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5E Druid that fights in animal form

ElterAgo

Explorer
Ok, so obviously you want to be a Circle of the Moon druid if you are aiming to fight in animal form. Because that lets you use the higher CR shapes and gives magic attacks. Correct?

If I'm reading this correctly, your 3 physical stats are fairly irrelevant since they are replaced when you change into an animal. Probably don't want to drop them too much since you could be attacked while still in humanoid form. But they don't really need to be high either. So that should let me have pretty decent mental stats. Correct?

Is any particular race an advantage?
Should I multiclass? Monk was mentioned, but is it worth it for the level loss?

Can you wear armor (non-metal) in the animal shape? Say a suit of dragon scale breastplate specially build to fit a tiger?!?

Anything else I should be considering?
 

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ClockworkNinja

Explorer
Yes, moon druid is best for fighting while in wild shape. A high-level caster with the "Polymorph" spell can do something similar, but that has drawbacks.

Yes, as a druid you should have your Wisdom as high as possible. Dexterity and Constitution are good for backup defense. Stats are less essential for a Moon Druid than for any other class so you have more flexibility with your stats and ASIs/feats than most.

Any race that gives a bonus to Wisdom is recommended. The Ghostwise Halfling also has a minor telepathy feature that allows communication while in beast form, but may send up a red flag of "I am a Min-Maxer" (Some DMs do not allow this at all, ask yours beforehand).

Multiclassing can work well here. For example the Unarmored Defense features of both Monk and Barbarian works while in beast form (note that they do not stack with each other or the barkskin spell). Also a single level in Life cleric can supercharge your Goodberry spell.

The power of your wild shape is dependent on your druid level, so don't go too far astray. Plain Moon Druid is very powerful on its own, especially in early levels, though it does start to plateau a bit around lvl 8.
If you want to be a tank on the front line, I recommend starting with Druid up to level 8 or so, throwing in 1-3 levels of Barbarian for either Bear totem resistance or Zealot damage, then resuming Druid for the rest of your career. (Remember you need Strength of 13 or better to multi barbarian)

Armor technically works but you have a bad choice: wear tiger-shaped armor all day in your humanoid form which will prevent spellcasting and look incredibly stupid, especially as a Halfling or Dwarf; or spend 10 minutes at the start of every battle suiting up- unfortunately, enemies may not be willing to wait for you and the wild shape may time out before you are even dressed.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Ok, so obviously you want to be a Circle of the Moon druid if you are aiming to fight in animal form. Because that lets you use the higher CR shapes and gives magic attacks. Correct?
Yes, Circle of the Moon is meant for using wildshape in combat.

If I'm reading this correctly, your 3 physical stats are fairly irrelevant since they are replaced when you change into an animal. Probably don't want to drop them too much since you could be attacked while still in humanoid form. But they don't really need to be high either. So that should let me have pretty decent mental stats. Correct?
Yes, if all you want to do is just fight in wildshape, but you need to get out of wildshape to cast spells, and the wildshape will wear off (not because of time limits but because you'll have low AC and your HP will drop quickly).

Is any particular race an advantage?
Not in the PHB.

Should I multiclass?
No.

Can you wear armor (non-metal) in the animal shape?
Yes, but it has to be a barding version of the armor, which you can't wear before wildshaping, so you'd have to carry it around, change shape and then don the armor. You can do it if you have enough minutes to prepare for battle. You will also better stick with a single beast of choice, or you'll need a different barding for each.

Anything else I should be considering?
If you haven't played a Druid before, read the wildshape rules well and keep them handy, focus on the basics and forget optimizing.
 

Remember that in Wild Shape your game statistics are replaced by that of the form that you take except con, wis and Int. Unarmored Defense is not necesarily going to help in Wildshape. RAW you retain class features and so your AC is set as Unarmored defense describes but it doesn't stack with natural armor, Barkskin, or with another instance of Unarmored defense. Some monk or barbarian abilities will work well though, you can rage in wild shape, and your bonus to speed is for all speeds that you have. You can also make unarmed strikes in wild shape but remember natural weapons like claws are not monk weapons. Several players in my game have played the 5E druid. All have gone straight druid however and all have chosen Circle of the moon. Wildshape as a bonus action is just so good at lower levels.
 
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Kobold Stew

Adventurer
Stick with Circle of the Moon, no multiclassing. Yes, focus on your mental stats, and have a Wisdom of at least 14, but honestly it doesn't need to be higher. Don't worry about armor.

In choosing your race, remember that some abilities persist: so your halforc Relentless Endurance or halfling Lucky still operate. Really, though, find something you like the thought of and play that.

I have one piece of advice though that will make things go a lot easier as you play:

Keep a list of preferred animal forms ready. You don't want to be searching through book looking to optimize in gameplay -- it slows things down at the table a lot. If you have a few "go-to" forms, I would have the animal stats available for your DM, and (on the same page) what your character's stats in that form would be (with adjusted saves, etc.) You can of course expand that as play proceeds, adding more forms.

Some DMs might not want you being a giant Centipede or whatever if you haven't actually encountered one in play. With a few ready forms, you can pre-check them with the DM, and there's no worries. You can also then build a list of animal forms that you encounter over the adventure to expand your possibilities.

Having the go-to forms ready (and keeping them updated as you level up) makes everything go faster.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The power of your wild shape is dependent on your druid level, so don't go too far astray. Plain Moon Druid is very powerful on its own, especially in early levels, though it does start to plateau a bit around lvl 8.
If you want to be a tank on the front line, I recommend starting with Druid up to level 8 or so, throwing in 1-3 levels of Barbarian for either Bear totem resistance or Zealot damage, then resuming Druid for the rest of your career. (Remember you need Strength of 13 or better to multi barbarian)
My own experience differs some. In tier 1 they are very powerful. In tier 2 they are very survivable but do less and less relative damage output. The only thing that save them at high levels is hitting 10th where they can exchange two wildshapes for an elemental form that is head and shoulders better. If you're 8th druid already, really go to 10th before multiclassing.

Of course, it takes both wildshapes, so depending on how often your DM lets you take short rests, you might be in wildshape only every other combat. So at that point 11th for a new level of spells is quite nice, and then 12th for an ASI, then 13th for new level of spells.

But druid 8 and then barbarian is a proposition that you only will stay with beast forms (because rage is useless for you as a human, and it stops your spells, so you can't afford the elemental wildshape). You will have great survivability in the few encounters you can rage, worse in the rest, and you will not be able to hold up your side of the damage output in any of them, which will have already been slipping prior to this.
 

ElterAgo

Explorer
Ok, thanks for the responses.

I will definitely have everything written up on all the likely forms well before hand. That is a must.

Does 5th Ed have any sort of magical armor properties that can allow you to put it on quickly? Some games systems do, some don't. If not, it would obviously only be useful when I know a major fight is coming up. Probably 1/3rd of the time we know before our major fights.

Any other magic items to look for (or craft) that would help me out in animal fighting?

Any pre-buff spells other than barkskin that stand out as useful?

The more I think about it, I don't think I would multiclass as monk. It just doesn't fit with what I think of as a druid. I can definitely see some bear totem barbarian raging fitting in very nicely. So I will consider that.
What do you think about a few levels of rogue? Seems like some sneak attack dice and skill expertise could be useful. Not sure. Maybe just stick with druid the whole way.
 

Spohedus

Explorer
In my experience, you will probably realize at certain levels that you can contribute much more to the party in caster form, even as a moon druid. You're still a full caster after all. Also I want to echo what a previous poster said; your low AC will get you shredded if you're really looking to be in wild shape for most of the adventuring day. The really interesting thing is all of the control and miscellaneous abilities you can adapt in different wild shape forms. I've seen our druid kill a hard-to-reach opponent by wild shaping into a giant spider and crawling up the wall for example, or using that same form for it's blind sight to attack an invisible enemy, or as a giant constrictor snake successfully grappling a very mobile enemy, thereby allowing effective focus fire and reducing the enemy's target choices. You are soaking up damage that would have otherwise gone to party HP pool. Still, you're never going to be close to a true tank like a barbarian or properly built fighter, paladin, or even ranger at mitigating damage consistently.

Combined with the caster choices of the druid, it's a very, very versatile swiss army knife build and can be very effective, but not without considering the rest of what the class offers. There will be levels that you thrive in wild shape and levels that you thrive as a caster and survive through wild shape when you're in jeopardy.
 

ClockworkNinja

Explorer
Fair points, I forgot where precisely it started to plateau.

Any other magic items to look for (or craft) that would help me out in animal fighting?

Any pre-buff spells other than barkskin that stand out as useful?

The more I think about it, I don't think I would multiclass as monk. It just doesn't fit with what I think of as a druid. I can definitely see some bear totem barbarian raging fitting in very nicely. So I will consider that.
What do you think about a few levels of rogue? Seems like some sneak attack dice and skill expertise could be useful. Not sure. Maybe just stick with druid the whole way.
Not a whole lot of items for animal fighting I'm afraid. Bracers of Defense or Cloak of Protection maybe? Most DMs let magic items resize over time so as not to accidentally award gear a player can't use, but having it work in bear form? You would have to ask.

For spells, moonbeam is a good damage booster you can keep using while wild shaped. With Multiclassing or the Magic Initiate Feat you can get Hex or Hunters Mark spells, useful once you get forms with multi attack.

An animals natural weapons do not count as "finesse" or "ranged" and therefore cannot be used with the sneak attack feature.They also do not work with the Martial Arts feature from monk.

Based on your questions should I guess you are fairly new to 5E? If so, you might want to stick with one class the whole way, at least for your first couple of campaigns while you learn the system.
 

ElterAgo

Explorer
Yes, fairly new to 5E. Very experienced in PF 1st Ed. I am in one 5E campaign with a single class warlock. I may be joining a second 5E campaign. It is going pretty well. Breaking out into something a bit more complex for the second campaign.
 


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