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How to Play a D&D Druid

Updated: Jan 18

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Introduction: How to Play a D&D Druid


The druid is a versatile and intriguing character to play, laden with backstory opportunities and themed around the raw power of nature. As a druid, you're not simply a character, but an embodiment of the wild, harnessing nature's power to summon fierce allies, command elemental forces, and even control weather phenomena.


Yet the druid’s versatility, offering a rich tapestry of abilities and spells, can also appear daunting for new or even seasoned players. Fear not, as this guide is designed to transform this intricate complexity into an exciting journey of character development.


In these pages, we'll unveil the mysteries surrounding the druid class, providing you with comprehensive understanding and everything you need to know about how to play a D&D druid. You’ll delve deep into the secrets of Wild Shape, learn powerful spell combinations, and unlock the fullest potential of each druidic circle. By the end, your druid won't just be a character, but a formidable force of nature that strikes respect and trepidation into the hearts of friends and foes alike.


Prepare yourself for a remarkable adventure into the heart of the wilderness as we guide you through the exciting world of druidic magic in Dungeons & Dragons.


Choosing a Druid Circle: Land vs. Moon


Druids are powerful guardians of nature with a variety of skills and spells at their disposal. The first big choice you’ll make is which druid circle to join: Circle of the Land or Circle of the Moon.

  • Circle of the Land druids draw power from the land itself. Choose a terrain like forest, grassland or coast and you’ll get extra spells and skills suited to that environment. Land druids make great healers and support casters with their expanded spell list.

  • Circle of the Moon druids are shapechangers. They can wild shape into more powerful animal forms earlier and more often. Moon druids tend to be more combat-focused, shapeshifting into beasts to fight on the front lines. At higher levels, you’ll be an unstoppable force, transforming into elementals and eventually magical beasts.

Overall, land druids are better suited as backline support while moon druids unleash their inner beast in combat. But either circle gives you the core druid abilities: wild shape, spellcasting focused on nature and elemental magic, and skills like Natural Recovery to replenish spell slots.

The circle you choose will define your druid’s strengths, but you can’t go wrong with either option. Whether you prefer raining starfire from the back of the party or charging into battle as a rampaging polar bear, the druid class has you covered. Now get out there and spread the power of nature.


1. Lethariel, Circle of the Land Druid (Forest)

Race: Wood Elf

Alignment: Neutral Good

Background: Outlander

Starting Level: 1 Stats:

  • Strength: 8

  • Dexterity: 16

  • Constitution: 14

  • Intelligence: 10

  • Wisdom: 16

  • Charisma: 12

Background: Lethariel hails from a secluded tribe of Wood Elves nestled deep within an ancient forest. Growing up, she watched the tribe's druids nurturing the forest and its creatures, fostering in her a profound reverence for nature. With age, Lethariel was initiated into the Circle of the Land, learning to draw energy from the very forest she held dear. A pacifist at heart, she uses her spells to heal and protect, resorting to offensive magic only when the balance of nature is threatened.

  • Ability Score Increase: Dexterity +2, Wisdom +1

  • Darkvision: Can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.

  • Keen Senses: Proficiency in the Perception skill.

  • Fey Ancestry: Advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can't put her to sleep.

  • Trance: Elves don’t need to sleep. Instead, they meditate deeply, remaining semi-conscious, for 4 hours a day.

Background: Outlander

  • Skills: Survival, Athletics

  • Feature: Wanderer - Excellent memory for maps and geography, and can find food and fresh water for herself and up to five other people each day, provided the land offers such resources.

Druid Abilities

  • Spellcasting: As a conduit for nature’s will, her Wisdom is her spellcasting ability. At Level 1, she knows 2 cantrips and has 2 level 1 spell slots.

  • Spellcasting Focus: Can use a druidic focus as a spellcasting focus for druid spells.

  • Druidic: Can speak the secret language of Druids.

Circle of the Land: Forest

  • Bonus Cantrip: Learns an additional cantrip at level 2.

  • Natural Recovery: Starting at level 2, can recover some spell slots during a short rest.

  • Circle Spells: Gains additional spells based on chosen land type at level 3.

2. Tharak, Circle of the Moon Druid

Race: Half-Orc

Alignment: Chaotic Neutral

Background: Hermit

Starting Level: 1 Stats:

  • Strength: 16

  • Dexterity: 12

  • Constitution: 14

  • Intelligence: 8

  • Wisdom: 15

  • Charisma: 10

Background: Tharak's origins are wrapped in mystery. The son of an Orc father and a Human mother, he was found abandoned near a Druidic shrine in the mountains. Raised by the Circle of the Moon druids, Tharak learned to channel the primal forces of nature, transforming into mighty beasts and fighting to protect his adopted home. While he's a fearsome sight in battle, Tharak's heart is as vast as the wilderness he roams, ever ready to defend the defenceless. As a Half-Orc, he is often met with prejudice, but he wears his mixed heritage as a badge of honour, a testament to nature's harmonious chaos.

Ability Score Increase: Strength +2, Constitution +1

  • Darkvision: Can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.

  • Relentless Endurance: When reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, can drop to 1 hit point instead (once per long rest).

  • Savage Attacks: When scoring a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

Background: Hermit

  • Skills: Medicine, Religion

  • Feature: Discovery - During his seclusion, Tharak made a significant discovery about the natural world, a truth that can impact the world around him or others' understanding of the wild.

Druid Abilities

  • Spellcasting: As a conduit for nature’s will, his Wisdom is his spellcasting ability. At Level 1, he knows 2 cantrips and has 2 level 1 spell slots.

  • Spellcasting Focus: Can use a druidic focus as a spellcasting focus for druid spells.

  • Druidic: Can speak the secret language of Druids.

Circle of the Moon

  • Combat Wild Shape: Can transform as a bonus action and gain some hit points back when doing so, starting at level 2.

  • Circle Forms: The rites of the moon circle grant the ability to transform into more dangerous animal forms starting at level 2.


Building Your Druid: Ability Scores, Skills, and Feats to Prioritize

To build a powerful druid in D&D, you need to focus on certain ability scores, skills, and feats.

For ability scores, prioritize Wisdom, your druid’s primary spellcasting ability. A high Wisdom means more potent spells and a greater chance of success. Dexterity and Constitution are also important for armour, health, and concentration checks.


Essential skills for any druid include:

  • Nature: Identifying plants and animals, predicting weather, navigating natural environments. Useful in and out of combat.

  • Animal Handling: Controlling your wild shape forms and any beasts you summon.

  • Perception: Detecting hidden creatures or other threats in the wild.

  • Survival: Tracking enemies, foraging for food, and avoiding getting lost.

For feats, consider:

  • War Caster: Gives you advantage on concentration checks and lets you cast spells with your hands full. Perfect for wild shaping druids.

  • Resilient (Constitution): Also helps maintain concentration, plus more health.

  • Lucky: Rerolling failed ability checks, attacks, and saves. Useful for any character.

With the right ability scores, essential skills, and powerful feats, you'll be well on your way to becoming a force of nature as a druid. Speak with the animals, wield primal magic, and unleash the beast within! What could be more exciting than that?


Must-Have Druid Spells: Conjure Animals, Healing Spirit, and More

As a druid, your spellcasting ability is one of your most powerful tools. Certain spells are must-haves to maximize your effectiveness.


Conjure Animals

This spell summons fey spirits that take the form of beasts and fight on your behalf. At higher levels, you can summon more powerful beasts in greater numbers. Use this to gain combat advantage, protect your allies, or overcome obstacles.


Healing Spirit

This spell creates a spirit that can heal multiple allies over time. On each of your turns, you can move the spirit up to 30 feet and heal one creature within 5 feet of it. This makes it perfect for healing your entire party between battles or during short rests.


Moonbeam

This spell creates a beam of light that deals radiant damage. On each of your turns, you can move the beam up to 60 feet and damage any creature that ends its turn in the beam. Use this to control the battlefield, protect your allies, or overcome damage resistances.

  • Other useful spells include:

  • Entangle to restrain enemies,

  • Faerie Fire to grant advantage on attacks,

  • Barkskin for added defence,

  • Pass Without Trace for stealth,

  • and Flaming Sphere for ongoing fire damage.

As a druid, your spell list offers a variety of utility, control, and damage options. Focus on spells that manipulate the battlefield, protect your allies, and play to your strengths. With practice, you’ll be wielding nature’s power with ease.


Using Wild Shape Effectively

As a druid, one of your most powerful abilities is Wild Shape—the ability to transform into beasts you have seen before. To make the most of this feature, here are some tips:


Choose Forms Wisely

  • Focus on forms with useful mobility, senses, or damage types. For example, a giant eagle can fly and has keen sight, while a brown bear has high HP and deals slashing damage.

  • Consider the environment. Aquatic forms are useful for underwater campaigns, while burrowing creatures are good for underground areas.

  • Think about what your party may lack. If you need a stealthy scout or a burly tank, choose a form to fill that role.

Use Wild Shape in Combat

  • Transform at the start of combat for maximum effect. The temporary HP and abilities of your beast form will aid you and your allies.

  • Choose a form with a useful attack like a wolf or bear. Make full use of your actions to dash, dodge or attack.

  • Consider using Wild Shape to escape if you are low on HP. An agile form like a cat or rat can slip away to safety.

Out of Combat Applications

  • Use Wild Shape for scouting and stealth. A tiny insect or spider can go unnoticed while spying.

  • Need to get somewhere high or cross a gap? Transform into a creature with a climbing speed or gliding ability.

  • Speak with animals using your Beast Speech ability. Befriend creatures in the area to gain information or allies.

Synergize with Your Circle

  • Moon Druids can Wild Shape as a bonus action and have improved combat forms. Use these to your advantage in battle.

  • Dreams Druids have a spirit form for traversing the ethereal plane. Pair this with a stealthy beast form for maximum infiltration power.

  • Shepherd Druids can channel magical energy through their Wild Shape, empowering their allies. Direct your unicorn spirit to heal friends in need.

Using these tips, you'll be a master of the wild in no time. Wild Shape is one of the druid's most versatile and powerful features, so take the time to understand how to utilize it to its fullest.


Druid Tactics: Supporting Your Party With Control and Damage

As a druid, you have access to powerful spells that can control the battlefield and deal damage. Using these tactically will allow you to support your party in combat.


Control the Battlefield

Druids excel at controlling the flow of battle with area of effect spells like Entangle, Faerie Fire and Spike Growth.

  • Entangle restrains enemies in grasping weeds, preventing them from moving. Use this to lock down melee attackers trying to reach your spellcasters.

  • Faerie Fire illuminates enemies with a magical glow, granting advantage on attack rolls against them. This helps your entire party hit more often.

  • Spike Growth transforms the ground into difficult terrain, damaging enemies when they move through it. Force enemies into the area with Entangle, then watch them take damage if they try to escape.

Deal Damage

While druids typically focus on control and support, they have options for dishing out damage as well.

  • Call Lightning allows you to strike multiple enemies with bolts of lightning over several rounds. Use it when enemies are clustered together.

  • Flaming Sphere creates a rolling ball of fire that rams into your foes, igniting them. Ram it into as many enemies as possible, then use your bonus action each round to steer it into more adversaries.

  • Moonbeam follows a similar tactic, calling down radiant damage in an area you can move each round.

By tactically combining control and damage spells, you can manipulate the battlefield to maximize the effectiveness of your party. Lock enemies in place, illuminate them for your allies, and whittle them down with persistent damage over time. Your druid has the versatility to handle any combat situation.


Conclusion


So there you have it, everything you need to know to unleash your inner druid and become a force of nature at your next D&D game. Whether you want to summon storms, shapeshift into beasts, or support your allies with healing magic, the druid has something for every playstyle. With the tips in this guide, you'll be well on your way to mastering the elements and protecting the natural world. Now get out there, find your spirit animal, and show your party what you're made of! The wild is calling - it's time for you to answer.


Bonus essay: Ten Druidic D&D Adventures

In this bonus section of the article, we're excited to share with you ten interconnected druidic adventure hooks. These tales, designed to evolve with your character, challenge you with an escalating series of trials that culminate in a high-stakes forest showdown.


Prepare to embark on a mystical journey where the rhythm of the wilderness echoes your heart's drum. Embrace the wisdom and authority of your Druid Circle, your character's spiritual compass and key to their path in the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Whether you're drawn to the earth's rhythm as a member of the Circle of the Land or the stars' whisperings as a Circle of Stars druid, your circle shapes your destiny.


These adventures will test your knowledge and experience as a druid. You'll need to showcase your druid level, your command of the druid spell list, and your profound connection to the primal forces of nature. Experience the allure of the wild, decode the secrets hidden within your circle spells, and perhaps by your journey's end, you might even unlock the powerful Primal Strike, a boon awarded to those who reach the esteemed 18th level.


Every druidic quest requires a harmonious balance of wisdom and willpower. Whether it's judiciously selecting your ability scores at character creation or deciding the best druid build to suit your gameplay style, every choice brings its unique rewards. Perhaps the swift mobility of light armour suits your style, or maybe the added defensive prowess of a shield is more appealing. Remember, your wisdom bonus is a valuable ally, bolstering your spellcasting ability and making you an invaluable asset in any encounter.


Our curated selection of adventures encapsulates these themes, inviting you to master new spells, delve into optional class features, and optimize your choices to craft your unique druidic journey. Remember, in the rich tapestry of Dungeons & Dragons, there's no such thing as a 'dump stat' - every ability finds its place. Let the heartbeat of the natural world guide your path to destiny.


  1. The Vanishing of the Verdant Staff: Your druid circle contacts you - their central artifact, the Verdant Staff, key to maintaining the balance in your local ecosystem, has mysteriously vanished. Who could have the audacity and the means to purloin such a potent symbol of druidic power?

  2. The Fallen Star Guide: A respected member of the Circle of Stars druids has inexplicably vanished. Left behind are a series of celestial maps and cryptic constellations. Can you decode the starlit clues and discover their fate? Will you need to harness the power of your animal form to trail their path?

  3. Invasive Shadows: Unnatural, eerie spores have begun to infest your verdant homeland, wilting the flora and infecting the fauna. Tracing the source of this decay, you find an estranged Circle of Spores druid seemingly enthralled by a mysterious force. Can you restore your fellow druid or is it already too late?

  4. Embers of the Past: You're approached by a Circle of Wildfire druid, seeking assistance in a daring quest - a pilgrimage to the heart of a fire elemental's domain to reignite their dimming wildfire spirit. Will you withstand the scorching flames and unseen dangers that lie ahead?

  5. Wrath of the Thorny Sovereign: Once docile, a sentient grove known for its powerful healing herbs, has turned hostile, its thorny vines expanding alarmingly into nearby settlements. Can you pacify the heart of the grove and restore peace, potentially using the Wild Shape feature to navigate the thorny terrain?

  6. Elemental Discord: The land is in turmoil - earthquakes, storms, wildfires. At the heart of this chaos is a novice druid from the Circle of the Land, whose elemental ritual has gone catastrophically awry. Can you rebalance the elements and teach the young druid a valuable lesson about the careful wielding of nature's forces?

  7. The Ancient One's Riddle: Legend tells of a primordial beast, a druid from the Circle of the Moon who chose to exist permanently in beast form. Seeking its wisdom, your party must traverse treacherous lands and prove their worthiness. Will your druid spell list have the answers to the Ancient One's challenges?

  8. The Hyena's Laugh: A giant hyena has been terrorizing local villages, rumored to be a cursed druid locked in a permanent wild shape. Can you unravel the curse and restore the troubled druid, or is a more dangerous force at play, manipulating the threads of nature?

  9. Circle of Discontent: Tensions rise between different druid circles, threatening to disrupt the harmony of nature. As intermediaries, you must navigate this delicate situation, addressing the grievances of circles like the Circle of the Shepherd and Circle of Stars. Will your wisdom guide you to a peaceful resolution or ignite a druidic civil war?

  10. The Dying Heartwood: The sacred grove, a bastion of druidic power, is inexplicably withering away. The source, an ancient corrupted treant driven mad by a mysterious affliction. Can you overcome this formidable foe in an epic forest showdown, restore the sacred grove, and ensure the continued prosperity of your druidic circle?

In these adventures, the characters can expect to use their wild shape forms, druid spells, and other unique class abilities, making it a great choice for druid players and new players eager to explore the druid class.


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