A friend was interested in playing something akin to the D&D 4e warden in Pathfinder 1e, which has long been an interest of mine but nothing I found really worked for me, so I couldn’t really recommend anything. Instead, I wrote up this homebrew warpriest archetype to try to capture some of the warden’s feel. The goal is to produce something roughly balanced with a regular warpriest, though since warpriest is a pretty middle-of-the-road class, I’m comfortable with a slight power bump (e.g. the warden should still be Tier 3).
Since I’m primarily hoping to hear from Pathfinder experts on this, who may not necessarily be familiar with the 4e warden, a rundown:
A “primal” class, like the druid.
A “defender” class, which is something Pathfinder doesn’t really do in the same way. Defenders are all about making it really inconvenient or unpleasant for the enemy to attack anyone else.
Emphasis on battlefield control, but specifically the battlefield around the warden. The warden makes it inconvenient to attack their allies mostly by pulling enemies close and making it suck to stay there but even worse to try to leave. Next to a warden was the last place you want to be, but they often make it very hard to get anywhere else. (In fact, wardens could get in trouble by being too sticky, and pulling in more enemies than they could handle.)
Highest hp totals in the game—in 4e, both primal classes and defender classes tend to more hp, and by being the intersection of both, the warden gets the most.
Many warden powers turn them into one form or another, usually with an elemental theme. These forms not only come with their own benefits for the warden, but they often also produce difficult terrain of one form or another around the warden.
Each form also comes with its own attack power, that could only be used while in that form. These are usually some manner of control, but it isn’t terribly uncommon for them to just punish enemies who thought they could escape the warden’s grasp.
I didn’t want to create new spells or blessings, or a new subsystem for this; this is supposed to be a relatively quick route to something warden-like.
Google docs version (perma-link to the version as of this writing)
(new warpriest archetype)
When a warpriest dedicates themselves to the natural world, sometimes they are blessed with elemental powers of protection and warding.
Wardens gain 2 hp for every warden level they possess.
For all purposes, wardens treat all forms of natural attack as if they were favored weapons of their deity, even if their deity favors other weapons, or even if the warden has no deity. This is in addition to any weapon or weapons the warden’s deity actually favors.
However, wardens are prohibited from wearing metal armor or using metal shields, just as druids are. If a warden does use such equipment, they lose their spellcasting and supernatural abilities while doing so and for 24 hours thereafter. There is no prohibition on using other metal items, including metal weapons.
Wooden armor or shields treated with the ironwood spell to function as steel are allowed.
This replaces aura.
A warden’s spells and orisons are drawn from the druid spell list, not the cleric one.
Starting when they gain 2nd-level spells, a warden’s highest-level spell slots must be left unprepared. For example, a warden gains 2nd-level spell slots at 4th level, but cannot prepare spells in them until they gain 3rd-level spells at 7th level. Unprepared spell slots can still be used to cast spontaneous spells (see spontaneous casting and mystic wild shape, below). This limitation does not affect orisons or 1st-level spells in any way.
This alters spells.
A warden does not convert prepared spells into cure or inflict spells. Instead, regardless of alignment, they can convert prepared spells or unprepared spell slots into a spell with equal or lower spell level from the following list:
- flaming sphere
- sleet storm
- spike stones
- call lightning storm
This alters spontaneous casting.
A warden’s bonus language options include Druidic, the secret language of druids, and Sylvan, the language of woodland creatures. These choices are in addition to the bonus languages available to the character because of their race. A druid is allowed to teach Druidic to wardens. This alters bonus languages.
A warden cannot select an alignment blessing (Chaos, Evil, Good, or Law), regardless of their alignment. This alters blessings.
A warden’s fervor cannot be used to heal or harm. Instead, a warden may use fervor to touch a living creature with 2 or less Intelligence as a standard action. The touched creature is charmed for 1 round; the duration increases by another round every 3 levels after 2nd (to a maximum of 7 rounds at 20th level).
The warden’s ability to cast spells quickly with fervor is also different. In addition to having a casting time of 1 round or less, a warden spell cast with fervor must affect an area. When cast in this way, the spell does not affect only the warden (as it would for a regular warpriest), but the spell must include the warden’s space, even if it could normally be cast at a greater range. (Spells that could not be cast on the warden’s space cannot be cast with fervor.) The warden may designate one creature as immune to the effects of this spell; the warden may immunize an additional creature for every 3 levels after 2nd they have (to a maximum of 7 at 20th level). Spells cast in this way ignore somatic components and do not provoke attacks of opportunity. The warden does not need to have a free hand to cast a spell in this way.
If the warden has the ability to wild shape, they may also expend one use of this ability to wild shape as a swift action.
This alters fervor.
Mystic Wild Shape (Su)
At 4th level, a warden gains the wild shape ability, treating their warden level as their effective druid level. The warden gains uses per day of this ability, and the ability to take on plant and elemental forms, at the appropriate levels just as a druid does.
There are several things about the warden’s mystic wild shape that are different from the druid’s regular wild shape:
Sacred armor benefits do not end when armor melds into the warden’s form while using wild shape; they simply transfer to the form’s natural armor. (Treat forms without natural armor as having a +0 natural armor bonus. Sacred armor’s enhancement bonus can stack with other enhancement bonuses to natural armor, such as from an amulet of natural armor, to a maximum of +5.) Likewise, sacred armor benefits to a form’s natural armor do not end when wild shape does; they simply transfer to the armor the warden is wearing.
For warden spells cast spontaneously, a warden is able to substitute various noises and gestures for the normal verbal and somatic components of the spell, and also use any material components or focuses they possess, even if such items are melded within their current form. To cast a prepared spell while in a wild shape form, the warden requires the Natural Spell feat just as a druid does.
A warden must prepare their wild shape forms when they prepare their spells. They may prepare a number of forms equal to the number of times per day they can use wild shape, plus their Constitution bonus if any. Each prepared form can be used as many times as the warden wishes. For instance, a 6th-level warden (wild shape 2/day) could prepare a dire bat form and a dire tiger form, but choose to use wild shape to turn into a dire bat twice that day and not turn into a dire tiger at all.
When preparing spells and wild shape forms, the warden pairs a single warden spell of up to their highest spell level with each form prepared. That spell is added to the list of spells available for spontaneous casting, but only while the warden is in the paired form. The spell paired with a form may be augmented with metamagic feats, so long as the total level including the metamagic doesn’t exceed the warden’s highest spell level. The warden may pair the same spell with multiple forms if they wish, or prepare the same form multiple times with different paired spells. However, when they use wild shape, a warden must specify which form/spell pair they are turning into; preparing a form multiple times does not allow one to add multiple spells to the spontaneous casting list at the same time.
This replaces channel energy.