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Pathfinder - Druid Domains Breakdown

Disclaimer

I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.

Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.

Domains

The Druid's Nature Bond ability allows the selection of either an animal companion or a domain. Because you don't get two domains like a Cleric, your choice of domain is very important. You still get bonus domain spells, but with only one domain you are stuck with whatever your domain provides at that level. Druids also don't get the option of Subdomains, which further limits your options.

Remember that domains which are good or bad for a Cleric may not be as good or bad for a Druid. Because their base spell lists are different, some domains provide Cleric spells to Druids, and others which provide lots of Druid spell to Clerics offer few new options to Druids.

Air Domain

The air domain isn't particolarly exciting. The powers are usefol, but not exciting. The spells are decent with a few good options, and a few really bad ones.

Lightning Arc (Sp): Generic ranged energy attack. Solid, reliable, and a great option at low levels when your combat options are limited.

Electricity Resistance (Ex): Permanent resistance to electricity, but it's not a lot of resistance.

  1. obscuring mist: Occasionally usefol as an escape mechanic. Already on the Druid spell list.
  2. wind wall: Essentially negates archers, and you get it a level earlier than other druids.
  3. gaseous form Occasionally usefol as an escape or infiltration mechanic, and it's not on the Druid spell list.
  4. air walk: The Druid's best flight spell, but you can already prepare this as a 4th level spell.
  5. control winds: Allows you to prevent enemies from flying, but it's already on the Durid spell list.
  6. chain lightning: Decent multi-target damage spell, and isn't on the Druid spell list.
  7. elemental body IV (air only): Awful spell.
  8. whirlwind: Great crowd-control effect, but it's not on the Druid spell list.
  9. elemental swarm (air spell only): Create a bunch of elemental servants. If you can spare the 10 minutes to cast this ahead of time, the elementals are big bags of hit points to defend you in combat. However, the biggest elemental you summon is CR 9, which won't be very scary at this level.
Cloud Subdomain

The cloud domain doesn't improve the spell Air domains spell list, but the Thundercloud power is fantastic.

Replaced Power(s): Electricity resistance.

Thundercloud (Su): This is a great area control power. Because it blocks line of sight, it interferes with spellcasting and ranged attacks, and you get guranteed damage. It's not as scary as your spells, but it's very usefol.

  1. solid fog: Occasionally usefol as an escape mechanic or area control effect. Already on the Druid spell list.
  2. storm of vengeance: This is a weird spell. It's hard to time, it's hard to use, and it's hard to not do just as much damage to your party. Already on the Druid spell list.
Wind Subdomain

The Wind domain trades some mediocre options for some equally mediocre options.

Replaced Power(s): Lightning arc

Wind Blast (Su): Cool, but situational.

  1. whispering wind: You get this a level before anyone else, but it's not very good.
  2. wind walk: This is better than air walk for long-distance travel, and has a fantastic duration, but it's not usefol in combat.
  3. winds of vengeance: A very flashy buff with a good fly speed, but it's already on the Druid spell list.

Animal Domain

The Animal domain grants a weakened version of the animal companion, but with the Boon Companion feat you are essentially getting a spell slot of every level for the price of a feat. Unfortunately, most of the spells are garbage or are already on the Druid spell list.

Speak with Animals (Sp): You get Speak With Animals as a spell, and you have Wild Empathy..

Animal Companion (Ex): Take Boon Companion. Also see my Practical Guide to Animal Companions.

  1. calm animals: Situational, affects a very small set of creatures which generally don't have the ability to rage.
  2. hold animal: Situational, affects a very small set of creatures.
  3. dominate animal: Situational, affects a very small set of creatures.
  4. summon nature's ally IV (animals only): You have Summon Monster, which is strictly better.
  5. beast shape III (animals only): You already get Wild Shape, which will be better and free.
  6. antilife shell: Excellent area control ability, but it's already on the Druid spell list at the same spell level.
  7. animal shapes: Polymorph your animal companion into a bigger version of itself. Hillarity ensues. Already on the Druid spell list.
  8. summon nature's ally VIII (animals only): You can cast Summon Nature's Ally spontaneously without the limitation.
  9. shapechange: Fantastic spell. Form of the Dragon can be a troly monstrous option for you if you built to take advantage of wild shape.

Aquatic Domain

Really only useful underwater, and even then not very good.

Sealord (Su): Heal sharks!

Seastrike (Su): This allows you to use bludgeoning and slashing weapons underwater, which is very usefol underwater.

  1. hydraulic push: Situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  2. slipstream: Interesting buff, but already on the Druid spell list.
  3. water breathing: Situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  4. freedom of movement: Good buff, but situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  5. black tentacles: One of the best area control spells in the game, and not on the Druid spell list, but you get it a level late.
  6. freezing sphere: Good AOE blast, and not on the Druid spell list.
  7. animal shapes (aquatic creatures only): The creature type limitation is very annoying, but you get it a level early.
  8. seamantle: Interesting buff, but already on the Druid spell list.
  9. tsunami: Cool damage/control spell, but already on the Druid spell list.

Arctic Domain

The arctic domain's abilities are garbage, but the spell list has some very good options at mid and high levels. The spells add some nice area control and blasting options from the Wizard spell list. However, the druid spells on the list are msotly poor.

Call Cold (Su): Heal ice elementals, white dragons, etc.

Banish Flame (Su): This should really be part of Coll Cold.

  1. frostbite: Subdual damage, and it's already on the Druid spell list.
  2. aspect of the bear: Decent buff, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  3. sleet storm: Good area control, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  4. wall of ice: Good area control, or you can trap enemies inside the hemisphere option. Not on the Druid spell list.
  5. aspect of the wolf: Not a great buff for Druids, and it's already on the Druid spell list. You can't combine this with wild shape, which is really the only time you would want to use this.
  6. freezing sphere: Good AOE blast, and not on the Druid spell list.
  7. wind walk: Great travel spell, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  8. polar ray: Excellent single-target damage, and some permanent Dexterity drain. Not on the Druid spell list.
  9. polar midnight: This spell is fantastic. Area control, damage which isn't reduced by a save (though not much), ability damage, and forced movement to avoid being encased in ice. Turning corpses to solid ice is hillarious, but not very important. Even though this is already on the Druid spell list, bringing this every day is not a problem.
Feather Subdomain

Give up a lousy ability, and some of the least interesting spells in the Animal Domain for considerably improved flight abilities and a bonus to Perception.

Granted Power: Add Fly to your list of class skills. In addition, whenever you cast a spell that grants you a fly speed, your maneuverability increases by one step (up to perfect).

Replaced Power(s): Speak with animals.

Eyes of the Hawk (Ex): Perception is the most rolled skill in the game, and initiative bonuses are fantastic.

  1. feather fall: You get this a level behind Wizards, but it's not normally on the Druid spell list, and it's good to have.
  2. fly: Flight is hugely important, and Fly isn't usually available to Druids.
  3. fly (mass): Fly for the whole party!
Fur Subdomain

The big draw here is the spells. The options your give up are pretty bad, but Magic Fang is great for your animal companion until at least level 8.

Replaced Power(s): Speak with animals.

Predator's Grace (Su): Very situational, but better than Speak with Animals.

  1. magic fang: Great for buffing your companion.
  2. beast shape I (animals only): You get Wild Shape for free.

Cave Domain

Despite the fantastic vision abilities granted by the Cave domain, the spells are very poor. Nearly every option is on the Druid spell list already, and the ones that aren't are generally poor.

Cavesight (Sp): Free Darkvision at level 1.

Tremorsense (Ex): Permanent Tremorsense! This is fantastic. Detect invisible/hiding enemies. 30 feet is pretty good, but scaling to 60 feet is absolutely amazing.

  1. detect aberration: Very situational.
  2. stone call: A little damage and some poor area control. Already on the Druid spell list.
  3. deeper darkness: Situational and hard to use, but not on the Druid spell list. Fortunately, your Tremorsense ability allows you to continue fighting within the area. Your allies may not be so lucky.
  4. echolocation: A way to see inside your deeper darkness effect. Already on the Druid spell list.
  5. wall of stone: Useful area control, but already on the Druid spell list.
  6. conjure black pudding: Black Puddings are very high CR compared to what you can usually get wiht summon spells, and it's not on the Druid spell list.
  7. statue (looking like a stalagmite or stalactite): Very situational, but not on the Druid spell list.
  8. earthquake: Situational, hard to use, and already on the Druid spell list.
  9. imprisonment: Excelent save or suck spell, and it's not on the Druid spell list. Use this for enemies that you don't want coming back to haunt you ever again.

Desert Domain

Very little here is worthwhile, even in a desert campaign.

Heat Shimmer (Su): Considering it takes a Standard Action to activate this ability, the duration is garbage. Blur is a great defensive effect, though Dazzled is pointless.

Servant of the Sands (Sp): Planar ally spells are great, but very costly. Reducing the cost by half makes them much more viable.

  1. cloak of shade: Magical sunscrean. Already on the Druid spell list.
  2. shifting sand: Interesting area control, and you get it a level early, but it's not clear if you need to be somewhere sandy to use it.
  3. cup of dust: Conceptually horrific, but not practical to use. Already on the Druid spell list.
  4. hallucinatory terrain: Situational, but not on the Druid spell list.
  5. transmute rock to mud (creates loose sand instead of mud): Really great utility spell, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  6. sirocco: Nice area control effect. A little bit of damage, knock things prone, and make them fatigued. Already on the Druid spell list.
  7. sunbeam: This spell is poorly written. How long does the blindness last? Does the blindness end when you run out of rays? Or does it continue until the rounds/level duration expires? It affects "fungi, mold, oozes, and slimes" as though they were undead, but of those four only Ooze is a defined creature type. The wording regarding undead also makes it unclear if they are blinded in addition to the extra damage. The Pathfinder Rules Questions forum has several threads about the spell, all expressing similar concerns. I would interpret the spell as follows: Normal creatures take listed damage (4d6) and are permanently blinded. Undead take the bigger damage instead of the regular damage, and are blinded as normal. Oozes, and plant creatures which could be defined as "fungi, mold, or slime" (such as shambling mounds or mushroom creatures) are affected like undead. Consult your GM to be sure. Already on the Druid spell list.
  8. sunburst: Though it suffers many of the roles interpetation issues of sunbeam, sunburst is slightly easier to interpret. Because the duration is instantaneous, the blindness effect is permanent. The damage dealt to undead is still unclear (do they take damage twice?), and the additional list of things affected like undead is still confusing. Already on the Druid spell list.
  9. horrid wilting: Decent single-target damage, but not very flashy.

Eagle Domain

If you plan to sway out of melee combat, this can be a very good domain. The Eagle domain grants excellent flight options, but not a lot of offensive options. Be prepared to depend on your other spells or a bow to support your allies in combat.

Familiar: While not a substitute for an Animal Companion, a familiar is a powerful tool. Combined with the Druid's respectable skill set, your Hawk can be a fantastic scout, infiltrator, and assistant.

Hawkeye (Su): Even with the limited uses, this should last your whole day if you save it for important rolls.

Aerial evasion (Ex): Evasion is great, and you should be flying as much as possible.

  1. aspect of the falcon: Excellent if you plan to use a bow, but already on the Druid spell list.
  2. eagle's splendor: Charisma is not a Druid stat.
  3. fly: Flight is key, especially at high levels.
  4. river of wind: Decent area control, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  5. overland flight: Slightly slower than Fly, but it lasts all day long.
  6. eagle aerie: Decent travel spell, but situational and already on the Druid spell list.
  7. animal shapes (birds only): Bird shapes are among the worst options for polymorphing.
  8. sunburst: Though it suffers many of the roles interpetation issues of sunbeam, sunburst is slightly easier to interpret. Because the duration is instantaneous, the blindness effect is permanent. The damage dealt to undead is still unclear (do they take damage twice?), and the additional list of things affected like undead is still confusing. Already on the Druid spell list.
  9. winds of vengeance: A very flashy buff with a good fly speed, but it's already on the Druid spell list.

Earth Domain

All of the spells on the Earth domain list are already Druid spells, and most of them are situational. Acid Dart is a nice early game damage option, but it's not nearly enough to carry the archetype.

Acid Dart (Sp): Generic ranged energy attack. Solid, reliable, and a great option at low levels when your spells are limited.

Acid Resistance (Ex): Permanent resistance to acid, but it's not a lot of resistance.

  1. magic stone: Very low damage spell, already on the Druid spell list.
  2. soften earth and stone: Excellent utility, but it's already on the Druid spell list and it's situational.
  3. stone shape: Excellent utility, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  4. spike stones: Fantastic area control, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  5. wall of stone: Excellent utility, and you get it a level before other Druids.
  6. stoneskin: Very expensive buff, and it's already on the Druid spell list..
  7. elemental body IV (earth only): Awful spell.
  8. earthquake Good, but already on the Druid spell list.
  9. elemental swarm (earth spell only): Cool spell, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
Caves Subdomain

The Caves subdomain helps you survive fighting underground. You get an easy way to get Darkvision for brief periods, and you get a selection of cool area control spells.

Replaced Power(s): Acid resistance

Tunnel Runner (Su): The duration is decent and the bonuses are pretty good. You will likely get Darkvision from the spell, but the bonuses to Stealth and Initiative are very good.

  1. create pit: Area control. Not on the Cleric spell list.
  2. spiked pit: Better area control. Not on the Cleric spell list.
  3. hungry pit: Even better area control. Not on the Cleric spell list.
Metal Subdomain

Metal Fist is bad, and the spell selections are bad. Iron Body is cool, but not enough to justify the rest of the subdomain.

Replaced Power(s): Acid dart

Metal Fist (Su): The damage is fine, but barely exceeds that of a spiked gauntlet, and if you have a scimitar it will be more effective.

  1. heat metal: Amusing, but bad.
  2. wall of iron: Situationally usefol.
  3. iron body: Cool buff, and not on the Druid spell list.

Fire Domain

Easily the best of the elemental domains, the Fire domain has effectively the same powers as the other elemental domains, but a considerably better spell list. You get several excellent area control and damage spells off the Wizard spell list, and several excellent spells which are already on the Druid spell list.

Fire Bolt (Sp): Generic ranged energy attack. Solid, reliable, and a great option at low levels when your spells are limited.

Fire Resistance (Ex): It's not a lot of resistance, but fire is the most common energy damage type.

  1. burning hands: Mediocre damage spell, but it's an AOE damage spell that Druids don't typically get.
  2. produce flame: Mediocre damage spell, and it's already on the Druid spell list..
  3. fireball: Good damage spell; one of the best AOE spells at early levels.
  4. wall of fire: Good area control, you get it a level ahead of other Druids.
  5. fire shield: Decent buff, but you get it a level behind wizards. If you're in melee, this can be an excellent defense.
  6. fire seeds: The holly berries option is insane. Charge eight berries, walk into melee. Next turn, drop them in the other guy's square, and step back out of the 5 foot blast radius. Trigger all 8 for for 8d8 plus 8 times your caster level. The acorn version is bad.
  7. elemental body IV (fire only): Awful spell.
  8. incendiary cloud: The damage isn't great, but this is till a great area control spell. Not on the Druid spell list.
  9. elemental swarm (fire spell only): Create a bunch of elemental servants. If you can spare the 10 minutes to cast this ahead of time, the elementals are big bags of hit points to defend you in combat. However, the biggest elemental you summon is CR 9, which won't be very scary at this level.
Ash Subdomain

The Ash subdomain replaces the rather boring Fire Resitance power for the super exciting Wall of Ashes. On top of a much better power, it replaces two of the worst spell options on the Fire domain spell list with two excellent spells from the Wizard spell list. This is a clear improvement on the Fire domain without altering the feel or strategy of the domain.

Replaced Power(s): Fire resistance

Wall of Ashes (Su): Ansolutely fantastic. Wall of Ashes combines a counter-invisibility mechanic with a great debuff and an area control effect. If you aren't using this regolarly, you are doing yourself a disservice.

  1. disintegrate: Excellent damage with no DR or resistance, and ranged, but fortitude saves are generally high. Not on the Druid spell list. You get it a level later than Wizards, which stinks, but it's still a good spell.
  2. fiery body: A fantastic buff, and not on the Cleric spell list.
Smoke Subdomain

You give up your offensive options for some area controll effects. Coloud of Smoke is weak, but Stinking Cloud is pretty fantastic. This isn't a real improvement on the Fire domain, but it provides some interesting new options.

Replaced Power(s): Fire bolt

Cloud of Smoke (Su): An interesting debuff, but it's not clear if it blocks like on sight, and Druids have plenty of area cotnrol spells.

  1. pyrotechnics: Interesting, but difficolt to use as it requires an existing fire. A torch might suffice, but check with your GM. The effects are decent, but you have other, better options at this level. Not on the Druid spell list.
  2. stinking cloud: Excellent area control.

Frog Domain

The Frog domain provides almost no interesting options, and the only spells added to the Druid spell list are Shout and Greater Shout, which are mediocre at best.

orange: While not a substitute for an Animal Companion, a familiar is a powerful tool. The Toad isn't a particolarly good or exciting familiar, but it is very good at stealth and it can swim.

Sticky Strike (Su): If you are close enough to your target to grab them, just walk over and grab them with your hands.

Webfoot (Ex): The amphibious subtype allows you to breath water, and the swim speed lets you get around. The Climb speed is weird.

  1. jump: Very situational. Already on the Druid spell list.
  2. delay poison: Very situational. Already on the Druid spell list.
  3. lily pad stride: Very situational. Already on the Druid spell list.
  4. shout: Not very good, but not on the Druid spell list.
  5. blessing of the salamander: Nice buff, but the duration is short, and it's already on the Druid spell list.
  6. confusion: Confusion is unreliable, and you get it two levels late.
  7. animal shapes (amphibians only): There are very few amphibious creatures available for wild shape, and they are generally bad.
  8. greater shout: Stunning creatures is fantastic, even if it is only for one round. Not on the Druid spell list.
  9. summon froghemoth: The Froghemoth is decently scary, but the spell is already on the Druid spell list.

Jungle Domain

Even in the jungle, the Jungle domain doesn't really add anything useful. The high level spells are good, but the spell list intorduces very few spells which aren't already on the Druid spell list.

Brachiation (Ex): Situational. The bonus to Acrobatics is nice for tumbling.

Trap Sense (Ex): Even on a Rogue this ability is situational and boring.

  1. glide: very situational, but you get it a level early.
  2. tar ball: Bad damage, a weak debuff, and it's already on the Druid spell list.
  3. venomous bolt: Not on the Druid spell list, but you may have better luck just casting Poison.
  4. arboreal hammer: Situational, hard to adjudicate, and already on the Druid spell list. Using this effectively requires the GM to know the rough size of every tree in the forest, which is ridiculous.
  5. blessing of the salamander: Nice buff, but the duration is short, and it's already on the Druid spell list.
  6. swarm skin: Very cool spell, but already on the Druid spell list.
  7. creeping doom: Decent combination of area control, consistent damage, and debuff. Already on the Druid spell list.
  8. wall of lava: Great area control, but alreayd on the Druid spell list.
  9. shambler: Very powerful, but it's already on the Cleric spell list.

Monkey Domain

The Monkey domain is fun, but not particularly powerful. The abilities give you some rogue-like options, and a Monkey is a good familiar, but the spell list is a mixed bag. Many of the options are bad and already on the Druid spell list, but several are good options from the Wizard spell list.

Familiar: A monkey familiar is basically a tiny person. They have opposable thumbs like a human, so they can do cool things like write and open doors. While it lacks the combat utility of an Animal Companion, the Monkey is an excellent familiar. Remember that Familiars share your skill bonuses, so if you invest in skills like Disable Device, your Monkey can fill in for a real Rogue.

Monkey Athletics (Su): These are interesting skills which can allow you to cover some things which a Rogue woold typically handle.

Ranged Legerdemain (Su): Typically reserved for Arcane Tricksters, this is a cool ability, but somewhat situational.

  1. beguiling gift: Very situational, but very good if you like to use poisons.
  2. spider climb: Situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  3. cacophonous call: Excellent save or suck effect, and not on the Druid spell list.
  4. freedom of movement: Good buff, but situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  5. summon nature's ally V (dire ape or girallon only): Druids can spontaneously cast this without the restriction.
  6. confusion: Confusion is unreliable, and you get it two levels late.
  7. animal shapes (dire ape or girallon creatures only): The creature type limitation is very annoying, but you get it a level early.
  8. clenched fist: Continually stunning a target is fantastic, and this isn't on the Druid spell list.
  9. foresight: Insight bonuses to AC and Reflex saves are very rare, but this spell is already on the Druid spell list.

Mountain Domain

The mountain domain has several awful options, but just as many excellent options to balance it out.

Foothold (Su): The climbing ability is very situaitonal, but creating difficolt terrain for an hour can be nice if you have time to set up an area for a fight.

Thin Air (Su): save or take 1 point of ability damage to every ability score. One point isn't too horrible, but it will add up very quickly in long fights, especially as the victims' constitution scores start dropping. Activating this as a free action is fantastic.

  1. fist of stone: Bad, and on the Druid spell list.
  2. stone call: A little damage and some poor area control. Already on the Druid spell list.
  3. cloak of winds: Cool buff, but already on the Druid spell list.
  4. stoneskin: Decent buff, though very expensive. You get it a level ahead of other Druids.
  5. geyser: You get this a level later than other Druids.
  6. suffocate: This spell isn't listed on the SRD, so I assume it should say "Suffocation". If that is the case, this an excellent, reliable save or die spell, though the timed mechanic may allow the target to continue acting for a rew turns until they fail their save. Not on the Druid spell list. You do get it a level late, but that doesn't make this any less spectacular.
  7. flesh to stone: Excellent save or suck spell, but you get it a level late. Not on the Druid spell list.
  8. reverse gravity: Situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  9. clashing rocks: Decent damage, but already on the Druid spell list.

Plains Domain

The plains domain has a few excellent options, and introduces many fantastic spells to the Druid spell list at low levels. The high level options don't add anything new to the Druid spell list, but contains several spells which are handy have on a daily basis.

Migrating Herd (Su): One of the biggest issues with summon spells is their notoriously short durations. Doubling the duration can effectively double the effectiveness of your summons.

Pounce (Ex): Many Wild Shape forms that need pounce will get it already, but there are some exceptions. You generally can't use this outside of Wild Shape unless you are a very strange Druid.

  1. mount: 4 hour duration right at first level. Not on the Druid spell list. This gives you a reliable horse all day, every day.
  2. chameleon stride: Good buff, right alongside Blur. Not on the Druid spell list.
  3. haste: One of the best buff spells in the game, and not on the Druid spell list.
  4. aspect of the stag: Very situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  5. control winds: Allows you to prevent enemies from flying, but it's already on the Durid spell list.
  6. find the path: One of the most powerful divinations, this is effective "Find the Plot". Already on the Druid spell list.
  7. whirlwind: Great crowd-control effect, but it's not on the Druid spell list.
  8. animal shapes: Useful, but already on the Druid spell list.
  9. world wave: Very situational, and already on the Druid spell list.

Plant Domain

While the domain abilities are uninteresting, the Plant Domain spell list includes several really fantastic options across most spell levels.

Wooden Fist (Su): Just get a scimitar.

Bramble Armor (Su): The damage is small, and it's hard to know when to best use these rounds.

  1. entangle: Excellent area control spell, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  2. barkskin: Excellent AC buff with a good duration, but it's already on the Cleric spell list. Handy to h
  3. plant growth: Situational.
  4. command plants: Very situational.
  5. wall of thorns: Excellent area control, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  6. repel wood: Situational.
  7. animate plants: Very powerful, but it's already on the Cleric spell list.
  8. control plants: Situational.
  9. shambler: Very powerful, but it's already on the Cleric spell list.
Decay Subdomain

Aura of Decay is cool, but hard to use. The spell list trades in a few spells, but the only non-druid spell that it introduces is Harm. The two other spells are improvements on the base Plant domain spell list, but not by much.

Replaced Power(s): Bramble armor.

Aura of Decay (Su): Because this aura affects allies, it's hard to determine when to use this. The cumolative strength penalty can be very debilitating, and doesn't require a save.

  1. contagion: Good, but already on the Druid spell list.
  2. poison: You already got this a spell level earlier.
  3. harm: Excellent damage spell, and it's not on the Druid spell list.
Growth Subdomain

The Growth subdomain is all about making yourself bigger and hitting stuff. If you're going to be on the front lines, this is an excellent subdomain.

Replaced Power(s): Wooden fist.

Enlarge (Su): Situationally usefol, though the duration is very short. Miles better than wooden fist.

  1. enlarge person: Fantastic, and not on the Druid spell list. While this isn't really helpfol for a Druid, it's great for your party members.
  2. righteous might: Not on the Druid spell list, but it's also not very helpfol for the Druid because you don't typically wade into combat with a weapon in hand. You may be able to stack some of the bonuses with Wild Shape, but the size adjustments to ability scores likely don't apply because Wild Shape also changes your size.

Serpent Domain

The Serpent domain provides only one good option, and a 9th-level spell is not enough to make a domain useful.

Familiar: Even compared to the viper Animal Companion, the viper Familiar is lackluster. It is usefol for little more than stealth.

Slither (Ex): Very situational.

Venom Immunity (Ex): This really isn't any better than normal Venom Immunity.

  1. charm animal: You have Wild Empathy.
  2. animal trance: You have Wild Empathy.
  3. poison: Powerful and very dangerous, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  4. strong jaw: Decent buff, but you don't have an Animal Companion to use it on, and it's already on the Druid spell list.
  5. snake staff: This is hard to use well unless you bring big piles of wooden debris with you wherever you go, and even then it's not that great. Already on the Druid spell list.
  6. charm monster: Situational. Not on the Druid spell list.
  7. animal shapes (reptiles and snakes creatures only): The creature type limitation is very annoying, but you get it a level early.
  8. scintillating pattern: Not very good, but not on the Druid spell list.
  9. crushing hand: Great for disabling single targets. Not on the Druid spell list.

Swamp Domain

The Swamp domain introduces no new spells, and the abilities are bad. There is nothing here that anyone needs for any purpose.

Natural Healing (Su): Nice for healing your Animal Companion, but really not good for anything else.

Reed Hunter (Ex): Good if you like to use Fog Cloud and similar spells, but otherwise very situational.

  1. hydraulic push: Situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  2. burst of nettles: Decent damage right when you get it, but it doesn't scale. Already on the Druid spell list.
  3. lily pad stride: Very situational. Already on the Druid spell list.
  4. cape of wasps: Very bad. Already on the Druid spell list.
  5. insect plague: Decent area control because the swarms can't move, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  6. mass fester: Very situational, but not on the Druid spell list.
  7. animate plants: Very powerful, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  8. blood mist: This spell is a great way to handle groups of enemies, but it's already on the Druid spell list.
  9. shambler: Very powerful, but it's already on the Druid spell list.

Water Domain

The Water domain starts flat, and never improves. It has the generic elemental domain abilities, which are nice to have, but nothing to celebrate. The spell list has a lot of very mediocre options, and the high level options are pretty bad.

Icicle (Sp): Generic ranged energy attack. Solid, reliable, and a great option at low levels when your spells are limited.

Cold Resistance (Ex): Permanent resistance to cold, but it's not a lot of resistance.

  1. obscuring mist: Occasionally usefol as an escape mechanic.
  2. fog cloud: A better, ranged version of Obscuring Mist. Not on the Cleric spell list.
  3. water breathing: Situational. Already on the Druid spell list.
  4. control water: Situational. Already on the Druid spell list.
  5. ice storm: This is a mediocre area control spell, and you get it a level late.
  6. cone of cold: Excellent AOE damage, but you get it a level late.
  7. elemental body IV (water only): Awful spell.
  8. horrid wilting: Decent single-target damage, but not very flashy.
  9. elemental swarm (water spell only): Create a bunch of elemental servants. If you can spare the 10 minutes to cast this ahead of time, the elementals are big bags of hit points to defend you in combat. However, the biggest elemental you summon is CR 9, which won't be very scary at this level.
Ice Subdomain

Ice replaces the very doll and easily replicated cold resistance ability, and replaces two of the worst spells on the Water spell list with two decent direct damage spells from the Wizard spell list. This is a clear improvement on the Water domain.

Replaced Power(s): cold resistance.

Body of Ice (Su): This is a really cool ability. Cold damage is fairly uncommon, which means you can turn this on to resist ice damage, and you won't miss the cold resistance when you're facing anything else. The DR is also fantastic, and exceeds the DR of Barbarians until very high level.

  1. freezing sphere: Basically fireball with a higher dice cap and cold damage. Freezes water. You get it a level late, but nearly anything is better than Elemental Body. Not on the Druid spell list.
  2. polar ray: A boat-load of single target cold damage, and it doesn't allow a save. Go point it at a red dragon. Not on the Druid spell list.
Oceans Subdomain

Oceans isn't as much of an improvement on the Water domain as Ice, but it provides some cool new utility and area control options, and replaces some of the less interesting Water spells with new spells from the Wizard list.

Replaced Power(s): icicle.

Surge (Su): You sacrifice the benefit of easy damage at low levels for an excellent tactical option. Even without focusing on Boll Rush or Drag, the utility of moving people around the battlefiend is undeniable. The wording doesn't mention the effects of feats, but your GM may allow you to apply feats like Greater Boll Rush to grant your allies attacks of opportunity. As always, check with your GM before making any character decisions. You can also use it on your allies to get them into position to foll attack, or to get them out of dangerous locations.

  1. slipstream: Interesting buff, but already on the Druid spell list.
  2. water walk: Situational, and it's already on the Druid spell list.
  3. tsunami: A bit of damage, and some excellent area control. Throw it at groups of enemies. Already on the Druid spell list.

Weather Domain

The Weather domain has a couple of interesting powers, though they don't do a lot of damage. The spell list has some great area control effects, but the damage spells are among the worst options available. Overall the domain tries to find a nice space between area control and damage output, and manages to fail at both.

Storm Burst (Sp): Similar to the generic energy bolt attacks, but Storm Burst deals nonlethal damage. Instead of real damage, the target takes a penalty to its attacks for round. Potentially usefol at low levels, despite the damage limitations.

Lightning Lord (Sp): Replicates the effect of a decent damage spell, but the ability to hit more than one target at a time makes this miles better than Call Lightning. However, the damage is fairly small, even at 8th level, and doesn't scale with level.

  1. obscuring mist: Occasionally usefol as an escape mechanic.
  2. fog cloud: A better, ranged version of Obscuring Mist. Not on the Cleric spell list.
  3. call lightning: Because the bolts are verticle, this will likely get used as a single-target damage spell. Instead of spending your standard action doing something helpfol, you can deal 3d6 damage. That's an average of 10.5. Even at level 5, that barely exceeds your weapon damage.
  4. sleet storm: Excellent area control, especially against clumsy foes. Already on the Druid spell list.
  5. ice storm: This is a mediocre area control spell, and you get it a level late.
  6. control winds: Allows you to prevent enemies from flying, but it's already on the Durid spell list.
  7. control weather: Situational, and already on the Druid spell list.
  8. whirlwind: Great crowd-control effect, but it's not on the Druid spell list.
  9. storm of vengeance: This is a weird spell. It's hard to time, it's hard to use, and it's hard to not do just as much damage to your party. It's also on the cleric spell list already at the same level.
Seasons Subdomain

The only clearly good option in Seasons is Goodberry. A first level spell hardly makes a domain. Seasons gives up the two best spells on the Weather spell list and replaces them with Blight, which is terrible, and Sunburst, which is hard enough to interpret that I woold probably never use it.

Replaced Power(s): storm burst.

Untouched by the Seasons (Su): Very situational, and only replaces the effect of a first level spell which is already on your spell list.

  1. goodberry: Often overlooked, Goodberry is an excellent healing option. Cast it repeatedly on off days, and the berries will remain potent when its time to adventure. Use them to heal those last few hit points without spending a prepared spell or potion. They also reduce the need to purchase food. However, it's already on the Druid spell list, and preparing it daily is a waste because you can only carry a set number of charged berries.
  2. blight: Very situational.
  3. sunburst: Though it suffers many of the roles interpetation issues of sunbeam, sunburst is slightly easier to interpret. Because the duration is instantaneous, the blindness effect is permanent. The damage dealt to undead is still unclear (do they take damage twice?), and the additional list of things affected like undead is still confusing. Already on the Druid spell list.
Storms Subdomain

Storms doesn't meaningfolly change the feel of the Weather domain. It is still a poor mix of damage and control spells, with too little damage and too little control to be of any real interest.

Replaced Power(s): lightning lord.

Gale Aura (Su): Decent area control effect. Helpfol for slowing highly movile enemies. Giving up lightning lord might seem disappointing, but lightning lord barely qualifies as green due to its pitifol damage.

  1. call lightning storm: The duration is nice, but at 9th level when you get this spell, Wizards can throw fireballs for twice as much damage. Already on the Druid spell list.
  2. sirocco: Nice area control effect. A little bit of damage, knock things prone, and make them fatigued. Already on the Druid spell list.

Wolf Domain

The Wolf domain has a few trip mechanics, a few decent spells, and then a bunch of other weird spells that don't really have anything to do with the domain. The domain as a whole isn't very good, partially because Druids aren't good at tripping, but mostly because the domain seems to lack any specific intended purpose.

Improved Trip: Tripping isn't really something that Druids do a lot, but it's nice to have, and it makes Wild Shape more fun as a Wolf.

Pack Tactics (Ex): Even with the limited uses per day, this bonus can be really fantastic if you have another ally in melee combat with you.

  1. hunter's howl: This isn't very good. The skill bonuses won't help in the rounds/level duration, and +2 to attack and damage is nice, but a saving throw to negate makes this unlikely to be effective. Not on the Druid spell list.
  2. bloodhound: Scent with an hours/level duration. This is a fantastic spell to have running every day, and it's not on the Druid spell list.
  3. aspect of the wolf: Combines well with the Improved Trip feat, and you get it two levels earlier than other Druids.
  4. strong jaw: Good buff for your Animal Companion, but you don't have one. Already on the Durid spell list.
  5. tireless pursuers: Hugely situational, but not on the Druid spell list.
  6. find the path: One of the most powerful divinations, this is effective "Find the Plot". Already on the Druid spell list.
  7. animal shapes (canine creatures only): The creature type limitation is very annoying, but you get it a level early.
  8. phantasmal revenge: Though not particularly useful in combat, this is still a fairly good spell.
  9. freedom: Situational, but not on the Druid spell list, and capable of undoing some nasty effects.