability. Animals also tend to do lower damage, and spirit lions in particular seem to have great Thac0, ApR, and hitting power. Actually doing damage is quite important for summons on a solo run. Duration also helps on this type of run, and a summoning spell of 4 turns duration is inefficient when there's better options. That's also a mark against Creeping Doom, which is good for only a turn. On HoF, they die from duration expiration long before anything can kill them, and if enemies are still alive, your caster is the next target.
  • MarcoPoloOzMarcoPoloOz Member Posts: 1
    Did you ever work out how to open containers?

    Vanilla (and other Druid subclasses) can shapechange to Earth Elemental, which can bash open any container in the game, but Totemic Druid doesn't have that option.

    Fully agree that spirit animals are awesome, almost as good as Aerial Servants but available much earlier.

    I've currently got a project to run every single class/multiclass through IWD:EE solo on HoF, and the Totemic Druid is by a long way the easiest.
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