Druids come in many flavours.
We have no doubt seen many:
wolf druids - they are popular and seem to make for semi decent self sufficient mele.
elemental caster speced - they work, not as much oomph as a sorc but more defence and easier heals.
healer speced druids - they work for questing - debate is still flowing as to how well for raids.
In this post I aim to address the concept of bear form druids, the kind we see the least of.
Now wheras a wolf is designed to do mele dps, a bear is designed to tank.
end game bears gain
single target intimidating attack. evey 12 seconds.
They may also gain:
15% heal amp or a small bonus to PRR dependant on prestige.
up to 6DR after performing an intimidate.
BUGGED: +2d6 force damage to enemies below 50% health - this feature is described as having 100% proc rate, it does not.
They do not gain:
BUGGED?: bonus to threat from having a sheild equiped after performing an intimidate - Im of the opinion this is a bug, my character clearly has a sheild equiped - they should gain the bonus.
BUGGED?: sheild bash attacks - Im not certain whether they should or not to tell the truth, im aware that druids attacks when wild shaped are a special case scenario.
BUGGED?: viable access to combat expertise as even animal form attacks count as spells and thus suffer the hefty cool down penalties.
Heavy armour/tower sheilds: by default a druid does not have these, any druid serious about tanking will either splash fighter for these feats or splash monk for earth stance.
In comparison to a stalwart:
stalwarts in stance gets:
+3 max dex.
additional blocking ac/dr.
+3 to all saves
+20% hit points.
+6 DR at all times.
I believe the base damage per attack of a fighter stalwart and a STR/CON based druid will be comparable assuming the druid has TOD rings.
All this puts a bear form tanking druid significantly behind in perfromance compared to a fighter stalwart.
Now Id like to take this point to try and be clear - THEY SHOULD BE A LITTLE BEHIND because a druid is not a specialist at any one thing. The trouble is when it comes to tanking, the nature of the beast is its some what all or nothing. If you cant hold agro vs the high damage dealers you cant tank, its a prety binary equation - and curently bear form tanks are woefuly under powered.
My suggestion there fore is as folows.
Bear from to grant + 50% stacking threat, +2 stacking STR/CON and +10% ac, +15% hit points, +10 prr
Dire bear from to grant + 100% stacking threat, +4 stacking STR/CON + 20% ac, +30% hit points, +20 prr
Animal form spells to be changed to work diferently - SEE BELOW (WILD SHAPE ABILITIES)
Natures warrior to grant bears: + 10/ + 20 prr.
Capstone to grant bears : 1.5 x cool down for non amimal spells, +10 prr.
revisit the bear from attack animation - its is slow and sluggish with horid delays - bears should have the exact same attack rate as a sword and board user.
All of this will STILL put a stalwart ahead by a significant margin in terms of defence - especialy AC, but should give bears a decent chance of holding agro. It also gives a flavour to bear tanks in that they will resemble 'meat bags' with lots of hp but easier to damage in comparison to an armoured humanoid.
Now lets take a look at epic destinies.
The obvious tanking destiny is unyeliding sentinal. On the surface this desiny offers equal benefit to both stalwarts and bear form tanks. When we dig a little deeper tho...
All the abilites that grant additional weapon effects may bug out on a druid. The reason is that there are only so many 'slots' for additional weapon effects, and much of a mele druids dps comes from these - TOD rings, natural weapon bufs etc.
WILD SHAPE ABILITIES:
Now one point about running a druid is their versatility - and we all love versatility right.
It seems to me that there are 4 or 5 abilities (ie spells) for each wild shape form. Much of a druids versatility is supposed to come from the ability to change form quickly and easily.
There is a significant problem tho - each ability(spell) is treated seperately and every time a druid wild shapes they need to rearange their damn task bars/hot keys. This is frankly a pain in the butt and leads most druid players to 'picking one form'.
There is a second issue in that animal form abilities are considered spells - this absolutly should not be the case. It prevents bear tanks from taking advantage of the feat combat expertise, and wolf dpsers from taking advantage of things like madstone rage.
Id there fore suggest:
each wild shape form to get 1 to 5 abilites that are locked out by druid lvl - these abilities MAY have a spell point cost but do not count as spells - instead they count as tactical abilities with a cost - like stunnign fist.
The wild shape feat will grant 5 extra free feats which can be dragged to takbar slots - called wild shape ability 1 to 5. When a wild shape form is assumed these ailites will be filled in by appropriate abilities to that form. This system will also pave the way for things like polymorph and shapeshift spells to easily grant abilities relevant to form.
roar: change to - perform an intimidate check + gain 50% threat.
rising fury: looks great in principle, in practice not so much. id suggest lowering cool down so it can be kept up.
unstopable: this is prety darn useless, infact its more like suicide mode. change to:
you cannot cast spells for the duration, your animal abilities are unaffected. gain +5 damage, imunity to hold, sleep, paralysis, energy drain, every attack you perfrom has both a chance to stun and a chance to trip based on 10+ half druid lvl + wisdom mod + relevant tactics, duration 15 seconds - cool down 1 mins. you are considered raged.
Tremor: performs a great cleave attack (+2W) that tips opponents on a failed REFLEX (curently fort wich is odd) save DC = 10 + half druid lvl + wisdom + vertigo mod.
Gearing a druid is a royal pain in the backside - especialy if you go outside the norms with your build. There are very few options for natural materials, even many of the obviously natural material named items arent. I find it somewhat ironic that the same update that druids were introduced natural material gear was removed.
1. wooden towersheilds to drop as random loot.
2. darkleaf to be added back to random loot.
3. brigandine, and splint mail to be added back - each with a 50% chance of being either wooded or metal.
4. hide armour to come back.
5. various named items to be changed to natural materials - eg stone meld plate to be 'stone'