Overview – Druid

Finally we go on to the druid. I got some positive feedback for these overviews, because instead of just talking their stats and possibilities from up to down, my categorization seems to actually help to get a better feeling about what the class does how good, even without pointing out the myriads ways to build your character around it (I might pick it up at some point, but for now simple overviews).

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the druid’s case LA for Circle of the Land and MO for Circle of the Moon). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

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Multiclass-Strength:

  • A main-caster, so every level bard is progression in a 1:1 rate spellslot-wise.
  • Most DMs would still insist of the fact, that druids won’t wear metal armor, which can be a great down with some classes
  • The best features (like Wild Shape) are druid-level dependent
  • The four three levels are actually kinda decent, there are some good control spells, advanced basic healing+goodberry, there is Wildshape, a semi-useful sublass-feature, but overall it just feels that most  womain-casters are actually a better choice for dipping overall, at least unless you’re after some 1st level spells or cantrips (like Shillelagh).
  • The 6th to 17 levels continues the trend, the land druid gets some semi-useful features, which aren’t too bad, but no reason to multiclass, the moon druid gets better with higher levels, but I’d say the Elemental Wild Shape makes multiclassing viable, but it’s at 10th level. While the spells still punches a pack of damage, control and heal + several nature based utility, it still feels like wizards, clerics or bards just have better spell-lists for multiclassing (since it means to stop your progress in the druid list at some point), 17th level brings you 9th level spell slots, but even then I’d rather go to 18th (at least as a moon druid)
  • 18th gives the ability to cast spells while in Wild Shape, even though it’s kinda late for this. Here you might start to think about taking up another class (if you haven’t already)
  • the capstone is practical, but not too important to really have

Offensive:

  • Weapon Proficiency: At least you have the scimitar for some two-weapon fighting, I guess. But still only a minor plus.
  • Spellcasting: The druid has some good offensive spells, even if he’ll never reach the wizard or sorcerer. But where he lacks the damage, he makes up to some very vast AoEs, multiple spells which can be used more than once (Call Lightning, Sun Beam) and such. Actually pretty reliable.
  • Wild Shape: Every druid will be glad to have it for the first few levels, since it improves your offense without using your few spellslots you have.
  • Circle Forms (MO): Will make Wild Shape forms more competitive in the damage department, as long as you raise your level as a druid.
  • Primal Strike (MO): Wild Shapes stays in the game, even versus opponent’s which wants a magical weapon beating.

Resource-Management:

  • Tool Proficiency: Proficiency with Herbalism kit means making your own Potions of Healing and Antidotes. Even though with crafting rules and no help it might need a while…
  • Spellcasting: Since the druids have multiple spells which only needs to cast once and can be re-used in later turns (Flame Blade, Flaming Sphere, Call Lightning, etc.) he can pretty slow down his damage for saving his spellslots. Not always the best solution, but at least good in the resource-department. Goodberry is a great spell after combat and slot-wise, since it’s unlikely that you’ll heal more with a die throw
  • Wild Shape: Regain it every short rest, even though there will be times you’ll make a short rest, so you can regain your Wild Shape for exploration purposes.
  • Archdruid: Unlimited Wild Shape. No need to manage anymore.
  • Natural Recovery (LA): Regain spell slots up to 5th level at a short rest, means you can dish more out without worrying.
  • Spellcasting: Even more than other classes, the druid’s best spells tends to be concentration. This makes it harder to actually manage these spells effectively, since a bad choice of prepared spells might end you up just switching spells instead stacking them (e.g. when you want to use damaging spells while using Faerie Fire, you shouldn’t cast Flaming Sphere).
  • Combat Wild Shape (MO): Bonus action instead of action is improved time-management.
  • Circle Forms (MO): Stronger wild shapes makes more of every use of it.
  • Wild Shape: You lose spellcasting while using Wild Shape until you hit 18th level, which means that you actually is a great restriction

Support:

  • Spellcasting: Druids can give a lot of support by delaying opponents and bringing them down faster, the spells are few, the effect are immense, Faerie Fire is almost criminal, and early and strong spells for conjuring creatures increases the numbers of attacks quite a bit. Then there is healing, a few strong buffs and some control, which makes it that much harder for your opponents to even get to you.
  • Wild Shape: Become a (flying) mount, get into the pocket of your companion, who is supposed to meet an enemy alone, as a mouse, become a swordfish to function as a wea…-wait, that’s going to far. But spitting webs as a wolfspider, tongue-grapping as a Giant Frog, so many possibilities…
  • Elemental Wild Shape (MO): Especially the air elemental’s whirlwind is to be mentioned here, but elemental forms in general provides some supportive traits and actions.

Survivability:

  • Spellcasting: Heal yourself, buff yourself, do as you like.
  • Armor Proficiency: Normally I wouldn’t complain here, but there is the minor flaw of not being able to equip metal armors. Would be not problem, if DEX would be an actual secondary stat, but some builds might not want to spent much to it and you won’t be able to feat yourself to heavy armor. I’m sure there will be cases, when medium and heavy armor aren’t made of metal, but of a mystical material (like Dragon Scales, Demon Bones, etc.), but you shouldn’t count on it.
  • Wild Shape: You practically your Wild Shape hit points to your own. More hit points are generally better, as long your AC don’t drop too much. And you can cast an offensive concentration spell, Wild Shape into a bird and send lightning and fire to your enemies while remaining in the air! Or hide yourself as a rodent. Or be a fish in the water instead drowning.
  • Timeless Body: Was hard to decide on a category here, but you’ll actually live longer! And it’s a defense against magic aging curses and such.
  • Beast Spells: Now cast a lot more of your spells from the air! Better to take your druidic focus into your claws.
  • Archdruid: Same as above, just without druidic focus.
  • Land’s Stride (LA): Advantaged saves for some spells (mostly druidic ones) and if the terrain is helpful, it will enhance your chances here to get somewhere the enemy won’t reach you.
  • Nature’s Ward (LA): Immunity to poison and disease: Bought. Take that, green dragon! Now you’ll have to shred me to death! Immunity to frightened and charmed due elementals and fey creatures… less helpful, but depending on campaign its worth will rise immensely.
  • Nature’s Sanctuary (LA): Might protect you from beasts and plants. Not too sure if these are appropriate enemies for a 14th level druid though. OK, plants might be and war-elephants and dinosaurs.
  • Combat Wild Shape (MO): Heal yourself while taking a Wild Shape. As a bonus action!
  • Circle Forms (MO): Better stats from your wild shapes means more chances to survive all this.
  • Elemental Wild Shape (MO): When facing a pyromancer, maybe being a fire elemental might help you survive this.
  • Thousand Faces (MO): Get some environmental adaption without forfeiting your spellcasting ability until you hit 18th level.

Utility:

  • Druidic: Having your own secret language that only your ‘real friends’ share is cool, being able to leave signs that only your peers can read, while others have trouble finding it, makes it even cooler. But the utility is very depending…
  • Spellcasting: I’d say the druid’s spelllist is pretty much about utility, even though in another way than the wizard’s: It’s more about variety and focused outdoor activity. Facing a druid outdoor is a pretty dumb idea. And of course Ritual Casting!
  • Wild Shape: Wild Shape is like the king of exploration feature. Since you can transform you (at some point) about freely to your needs, as a land druid mostly for scouting, spying and sneaking, while as a moon druid it’s actual gonna be useful for combat purposes even after the first few levels. And there are other uses, too, depending on your fantasy: Spilling oil on your enemies as a Giant Eagle right before your Sorcerer casts his fireball has to be great thing! And so many beasts have fantastic actions to use.
  • Beast Spells: Combines the plus of Spellcasting with the plus of Wild Shape.
  • Archdruid: Practically cast most spells out of your mind? FRIGGIN’ AWESOME! And nobody should be able to actually notice who does all that stuff, in- and outside combat a great boon, if you’re a bit creative.
  • Bonus Cantrip (LA): Another Cantrip of your choice, more options means normally more utility.
  • Circle Spells (LA): Most spells are utility spells itself, but gaining some mainly wizard spells here and there helps. Especially since some of the greatest spells of their levels are there (like Haste).
  • Circle Forms (MO): Broader variety. Break doors as a mammoth later on!
  • Elemental Wild Shape (MO): When an element is calling, be its elemental to gain some special abilities which might help.
  • Thousand Faces (MO): One spell, multiple applications. Disguise, adaptation to the habitat, gaining claws or other features. Great thing if you know what you want and what to do.
  • Spellcasting: Even though the spell-list of the druid is great utility, the flaw of having a lot of his spells restricted to either outdoor, plant or animal is a bit of a minus here.

Grading:

Multiclass: Bad
Offense: Decent
Resource Management: Good
Support: Decent
Survivability: Decent (LA) to Great (MO)
Utility: Fantastic

Overall: Good

The druid isn’t much of a multiclasser, except maybe the last 2 levels. But on the other hand, after taking 18 levels druid, you might consider to make the set complete and stay single-classed.

One of the real jokes is: The druid is most likely the best caster in terms of variety. He doesn’t only get his own niche (nature, animals, plants, etc.), but has access to above average healing spells, some good support spells, decent to good damage spells, nice exploration and utility spells, etc. This variety is its strength, but for multiclassing you’re more looking for gaining general strong points in other classes instead of depending strong points (like plant&animal spells) and variety, since at least the latter should come by itself with multiclassing.

Even though the druid has very strong features and can possibly out-tough the Tarraske at 20th level, it’s kinda hard to give him more than a good seeing, how dependent and restrictive his features are. Even though the moon druid is much better in the survivability category, when he wild shapes he loses much of his spellcasting potencial, which the land druid excels. But since the moon druid doesn’t need to wild shape, he’s theoretically not that much weaker there…

The druid is a complex class, since you have to consider a lot and must live with a lot of limitations and choices. Variety and adaptability are its trademarks, but if you don’t watch out, he can become pretty ineffective and weak. So be sure to know when to use what and to which degree.

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