First Druid

Paul Smart

Explorer
Good afternoon everyone.

After almost 40 years of RP, I have decided to make my first Druid. I would like some advice on how to proceed.

My rolled stats are 18, 15, 14, 12, 10, 10. We will be starting at level 1 and going to level 12 or so. The world is wide open, just about anything is possible given enough time.

My questions:

Race:

I have narrowed the race down to 3 choices, variant human, lizardfolk or ghost wise halfling. Which would you choose and why?

Circle:

I will be a Circle of the Land as I have no interest in the Circle of the Moon. My question is which land should I be tied to and why?

Melee Combat option:

Primal Savagery or Shillelagh?

Spell style:

I see a few different directions this could go.

1) Elemental Master - focus on fire, lightning etc.
2) Beast Master - focus on summoning, befriending, talking to beasts.
3) Earth Warden - focus on control spells like entangle, thorn whip, fog cloud etc.

Background:

Should I go with a born in nature background like the Outlander, Fisher etc or a more scholarly background like Sage or Hermit?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

EDIT: The Firbolg race has opened up. They seem to be natural druids. Are they any good?
 
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Tonguez

Adventurer
Wisdom for highest stat, then Dex and Con (AC and HP) depending on your style. Strength or Charisma as dump stat (Cha is good if you want to interact with beasties though)

I’m assuming that as you lack interest in Circle of the Moon, your not wanting to be front line fighter and going more for spells (hence Elemental Master build)

Also consider Circle of the Shepherd for a Beast Master build, theyre good for buffing your team and reach their peak level 5 to early teens

Mountain or Underdark for Land Circle

Elemental Adept for Feats and either Hermit or Sage will give you Skill boost for perception, arcana, nature and insight
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I have narrowed the race down to 3 choices, variant human, lizardfolk or ghost wise halfling. Which would you choose and why?
With those stats and focusing on Land druid vs. Moon, I'd go with either Variant Human or Lizardfolk
  • Lizardfolk is awesome statwise and from an RP starting point.
    • You could start with 19 Wis, 17 Con, 14 Dex OR 19 Wis, 16 Con, 15 Dex; Then at 4th level you boost Wis to 20 and either Con to 18 or Dex to 16
    • Swim speed and natural armor of 13+Dex+Shield are great, you could start with a 17 AC and not worry about armor
    • held breath is awesome.
    • Two more skill proficiencies are awesome
    • Downside would be an RP one. Lizardfolk are VERY alien and see fallen comrades as food, not dead friends to mourn. Something to think about as you make your decision.
  • Human is also awesome statwise since you get that feat to play with as well.
    • you could start with 19 Wis, 16 Con, 14 Dex and then take Observant for +1 Wis and start with a 20 Wisdom. Then other ASI's are available to boost other stats or take other feats
    • A skill and a language are good here too.
  • Ghostwise halfling is best if you're doing a Moon druid because they can still communicate with the party in beast form with telepathy. I wouldn't use it here.
Personally I'd go lizardfolk if it's wide open. It has a ton of fun abilities as well as good stat synergy, free armor, extra movement types, and more skills.

My question is which land should I be tied to and why?
Monster manual enteries for Lizardfolk put them as Forest and Swamp environments. That said, I can also see Coastal (swim speed) give that Komodo dragon's all live on islands.

Of those, coastal is my favorite for spell list options. Misty Step and Mirror Image are really hard to beat. Water Breathing is great for the party and pairs really well with your swim speed. Water Walking really helps the party at times.

That said Forest has some nice spells too. Spider Climb to get that 3rd movement type, Call Lightning, etc.

I'd probably lean Coastal if you're going Lizardfolk.

If you end up doing Human you can really do anything. I like Mountain for the Lightning Bolt personally. Plus Spider Climb. But Coastal is still good and even more useful since you can't natively hold your breath or swim so Water Breathing is great.

Primal Savagery or Shillelagh?
Both? As a Circle of the Land you get an extra cantrip.

Shillelagh is good because you're doing 1d8+Wisdom, which for you should be +4 or +5 damage on a hit. But you'll only ever get that one attack. It does give you a magic weapon to bypass resistances/immunities, so that's nice.

Primal Savagery on the other hand scales at 5th and 11th, so you're dealing 2d10 and then 3d10 Acid damage per hit, which will average 11 and 16.5 damage per hit vs. the 9.5 of Shillelagh. It also bypasses any worry about a magic weapon since it does Acid damage, not b/s/p.

At 1st, shillelagh is better, but starting at 5th and up, Primal Savagery is better from a damage standpoint.

I think they both fit the flavor of a Lizardfolk, though Primal Savagery fits maybe a tad better to me.

1) Elemental Master - focus on fire, lightning etc.
2) Beast Master - focus on summoning, befriending, talking to beasts.
3) Earth Warden - focus on control spells like entangle, thorn whip, fog cloud etc.
I would do either 1 or 3. #2 is the option for Circle of the Shepherd, but if you're going Circle of the Land, I'd focus on elemental damage/control or environmental control.

For lizardfolk I'd probably focus on #1 to pair with your primal savagery. For a Human either is fine, though #3 might fit a bit better.

Should I go with a born in nature background like the Outlander, Fisher etc or a more scholarly background like Sage or Hermit?
For lizardfolk I'd do Outlander or Fisher. Fisher sounds fun and really fits the Coastal/Water/Elemental control/swimming/holding breath features.

For Human, Hermit is always good, you'd get to select another tool since you'd have redundant herbalism kits from Druid, so that's nice. I'd lean away from Sage personally as that has too many connotations of libraries and such, not "druid". Though there is something to be said for the historic role of Druid's as bards/lorekeepers I suppose.

All that said... if it were me with those stats and such, I'd go with Lizardfolk Circle of the Land (Coastal) Druid with the Fisher Background.

Enjoy your time in the wilds whatever you decide to do!
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
1) Elemental Master - focus on fire, lightning etc.
If your plan is to focus primarily on one element, the new UA Wildfire Druid plus the Elemental Adept: Fire feat makes for a very blasty ranged Fire Druid, with Firebolt, Create Bonfire, Produce Flame, Flaming Sphere, Scorching Ray, Heat Metal, Fireball, Flame Arrows, Wall of Fire, Flame Strike, etc.


In that case, I'd do a Variant Human Wildfire Druid, starting with:

STR 10
DEX 14+1
CON 15
INT 12
WIS 18+1
CHA 10
Elemental Adept Fire feat

Then take +1 WIS and +1 DEX at 4th, the Resilient CON feat at 8th, and +2 DEX or some other feat that interests you at 12th. Spell Sniper in particular would synergize nicely with all your ranged attack spells.

(Just understand that eventually, you're going to run into an enemy with Fire Immunity, which will severely cramp your style. So you'll need to have some contingency options for those situations, with a few non-fire-based spells prepared, and at least one non-fire-based damage cantrip, such as Thorn Whip.)

If UA isn't allowed, a secondary option for an Elemental Master Druid might be a Mountain Land Druid with the Elemental Adept: Lightning feat, who could get decent mileage out of Lightning Bolt and Call Lightning, though not nearly as much as the all of the Wildfire Druid's numerous fire spells.

Ghostwise halfling is best if you're doing a Moon druid because they can still communicate with the party in beast form with telepathy. I wouldn't use it here.
The Ghostwise Halfling's telepathy is a good option for even non-Moon druids who plan to use Wild Shape for scouting and exploring, since you don't have to come out of Wild Shape to communicate your findings with your party.

Certainly best for Moon Druids, but still very useful for many other Druids. (Less so for the Wildfire Druid, who will be using many of their Wild Shape charges for their summoned wildfire spirit.)

At 1st, shillelagh is better, but starting at 5th and up, Primal Savagery is better from a damage standpoint.
Yep. Of those two melee cantrips, I'd definitely go with Primal Savagery over Shillelagh. Shillelagh doesn't scale, so it's really only optimal for strictly low-level 1-4 campaigns, or for certain specific multiclass builds who get multiple melee attacks.

However, you should rarely be in melee range as a caster-focused Land or Wildfire Druid. (Think of yourself as a slightly hardier Wizard.) So a better option for a primary damage spell would be a cantrip with some range, like Thorn Whip or Produce Flame, or the Wildfire Druid's Fire Bolt.
 
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Esker

Abventuree
Play-style: I think (non-moon) druids are most effective as either summoners or controllers. The spell list contains some elemental damage spells, but the class features don't offer much to support that playstyle, and so going that route you might find that you wish you'd been an evoker wizard, a draconic sorcerer, or a tempest cleric.

I suppose they don't actually get anything that boosts their control spells either (unlike a number of wizard and sorcerer subclasses)... but at least land druids get more (non-ritual) preparations than sorcerers or wizards, and better control options than clerics, so they can pick a good tool for the situation.

If you want to be a summoner your best bet is Circle of the Shepherd (as others have said), but since you seem settled on land, the following is predicated on being a land druid with a control focus.

Races: Lizardfolk gives you nice bonus skills and a nice AC boost, except that by foregoing a DEX bump at character creation you're just where you'd be with studded leather until level 4 (at which point you could get WIS to 20 and DEX to 16, for an 18 AC with a shield, which isn't bad). Since you can't start with 20 WIS, it's not essential that you pick a race that gives you a wisdom boost, since you'll have to dedicate an ASI to it at level 4 anyway. So it seems to me you may as well get your CON and DEX up.

Two ways you could do that:

1) Variant human, put your +1s in DEX and CON, and take Resilient (CON) as your feat. That gets you a boost to concentration saves, which you'll really want at some point anyway, and gets you 18/16/16 in your three main stats.

2) You didn't list this as one of the races you'd narrowed things down to, so maybe you don't want to do it, but if you're open to playing lizardfolk, it can't hurt to throw it out there: you could play a goblin. Gives you that 18/16/16, and gives you the best 2/3 of cunning action, which is lovely, particularly for a character who will be casting a big concentration spell in round 1 and then mostly wanting to keep their concentration up. It also gives you a way to dip in, smack something with a stick or your acid claws, and dip out again (without the ability to BA disengage, you probably don't really want to be getting into melee... you maybe still don't, but at least it's a little safer).

Land affiliation: I think it depends in large part what the rest of the party can do. No point in going after a land that grants you a choice spell if somebody else in the party will already have it. But to me the best control spells on there that aren't on the druid list already are Web (Underdark) and Slow (Arctic). Haste (Grassland) and Greater Invisibility (Underdark) might be nice to have as buffing options for those times when you're up against legendary resistance. And Coast gets Mirror Image and Misty Step at level 3, which are lovely survival (and concentration maintenance) tools (though if you're a goblin Misty Step is partly redundant). So I'd pick whichever one of those four fills the best niche for you and your party.

Melee option: For the most part I don't think you want to be getting yourself into melee. Unfortunately druids lack good ranged options (magic stone doesn't scale for some reason). You could consider taking Frostbite... it's not a great cantrip, but it at least works at range, and the rider is nice at low levels. If you're a goblin (or you take Mobile at some point) and have a solid front-line you could play like a melee rogue after getting your concentration spell up, with either primal savagery or shillelagh (as others have noted, shillelagh is better early; primal savagery scales better). I'd probably go shillelagh, tbh, since by the time primal savagery decisively overtakes it at level 11, you're not going to need to use cantrips very often (and even then, you can just pick it up at level 10). It does have that bonus action downside though.
 

Markh3rd

Explorer
My suggestions:

Race:
Variant human. Take resilient con for the feat. This gives you a proficiency in con saves and as a land druid you will rely on many concentration spells so it is very helpful to have this feat right off the bat.

Circle:
Arctic is my recommendation and here is why. Many of the spells affect multiple targets or are able to be up cast for more effect, unlike other lands that only affect one target. Greater invisibility and Haste are nice, but you can only affect one target. Whereas hold person (upcast) and slow affect multiple targets. Also the spell list has a nice variety of uses and goes with an element mastery very well.

Melee Combat option:
Primal Savagery for the better scaling damage. Use thorn whip or produce flame for a ranged option (thorn whip goes well with spiked growth as you drag an enemy through the damaging spikes), and always take guidance.

Spell style:
You want a variety of options and damage types. You want control, damage (various elements, don't over rely on one type), buffs/debuffs, and utility. The strongest aspect of caster druids is variety. This ensures you will always have something useful to do in whatever situation you find yourself in. The Arctic Circle is also good for giving you a variety of options baked into it.

Background:
Go with a background that adds proficiencies in skills you want but don't already have. This gives you more breadth of options when not in combat.
 

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