Deciding on the theme for a Druid fourth spec came pretty early. From the get go, creating a Druid of the Fang specialization was the most obvious choice, as there's existing lore and a unique style. The theme needed to be more broad than simply "Serpent" however. Opening it up to Druids familiar with the Emerald Dream, with a Druid of the Fang tie-in, seems possible considering the group's own experience with the Dream and the Nightmare.
A Druid of the Fang spec would likely rely heavily on poison spells, which didn't seem right for a "Dream" spec. I spent a considerable amount of time thinking up non-poison spells to broaden the scope. It eventually occurred to me that the very rulers of the Emerald Dream - the Green Dragonflight - themselves rely heavily on poison abilities. Hey, poison is natural, right?
It's worth mentioning that some uncorrupt Green Dragonflight members make use of the Nightmare in-game, another possible aspect for Dream Druids.
One concern with a Druid of the Fang theme is their use of lightning spells, which is part of the Shaman theme. Would this be too much homogenization? Consider that frost, fire, and holy are the focus of more than one spec.
I started off with a "Caster Form" Melee DPS fourth spec, since casting already has a "Caster Form" spec with Restoration. It was nice thinking about balancing the specs by giving melee Druids an option that didn't ask them to be in form all the time. Eventually the idea of Druids performing melee as themselves struck me as being too far from the core theme of what a Druid is. They're casters. That's what they do.
Creating another Spell DPS or Healer fourth spec initially felt wrong only because it had already been done. Balance and Restoration seemed to cover all the bases. After drawing the connection between the Emerald Dream and the Druids of the Fang (and reading that they're not automatically evil), creating an "Emerald Dream" themed DPS spec started to make more sense. Mages and Warlocks have numerous takes on ranged spell DPS, so why not just do the same for Druids? This has the added benefit of avoiding marginalizing Spell Leather.
Similar to Restoration Druids, I wanted to go with a "temp form" for Dream Druids using the Serpent model. Finding a place for Serpent Form between "always on" and "not worth the trouble" has been difficult, though. I'm not really convinced I've succeeded.
In order to be a "Caster Form" spec the Druid needs reasons to leave Serpent Form. The only one I can think of is to punish them for staying in form; it's not a favorable method. This punishment would be preventing the Druid from casting any non-poison spells while in form. There are "lore reasons" that could explain this easily, one being that snakes don't have hands and aren't actually casting the poison spells - they're really spitting or somesuch.
The next problem is encouraging Druids to enter Serpent Form. Players shouldn't be expected to enter it too frequently, as activating/deactivating/activating a spell that doesn't directly hurt things can quickly become cumbersome. The form has to offer strong benefits and shouldn't have to be used more than ~10-20% of the time in a standard priority/rotation. One idea that reinforces the notion of "spitting" instead of casting is to eliminate the casting time of poison spells and reduce their GCD. In this way, Serpent Form would be used for ramp-up times and possibly also AoE phases. Dream Spec could also offer a talent that refreshes single-target poison DoTs without having to re-enter Serpent Form.
- Serpent Form: Permanent duration, no cooldown. Makes poison spells instant cast and reduces GCD. Prevents non-poison spells from being cast (snakes don't have hands, after all). Intended to be used temporarily, but Druid could stay in form is she chooses to do so.
- Nightmare Strike: An invisible beast quickly strikes out from the Nightmare. Only sleeping players see the visual effect, via CC or the Dreamless-line of potions. Possibly also Dream Druids, just to include the player. Note that the spell wouldn't summon an NPC or function as a DoT like the Shadowfiend - the beast's partial appearance would be a simple one-shot spell effect, with the inclusion of sleeping players viewing it being a sort of easter egg.
- Electrify: This could be a "smart DPS" spell that damages targets affected by the player's poisons.
- Dream State: Many Druids have the ability to leave their bodies before entering the Emerald Dream. This ability would simply act as another Far Sight/Eye of Kilrogg ability, with the Druid leaving their body behind as they explore their surroundings. One differentiating idea is that there could be a simple range limit instead of a time limit, and a requirement that canceling the spell requires returning to your body. A further thought is that your body's direction isn't indicated on the mini-map, although a Minor Glyph could be added to change this.
- Poisons: In addition to some standard ranged single-target poison spells...
- Noxious Mist: Could create a stationary mist that debuffs or damages targets within range. Perhaps it could be "dispelled" by spells like Typhoon and Cone of Cold?
- Leeching Poison: Single-target DoT that heals the caster. Restoration Druids could have a talent that changes the focus of this spell, reducing damage by 75% while increasing the health returned by 75% of normal, acting as a self-heal and minor damage source. Idea stolen from The Oculus.
- Acid Spray: Frontal cone AoE spell.
- Toxicity: More poisons on a target could ramp up the damage of those individual DoTs.
Further ideas could come from the Green Dragonflight or the Dragons of Nightmare (Emeriss, Lethon, Taerar, Ysondre).
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