How To Play The Druid Class In Dungeons & Dragons 5E

If you are really in touch with nature and see yourself as an extension of nature itself, druid might be a good class for your character. Druids are capable of calling upon the four elements of nature and even transforming into animals in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Fifth Edition (5E).

This class values nature more than anything. They are always working to keep the balance between the four elements⏤air, earth, fire, and water⏤and between civilization and nature. They often protect sacred sites and hunt creatures they consider unnatural, such as zombies and vampires.

They are a versatile class since they have both healing and damage powers. It’s considered a hard call to play since it won’t have an all-powerful attack and they can’t use metal armor like other classes. But they can have a healer or a supporter role while still dealing a bit of damage, or even be sneaky by transforming into a rat.

Druids can be very useful to a party because of their ability to transform into animals, adding to their versatility. Need to cross a river? You can transform into a fish big enough to transport the party if you are leveled enough, for example.

We already explained how to create a character in detail in our step-by-step guide, so now we’ll focus on the class’s best build and special features.

A Druid’s Background

The objective of the background is to explain how your character got their skills and help you figure out what their ultimate goal in their journey is. In the druid’s case, it’s important to determine how or why your character is so involved with nature.

Maybe your character was raised by a druid after being abandoned in a forest or was simply born in a druid family. Perhaps they were born during a tremendous storm or a volcanic eruption, which was interpreted as a sign that becoming a druid was part of your character’s destiny.

Some druids idolize the forces of nature themselves, but most worship one of the many nature deities known in the Forgotten Realm. This worship is often considered a more ancient tradition than the faiths of clerics and urbanized peoples. The druidic faith is even called the Old Faith and is mostly sought by farmers, foresters, fishers, and others who live closely with nature.

They are often portrayed as loving and caring creatures, but they can be savage with animal-like behavior since they live isolated lives deep in the wild. They can care so much about nature that perhaps they abandoned their humanity and live to avenge their sacred land. It all depends on how you wish to play.

The Class Features

Druids are a spellcasting class, which means they are capable of using magic from the divine essence of nature. We already explained how the magic system works, but each class has its own spell list that you can check on the D&D Beyond website.

Since their main power is magical, their class feature focuses on spells. Their spellcasting ability relies on their Wisdom and they are also able to cast rituals and use a druidic focus. Druids consider some plants to be sacred and are good at making wooden weapons and shields, so they often use alder, ash, hazel, oak, or yew as their druidic focus.

Most of the features depend on what Druid Circle your character chooses at level two, but there are other class features that your character gets. You’ll notice that druids have much less general features when compared to other classes like rogues and bards.

The general features become available for the character to use at specific levels. Here is a quick summary of all the features a druid can have in D&D 5E:

  • Wild Shape: You can use your action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before. You can use this feature twice and your druid level determines the beasts you can transform into.
  • Wild Shape Improvement: You can use your action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before of challenge rating 1/2 or lower that doesn’t have a flying speed.
  • Ability Score Improvement: You can increase one ability score of your choice by two, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by one.
  • Timeless Body: The primal magic that you wield causes you to age more slowly. For every 10 years that pass, your body ages only one year.
  • Beast Spells: You can cast many of your druid spells in any shape you assume using Wild Shape. You can perform the somatic and verbal components of a druid spell while in a beast shape, but you aren’t able to provide material components.
  • Archdruid: You can use your Wild Shape an unlimited number of times and you can ignore the verbal and somatic components of your druid spells, as well as any material components that lack a cost and aren’t consumed by a spell as a beast or not.

Picking a Druid Circle

Druids live as a society outside of the typical political borders. Even though some druids live isolated lives, many members of this class participate in druid gatherings and recognize social rankings among themselves. At a local scale, druids are organized into circles that share certain perspectives on nature, balance, and the way they live life.

There are several Druid Circles your character can join such as the Circle of the Land, Circle of the Moon, Circle of the Stars, and the Circle of Wildfire. Here we will explain the Circle of the Land and Circle of the Moon since they are the most common ones.

Circle of the Land

The Circle of the Land gathers mystics and sages and its participants meet within sacred circles of trees or standing stones to whisper primal secrets in Druidic. Your character’s magic is influenced by the land where you were initiated into the circle’s mysterious rites.

  • Bonus Cantrip: You learn one additional druid cantrip of your choice.
  • Natural Recovery: During a short rest, you choose expended the number of spell slots to recover equal to half your druid level. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest. For example, when you are a 4th-level druid, you can recover up to two levels worth of spell slots. You can recover either a second-level slot or two first-level slots.
  • Circle Spells: You gain access to circle spells connected to the land where you became a druid. Choose that land⏤arctic, coast, desert, forest, grassland, mountain, swamp, or Underdark⏤and consult the associated list of spells. Once you gain access to a circle spell, you always have it prepared, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.
  • Land’s Stride: You can pass through nonmagical plants without being slowed by them and without taking damage from them if they have thorns, spines, or a similar hazard. In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against plants that are magically created or manipulated to impede movement.
  • Nature’s Ward: You can’t be charmed or frightened by elementals or fey, and you are immune to poison and disease.
  • Nature’s Sanctuary: When a beast or plant creature attacks you, that creature must make a Wisdom saving throw against your druid spell save DC. On a failed save, the creature must choose a different target or the attack automatically misses. On a successful save, the creature is immune to this effect for 24 hours.

Circle of the Moon

This Circle is more focused on the druid’s ability to shapeshift into an animal, functioning similarly to lycanthropy as the moon makes the Wild Shape ability more powerful. They prefer to live an isolated life as the animal forms they can change into instead of remaining their original race.

  • Combat Wild Shape: You gain the ability to use Wild Shape on your turn as a bonus action, rather than as an action. Additionally, while you are transformed by Wild Shape, you can use a bonus action to expend one spell slot to regain 1d8 hit points per level of the spell slot expended.
  • Circle Forms: You can use your Wild Shape to transform into a beast with a challenge rating as high as one. You ignore the Max. CR column of the Beast Shapes table, but must abide by the other limitations there.
  • Primal Strike: Your attacks in beast form count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.
  • Elemental Wild Shape: You can expend two uses of Wild Shape at the same time to transform into an air elemental, an earth elemental, a fire elemental, or a water elemental.
  • Thousand Forms: You have learned to use magic to alter your physical form in more subtle ways. You can cast the Alter Self spell at will.

Quick Build

The Essentials Kit Rulebook recommends that Wisdom should be your highest ability score followed by Constitution. Lastly, pick the hermit background, which will give your character the Discovery feature and proficiency in Medicine and Religion.