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I am most familiar with 4e D&D, but might be playing in a 3.5 game starting in a couple months and I need to nail down a character. I have been drawn to the idea of a swarm druid in 4e rules and wondered if there is anything like that in 3.5?

Top uses I like about the swarm are not locked into attacks, but more just the over all feel of the character being kinda sneaky and creepy. I like the though of being able to send one or two insects from my swarm out to do reconnaissance (I think that's possible in the rules). Other than that I like the thought of the insect swarm engulfing my opponents and "eating them alive" and I am also inclined to utilize the controller aspects of the class.

The character I have created as a possibility is a loner from the jungles who always seems like his mind is always preoccupied by a hundred different thoughts, he is very fidgety and if you catch a glance of him out of the corner of your eyes he might look like he has bugs crawling around under his skin. So if there is anything like that in 3.5 for druids, or any other class I would really like to know.

Other info that might be helpful is I plan on playing an elf or half elf, probably neutral aligned(tho willing to explore other alignments), and probably starting at level 1. (Just guessing about the level as the GM is going to be new to GMing)

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6 Answers 6

You can also use this ACF to swap your animal companion for a vermin companion. At level 7 and higher, you can pick up a centipede or locust swarm. It's not much, but it's something. Maybe ask the DM if you can pick up more exotic swarms at higher levels.

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Yes, but not at early levels, though you can start planning for it now with the character-defining feat "Child of Winter"

There are no clear parallels to "turning into a swarm from level 1 as just this thing, y'know?" that the swarm druids can do.

On the other hand, you might be able to pull off a Skitter without too much trouble. As you're not a drow, many of the "oooh, spiders!" options are not available to you. (Check out this thread for discussion reference)

You'll be focusing on the Child of Winter from ebberon.

You can use any druid spell that normally targets animals against vermin as well. A mindless vermin is considered to have an Intelligence score of 2 when dealing with you and can be charmed, calmed, or targeted by wild empathy or similar abilities. In addition, you can use your summon nature's ally spells to summon vermin.

You'll want to then progress into Vermin Keeper at 5th level, just to round things out. While there's some overlap in abilities, it's a natural progression and doesn't suck.

For scouting, you'll want things like Chain of Eyes (though that comes quite late for a druid) or Spider Hand (1st level, creates a small spider you can see through) and may want to dip into binder for Malphas's bird's eye viewing. (Normally this is absolutely horrible advice, as dropping caster levels for anything at all is bloody stupid... but it is fun. If you only want bird's eye viewing, consider dropping a few feats into Bind Vestige and Practiced Binder. It doesn't cost you caster levels, and having a respawnable bird-scout can certainly be worth 2 feats in the right campaign. Reduce Animal will get that bird into very tiny spaces (and consider asking the DM to refluff it to some sort of flying roach (ew)) and may help the party remain competitive with the druid. the druid/2 spell summon swarm is good but not the only thing you're going to be spamming, especially as you can spontaneously summon spider swarms at the same level due to the child of winter feat.)

As a summoner-druid, there is a clear and protected niche for you in the party. Make sure to read the Druid Handbook. Consider instead City-Shape to the Vermin Lord PrC. Between City-Shape and the extended feats from Child of Winter, much of the Vermin Lord PrC can be achieved more quickly for less cost, leaving your mid levels open for more campaign-appropriate PrCs.

Note this post for giving up normal wild shape, you are paying a high price for flavour.

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I am definitely NOT looking to min max this character for high damage output or anything like that really. The campaign will likely only last a handful of sessions (due to it being played over summer break), so my focus is more on utility and making it a cool character. I really dig the flying cockroach idea. It fits with my theme much better than the rabid lemur with mange I have on the 4e version of this character i made while messing around in the DDI char. builder. –  MC_Hambone Mar 19 at 11:58
    
You clearly don't live in Australia :) –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 19 at 11:59
    
Hahaha no, I do not live in Australia... from what I hear practically anything that moves (and even some things that don't) can kill you "down under". I heard on a podcast recently that people in Adelaide have to spray some kind of bug killing chemical in the cracks of all the windows and doors so that things don't murder them in their homes. –  MC_Hambone Mar 19 at 12:06
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As we like to call that: "Welcome to Sydney." (which, frankly, is an excellent catch-phrase for a vermin lord druid... type...) –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 19 at 12:15

Homebrew

This is not official material; I’m making it up. For what it’s worth, I’m fairly good at it (won several 3.5 homebrew competitions; did freelance work for Legend, a 3.5-spinoff; wrote a “book” about it as a question answer), but don’t mistake this for official material. You’ll have to ask your DM about it. I would love to hear feedback on it, whether or not you use it. If you do, I’d really love to know how it plays.

Ultimately, this variant of the druid has one major advantage and one major disadvantage, with respect to the regular druid. The advantage is that the swarms the swarm druid calls are inherently expendable; you can call up a new quite quickly relative to training a new animal companion. This means you can scout dangerous areas more easily. The disadvantage is in the swarms themselves: you have far fewer options for calling a swarm or adopting a swarm shape than a druid does for bonding an animal companion or assuming a wild shape.

Swarm Druid variant

The swarm druid is a variant class option for the druid; except as noted here, the class is identical to the druid in every way. You cannot multiclass between swarm druid and regular druid, or any other druid variant, but you may take advantage of alternative class features that replace those class features that the swarm druid does have.

┌───────┬────────────┬──────┬─────┬──────┬─────────────────────────────────────────────────┐
│ Level │        BAB │ Fort │ Ref │ Will │ Special                                         │
├───────┼────────────┼──────┼─────┼──────┼─────────────────────────────────────────────────┤
│   1st │         +0 │   +2 │  +0 │   +0 │ Call swarm, eusociality, swarm trainer          │
│   2nd │         +1 │   +3 │  +0 │   +3 │ Hivemind                                        │
│   4th │         +3 │   +4 │  +1 │   +4 │ Resist the swarm                                │
│   5th │         +3 │   +4 │  +1 │   +4 │ Swarm shape (1/day)                             │
│   8th │      +6/+1 │   +6 │  +2 │   +6 │ Call swarm (across planes)                      │
│  11th │      +8/+3 │   +7 │  +3 │   +7 │ Swarm shape (Two swarms)                        │
│  12th │      +9/+4 │   +8 │  +4 │   +8 │ Swarm shape (Fey, plant, & ooze swarms)         │
│  15th │  +11/+6/+1 │   +9 │  +5 │   +9 │ Swarm shape (Three swarms)                      │
│  15th │  +11/+6/+1 │   +9 │  +5 │   +9 │ Swarm shape (Elemental swarms 1/day)            │
│  20th │ +15/+10/+5 │  +12 │  +6 │  +12 │ Swarm shape (Any type swarms, 3/day)            │
└───────┴────────────┴──────┴─────┴──────┴─────────────────────────────────────────────────┘

Spells

As a regular druid, except with the addition of the following spells:

  1. Buzzing bee,SC cause fear, deathwatch, ebon eyes,SC nerveskitter,SC spirit wormSC
  2. Darkness, death knell, scare, web
  3. Chain of eyes,SC deeper darkness, gaseous form, spider poison,SC stinking cloud, tremorsenseSC
  4. Fear
  5. Cloudkill, crawling darkness,SC plague of rats,SC prying eyes
  6. Fire spiders,SC spider plagueSC
  7. Brain spiderSC
  8. Greater prying eyes
  9. Otyugh swarmSC

Spells marked SC are from Spell Compendium.

Bonus Languages

As a swarm druid, you still learn druidic as a free language, and are still barred from teaching it to non-druids.

However, instead of adding Sylvan as a bonus language, you add Undercommon, the language of dark places, and perhaps more importantly, the drow. Even if you are not a drow, the drow’s long history of working with vermin and swarms means it is important for many swarm druids to be able to interact with them. If you do learn Undercommon (whether as a bonus language or not), you count as a drow for the sake of meeting the prerequisites of feats or prestige classes that have to do with vermin or swarms, and drow treat you as they would other drow (which is not that well, but as far as it goes).

Call Swarm (Ex)

You may call together a swarm almost anywhere; even desolate deserts usually have spiders and scorpions hidden under the sands. The swarm’s members are called from the immediate surroundings. In the rare cases where there are not sufficient options in the immediate area, you may draw them from great distances, though this makes the call take longer.

Calling the swarm is a full-round action. Provided the environment you are in would be able to provide sufficient creatures for the swarm in a square mile centered on you, the swarm is fully gathered by the end of your calling, as eligible creatures tend to be drawn to you before you even call.

If this area would not have sufficient creatures, consider an area with a 1½ mile radius; if this would be sufficient, the swarm has gathered by the start of your next turn. For every additional mile in the radius before enough creatures may be found, it takes another round for the swarm to form, always becoming available at the start of your turn. You do not need to continue calling while the swarm is forming.

The called swarm remains together and with you for as long as you wish it to. You do not need to concentrate on its continued existence. It disperses either when you tell it to or when the swarm creature dies. You may order a swarm to disperse but follow you, out of sight, so that you may call it again without worrying about whether there are enough creatures in the area. The DM may determine that there are some places the swarm cannot go or barriers it cannot cross, or at least cannot go without coming out of the wood work and reforming as a swarm. If this happens, you are aware of it. If you leave a swarm or tell it to go away, the individual creatures will gradually return from where they came. You cannot tell a group of swarm-capable creatures to remain in an area as you leave, unless you leave it as a cohesive swarm.

You may only have one swarm at a time. A swarm you have disbanded but continue to have with you counts as this swarm. Calling a new swarm causes the previous one to gradually disperse and return from where it came.

See Swarm Druid’s Called Swarm, below, for more details on the swarm itself.

Beginning at 8th level, you may call swarms from any distance, even from other planes. This is a supernatural action that takes 1 round to complete; at the end of the action, your called swarm is ready, no matter where you are. This is a Conjuration (Calling) effect.

This feature replaces the druid’s regular animal companion class feature. Any feature that augments or improves your animal companion may improve your called swarm. Any other class that grants an animal companion that stacks with druid levels may instead stack with your swarm druid levels for your called swarm. If you choose to forgo this option and gain an animal companion instead, swarm druid levels do not count towards it, and you cannot change this choice for that class once made.

Eusociality (Ex)

You can improve the attitude of any swarm. This functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person. You roll 1d20 and add your class level and your Charisma modifier to determine the check result.

A swarm of creatures used to life within humanoid civilization (“indoor” species of ants, cockroaches, spiders, and so on) usually have a starting attitude of indifferent, while species in the wilderness usually start as unfriendly.

To make this check, you and the swarm must be able to study each other, which for many swarms requires sharing the swarm’s space. In such cases, you roll your check upon entering the swarm (or the swarm covering you), and if it is successful, the swarm will not attack you.

You may also make this check to improve the attitude of vermin without the swarm subtype, but do so at a −4 penalty.

Additionally, you are immune to the Distraction special attack of any creature with the swarm subtype. This is true even of swarms that you do not improve the attitude of.

This class feature replaces wild empathy. Any feature that augments or improves wild empathy may improve eusociality. Any other class that grants wild empathy that stacks with druid levels may instead stack with your swarm druid levels for eusociality. If you choose to forgo this option and gain wild empathy instead, swarm druid levels do not count towards it, and you cannot change this choice for that class once made.

This class feature counts as the Verminfriend feat (Drow of the Underdark) for the purposes of prerequisites. You may still take that feat if you meet its requirements.

Swarm Trainer (Ex)

You may train mindless swarms, as well as swarms with Intelligence scores of 1 or 2, by using the Handle Animal skill, even if the swarm is not composed of animals. More intelligent swarms must be interacted with using the usual social skills, or eusociality, not Handle Animal.

Mindless swarms are considered to have Intelligence 1 for the purposes of training them and their ability, once trained, to execute tricks and other commands. They are still considered mindless for all other purposes, including affecting them with mind-affecting magic.

This class feature replaces nature sense. It also counts as the Vermin Trainer feat (Drow of the Underdark) for prerequisites. You may still take Vermin Trainer as a feat if you meet its requirements.

Hivemind (Su)

Beginning at 2nd level, any swarm you share a space with reports information back to you. Generally speaking, the information is what the swarm collectively sees, smells, hears, and feels. This is not the same as actually experiencing those sensations yourself (but see the Sensory Feedback feature that swarms called by high-level swarm druids get), but it is sufficient to pin-point creatures you cannot sense yourself that share a space with the same swarm you do.

Resist the Swarm (Ex)

At 4th level, you gain a +4 bonus on all saving throws made against the special attacks and special qualities of swarms.

This feature replaces the resist nature’s lore class feature that a regular druid receives.

Swarm Shape (Su)

At 5th level, you gain the ability to turn yourself into a swarm once per day. This feature otherwise functions exactly as does a regular druid’s wild shape, which it replaces, except that instead of turning into an animal, you turn into an animal or vermin with the swarm subtype.

Swarm shape may be used in place of wild shape for prerequisites, and daily uses of swarm shape count as daily uses of wild shape and may be expended in much the same way for wild feats and the like. Feats and features that modify wild shape may modify swarm shape.

Class levels that stack with druid levels for wild shape instead stack with swarm druid levels for swarm shape. If a class grants wild shape to those that don’t have it, you may either gain wild shape and the levels don’t stack, or else choose to stack those levels with swarm druid levels for swarm shape. This choice, once made, cannot be changed for that class.

Like the regular druid, you more daily uses of this ability at 6th, 7th, 10th, 14th, and 18th level, as noted on Table: The Druid.

At 8th, 11th, and 15th level, you gain the ability to shape yourself into two, three, and four swarms at the same time. All swarms must be adjacent to each other and either include or be adjacent to the space you occupied before assuming the shape. When you shape into multiple swarms, divide your HP evenly among them; when you return to your own shape, add the remaining HP totals to determine your remaining HP. You die only if all swarms you are shaped in die. This replaces the druid’s ability to turn into larger and smaller creatures.

At 12th level, you add the fey, plant, and ooze types to the list of creature types you can turn into with swarm shape. The chosen creature must still have the swarm subtype, and meet all criteria for wild shape aside from type and subtype. This replaces the druid’s ability to wild shape into plant forms.

At 16th level, you can use swarm shape to turn into swarms with the elemental type, once per day. This daily elemental swarm shape is in addition to your normal swarm shape usage. In addition to the normal effects of wild shape, you gain all the elemental swarm’s extraordinary, supernatural, and spell-like abilities. You also gain the elemental swarm’s feats for as long as you maintain the wild shape, but you retain your own creature type. This replaces the druid’s ability to wild shape into elemental forms.

At 18th and 20th levels, you can assume the form of an elemental swarm another time each day.

At 20th level, you can turn into a swarm of any type by using a use of the elemental swarm shape feature, gaining all special attacks and qualities as you would with elemental swarms. This replaces the druid’s ability to wild shape into huge elementals.

Swarm Druid’s Called Swarm

The swarm that a you may call as a swarm druid is different from a normal swarm in many ways, as described below.

Training your called swarm

You may train the swarm you call using Handle Animal, as if it were an animal with Intelligence 2. As you gain more swarm druid levels, the swarm may also learn bonus tricks; see below. Each time you call a swarm, it comes trained in the same tricks as the previous swarm, though each trick must be taught in its entirety to a single swarm. Thus your called swarm can be trained, even though the swarm itself is composed of entirely different creatures each time you call it.

Called swarm bonuses

Use the base statistics for a creature of the called swarm’s kind, but make the following changes.

┌─────────────┬──────────┬─────────┬───────┬──────────────┬────────────────────┐
│ Class Level │ Bonus HD │ DC Adj. │ Space │ Bonus Tricks │ Special            │
├─────────────┼──────────┼─────────┼───────┼──────────────┼────────────────────┤
│ 1st-2nd     │    +0    │   +1    │  +0   │      +1      │ Link, share spells │
│ 3rd-5th     │    +2    │   +2    │  +0   │      +2      │ Evasion            │
│ 6th-8th     │    +4    │   +3    │  +5   │      +3      │                    │
│ 9th-11th    │    +6    │   +4    │  +5   │      +4      │ Sensory feedback   │
│ 12th-14th   │    +8    │   +5    │  +10  │      +5      │                    │
│ 15th-17th   │    +10   │   +6    │  +10  │      +6      │ Improved Evasion   │
│ 18th-20th   │    +12   │   +7    │  +15  │      +7      │                    │
└─────────────┴──────────┴─────────┴───────┴──────────────┴────────────────────┘

Class Level

Your swarm druid level. Your class level stacks with levels of any other classes that are entitled to an animal companion or to call a swarm for the purpose of determining the companion’s abilities and the alternative lists available to the character.

Bonus HD

Extra racial hit dice as appropriate to the swarm’s type. For most swarms, this means Animal or Vermin hit dice, which are both d8s that get +¾ BAB and 2+Int skill points per level. Animals get good Fortitude and Reflex saves, while Vermin only get good Fortitude saves.

DC Adj.

The number noted here is added to the saving throw DC of any special attacks or qualities, poisons, and so on that the called swarm has.

Space

The swarm’s space increases by the number noted here. As usual with swarms, this space is far more malleable than a typical creature’s.

Bonus Tricks

The value given in this column is the total number of “bonus” tricks that the swarm knows in addition to any that you might choose to teach it (see the Training the swarm, above). These bonus tricks don’t require any training time or Handle Animal checks, and they don’t count against the normal limit of tricks known by the swarm. The druid selects these bonus tricks each time he calls a swarm, but they cannot be changed for that swarm thereafter.

Link (Ex)

You can handle your called swarm as a free action, or push it as a move action, even if you doesn’t have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. You gain a +4 circumstance bonus on all eusociality checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding a called swarm.

Share Spells (Ex)

At your option, you may have any spell (but not any spell-like ability) you cast upon yourself also affect your called swarm. You must be within the swarm’s space at the time of casting to receive the benefit.

Additionally, you may cast a spell with a target of “You” on your called swarm (as long as the swarm is covering you) instead of on yourself.

You and your called swarm can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the swarm’s type.

Evasion (Ex)

If a called swarm is subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, it takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw.

Sensory Feedback (Su)

You are automatically aware of anything your called swarm can sense, at a distance of up to a mile. All checks made to use these senses, however, is made at the swarm’s bonus, not your own, which may make it difficult to understand what it is that the swarm is seeing or hearing. Touch, however, is often far more effective. When your called swarm is sharing a space with a creature or object, you know exactly where that creature is, how it is moving, its texture, and so on, even if the creature is invisible and silent. Incorporeal or ethereal creatures, however, are typically not felt.

Improved Evasion (Ex)

When subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, a called swarm takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw and only half damage if the saving throw fails.

Called Swarm Options

You cannot necessarily call together just any swarm, even if the creatures to make up the swarm are available.

Basic options

As a 1st-level swarm druid, you may call the following swarms together:

Alternative Swarms

If you are a swarm druid of sufficiently high level, you may call swarms from one of the following lists, applying the indicated adjustment to your swarm druid level (in parentheses) for purposes of determining the swarm’s characteristics and abilities.

4th level or Higher (Level −3)
  • Cranium rat swarm, lesser pack (Fiend Folio)
  • Locust swarm
  • Tomb spider broodswarm (Monster Manual IV)
  • Viper swarm (Fiend Folio)
7th level or Higher (Level −6)
  • Centipede swarm
  • Bone rat swarm (Libris Mortis)
  • Piranha swarm1 (Stormwrack)
  • Rylkspawn swarm (Monster Manual V)
10th level or Higher (Level −9)
  • Broodswarm (Fiendish Codex I)
  • Corpse rat swarm (Libris Mortis)
  • Ephemeral swarm (Monster Manual III)
  • Jellyfish swarm1 (Stormwrack)
  • Pest swarm (Cityscape)
  • Plague ant swarm (Fiend Folio)
  • Rapture locust swarm (Fiend Folio)
  • Scorpion swarm (Sandstorm)
  • Swamp strider swarm (Monster Manual III)
13th level or Higher (Level −12)
  • Cranium rat swarm, average pack (Fiend Folio)
  • Death scarab swarm (Sandstorm)
  • Dread bloom swarm (Monster Manual III)
  • Bloodmote cloud swarm (Libris Mortis)
  • Mageripper swarm (Monster Manual IV)
  • Needletooth swarm (Monster Manual III)
16th level or Higher (Level −15)
  • Bloodfiend locust swarm (Fiend Folio)
  • Cinder swarm (Monster Manual II)
  • Hellwasp swarm
  • Shimmering swarm (Monster Manual III)
  • Brood keeper larva swarm (Monster Manual III)

1 Can only be called into an aquatic environment.

2 New monster presented below

Minor Swarm

  • Size/Type: Dimuntive Vermin (swarm)
  • Hit Dice: 2d8 (9 hp)
  • Speed: 25 ft. (see text)
  • Attack: Swarm (1d4)
  • Space/Reach: 10 ft./0 ft.
  • Special Attacks: Distraction
  • Special Qualities: Immune to weapon damage, swarm traits, vermin traits
  • Saves: Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0
  • Abilities: Str —, Dex 10, Con 10, Int —, Wis 10, Cha 10
  • Skills: Listen +6, Spot +6
  • Feats: Alertness

A “minor swarm” is a swarm of creatures that is not particularly threatening. Usually composed of non-poisonous, non-diseased arachnids, insects, and small mammals, they could conceivably also be a flock of small birds or a school of small fish. The point is, even en masse they’re not particularly dangerous. A minor swarm is only called when in an environment that absolutely does not have anything scarier; they are a default option just to make call swarm (almost) always get you something. They can be used for scouting or distraction purposes.

The speed of a minor swarm is always 25 ft., but it may be climbing, flying, land-based, or swimming depending on the creature.

Distraction (Ex)

Any living creature that begins its turn with a swarm in its space must succeed on a DC 10 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.

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This is really quite amazing, I am completely floored that you would put this much effort into the question! I'll definitely have to run this by my DM! (However I hope you understand my reluctance to accept this as the official answer due to it being homebrew. Though I will probably use this in the game anyway) –  MC_Hambone Mar 24 at 4:21
    
@MC_Hambone Eh, I enjoyed doing it, an amusing way to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. I hope it works for you, and I’d love any feedback that you have. –  KRyan Mar 24 at 5:28
    
maybe be a while before I get to really test it since we plan on running 3.5 this summer between spring and fall semester. But I will certainly give my feed back on it if the GM allows a homebrew character :D –  MC_Hambone Mar 24 at 9:37

Some non-druid options, just for completeness:

Were-Murder-of-Crows

The lycanthrope template has the following requirement for the animal base:

This animal can be any predator, scavenger, or omnivore whose size is within one size category of the base creature’s size (Small, Medium, or Large for a Medium base creature).

Because it requires the Animal type, this eliminates the overwhelming majority of swarms. The entomanothrope template allows Vermin type creatures, which most swarms are, but specifically bars Vermin with the Swarm subtype. Lycanthrope doesn’t do that.

Enter Tome of Magic and its Murder of Crows creature: a Tiny Animal (Swarm), just large enough for Small lycanthropes. Crows are omnivorous, and the murder itself is a Tiny creature even though the individual crows are much too small for lycanthrope for most player characters.

This is not an option at level one, since an afflicted lycanthrope has the RHD of his animal form and LA +2, so you have to be at least 7th level in order to actually be a were-murder-of-claws (4 Animal RHD, LA +2, mandatory single class level, presumably druid here).

Ultimately, this would be a very poor 7th-level character: you do not get the swarm subtype until you go into full animal form, since hybrid form does not get subtypes, and the murder of crows is a CR 2 creature.

The +2 Wisdom you get is nice, but not worth nearly as many levels as this is costing. The natural armor and damage reduction are meh, the racial hit dice are downright bad, and so on. Scent and Low-light Vision are extremely minor. In short, you’ll have low HP, low BAB, very low skills, with little to show for it.

You do get to fly while in hybrid form, which is sort of nice, but not amazing. You can certainly get it far cheaper than this.

The one fairly unique thing is the ability to turn into a (very weak) swarm at-will. This isn’t good for very much since you cannot cast spells in this form.

Warlock

Warlocks get dark discorporation... at 16th level. And it mostly amounts to a self-nerf, since they can’t do much of anything while in swarm form. Just mentioning that it exists. They also get summon swarm at-will, which is actually available at 1st level and actually quite good at that level, though it wanes in effectiveness pretty quickly.

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1  
There's no need for a single class level to be mandatory with a race that has RHD (it's only needed because on most chars it is the only source of a HD, and making chars with zero HD doesn't work very well). Therefore, the were-murder-of-crows could work at lvl6, taking first level of druid upon first levelling up in-game. Still a very weak option, as are pretty much all level-adjusted races in the game. Level adjustments were very poorly handled by the designers, who seem to have vastly underestimated the cost of losing a level. –  Matthew Najmon Mar 23 at 21:37

If controlling and summoning swarms is insufficient, and you want, instead, to become a swarm, here're some options.

Master of Flies Prestige Class
It's not a good class by any measure (e.g. uninteresting, difficult to optimize, doesn't perform level-appropriate tasks), but the prestige class master of flies (SS 80-3) permits a creature to take the form of a swarm 1/day starting at the prestige class's second level. That makes this ability available at about character level 7 or 6 via shenanigans.

House Rules
There is but a single parenthetical reference that prevents the entomanothrope template creating wereswarms, so the DM can, with minimal textual alterations, house rule into existence wereswarms .

Alternately, the template necropolitan (LM 114-5) combined with the template swarm-shifter (LM 123-7) lets you do precisely what you want, but your character ends up sort of undead and there's no Level Adjustment for the swarm-shifter template; that is, the template's unavailable to PCs unless the DM's house rules allow it. You'll be at least 1-2 levels behind the rest of the party (unless they're playing kooky stuff, too), but grabbing those permits an at-will swarm form.

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The closest thing I know in D&D 3.5e is the Vermin Lord from the Book of Vile Darkness.

The vermin lord offers itself as a host for all manner of parasitic organisms.

With abilities like; Swarm Armor, Spew Vermin, and Hivemind.

Otherwise you also have the Animal Lord:

Each animal lord forms a bond with one group of animals. Apelords, bearlords, birdlords, catlords, horselords, sharklords, snakelords, and wolflords all exist. Animals in his selected group accept an animal lord as a kindred soul and a leader. They offer him their support, and he watches over them in turn.

Who is able to summon many of his chosen group, and gain benefits similar to that group for himself.

And the Tamer of Beasts:

Through magic and his overwhelming concern for his charges, the tamer of beasts can make them tougher and more intelligent.

Who is able to have many HD of animal companions. And connect through them with powerful group abilities.

Both from Masters of the Wild.

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