D&D 5E Tell me about some non-core/3rd party Druid Circles


Moderator Emeritus
So I in the midst of stating up a recurring nemesis of the party for my Revenants of Saltmarsh group. All the party really knows about him is that he is a tiefling druid/ranger who is an apostate of two PCs' religion, who believes fostering violence and political unrest will always lead to a better world in the long run. "Burn civilization and collapse institutions and you have made crucible for shaping a better world to build." He mostly focuses on "helping" the oppressed and underclass, but is really exploiting them for his larger vision - convinced that anyone harmed in the process is a necessary sacrifice.

I have no plans of stating him up like a PC - but want to give him some powers that emulate an existing druid subclasses powers. The problem is none of the druid subclasses I have access to feel quite right. The closest two I could find are the Wildfire Druid and the Spore Druid from a thematic point of view. (All I have are the PHB + Xanathar's & Tasha's)

I like the "burn it all down" aspect of the former and his being a tiefling complements that, but the ability to summon a wildfire being doesn't fit the picture in my head or anything the party has heard about his methods/powers.

The spore druid is not a great fit either but I do like the idea of an unthought of network of connections that he favors. However, I am already using a spore druid as a potential enemy in another game.

Where should I be looking for other druid types that might fit thematically and have powers that don't involve summoning some other creature I also have to run in combat in addition to him and his allies and might play up the burning/re-making the world philosophy?

It is most helpful if the suggestions are available to read online, but just describing options is also helpful because I can always just make up my own version.

If it helps, his allies are a lizardfolk who bears a grudge against the party for previous actions in the campaign and a group of troglodytes the tiefling has promised renewed power after having been driven from their homes a generation ago. Despite the lizardy-ness of the allies, he is not a particularly reptile focused guy.

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Limit Break Dancing
In The Seas of Vodari (by Tribality Games), there is a druid "Circle of the Deep" that expands the concept of the Coastal Druid. These are druids that live beneath the waves, not alongside them. Druids from the Circle of the Deep have a host of abilities that are better suited to underwater exploration, and they infuse their spells with the cold, crushing pressure of the deep ocean.

Here's how they compare, side-by-side.

Level 2:
Circle of the Land: you gain a bonus druid cantrip of your choice
Circle of the Deep: you gain the shape water cantrip

Level 2:
Circle of the Land: recover spell slots over a short rest
Circle of the Deep: resistance to cold, swim speed, breathe water, withstand pressure to 1000ft per druid level, your spells knock creatures prone and slow them down.

Circle Spells:
Circle of the Land (Coastal): mirror image/misty step, water breathing/water walk, control water/freedom of movement, conjure elemental/scrying
Circle of the Deep: mirror image/misty step, water breathing/water walk, control water/freedom of movement, conjure elemental/scrying

Level 2:
Circle of the Land: not slowed by difficult terrain, advantage on saves vs. plants
Circle of the Deep: your water breathing spell also grants a swim speed, resistance to cold, the ability to withstand pressure to 6000 ft., and can't be dispelled except by you.

Level 10:
Circle of the Land: can't be charmed or frightened by elementals or fey, immune to poison and disease
Circle of the Deep: gain blindsight 60', communicate telepathically with any creature you can see within 120 feet.

Level 14:
Circle of the Land: beasts must pass a Wisdom save in order to attack you.
Circle of the Deep: creatures that you knock prone with your spells take 5d10 cold damage and are restrained.


Moderator Emeritus
Circle of Depths, Circle of the Swarm, and Circle of the Tempest from this document could all fit for a violent, corrupted druid.

Straight up Circle of the Ancients gives me ideas. The party did hunt some dinosaurs of unknown origin in an early adventure (though at the time it had nothing to do with the enemy druid) and part of the enemy's goal is to open up portal to the hollow world beneath the setting (replaces the underdark) where many monsters (including dinos) driven from the surface world now live. Maybe bringing dinosaurs back is part of his ravaging the world plot. I will keep reading, but I am already happy with the ideas this is giving me, so thanks.


Prince of Dorkness
Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn has the Circle of the Blighted subclass. Some Druids seek to protect a natural site of power, but sometimes that land becomes corrupted. Twisted by their connection to the unhallowed territory, they come to embody the defiled nature they serve, exalting in the natural process of decay and using it to further their goals.

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
I have an unpublished Circle of the Sewers Druid that runs in urban environments mostly -- summons swarms of pests, turning spoiled food into edible, healing the sick


Would you recommend this book in general?
That's really hard to say... I normally don't recommend player-facing content since my lens is usually as a GM and imho every piece of player-facing rules needs to be closely evaluated on its own merits & in comparison to what's existing in the game. What I have read of the booklet is good, but the hardcover/softcover POD is probably a bit overpriced for what you get (I say this cautiously as I agree we all need to get comfortable paying for what RPG products are actually worth).

Basically, it's very eclectic, divided into two parts: half player-facing content (mostly subclasses, but some really cool backgrounds, and a "feyblood" race), the other half is GM stuff (some mediocre house rules, some really cool magic items, an adventure (haven't read or run it), and couple dryad & gen monsters (standard 5e fare).

I've only read the druid, fighter, and rogue subclasses...
  • Druid - Circle of Seasons is a cool idea but it feels unfinished, could have done a lot more with the shroud idea. Not sure if I'm being overly critical because I'm just sick and tired of the lackluster 5e design that so many third-parties emulate. I'd give it an A- grade.
  • Druid - Circle of the Spiritlords are all about empowering an ironwood mask they wear - again, the design moves are conservative (do i really need the option to switch between 2 cantrips?), but the features do build on each other nicely. I'd give it a B.
  • Fighter - Dragoon is a mounted warrior which avoids the risk these sorts of subclasses have when it comes to lots of D&D happening unmounted. Some of the features like Line Breaker have nice utility, and then get even better when mounted, which is great design. The capstone borrowing from ranger's Natural Explorer is weird - overall a weird blend of features with a few standouts. I'd give it a C+ grade.
  • Fighter - Runeguard is an alternate take on that UA Rune Knight (?). It uses a solid overarching design - bonus action to enhance attacks, reaction to enhance defenses, action to enhance other abilities. Not sure why they felt a need to limit Eyes of the Arcanist (like warlock's detect magic invocation but limited to writing) to be #/day. This is what I mean by conservative design. There's a lot happening with the runes themselves, but everything seem balanced. For example, one gives you the ability to ignore difficult terrain walk across still or even water, which is kinda like that monk feature, but this requires an action to activate and you must take a short rest before using again. I'd give it a B+.
  • Rogue - Divine Herald has flavor reminding me of 4th edition's Avenger class, and operates like a mirror of the Arcane Trickster. But your Sneak Attack damage is either radiant or necrotic! Wow! More conservative design on skill-focused features, a pseudo-steal of the Assassin rogue's Infiltration Expertise - which is meh, shouldn't rogue be able to do this anyhow? But then some nice higher level features that are more interesting and less conservative. I give it a B+ as well, what's there is OK, but could have used more creativity or more adaptation of the Avenger.
There are many more subclasses that I haven't had a chance to read...
  • Barbarian - Path of the Courageous Heart, Path of the Red Reaver, Path of Sacred Kin
  • Bard - College of Discord, College of Keys, College of Mourning
  • Cleric - Entropy, Survival
  • Monk - Way of Atonement, Way of Empathy
  • Paladin - Oath of Predation, Oath of Providence
  • Ranger - Burghal Explorer, Wasteland Wanderer
  • Sorcerer - Fey Magic
  • Warlock - The Chaos, The Noble Genie (the noble genie here is OK, but I think there's more creative stuff in either the WotC version or my version adapted in the Player's Companion)
  • Wizard - Beguiler, Mage Hunter, School of Reconstruction
Overall, the balance in Xanathar's Lost Notes to Everything Else seems on point, but the design leans to the conservative; some top notch design thinking like you can expect from James Haeck, James Introcaso, Rich Lescouflair, Shawn Merwin, and Will Doyle. It does feel like it cleaves more to the "WotC Way." It compares favorably to the Player's Companion, though there's more packed into that product at a better price, and I have a soft spot for anything involving M.T. Black and Jeremy Forbing. I think it also compares favorably to Galder's Gazetteer, the philanthropic compilation put together by Zipperon Disney, though that one is muuuch less balanced but has more creative stuff happening.
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