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DnD 5e - The Druid Handbook

Last Updated: March 17th, 2020

Disclaimer

This guide uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

Introduction

Druids are a very versatile class. Between their available archetypes, they're able to serve mixes roles as scouts, strikers, blaster, support casters, and controllers. Their spell list has a lot of unique options, and there is a strong emphasis on area control spells, and most of the Druid's best spells require Concentration. By spellcaster standards, this makes the Druid relatively simple to play because you so rarely need to track more than one ongoing spell effect, but it certainly doesn't make them less fun or less powerful.

After reading this handbook, I encourage you to read my Druid Subclasses Breakdown and my Druid Spells Breakdown.

Druid Class Features

Hit Points: d8 hit points is good for a full caster.

Saves: Two mental saves. Intelligence is a dump stat for Druids, so even with proficiency it won't be a great save.

Proficiencies: Medium armor and shields should give you a decent AC, but since you can't use metal armor the best you can use is Studded Leather and a shield for a total of 14+dex. Your weapon proficiencies really don't matter for most builds, and even in builds that rely on weapon you'll be using a club.

Druidic: This will probably never matter unless your DM specifically writes something into the campaign to use it.

Spellcasting: The Druid's spell list includes a lot of really fantastic options which are only available to the Druid (and a handful which are only available to Druids and Rangers). The Druid has many of the best area control effects, like Entangle and Spike Growth, and a lot of unique damage spells like Call Lightning. However, Druids don't have the healing options of the Cleric, and lack many utility options available to Clerics and Wizards.

For help selecting spells, see my Druid Spell List Breakdown.

Wild Shape: Unless you're a Circle of the Moon druid, Wild Shape is a utility option. Turn into a small animal to scout, but turning into an animal to go into melee is not likely to end well since your available forms are so weak. See my Practical Guide to Wild Shape for specifics on how to make the best use of Wild Shape.

Druid Circle: Druid subclasses are briefly summarized below. See my Druid Subclasses Breakdown for help selecting your subclass.

  • Circle of Dreams: A tricky mix of healing, support, and teleportation options.
  • Circle of Spores: A poison-themed master of fungi and mushrooms, you gain the ability to adopt a powerful symbiotic form and to deal huge amounts of poison damage.
  • Circle of the Land: Emphasize your connection to the natural world by adding extra spellcasting related to specific natural environment.
  • Circle of the Moon: Master Wild Shape, gaining access to more powerful wild shape forms suitable to combat.
  • Circle of the Shepherd: A powerful summoner with useful abilities to buff and support their allies.

Timeless Body: Almost certainly no effect on the game.

Beast Spells: Fly around as a bird and shoot spells at unsuspecting foes.

Archdruid: Like Wild Shape, this is much better for the Circle of the Moon Druids, who can switch back into an animal form at the beginning of every turn, thereby making themselves extremely difficult to damage. For other Druids, this just means extra utility.

Abilities

Wisdom is everything for the Druid. Moon Druids use their Wild Shape form's ability scores and hit points, so physical ability scores are essentially wasted on the Druid.

Str: If you're in melee, you should be an animal. And if you're an animal, you're not using your own Strength score. If you can't be an animal but you're still in melee, cast Shillelagh.

Dex: A bit for AC while you're not in Wild Shape is nice, but not super important.

Con: A bit for hit points is nice, but even the Moon Druid will spend most of their time burning through Wild Shape hit points, which don't rely on your Constitution at all.

Int: Only needed for Knowledge skills. Dump unless you want Knowledge skills.

Wis: The Druid's spells are powered by Wisdom.

Cha: Dump.

Point Buy Standard Array
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 15
  • Cha: 8
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 13
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 15
  • Cha: 8

Races

Wisdom bonuses are crucial, but since nothing grants a +2 bonus to Wisdom you will need to settle for +1. Moon Druids don't need Strength or Dexterity since theirs will be replaced by their Wild Shape forms, but Land Druids may want some Dexterity for AC.

AarakocraEEPC: A bit of Wisdom and flight are great.

AasimarVGTM: Nothing useful for the Druid. It's unclear which, if any, of the aasimar's racial traits work while wildshaped.

  • Fallen: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Protector: Wisdom bonus.
  • Scourge: Nothing useful for the Druid.

BugbearVGTM: Nothing useful for the Druid.

DragonbornPHB: Nothing useful for the Druid.

DwarfPHB: Dwarfs are very durable.

  • DuergarSCAG: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • HillPHB: Even more durability, and a Wisdom bonus.
  • MountainPHB: Strength is useless to Druids.

ElfPHB: Bonus Dexterity helps a bit with AC.

  • DrowPHB: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • EladrinMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • High ElfPHB: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Sea ElfMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Wisdom bonus, and Mask of the Wild works while in Wild Shape.

FirbolgVGTM: Wisdom and a bunch of nature-themed innate spellcasting.

GenasiEEPC: Bonus Constitution never hurts.

  • Air: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Earth: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Fire: Fire resistance applies during Wild Shape, and the bonus spells could be nice for a Land Druid.
  • Water: Bonus Wisdom is nice, but Acid Resistance likely doesn't apply during Wild Shape so the Water Genasi may be a poor choice for Circle of the Moon.

Gith: Githzerai is a decent option, but the Intelligence option is wasted.

  • GithyankiMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • GithzeraiMToF: Wisdom, some spells which aren't on the Druid spell list, and Mental Discipline likely works while in Wild Shape.

GnomePHB: Nothing useful for the Druid.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • ForestPHB: Nothing useful for the Druid except Speak With Small Beasts, but you can cast Speak with Animals instead.
  • RockPHB: Nothing useful for the Druid.

GoblinVGTM: Nimble Escape is tempting, but bnot enough to make the race viable.

GoliathVGTM/EEPC: Nothing useful for the Druid.

Half-Elf: The abilities work great, and bonus skills are always nice, but Variant Human is strictly better.

  • AquaticSCAG: Only if you're in an aquatic campaign.
  • DrowSCAG: Faerie Fire is great for handling invisible creatures, but druids have enough area control options that Darkness isn't a huge draw and the fact that Faerie Fire's save DC is Charisma-based makes it a difficult option for the Druid.
  • High/Moon/SunSCAG: Druids have plenty of great cantrip options, so a single wizard cantrip won't do much for you. Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade are tempting for Circle of Spores druids, but at that point a Variant Human with Magic Initiate will be more effective.
  • Keen SensesSCAG: The sidebar describing half-elf variants specifices that you can take Keen Senses in place of Skill Versatility, or a trait based on your elf parentage. Keen Senses give you a single fixed skill, and you're giving up proficiency in any two skills. It should be immediately apparent that this is a terrible trade.
  • WoodSCAG: Mask of the Wild works very well for a Druid, especially if you have Stealth proficiency.
  • VanillaPHB: Druids don't do a lot with skills.

Half-OrcPHB: Savage Attacks and Relentless Endurance both work in wild shape, which makes you slightly more lethal and more durable. The Orcish Fury racial feat is tempting because Relentless Endurance will trigger reliably while you're in Wild Shape, but remember that natural weapons used by animals are neither Simple nor Martial weapons, so the feat's second bullet doesn't apply while your using Wild Shape. Unfortunately, those are the only useful things that the Half-Orc brings to the Druid, so they only work for Circle of the Moon, and you'll always lag behind on spellcasting.

HalflingPHB: The Dexterity increase provides a helpful AC boost, and Ghostwise is a fantastic option for druids.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: A small wisdom bump is great on any druid, but Silent Speech is especially interesting. It doesn't rely on your physical shape, and wild shape doesn't change the languages you know, so you can still use Silent Speech to communicate with your allies while in wild shape, though it appears to be one-way since the ability specifically says "speak telepathically to" rather than "with".
  • LightfootPHB Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • StoutPHB Nothing useful for the Druid.

HobgoblinVGTM: Nothing useful for the Druid.

HumanPHB: Versatile and fantastic at everything.

  • Vanilla: Many of the ability bonuses are completely wasted on the Druid.
  • Variant: Put the bonuses into Constitution and Wisdom. Feats aren't particularly important for most Druids, but Land Druids might like Elemental Adept, Moon Druids can make good use of Mobility in some forms, and Spors Druids can get a lot out of feats. Use the bonus skill to pick up a knowledge skill.

KenkuVGTM: You get the critical Wisdom increase, and a Dexterity increase helps with the Druid's notoriously terrible AC. The extra skill proficiencies don't play especially well to the Druid's skillset, but like the Cleric you can easily fill in for a rogue with the right skills and background.

KoboldVGTM: Nothing useful for the Druid except Pack Tactics, which may be enough to make the kobold an interesting moon druid.

LizardfolkVGTM: Durable and wise. The lizardfolk's traits make it durable enough to survive falling out of wildshape a few times as a moon druid.

LocathahLR: The only useful parts are the Dexterity increase and the free skills. There are a few things that look interesting for a Circle of Spores Druid, but you can get those things from other, better-suited races.

OrcVGTM: Aggressive works in wild shape, but that's not enough.

TabaxiVGTM: Feline Agility works in wild shape, but that's not enough.

Tiefling: Nothing helpful for Druids.

  • AsmodeusPHB / MToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • BaalzebulMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • DispaterMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • FiernaMToF: A bit of Wisdom, but the spells are better-suited to a Face, and druids don't make great faces.
  • GlasyaMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • LevistusMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • MammonMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • ZarielMToF: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Variant: Devil's TongueSCAG: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Nothing useful for the Druid.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Nothing useful for the Druid.

TortleTP: Wisdom is already great, but the Tortle's Strength is largely wasted. Natural armor is great, too, but it may be unnecessary for caster druids, and Moon druids spend most of their time wild shaped and can't benefit from it.

TritonVGTM: Nothing useful for the Druid.

VerdanAcInc: Bad ability spread.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGTM: Bad ability spread, but thematically a snake druid would be really interesting. I just wish that the stats lined up better. It's likely that Magic Resistance and Poison Immunity wouldn't apply during Wild Shape.

Setting-specific races are address below. Not every setting allows every race, and while most races presented in the core rules and in content for the Forgotten Realms can be used in other settings, races specific to settings like Ravnica aren't typically allowed in other settings. Talk to your DM about what races are allowed in your game.

Races of Eberron

BugbearERLW: See above under the general Races section.

ChangelingERLW: Bad ability spread, and druids can already turn into stuff.

GoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

HobgoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcERLW: Bad ability spread.

KalashtarERLW: A good Wisdom increase, and you may be able to speak telepathically while you use Wild Shape.

ShifterERLW: It's unclear if you can use Shifting while using Wild Shape, which negates most of the reason why you would want to play a shifter. If you're not going to use Wild Shape, you're probably fine. If you're considering Circle of the Moon, talk to your DM first.

  • Beasthide: Bad ability spread.
  • Longtooth: Bad ability spread.
  • Swiftstride: Bad ability spread.
  • Wildhunt: The ability scores line up well, and the Wildhunt Shifting Feature gives you Advantage on ability checks which include the ability check made with Dispel Magic.

WarforgedERLW: The flexible ability increase goes into Wisdom, and with a pile of resistances and immunities and a bonus to AC, you may have a solution to the Druid's notoriously poor AC.

Dragonmarks

While the design intent for Dragonmarks was that they would offer some innate spellcasting for everyone, every dragonmark includes an expanded spell list which is arguably a more significant benefit than most of the provided racial traits. Because the expanded spell options are such an important part of the dragonmarks, if you're not playing a spellcaster you're giving up a huge part of your racial traits, which makes it exceptionally difficult to justify playing a dragonmark character who can't cast spells.

Dragonmarked DwarfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Warding: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked ElfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Shadow: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked GnomeERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Scribing: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked Half-ElfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.

  • Mark of Detection: The ability increases are fantastic, and nearly every one of the dragonmark spells is a new addition to the Druid's spell list.
  • Mark of Storm: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked Half-OrcERLW: Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

  • Mark of Finding: The ability scores are great, but most of the spells are already on the Druid's spell list.

Dragonmarked HalflingERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Healing: While the ability score increases are good, the spellcasting does very little to help you. The Druid can already cast nearly every interesting spell on the dragonmark spell list.
  • Mark of Hospitality: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked HumanERLW: Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: The ability scores are great, but most of the spells are already on the Druid's spell list.
  • Mark of Making: The Intelligence increase is largely wasted, but the flexible increase can go into Wisdom, and the dragonmarks spellcasting adds a lot of new options. Only one of the dragonmark spells is already on the Druid's spell list.
  • Mark of Passage: Good ability score increases, and all but two of the dragonmarks spells are new to the Druid's spell list. Druids lack options to teleport any distance, and while that capability can often be replaced by Wild Shape, turning into an owl won't always get you of a bad situation.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Good ability score increases, and access to both shield and Shield of Faith provide ways to address the Druid's notoriously poor AC. A circle of spores druid could do very well with Mark of Sentinel's additional defensive options.

Races of Ravnica

CentaurGGTR: Centaurs are built really well for melee combat, but most of those traits go away with Wild Shape. Even if you avoid Wild Shape, using Shillelagh to enhance your melee weapon is usually a better option for druids than relying on Strength.

GoblinGGTR: See above under the general Races section.

LoxodonGGTR: Excellent ability cores for the Druid, and a handful of useful passive benefits. The Loxodon's Natural Armor is Constitution-based, so you can safely dump Dexterity and be incredibly durable.

MinotaurGGTR: Nothing useful for the Druid.

Simic HybridGGTR: Fantastic and versatile, but probably not a great choice for a Moon Druid because Animal Enhancement goes away in Wild Shape.

VedalkenGGTR: A Wisdom increase and Tireless Dispassion are the only interesting parts of the Vedalken.

Races of Theros

CentaurMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

HumanMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

LeoninMOoT: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

SatyrMOoT: Bad ability spread.

TritonMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

Races of Wildemount

AarakocraEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

AasimarEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

BugbearEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

Dragonborn: Wildemount presents two new Dragonborn variants, each replacing the standard Dragonborn's ability score increases and damage resistance.

  • DraconbloodEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • StandardPHB: See above.

ElfEGtW: Wildemount elves share the core traits of core elves, but Wildemount adds two new elf subraces. See above for information on core elf traits.

  • Pallid Elf: Similar to the Wood Elf. A Wisdom bonus, some bonuses with skills, and some spellcasting not normally available to the Druid.
  • Sea Elf: See above.

FirbolgsEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GenasiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

HalflingEGtW: Wildemount halflings share the core traits of core halflings, but Wildemount adds a new halflings subrace. See above for information on core halflings traits.

  • Lotusden: A Wisdom increase and some extra spells to help get you through low levels. Remember that Timberwalk only works on nonmagical plants, so don't try to walk through Entangle until you get

HobgoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoliathEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

KenkuEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcEGtW: See above, under "Races of Eberron". Wildemount uses the updated Orc racial traits rather than the original traits published in Volo's Guide to Monsters.

TabaxiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

TortleEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

Skills

  • Animal Handling (wis): Basically useless.
  • Arcana (Int): One of the most important knowledge skills.
  • Insight (Wis): Great for a Face, but many Faces don't have good enough Wisdom to back this up.
  • Medicine (Wis): Use magic.
  • Nature (Int): Good knowledge skill, but not as crucial as Arcana or Religion.
  • Perception (Wis): The most rolled skill in the game, and you have the Wisdom to back it up.
  • Religion (Int): One of the most important knowledge skills.
  • Survival (Wis): Situational.

Background

This section does not address every published background, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don't cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover the options which I think work especially well for the class, or which might be tempting but poor choices. Racial feats are discussed in the Races section, above.

Druids don't get a lot of great options with skills, but since they need so few ability scores they can afford a bit of Intelligence to back up Knowledge skills, and they have the Wisdom to back up important skills like Insight and Perception. Unfortunately, Druids dodn't get any Face skills so even if you put some resources into Charisma the Druid will never be an effective Face.

If you're having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

  • AcolytePHB: Insight, a Knowledge skill and two languages, but with no conversation skills the languages don't help the Druid much.
  • Clan CrafterSCAG: History and Insight are both fine skills for the Druid, but the other benefits don't do much for you.
  • Cloistered ScholarSCAG: Two Knowledge skills and two languages, but with no conversation skills the languages don't help the Druid much.
  • Faction AgentSCAG: Insight and your choice of a wide range of helpful skills, plus two languages.
  • Far TravelerSCAG: Two skills from the Druid skill list, one language, and a useless game set or instrument.
  • Folk HeroPHB: Animal Handling and Survival make sense for a Druid, but they're not very good and the other proficiencies are even worse.
  • Guild ArtisanPHB: Insight is the only useful bit.
  • HermitPHB: Medicine isn't a terribly useful skill, but Medicine and Insight both capitalize on your Wisdom and the Herablism Kit allows you to make healing potions.
  • InheritorSCAG: This would be fine if Survival weren't such a situational skill.
  • Knight of the OrderSCAG: A Face skill and a worthless game set or instrument proficiency.
  • NoblePHB: History is the only useful bit.
  • OutlanderPHB: Survival is the only useful bit, and it's not very good.
  • SagePHB: Two knowledge skills, but the languages aren't helpful.
  • SailorPHB: Perception is the only useful bit.
  • Urban Bounty HunterSCAG: Very customizable, and includes several options which you can make work for the Druid.
  • Uthgardt Tribe MemberSCAG: The flavor makes sense for a Druid, but the proficiencies are mechanically useless.

Feats

This section does not address every published feat, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don't cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover feats which I think work especially well for the class or which might be tempting but poor choices.

  • AlertPHB: Going first isn't terribly important for anyone but Rogues.
  • AthletePHB: Awful.
  • ChargerPHB: If you want to charge, Wild Shape into a goat.
  • Crossbow ExpertPHB: You'll do more damage with spells.
  • Defensive DuelistPHB: Druids don't typically use weapons, and their only Finesse weapon is the dagger. Elf druids might get proficiency in rapiers, but that's not much better and if you're brave enough to go into melee you're probably using Shillelagh.
  • Dual WielderPHB: If you want an extra attack as a bonus action, Polearm Master is a better fit for the druid.
  • Dungeon DelverPHB: Druids aren't well-equipped to handle traps.
  • DurablePHB: You can heal magically.
  • Elemental AdeptPHB: Druids get a lot of spells which deal elemental damage (especially fire), so Land Druids might get a lot of mileage out of this.
  • GrapplerPHB: Helpful if you really like the constrictor snake and octopus forms, but Wild Shape forms become obsolete after a few levels, and there currently aren't enough forms which grapple to justify this.
  • Great Weapon MasterPHB: The best two-handed weapon druids get is a greatclub.
  • HealerPHB: Use magic. Healing Spirit is the best source of hit point restoration in the game, and it's a 2nd-level spell.
  • Heavily ArmoredPHB: All heavy armor is metal, which means that you can't use it.
  • Inspiring LeaderPHB: You don't have the Charisma to back this up.
  • Keen MindPHB: Awful.
  • LinguistPHB: Use magic.
  • LuckyPHB: Good on anyone.
  • Mage SlayerPHB: Too situational.
  • Magic InitiatePHB: Druids know their entire spell list, and you get plenty of prepared spells. You might want some spells from other classes, but there's nothing that the Druid absolutely needs. Circle of Spores Druids are the best candidate for Magic Initiate: Adding Booming Blade (or Green-Flame Blade), Swordbust, and Mage Armor or Shield from either the Warlock or the Wizard spell lists will provide a significant boost to your capabilities in melee combat.
  • Martial AdeptPHB: Not useful enough with only one superiority die.
  • Medium Armor MasterPHB: Studded Leather is the best armor available to Druids, and it's light. The additional point of Dexterity to your AC only matters if you can wear half-plate, and you can't because half-plate is metal.
  • MobilePHB: All of the effects apply while you're in Wild Shape. Forms like Goat and Elephant which have a useful Charge or Pounce effect become immensely more useful when you can safely move away and set up for another round of charging. If you just need an escape mechanism, look for Wild Shape forms with Flyby like the Owl and you won't need to bother with Mobile.
  • Mounted CombatPHB: It's hard to play a mounted character without a special mount ability of some kind.
  • ObservantPHB: Perception is a great skill for Druids, and the +1 Wisdom is nice if you have an odd Wisdom score.
  • Polearm MasterPHB: Druids generally don't use weapons, but polearm master works with quarterstaffs, and you can use Shillelagh with a quarterstaff, so Polearm Master isn't a totally terrible idea for a Circle of Spores druid. However, since Shillelagh also consumes your Bonus Action you'll want to cast it ahead of time to make sure that your Bonus Action is available to hit things.
  • ResilientPHB: Proficiency in Constitution saves is really helpful for a class with a lot of really great spells which require Concentration and notoriously terrible AC. If you care primarily about Concentration it's easy to compare this to War Caster. Advantage works out to a little more than +3, so once your Proficiency Bonus hits +4 Resilient becomes the more effective option of the 2.
  • Savage AttackerPHB: This is a bad feat. The largest damage die (d12), yields an average of 2 extra damage per turn.
  • SentinelPHB: Great if you want to be a Defender, but many Wild Shape forms offer the ability to trip foes or grapple them on a hit, which greatly reduces the utility of this feat for Circle of the Moon. Circle of Spores could absolutely benefit, but I think there are other feats which are more beneficial, and you need too many Ability Score Increases to have room for a lot of feats.
  • SharpshooterPHB: Druids don't typically use weapons, and don't have enough spells which use attack rolls to justify this.
  • Shield MasterPHB: Druids don't have enough Strength to make the Shove option useful.
  • SkilledPHB: More skills never hurt, but Druids don't really need them.
  • SkulkerPHB: Sniping is for Rogues.
  • Spell SniperPHB: Druids generally don't use weapons, and they don't have enough spells which use attack rolls to justify this.
  • Tavern BrawlerPHB: Druids don't fight using Unarmed Strikes.
  • ToughPHB: Unfortunately this doesn't apply to Wild Shape forms, so you won't really see any meaningful benefit.
  • War CasterPHB: Advantage on saves to maintain Concentration is really useful, especially since the Druid is heavily dependent on Concentration spells. Unfortunately, the ability to use cantrips in place of Opportunity Attacks is hard to use for most druids. Moon druids are typically using Wild Shape during combat, so until you get Beast Spells at 18th level you can't cast spells while using Wild Shape. Circle of Spores is the best use case since spores druids are typically a front-line melee build. Other druid options are typically back-line casters, and making opportunity attacks should be rare. Unless you plan to be in melee to capitalize on the Reaction mechanic, I recommend Resilient instead.
  • Weapon MasterPHB: You get all of the weapon proficiencies that you need to function. If you really want to use a weapon, cast Shillelagh.

Weapons

Druids really don't need weapons. Instead, turn into something with claws. If you do need a real weapon, carry a club or a quarterstaff and cast Shilleagh. The damage will meet or beat anything else you're proficient with, and it makes your attacks use your Wisdom instead of your Strength or Dexterity.

Armor

Armor is a difficult prospect for the druid. Despite proficiency in medium armor, the best armor you can actually wear is Studded Leather, at 12+Dex. With a shield and high Dexterity that may be enough, but Druids benefit very little from Dexterity so it may be hard to justify investing your Ability Score Increases. Most druids can realistically expect to have an AC of at most 16 with 14 Dex, Studded Leather Armor, and a shield.

  • Leather Armor: Free starting gear.
  • Hide: As much AC as studded leather, and it costs much less. You may want to upgrade to Studded Leather if your Dexterity exceeds a +2 bonus, but otherwise Hide is perfectly fine.
  • Shield: You need one hand for a spell focus, but since you probably don't need weapons there's no reason to not carry a shield.
  • Studded Leather Armor: The best armor you can get, but only an improvement over Hide if you have at least 16 Dexterity.

Multiclassing

Keep in mind that Druids are prohibited form wearing metal armor. Before multiclassing, consider how that might affect your armor options.

  • Barbarian: Barbarian is a common choice for Moon Druids due to Unarmored Defense and Rage. However, for a single-level class dip, you only get two rages per day and +2 damage, which isn't a ton. Two levels won't get you much because many Wild Shape forms have access to abilities which grant you Advantage. Three levels is tempting for Primal Path and a third Rage per day, but you're giving up an entire CR step, which will provide considerably more damage than Rage. Primal Path offers some good options in Berserker's Frenzy and Totem's Totem Spirit: Bear. Frenzy allows you an extra attack as a Bonus Action, dramatically improving your damage output, while Totem Spirit: Bear grants you resistance to common weapon damage types.
  • Cleric: Clerics are also Wisdom-based, and many of the Cleric domains offer some fantastic abilities at level 1, including some helpful spells.
  • Monk: The better option for Unarmored Defense if you're only going for a single level. However, Barkskin will exceed the AC of almost every Wild Shape form, even with 20 Wisdom. The Monk is an unusually good option for Circle of Spores: unarmored defense will exceed the maximum AC you could expect otherwise, and Martial Arts adds an extra attack to apply the poison damage from Symbiotic Entity.
  • Paladin: Two levels for Divine Smite and Fighting Style (Defensive) can be a good option for moon druids. Many of the Paladins abilities (including Aura of Protection at 6th level) work while wild shaped, but spending that many levels outside of your class likely won't pay off since you're giving up so much offensive potential by increasing your wild shape options.
  • Warlock: A single level and the Great Old One patron grants telepathy, which is useful for druids who spend a lot of time in wild shape. However, high-level parties which include a wizard may prefer Telepathic Bond.

Example Build - Hill Dwarf Druid (Circle of the Land)

I don't trust trees. They've always seemed shady.

This is a "Staple Build". This build is simple, and relies on options from the SRD and the Basic Rules wherever possible. If you need a functional build with nothing fancy or complicated, this is a great place to start.

Circle of the Land is often decried as boring because it adds more spellcasting, but no new features. Hill Dwarf is often overlooked because it's a fantastic option for clerics and little else. Combining the two gives us a mechanically robust (if somewhat dull) druid.

Abilities

We will assume the point buy abilities suggested above.

Base Increased
Str 8 8
Dex 14 14
Con 14 16
Int 12 12
Wis 15 16
Cha 8 8

Race

Hill Dwarf. A bit of Wisdom and a whole pile of durability are a great combo. Wood Elf is a great candidate, too.

Skills and Tools

Nature is among the most iconic of druid skills, and in many campaigns it will be very useful. Animal Handling also fits thematically, but you can go an entire campaign without needing it even as a Druid, so take Perception instead.

Background

Feats

Druids really only need high Wisdom. Other ability scores are helpful defensively, but even then you can often get more out of a feat. If you're feeling brace enough to explore beyond the SRD, consider exploring feats once you hit 20 Wisdom.

Levels

Level Feat(s) and Features Notes and Tactics
1
  • Druidic
  • Spellcasting
  • Cantrips Known:
    • Guidance
    • Produce Flame

For your starting equipment, take a wooden shield, a quarterstaff, leather armor, an explorer's pack, and a druidic focus.

In leather armor with a shield, your AC is 15, which is respectable but no invulnerable. Upgrade to Hide as soon as possible for the extra AC, but even then your AC is only 16 so you need to be cautious.

In combat, your go-to option is Produce Flame. Keep your shield in hand for the AC, but otherwise hang back and throw fire. Out of combat, cast Guidance at every possible opportunity.

2
  • Wild Shape (CR 1/4)
  • Circle of the Land
  • Bonus Cantrip
  • Druidcraft

Wild Shape gives you some melee options. If you need to jump into melee, a CR 1/4 creature is still a threat at this level if enemies aren't focusing their attention solely on you. Turn into a wolf and bite some people.

Druidcraft gives you some general magic utility options that are a bit less numerical than Guidance.

3
  • Circle Spells

Nothing happens at this level except 2nd-level spells.

4
  • Wild Shape Improvement (CR 1/2)
  • Ability Score Improvement (Wisdom 16 -> 18)
  • New Cantrips Known:
    • Any

4th level boosts a bunch of your existing capabilities. Wild Shape improves, making Ape our new go-to combat option. More Wisdom improves our spellcasting, and we get another cantrip.

5
  • Circle Spells

5th level is normally a lot of fun, but all that the Drud gets is 3rd-level spells. Druids don't get fireball, but you do get Call Lightning. Call Lightning is your go-to combat option whenever you're somewhere that you can cast it (outside, usually).

6
  • Land's Stride

Occasionally useful, especially if you like to drop Entangle on yourself.

7
  • Circle Spells

Nothing at this level except 4th-level spells.

8
  • Wild Shape (CR 1)
  • Ability Score Improvement (Wisdom 18 -> 20)

Wild Shape maxes out at this level, but your spellcasting is still your go-to option in combat. Once in a while you might need to turn into a beast so that you can wade into melee, but most of the time you should rely on spellcasting.

9
  • Circle Spells

Nothing at this level except 5th-level spells.

10
  • Nature's Ward
  • New Cantrips Known:
    • Any

Some nice passive defenses and another cantrip. By this level you probably have all the cantrips you care about, bur more cantrips is always nice.

11

Nothing at this level except 6th-level spells, and cantrips get a damage increase.

12
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 16 -> 18)

We already have maximum Wisdom, so it's time to consider other ability scores. Constitution is a great candidate for the bonus hit points, but if you're willing to use feats you might consider Tough instead.

13

Nothing at this level except 7th-level spells.

14
  • Nature's Sanctuary

At this level you've largely left beasts behind, but there are a handful of high-CR beasts and plants which may pop up occasionally.

15

Nothing at this level except 8th-level spells.

16
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 18 -> 20)

With 20 Constitution and the Hill Dwarf's bonus hit points, you have as many hit points as a fighter.

17

Nothing at this level except 9th-level spells, and cantrips get their last damage increase.

18
  • Timeless Body
  • Beast Spells

Beast Spells gives you a taste of Archdruid. You can now turn into something like a bat or a small bird and fly around in combat with dramatically improved mobility while still casting most of your spells. Keep in mind that even if a material component doesn't have a cost listed you will still need to return to human form to provide it. Your DM may allow you to carry a focus while in beast form, but I think the intent of the feature is that you cannot do so.

19
  • Ability Score Improvement (Dexterity 14 -> 16)

Your last ability score increase, but by now you don't really need it.

20
  • Archdruid

Now that Wild Shape is free, you should think of it like a permanent buff. Being an animal provides all sorts of mobility options, not to mention the big pad of extra hit points. If you're not in Beast Form and you have an unused Bonus Action, you should be turning yourself into a beast.