Published on November 4, 2022, Last modified on July 24th, 2023
When creating your druid character, it’s important to choose a race that will harmonize with your druid’s abilities. In this article, we explore options for the best druid races!
Chase Stone - Wizards of the Coast - Grovetender Druids
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What is this guide?
This guide is meant as a deep dive into the best races for the 5e druid. For the full overview of the druid class, check out our druid class guide.
To allow you to scan through the options quickly, we use the following color rating scheme:
Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
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
Best Races for Druids
Druids in 5e have various unique abilities that make choosing a synergistic race important. First of all, their Wild \Shape only retains benefits from your race if the new form is capable of doing so. This means that things like natural weapons will be lost, whereas the half-orc’s Relentless Endurance would still function.
Beside accounting for Wild Shape, the most essential feature to look for in a race are increases to Wisdom for spellcasting and Dexterity for AC, DEX saving throws, and Stealth. If you’re playing with the Customize Your Origin optional rule from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything you won’t have to worry much about your racial ASIs and you can focus solely on beneficial racial features.
DEX is good for initiative and light armor capabilities, and Perception pairs well with the Druid's presumably high WIS score. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to sleep keeps you healing and helping your party in dangerous situations. The Wood Elves' Small WIS bonus, increased walking speed, and Mask of the Wild. A good choice.
Mark of Shadow: The +2 DEX from the parent elf race is welcome, and the +1 CHA can help in social situations. The bonus to stealth, free mage hand and invisibility, and the solid spell list make this a great pickup for druids with stealth in mind.
Pallid: Great ASI array for druids and the free casting of invisibility is solid utility.
The CHA bonus is largely unproductive for Druids, but increasing two ability scores by 1 allows you to boost WIS and CON/STR/DEX to create a rather well-rounded character. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to being put to sleep keeps you healing and helping your party in dangerous situations. The +2 WIS bonus offered by the Mark of the Detection is very tempting for Druids as it is not offered by many other races. The spells and racial traits are an added bonus.
No WIS or DEX for druids. The only exception to this would be Circle of the Moon Druids who can use Relentless Endurance and Savage Critical in their Wild Shape.
+2 DEX and +1 WIS is a solid start for Druids.
Mark of Handling: Seems like an obvious fit, but there will be a lot of overlap between the spells and abilities druids have access to.
Mark of Sentinel: Since druids often have trouble with survivability, the Mark of Sentinel is a reasonable option to pump CON and get access to shield. Tanky Circle of the Moon druids will love the ability to swap places with weaker party members to absorb damage.
Standard: A middle of the road pick because they increase all their ability scores by 1.
Variant: Increased WIS and a feat at 1st level. Great for picking up the Shadow or Fey Touched feat or something like War Caster for a Circle of the Moon druid.
Only one subrace comes with a WIS bonus.
Bloodline of Fierna: Fierna tieflings do get some WIS, but won’t be nearly as strong as they could be by choosing another race.
Great racial bonuses and gets around the "no flying" caveat to wild shape.
Updated: 1st level, concentrationless flight, an extra spell, and a beneficial ASI array make this an extremely attractive option for druids.
Protector is the only subrace that would be worth it and the lack of DEX is tough.
Shocking grasp, feather fall, and levitate are all useful spells not normally found on the druid's spell list. The extra movement speed, Darkvision, and damage resistance are all additional benefits.
Sacred flame certainly helps with your lack of damage cantrip options and misty step is always useful.
A robotic druid is an interesting combination that I'm not sure works in-universe, but if your DM green flags it, is a solid combination. The AC boost from the auto gnome's natural armor is welcome, as are the extra d4s that should conceivably work while wild shaped. But, the question is, would you turn into a robotic animal when wild shaping? These are the questions I have...
Updated: The only realistic option here would be a druid focusing on Wild Shape, so the Circle of the Moon is your best bet. Several beasts offer multiattack, even as early as 2nd-level when you can turn into a brown bear, allowing you to take advantage of the Surprise Attack trait right from the start.
Druids can use the free ability score increase for WIS, though they would much rather see +2. CHA isn't usually a focus for druids as they have terrible AC, so they would be much better served with DEX or even CON. On top of this, druids can already turn into beasts if they want to hide their true form.
Updated: Free choice of ASIs doesn't really help the druid much here since they don't have anything to synergize with the changeling's traits.
Druids already have plenty of out-of-combat utility with wild shape. The deep gnome's offerings don't do much to improve or expand on their abilities so they're probably not worth it.
You get to grab invisibility, which you don't normally have access to. Unfortunately, you can't cast use your Duergar Magic spells while wild shaped.
You already know pass without trace and a bonus action blade ward isn't a huge deal for you.
Druids don't normally get access to misty step and it can be quite useful for zipping around the battlefield and bestowing healing, buffs, debuffs, or just generally getting out of danger. The bonus action may conflicts with other staples like heat metal or the Circle of the Moon druid's Combat Wild Shape, but those conflicts should be relatively rare. Also, unlike the DMG's eladrin variant, you can use Fey Step while wild shaped, which can be useful for druids that plan on using their wild shape to tank. Plus, you get a free proficiency in Perception, which goes great with your pumped WIS.
Small overlap with the druidcraft cantrip, but not having to wait until 8th level to be able to fly is always welcome.
Firbolgs are a great choice for a druid. Their Speech of Beast and Leaf, bonus to WIS, and extra spells are extremely synergistic.
Updated: The updated firbolg will likely still choose WIS, but the improvements to the racial traits makes it even better for a druid, giving you access to spells and effects clerics otherwise wouldn't have.
Unfortunately, a decent amount of overlap in the spell list for druids. That said, if you want to focus your prepared spells and spell slots on other spells while still having access to decent damage options, the fire genasi is an alright option.
Updated: A strong choice for any Circle of the Moon druid who will be able to take full advantage of Fury of the Small and Nimble Escape. Fury of the Small is less useful to the other subclasses if your druid isn't focused on dealing damage in battle, but Nimble Escape is perfect to get out of sticky situations as druids are quite squishy.
Updated: Druids are not known for their extensive bonus action usage, so Fey Gift can be used at any time you see fit. The problem here is that druids have a tough time stacking AC, and Fey Gift requires you to be close to your ally, making it tough to use safely in combat.
+2 WIS is perfect for a Druid. Most of the Kalashtar’s traits are passive, do not require verbal components, and are not spells, so they will work when in beast form.
Druids don't have a great use for their bonus action and naturally want to stack into WIS, so the kender's Taunt is quite effective. Unforutnately, Taunt can't be used while wildshaped, but Fearless can.
Druids want as much WIS as possible, but getting only a +1 bonus is serviceable. DEX is useful to increase survivability. Beyond that, there isn’t much excitement to be had for a kenku druid.
Hexblood: Using disguise self can help save a wild shape usage for combat, rather than infiltration. The real boon here is being able to cast hex, which will work wonderfully to cast before wild shaping into a bear and wreaking havoc on your enemies. The hexblood probably works best for Circle of the Moon druids for this reason alone.
Druids are notoriously squishy, typically struggling with a small hit point pool and dreadful AC. Lizardfolk offer druids a great way to get more AC, more hit points, and even some WIS for their spellcasting.
The druid is probably the only class that is perfect for a loxodon. Druids struggle with getting a respectable AC, but Natural Armor fixes this issue and allows druids to focus solely on their WIS.
Druids need a WIS bonus to be effective. The racial traits won’t work when in Wild Shape.
STR is terrible for druids as they can just Wild Shape into something strong if necessary. Without DEX for survivability or WIS for spellcasting, druids are a definite skip for orcs.
Plasmoids are a solid choice for druids. Their defensive bonuses can help your druid stay up healing your party and work in wildshape. Also, the pseudopod from Shape Self can help deliver touch healing spells at a distance.
No WIS for spellcasting but the CHA won't be wasted because of the face skills the race comes with. Magic resistance is always worth it, as it the extra movement.
Misty step is a useful spell for quick movement and strategic actions like healing, buffing, and debuffing in the battlefield. Although druids typically do not have access to it, it can still be a valuable addition to their skillset, despite potential conflicts with other spells like heat metal or the Circle of the Moon druid's Combat Wild Shape. However, these conflicts are not likely to occur frequently.
Wildhunt Shifter: Wildhunt is worth considering, both thematically and mechanically. The DEX and Shifting help with survivability. As far as the interaction between Wild Shape and Shifting, it is unclear whether they can be used together. Wild Shape does state that you retain benefits of your race if your new form is physically capable of doing so, so it is likely that you will need to Wild Shape before Shifting, and even then its up to your DM’s interpretation.
WIS is really the only choice for the flexible ability score and the CON won’t go to waste. Carapace is great as druids often have a tough time pumping up AC, but keep in mind that while in Wild Shape the Animal Enhancements won’t work. The 1st-level Animal Enhancements are solid ways to avoid having to burn a Wild Shape for something as simple as gliding, breathing underwater, or climbing.
While you may not be able to use Chameleon Carapace or Secondary Arms while wild shaped, your telepathy should still work which offers a unique ability to communicate while transformed. Beyond that, the armor upgrade is huge as druids don't get mage armor or medium armor and can usually devote a decent amount of resources towards DEX. The advantage on Stealth checks and Darkvision are also both welcomed bonuses to any druid's repertoire.
Interestingly, tortles aren’t a bad choice for druids. Yes, STR is a silly stat boost for druids, and yes, they would prefer +2 WIS, but Natural Armor is pretty huge for this squishy class. When not in a Wild Shape, druids have a really hard time boosting their AC.
The triton’s ASIs aren’t quite good enough for the druid. The definitely need a WIS bonus to be effective. Plus, the swim speed, water breathing, and spells that the triton receives are usually part of the druid’s repertoire either way. While it may seem like a flavorful pick, it’s not an especially strong one.
WIS helps with the druid's spellcasting, Vedalken Dispassion helps with avoiding nasty effects, and the rest of the racial features compliment any build nicely.
The druid is one of the weaker choices for a warforged character, especially if you plan to use Wild Shape regularly. WIS is the main stat druids care about, so use your free ASI choice there.
Most of the water genasi's unique abilities can be replicated by the druid's wild shape by 5th level, so this is a hard pass.