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The spell liveoak has this description:

This spell turns an oak tree into a protector or guardian. The spell can only be cast on a single tree at a time; while liveoak is in effect, you can't cast it again on another tree. Liveoak must be cast on a healthy, Huge oak. A triggering phrase of up to one word per caster level is placed on the targeted oak. The liveoak spell triggers the tree into animating as a treant.

If liveoak is dispelled, the tree takes root immediately wherever it happens to be. If released by you, the tree tries to return to its original location before taking root.

The spell's casting time is 10 min., its duration 1 day/level.

Questions

  1. Does the spell liveoak have any additional limits besides the obvious, like its casting time of 10-min. and needing the appropriate tree? I want to make sure that I haven't overlooked a detail in the liveoak spell's description and that no other limits on the spell were introduced in errata, a FAQ, or another Pathfinder book.

    For example, in D&D 3.5 the spell liveoak says, "The tree on which the spell is cast must be within 10 feet of your dwelling place, within a place sacred to you, or within 300 feet of something that you wish to guard or protect" (PH 248), which means in that game a druid can be accompanied by a liveoaked treant, but making a new one were it to die means returning home or to a druids' grove or whatever and finding an appropriate tree. The Pathfinder spell, on the other hand, seems to require only finding an appropriate tree.

  2. Is there a published encounter in Pathfinder in an adventure module or adventure path that includes a druid or shaman that can cast the spell liveoak that mentions the druid or shaman is accompanied by a liveoaked treant?


Note: Sadly, in both D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder a feather token (tree) produces a Gargantuan tree that's too big to be the target of the spell liveoak.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ (By the way, the feather token is still an excellent way to get off a full-power Greater Siege of Trees) \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Feb 1 '15 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems to me the morning after you hit 11th level, you should go ahead and animate a treant and go with it, but players could always choose not to for whatever reason. For NPC druids, don't forget to award exp for the treant if - and only if - the druid has prepared spells again since casting liveoak. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Feb 1 '15 at 11:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a matter of creating a believable world? What's so unbelievable or unrealistic about people failing to use their resources optimally? For that matter, depending on the druid and his activities, being followed about by a gigantic, highly conspicuous outside old-growth forests, walking tree that costs one of your higher-level spell slots fairly frequently to keep around, may not even always be optimal use of resources. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Feb 1 '15 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthewNajmon If you've an opinion either way--whether or not this is a reasonable use of the spell--, you should post an answer explaining why. I'd appreciate either side addressed in greater detail. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 1 '15 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I think with your edit the question is too broad... maybe split it up into the three questions that form it? \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Feb 2 '15 at 9:31
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In my experience every druid of the appropriate level has such a companion, but I have only GMed for one evil druid in Pathfinder (I have GMed many more evil druids in 3.5 but they don't face the no-evil-treants problem) and I suspect most evil pathfinder druids wouldn't have pulled off a permanent companion like that.

As you have noted, the treant is in no way compelled to serve you, which is a feature of the best druid minion spells. Like wizards, druids can call upon powerful creatures to serve them for free. Like clerics, druids can call upon powerful creatures to serve them with their full capacities and through their own free will. These spells keep the druid the ultimate 'summoner', in the sense that druids (and Nature in general) has the tightest knit community of allies. Fluff-wise this has been present in D&D since pretty much the beginning of the class and is integral to the D&D idea of druidic society and nature beings in general as a unified front formed of diverse and frequently opposed beings working together as needed to serve what they all hold to be the most worthy of service and devotion: nature. An evil druids with a good treant companion can still call upon them in times of need (nature's need, not their own) and be confident that the treant will assist them. The only issue is that, as neutral good beings, treants are likely to attack certain kinds of evil druids in most circumstances and generally not be good company for them. This is true in my experience in both 3.5 and Pathfinder.

You should also note that while in Pathfinder treants are 'NG outsiders' in 3.5 they were mearly usually neutral good. Evil druids could totally summon evil treants (and chaotic druids chaotic ones, etc.) if they want to. In practice though, most druids don't care enough about their own non-neutral alignment components to actually do that.

In response to the 'protector/guardian' line:

1) This is fluff. In 3.X fluff often contradicts the mechanical effects of an ability. Fluff should really not be treated as rules-text.

2) As a druid, you are a protector and guardian of nature. You typically work with and not over many, many other creatures to accomplish your goals. The animal companion class feature is prime example of this. You do not 'own' your animal companion. Your animal companion works with you of its own free will and, indeed, you have to make handle animal checks to make it do things it doesn't want to. Are you more powerful than it? Yes. But that doesn't make it your slave. It's really hard to have slaves as a druid. Animal slavery is almost always going to count as not revering nature, though there are certainly some ways around that. The highest-powered druid summons don't tend to get you creatures that are magically compelled to obey you in any way at all. Instead, they get you powerful allies that work with you because they also serve nature and, as a high level druid, you are nature (well, a part of it). cf. the effects of the spell World Wave and the 3.5 PhB class description.

3) What, exactly, is the treant guarding? You? The spell doesn't say. I'm much more inclined to rule that the spell animates a Tree/Treant as a protector/guardian of nature than of the animating druid. Of course, the distinction is largely irrelevant to most games, since the druid's and created treant's goals should align so much and the servants of nature are generally willing to lend other servants of nature a hand, unless (and sometimes even while) they are currently attempting to effect violence upon them.

Second part of the question:

Druid villains are pretty rare. I've yet to run into a druid that has a companion provided by this spell in published Pathfinder material that I've run, due to most of the druids encountered being below level 11. I know that Ashes at Dawn has a Vampire druid, Merrick Sais, who is certainly capable of casting the spell and who holds a position as a guardian fixture that would make a liveoak an extremely valuable companion. I don't know why she doesn't have one, but she doesn't. The other published druid villain I've actually run-- a treant himself-- doesn't really have enough detail given in his description to determine if he uses the spell. The worldwound supplement (where Carrock is printed) also contains an example Siabrae who might be able to cast the spell, but she similarly lacks description. These are, I believe, the only level 11+ published druids.

The tally, thus, is 1 definite no and two maybes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Although it addresses parts of the question that no longer exist, that just means it now provides more than what I actually need. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jun 29 '16 at 13:14

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