The DnD 5e Druid Guide (2022)

Published on August 15, 2021, Last modified on November 6th, 2022

In this post, we will be examining the druid’s class features and how you can optimize your druid through choosing your race, background, ability scores, subclass, feats, and spells.

Arcane Eye may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn more.

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e druid. For a quick overview of other 5e classes, check out our Guide to DnD 5e Classes.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your druid. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized
So if you’re ready, grab your granola, conjure some animal friends, and let’s get into it.

Did you know?

D&D Beyond can help create your characters by making choices using a step-by-step approach. Full customization and control of your character, none of the flipping through hundreds of pages to reference obscure rules.

D&D 5e Druid Overview

Level Proficiency Bonus Features Cantrips Known Spell Slots per Spell Level
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +2 Druidic, Spellcasting 2 2
2nd +2 Wild Shape, Druid Circle 2 3
3rd +2 2 4 2
4th +2 Wild Shape improvement, Ability Score Improvement 3 4 3
5th +3 3 4 3 2
6th +3 Druid Circle feature 3 4 3 3
7th +3 3 4 3 3 1
8th +3 Wild Shape improvement, Ability Score Improvement 3 4 3 3 2
9th +4 3 4 3 3 3 1
10th +4 Druid Circle feature 4 4 3 3 3 2
11th +4 4 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th +5 4 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th +5 Druid Circle feature 4 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
15th +5 4 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th +6 4 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th +6 Timeless Body, Beast Spells 4 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th +6 Archdruid 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

Playstyle

What do you get when you cross a Cleric with a hippie?

Druids are a really cool support class with tons of versatility. Want to sneak like a rogue? Turn into a giant spider. Want to tank and deal damage like a barbarian? Turn into a brown bear. Want to heal and buff the party? You’ve got spells for that.

Druids can wear many hats in an adventuring party but have limited resources to do them all. Ensuring you’re keeping an eye on your spell slots and Wild Shapes will be key to playing a successful druid.

Strengths

A druid’s main class feature is shapeshifting (called “Wild Shape”) into beasts that they have seen before. This ability gives the druid a ton of utility, both in and out of combat, as they are able to transform into an animal like a bear for tanking damage or a spider for climbing to hard-to-reach places.

Beyond their Wild Shape feature, druids are a great spellcasting class as they have access to spells all the way up to 9th level. This, combined with their Wild Shape abilities, allows them to be versatile with healing, tanking in combat, and utility outside of combat.

Weaknesses

To help balance the pure awesomeness that is Wild Shape, most of the beasts you can transform into have a low Armor Class and hit points, meaning they are easy to hit and kill in combat.

Their spell list is also a bit weaker than sorcerers/wizards as they don’t have access to the big damage spells like fireball. This lack of damage spells extends to their cantrips, so early levels can feel like a bit of a slog if you find yourself running out of Wild Shapes.

Best Races for Druid

Making sure you’re choosing a race that synergizes with the druid’s unique abilities is important. View our guide overviewing the best druid races to help make your choice!

Ability Scores

Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

Prioritize WIS over the other Ability Scores. Once WIS is maxed, the decision is between CON and DEX based on the Druid Circle you choose.

STR: This is a definite dump stat. If you need to be strong Wild Shape into a Bear.

DEX: Seeing as the only armor druids have access to is light or medium, DEX is your primary means of defense (it’s better to be missed than hit with some extra HP). DEX also plays into AC, Initiative, the all-too-common DEX saving throw, and the very important Stealth skill.

CON: CON is secondary to most druids as they can always Wild Shape if they need extra HP. The exception to this is if you are playing a Circle of the Moon druid who will cast a concentration spell and then get in close in a Wild Shape form. If that sounds like your type of build, stack CON over DEX.

INT: Don’t bother with INT.

WIS: Druids cast spells with their WIS, so pump this as high as you can.

CHA: Druids shouldn’t try to focus on social skills outside of WIS-based ones. If you must, the overall effectiveness of the character will suffer.

Druid Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Points: Druids have a middle-of-the-road d8 hit dice, better than the Sorcerer or the Wizard. A decent AC, powerful healing spells, and extra hp from Wild Shapes, paired with their decent hit dice allows druids to tank a relatively high amount of damage.

Saves: Proficiency with INT and WIS saves is rough. WIS saves come up a bit in later levels but INT saves are very rare and it is also one of your dump stats.

Weapon/Armour Proficiencies: Light armor, medium armor, shields, and simple weapons is fine for someone with the druid’s skillset.

Skills: Druids aren’t known for their diverse skillset. They can only choose two of the following eight skills.

  • Animal Handling (WIS): Animal Handling as written is a trash skill. If your DM is lenient with the rulings it is definitely a worthwhile skill for druids to pick up but otherwise avoid this.
  • Arcana (INT): Arcana is one of the more important INT based skills. Seeing as INT is a dump stat for druids, avoid this if you have another Arcana specialist in your party.
  • Insight (WIS): Insight is great for social interactions since it can give you a ton of information on the person you are trying to convince or manipulate.
  • Medicine (WIS): The Medicine skill is made fairly obsolete by the druid’s spell list.
  • Nature (INT): Nature is an important INT skill. If nobody else in your party has it, it makes sense for the druid to know what’s up when you’re out in the woods.
  • Perception (WIS): We’ve said it before, Perception is the best skill in D&D. Getting proficiency and expertise in this can help make up for your low WIS score.
  • Religion (INT): Depends on your campaign, but this is usually much less likely to come up than Arcana or Nature.
  • Survival (WIS): Similar to Nature. If you don’t have another savvy woodsman in your party, it is your duty as a druid to pick this up.

Druidic: A secret language that only other druids can know is cool and has the chance of coming up a couple of times in a campaign.

Spellcasting: Druids cast their spells with WIS and they are considered a full caster class. 5e druids know, and can therefore prepare, any druid spell that they are of a high enough level to cast. If that wasn’t good enough, some druid Circles provide “Circle Spells” which are always prepared for free. The druid’s spell list consists of a great mix of healing, support, battlefield control, and damage to make for an extremely well-rounded caster from the get-go. Druids can use any item crafted from nature, such as a yew wand, as their spellcasting focus.

2nd Level

Wild Shape: Wild Shape is a versatile ability that can make your druid effective in just about any situation. Whether you find yourself in a combat, stealth, exploration, or survival situation, there are ways to put Wild Shape to use.  As we say in the business: “There’s a Wild Shape for that.” Check out our Wild Shape 5e Guide for more information on optimizing your druid’s Wild Shape.

Wild Shape Tracker

My friend Andrei created a Wild Shape Tracker for all of you animal-loving druids. This tool allows you to choose your Wild Shape, manage your HP, and roll ability checks, attack rolls, and damage. You can check it out via the link below:

Wild Shape Tracker

Wild Companion: Seeing as druids don’t gain access to find familiar, this is a great tool to allow your nature-loving druid to have an animal companion. There are a couple of interesting differences between this and the spell, the best of which is it allows you to ignore the 1hr casting time, making it a viable option to perform in combat. Second, while casting Find Familiar lasts indefinitely, it doesn’t when cast through Wild Companion. You only get the familiar for an amount of time equal to half your druid level. Because this uses the same resource as Wild Shape, you must take into consideration the best times to use Wild Companion:

  1. When you are performing a short rest and are at higher than 2nd-level
  2. When you are a Circle of the Moon druid and want to use the familiar to give the Help action while you wail on baddies as a grizzly bear

Outside of these circumstances, Wild Companion can end up competing with Wild Shape which is a core druid feature. If you want to have an animal companion permanently, it would be worth taking the Magic Initiate feat and picking up the Find Familar spell.

Druid Circle: At 2nd-level druids get to choose their Druid Circle. A druid’s Circle completely defines how the build plays, so choose the one based on a playstyle you might enjoy the most.

Best and Worst Spells for Druids in 5e

Circle of Dreams

The Circle of Dreams uses magic drawn from the Feywild to heal others. While all druids have decent healing capabilities, this Circle is more heavily focused on the craft.

  • 2nd level
    • Balm of the Summer Court: Ranged healing as a bonus action is always awesome.
  • 6th level
    • Hearth of Moonlight and Shadow: Solid way to make sure you are not ambushed during a short or long rest.
  • 10th level
    • Hidden Paths: Being able to teleport as a bonus action up to 5 times per short rest is amazing. It can also be used to get your allies out of sticky situations.
  • 14th level
    • Walker in Dreams: Getting a free 5th level spell is nice, but the spells aren’t particularly effective. This is especially true with the limitations that are put on teleportation circle.

Circle of Spores

Masters over life and death, Circle of Spores find beauty in decay. They use spores and fungi to improve your combat prowess, poison your enemies, and control the body of dead enemies.

  • 2nd level
    • Circle of Spores spells:
      • Cantrip
        • Chill Touch: Good damage and a solid debuff for creatures that are able to heal themselves. This cantrip because extremely effective when fighting undead creatures.
      • 3rd level
        • Blindness/Deafness: Very effective debuff that doesn’t require concentration. The only downside is that it targets CON.
        • Gentle Repose: Extremely situational spell.
      • 5th level
        • Animate Dead: More options for your bonus action and another body between you and the baddies. For necromancers that are looking to guide a horde of undead, this is the best option you’re provided. Essentially, you can use a 3rd-level spell slot to animate one undead, or reassert your control over four undead. Depending on how many spell slots you have to work with, you can steadily grow your undead army. Just make sure you have the spell slots to reassert your control or your undead horde will revolt.
        • Gaseous Form: This spell can honestly vie for the top “infiltration” spell over invisibility. Being able to fly and move through tiny cracks as an inconspicuous cloud can make getting into any heavily defended fortress a cinch.
      • 7th level
        • Blight: 4th-level single-target spell that targets a common save. It barely out damages 4th-level fireball and flat-out doesn’t work on some common creature types. SKIP.
        • Confusion: Bestow curse is a better targeted debuff and is a full spell slot lower.
      • 9th level
        • Cloudkill: Not great in an open field but if you can get the drop on an enemy or contain a group of enemies within the spell it can be very effective because it deals damage turn after turn, as long as the caster keeps concentration. It can also be effective to block off a vantage point used by ranged enemies.
        • Contagion: The poisoned condition is a pretty strong one and this spell grants the condition on-hit for at least 3 turns. You get the potential for more turns under the poisoned condition and a lasting effect which are both quite strong. Make sure to avoid casting this on constructs, undead, fiends, or elementals.
    • Halo of Spores: Decent damage if you remember to use it every turn. The CON save to avoid the damage hurts this ability a lot.
    • Symbiotic Entity: This, combined with Shillelagh, helps the Druid become more viable in combat while still being able to cast spells. The fact that it ends when you lose your temporary hitpoints is super rough at low levels but fine at high levels when it starts to outpace your Wild Shapes.
  • 6th level
    • Fungal Infestation: Being able to kill things and turn them into zombies is cool. You will likely only get one shot off with them because they only have 1hp, but luckily they come in right after your turn.
  • 10th level
    • Spreading Spores: Decent bonus action battlefield control.
  • 14th level
    • Fungal Body: Immunity to some common conditions and no more critical hits against you is very nice.

Circle of Stars

Draw power from the stars of the night sky. Druids following the Circle of Stars can channel the constellations through themselves with their Wild Shape to improve the abilties.

  • 2nd level
    • Star Map: The guidance cantrip is extremely powerful outside of combat and the guiding bolt is a top-tier 1st level spell. Getting a number of free castings for guiding bolt equal to your prof. modifier will allow you to output solid damage for longer.
    • Starry Form: All of these forms are great in their own right and can be activated with a bonus action.
      • Archer: Bonus action ranged attack with radiance damage that scales with your WIS modifier. This goes a long way to improve the druid’s damage output.
      • Chalice: You must spend your resources on healing spells in order to activate this form, so it can be tricky to work around in combat. That said, if you are getting deep into combat and need to start handing out heals, this is a massive buff to your healing capabilities.
      • Dragon: Having this form active goes a long way to never failing an INT, WIS, or Concentration check again. While it’s useful in and out of combat, it’s probably only worth it to activate if you find yourself surrounded by enemies while concentrating on a very powerful spell.
  • 6th level
    • Cosmic Omen: This is essentially a lesser form of the bard’s Bardic Inspiration or the Lore bard’s Cutting Words, depending on if you roll Weal or Woe. While the d6 isn’t quite as good as Bardic Inspiration, you can use it as a reaction instead of a bonus action and it scales with your level.
  • 10th level
    • Twinkling Constellations: A huge buff to your Starry Forms. The 2d8 helps the Archer and Chalice remain viable in later tier and the Dragon form grants a flying speed. The thing that makes this feature absolutely amazing is the fact that you can change the form at the beginning of every turn for free, meaning you always have the form for what you’re planning.
  • 14th level
    • Full of Stars: By the 3rd tier of play most enemies will have magical attacks. Still, this feature doesn’t consume any additional resources and activates whenever you transform into your Starry Form.

Circle of the Land

Circle of the Land focuses on the caster nature of the druid. They get access to extra cantrips, can regenerate spell slots on a short rest, and get access to a larger spell list. Their features beyond 6th-level are particularly impressive, but they get extra spells as they level up, thanks to the Circle Spells feature.

  • 2nd level
    • Bonus Cantrip: Bonus cantrips are great, but the Druid cantrip list has a severe damage-dealing deficiency. Being limited to a Druid cantrip with this feature limits its usefulness.
    • Natural Recovery: Essentially the Wizard’s Arcane Recovery ability which is very good.
    • Circle Spells: Depending on your “Land” you will have access to different spells:
      • Arctic
        • 3rd Level
          • Hold Person: One of the best spells in the game against Humanoids.
          • Spike Growth: Moderately good crowd control or can be used to stage an ambush because it is camouflaged.
        • 5th Level
          • Sleet Storm: Messes with enemy concentration, can extinguish flames, and has the potential to knock enemies prone.
          • Slow: Great crowd control debuff where you can choose which creatures to debuff and it lasts through damage (unlike Hypnotic Pattern).
        • 7th Level
          • Freedom of Movement: It’s nice to give extra movement options to allies, but there are better buff spells and this one is pretty situational.
          • Ice Storm: The damage for an AoE spell isn’t too shabby.
        • 9th Level
          • Commune with Nature: Great for roleplay and story progression, not so great for combat.
          • Cone of Cold: It’s Fireball damage for a 5th Level spell slot, although it is easier to control and to reduce friendly fire than Fireball.
      • Coast
        • 3rd Level
          • Mirror Image: Great self-buff.
          • Misty Step: Who doesn’t want to teleport? And you can do so as a bonus action while avoiding opportunity attacks. This spell will save your butt on more than one occasion.
        • 5th Level
          • Water Breathing: Pretty useless because at this point you have a swimming Wild Shape. The only useful scenario would be if you wanted the rest of your party to follow you down underwater.
          • Water Walk: This is likely not to see use in an entire campaign.
        • 7th Level
          • Freedom of Movement: Extremely good when your DM throws crowd control effects your way, or if you decide to take a trip underwater.
          • Control Water: A truly versatile and flavorful spell.
        • 9th Level
          • Conjure Elemental: Great spell for a powerful ally. Careful about losing concentration or you could end causing more trouble than you’re solving.
          • Scrying: Useful but niche.
      • Desert
        • 3rd Level
          • Blur: Blur is best if you have a solid AC (think Eldritch Knights) but you really want Mirror Image otherwise.
          • Silence: Silence is a niche spell with a high ceiling. It can be used in stealth scenarios but it’s most powerful usage is if you can target a caster who won’t be able to cast spells requiring a verbal component. Of course, it’s only a 20ft radius so you will either need to be fighting in close quarters or will need to find a way to prevent the caster from moving.
        • 5th Level
          • Create Food and Water: This only shines in survival situations and even in then it is overshadowed by Goodberry.
          • Protection From Energy: This is typically outshined by Absorb Elements except in the specific circumstances when you are constantly being subjected to a type of damage.
        • 7th Level
          • Blight: 4th level single-target spell that targets a common save. It barely out damages 4th-level Fireball and flat-out doesn’t work on some common creature types.
          • Hallucinatory Terrain: One of the spells, like Minor Illusion, where its ceiling is determined by your creativeness.
        • 9th Level
          • Insect Plague: Similar to Cloudkill in terms of damage and effect. The main difference is that Cloudkill heavily obscures the area, moves on its own, and can be dispelled by a strong wind. Insect Plague also creates difficult terrain, meaning escaping the AoE will be more difficult.
          • Wall of Stone: Great tool to manipulate the battlefield to your party’s advantage.
      • Forest
        • 3rd Level
          • Barkskin: Most Druids will take this so they can cast it before using Wild Shape.
          • Spider Climb: This is made obsolete by your Wild Shapes.
        • 5th Level
          • Call Lightning: If you manage to keep concentration on this for the entire encounter it can be absolutely nasty but it certainly has its limitations.
          • Plant Growth: Slows down pesky enemies moving around a lot or trying to escape, but not particularly good at either. Also cool for story beats to restore nature that has been devastated by war.
        • 7th Level
          • Freedom of Movement: Extremely good when your DM throws crowd control effects your way, or if you decide to take a trip underwater.
          • Divination: In the same vein as Augury; it is a good way to keep an indecisive party moving. Plus, it’s loads of fun to put your DM on the spot!
        • 9th Level
          • Commune with Nature: Great for roleplay and story progression, not so great for combat.
          • Tree Stride: A fun spell with a multitude of uses if you can get a bit creative. Without trees nearby you won’t be striding anywhere though.
      • Grassland
        • 3rd Level
          • Invisibility: Good infiltration spell or to help out your Rogue.
          • Pass Without Trace: Huge value for such a low spell slot, this spell can single-handedly solve your heavy armored Paladin’s stealth problem.
        • 5th Level
          • Daylight: The Light cantrip on steroids. Dispelling darkness could be situationally useful.
          • Haste: Great buff for a 3rd Level spell slot. Keep an eye on the concentration because dropping this spell early has ramifications.
        • 7th Level
          • Freedom of Movement: Extremely good when your DM throws crowd control effects your way, or if you decide to take a trip underwater.
          • Divination: In the same vein as Augury; it is a good way to keep an indecisive party moving. Plus, it’s loads of fun to put your DM on the spot!
        • 9th Level
          • Dream: Low key one of the best spells in the game. This can really mess with the BBEG of the campaign.
          • Insect Plague: Similar to Cloudkill in terms of damage and effect. The main difference is that Cloudkill heavily obscures the area, moves on its own, and can be dispelled by a strong wind. Insect Plague also creates difficult terrain, meaning escaping the AoE will be more difficult.
      • Mountain
        • 3rd Level
          • Spider Climb: This is made obsolete by your Wild Shapes.
          • Spike Growth: Moderately good crowd control or can be used to stage an ambush because it is camouflaged.
        • 5th Level
          • Lightning Bolt: Just as powerful as Fireball but has a less effective AoE because it’s a line rather than a circle.
          • Meld Into Stone: Good for long rests? Maybe?
        • 7th Level
          • Stone Shape: Can be used to deal damage if you get creative, or circumvent annoying parts of caves and dungeons since they are usually made of stone.
          • Stone Skin: Effectively double the HP of a melee fighter (or your Wild Shape) against creatures without magical weapons or spells for an hour.
        • 9th Level
          • Passwall: This can just about nullify any door, barrier, or blocked off space the DM can throw at you. Not great in combat scenarios.
          • Wall of Stone: Great tool to manipulate the battlefield to your party’s advantage.
      • Swamp
        • 3rd Level
          • Darkness: Darkness has its uses but they usually heavily involve shenanigans.
          • Acid Arrow: Just a straight-up subpar damage spell. Its only use is to make casters make two different concentration checks.
        • 5th Level
          • Water Walk: This is likely not to see use in an entire campaign.
          • Stinking Cloud: Used in the right circumstances this can be effective, but it is a tough spell to nail.
        • 7th Level
          • Freedom of Movement: Extremely good when your DM throws crowd control effects your way, or if you decide to take a trip underwater.
          • Locate Creature: This will be a lifesaver at least once in a campaign.
        • 9th Level
          • Insect Plague: Similar to Cloudkill in terms of damage and effect. The main difference is that Cloudkill heavily obscures the area, moves on its own, and can be dispelled by a strong wind. Insect Plague also creates difficult terrain, meaning escaping the AoE will be more difficult.
          • Scrying: Useful but niche.
      • Underdark
        • 3rd Level
          • Spider Climb: This is made obsolete by your Wild Shapes.
          • Web: Web is an awesome area control spell and can combo into a lot of fire damage.
        • 5th Level
          • Gaseous Form: Underrated utility and infiltration spell. You will get a couple of solid uses out of this spell in most campaigns.
          • Stinking Cloud: Used in the right circumstances this can be effective, but it is a tough spell to nail.
        • 7th Level
          • Greater Invisibility: Great spell to avoid damage in combat while also getting advantage on your attacks. Also, you can give it to a melee teammate for a very potent, hard to hit damage dealer.
          • Stone Shape: Can be used to deal damage if you get creative, or circumvent annoying parts of caves and dungeons since they are usually made of stone.
        • 9th Level
          • Cloudkill: Not great in an open field but if you can get the drop on an enemy or contain a group of enemies within the spell it can be very effective because it deals damage turn after turn, as long as the caster keeps concentration. It can also be effective to block off a vantage point used by ranged enemies.
          • Insect Plague: Similar to Cloudkill in terms of damage and effect. The main difference is that Cloudkill heavily obscures the area, moves on its own, and can be dispelled by a strong wind. Insect Plague also creates difficult terrain, meaning escaping the AoE will be more difficult.
  • 6th level
    • Land’s Stride: No more nonmagical difficult terrain is nice but isn’t going to net you a whole lot of benefits. Advantage on saving throws against plants that want to impede your movement is very situational.
  • 10th level
    • Nature’s Ward: Immunity to Charmed and Frightened against two common creature types is alright. Immunity to poison and disease is a good benefit but feels a bit bad to get it as a level 10 subclass feature when Paladins get it for free at 3rd Level.
  • 14th level
    • Nature’s Sanctuary: Beasts are fairly common so this is a decent feature, it just isn’t impressive as a subclass capstone.

Circle of the Moon

The Circle of the Moon specializes in the art of the Wild Shape. Druids following the Circle of the Moon get access to more powerful Wild Shapes and make them more versatile in combat.

  • 2nd level
    • Combat Wild Shape: Being able to get into your Wild Shape quicker and heal for expended spell slots makes Wild Shapes in combat a lot more effective.
    • Circle Forms: This is a huge buff to your Wild Shapes. Here are some of our favorite Wild Shapes at each level:
      • 2nd Level | Max CR: 1 | No flying or swimming speed
        • Brown Bear: More damage than the Direwolf but lower AC and HP. Also lacks synergy with other melee fighters in your party.
        • Direwolf: Great AC and HP. Pack Tactics can come in handy if you have another melee fighter in your party and grants a chance to knock the target prone with a Bite.
      • 4th Level | Max CR: 1 | No flying
        • Giant Octopus: HP, Speed, Advantage on Stealth, and a strong attack make this the best water Wild Shape at this level.
      • 6th Level | Max CR: 2 | No flying
        • Giant Constrictor SnakeDamage potential and a high escape DC make the Giant Constrictor Snake a great Wild Shape to use against single targets, especially those that lack strength.
        • Polar Bear: Slight upgrade from the Brown Bear with marginally better HP, AC, and damage.
        • Saber-Toothed Tiger: Lacks the synergies of a Dire Wolf and the multi-attack of the Brown Bear. This is a disappointing choice for CR2 damage dealers.
        • Hunter Shark: Higher damage and advantage on attack rolls make this option an arguably better choice than the Giant Octopus when in water.
      • 8th Level | Max CR: 2 | No restrictions
        • Quetzalcoatlus: Decent HP and AC, as well as Flyby, so it is the best aerial choice at this level. Good luck convincing your DM you’ve seen one.
      • 9th Level | Max CR: 3 | No restrictions
        • Ankylosaurus: Great AC and HP, solid damage, and a knockdown effect. Again, it’s a dinosaur so it will be tough to convince your DM you’ve ran into one unless the campaign setting calls for it.
        • Giant Scorpion: This thing can hit way above its paygrade with its three attacks. Decent AC and HP to boot makes this the best Wild Shape melee damage dealer so far.
      • 12th Level | Max CR: 4 | No restrictions
        • Elephant: Only really viable with lots of space. If you can hit with Trampling Charge and the Stomp in one turn you can deal mega damage. Solid HP and bad AC, so the Elephant is overall a bit of a gamble over the Giant Scorpion.
        • Stegosaurus: Another dino. The Stegosaurus is also a gamble over the Giant Scorpion but if you are hitting things with this it’s going to hurt.
      • 15th Level | Max CR: 5 | No restrictions
        • Brontosaurus: Good damage, AC, and loads of HP. Potential to knock creatures prone. Also, the 20ft reach means no one is safe. Dino.
        • Giant Crocodile: Better damage than the Brontosaurus. Restrained and Prone effects make this Beast an extremely versatile combat form.
        • Giant Shark: Huge pile of HP and great damage means the Giant Shark receives the crown for the top aquatic option.
      • 18th Level | Max CR: 6 | No restrictions
        • Mammoth: High DC on the Trampling Charge and huge damage make the Mammoth an undeniably great option. Depending on your circumstances, you will either go with the Mammoth or Giant Crocodile for straight-up melee fights.
  • 6th level
    • Primal Strike: Necessary upgrade to keep your Wild Shape damage output similar to other martial classes.
    • Circle Forms: Lets you change into some outrageously powerful creatures and provides a huge amount of utility.
  • 10th level
    • Elemental Wild Shape: Uses both of your Wild Shapes but provides even more utility because of the Elementals’ unique abilities. The Fire Elemental is really the only Elemental that can keep up with the Giant Scorpion in terms of raw combat potential.
  • 14th level
    • Thousand Forms: Your problems will likely be solved more readily by a Wild Shape. Thousand Forms is really only useful for political infiltrations.

Circle of the Shepherd

Commune with spirits of the forest and summon them to aid you in combat.

  • 2nd level
    • Speech of the Woods: Learn Sylvan and constant Speak with Animals. Can be useful but not overly so.
    • Spirit Totem: Summon a lasting, moveable AoE buff.
      • Bear Spirit: The temp hit points are nice. Remember temp HP doesn’t stack but is permanent until they are used up or replaced so this can be an effective one to pop off before a rest.
      • Hawk Spirit: Giving 1 ally per turn Advantage via a reaction is nice but the Perception check likely won’t help in combat.
      • Unicorn: Advantage on detecting creatures in the aura is okay but this feature can turn your 1st-level healing word into a 3rd-level mass healing word mulitple times. Talk about value for your spell slots.
  • 6th level
    • Mighty Summoner: This makes conjure animals, an already borderline busted spell, even more powerful.
  • 10th level
    • Guardian Spirit: Awesome way to combo your Spirit Totem with conjure animals. If you can keep your concentration, your enemies are going to have a tough time putting down your animal and fey friends.
  • 14th level
    • Faithful Summons: This is a hilariously good way to make sure you never get hit while unconscious. A great way to thank the enemy that knocked you out is to summon 4 Polar Bears in their face. At higher levels, these Polar Bears are still able to hit higher AC enemies and can average 21 damage a turn if their attacks land

Circle of Wildfire

The Circle of Wildfire druids knows that fire is a natural part of the forest’s lifecycle. Wildfire druids walk a fine line between destruction with fire and healing with magic.

  • 2nd level
    • Circle of Wildfire spells: The Circle of Wildfire spell list provides a number of great damage-dealing spells, which are quite rare for the druid's spell list. The stellar healing options are always welcome.
      • 2nd level
        • Burning Hands: One of the better AoE damage spells you can get at 1st-level but there are better direct damage spells and better mass effect spells. This filler spell can be great if you catch a group of enemies close together.
        • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it.
      • 3rd level
        • Flaming Sphere: Not the best damage, but AoE and the ability to move the sphere as a bonus action are useful if up against a horde of weak enemies.
        • Scorching Ray: A potential 6d6 focused damage at a 2nd-level spell slot, can target multiple opponents, and has crit potential.
      • 5th level
        • Plant Growth: Slows down pesky enemies moving around a lot or trying to escape, but not particularly good at either. Also cool for story beats to restore nature that has been devastated by war.
        • Revivify: Every party needs a party member with revivify. The nature of D&D is such that PC deaths happen fairly easily, so your friends will be looking to you to save them from that fate. Because each round of combat is 6 seconds, a party member that dies during combat can typically be revived within 1 minute. Make sure you’ve got diamonds worth 300 gp on you if you’re planning on stocking this spell.
      • 7th level
        • Aura of Life: Protection from hit point maximum reduction is very situational, although resistance to necrotic damage is handy when facing the undead. Bringing up all downed allies within the radius at the start of their turn sounds useful, but you will need to maintain your concentration until then for this to have an effect.
        • Fire Shield: Fire shield is a decent buff for martial casters but casters that prefer to maintain a distance likely won’t find much use for it. The fact that it provides resistances to two different damage types can make it especially potent for builds looking to tank for their party.
      • 9th level
        • Flame Strike: Not particularly exciting when compared to fireball. It does the same amount of damage but has a better damage type (half radiant/half fire) and has a slightly larger radius. The “improved” damage type doesn’t mean much because it still does half of it’s damage as fire damage. So, if you’re looking to work around fire resistance, this won’t be a worthwhile choice.
        • Mass Cure Wounds: Range, multiple targets, and decent healing power. One of the best bang-for-your-buck spells if you have multiple party members down.
    • Summon Wildfire Spirit: For one use of Wild Shape you get additional action economy and a body to soak damage, AoE damage upon summoning, ranged attack, flight, and teleportation abilities. This spirit is truly a versatile companion, even if it doesn’t output a ton of damage.
  • 6th level
    • Enhanced Bond: While your Wildfire Spirit is summoned you get an extra average of 4.5 damage from spells you cast that deal fire damage or healing from healing spells. This certainly isn’t a ton of damage and doesn’t work on spells like Flaming Sphere which allow you to activate the spell on subsequent turns. This feature also allows you to cast spells from your Wildfire Spirit which allows you to deliver Cure Wounds to your downed teammates without wading into battle.
  • 10th level
    • Cauterizing Flames: The damaging side of this feature will rarely happen unless you force an enemy to enter a space with your spirit fire but the healing side is wonderful. This is equal to 64 hitpoints of healing by the time you get the feature at 10th-level (assuming you’ve maxed your WIS). This will help free up your spell slots to sling fire spells around the battlefield.
  • 14th level
    • Full of Stars: Being able to bounce back to half hp when knocked unconscious for the cost of one Wild Shape is simply amazing.

Druid Races

4th Level

Cantrip Versatility: This optional rule provides the ability for druid to trade out a cantrip whenever they get an ASI. While most DMs will let their players trade out options that aren’t working for them, this optional rule helps set a precedent for this practice.

18th Level

Timeless Body: Not sure if aging more slowly will come into play during your campaign.

Beast Spells: This is meh if you’re not a Circle of the Moon druid, but is amazing if you are a Circle of the Moon druid.

20th Level

Archdruid: Unlimited Wild Shapes is pretty good if you’re not a Circle of the Moon druid. This is the best thing since sliced bread if you are a Circle of the Moon druid.

Best Feats for Druid

  • Alert: Being up higher in the initiative order can be very valuable for any class. Druids will be able to land a big spell, buff their allies, or Wild Shape right at the start of the fight, but this feat probably isn’t worth it just for that option.
  • Chef: It's on flavor for a druid to hunt and cook their own natural meals, and they can benefit from either WIS or CON stat boost. You need to be mindful of how you plan on snacking while in Wild Shape form, as you might not have thumbs or pockets.
  • Crossbow Expert: Crossbows aren’t available to druids, so this can be skipped. Even with crossbow proficiency, ranged druids are always spellcasting, not Dex-based archers. Druids have very few spell options that require a ranged spell attack, which makes this feat all but useless.
  • Crusher: Melee-based druids don’t use weapons, so you’ll need to rely on a Wild Shape animal that not only deals bludgeoning damage but is also appropriate for your level. Overall, it’s too difficult to get this feat to work without any compromises.
  • Defensive Duelist: For druids, DEX is only for AC and initiative rolls. Melee druids will either be in wild shaped or using their WIS modifier for attacks because of shillelagh, and won’t benefit from this feat.
  • Eldritch Adept: Great option to pick up Armor of Shadows for a free mage armor whenever you want it.
  • Elemental Adept: The bonus damage is negligible but go for it if most of your damage comes from one element. This is a must-have for Circle of Wildfire druids as they are exclusively fire. Fire is also one of the most common damage resistances in the Monster Manual.
  • Elven Accuracy: While you may not get the maximum benefit of this feat, spellcasting druids can make use of it. Circle of the Shepherd druids that use the Hawk Spirit totem can abuse this feat by trading their reaction for advantage on attack rolls.
  • Fey Teleportation: Neither of these stats increases really synergize with druids, which makes this a hard feat to recommend. Wild Shaped druids can’t cast spells, and spellcasting druids don’t really need the added mobility, so look elsewhere for a feat to improve your druid build.
  • Fey Touched: Misty step is a great spell that druids don’t normally gain access to. Plus, you get to increase your WIS. This is a go-to option if you end up with an odd WIS score after character creation. For the spell choice, pretty much all of the options could work. Wild Shape-focused druids will love hunter's mark before they wild shape, caster druids can choose from bless to buff their party or silvery barbs/dissonant whispers for more damage/debuff focused spells.
  • Fighting Initiate: Because most melee druids will be in Wild Shape most of the time, the only Fighting Style that will work is Blind Fighting. It is a stellar feature, but some animals will already have this, making it a “good enough” option.
  • Great Weapon Master: Druids can’t learn to wield any Heavy weapons, and they would rather use Wild Shape if they want to get into melee range.
  • Gunner: Typically, your only ranged options are magic-based, so this is a waste for druids. Also, they kind of go against the whole druidic vibe.
  • Lightly Armored: Already has access to light armor at the start.
  • Lucky: Lucky is a feat that is useful to any character, but is less good for spellcasters.
  • Mage Slayer: The only melee druid builds are those who take the Circle of the Moon, and the rest should just stop reading here. Moon druids can use this feat to a pretty good degree, as it can still trigger while in Wild Shape.
  • Magic Initiate: This feat is a good choice if you pick wizard as the class from which you draw spells. The tried and tested find familiar as your 1st level spell lets you deliver touch spells and give Help actions to players. The version of find familiar you can get through magic initiate is much better than the one you get through Wild Companion because it sticks around indefinitely and doesn't take a precious Wild Shape. Firebolt or shocking grasp for the cantrips nicely fill out your damage. If you are going to be a ranged caster Druid, this is certainly a worthwhile pickup once you max your WIS to make sure you can still do reasonable damage even if you start to run out of spell slots.
  • Mobile: Spellcasting druids can look the other way, but Circle of the Moon druids can find some use. Depending on your choice of animal, you can easily get away with a skirmish build.
  • Mounted Combatant: Druids should pass on this feat. Why ride a horse when you can Wild Shape into a cheetah?
  • Observant: If you plan to play a spellcasting druid, you will enjoy the extra WIS. However, this does little for those focused on Wild Shape builds, like Circle of the Moon.
  • Piercer: You’ll want to skip this for spellcasters since this only works with two spells. However, Circle of the Moon druids with a Wild Shape that deal piercing damage can work well (if you can find them).
  • Poisoner: No druid wants this feat. It doesn’t work for spellcasting druids because they only have access to one poison cantrip, and melee druids are usually in Wild Shape.
  • Polearm Master: Won’t find a ton of use in this feat. They can use a quarterstaff as a weapon and a focus, but their playstyles don’t really mesh with Polearm Master. Most melee druids would prefer to be in Wild Shape over attacks with a staff.
  • Resilient: If you’re a Circle of the Moon druid, take War Caster instead. If you’re not, skip this.
  • Sentinel: Druids aren’t usually in the front lines unless they plan on Wild Shaping for combat. Typical druid builds can probably skip this feat, but this works great for tanky Circle of the Moon builds. This works especially well with creatures with reach attacks
  • Shadow Touched: In most cases, druids make excellent reconnaissance party members. They can use wild shape to blend in with stealth or support their team with a wide variety of utility spells. This feat delivers both of those things, though I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute need. If you don’t want to be a more supportive player, or if you prefer to be in wild shape, I’d skip this feat.
  • Sharpshooter: Druids absolutely don’t need this, as none of their class features are ranged weapon-focused.
  • Shield Master: Surprisingly enough, druids actually have a bit of synergy with Shield Master. While they typically like to keep their distance and pump WIS for spellcasting and DEX for AC, so the Shove bonus action will go unused, the DEX saving throws buffs are actually quite beneficial. Because of their high DEX, both of the DEX saving throw features can go a long way to helping the survivability of your druid. Keep in mind that wielding a shield WILL boost your druid's AC but you won't be able to wield a weapon as well as the shield and still cast spells. Unless you plan on going for a shillelagh build, this shouldn't be an issue.
  • Skill Expert: While expertise is always helpful, druids have Wild Shape and plenty of spells to allow for utility outside of combat. That said, doubling your proficiency for Stealth or Perception checks is never a bad thing.
  • Skulker: Most ranged druids prefer to be spellcasters over ranged weapons, making this feat a little less impressive. There’s probably some good space to explore with a stealthy Wild Shape-based build here, but that only adds to hiding and not to your combat.
  • Slasher: Druids tend to stay away from slashing melee weapons, preferring to cast spells or even use the shillelagh to buff their quarterstaff's bludgeoning damage. Druids that prefer to fight in Wild Shape, like Circle of the Moon druids can certainly make use of this feat because most beasts have attacks that deal slashing damage.
  • Telekinetic: Druids don't normally get access to mage hand so this plus the WIS ASI is solid value. Druids don't have a particularly important use for their bonus action so this provides nice action economy and battlefield control.
  • Telepathic: Detect thoughts isn’t as good as either misty step from Fey Touched or invisibility from Shadow Touched.
  • War Caster: Druids won’t do very well with War Caster, as there is rarely a time where you won’t have a spellcasting focus handy. However, most druid subclasses will spend their time casting spells in the backlines, so their chance of getting hit and losing concentration is less likely. The exception would be Circle of the Moon druids, who like to cast concentration spells before they transform into their Wild Shape and enter the fray.

Best Spells for Druid

Does your druid need help preparing their spell list for wandering out into the wilderness? Check out our guide to druid spells!

Best Multiclass Options for Druids

Multiclassing is always an opportunity cost, you have to determine if taking a level of another class is worth what you will lose from the original class. Many factors come into this decision, with the main factor being how long your campaign will run and, ultimately, what level you will be playing until. With Druids and other full casters, you want to avoid taking more than 3 multiclass levels, or else you won’t be able to get access to 9th-level spells.

Another thing to take into consideration is the additional class’ primary ability scores. Druids are WIS-based casters and you want to be able to use their high WIS to synergize with the additional class.

With that said, Druids are an extremely versatile and well-rounded class. There are very few cases in which dipping into another class actually benefits Druids.

Barbarian: If you are going to be using your Wild Shape as primarily a utility feature this isn’t a great choice because you can’t cast spells while raging. If you are going into Circle of the Moon and want to improve the effectiveness of your Wild Shapes, a one-level dip into Barb gives you amazing survivability and a bonus to damage. Keep in mind that you can’t concentrate on spells when raging, so the common practice of casting a concentration buff then going into Wild Shape will be unavailable.

Monk: Monk is a decent one-level dip for builds looking to increase their AC with unarmored defense. Druid’s max AC with mundane armor is 19. The math is hide armor (12) + DEX (up to 5) + wooden shield (2). Seeing as Druids need WIS for spellcasting and already use DEX for AC, there isn’t an additional ability score requirement to maximize your build for unarmored defense and end up with an AC of 20 by the 3rd tier of play. While the extra +1 to AC late in the game may not seem like much, it can be effective if you’ll be carrying a staff instead of a shield or using Wild Shape in combat because the unarmored defense AC buff extends to animal forms.

Cleric: This is usually the class of choice when you want a caster with heavy armor, unfortunately, Druids can’t wear heavy armor. Really, the only choice out of the Cleric Domains that meshes with Druid builds is the Life Domain to improve the Druid’s healing capabilities. A three-level dip will net your Druid some great staple Cleric spells and improved healing capabilities.

Ranger: Rangers and Druids have a lot of synergies that can make for a flavorful combination, but not a very powerful one. With the addition of TCoE’s optional features, dip into Ranger is slightly more attractive than before. A one-level dip nets you Natural Explorer which can trivialize exploration in the wilderness, an expertise-lite for a proficient skill, and Favored Foe. Favored Foe isn’t even very useful because you won’t be improving your Ranger level so the damage won’t scale.

Sources Used in This Guide

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

8 thoughts on “Druid

  1. Hi Arcane Eye team! Thank you for these posts! I love the combination of information and humor. And when I first started playing D&D I used one of your guides to build my first character, Zuria Xiloscient, a wood elf ranger. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge! Best, Jacqueline

    1. Glad you liked our Druid guide! If you know anybody else looking for advice on the D&D build just send em our way 🙂

    1. These are typically the least important choices when building a character and often come down to preference and flavor. Pick whatever you think looks cool and works well with your backstory!

  2. Any reason this guide skipped circle of stars and circle of wildfire? It seems odd that circle of spores was included, but not these two, given that they’re all in Tasha’s….would be nice to hear your insights on these

    1. Hey Cory! We haven’t had the chance to update this article yet (Circle of Spores was first released in Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica). Rest assured, it’s on the to-do list! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Use the buttons below to fine tune the content you see in our guides.