Leshy Warden (Druid Archetype)
Among Druidic circles, it is well known that there are a myriad of bodiless natural spirits dwelling in the wild places of the world, and while some are called to serve shamans, others are sought out by druids, who learn to cultivate special plant bodies via secret magical methods to serve as the body for these otherwise powerless spirits, creating steadfast (and adorable) friends and allies.
The secret of leshy creation was supposedly taught by the Green Men, the so-called Leshy Kings, (Which helps bridge the gap between pathfinder’s interpretation of leshies and the real world legends) However, they remain difficult to create due to the painstaking process needed to grow the body for each one.
However, some druids, whether by special talent or blessing from the Green Men or nature itself, have a knack for growing leshies and tending to various plants, both sessile and ambulatory. These leshy wardens not only cultivate and protect plant creatures, but also serve as a voice for the various spirits that remain bodiless.
The most common leshy these druids create are leaf leshies, and generally they keep on as a familiar. As long as they have this planty friend with them, their bond allows the warden to utilize the divine domain of plants, or its subdomain of growth. If the leaf leshy dies, they can easily cultivate a new body for it, calling the same spirit to inhabit it.
As allies to growing things, these druids are masters of communicating with and influencing plant creatures as other druids might with animals.
So in tune with the plant and spirit aspects of their craft that they can create leshies as powerful plant creatures would, faster, cheaper, and with no chance of error. However, even if they have no time to create one, these mystics have learned to briefly summon common types of leshy with their magic.
As their leshy familiar grows in power, these druids can opt to progressively transform and transfer their companion to better and more powerful types of leshy bodies. Alternately, if they’ve grown attached to a current form, or have greater use for its abilities, they can instead opt to further develop their physical form, making them all the stronger and hearty.
Their focus on plants, like that of tree singers and other plant-focused druids, means they only learn to transform into plant creatures, though leshy wardens learn to do so a bit later than others.
More powerful leshy wardens are able to directly speak with plants, as well as commune with the spirits that animate them to learn of their surroundings, all without casting a spell.
If you love leshies (and who doesn’t?) and want a druid that can make them cheaply and quickly, as well as have a progressively growing leshy familiar, this archetype is certainly a great way to do that. Their ability to summon leshies to their aid also makes them rarely ever without allies. Consider looking into where other leshy types would fit into the summon nature’s ally lists, and the grow plant creature feat for more homegrown planty creations. For build, I would consider a support build that teams up with leshies to control the battlefield, or else perhaps a melee build with the leshies as support.
With such a strong connection to leshies, one can certainly guess that these druids might also have a similar connection to the Green Men, either worshipping them as deities, or simply revering them as quasi-divine beings. Meeting one in person might be the most key defining moment of such a character’s life, whether it is part of their backstory, or something that happens in the future.
Brother Himbu is something of a hermit, even among other vanara, and keeps company only with the many leshies he grows. The eccentric old man feels he is on the verge of a new type of leshy based off of creeper vines, and will pay handsomely for the sap of plant creatures, particularly assassin and viper vines.
Surprising everyone, a taciturn cactus leshy approaches the party, seeking their aid, for its master has fallen victim to a foul corruption of nature, a desert blight. It needs their help to slay the deadly ooze and recover their master’s body. However, its dislike of non-druidic mortals makes it blunt and rude with the group.
The Green Woman of Epirhan has a problem that vexes even her incredible might. The town of Epriseed, long friendly to nature and druidic tradition, has grown silent, and some strange magic prevents her from entering to discover the truth. Therein, strange blasphemous druidic rituals are occurring, evil leshy wardens creating leshies not from nature spirits, but from mortal souls, and other unnatural acts.