While some learn to coexist with nature, others learn the means to exploit it. Herbalists take a path between these two extremes. Nature has much to give, but her secrets must be coaxed from her bosom, for who other than nature herself is most qualified to reveal them?
Role: Herbalists seek out the herbs, fruits, and fungi of the terrain around them and use these finds to support their allies and debilitate their enemies in combat. Specializing in wicked poisons, restorative effects, and the production of supernaturally-charged food and alcohol, the herbalist typically has an answer for a particular situation.
Alignment: Any Neutral. It is said that old married couples begin to act in a similar fashion. Having been married to nature all their lives, herbalists must be Neutral in at least one of the two alignment axes. (Neutral Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Evil)
Hit Die: d8
Starting Wealth: 2d4x10 (average 50 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10gp or less.
Class Skills: The herbalist’s class skills are Climb (Str), Craft (any) (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).
Skill Ranks per Level: 2 + Int modifier
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Find Herbs Rolls||Cultivation Pots||Preservation Vessels|
|1st||+0||+2||+0||+2||Compress – 2 herbs and 1/day, earthenware jars, find herbs, recipe||1||1||2|
|3rd||+2||+3||+1||+3||Compress – 2/day, green thumb||2||2||2|
|5th||+3||+4||+1||+4||Compress – 3 herbs, poison use||3||2||3|
|6th||+4||+5||+2||+5||Compress – 3/day, recipe||3||2||3|
|7th||+5||+5||+2||+5||Green thumb – focused foraging||4||3||3|
|9th||+6/+1||+6||+3||+6||Compress – 4/day||5||3||3|
|10th||+7/+2||+7||+3||+7||Compress – 4 herbs, recipe||5||3||4|
|12th||+9/+4||+8||+4||+8||Compress – 5/day, recipe||6||4||4|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+9||+5||+9||Compress – 5 herbs and 6/day||8||5||5|
|17th||+12/+7/+2||+10||+5||+10||Green thumb – universal toxin||9||5||5|
|18th||+13/+8/+3||+11||+6||+11||Compress – 7/day, recipe||9||5||5|
|20th||+15/+10/+5||+12||+6||+12||Compress – 6 herbs, natural prodigy, recipe||10||6||6|
Herbalists are proficient with simple weapons and the scythe.
Armor and Shield Proficiency
Herbalists are proficient with light armor and shields, but not tower shields. An herbalist wearing armor or using a shield with which she is not proficient incurs a percent chance equal to the item’s normal arcane spell failure chance for the contents of each of her preservation vessels to lose their potency and become useless overnight. This penalty applies itself to the next day’s spoilage even if the herbalist uses such equipment for just a moment, and reapplies itself each day until she quits using that equipment.
At 1st level, the herbalist learns how to produce a compress that allows for the fast application of multiple herbalism plants with the herb descriptor. Those plants added to a compress must be chewed to elicit an effect. As a full-round action, the herbalist can construct and apply a compress to a willing creature within reach, granting the target the effects of all of the herbs used in that compress. At 1st level, a maximum of two herbs can be used in the compress. At 5th level and every five herbalist levels thereafter, the maximum number of herbs that can be used in a single compress increases by +1, to a maximum of six herbs at 20th level. No more than half of the herbs used in a compress may have the same name.
This ability can be used once per day, plus an additional time per day at 3rd level and every three herbalist levels thereafter, to a maximum of seven times per day at 18th level.
Earthenware Jars (Su)
At 1st level, the herbalist has acquired a number of earthenware jars for the storage of plant products. There are two types of earthenware jars: cultivation pots and preservation vessels.
Cultivation pots are the means by which an herbalist carries her favorite plants with her no matter where she goes. If an herbalist plants three units of the same herbalism plant with the herb descriptor in an empty cultivation pot, a process that takes 10 minutes, she produces a fully-grown copy of that plant in that pot by the following morning. Each day, the herbalist can pick from each of her filled cultivation pots, gaining one unit of the herbalism plant held within. This acquisition of plants is separate from that of the find herbs class feature and need not be done at the same time. If done separately from the find herbs class feature, harvesting a cultivation pot is a standard action. At any time, the herbalist may empty a filled cultivation pot, a process that takes 10 minutes, removing the occupying plant and clearing the vessel for a new plant.
An herbalist begins play with one cultivation pot. At 3rd level and every four herbalist levels thereafter, she gains an additional cultivation pot, for a maximum of six cultivation pots at 19th level.
Preservation vessels prevent the spoilage of herbalism plants and recipe output, also known as plant products. Herbalism plants and plant products stored in a preservation vessel do not decay overnight. A single preservation vessel can store up to 4 points worth of herbalism plants or plant products, and the point value of each plant or product is given in its entry. To prevent contamination, a preservation vessel can only carry a single kind of herbalism plant or plant product? no mixing is permitted.
An herbalist begins play with two preservation vessels. At 5th level and every five herbalist levels thereafter, she gains an additional preservation vessel, for a maximum of six vessels at 20th level.
Find Herbs (Su)
At 1st level, the herbalist has learned the secret to finding useful plants and unlocking their true potential, wherever she may be. Blessed by Mother Nature herself, an herbalist’s picked plants are truly wondrous? however, they must be taken from their natural state to be effective. As a result, the herbalist can only draw from what grows in her surroundings, and is shackled by luck in her search.
To pick plants, the herbalist must first consult her surroundings to determine her current “biome”. Biomes, large, naturally-occurring communities of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, are divided into nine standard categories for the purpose of this ability: desert, forest, grassland, jungle, mountains, tundra, underground, underwater, and wetlands.
Once the herbalist has determined her biome, she rolls once on that biome’s find herbs table, plus an additional time for every two herbalist levels she possesses beyond 1st, to a maximum of 10 rolls at 19th level. (See Gourmend/Herbalist Find Herbs Tables). For each roll, she collects the plants listed for the rolled result and can use them in the manner described in the Herb Log. All find herbs rolls produce 10 “points” worth of herbs. These plants are invested with the blessing of Mother Nature herself, and any attempt to use the find herbs class feature a second time in a single day will simply result in the acquisition of nonfunctional plants.
Plants granted the blessing of nature tend to decay very rapidly, for they represent life firing on all cylinders. As such, all plants and plant products (the output from recipes) not stored in preservation vessels overnight will denature to a useless state come the following morning. Full rules for the use of picked herbs are presented at the The Herb Log.
As an herbalist plies her trade, she learns a number of recipes, which combine specific lists of herbalism plants into specialized concoctions. At 1st level, 2nd level, and every two levels thereafter, an herbalist learns a recipe. The herbalist cannot select an individual recipe more than once.
Concocting a plant product from an herbalism recipe requires 1 hour of effort and a single Craft (alchemy) check. The DC of the Craft (alchemy) check for an individual recipe is given in that recipe’s entry in The Recipe Book. Given cooking up psuedoalchemical goods from raw materials that have been blessed by nature itself is a rather risky venture at the best of times, all materials are wasted if the Craft (alchemy) check fails by any amount. Further, an herbalist can never take 10 on her Craft checks when working with recipes. Too many things can go wrong! Like the herbalist’s plants, all plant products made from recipes spoil overnight if not kept in a preservation vessel. As such, like the herbalist’s plants, all recipes also have a point value that indicates how many units of the compound can fit in a single preservation vessel. Further, unless otherwise noted, all recipe end products become inactive if not used or applied by the herbalist personally. Each recipe produces 1 unit of output unless stated otherwise.
Green Thumb (Su)
At 3rd level, the herbalist’s connection with nature grants her the ability to suggest certain courses of action to it. The herbalist’s capacity to do so is represented by a green thumb pool, containing a number of points equal to 1/2 her herbalist class level + her Wisdom modifier, rounded down.
The green thumb pool replenishes itself each morning at dawn, whether or not the herbalist has taken time to rest.
An herbalist uses green thumb points on various abilities. Starting at 3rd level, she gains access to the following:
Bounty of Nature (Su)
If and only if plants are totally unavailable wherever she is (possible locations tend to include most elemental planes), the herbalist may use the entirety of her green thumb pool to produce a vast quantity of plants from those she brought with her. For each green thumb point spent in this manner, the herbalist produces two points worth of plants sourced from those varieties of plants present in her filled cultivation pots. This represents those plants she brought with her growing at a tremendous pace in an effort to supply the herbalist with what she needs in such a hostile environment. Using bounty of nature requires one hour of uninterrupted communion with nature. If interrupted, no green thumb points are spent, and no plants are produced.
Using this ability forfeits the herbalist’s daily use of the find herbs class feature should foraging for plants become a possibility later in the day.
Extra Cultivation (Su)
As a full-round action, the herbalist may expend 2 green thumb points to coax a plant with a point value of 2 or less present in one of her filled cultivation pots to grow. She collects one unit of that plant.
Potent Poison (Su)
As a swift action, the herbalist may expend 1 green thumb point to focus upon a single plant product or herbalism plant she possesses that is treated as though it were a poison, or upon a weapon to which such an item has been applied. The Difficulty Class (DC) for any saving throw called for by that poison increases by +1. This ability persists for 1 minute, and does not stack with itself.
Starting at 7th level, the following also becomes available:
Focused Foraging (Su)
Whenever the herbalist would roll on a find herbs table to determine the identity of the herbalism plants she finds, she may spend 1 green thumb point to roll twice and choose which result to take.
Starting at 17th level, the following also becomes available:
Universal Toxin (Su)
As a swift action, the herbalist may expend 3 green thumb points to focus upon a single recipe plant product or herbalism plant that is treated as though it were a poison, or upon a weapon to which such an item has already been applied. That poison can now affect living creatures that are immune to poison by extraordinary or supernatural means, such as high-level druids and some outsiders. Creatures that are immune to poison due to spells or magical items maintain their immunity to poison in the face of universal toxin. This ability persists for 1 minute.
Poison Use (Ex)
At 5th level, an herbalist no longer risks poisoning herself when applying poison to a weapon.
Venom Immunity (Ex)
At 11th level, an herbalist gains immunity to all poisons.
At 20th level, an herbalist’s connection to the natural world has reached its zenith. Choose one of the abilities listed below.
Greener Thumb (Ex)
The size of the herbalist’s green thumb pool increases by +5 points.
Mixed Preservation (Ex)
The herbalist may store herbalism plants and plant products of different types in the same preservation vessel without penalty.
An herbalist must possess perservation vessels to take this capstone.
Sapient Plants (Su)
The plants occupying the herbalist’s cultivation pots become somewhat sapient. Once per round as a free action, if a potted plant meets all of the following criteria, then it may stretch from its pot with a reach of 15 feet from the space it occupies (this is the same as the space the herbalist occupies unless her earthenware jars are not on her person) and apply its unit of plant to a willing creature, or the willing creature’s equipment, whatever the case may be.
- The plant is chewed to produce an effect OR the plant can be applied to a weapon as though it were a poison or oil
- The plant does not deal damage when chewed or applied
- The plant still possesses its daily harvestable unit
This consumes the unit of plant that the potted plant produces daily for harvest. An herbalist with this ability may use the extra cultivation green thumb ability to produce a unit of plant on a potted plant, and then not harvest it so that the potted plant can be used with this ability again.
An herbalist must possess cultivation pots to take this capstone.
Toxic Thumb (Su)
The universal toxin green thumb ability now ignores poison immunity from all sources, including magic and magic items. Further, the potent poison green thumb ability now grants a +2 bonus to Difficulty Class rather than just +1. Both of the aforementioned abilities now last for 8 hours, rather than 1 minute.
Verdant Magic (Sp)
The herbalist gains the ability to cast spells as a druid. Her caster level is 20th and she has four 1st-level spell slots, two 2nd-level spell slots, and one 3rd-level spell slot. Like a typical druid, she knows all druid spells associated with the spell levels for which she has spell slots. Wisdom is her key spellcasting ability score, but having a high Wisdom score does not give her additional spells per day. Similarly, a low Wisdom score doesn’t disable her ability to cast spells.
Verdant Walker (Su)
Waterer of the Forest (Su)
The herbalist gains the ability to cast create water at will with a caster level of 20th and Wisdom as her key ability score. Further, she permanently gains the benefits of the water walking and water breathing spells. She may suppress or resume the effects of either spell at any time. Despite their effects being equivalent to spells, all of the aforementioned abilities are supernatural.
An herbalist who ceases to revere nature or changes to a prohibited alignment loses all herbalist abilities (not including weapon, armor, and shield proficiencies). She cannot thereafter gain levels as an herbalist until she atones (see the atonement spell description).
Favored Class Bonuses
Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have herbalists as their Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.
- Aasimar Add +1/6 of a recipe.
- Drow Add +1/6 to the DC of all herbalism plants that behave as though they were poisons.
- Dwarf Add +1/2 to the herbalist’s class level to determine the duration and magnitude of effect of all herbalism plants that behave as though they were weapon oils.
- Elf Add +1/4 of a point to the herbalist’s green thumb pool.
- Gnome Add +1/2 to Craft (alchemy) checks made to produce an herbalism recipe.
- Goblin Add +1/2 to Craft (alchemy) checks made to produce an herbalism recipe.
- Half-elf Add +1/4 of a point to the herbalist’s green thumb pool.
- Halfling When cooking an herb, add +1/2 to the herbalist’s class level to determine how many individuals can be fed by the end result, as well as the duration and magnitude of effect.
- Half-orc Add +1/2 to the herbalist’s class level to determine the duration and magnitude of effect of all herbalism plants that behave as though they were weapon oils.
- Hobgoblin Add +1/2 to the herbalist’s class level to determine the duration and magnitude of effect of all herbalism plants that behave as though they were weapon oils.
- Human Add +1/6 of a recipe.
- Kobold Add +1/6 to the DC of all herbalism plants that behave as though they were poisons.
- Orc Add +1/2 to the herbalist’s class level to determine the duration and magnitude of effect of all herbalism plants that behave as though they were weapon oils.
- Puddling Add +1/2 to Craft (alchemy) checks made to produce an herbalism recipe.
- Tiefling Add +1/6 of a recipe.
Note: Custom Biomes and Microcosms
The nine core biomes presented here are just the beginning, and enterprising Game Masters shouldn’t think the world’s been defined for them. Other fascinating locales, such as a near-barren wasteland or a desert oasis, do exist, and it’d have been horribly rude of me not to give you the tools to make them happen.
To build your own biome tables, first select a grouping of herbalism plants. Eight should be 1-point, four should be 2-point, and three should be 4-point.
Mix these plants more-or-less evenly throughout a find herbs table so that each line contains 10 points of plants, then remove the 4-point plants from each line to get your 6-point tables. Under no circumstances should a naturalist get 4-point plants. If you’re using the electronic version of the book, blank find herbs and summary tables have been supplied to make things a bit easier.
If that’s too much work, see the optional ruleset for Microcosms for a new system that overlays existing biomes, replacing some of that biome’s plants with those of a special location. This allows for a great deal of additional resolving power in your world, as cool and interesting places – like a wizard’s tower – can modify what an herbalist finds when she picks herbs while still being recognizable as part of a larger biome.