D&D 5E Hack Your Druid: Alternatives to Wildshape

My first thought was to replace with some sort of nature call / summoning of allies. But summoning is already a spell. Maybe it could be enhanced.

My second thought is to call upon plants like an entangle spell. But yea, that's a spell :)

Third is a companion if that is what they want.

I d like the elemental ideas. Or maybe tree stride (teleport), or nature bonuses.

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Limit Break Dancing
My latest pitch to the player is that Wild Shape doesn't actually turn you into an animal, but instead surrounds you with an animal-shaped aura. The effect would look a lot like the artwork on some of the Umbra cards in Magic: the Gathering:




Maybe just simple reskinning of the flavor text is enough? I'll find out in a few.
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This has got me thinking about ideas, and one of them I'm going to tentatively add to my homebrew is to replace the Wildshape with becoming a Giant. I mean, the druid already gets shillelagh to embiggen a weapon, there's the enlarge spell, why not an innate ability to enlarge themselves and get some maybe some giant-related abilities?

Another idea might be to replace it with one or more fixed spell abilities - like the Warlock's invocations, but more nature themed.


Swap Wildshape for Find Familiar, but:
a) The familiar is any animal a druid of your level can transform into.
b) You can control its movement verbally.
c) As an action, you can order it to attack a target. It continues to move towards and attack that target until you give it another order.
d) You have (proficiency bonus) forms you have to pre-pick.

You can infuse it with fresh energy, giving it back maximum HP and HD. Once you do this, you cannot do it again until you complete a long rest.

If the familiar is killed, you can summon a new one after you complete a long rest.

This is both better and worse than wildshape, and fits a nature wizard well. It is disposable, but


One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
What about AoE aura effects? Based on various elements or weather, fire/sun sets everything ablaze within radius, wind/storm the druid can blow everyone affected 10ft, snow freezes everyone in place and they have to make a str saving throw to not be stuck in place, sandstorm/fog limits vision to 15ft, those sorts of things


Limit Break Dancing
What about AoE aura effects? Based on various elements or weather, fire/sun sets everything ablaze within radius, wind/storm the druid can blow everyone affected 10ft, snow freezes everyone in place and they have to make a str saving throw to not be stuck in place, sandstorm/fog limits vision to 15ft, those sorts of things
Hmmm....this is very interesting indeed. I wonder if this has been done before...seems like something that would already be out on GM Binder or DMs Guild. Thanks for the tip!


Jedi Master
I'd keep in mind that Wildshape is primarily an exploration pillar feature for non Moon Druids, so it might be worth thinking of elemental like abilities that would be useful in exploration, with perhaps a dab of combat pillar usefulness.

Circle of the Elements

Instead of wildshaping, Druids of this circle call on the elements to enhance their abilities. Only one of these forms can be taken at a time, taking an action to use them with your Wildshape ability.

At 2nd level
Fire - When you use your wildshape feature and as a bonus action on each turn after taking this form, you can change your size between Tiny and Large. While Tiny, you can squeeze through spaces as small as 1 inch.

Earth - Gain a climb speed equal to your walking speed. Also, when your feet are in contact with the ground and you do not move on your turn, you can't be moved until the end of your next turn against your will, and any concentration check you make is at advantage.

At 4th level
Water - You gain a swimming speed equal to your walking speed, and can breath water. Opportunity attacks against you are always at disadvantage in this form as you flow past enemies like water.

At 8th level
Air - You gain a fly speed equal to your walking speed, can hover, and do not need to breathe.

Circle of the Land is my favorite class. I like the wildshaping but it's definitely not key to this archetype.

A couple suggestions:

Similar to the suggestion made by @CleverNickName , instead of wildshape, it gives you an ability of an animal with the same number of uses as wildshape: stealthiness of a cat, ability to see in the dark like an owl, a swim speed like a fish etc... I wouldn't codify it. Let them tell you what they want to do: "I want to sneak past the guards so take on an aspect of a cat" "ok, you have advantage to stealth for the scene"

Another suggestion: Look at the totem barbarian: give them sight of the eagle, or the giant leap of the tiger, or the traveling of the elk etc... Maybe, let them choose one of those abilities at the appropriate levels. I forget when their wildshape improves but if it's the same as when totem barbarians get their upgrade, it should work fine. I might be wary of allowing Bear(taking half damage) and wolf (pack tactics) but, maybe not. The powers alternate between combat specific powers and utility so you might just allow the utility ones?


You gain the might of a bear. Your carrying capacity (including maximum load and maximum lift) is doubled, and you have advantage on Strength checks made to push, pull, lift, or break objects.


You gain the eyesight of an eagle. You can see up to 1 mile away with no difficulty, able to discern even fine details as though looking at something no more than 100 feet away from you. Additionally, dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks.


Whether mounted or on foot, your travel pace is doubled, as is the travel pace of up to ten companions while they’re within 60 feet of you and you’re not incapacitated (see “Adventuring,” for rules on travel pace). The elk spirit helps you roam far and fast.


You gain proficiency in two skills from the following list: Athletics, Acrobatics, Stealth, and Survival. The cat spirit hones your survival instincts.


You gain the hunting sensibilities of a wolf. You can track other creatures while traveling at a fast pace, and you can move stealthily while traveling at a normal pace (see “Adventuring,” for rules on travel pace).
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In my campaign, the druid is what I consider to be the last survivors of the first users of magic. They are the animists, Will and Word casters, the spirit-talkers, mediators between the material world and all others. So, they have the remains of all the other "quarter-caster" and "half-caster" traditions that have since faded from the world.

Druids have 3 of the following traditions over 12 levels. In my homebrew characters just get better at what they do much more than gain new abilities over 12th level.

  • Shapeshifting; as one would expect.
  • Blood Magic; the caster's blood, or an ally's, can be shed to cast a spell without slots or boost an otherwise normally cast spell. A weak sorcerer option, if you will. More sinister uses of blood can be done in a ritual fashion.
  • Spirit Talking; they can communicate with local spirits, propitiate them, and get them to do or not do things. This includes casting out disease spirits and potentially getting a PC's spirit back into their formerly mangled body (i.e. a form of raise dead).
  • Spirit Walking; they can astrally project, allowing some pretty impressive scouting abilities. There are things in the spirit world that would have to be avoided, however, and a person can get lost if they travel too far.
  • Geomancy; Having an understanding of the flows of vril through the land, how it enhances health of the ecosystem, and the benefits and problems in having it pool in an area. Also, at later levels, how to non-destructive move and channel these flows. (unless that's the goal.)


Sounds like a sorcerer to me. Ask them which element and match the draconic bloodline, or go storm.

If they are interested in melee, path of the storm Herald barbarian could fit too.

Failing that, light cleric. They get to play with a lot of fire.

Any of these can be flavoured to be Shannara druids.
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We just finished our Session Zero for my new campaign...it's a homebrew campaign setting based very heavily on The Seas of Vodari. It's a swashbuckling heroic adventure in the Age of Sail, in a world where Atlantis is real, dinosaurs never went extinct, and pirates rule the seas.

One of my players decided to roll up a druid, but he doesn't want to play "that same old druid everyone else plays." Specifically, he wants to get rid of the druid's Wildshape ability completely, and replace it with something else. When I asked him what he had in mind, he said "literally anything else, I hate Wildshape so much." Direct quote, no exaggeration. So obvs, I suggested one of the subclasses that would let a druid spend wildshape uses to do other things, like the Circle of Stars and its "Starry Form" ability, or the Circle of Spores and the "Awaken Spores" ability...but neither of them appealed to him. He wants to build a Shannara-style druid--one who is more in tune with the elements, feels more like a nature-based wizard than anything else.

In the moment at Session Zero, the first thing that came to mind (and which I quickly suggested to the player) is the Arcane Recovery feature of the wizard. Lose the ability to turn into animals, gain the ability to restore a handful of spell slots instead. The player shrugged and said something like "I guess that's fine, better than turning into something I'm not," so we tentatively went with that...but it was fairly obvious that nobody was really impressed with it. And for good reason, it's pretty friggin' dull.

So I'm fishing around for ideas that I might suggest to the player instead before the next gaming session. We are a clever bunch here on EN World, and I'd like to pick your brains. Does anyone have any ideas?

Awesome to hear about people running Vodari inspired themes.


One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
I’m curious if you don’t mind me asking what you (and your player?) eventually ended up deciding on to use instead of wildshape @CleverNickName and how well did it go in gameplay?


Limit Break Dancing
I’m curious if you don’t mind me asking what you (and your player?) eventually ended up deciding on to use instead of wildshape @CleverNickName and how well did it go in gameplay?
Sure thing! I ended up creating a special subclass for his druid, called "Circle of the Sun." We traded out the Wild Shape ability for the Light Cleric's sunburst ability. Here's the crunchy bits:

Concept: a druid that can channel the radiant energy of the sun.

Circle Spells
2nd level: Word of Radiance cantrip
3rd level: Barkskin, Heat Metal
5th level: Daylight, Plant Growth
7th level: Fire Shield, Guardian of Nature
9th level: Flame Strike, Wrath of Nature

Radiant Magic
(2nd Level Subclass Feature)
You know the word of radiance cantrip. Druid spells you cast can cause radiant damage instead of their usual damage type, if desired.
Whenever you cast a druid spell while you are standing in sunlight, you can use your Reaction to regain hit points equal to twice the spell level.

(2nd level Subclass Feature)
You can spend one use of your Wild Shape ability to create a burst of radiant energy. Each hostile creature within 30 feet of you must make a Constitution save throw. A creature takes radiant damage equal to 2d10+your druid level on a failed save throw, and half as much on a successful one. A creature that has total cover from you is not affected. All magical darkness effects within this area of effect are automatically dispelled.

This part is still in development. The player wants a sunlight aura instead: no damage; he would just emit bright light in a 20' radius (dim light in another 20'), and that bright light is considered sunlight. Lasts for 1 minute, no concentration, costs 1 Wildshape use. This would let him "turn on" his other solar abilities, below. I'm troubleshooting this part right now, looking for things that it could break. It can wreak havoc on certain undead, but so far I'm not seeing any deal-breakers.

Solar Bond
(6th level Subclass Feature)
Whenever you cast a druid spell that deals radiant damage or restores hit points while you are in sunlight, you add your Proficiency Bonus to the damage or healing of the spell.

You no longer need to eat food in order to survive. One hour of exposure to sunlight provides you with all the food and nourishment that your body needs. (You still require water and rest as normal.)

Solar Emissary
(10th level Subclass Feature)
You become resistant to Fire and Radiant damage.
You are immune to the negative effects of extreme heat or sun.
You now regenerate while standing in sunlight. You automatically remove 1 level of exhaustion for each full hour that you spend in sunlight.

(14th level Subclass Feature)
You no longer suffer the drawbacks and penalties of old age, and you cannot be aged magically.
If you drop to 0 hit points while in sunlight, you can use your Reaction to drop to 1 hit point instead. Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until you finish a Long or Short Rest.

Still very much a work in progress; I'm still working on that bit in blue text.
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Trade wildshapes for a kind of elemental metamagic so they can swap the element of a spell. Produce Fire can be turned into Produce Lightning. Thunderwave can be Ice Wave. Call Lightning can become Call Thunder, etc.

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