Near panting breath and twigs cracking under heavy footfalls are the only sounds in an otherwise quiet forest. The flapping of wings and the scurrying of wild hares fleeing from this place catch the hunters' eyes. Distracting as these spurts of movement are, the group remain focused in their search. The men only slow when branches and thorns snag upon the pristine uniforms they wear of the guard.
They pause only to suck in needed gulps of air. The forest is once again still for a moment, it’s quiet only disturbed by their heavy breaths and the light wind rustling through leaves.
The dash of something larger sets the guards back on their hunt through the tree brush. One raises a bow, ready to strike true when the blur of movement changes directions causing an arrow to land uselessly in the dirt. They’ve been at this for a while now it seems, but finally one sees an opportunity created by the miss. An arrow sails, and this time, it strikes true.
A thud and silence.
Their steps quickly pick up once more as the guards move toward the sound, and just as quickly their thundering stops as they reach what they felled. A deer. The arrow sticks out at an odd angle from the quivering creature’s flank. One guard curses below his breath, before snapping out "Time is wasting" and they begin their crusade again, leaving the deer where it lies.
When their steps have become merely an echo in the distance a soft cry of pain soaks the forest in its anguish. There is no deer on the ground anymore, only a girl with pointed ears and too many freckles. Her mane of red curls tangled with leaves and twigs from her fall, and the arrow sticks pointedly out of her thigh where blood has soaked through the flimsy cloth.
The guards will realize eventually, but for now, the druid is safe in her sanctuary.
Now she just needs to stop the bleeding.
A Druid Huh?
Druids are a particularly interesting class to take up as they often defy expectations. When players hear the word druid, they might conjure up images of some kind Disney princess who walks barefoot through the woods and talks to their animal friends. While there are plenty of druids who do those things, that isn’t all they can be.
Like many classes, druids defy stereotypes by coming in a wide array of shapes, colors, and sizes, that are truly customizable by the player.
Before we get into the customization, we need to talk about the bare bones of every druid so you can start filling in your character sheet. Hit dice for a druid are 1d8 per druid level. Hit points are also 1d8 but you also add your constitution modifier per druid level as well. You will also start off with a very basic level of proficiencies that will be added to depending on your race or background.
All druids start off with proficiency in light armor, medium armor, and shields, but they won’t have armor or shields that are made up of metals. Their weapon proficiencies will be with clubs, daggers, darts, javelins, maces, quarterstaffs, scimitars, sickles, slings, spears, and they will be proficient with an herbalism kit for tools.
Their proficient saving throws will be intelligence and wisdom, and they can choose two skill proficiencies from the following:Arcana, Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Religion, and Survival.
They’ll also be equipped with either a wooden shield, two simple weapons, leather armor, and an explorer’s pack.
Now that you’ve got a basic rundown, let’s get into the fun stuff, shall we?
Being a druid is like being part of a secret club. Like rogues have thieves cant, you’ll get your own special language called druidic that can help you share secrets. It’s kind of a neat little trick and definitely comes in handy if you’re needing to commune with other druids.
Nature is the base source of a druid’s power, so they often worship the different deities that oversee nature. Their spellcasting is brought about explicitly because of their connection with nature. They channel their magic through their devotion and through the use of a druidic focus. Their druidic focus is a tool or totem that is made of some piece of nature whether it be wood, plant, animal-derived material, and it is what they use for their spellcasting focus.
The best part of playing a druid in my opinion though is Wild Shape.
This is what most people think about when they think about taking on a druid, and why wouldn’t they? Wild Shape is one of the most badass features that comes in handy in multiple situations. You can essentially use your action to take on the shape of any beast that you have seen before. You’ll have to refer to the beast shapes table depending on your level as different levels have access to different beasts.
You can stay in Wild Shape for a period of time that is the number of hours equal to ½ your druid level. While you’re in the shape of the beast you take on its attributes, meaning your stats become the stats of that creature. You keep your alignment, wisdom, intelligence, and charisma levels but your dexterity, constitution, and strength are all altered to reflect that of the creature you’ve assumed. You also retain that creatures hit points and hit die. Once those hit zero you’ll take on your original form and are back to your normal hit points.
This can be beneficial during a battle, avoiding capture, or simply to help or mess with your party members.
I mean who wouldn’t want to sneak up on their party members as a duck when they’ve just relaxed for a soothing bath in the pond? I’m just saying, pranks are a valid use of wild shape.
What Else Should You Know?
Your druid will also at 2nd level be able to choose a Druidic Circle to follow. There are plenty of options that each come with their own special features, but the basic five are Circle of the Moon, Circle of the Land, Circle of Dreams, Circle of Spores, and Circle of the Shepherd. Each of them has special merits that differentiate them and you’ll have to think about your character specifically to choose which one will suit them best.
The most important thing to remember is that while you have a basic guideline, your creativity should be the most important element in character creation. Not all Druids have to be the same formula of a tree-hugging hippie. They can vary in race, background, and backstory and that should be the fun part for you. You want to create a half-orc druid with a small army of squirrels, feel free.
Creativity is what makes D&D great, so don’t feel limited.