I've been thinking of rolling a druid as my next/new character and I have some questions I would like some answers for. I would not want to screw up my character on the first levels so I figured I could ask people who are more familiar with them. I'll just start with the list:

1) I've seen people doing monk splits for druid, I am assuming it is for the centered bonus to AC and evasion, but is there any other reason to go for monk?
2) Are you centered when shifting into an animal form, if you wore an armor before shifting?
3) Does halfling work as a race? I figured the sneak attack bonuses would work well with a druid wolf form
4) Ranger DWS lines Improved Weapon Finesse works with druid animal form attacks?
5) Druid animal form attacks work with weapon focus bludgeoning and improved critical bludgeoning?
6) As an animal form druid, do I have need for spellcraft & heal skills?
7) Is there a way to make bluff skill work as a druid? Seems silly its not a class skill, but so many mechanics rely on it.
8) Are the halfling dragonmark abilities of any use? I know I am spread quite thin with feats as a druid. Would they be worth it?
9) I've read something about the elemental forms being efficient in melee also, is there any truth to that? How would such a build work?

The build I had in mind was Druid 18/Ranger 2, where the ranger is there for some SA dice and the improved weapon finesse. Make the druid as dex based to work better with halflings stats. Would it be better to get some levels of monk there? Such as Druid 16/Monk 2/Ranger 2 or is the whole ranger redundant to begin with? I was also thinking of a possible rogue splash for traps, but I could not really get myself around to figure out which skills to pick.

I would accept any advice on building my druid to be as efficient as possible, though there are a few things I would not like to stray from: I would like to have as many druid levels as possible, A druid 9/X/X/X is not something I am looking for. I also dislike half-elf looks so I will not be rolling one. Elf might be okay, but I guess there is no way to get scimitar with weapon finesse? Str based is okay too, but I was kinda hoping to go for the halfling. I got 32 pt build available and veteran & vip status. I am not really thinking about EDs yet though, as I was hoping I could reincarnate the druid a few times at some point, depending how smooth and nice it turns out to be. Currently my main is a warchanter bard, going through its second life.