5E [GUIDE] Thy Fearful Symmetry: A Circle of the Moon Handbook (original)
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  1. #1

    [GUIDE] Thy Fearful Symmetry: A Circle of the Moon Handbook (original)

    This guide is available on Google Docs.

    This guide was originally posted on the Wizards of the Coast community, and was removed along with the rest of the content there. As a number of members here feel like its information is valuable, I will keep this post here. I'm new to the community and still figuring out the formatting tools, so please refer to the link above while this post is reconstructed.

    The Circle of the Moon Druid is a fascinating class, because its mechanics come directly from monsters in DM resources, rather than an allotment of interesting class features. You combine the utility of a caster with the brute force of a melee fighter, although you generally canít do both at the same time. For those interested in the class, this guide gives you some pointers on making smart choices.

    Note that this isnít a solely a combat optimization guide. Itís not about eeking out every last point of damage, or finding a gimmick that gets you through a Patchwerk-style fight in record time. The options I recommend will tend to shine in all three areas.

    Contents:

    1. Introduction
    2. Class Features
    3. Ability Scores
    4. Races
    5. Forms
    6. Spells
    7. Feats
    8. Multiclassing


    1. Introduction

    This guide will use the following ratings:

    Red is outclassed. Another option exists that is in all ways at least as good or better. Red choices arenít necessarily valueless, however, and are fine to take if you really like them.
    Purple is a substandard choice. It might be useful in corner-case situations, but overall it's not worth the investment.
    Black is average. You're not hurting your character by taking this, and it might even help in some situations, but there are better choices.
    Blue is a good choice. It definitely helps your character in the majority of cases.
    Sky Blue is a fantastic choice. An option you should strongly consider above most others.
    Gold is mandatory. It's a rare rating that denotes something that is so good that you must take it, or you can't call yourself optimized.

    This guide doesnít attempt to give you a full understanding of the Druid class, other builds, or RP options. For those you can refer to a generic Druid guide. This guide deals specifically with the Circle of the Moon Druid and its available options and synergies.

    On sources:
    All options are from the Playerís Handbook unless noted otherwise. Other sources include:

    • Elemental Evil Playerís Companion (EE), the PDF.
    • Monster Manual (MM), the published book.
    • Unearthed Arcana (UA), blog posts
    • Sword Coast Adventurerís Guide (SCAG), the published book


    2. Class Features

    The class's mechanics are fairly straightforward:

    • At level 3, you gain the ability to take a stronger Wild Shape form than other druids
    • At level 6, your attacks in Wild Shape count as magical
    • At level 14, you gain a free use of Alter Self, although Iím not sure why youíd want it.


    ...and thatís it. The rest of your benefits come from the abilities of the increasingly more powerful creatures you can transform into.

    3. Ability Scores

    Your ability scores arenít quite as relevant as other classes, even for your attack stat, so you have more license than other classes to be creative.

    • Strength gets replaced by Wild Shape. Itís useful only for multiclassing and skill checks outside of combat.
    • Dexterity gets replaced by Wild Shape, but powers your initiative and AC outside of beast form. Spare points not used for multiclassing can go here.
    • Constitution gets replaced by Wild Shape, but hit points are always good, and you may need to keep a concentrated spell up for a round or two between Wild Shapes. Itís even better if you multiclass into Barbarian.
    • Intelligence sticks with you in human form, and powers a decent array of skills, but gives you nothing else.
    • Wisdom stays with you in beast form powers your spell DCs and important skills Perception. Despite this, itís still not as necessary as other classesí primary stat. It gets better if you multiclass into Monk, but you can get away with a 14 in this stat at level 1 if youíre interested in getting creative with your race or multiclassing.
    • Charisma sticks with you through Wild Shape, but you wonít be making much use of it since you canít talk while transformed. Itís not a bad place to throw some extra points, since itís useful out of combat as well.
    Last edited by RCanine; Saturday, 13th February, 2016 at 06:44 AM.
    XP Mistwell, Energyscholar gave XP for this post

  2. #2
    4. Races

    Although most races would line up directly around ability scores, this isnít the case for us. The primary driver of your race should be story, and whether the race provides useful features in your beast form.

    Common Races

    Dwarf (Hill): Stats you like and bonus HP.
    Dwarf (Mountain): Nothing you get from taking this subrace is useful.
    Elf (High): Bows are a nice compliment when youíre not Wild Shaped, some of the Wizard cantrips are interesting out-of-combat, but this subrace doesnít give you much that Wood Elf doesnít do better.
    Elf (Wood): Excellent stats, and all of the subrace abilities are useful. The obvious choice.
    Elf (Drow): Nothing you get from taking this subrace is useful. The standard elf stuff applies here, but the racial features arenít useful with Wild Shape. While itís not a great Druid race, Circle of the Moon Druid is a great option if youíve got your heart set on playing drow, since their primary drawback does not apply while wild shaped.
    Halfling (Lightfoot): Although Lucky and Brave are good abilities, Halfling abilities that care about your size arenít useful since youíll spend most of your time large or bigger.
    Halfling (Stout): Slightly better stats and even more resistances makes this an acceptable choice.
    Human (Standard): You donít need the stats. Theyíre fine, but there are better options.
    Human (Variant): Feats are so powerful early game that this becomes a great choice.

    Uncommon Races

    Dragonborn: Uninteresting stats, but the other powers are useful.
    Gnome: The defensive boost is OK, but thatís all youíve got going for you with this race. The stats arenít great and their powers arenít useful with Wild Shape.
    Half-Elf: Legit stats and a skill. Not bad.
    Half-Orc: Although the stats arenít great, everything else they have is useful in Wild Shape.
    Tiefling: Thereís nothing for you here.

    DMG Races

    Aasimar: Stats youíre looking for but otherwise unhelpful features.
    Elf (Eladrin): High elves seem marginally better, but a teleport could be situationally incredible.

    Elemental Evil Races

    Aarakocra: Useful stats, though the flight and talons abilities are not allowed in beast form. Given that your wild shape requires level 8 before it gives you flight, and the CR of flying creatures is never greater than your level 2 forms, itís safe to say that having resourceless flight from level 1 is absurdly powerful.
    Gnome (Deep): Nothing wrong with these guys; their darkvision is useful and their saving throw bonus makes up for cruddy stats.
    Genasi (Air): You canít actually use the Mingle with the Wind trait while in wild shape, although your ability to recreate Sharknado means there might be some fun RP opportunities.
    Genasi (Earth): Earthwalk and Pass Without Trace are interesting abilities with some good exploration potential, but they donít synergize particularly well with anything youíre doing.
    Genasi (Fire): Meh stats, spells you canít cast in beast form, but some upside with darkvision and fire resistance.
    Genasi (Water): Although the spells granted arenít usable in beast form, theyíre not really combat spells either. Water breathing and a swim speed arenít the most exciting of abilities, but are situationally very useful if youíve outleveled or just donít want to expend one of your aquatic forms. And oh, hey, stat compatibility. Bonus.
    Goliath: Once-per-short-rest damage mitigation is nice, and in mammoth form you could carry back the entire dragonís horde and the dragon.

    Unearthed Arcana Races

    These are experimental rules. Ask your DM if you can use them. But theyíre so underpowered that thereís no reason other than story to say no.

    Changeling: Thought nothing could be worse than a tiefling? You were wrong! Shapechanger could be fun, but it conflicts with wild shape and the stats are both not helpful and underbudget.
    Minotaur (Krynn): Decent stat bump, but I wouldn't let you use any of the horns-related features in wild shape. Circle of the Land would probably be more fun for a Druid Minotaur.
    Shifter: Iím not going to go through all of the shifter subraces. Theyíre terrible. Iím not sure why wizards thought a once-per-short-rest ability was worth shorting this race in stat points. Notable exceptions are below. Whether shifting works with wild shape is up in the air, although if your DM rules that it doesnít, these all go down to whatever color is worse than red.
    Shifter (Longstride): Youíre not going to have a lot of use for bonus actions, so the ability to run around a lot could have its uses.
    Shifter (Razorclaw): While useful things to do with bonus actions are nice, the damage is not going to be worth the time you spend rolling the attack at higher levels. Gets a little better if you take a few levels of Monk.
    Warforged: An AC bonus is useful to beast forms, but probably not so good as to short you of a stat point and all other racial features.

    Sword Coast Adventurerís Guide Races

    Dwarf (Grey): Almost exactly the same as Drow. Not much good here unless youíve got your heart set on playing one.
    Halfling (Ghostwise): A wisdom bonus and the ability to communicate under beast form turn a meh race into an amazing one.
    Half-Elf Variants: Since nothing you gain is useful in wild shape, Iím going to rate this as strictly worse than the default option.
    Tiefling Variants: Thereís nothing for you here, unless your DM lets you have wings, but that would be silly.
    Last edited by RCanine; Saturday, 13th February, 2016 at 07:21 AM.

  3. #3
    Reserved: Forms


    .
    Last edited by RCanine; Saturday, 13th February, 2016 at 06:26 AM.

  4. #4
    Reserved: Spells

  5. #5
    Reserved: Feats
    Last edited by RCanine; Saturday, 13th February, 2016 at 06:28 AM.

  6. #6
    Reserved: Multiclassing

  7. #7
    Reserved.
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  8. #8

    Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)



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    I'd like to point out that all the level 3 forms are actually level 2 forms, because you choose your curcle at second level.

  9. #9

    Greater Elemental (Lvl 23)



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    Ghostwise halfling: don't forget the benefits of being Lucky! It's like +1 to all your attack rolls and saving throws.

    And being Moon Druid mitigates the worst downside of being a halfling: slow movement speed and not being able to use heavy weapons effectively.

    Plus, the flavor totally fits. From the SCAG description, Ghostwise halflings ride around on giant owls and do spooky stuff at night. I'd probably play one more like an Athasian halfling (minus the cannibalism? or not) than a hobbit.

  10. #10

    Time Agent (Lvl 24)

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    I am happy you decided to post this here, thank you!

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