As a rare addition to a class’s toolkit, the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica actually introduced a full subclass. Rather rare, for a regional guide! And in this case, a class from a non-standard rulebook is actually great! As a member of the Circle of Spores, you’re responsible for seeing nature to the next step of life. Death begets new life, after all; decay is just another way to move on. You’re rare amongst druids, in that undeath to you is normal and healthy… as long as they understand that they’re part of a cycle, rather than trying to replace the living world. Do these heralds of rot and decay have a place in an adventuring party? Read our Circle of Spores 5E Guide, and find out!
Explore the End: Circle of Spores Druid
The Circle of Spores druid is designed as a melee-range class without needing to Wild Shape. In fact, instead of Wild Shaping, you get buffs to stay alive in melee easier and deal damage! While it’s imperfect in its execution, you can deal more damage with weapons than cantrips with your Symbiotic Entity state. And clever usage of racial features and a high Strength or Dexterity score can really help you out.
To begin, the Circle of Spores gets a few spells that they learn automatically.
|Circle of Spore Spells|
|Druid Level||Circle Spells|
|3rd||Blindness/Deafness, Gentle Repose|
|5th||Animate Dead, Gaseous Form|
In addition, at level 2, you gain the Chill Touch cantrip.
Chill Touch is a solid cantrip. It replaces the Druid’s Produce Flame quite readily, since disadvantage on attack rolls is so potent that it’s worth the risky Constitution save. Especially if the enemy looks rather weedy! Consider having both options, in case their AC is worse than their Constitution.
Your options that you get for your spells always prepared are all great. Every level (other than 5th) has some spammable spells. And both Animate Dead and Gaseous Form are very useful in the situations they come up!
In general, you’re getting a great spread here. Combat control, utility, summons, defense, and damage. You even get area of effect, something really rare for druids! This is a fantastic way to get damage while enforcing your mastery of rot.
Because these spells are so good, you can prepare a bunch of spells that are useful utility abilities. Don’t be afraid to spam Blindness/Deafness on enemies with eyes! Blind is hard to recover from!
Halo of Spores
You get three whole abilities at level 2. Other than spells known, you also get a damaging option that helps your melee capabilities.
Starting at 2nd level, you are surrounded by invisible, necrotic spores that are harmless until you unleash them on a creature nearby. When a creature you can see moves into a space within 10 feet of you or starts its turn there, you can use your reaction to deal 1d4 necrotic damage to that creature unless it succeeds on a Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC. The necrotic damage increases to 1d6 at 6th level, 1d8 at 10th level, and 1d10 at 14th level.
Druids don’t really have much to do with their reaction, so causing something to just take damage is great! Do you know what’s a bit less great?
So, spending your reaction to deal 2 average damage is pretty pathetic. It’ll scale quickly, increasing in dice size every 4 levels, but even then it’s only by 1 on average. And that’s your entire reaction! And they get to save!
On the other hand, Druids don’t learn Counterspell or anything… so your only other option is Absorb Elements. Not exactly tantalizing, and this doesn’t cost any spell slots!
This ability isn’t designed to be used by itself, to be fair. It’s designed to be used with the following ability!
Also gained at level 2, you can spend an action to expend a Wild Shape use. Instead of becoming a beast, you gain 4 temp HP per level, and a few other benefits.
- When you deal your Halo of Spores damage, roll the damage die a second time and add it to the total.
- Your melee weapon attacks deal an extra 1d6 poison damage to any target they hit.
These benefits last for 10 minutes, until you lose all these temporary hit points, or until you use your Wild Shape again.
Notably, this has a much, much shorter default time span than your Wild Shape. But, the extra benefits make a melee-centric build extremely viable.
First of all, let’s talk about the temp HP pool. 4 HP per level is a bit lower than you’d get by Wild Shaping with Circle of the Moon; by now, you get 8 HP, rather than the 40-ish of the Dire Wolf. It also scales a bit worse than Circle of the Moon, to 80 temp HP instead of the 120-ish of a Mammoth. That’s rather low, but you get to keep your Humanoid AC and add the temp HP to your own pool, so that’s not too bad. Just make sure you’re dodging as many hits as possible, and you’ll find that 4 HP per level is plenty!
Unfortunately, just like Wild Shape, you lose the buffs when you run out of health. Also unlike Wild Shape, you can’t heal your temporary hitpoints, so it’s easier to lose the shield. Your AC and saves are actually critical!
And that’s because your buffs are crazy good! Rather than the utility of animals, you deal so much more damage. Your Halo of Spores becomes incredibly useful. 2d4 increases your average damage to 5, which is worth a reaction. And it buffs up to an average of 11, which is fine. Nothing too strong, but it’s easy to trigger.
Poison damage is pretty easy to resist, but you get to add poison damage to “any target.” You could theoretically dual-wield and get 2d6 extra poison damage per turn, easily outpacing cantrips. Or, if you’re a real madman, you could multiclass with Monk to use Flurry of Blows. Really weird, but hilarious. I’d suggest just dual-wielding at most.
This is a fantastic ability, as long as you keep yourself safe. It turns the Druid into a legitimate frontliner without needing Circle of the Moon.
Phew! Those were 3 pretty alright abilities. At level 6, you slow down quite a bit. You can use the following reaction a Wisdom Modifier number of times per day.
If a beast or humanoid that is Small or Medium dies within 10 feet of you, you can use your reaction to animate it, causing it to stand up immediately with 1 hit point. The creature uses the zombie statistics. It remains animate for 1 hour, after which time it collapses and dies.
In combat, the zombie’s turn is immediately after yours. It obeys your mental commands, and the only action it can take is the Attack action, making one melee attack.
This isn’t bad… But it’s pretty bad.
So, there are three major problems here. First, you need to be fighting beasts or humanoids that are, at max, Medium. That’s not too bad for humanoids, but a lot of difficult or powerful Beasts are Large or more. You’re losing the value of resurrecting large creatures, and can’t even resurrect mosquitos or anything that was just annoying. That’s mean! However, you’ll eventually not fight beasts (since most generic beast stats are CR 8 at most!) and then it’ll just be humanoids. At least humanoids are real common!
The second problem is the hitpoint problem. Zombies can spend 1 reaction per rest to avoid dying if they took 10 or less damage, but you’ll have to expend that reaction immediately. Then, the next time your zombie takes any damage, it’s guaranteed dead. And it’s not exactly hard to hit; with 9 AC, awful Dexterity and Wisdom, this thing will eat the dirt immediately. You’ll have to consider healing it… which is specifically spells that stimulate natural healing, like Regenerate. And that might be a waste of time.
Finally, Zombies have awful attack rolls. At a +3 to hit, and a 1d6+1 to damage, there’s a reason that you usually fight hordes of them. They’ll not be huge threats in a fight.
This is good for maybe making your party take less damage from attacking enemies…? It really is just not that significant.
I may not be a huge fan of your Halo of Spores, but I can recognize a respectable class feature when I see one. This is a 10th level feature.
As a bonus action while your Symbiotic Entity feature is active, you can hurl spores up to 30 feet away, where they swirl in a 10-foot cube for 1 minute. The spores disappear early if you use this feature again, if you dismiss them as a bonus action, or if your Symbiotic Entity feature is no longer active.
Whenever a creature moves into the cube or starts its turn there, that creature takes your Halo of Spores damage, unless the creature succeeds on a Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC. A creature can take this damage no more than once per turn.
Well, there goes your reaction! You can’t use Halo of Spores while this is out.
So, a 10×10 area of effect isn’t significant, especially now that you have spells like Cloudkill. However, being able to throw this out as a bonus action and having a bunch of enemies choke on your spores is fine.
As a bonus action, you can connect with up to 8 enemies (if there are creatures flying right above each other) for 2d8. That’s… Not awful? It’s okay combat control, it forces enemies to take constant damage if you can make bottlenecks… but average 9 damage isn’t that much by now.
To make the best usage of this, prepare spells like Entangle or Spike Growth to keep enemies from moving too fast. Then they take additional damage from the cloud, since they’ll have trouble moving.
It’s not awful, and with spells like Cloudkill now in your toolkit, it has legitimate synergy with your class. You want to set up situations where Spreading Spores is significant. Make those situations happen!
Just make sure you don’t spore yourself in the meanwhile!
At last, you’ve embraced the rot so fully that it’s significantly more difficult to effect your state.
At 14th level, the fungal spores in your body alter you: you can’t be blinded, deafened, frightened, or poisoned, and any critical hit against you counts as a normal hit, unless you are incapacitated.
This is 5 condition immunities. 5. That’s a lot!
Deafened is likely the least significant, since it’s just hearing checks. Nice flavor, at least! Blinded is much, much worse, since that really affects your ability to hit things… and they hit you much harder! Considering how easy Blindness/Deafness is to cast, these are a good pair.
Frightened is really bad for you, since you’re in melee so much. You want to be able to walk at enemies, and Frightened would normally prevent that. Now it can’t. One of the best debuffs in the game, ignored! Poisoned also applies Disadvantage to a lot of things, but it’s not usually as important in combat. Hilariously, you still take poison damage, unless your GM rules that out.
Finally, anti-crits are huge! 5e’s crits really don’t hurt that much, especially compared to older editions. But, if a monster is designed with 19-20 crit spots, or you’re fighting a Champion Fighter, you’re preventing a lot of pain. That’s at least 1 extra weapon damage dice less! Great if your GM’s on a hot streak that day.
Really fantastic list of debuff prevention, and a legitimate reason to take Circle of Spores by itself.
Best Race for Spore Circle Druids
The Spore Circle Druid is… weird. They really want Wisdom to make the most out of spell slots, but they also want either Dexterity or Strength to be good at melee. Constitution keeps them alive, so that’s important as well. Choose to focus on either Dexterity or Strength.
These Volo’s Guide monsters are just itching to get some spores! Lizardfolk gain +2 Con, +1 Wisdom, which is great for you! If you decide to invest mostly into Dexterity, the Natural Armor of a Lizardfolk will be massive; 13 + Dexterity is nothing to sneeze at! You’ll eventually have better AC than a full-plated Paladin. In addition, Lizardfolk gain a Bite attack that can use their bonus action, fantastic proficiencies, bonus Temp HP sources, and can make weapons. What a fantastic mixed bag! Really good for any frontlining druid.
Spore Druids don’t have to be Dexterity builds, but I find Dexterity to be a bit more useful. Kenku’s got that Dexterity down pat, with a +2 to Dex, +1 Wisdom! Perfect! They also gain some proficiencies to help you fill a Rogue’s Scouting spot, if you need to. Finally… you’re a crow. You’re the harbinger of death itself!
Conclusion – Our Take on the Circle of Spores
The Circle of Spores is a great frontliner, and a fantastic alternative to Circle of the Moon. You replace some durability and damage for better utility and combat control, which is a fair trade. Also, you’d be much more accepted amongst evil parties! If you want a new spin on the frontlining Druid, Spores can show you a whole new world!