Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Druid Circles And Wild Shape

Dreams is right up my alley, and may lead to me creating my first druid character in 5e...

Dreams is right up my alley, and may lead to me creating my first druid character in 5e. Starting to feel like we are getting a lot of Fey and Shadowfell themed options in these. Perhaps that's a clue to where the 2017 Fall supplement is going to focus? Elminster's Journey's across the Planes, a guide.


"1d4 rounds" - I don't care for this sort of thing, personally. I'd rather it be once a turn or once or so many times a short rest but not this.
Agree. It's far too fine-grained for the intended simplicity of 5e. Adding in a round-tracking mechanic is against the original design philosophy.

Circle of the Moon is still stronger than these circle options, though, it seems.
I do wonder whether this means Circle of the Moon is too powerful or if other circle options need to be brought up to the same level.

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Shepherd is poor man's Shaman.

I realize getting, say, advantage remains as competetive at high level as at low, but really we need more crunch here. First getting low-level spirits and then getting better spirits at high level.

At least the spirit has a battlefield presence (a location). But it really is more of a world of warcraft totem than an actual spirit animal. Far prefer 4e's approach.


Twilight is pure WTF. It hunts undead... by killing living people with necrotic. WTF? This druid would get burned at the stake as a necromancer!


As for the beast shapes, I feel it's too much rule for something that is best left up to the player and DM. In fact, scrap the cumbersome rules overhead and just keep the "starting beast shapes.

That way a DM could feel actually generous about granting other shapes while still restricting munchkins to the lists.

In closing, compared to that other thread listing druid UA wish lists, we certainly didn't get much...


Possibly a Idiot.
What, no Plant Druids?
Let's see what this is all about.

Circle of Dreams
All about the Fey. More Disney than D&D lore, dreams are normally the realm of Illusionists, or more often Psionics and Aberrations, which makes me question why not an Aberration/Far realm hunter druid? Fey aren't inherently nice, tricksters enough for illusions to be sure, but them being "healers" is like fitting a square peg into a round hole. I suppose Circle of Life is copyrighted, though.

Balm of the Summer Court.
Summer Court being the alternate name of this subclass, possibly.
The wording of this ability is weird. "spend a number equal to half your level or less" seems to imply that you can spend a number of dice that is anywhere from one up to half of your druid's level. Or it could have been cut off before it was finished and it was meant that you only get two uses of this ability per day, each one spends half of your druid dice. It stopped just short of true clarity on this one, and took me a few re-reads to figure out what it might have been trying to say.
The die used to heal is small, and the long rest mechanic means that it is most likely going to be used like a bonus action Spare the Dying.
The Bonus HP per die makes this ability more complex than most healing abilities. The point of this part of the ability is to make the small die used less anemic on classes with gobs of hp, and to provide some padding to the more fragile classes so they can escape the dire peril that caused them to take a big mouthful of dirt in the first place.
The speed boost also reinforces the idea that this is supposed to get people back into the fight. But it may be too variable. I can see higher level parties using this as a "Tank overdrive" prebuff to get the meat shields into position.
In short I think this ability is clashes with the theme of Fey, has too many moving parts, and is a bit clunky (but that just may be me reading it after waking up)

Hearth of Moonlight and Shadow
This is more along the lines of what the Dreams should be about: It sets up an illusion to make you harder to see, lets you sleep so you can have dreams, and makes it so you are harder to be ambushed. Good non-combat ability, wish it did something about sounds and smell though.

Hidden Paths
a 30' teleport every 1d4 rounds, that costs Movement instead of an Action.
I don't like the d4 variable. It's fiddly, maybe just make it per round, like the Shadow Monk ability. Other than that it's a solid draw of the subclass.

Purifying Light
A free dispel Magic Rider on your healing spells. Very niche, but it can save you from getting blended by the Barbarian when they are charmed. However, what happens when a level 1 spell slot is used? Does that give you extra bang for your buck? It also doesn't work on the Summer Court power. It seems a bit too niche. It could be reworked so that it only rides on the Court Die and cures various conditions up to things like petrification depending on the number of dice used.

It's two half-Concepts mashed into one. The healing bits clash with the idea of Fey in general. I don't really care for the flavor, but the mechanics can be easily salvaged at least.

Circle of the Sheppard
In theory, this is basically the Spirit Shaman, and the Totem Barbarian's wise old sage.

Spirit Bond
More of a Zone than a Spirit, you give your allies a buff. Also some of the things are better for dipping than others.
Bear: How do the Temp HPs work? Do you gain them while in the zone but lose them outside of it? Can you dance in and out of the zone for multiple applications? Or does it just apply to everyone who was in the zone when the zone was first plopped down?
Hawk: Technically a debuff for your enemies in the zone. It gives your team advantage on ranged attacks to creatures in the target zone. The only Spirit that does a single thing.
Wolf: Advantage on Perception and possibly Investigation if people can be bothered to remember that skill exists (why wasn't this with the hawk?) And for some reason it's also an AoE heal?
This power seems a bit slapdash. The spirit doesn't do anything by itself, it just sits there, passively providing a buff and not moving. It reminds me more of a World of Warcraft Totem in that sense.

Beast Speech
You become Dr. Doolittle. This is fun, also potentially useful.

Mighty Summoner
I really don't like abilities that tap into the HD of creatures. Creature HD are a pain to calculate for custom monsters, and rarely used. Leading me to just ignore them altogether, and groan whenever something tries to force creature HD back into being a thing. Aside from that, I really don't like Summon Creature spells, I think they are actually broken in regards to the number of actions they create in battle.
Outside of those problems, this ability does shore up the one issue summoned creatures had: Not counting as Magic Damage.

Guardian Spirit
Free Death Ward every day, all day. Thematic, and it can save you from a cheep death.

Faithful Summons
When you get knocked out or otherwise tied up, you can summon a horde of squirrels, or Stirges. This ability breaks all the rules I like, such as the action economy, and I believe it is meant to ignore concentration although it doesn't explicitly say it does. It also stacks with Mighty Summoner meaning you have to pull all that math out again. It's an ability that seems nice in concept, but would be horrible to play around. Also it clashes with Guardian Spirit.

Man, I do not like this Circle. The Spirit sits like a holographic lump. The summoner abilities take combat to places I hate. The two abilities I do like are overshadowed immensely by everything else.

Circle of Twilight
Not a fan fiction webpage for that controversial book series, but the name for the Druids who hunt undead. A concept that was begging to be made.

Harvest Scythe
Dear WotC Dev team: I humbly request an explanation of your decision to give undead hunters necrotic damage. The connection seems counterintuitive to me, and as you have now done it twice, there must be something I am missing here.
Outside of that, this strikes me as the ability that the Grave Clerics should have had in place of doing more melee stuff. The wording "you can spend" clears up a lot of the confusion from the Fey Court Druid ability. Aside from the Damage type I rather like it.

Speech Beyond the Grave
Way more interesting than speaking with beasts for sure, though technically you could speak with a beast this way if it was dead.

Watcher at the Threshold
So you get two resistances, and your allies get advantage on death saving throws. This is the good kind of niche, you are going to remember when you need to do this because it happens enough, and when it happens it matters.

Paths of the Dead
This is a free 7th level spell every short rest, a spell that isn't even on your normal spell list. A travel spell no less. This is powerful, and perhaps the only check on it's power is the fact you can't increase it's spell level.

I like this one, more or less. The necrotic bonus damage is questionable, and the capstone ability is perhaps overpowered.

Wild shape forms
What's this? Rules that aren't Subclasses? Nice change of pace.
It's basically a nerf, but I can see why people would want to use it. Heck, I may end up using it just to speed up play at the table with some of my players.


First Post
I am not sure where the border is for domains, circles, etc. where you may have every class have a dream subclass, etc. I am debating if they are getting too specialized or specific.


I get the distinct feeling that the Circles of Dreams and Twilight are eventually going to be called Greensingers and Children of Winter respectively...
(Really like the overall initial feel to the mechanics, but definitely have to get tweaked).
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Not a big fan of the Wildshape rules. Putting together a list of the MM creatures valid for wild shape is a spreadsheet, not a rules expansion. :) And "trade some of that flexibility for ease of use" is a long-winded way of saying "nerf".

Do the temp hit points from Bear Spirit Bond last past the minute? If so, that's Inspiring Leader as a level 2 class feature, which is pretty strong.

Even better, you can summon 24 15-HP Giant Poisonous Snakes via Conjure Animals VII and then in your very next action use your Bear Spirit to give them all 15-25 temp HP on top, without having to spend the better part of an hour orating to them.

But I hate the flavor of immobile "spirits" that grant random bonuses for being near them. So very gamist.
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First Post
I keep reading here the dispel magic rider on Purifying Light is free, but it specifically says "...using a spell slot..." That can't be an ambiguous way of saying it's free. (Why not "cast at a level equal to the healing spell but does not consume a spell slot"?) It's either poorly designed or exceptionally poorly worded.


The subclasses were sort of interesting, but a little too niche. At least for me the big thing was the Wild shape ruling...nerfing. Does anyone think this was necessary? I've always felt like wild shape was terrific from levels 2 to 4 (assuming you wanted to be a bear) and then it rapidly fell behind in terms of usefulness compared to spells and summons. But perhaps I missed something?

Is a high level druid stuck using his low level forms until a DM gives him the opportunity to study rarer animals for an hour?


Jedi Master
Adding in a round-tracking mechanic is against the original design philosophy.

There are literally dozens of spells that require round tracking (though none are variable). I really like the 1d4 cool-down mechanic as it gives a nice way to create essentially a once per combat encounter ability (since most combat encounters are 2-5 rounds) without it actually being called that. Sure you will get the odd time where you can use it twice in a combat, but you can't count on it.

I think it's an inspired idea that I hope see's more play in other classes.

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