Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Gonzo vs. The Weird


(note: I originally wrote this as a comment on g+ about the differences between DCC and LOTFP. After thinking upon it more I’ve decided to expand it into a more general blog post)

In RPG gaming I find there are two conflicting ideas that have started to bother me in how they seem to be used interchangeably. Usually they are referenced directly by what I believe is their most common labels: Gonzo and The weird, which I will refer to them in this article. 

They aren’t always referenced directly but more often referenced in terms of what would make good material for a particular game like Lamentations of the Flame Princess game or Dungeon Crawl Classics. Like that’s so Lamentations, or that’s so DCC!

This bothers me somewhat as I think The Gonzo and the Weird come from two very different styles of literary sources and each will evoke a very different role-playing game. I really don’t have a preference for one over the other, I've played both styles and love both. But I do think that it’s better to try to evoke one over the other as trying to evoke both tends to fail and I do think they are incompatible in some sense.

I will begin by trying to define both, hopefully without getting to literary or boring.

The Gonzo




The term ‘gonzo’ was first popularized by ‘gonzo journalism’ a style of writing mosty notably seen in the writings of Hunter S. Thompson. It tends to involve journalsim told from a subjective point of view that often emphasis things to a exaggerated intensity or bizzarre surrealism. I’m not going to go into depth about this, but am just going to say that over time the definition of Gonzo became a bit wider to include often bizarre and 'energetically' written works of various kinds.

I find this is how the word is used today in the rpg community. Most, I find, tend to use it to refer to a style of game that involves two key things in a game:

  • Gonzo games tend to have a 'pulp' feel to them; they tend to be focused on character action and lead to adventure type stories that deal in extremes, both in character and the world, rather than trying to evoke a sense of naturalism or realism. 
  • Gonzo games tend to involve a mashup of genre's and are unpredictable in terms of the tropes, imagery, and cliches that they use. A player in a gonzo game is equally likely to encounter a dinosaur, a space alien, and a troupe of knights. Not only are the cliches from different genre's mixed, very often the cliches themselves are blended. Like a troupe of humanoid dinosaur knights. 
  • While this may make the setting seem very random, there often is an internal logic to things and while it mixes genre's it often uses cliches in order to allow the players to formulate ideas about how things work. In this  manner the mixing of the cliches are done more in a subversive manner, than one that truly tries to create something that seems alien or incomprehensible. 

I would say Gonzo games are most closely related to Swords and Sorcery type stories. Those stories tend to be pulpy and focus on character action and advancement in the world. Very often the characters start off as destitute nobodies. 

I would even categorize some genres of swords and sorcery fiction, like the John Carter of Mars series, to be more Gonzo then swords and sorcery. I think that for a sub-genre like Swords and Planets, where the sub-genre is defined primarily because the works use a blend of genre tropes or cliches, could be better categorized as Gonzo (as I have defined it) rather than having endless sub-genres. 

Regardless, I find Gonzo games tend to be popular because they are both unpredictable and unlikely to get stale, and tend to greatly empower the players where the focus is on their characters and how they change the world through their actions.

At it’s extreme Gonzo games tend to involve the players end up traveling to new places that are so different that the world becomes a bit of a patchwork of exotic locations more than anything else. This is assuming that it all takes place all in the same world where inter-dimensional travel might be a thing. 

This said, I think Gonzo games are very much different from other high-powered dimensional hopping type games or stories as due to it’s Swords and Sorcery roots; the players are very often not that powerful, and very much at the mercy of whatever new environment they have found themselves in.


The Weird




The Weird tale and weird literature has become popularized the most by the writings of H.P Lovecraft who is seen as the fundamental cornerstone of it. I’m not going to delve into this too much either, as entire books have been written trying to define exactly what The Weird is. But instead I’ll use the following general definition:

  • Weird tales tend to be inherently investigative. That is main character finds out about some kind of 'abnormality', and whether the investigation is formal or not, he main character purses knowledge about it.
  • The ‘thing’ or 'abnormality' they are investigating is often beyond human comprehension in some manner. It may be supernatural, it may be an alien entity, it may evoke feelings of horror or awe, it may seem religious or occult or not, but regardless, it is outside the main characters normal realm of experience and they have trouble comprehending it when they encounter it.
  • Very often the arc of weird tales are that the main character tends to go from a space of normality to a space of abnormality as they pursue the object of their investigation, before returning once again to the space of normality, very often after having been driven insane or overall having had an unpleasant experience with the object of their investigation, the 'abnormality'.
 Weird tales are often most closely related to horror. Both tend to have build atmospheres of dread, both tend to involve bad stuff happening to people, and both tend to be set in the real world and involve normal people as their main characters.

In some ways Weird Tales can be defined as a subset of horror. Mainly as horror stories that don't involve any Christian theology (as Gothic horror tends to) or elements of folklore like vampires or werewolves. Instead Weird Tales tend to rely on sci-fi or fantastical elements instead as the manifestation of the unknown and take an ambiguous towards what exactly it is or happened.

Weird rpg games tend to be popular because they often have a sense of dread atmosphere and mystery about them. You play to see what happens in all RPGs but with there being a bit of an actual mystery to explore, things become more so engaging. There tends to be less of an emphasis on pulpy action as in Swords and Sorcery. Players and characters are very often less concerned with what happens to their players, whether or not they live or die horribly from touching the accursed idol. Death is entertaining if it's comical. 

Instead I find players are more interested in discovering the truth of the mystery, in 'beating' the game not through having their character advance personally in the world, but in seeing if their thoughts and ideas about the mystery, say, what exactly is going on regarding the weird cult that worships the weird idol, are accurate or not.

Why the two are incompatible


Overall, I find the two styles of games are incompatible. Weird RPG games tend to be more investigative and less focused on dramatic action. Gonzo games are less about atmosphere than weird tales and tend to be less mystery or story based. Weird games tend to be less comical or are serious with schlocky moments. Gonzo games tend to be comical overall and like to crank everything up to 11.

However, these differences aside, I think the biggest difference between the two is simply how each handles the sense of the normal, or normality.

In Gonzo stories, very often the characters are fish out of water; they are strangers in a strange land. The only reference they have for normality is themselves. Thus, for us as the players, the only reference we have for normality is them. As a result the characters are very often down on their luck nobodies and very relatable in this manner.

Furthermore very often the setting is 'extreme' in some way. Like it's ruled over by dangerous sorcerer kings, or has a race of intelligent white apes which live in jungles that the players have found themselves lost in, or the characters have found themselves on a wholly alien planet ruled by cannibal queens. 

I say 'extreme' and not 'weird' as in my opinion very often even though such things seem outlandish, grotesque, fantastic, or abnormal, very often they are much, much less weird then the things in weird tales. This is because, to me, the abnormalities in weird tales are inherently incomprehensible.

In contrast, the strange or extreme things about a Gonzo setting tend to be very comprehensible. If they weren't the game wouldn't really work as most of the challenge that comes from a Gonzo game and setting, is ‘figuring out’ the setting and gaining power in it. For example, if takes place on an alien planet ruled over by purple aliens, figuring out who their ruler is, how to curry favour and power, what the aliens fear, tend to be very valid goals and the inherent objectives of a Gonzo campaign. Very often that once this is accomplished, in true gonzo fashion, the characters find themselves whisked away or forced to flee to a new exotic location to begin the process again.

Thus, in this manner in a Gonzo type game the PC characters tend to be ‘agents of normality’ who are intruding upon an abnormal world and slowly, through learning about it and gathering power in it, making what was considered abnormal to them, normal. Once they do, very often they are whisked away to a new location.

In contrast, Weird tales or games tend to follow the almost opposite arc. The characters tend to begin in a normal world. It may take place in the past, may have a few things about it like demihumans, that our normal world doesn’t. But by on large the world tends to follow a Gygaxian Naturalism scheme where it’s mostly full of non-adventuring people just trying to make their way in life as they would in our world. 

Normality is everywhere, it surrounds the players. What separates them as adventures from other peoples in the world is simply that in some way the abnormal has intruded into their lives. Where for some reason or another they have gotten wrapped up in something that they have decided to investigate. The more the approach the abnormal singularity, the stranger things become, until they are generally forced to withdraw, regardless of whether or not they have actually figured out the abnormal singularity; as often times there really is nothing to figure out. The abnormality simply is.

You can't conquer the Weird setting in the same way you can in a Gonzo setting. Both do explore the setting, finding out more about it, but whereas the Gonzo player does more to advance their character personally, in my experience, the Weird player does more for the sense of discovery itself; the abnormality is fantastically weird enough that merely getting a glimpse behind the curtain is satisfaction enough.

This is partially why I think some people really don't like negadungeons such as Death Frost Doom. Where their characters don't fiddle with anything and the entire dungeon grinds to a halt or seems unfair. With Weird games there is an inherent understanding that it's not the personal advancement of your character that is the goal, as seen in swords and sorcery and other OSR games. It's the thrill of discovery and the atmosphere of the fantastic and weird that is the goal. 

In this manner, the goals of a Weird campaign are fundamentally different from a Gonzo one. In a true Weird campaign, you would never be able to ‘normalize’ the abnormality in the same way you could in the Gonzo one. 

In a true Weird Game you can’t gain knowledge of the abnormality and power over it in the same way you could a very strange alien kingdom in a Gonzo campaign. You can gain power and knowledge from the normal aspects of a Weird campaign. Like the kingdom the intruding weird thing is found. And such power is generally used to try and destroy or reject the intrusion of the abnormal. This rejection of the intrusion tends to form the underlying goal of the campaign.

In conclusion, I find the biggest difference between the two is that:

The Gonzo: the characters are the objects of normality and it is the characters that are intruding upon the abnormal setting. Their goals tend to inherently to normalize the setting through gathering knowledge and power over it and conquering it.


The Weird: the characters and the setting are the objects of normality and it is the abnormality which is intruding upon them and the normal setting. Where if there was no intrusion by the abnormality, there would be no game in a way. Furthermore, the players ability to conquer and ‘normalize’ the abnormality is generally very limited. Very often they won’t be able to gain much knowledge or control over it. Instead they tend to seek to try and block, defeat, or reject the intrusion of the abnormality through their personal actions or at times with the aid of the normal forces of the world.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Ten Questions to ask each Class



One thing I like about LOTFP is that it keeps the four classes very distinct, where each excels at a particular thing, and has a particular niche in the game. Yet, at the same time, the classes are ambiguous enough that the archetype your character embodies is handled through role-playing rather than little nitty-bitty +1 to things rule changes.

In this manner you could conceivably have two different fighters, one very barbaric, a Conanesque figure, and the other a chivalrous knight. This ambiguity I feel really helps players characterize their characters however they want without the rules getting in the way or trying to dictate things. It allows character to grow and change and become more nuanced.

To this end I have written up 10 questions to ask players about their character in order to get them imagining and thinking about, not just the back-story about their fighter or magic-user, but what kind of fighter or magic-user their character is. These questions are meant to prompt a true sense of characterization and are as follows:


Fighters:

  1. Do I have a signature weapon and what is it?
  2. Who taught me how to fight?
  3. Do I enjoy violence?
  4. What vice do I most commonly spend my ill-gotten gains on?
  5. Have I served in any armies and been involved in armed conflicts?
  6. Have I ever fought for a cause I believe in? Do I still believe in that cause?
  7. Have I committed any atrocities?
  8. Do I seek vengeance for any reason?
  9. Do I feel guilty about those I kill?
  10. What is the name of the person who bested me in combat?

Magic Users:
  1. What does my spell book look like?
  2. Who taught me magic?
  3. Why did I decide to learn magic?
  4. Which do I enjoy more: the company of people or books?
  5. What am I curious about?
  6. What great mystery would I like to solve?
  7. Am I afraid for my soul because of the dark powers I deal with?
  8. Did I live a sheltered life before adventuring?
  9. What spell would I sacrifice everything to obtain?
  10. Which magic-user is my rival arch-nemesis?

Cleric
  1. Who is the ‘Bishop’ or what authority to I answer to in my religion?
  2. What local community am I from? How did it shape my religious beliefs?
  3. Do I truly believe in the higher power I represent?
  4. Have I committed any mortal sins?
  5. Do I feel the presence and inspiration of my god? How does it manifest?
  6. Do I agree with all the tenets of the church I serve?
  7. Did I always follow my religion? Or was I converted, ‘saved’, or ‘born again’?
  8. Have I taken any holy vows (poverty, silence, abstinence, etc.)?
  9. Is religion a personal matter to me or do I seek to spread the word?
  10. What is the name of the authority figure who I know is corrupt  but cannot prove?


Specialist
  1. Did I grow up rich or poor? And if so am I proud of my heritage?
  2. Have I ever murdered anyone in cold blood?
  3. Do I trust others easily? Do I have anyone I truly love/care for?
  4. Do I pride myself in my skills or is it just a means to make money?
  5. What great treasure would I like to steal?
  6. Am I a sociopath or compulsive liar?
  7. Do I know any great secrets about anyone? About other party members?
  8. Do I ever wish to retire? What would I do?
  9. Do I have any vices? What are they?
  10. Who would I really like revenge on for something in the past?

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Rings of Power

Rings of Power 















The creation of a ring of power is a 3rd level spell very much like sword magic and utilizes the same general process and the same charts as noted below. In general the following (it's the same as the one used for sword magic) is used for the spell check:

1: Lost and corruption. 

2-15: Lost. Failure. 
16-17: Per below and table 8-4. 
18-21: Per below and table 8-4. 
22-23: Per below and table 8-4. 
24-26: Per below  and table 8-4. 
27-31: Per below and table 8-4. 
32-33: Per below and table 8-4. 
34-35: Per below  and table 8-4. 
36+: Per below and table 8-4.


Forging the Ring

At the very least the forging of a ring of power requires a working forge and involves one day of intense ritualized work and 100 gp multipled by the spell check rolled. Thus if a 24 is rolled it's going to take 24 days and cost 2400 gold. The Judge is free to determine that more powerful rings of power require the use of specialized forges or strange and exotic materials that the cleric has to quest for.

The Basic Enhancement

Just like in sword magic, the clerics level determines the maximum possible effectiveness of the ring: CL5 = +1, CL6 = +2, CL7 = +3, CL8 = +4, CL10 = +5. The cleric has to make a spell check and compare the result to the sword magic related table in the core book, Table 8-4, to determine the “plus” of the ring, it's intelligence, and how it communicates (ignore all other fields in that chart). Rings of power forged by a cleric of Daenthar are always lawful or neutral, never chaotic.

The Ability

Unlike swords the 'plus' the ring grants is granted to a single ability score and boosts that ability score while the ring is worn. Use the following chart to determine which ability score the ring is tied to:
'plus'
Ability Score
1
Roll randomly: 1d5 (1) strength (2) agility (3) stamina (4) personality (5) intelligence
2
Roll randomly: 1d6 (1) strength (2) agility (3) stamina (4) personality (5) intelligence (6) luck
3
Cleric chooses.
4
Cleric chooses.
5
Cleric chooses.


Flaw

Unlike sword magic where the created magic weapon contains a special purpose which it communicates to it's user through urges which may require the PC to make apposed intelligence checks to ignore, rings of power amplify flaws apparent in the PC. The PC or Judge must select one flaw or personal weakness such as greed, pride, anger, paranoia, etc. The PC must make an apposed intelligence check to resist the flaw when an opportunity presents itself or is a likely response.

Special Power

In addition to its ability bonus, the ring grants the wearer one special power usable a number of times per day equal to its 'plus'. If the ring grants a spell like power that allows the caster to target someone the target is automatically whomever is wearing the ring.


Roll
Power
1-6
Read Magic at spell check of 1d10+11.
7-12
Magic Shield at spell check of 1d10+11.
13-18
Feather Fall at spell check of 1d10+11.
19-24
Comprehend Languages at spell check of 1d10+11.
25-29
Ekim's Mysical Mask at spell check of 1d10+11.
30-34
Detect Evil at spell check of 1d10+11.
35-39
Detect magic at spell check of 1d10+11.
40-44
Enlarge at spell check of 1d10+11.
45-49
Darkness at spell check of 1d10+11.
50-54
Protection from Evil at spell check of 1d10+11.
55-58
Locate object at spell check of 1d10+13.
59-62
Levitate at spell check of 1d10+13.
63-66
Fire Resistance at spell check of 1d10+13.
67-70
Detect Invisible at spell check of 1d10+13.
71-74
ESP at spell check of 1d10+13.
75-78
Strength at spell check of 1d10+13.
79-82
Invisibility at spell check of 1d10+13.
83-85
Planar Step at spell check of 1d10+15.
86-88
Fly at spell check of 1d10+15.
89-91
Water Breathing at spell check of 1d10+15.
92-93
Transmute Earth at spell check of 1d10+17.
94-95
Wizard Sense at spell check of 1d10+17.
96-97
Control Ice at spell check of 1d10+17.
98-99
Control Fire at spell check of 1d10+17.
00
Magic Bulwark at spell check of 1d10+17.

Ildavir, Goddess of Nature

Ildavir, Goddess of Nature


Goddess of the primeval woods, of the Silver Stag, of the holly branch and moonlit grove. Her forests as dark and limitless as oceans, there are no roads in her green realm, only unseen paths. In every raindrop, in every moss covered rock, in every wayward leaf, she is found. It was she who gave the fox the colour of its fur, it was she who gave the raven the lustre of its feathers. All that roams the woods keep her well and whisper her name when they come across one of watching eyes carved by her priesthood.


Her followers know well how to read her moods; they see her fury in the storm, hear her laughter in sunlight, and feel her majesty in the greenery that cloaks the land. She watches her followers struggle and survive, watches them live and nurtures their soul with the strength to find their freedom.

Title:

1. Hermit
2. Walker
3. Guardian
4. Druid
5. Archdruid

Creed:

To live is to be wild, and to be wild is to be free.

Alignment:

Neutral.

Holy Symbol:

Their holy symbol is an oak leaf.

Restricted Weapons:

Clerics of Ildavir can use any weapon as long as it’s made from wood or resembles a common tool. Otherwise they roll at one dice lower. In general they tend to wield bows, slings, staffs, wooden clubs, and scythes or falxs.

Favoured Spells:

First Level: Food of the gods, paralysis.
Second Level: curse, neutralize poison or disease, wood wyrding.
Third Level: remove curse.
Fourth Level: affliction of the gods.
Fifth Level: weather control.

Unholy Creatures:

Un-dead, abhorrent or alien extra-planer creatures, demons, devils, lycanthropes, perversions of nature, oozes, slimes, moulds.

Communing with Ildavir

Clerics of Ildavir commune with her by meditating in nature. They gain insight into what she wants or her pleasure and displeasure through the actions of animals that serve as omens. Such as the flights or calls of birds, the appearance of a stag or bear on a nearby hill, the path of a mouse that crawls beneath a tree, a squirrel carrying an acorn across a tree branch, etc.

Clergy and Worship

Clerics of Ildavir tend to live as recluses or hermits living within, protecting, and caring for vast swaths of forest and those that live nearby. They view all life as equal and are equally inclined to save or help a wounded fox as they are to for a human child. They generally live in small huts in the forest near human settlements and build no other buildings and prefer to sleep under the stars if weather permits.

They protect the wilderness and are at times at odds with human civilization. They abhor deforestation caused by farming and the spread and squalor of civilization. Most clerics of Ildavir care not for the petty politics of the world and don't get involved to much in the affairs of the civilized world. Each cleric of Ildavir loosely belongs to a group of other clerics who live in nearby forests. Together they form a Circle and this tends to be the extent of the clergy’s hierarchy.

They tend to be indifferent to humanity or the other races but will stay on good terms with nearby settlements often tending to and caring for the sick or injured livestock of the common folk and finding them when they get lost in the woods. They are often sought out for their medical advice and contain a great knowledge about the healing properties of certain plants.

However the bulk of their time is spent simply existing in nature as they wish all would exist. They tend to their lands and the natural creatures within it, and blaze trails to erect thin totem poles with a myriad of strange shaped eyes carved into them. These totems called eyes of Ildavir by the common folk and rumour holds it that the Druids erect them so Ildavir herself can look through them and watch all that walk within the forest. The Druids say they simply serve to mark boundaries or function trail markers. Like many things about the practices and rituals of Ildavir their true purpose is unknown.

They have no temples or churches and only gather on certain nights in sacred places found in nature; groves full of ancient trees, at the edges of moonlight lakes, within circles of ancient standing stones, anywhere that the beauty and majesty of the wild strikes deep within the soul.

These meeting involve many sacred songs and rituals and are part council where the Druids of Ildavir discuss much about what has been going on in their forests and how they want to further their goals of building more Eyes of Ildavir and maintaining the forests.

Healing Description:

When healed by druids of Ildavir the individual watches as their flesh begins to move and grow as if it has a life of its own; bone sprouts like a tree at a prodigious rate and muscle worms its way around it like a snake followed by skin which flowing forth like water. Wounds snapping shut with scars appearing to seal them and spilled blood moves with a pulse of its own.

Deity Disapproval:

Roll

1
Walk barefoot for one day.
2
Take a vow of silence for one day.
3
Harm no animal, no matter how hostile, for one day.
4
Cut your palm and let the blood flow freely mixing with the earth. Take 1d4 damage.
5
Heal at 1 reduced die for a day as your connection with nature and life is lessened.
6
Seek out a hurt animal within 24 hours and nurse it back to health or suffer a -1 penalty to spell rolls for one day.
7
Carve a new totem, an eye of Illdavia’s eyes, deep within the forest within 1d3 days or loose 1d3 randomly determined spells for 1d3 days.
8
Lose the ability to cast one random spell until you plant a tree in Ildavirs name.
9
Suffer -2 to spell checks until you spend one night naked and alone meditating in nature.
10
You must subsist on nothing but the forgings of the forest, mainly roots and berries, for 1d12 days. Due to the fasting that results from this you only gain 1 hp when resting at night and recover no lost ability points.
11
Test of the Wild: you must venture into the woods and face a silver wolf summoned by Illdavia and fashion it’s pelt into a cloak.
12
Help 1d20 hitdice worth of sick or injured livestock of nearby farmers with your lay on hands ability. If you incur disapproval while doing so you take 1 str, sta, or agility point damage as you empathetically take their injuries into your body.
13
Kill no living natural things, no matter how hostile, for one day.
14
Seek out and destroy a greater corruption of nature. Be unable to turn unholy creatures until done.
15
Restore 1d20 hectares of farmland to forest. This generally involves hiring people at your own cost to help plant trees. Take a -3 penalty to spell checks until complete. 
16
The cleric must give away all his gold to the poor, nature alone shall provide for him.
17
Clear a ruin or lair deep in the wilderness and take nothing from within. Ildavir will destroy it afterwards with an earthquake so that nature can reclaim it.
18
Blight the crops of a village to stop them from encroaching on the forest. This will cause the cleric to be branded an outlaw with a sizeable bounty placed upon their head in civilized lands. 
19
Suffer from the sickness of civilization as the pain of the earth itself is felt. Suffer from Affliction of the Gods at a spellcheck of 1d20+17. This lasts a number of days equal to 1d4s rolled on this chart. 
20
You suffer the curse of Illdavia and are cursed with lycanthropy and are one of her forsaken. You must go on a quest to find redemption and to have the curse be lifted.


Call of the Wild Ritual

To perform this ritual the Druid needs part of an animal or plant to act as a magical focus of the same type that they wish to call or interact with. Generally this is a bit of hair, tooth, root, flower petal, or leaf. The ritual involves the druid cutting their palm with a special ceremonial knife and letting their blood fall from their palm and mix with earth in a specially crafted oaken bowl worth no less than 50gp. The earth must be from a forest and be fresh, no older than 1 day. They must hold the focus in one hand while they mix the earth and blood with the other and smear traces of it on their forehead and face in Druidic letterings. 

Call of the Wild
Level 1
 Range: Self     Duration: Varies    Casting Time: 1 hour  Save: N/A

1-11
Failure.
12-13
They can speak to and understand any natural animal or plant of the same type as the focus for CL hours and of equal to or lower Hit Dice of the caster. The animal or plant will act in a non-hostile, or (depending on species)  friendly manner towards the Druid but does not have to obey it's commands.
14-17
As above but if an animal of the focus type is present within CL miles of the caster they are called forth to the caster. If it is a stationary plant they are not called forth but the caster knows where it lies.
18-19
As above but the animal or plant will obey the caster’s commands within normal bounds; suicidal commands or those contrary to its nature have a 50% chance of releasing a monster from service. Due to the nature of the summoning, the caster cannot directly harm a creature he summons.
20-23
As above and they can see through a single sense of the called forth animal or plant and can communicate with it telepathically at a range of CL x 100 feet.
24-27
As above but instead of calling forth the animal can choose to take its form of the animal or plant. He assumes the creature’s form and manner of locomotion, as well as the ability to survive in the creature’s normal habitat but gains no other powers.
30-31
As above but the caster can change himself completely into a new animal or plant of Hit Dice equal to twice his caster level.
32+
As above but the caster can change himself completely into a new animal or plant, gaining all of that creature’s powers and abilities. The creature cannot have more Hit Dice than twice the caster’s level. The transformation lasts until the caster chooses to return to his normal form or 24 hours have passed

Divine Aid

There are a couple considerations about invoking Ildavir. The first is that being the goddess of nature herself it is near impossible for her to manifest aid in place where there is a lack of animals or vegetation, such as deserts, wastelands, barren mountain ranges, etc. However to make up for this, in areas with abundant life and vegetative matter the cleric rolls with a d24 instead of a d20 when seeking divine aid.

Furthermore Ildavir is somewhat of an amorphous goddess. She has no concrete form and instead is part of life and nature itself. When she manifests it tends to be in a profusion of growth and life itself. Examples are provided as follows:

DC 10 - Simple effects limited to affecting only the caster and manifest in almost natural ways.

  • Plants and trees sprout from the land around the cleric rising from the earth, restoring it and hiding him.
  • Life flows into the cleric from earth and they are healed of all damage.
  • Storm clouds begin to billow and rain begins to pour obscuring sight.

DC 15 - Miraculous effects that aid the cleric and his party and are distinctly supernatural in nature.

  • Vines grow from the ground wrapping around the enemies of the cleric ensnaring them.
  • A wall of thorns sprouts up and blocks off creatures pursuing the cleric.
  • The cleric and his party step into a tree and appears from a tree several miles distant.

DC 20 - Extraordinary effects that directly harm the enemies of the cleric and are blatantly supernatural.

  • A dozen dire wolves are called to aid the cleric against his enemies.
  •  The sky clouds over supernaturally fast and lighting beings to strike down the clerics enemies one by one.
  •  The skin of the cleric and his party turn to bark greatly shielding them from damage.

DC 30 - Direct manifestations of the God; any creature (including the cleric's party) who cares for their wellbeing should immediately run.

  • Wild growth bursts forth from the earth ensnaring and tearing apart any who aren't quick enough to get away.
  • Hail the size of apples begins to fall as lighting strikes any moving target.
  • The trees themselves come alive as Treants and walk forth led by the Greene man.