The Forester Class: an AD&D view
The OD&D Forester class, as introduced in Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, is a class of human fighter/mages, devoted to Ilsundal and to the protection of the Vyalia elves.
In AD&D 2ed terms, it is rather difficult to portray this unusual class: a fighter/mage with priest-like ethos.
This article presents three AD&D 2ed character kits, which try to grasp the spirit, if not the letter, of the Forester class.
All this kits cover the same role: the Forester, a Thyatian Elf-Friend, who lives among the Vyalia. The Foresters act as guardians of the Vyalian forest, and as diplomatic trait d'union between the Empire of Thyatis and the Vyalia Clan: they ensure that their fellow humans don't abuse the forest and its inhabitants. They are also the living proof of the goodwill of the Vyalia towards the Empire and its Citizens.
All Foresters are Thyatian Citizens of human or half-elven stock [human only, with many elven-blooded individuals in OD&D]. The elves won't allow a dwarven Forester, obviously, and there aren't Lupin Foresters, though Lupins of a forest dwelling breed could become Forester, provided that they were Thyatian Citizens.
They must be of good alignment, and a member of Clan Vyalia must sponsor them. The applicant is examined and judged by the Treekeeper of the Clan, and when he joins the order, a religious ceremony is held, during which the would-be Forester pledges his fealty to the Clan and to Ilsundal.
All Forester are Elf-Friends, and they are immediately recognised as such by any Elf [this does not work for Shadow elves or Hollow World elves, though]. No Elf will attack a Forester, but the Forester is expected to help any Elf in need.
Forester military units have the same War Machine bonuses as elven units, and the Forester may join elven armies without loss of the unit's racial bonus.
This is the standard Defender of Ilsundal. Normally, such character should be an elf, but the bond sealed between Thyatians and Vyalia allows the human warriors from the Empire to join the priesthood of the Elven Immortal.
Defenders of Ilsundal must be of good alignment, and have access to the plant, animal, elemental air, divination, and protection spheres. They must choose the "detect evil" power, and must be proficient in a sword (long or short) and a bow (long or short). They can learn elven non-weapon proficiencies without penalties.
The forester ranger receives more spells (as a Defender, with the same spheres), but have the following hindrances.
Their chosen enemy is, in fact, chosen by the Vyalia elves. The most common choices are goblins, frost giants and shadow elves.
They must be proficient in long or short sword and in a bow at first level. They must take the following non-weapon proficiencies at first level: Ceremony (Ilsundal) and Religion (Vyalia).
This is the nearest AD&D approximation of the OD&D Forester class. This bard kit allows an actual human fighter/wizard, while the others only have priestly magic.
Requirements: the Forester Bard must be NG, and must have a minimum of 12 Strength and 9 Constitution and Wisdom, in addition to the standard bard requirements.
Class modifications: the Forester Bard doesn't have Pick Pockets and Read Languages thieving skills, and is not able to alter moods or counter the effects of song spells. The school of Necromancy is barred, and the character will prefer spells from the schools of Divination and Enchantment.
However, he is able to use wizard scrolls from 1st level, to befriend animals like a ranger, and is resistant to Charm spells and spell-like powers (+1 to saving throws). The Forester Bard uses the THAC0 table for the priest class.
Weapon proficiencies: characters with this kit get an extra weapon proficiency, which they must use for a sword (long or short). They must be proficient with a normal bow at first level.
Non-weapon proficiencies: this bard does not get musical instrument proficiency for free. Instead, they get the Religion (Vyalia) proficiency without cost. They must take Ceremony (Ilsundal) at first level (it cost a single slot), and two among Hunting, Fishing, Orienteering, Survival (Forest) and Tracking.
One should join the Foresters at first level. Joining later is not impossible, but very hard: the character must pay slots for all required and bonus proficiencies before getting the other bonuses.
Should a character incur in the wrath of the Vyalia or, worse, of Ilsundal himself, his status as Forester is forever lost. The loss effects are the same as for any other kit, except that a ranger who looses the kit also forfeits his ranger class, becoming a fighter of the appropriate level.