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. There is a strong emphasis on area control spells, and most of the Druid’s best spells require Concentration. By spellcaster standards, the Druid is 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.

The Druid is primarily a spellcaster, and fills a role in the party similar to the Cleric, serving as a Healer, Support, and Utility caster. However, their capabilities don’t end there. Several subclasses also allow the Druid to serve as an effective Defender or Striker in an impressively broad and unique number of ways.

Druids experience a dramatic power spike at 2nd level when they gain their subclass, and the Circle of the Moon Druid remains among the most powerful builds at level 2 several years after the publication of the core rules. However, despite their strengths the Druid is not without problems. Druid subclasses vary wildly in complexity, and some druid subclasses like Circle of Spores are exceptionally hard to build and play effectively, while some subclasses like Circle of the Land are extremely simply to play so long as the player is comfortable managing their spells. Beyond the fluctuating complexity, druids also have notoriously poor AC due to their inability to wear metal armor, and with only d8 hit points they can be frail compared to similar classes like the Cleric.

Despite all of that, the Druid can be a lot of fun to play, and if you stick to one of the low-complexity subclasses the Druid is among the easiest spellcaster classes to play. For new players looking to try their first spellcaster, Circle of the Land can be a great introduction to the complexities of managing spellcasters.

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

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT 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. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Druid Class Features

Optional Class Features are detailed below under Optional 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. If you summon creatures with spells, some of the spells specify that your summons understand languages that you speak, so you may be able to use this to communicate with your summoned creatures in a language which noone else understands.

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. Any druid can turn into an animal to scout or to avoid notice, 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.

Some druid subclasses make use of your Wild Shape uses to fuel other abilities, such as the Circle of Spores’ Symbiotic Entity feature. In a lot of ways, the Druid’s pool of Wild Shape uses has become the Druid’s go-to expendable resource pool for anything beyond spells, so even if you never use Wild Shape many druids can still make good use of the limited resource.

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 Stars: Draw on the power of magic constellations to change your capabilities, choosing to attack your foes, support and heal your allies, or withstand your foes attacks.
  • 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 Wildfire: Tame a powerful wilfire spirit which serves you as an ally in combat, and use magic fire to defeat your enemies.
  • 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. A great way to use spells like Call Lightning, but keep an eye on which spells have a visible effect which originates from you. If you’re flying around as an owl and someone notices, you’re going to get attacked and anything past the owl’s 1 hit point goes straight to your regular pool of hp.

Archdruid: For the base druid and for druid subclasses that don’t make use your Wild Shape uses, this has limited benefits. Combined with Beast Spells, it’s often a good idea to turn into a beast outside of combat in order to pad your hit points and gain access to flight, darkvision, and other benefits. But if you take enough damage to fall out of your best form, you lose those benefits and if the best thing you can do with your Action is turn into a CR beast, something is super wrong (out of spell slots, etc.).

The second benefit of Achdruid is easy to overlook. Ignoring Verbal, Somatic, and some inexpensive material components means that you don’t need to hold a focus, you can cast spells without issue while restrained and in areas of silence, and in many cases creatures will have no way to determine that spells are coming from you so you can easily run around as an inconspicuous animal (small birds and rodents are great for avoiding notice) and enjoy most of your usual capabilities (spellcasting, etc.) without drawing attention which might result in something attacking you.

For druid subclasses like Circle of Spores and Circle of the Moon which use the Wild Shape uses more heavily, this is much more impactful. Circle of the Moon can switch back into an animal form at the beginning of every turn, thereby making themselves extremely difficult to damage. Circle of Spores can reactivate Symbiotic Entity at no cost beyond spending an Action to do, allowing them to remain in their combat form almost perpetually and allowing you to refresh your pool of temporary hit points (which is 80 points at this level) whenever you have a moment to do so, allowing you stand still and shrug off upsettingly large quantities of damage at no cost beyond your Action.

Optional Class Features

Introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Optional Class Features offer ways to add additional features or replace existing ones. These rules are optional, and you should not assume that your DM will allow these features without consulting them first.

Assessments and suggestions for specific Optional Class Features are presented here, but for more information on handling Optional Class Features in general, see my Practical Guide to Optional Class Features.

Additional Druid Spells (Addition): Almost everything on this spell list makes sense on the Druid’s spell list. Protection From Evil and Good seems like a bit of a stretch, but since the actual effect of the spell is protection from extraplanar creatures it makes sense. Divination is perhaps the least logical addition to the spell list since it puts the caster in touch with a god or their servants, and druids don’t have any other direct relationship with deities. Other notable additions include Revivify, allowing the Druid to truly replace the Cleric as the party’s healer without any loss of healing capability, as well as Cone of Cold and Incendiary Cloud, filling some gaps in the Druid’s directly offensive options.

I recommend allowing the expanded spell list for all druids. Nearly all of the new spells are an excellent fit for the Druid, and the additional capabilities close the gap between the Cleric’s spell list and the Druid’s spell list so there’s less of a capability discrepency there, and parties are less likely to find themselves staring in frustration at their party’s cleric and wondering why their spells are so weird and limited compared to the Cleric. There’s still a ton of dependence on Concentration here, though, so don’t expect a bunch of these spells to be used in combinations or something.

Wild Companion (Addition): Access to a familiar is great on any character, and I really like the way this was implemented. Rather than just granting a familiar for free, the Druid spends a use of Wild Shape (thereby making use of an existing resource pool), and only gets to keep the familiar for a few hours. This allows the Druid to call up a familiar when they need one, but means that the Druid won’t have a familiar all the time like many wizards will.

Allowing the Druid to easily call up a new familiar several times per day allows them to choose a type of familiar which fits situational needs rather than always defaulting to an owl like everyone else using a familiar. Call up a bat to help navigate caves, or a quipper to help explore bodies of water. Removing the material component also makes it less costly to treat the familiar as an expendable pet, allowing you to use it in combat with absolutely no regard for its safety.

I recommend allowing Wild Companion on all subclasses which I’ve rated red or orange, and consider allowing it on subclasses which I’ve rated green on a case-by-case basis. I specifically recommend allowing this on Circle of the Land because, while it’s plenty effective the subclass lacks mechanical complexity and Wild Companion adds a useful tool that will make it more fun to play without making it too powerful.

I do not recommend allowing it on multiclass characters who dip into the Druid because characters who only take two or three levels in druid will find that it’s too effective as a way to spend their Wild Shape uses. Druids who take class dips into other classes may be able to use Wild Companion without causing balance issues, but be cautious. If a druid is taking class dips into other classes they may be running a build that’s powerful and complex enough that Wild Companion will add a problematic amount of complexity to the character that could cause problems at the table.

Cantrip Versatility (Addition): Retrain one cantrip every few levels. Sometimes a cantrip doesn’t work out how you hope it would, or maybe as you gain levels you’ve found that your leveled spells can fill needs which previously required cantrips (attack options, etc.).

I recommend allowing Cantrip Versatility on all druids. You can’t get anything which you couldn’t already have, so it doesn’t make your character more powerful. Hopefully it will make your character more satisfying to play.

Ability Scores

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 BuyStandard Array
Str810
Dex1413
Con1414
Int1212
Wis1515
Cha88

Druid Races

Wisdom increases are crucial, and increases to Dexterity and Constitution can help with the Druid’s relatively poor durability compared to classes like the Cleric. Innate spellcasting is often helpful, but the usefulness of most traits will vary depending on your subclass.

For help selecting a race, see our Druid Races Breakdown.

For a very druid feel, consider the Firbolg or the Wood Elf. For a sturdy wizard, consider the Dwarf or the Warforged. For a powerful cast druid, consider the Owlin or the Fairy.

Druid 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): This skill is useless. Medicine is best done magically.
  • 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.

Druid Backgrounds

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 you’ll need to scrabe together enough skill proficiencies from your race and your background to get by.

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 skills 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. The Herablism Kit is redundant (Druids get proficiency by default), so you can retrain into any other tool.
  • 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.

Druid 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.
  • ChefTCoE: With the choice of a Constitution or Wisdom increase, it’s easy for many druids to fit this into their build. The problem is finding a druid who can use this in a meaningful way. If you plan to share the treats Inspiring Leader will be more effective. If you plan to use the treats yourself, you’re likely planning to fight in melee, and the only two subclasses which encourage that are Circle of Spores (which provides conflicting temporary hit points) and Circle of the Moon (your treats will meld into your form), so it’s hard for the Druid to use Chef to great effect.
  • 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.
  • Fey TouchedTCoE: Misty Step is a fantastic spell that’s not on the Druid’s spell list, so getting it once per day and the ability to cast it again using your spell slots is a huge benefit. The additional 1st-level spell known is good, and offers access to some interesting options from other class’s spell lists like Bless (excellent buff), Hex (great for Circle of the Moon as a damage boost), and Tasha’s Hideous Laughter (single-target save-or-suck).

    For more advice on Fey Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Fighting InitiateTCoE: The Druid’s AC is notoriously poor, so you may be tempted by Fighting Style (Defense), but in most cases a Dexterity increase will be more effective. Fighting Style does appear to work while using Wild Shape, but remember that natural weapons don’t qualify for Dueling or Great Weapon Fighting, so offensively your best options is Unarmed Fighting if you plan to use forms that are good at grappling.
  • Gift of the Chromatic DragonFToD: Chromatic Infusion should be shared with allies unless you’re going for Circle of Spores, and even then your allies with Extra Attack will benefit more. Reactive Resistance is largely redundant with Absorb Elements, but it’s uniquely appealing for Circle of the Moon since you can use it while wild shaped.
  • Gift of the Gem DragonFToD: Great for Circle of the Moon because you can use Telekinetic Reprisal while Wild Shaped. Circle of Spores might also benefit, but you already get a way to use your Reaction every turn so there’s little need for this in your action economy.
  • Gift of the Metallic DragonFToD: Protective Wings is very tempting since the Druid’s AC is typically worse than that of a comparable cleric. It even works while using Wild Shape. But personally, I think it makes more sense to take Fighting Initiate to get Fighting Style (Defense) for the persistent bonus to AC.
  • 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. Circle of Spores might be tempted to use a quarterstaff two-handed, but you need the AC from a shield way too much to justify doing so.
  • 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. Other clerics might enjoy options from the Cleric’s spell list like Sacred Flame (druids don’t have radiant damage on a cantrip) and 1st-level buffs like Bless or Shield of Faith.

    For more advice on Magic Initiate, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Martial AdeptPHB: Not useful enough with only one superiority die.
  • Metamagic AdeptTCoE: Excellent on any spellcaster. The Druid has some great options for Extended Spell like Darkvision. For advice on Metamagic Adept, see my Sorcerer Metamagic Breakdown.
  • 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.
  • PiercerTCoE: While this works with Wild Shape, it’s not a good choice. Locking yourself into one damage type will strictly limit the number of forms which you find appealing, which negates much of what makes Wild Shape so effective.
  • 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 two.
  • 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.
  • Shadow TouchedTCoE: Invisibility isn’t available to most druids, and the 1st-level spells are mostly new options, too. There are few consistently good options here, unfortunately, but they open up some capabilities which the Druid can’t normally provide.

    For more advice on Shadow Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • 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.
  • Skill ExpertTCoE: With your high Wisdom, Expertise in Perception is a massive asset for your party. Spend the skill proficiency on Perception if you don’t already have it, get Expertise in Perception, and increase your Wisdom by 1. If you have an odd-numbered Wisdom score, this is an easy, reliable feat choice.
  • SkilledPHB: More skills never hurt, but Druids don’t really need them.
  • SkulkerPHB: Sniping is for Rogues.
  • SlasherTCoE: Don’t lock yourself into one damage type. While this does work while using Wild Shape, locking yourself into a single damage type makes Wild Shape difficult because the number of forms which appeal to you is greatly diminished.
  • 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.
  • TelepathicTCoE: Tempting for Circle of the Moon, this nicely solves the issue of communication while using Wild Shape, and since you still get a Wisdom increase the feat’s cost is reduced.
  • 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.

Druid 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.

Druid 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, while druids that get a racial Dexterity increase might hit 17.

If you have someone in the party who can cast Mage Armor, beg them to do cast it on you. A 1st-level spell for a +1 to AC over your best armor is a big difference, and the spell’s effects persist while using Wild Shape so many low-AC forms will be considerably more durable.

The text of the Druid’s proficiencies states that “druids will not wear armor or use shields made of metal”. Nothing in the rules explicitly says they can’t and nothing breaks if they do, the proficiencies entry simply asserts that they won’t and gives no justification for why. The rest of this site assumes that you’re adhering to this restriction.

But also, nothing in the rules says you can’t ask your DM nicely if your Half Plate can be made of chitin from a giant scorpion or the shell of a giant crab. Eberron: Rising from the Last War describes Bronzewood and Leafweave, which are used in place of metal for equivalent armors. WotC has stated several times that this imposition wasn’t a balance decision, but was left in place to respect the history of druids within DnD.

We had explicit rules for unusual materials in 3rd edition but it doesn’t need to be complicated. It can just work the same as regular material except oh cool now Druids can wear it.

  • 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

This section briefly details some obvious and enticing multiclass options, but doesn’t fully explore the broad range of multiclassing combinations. For more on multiclassing, see my Practical Guide to 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. Unarmored Defense is nice, but the Monk’s version is more effective and the introduction of the Barrier Tattoo provides a way to get access to a reliable AC option without spells or multiclassing. For a single-level class dip, you only get two rages per day and +2 damage, which isn’t a lot for the cost of a level. Two levels won’t get you much because many Wild Shape forms have access to abilities which grant you Advantage such as Pack Tactics. Three levels is tempting for Primal Path and a third Rage per day, but you’re giving up an entire CR step in Circle of the Moon’s Wild Shape progression, which will provide considerably more damage than Rage. Primal Path offers some good options but you’ll need to dig around in the subclasses to see what will work for you within the broader context of your party..
  • 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, and the introduction of the Barrier Tattoo provides a way to get access to a reliable AC option without spells or multiclassing. 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.

Druid Magic Items

Common Magic Items

  • Staff of Adornment/Birdcalls/FlowersXGtE: Works as a quarterstaff, and it can overcome damage resistances to
    non-magical attacks. The actual magic stuff is amusing, but probably not
    important. Helpful for druids using Shillelagh, but otherwise not
    helpful.

Uncommon Magic Items

  • Bag of TricksDMG: While you don’t get to choose what you get, you always get a friendly beast that obeys your commands, similar to what you would get from casting a summon spell. You need to use your Bonus Action to command the beast, but if you give it general orders (“attack my enemies”, “don’t let my enemies pass through this hallway”, “make noise if you detect enemies”, “walk into this hallway and try to trigger traps”) you can leave the beast to carry out your orders without committing your Bonus Action every turn. The beast is friendly to you and your allies, so you can target it with things like Beast Sense and use it as an expendable scout. The bag notably doesn’t require attunement, so you can accumulate a stack of them and they remain somewhat useful at any level. While even the highest-CR creatures will stop being useful offensive threats, they’re still big bag of hit points that you can throw in front of enemies to draw attention away from you and your party. Note that there are three varieties of bags with different selections of beasts, but they’re all roughly equivalent.
  • Barrier Tattoo (Uncommon)TCoE: Most druids should stick to studded leather unless you can get a better tattoo, but Circle of the Moon may find that this boosts their AC in certain forms.
  • Cloak of ProtectionDMG: Good on any character, but it requires Attunement and it’s not very interesting.
  • Eldritch Claw TattooTCoE: Natural weapons, such as those offered by Wild Shape, are not “Unarmed Strikes”. Unarmed strikes are their own thing. Therefore, unfortunately, Eldritch Claw Tattoo doesn’t work while in Wild Shape.
  • Eyes of the EagleDMG: A Sentinel Shield is a better option for the Druid.
  • Moon SickleTCoE: +1 to spell attacks, save DC’s, attack rolls, and damage rolls, and you can use the sickle as a spellcasting focus which reduces the need to juggle your weapon when casting spells. The bonus healing is great for the Druid, and since it applies each time you roll for healing it synergizes well with Spirit of Healing, making it an efficient use of a low-level spell slot for hit point restoration despite how hard the spell was weakened by errata. Unfortunately, no druid should be using a sickle to attack (use Shillelagh or cast a spell), so the weapon portions of the Moon Sickle are less effective than you’d hope.
  • Nature’s MantleTCoE: A great item, but most druids aren’t great at stealth, and if you need to be sneaky you can typically turn into an animal of some sort.
  • Pearl of PowerDMG: Useful on any spellcaster.
  • Sentinel ShieldDMG: Perception is the most frequently rolled skill in the game, and you are likely the person in the party who is best at it (provided that you got proficiency from your race or your background). Advantage provides a great deal of insurance and protection against ambushes and other surprises. Advantage on Initiative rolls is really nice so you can get a buff or and are control effect running before everyone else starts moving. This is a great item on any character using a shield, but the Cleric and the Druid are probably the two characters best-suited to using it.
  • Shield, +1DMG: +1 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Slippers of Spider ClimbingDMG: The next-best thing to flight. Walking up a wall has all the benefits of flying out of reach, making this an excellent option for ranged builds.
  • Staff of the AdderDMG: This looks viable for a Circle of Spores Druid who plans to take Polearm Master, but Polearm Master specifies that you only get the bonus attack if you only attack with the listed weapons, so attacking with the snake invalidates the best part of the feat. The snake attack also doesn’t benefit from Shillelagh, so you’re stuck using Strength. Very cool, but it’s just not a good fit.
  • Staff of the PythonDMG: A decent low-level summon. At CR 2, the Giant Constrictor Snake is excellent at incapacitating single targets, especially if they have poor bonuses to Athletics and Acrobatics. With blindsight, the snake can even function is area of magical darkness or other sight-blocking conditions like fog or smoke, allowing the snake to be useful well above what its CR would suggest. Keep in mind that the snake’s 12 AC and 60 hit points won’t stand up to repeated attacks, so plan to revert the snake to its staff form quickly or risk losing the item permanently.
  • Stone of Good LuckDMG: Excellent on literally any character, but if you just want better defense a Cloak of Protection may be more effective. Stone of Good Luck shines if you’re heavily reliant on skills and ability checks.
  • Wand of the War MageDMG: Produce Flame is basically the only spell you’ll use which benefits from this.
  • Weapon, +1DMG: For Circle of Spores, a +1 Quarterstaff is very beneficial.
  • Winged BootsDMG: Excellent on its own, but Winged Boots are more limited in use than a broom of flying, and they require Attunement.

Rare Magic Items

  • Amulet of HealthDMG: Setting your Constitution to 19 means that you don’t need to put Ability Score Increases into it unless you’re really certain that you want 20 Constitution. Less ASI’s into Constitution means more room for feats. However, the Druid’s biggest durability problem is their AC rather than low hit points, so if you can get a Barrier Tattoo instead I strongly recommend it.
  • Armor of ResistanceDMG: Excellent, but unpredictable in most games since you can’t perfectly predict what sort of damage you’ll face. Fire and poison are safe choices.
  • Armor, +1DMG: +1 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Barrier Tattoo (Rare)TCoE: AC is among the Druid’s biggest problems, and matching the AC of Half-plate without wearing metal armor is an absolutely massive improvement to the Druid, especially since this works in Wild Shape. It hurts that it costs a Rare item to do it, but it’s hard to argue with how effective this is.
  • Bell BranchTCoE: The detection effect suffers the same problem’s as the Ranger’s Primeval Awareness, plus it’s blocked by total cover (walls, etc.) so even if applicable creatures are nearby you can’t guarantee that you’ll detect them. The option to cast Protection From Evil and Good is nice, but then this is essentially a wand of a 1st-level spell. Not good enough for the rarity.
  • Belt of DwarvenkindDMG: Maybe appealing for Circle of the Moon, I think this might still apply during Wild Shape. Adding Darkvision and poison resistence to beasts which don’t normally get it is really nice, though the +2 Constitution won’t have much impact since your beast forms will have few hit dice.
  • Belt of Giant Strength (Hill)DMG: This works while using Wild Shape, which is mechanically amazing and conceptually hilarious. Imagine using Wild Shape to run into a mouse with 21 Strength. Once you’ve had a sensible chuckle about that, consider how many wild shape forms give up some Strength-based attack and damage bonus for durability or special abilities (Pack Tactics, Flyby, etc.).
  • Bracers of DefenseDMG: A Barrier Tattoo (Rare) will be more consistently effective. Bracers of Defense may result in higher AC for certain Wild Shape forms, but given the choice you shouldn’t favor items which will limit your choices to those few Wild Shape forms which already have high base AC and therefore benefit most from Bracers of Defense. You might also prefer a Cloak or Ring of Protection, given the choice between the two.
  • Cloak of DisplacementDMG: Among the best defensive items in the game. Taking damage from any source (spells, etc.) suppresses the effect temporarily, so make a point to kill anything that can damage you without an attack roll.
  • Moon SickleTCoE: +2 to spell attacks, save DC’s, attack rolls, and damage rolls. See Moon Sickle under Uncommon Magic Items for more. Also consider the Staff of the Woodlands.
  • Necklace of Prayer BeadsDMG: Unpredictable, but potentially very powerful. You’ll get an average of 4.5 beads, and the effectiveness of the item varies wildly depending on what you get. You can notably cast every spell from the beads as a Bonus Action (yes, including Planar Ally which normally has a 10-minute casting time), allowing you to quickly heal allies or get Bless running while leaving your Action for attacks or cantrips.
  • Periapt of Proof Against PoisonDMG: Poison damage is common across the level range, but .
  • Ring of EvasionDMG: A great way to mitigate damage from AOE spells and things like breath weapons which can often be problems from front-line characters.
  • Ring of ProtectionDMG: Cloak of Protection is lower rarity and has the same effect.
  • Ring of ResistanceDMG: A fine item in a vaccuum, but a Ring of Spell Storing full of Absorb Elements will be much more effective.
  • Ring of Spell StoringDMG: Fill it with Absorb Elements and Shield and recharge it whenever possible, and this is a spectacular defensive asset.
  • Shield, +2DMG: +2 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Staff of the WoodlandsDMG: Essentially a +2 quarterstaff with some extras. Like the Moon Sickle, it serves as a spellcasting focus and adds +2 to your spell attacks’s, but notably the Staff of the Woodlands doesn’t add to your spell save DC’s so you still want a Moon Sickle for the majority of your spells if you can manage to find both items.

    The spellcasting provided by the staff convenient allows you to skip several druid spells which are too situational to prepare on a daily basis, but which feel so thematically appropriate to the Druid that it feels weird to not have them ready. You also get Pass Without Trace without spending a charge, so your party has a functionally permanent +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks.

    Since this is is a quarterstaff, it’s a really great option for Circle of Spores druids who are using Polarm Master.

  • Weapon, +2DMG: For Circle of Spores, a +2 Quarterstaff is very beneficial. Staff of the Woodlands will work roughly as well and also serves as a spellcasting focus, but it also requires Attunement which may be an issue.

Very Rare Magic Items

  • Animated ShieldDMG: Tempting for anyone not fighting with a one-handed weapon, but a Cloak of Protection is two rarities lower, works persistently, and arguably provides a better numeric bonus.
  • Armor, +2DMG: +2 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Barrier Tattoo (Very Rare)TCoE: If you lived long enough to get one of these, you probably have the 14 Dexterity to max out a Barrier Tattoo (Rare)’s +2 Dex cap, so you only get +1 AC for upgrading which isn’t worth the item’s rarity. Get a Cloak or Ring of Protection instead.
  • Belt of Giant Strength (Frost, Stone, Fire)DMG: Still great, and it still works while using Wild Shape.
  • Manual of Bodily HealthDMG: Permanent Constitution bonus and raises your cap by 2. Unless you’re using a magic item that fixes your Constitution as a specific score, this is excellent.
  • Manual of Quickness of ActionDMG: Unless you’re worried about the cap on attuned items, a Cloak or Ring of Protection will be more effective.
  • Moon SickleTCoE: +3 to spell attacks, save DC’s, attack rolls, and damage rolls. See Moon Sickle under Uncommon Magic Items for more. Also consider the Staff of the Woodlands.
  • Shield, +3DMG: +3 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Staff of FireDMG: Druids don’t normally get access to Burning Hands or Fireball, and access to those spells offers some powerful go-to damage options. You’ll likely get this long after wizards are able to cast fireball, but even at high levels a 3rd-level fireball is often an excellent area damage option.
  • Staff of IceDMG: Cone of Cold for quick AOE damage and Wall of Ice for a combination of damage, area control, and utility. Wall of Ice is a good spell that’s normally exclusive to the Wizard’s spell list, and it can be a useful utility in situations where Wall of Stone doesn’t work.
  • Staff of Thunder and LightningDMG: Great for Circle of Spores Polearm Master builds, this is effectively a +2 quarterstaff with some active abilities. It’s more complicated than a +3 quarterstaff, but if you can make good use of the active abilities it’s worth the loss of a +1 bonus to attack and damage.
  • Tome of UnderstandingDMG: Permanent Wisdom bonus and raises your cap by 2.
  • Weapon, +2DMG: For Circle of Spores, a +3 Quarterstaff is very beneficial, but you might also enjoy a Staff of Thunder and Lightning.

Legendary Magic Items

  • Belt of Giant Strength (Cloud, Storm)DMG: Still great, and it still works while using Wild Shape.
  • Cloak of InvisibilityDMG: Invisibility is extremely powerful in 5e. Note that this is just the invisible condition, not the spell spell Invisibility, so you can still attack or whatever while invisible. Unless you’re playing a Defender and actively trying to draw attacks away from your allies, this is absolutely amazing.
  • Ioun Stone (Mastery)DMG: Proficiency Bonuses apply to a lot of things and a +1 bonus goes a long way. Attacks, saves, skills, etc. all benefit. However, most druids rely mostly on spells which require saving throws so it’s not as beneficial as it would be for other characters. A Stone of Good Luck may be just as useful.
  • Ring of Spell TurningDMG: Given the choice, I would much rather haqve a Mantle of Spell Resistance simply because the Ring of Spell Turning doesn’t provide any protection against area effect spells. Otherwise, this is a really fun item, and if it provided Advantage on saves against area of effect spells it would shoot straight up to blue.
  • Ring of Three WishesDMG: Use this to do one of the things that risks permanently removing the ability to cast Wish, such as granting 10 creatures permanent resistance to once damage type. If you lose the ability to cast Wish, pass this off to another ally who will never be able to cast Wish by any other means. Repeat until the last charge is used.

    For more help with Wish, see my Practical Guide to Wish.

  • Scarab of ProtectionDMG: An upgrade from the Mantle of Spell Resistance, the Scarab of Protection adds a limited benefit against necromancy and undead creatures, and doesn’t take up your cloak slot, leaving you free to take items like a Cloak of Protection or Cloak of Invisibility instead.

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

Elmheer Mossbeard the Hill Dwarf Circle of the Land Druid

The wild-looking dwarf stands stout and strong, their bark-brown hair streaked with silver and braided with vibrant green plantlife. They lean on a gnarled staff of oak engraved with strange symbols, wrapped in leather, and topped with a sprig of holly. Garbed in well-worn leather armor, a vine rope belt laden with pouches of herbs, a knife, and a small sickle for harvesting shrubs, moss, and the like hangs loosely around the hips. They move slowly, purposefully, and their emerald eyes shine with a subdued wisdom.

— Boxed text provided by dScryb (affiliate link)

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.

 BaseIncreased
Str88
Dex1414
Con1416
Int1212
Wis1516
Cha88

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

LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes 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.