The scarecrow dates back to some of the earliest crop efforts known to man. Yes, it really has been around for that long. Of course, not long after they were used for this purpose, stories of scarecrows coming to life for good and ill began to crop up. The earliest story of that dates to around 700 AD in Japan, where Kuebiko appears as an omniscient deity of agriculture that cannot move. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a short story about a witch in league with the devil animating a scarecrow, setting the stage for the evil scarecrow trope in modern literature. There are other stories that predate that, of course, but it was Feathertop that brought it into today’s world. Anyway, the point here is just illustrating the dichotomy of good and evil as associated with the scarecrow.
One of the things I like about 4e is the weird and cool zones that so many classes get. The biggest reason I liked them was that they broke up the battlefield and encouraged movement. In a game predicated on getting perfect positioning and stay there, this really changed the way people had to fight. While 5e isn’t quite as punishing about moving in and out of combat, it is still pretty bad. Once people are able to establish position, they rarely want to move – thanks to built in Spring Attack.
In building this archetype, I wanted to focus on nature as a force of growth and destruction, something easily represented by the harvest. The fall harvest isn’t the only harvest time, of course, but it’s probably the most easily identifiable and is the time that people think of when someone says “harvest time.” Couple this with the fact the scarecrow is an iconic part of Halloween, with built in duality, and the theme builds itself. A druid circle that focuses on creating and placing scarecrows, or other physical fetishes that make sense. I also wanted to emphasize the sickle more as a weapon choice (see previous post), so some of that is built in, as well.
Circle of the Harvest
The Circle of the Harvest is comprised of guardians, wardens, and watchmen that ensure the cycle of nature persists without interruption. The Circle of the Harvest seeks out the supernatural and unknown that threaten the natural world, and uses representations of the duality of nature to aid them in their pursuits. Druids that are part of the Circle of the Harvest understand that things are born and things die, and that nothing represents that more clearly than the harvest. The harvest marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. The energy of this change seems to call to supernatural forces more enticingly than others, and the Circle of the Harvest stands ready to use it, and defend it.
Druids that join the Circle of the Harvest become skilled in creating fetishes that they wield in combat to spread influence over a certain are – just as a scarecrow is used to protect an entire field. Druids place a piece of themselves in these fetishes, and use them as extensions of themselves to aid them in their magical practices.
When you choose this circle at 2nd level, you learn the ancient secret to creating objects – called fetishes – that are capable of channeling your magical power from a distance. You gain proficiency in an artisan tool of your choice and create fetishes of a type appropriate to your tools.
There are three types of fetishes that the druid can produce: conduit, vengeance, and guardian. Fetishes can only be crafted as part of a short or long rest and must type must be chosen at the time of creature. You may not create a fetish type you have not yet learned to use. Once created, a fetish remains until used. You may possess up to your druid level in fetishes. You may only use fetishes you create.
Inanimate fetishes possess your armor class and saving throws, but may be destroyed by an adjacent creature as an action. Inanimate conduit fetishes possess hit points equal to your druid level, inanimate vengeance fetishes possess hit points equal twice your druid level, and inanimate guardian fetishes possess hit points equal to thrice your druid level. Inanimate fetishes are immune to all conditions and psychic damage.
A fetish may be placed or thrown as a bonus action.
Starting at 2nd level, you are able to place a conduit fetish and cast a spell through it as if it were the source of the spell rather than you. You must be able to see the fetish in order to cast through it.
The rites of your circle grant you knowledge on how to bring your creations to life. Starting at 2nd level, you may spend your wild shape to instead animate one of your fetishes. Your fetish is subject to the same beast shape limitations that govern your ability to wild shape. If your fetish reaches 0 hit points, it is destroyed.
You may command your fetish as a bonus action. The fetish may move and either make a single melee attack, or move and serve as a spell focal point. You may instead choose to have your fetish take your full action, at which point it is able to perform exactly as if it were a beast of the chosen type.
Animating a fetish doesn’t break your concentration, including the concentration of spells emanating from your fetish. Striking the animated fetish does not force a concentration check, but the druid is subject to the normal rules of concentration.
Starting at 6th level, you have been instructed in the secret techniques needed to craft a vengeance fetish. A vengeance fetish is placed after spell is cast into it. Whenever a creature enters into a 10 foot radius of the fetish, the druid may trigger the vengeance fetish as a reaction. While not triggered, allies within 10 feet of the vengeance fetish have advantage on all attacks they make as part of a reaction. Allies within 10 feet of the vengeance fetish when it is triggered gain an extra 1d6 damage on the next attack they take before the end of their next turn.
If this fetish is animated, any time an ally within five feet of the fetish, or you, is targetted with a melee attack, the fetish deals an extra 1d6 lightning damage on its next successful attack. If this ability is triggered multiple times, the damage increases by 1d6, to a maximum of 5d6, for its next successful attack. This damage increases to 1d8 at level 11, and to 1d10 at level 17.
At 10th level, you have learned how to ward enemies away from a particular area. A guardian fetish guards a 10 foot radius area. When a hostile creature enters the area, it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become frightened. The creature may make a new saving throw at the end of each turn after the first in order to no longer be frightened by the fetish. Once an enemy has successful saved against a guardian fetish, it cannot be frightened again by that fetish.
While inanimate, any ally within 10 feet of the guardian fetish gains advantage on any saving throws against the charmed or frightened condition, and gains resistance to psychic damage.
If a creature is immune to the frightened condition, or successfully saves against the frightened condition generated by this fetish, it suffers takes 2d6 psychic damage when it crosses into the area on a turn, or starts its turn in the area. A successful Wisdom save allows the creature to take half damage from this effect. This damage increases to 4d6 at 14th level, and 5d6 at 20th level.
If this fetish is animated, you, and all allies within five feet of the fetish, gain resistance to all damage, and the guardian fetish takes an equal amount of damage any time someone benefiting from this resistance takes damage. Additionally, whenever an ally within five feet of the fetish is healed by a spell, the ally receives additional healing equal to 2 + the spell’s level.
Once you have placed a guardian fetish, you may not do so again until you complete a short or long rest.
Feast of the Harvest
Upon reaching 14th level, you have learned how to use your fetishes to manipulate the flow of cyclical energy. Whenever you or your fetish deal damage with a spell of 1st level or higher, you or an ally within line of sight gains temporary hit points equal to half your druid level. Whenever you or your fetish are healed by a spell of 1st level or higher, you and an ally within line of sight gain additional necrotic damage equal to half your druid level on your next successful attack.
You gain 2 additional temporary hit points or damage if you are wielding a sickle as a weapon when this feature is triggered.