Zeoll the Greensinger - a new approach to archetypes in Pathfinder
I've been playing my liontaur character Zeoll for over 20 years. He's evolved through a lot of incarnations across game systems over time, but in essence he has always been a druid/bard. Even when he was a nature oracle / sorcerer, or a ranger, or a cleric, he was really a musical nature priest. I even wrote a screed about how to be content as a druid/bard in D&D.
Tangentially, I've always preferred prestige classes to archetypes in Pathfinder. It always seemed to me that a well-designed prestige class was more open to creativity as a unique design for a game world. You can approach a PrC from different entry strategies. Still, the game offered the idea of archetypes (without naming them as such) even back under D&D 3.0. I don't have the book in front of me, but I seem to recall the very first 3.0 Players Handbook suggesting a way to customize a thug-like fighter archetype by trading off one class feature for another.
So when I had the chance to rethink Zeoll as a bard/druid, it occurred to me to try creating an extreme archetype. Here's what I came up with.
This archetype modifies two classes by removing some class features, restricting others, and balancing these with rewards.
||Removal / Restriction
|Favored Classes: Both druid and bard are favored classes for you.
||You must be a druid/bard, with no other classes or PrCs allowed. Druid and bard classes must always remain within one level of each other.
|Greensong Spellcasting: Druid levels stack with Bard levels to advance Bard caster level, spells per day, spells known, and retraining spells. You use both the druid and the bard spell lists.
||You lose Druidic Spell Casting.
|Nature Bond: You gain a druidic domain. You use your Charisma and character level to determine all powers and effects. You gain domain spells for each spell level you can cast, through level 6, at character levels 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, and 16.
||You may not gain an animal companion (unless as part of the animal domain). You do not gain domain spells of level 7, 8, and 9.
|Natural Performer: Half of your druid levels stack with bard levels to advance Bardic Performance.
||You lose Wild Shape.
|Beast-Soother: You can improve the attitude of one animal or magical beast per character level by making a Perform (Sing) check as a Diplomacy check.
||You lose Wild Empathy and some Bardic Performances (Countersong, Distraction, Dirge of Doom, Frightening Tune). ALSO, Fascinate, Suggestion, and Soothing Performance only work with fey, magical beasts, plant creatures, vermin, and animals.
|Fey Friend: As a spell-like ability, you use Planar Ally spells to call fey folk and magical beasts. This SLA takes one full round of singing to activate; there is no gold cost; and the duration is one minute per character level. The creature only appears if it likes your song: make a Perform (Sing) check vs DC20 + HD called. At level 5, use as Lesser Planar Ally, 1/day; at level 10, up to Planar Ally, 2/day; at level 15, up to Greater Planar Ally, 3/day.
||You lose Spontaneous Druidic Summoning and Bardic Jack of All Trades; you must choose Perform (Sing) for your first Versatile Performance choice.
I have to say, though no fan of archetypes, I'm happy with how this came out. I wonder what other extreme archetypes like this might work?