gamerant.com

Dungeons & Dragons 5e: Best Druid Builds

d&d druid

Ready to take on the power and many forms of nature with a new Dungeons & Dragons character? Then it's time to explore the formula to creating the best possible druid build in D&D 5th edition. Living far away from civilization in most cases, druids venerate and protect nature in any and every environment, from scorching deserts to lush forests and deep underground caverns.

Druids haven't always had a stellar reputation as a powerful and fun class in previous editions, but 5th edition druids are versatile healers,  fighters, and spellcasters with consistently high levels of power across pretty much all levels. It's hard to go wrong by playing as a druid, but players will still need a few pointers here and there--so check out this guide to maximizing the character's effectiveness in any situation.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: 10 Things Players Do That Annoy Every DM

Top Druidic Races

When considering the best race for playing a druid, there are several options to consider: wood elves, water genasi, ghostwise halflings, variant humans, and firbolgs all make an outstanding start to a druidic build. Wood elves are the least surprising race on the list, having been widely recognized as a race perfect for rangers, druids, and even rogues; they've got a fantastic +2 bonus to dexterity and +1 to wisdom, increased movement speed, and their signature Mask of the Wild ability.

Water genasi have a nice boost to wisdom and constitution, plus the ability to breath underwater, acid resistance, and two free spells, making them a great pick too. Halflings in their original 5e forms wouldn't make this list as all (they're decent picks, but not the best); it's only with the introduction of the ghostwise halfling in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide that they become one of the top picks for a druid. Ghostwise halflings have the same phenomenal stat boosts as wood elves and gain limited telepathy in addition to all the base perks of the halfling race. Meanwhile, variant humans are perfect in any situation: whatever class they're put into, they'll excel, as players can choose their ability stat boosts and a starting feat.

Firbolgs' arrival to D&D 5e is a little more recent, but they might just surpass wood elves in how perfectly suited they are to being druids. Firbolg are the only race here to get a +2 wisdom bonus, which is huge; their second stat boost is +1 strength, which isn't ideal but could be useful to melee-oriented builds. They also get Disguise Self and Detect Magic for free, the ability to naturally be understood by plants and animals (which most druids have to learn to do) and a once per short rest invisibility-type spell--all in all, a no-brainer for the druid class.

d&d underdark

Ability Scores

Wisdom is the ability that powers a druid's spells, so it should have the highest number out of all the ability scores. A druid without wisdom just can't really function as a druid. Next up are dexterity and constitution; dexterity determines AC so it's always good to have, just as constitution determines how many hit points a character gets, although it's the player's choice which ability gets the higher score. As long as they're the druid's second and third-highest stats, everything is in order.

Then, there are the bottom three stats: strength, intelligence, and charisma. Intelligence could be a dump stat if players are interested in roleplaying a certain character type, but it's needed for intelligence-based skills such as nature, arcana, and religion, so the druid's intelligence score should be higher than the other two in most cases. Strength might seem important for a class that can participate in melee fighting, but if a druid is on the front lines they're probably also wild-shaped--and when taking other forms, the druid's natural strength doesn't matter. Meanwhile, a druid has next to no use for charisma and, in a party of adventurers, likely won't be the party's Face anyway. Either strength or charisma can be the druid's dump stat.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons 5e Best Artificer Builds

Druid Circles

The different druidic circles serve as subclasses, and there are five in total (though technically, one subclass has several offshoots within it too): Circle of Dreams, Circle of the Land, Circle of the Moon, Circle of Spores, and Circle of the Shepherd. This guide covers multiple strong subclasses for variety, but the Circle of the Moon is by far the druid's most powerful subclass.

This circle is the one that lets druids use their Wild Shape ability as a combat form; if needed, this could even allow the druid to be the equivalent of a party's fighter. It's insanely useful at any level, and at high levels, a Circle of the Moon druid can take on some truly terrifying forms in battle--fire elemental, anyone? And the incredible Combat Wild Shape ability doesn't hinder the druid's spellcasting abilities, which are just as present as the other D&D subclasses.

But to give players some choice, Circle of Spores is also a strong pick for the druid's subclass. Through this Circle, players can gain some other nice offensive abilities and even experiment with necromancy and raising undead. At higher levels, Spores druids gain a whole host of condition immunities and can spread a halo of damaging spores to nearby enemies. They also get the Symbiotic Entity ability, which allows the druid to participate in melee combat without being wild-shaped (aka, a Moon druid) and some delightfully creepy spellcasting options.

If some players are determined to go for the classic Circle of the Land--understandable, since both the previously recommended subclasses have to be purchased separately in different D&D sourcebooks--then go for either a Mountain or Underdark build. They both get the incredibly useful stone shape spell, and Underdark Land druids also get Web, Gaseous Form, Greater Invisibility, and Cloudkill as innately-known spells that don't count against the number of spells prepared each day.

tomb of annihilation jungle

Skills and Feats

The most important of a druid's class skills to consider are perception, arcana, nature, insight, and religion; survival is situationally useful, while animal handling really has no use outside of adding a little flavor to roleplaying. Perception is easily the most rolled skill in any D&D campaign and druids have high wisdom anyway, so this is a natural pick. Arcana and religion are two extremely important knowledge skills, which is why it's worth not making a druid's intelligence their lowest ability score. Nature and insight are pretty classic as druid skills go, and they're ruled by intelligence and wisdom respectively, so getting a good skill bonus for each shouldn't be difficult.

When it comes to leveling are there are a few feats to consider as well; players should keep an eye on Elemental Adept, Mobile, and Observant as good druid feats. Druids tend to do a lot of elemental damage with their spells, so Elemental Adept can capitalize on this, while Mobile makes Wild Shape that much more effective and Observant gives a boost to the druid's wisdom and passive perception. If those aren't appealing, then go with Lucky--it's the one feat that suits any class in the game.

Wrapping up character creation by selecting a background for the druid such as Hermit, Faction Agent, or Sage would also be a smart move, as each background grants extra skills that a druid could make use of. After that, players are free to take their newly-built druid, go forth, and conquer the Dungeons & Dragons playing field.

MORE: Dungeons & Dragons: Rules That Should Be Tweaked (And How To Do It)

Sony Playstation State of Play december 2019
Everything Revealed at the PlayStation State of Play December 2019

More in GR Originals