The Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn is here, and it has come with a ton of new additions to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. If you haven’t checked it out, you’re doing yourself a disservice! The guys over at Darrington Press know how to make an exciting Druid! The Blighted Druid is a new take on the class, offering a strange mix of support, defense, and blistering offense! This all-rounder takes the forces of decay and disease and uses them to their own advantage. Does this leave them rotten? Or allow them to grow off of the decay of the immense number of resources that the dying grants? In our Circle of the Blighted 5E Guide, we’ll let you know!
Decay, Grow, Decay: Blighted Circle Druid 5E
The Blighted Circle is a strange mix of great defense, passable support, and weird offense. They are a Summoning-Based druid in terms of offense, but don’t get that offense until level 6. Their core, the Defiled Ground ability, requires rests to work well. They also have middling tools like Foul Conjuration which grants your summons minor boons. A strangely all-round version of the Druid class, compared to the aggressive Circle of Spores.
At level 2, you get the ability to produce a 10-ft radius within 60 feet of you as a Bonus Action. The gross blight and decay is difficult terrain for enemies. Anyone caught inside takes 1d4 Necrotic damage once per turn when they take damage from other effects. The blighted land increases to a 20-ft radius at level 10. At level 10 and 18, the damage dice increases to 1d6 and 1d8, respectively. You can shift the radius 30 feet as a Bonus Action. This ability is able to be reused whenever you complete any kind of rest.
This is a potent supportive feature. The ability to place a large circle of difficult terrain will force melee enemies to make a difficult, slow choice. You can use this to protect yourself or a high-priority target. The damage is some icing on the cake. Two extra damage (on average) per round is pretty abysmal, and it only improves by 1 average damage at each upgrade.
The upgrades aren’t useless, however. At level 10, this radius becomes as large as a fireball. This can combo great with Fireballs, boosting the damage of the fireball by a tiny bit while locking enemies in place for a while.
Do remember that your allies will take the bonus damage from Defile Ground. They do not consider it to be difficult terrain, though. Use that to your advantage and ensure your allies know the risks. Forcing the enemies to come in slowly into your Barbarian or Fighter might be a good idea.
Overall, good support, though it seems like it doesn’t really deserve its “once per rest” status. Oh well!
Also at level 2, you are disgusting by nature! You get Intimidation proficiency for free, and whenever you Wild Shape, you gain a few benefits.
- +2 AC
- +60 Feet of Darkvision
Intimidation proficiency is nice, as you can use it while in Beast Shape for emergencies. You shouldn’t be the Party’s “muscle,” but the ability to quickly and effectively try and shut down aggressors is nice. Nothing worse than a scary rat with protruding bones!
The more impressive benefits are the Wild Shape bonuses. Your Wild Shape is not exactly fantastic; it’s no Circle of the Moon. However, if you need to become a raven or rodent, you are actually pretty hard to put down. You also gain better ability to scout out your enemies with better sight. Actually solid for if you’re the party scout! Make sure you have Perception proficiency to maximize this ability’s potency!
Call Of The Shadowseeds
At level 6, your Defile Ground starts to foster new life. As a reaction when your Defile Ground does Necrotic damage to an enemy – who is not an Undead or Construct – you can summon a Blighted Sapling. This little fella can immediately attack and then obeys your commands. These last until you summon a new one, until you take a long rest, or until it reaches 0 hit points. You can only use this ability a number of times per day equal to your Proficiency modifier.
The Sapling itself is exceptionally weak defensively, sporting a mere 2 * Druid Level hitpoints. A Fireball will decimate this thing, as it is Vulnerable to Fire. It has okay AC with 10 + Proficiency Bonus. It is an awful scout, though it does have Blindsight 60 feet.
Offensively, it has your spell attack modifier and 2d4 + PB piercing damage for a melee attack. That’s pretty solid! It’ll keep up with your accuracy and doesn’t do abysmal damage. At level 14, it gains Multiattack, getting two attacks.
The limitation on daily uses should very rarely come up. 6 of these fellas should be plenty for a day. Try to time your reaction so this guy gets to attack right before your turn, maximizing the number of times it can attack.
Overall, Druid has some fantastic reaction spells, but this is unique. If you know you don’t need to spend a reaction on something like Absorb Elements and want your Defile Ground to be exceptional rather than mediocre, this is fantastic!
Eww! At level 10, you summon warped and toxic beast, fey, and plant creatures, rather than normal ones. Whenever you summon these by spells or by Call Of The Shadowseeds, they gain two benefits.
- Immunity to necrotic and poison damage. Immunity to the Poisoned condition.
- If they die, they hit all creatures within 5 feet of them with a bomb. They deal damage based on their CR, with a Constitution save to completely ignore. At CR 1/4th or lower, it’s d4. And at 1/2, it’s 1d6. At 1 or more, it’s d8s equal to their CR. If the creature lists no CR, you get d6s equal to your proficiency bonus.
Weird math here! A lot to remember.
Your creatures are a touch harder to kill. Necrotic damage is high, so the ability to ignore those spells is massive. Poison can be dangerous to summons due to Cloudkill, so you can ignore that now. You can’t ignore Fireballs or anything. The Poisoned condition should rarely apply, since that’s usually a more targeted effect, but some Areas of Effect can apply it. This’ll fix them right up!
More interesting on the offensive side is Toxic Demise. The damage you can deal to someone is actually not awful. Swarming someone with 1/4th creatures can hit them for 8d4, on top of how annoying a swarm of summons usually is. Bigger summons hit harder, but are usually harder to pull off and might not even do that much more damage than a swarm of smaller monsters. Conjure Fey, for instance, will hit for 6d8, but is harder to kill and arguably less useful than a pile of small guys that lock down your opponent.
And your little Sapling will hit for d8s equal to your Proficiency Bonus, since there is a Challenge listed. If your DM rules that they use d6s, that’s not really that big of a deal.
This makes swarms of monsters terrifying to blow up at the same time, but it is not foolproof. It’s only a 5 foot explosion, making it not too hard to get out of the way from. Make sure to lock them down when you drop Summons on them, as this ability can get hard-countered by teleportation. And make sure your melees know to stay away from the disgusting, malformed creatures you bring to life.
You can also spend an action to willingly kill a Summon. That’s definitely one way to spend an action! You should probably cast magic instead of murdering your dogs. If you need to get area of effect damage, try Spike Growth or Ice Storm.
This ability is very fun, and makes your summons harder to kill while rewarding you for killing them. You can even work with your party’s Wizard to detonate all of your summons with a Fireball, forcing a ton of Constitution saves or take a bunch of extra damage!
Incarnation Of Corruption
The final circle ability you get at level 14 is surprisingly potent. You will always gain a +2 bonus to AC and resistance to Necrotic damage as your skin hardens, bones sprout from your body, and your eyes turn white. In addition, if you are within your Defile Ground, you gain temporary hitpoints equal to your Proficiency every turn.
First of all, this is a permanent +2 to AC! That’s awesome! It’s rare to get a hard bonus to AC outside of Cleric or a Fighting Style class. You can use this in a Multiclass build to assemble the Ultimate AC build… Although, being locked to medium armor might make that build a bit hard to pull off.
Resistance to Necrotic damage is very important. You deal a lot of necrotic damage, and you might need it if your Summon explodes in your face.
And this resistance combos with the other bonus of your ability. You gain temporary hitpoints while in your Defile Ground. Your Defile Ground’s bonus damage absolutely applies to you, meaning you eat 1d6 to 1d8 Necrotic damage if you’re in its radius. Now, thanks to this resistance, that Necrotic damage is a pitiful 1 to 2 average damage. And you’ll be regaining 4-6 temporary HP every round. You’re making a profit. It’s not much, but it’s a profit.
+2 AC is insane, and it balances out this otherwise kind of mediocre ability. The fact that you are not immune to the damage of your Defile Ground is a bit odd, but you’re basically immune to it. That should count for something! And now you can use your Defile Ground as a sort of battleground. Combo it with other classes that are resistant to Necrotic damage and make your enemies slow as all get-out!
Best Race for Blighted Circle Druids
The Blighted Circle relies on Wisdom, as many of your effects rely on Spell DCs. Make sure you gain at least a +1 to your Wisdom from your race. Otherwise, races that can natively benefit from the high AC of this class can see late-game success.
If you are allowed to use the Wildhunt Shifter from Eberron: Rising from the Last War, we think that’d work well for you! Wildhunts have the ability to Shift, which will give you a ton of temporary hitpoints as a bonus action. You get Survival for free, Darkvision, and if you’re Shifted, you are immune to others having advantage to attack you as well as all wisdom checks. This is a good build for if you’re scouting locations or if you’re trying to just tank hits. It also has that nice +2 to Wisdom.
This guy’s a weird choice. From the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica, Loxodon receive the most unique version of Natural Armor; Constitution-based. So, you can pump your Constitution to 15 or 16 to gain 15-16 AC without wearing any armor, and with no Dexterity! You’ll have a ton of health and good Constitution saves, great for a Druid. Otherwise, you have advantage against charms or frightens. Decent build for a Druid who wants to be safe on the battlefield.
These fliers from the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion are a touch outclassed by the Owlin in some ways, so they are interchangeable. The Aarakocra have better flight speed and a natural attack, but no Darkvision and no bonus skill. Either way, flight works well for you since you can choose better points for your Defile Ground while staying out-of-reach. You will also have the Dexterity needed to armor up, and can invest more readily into natural attacks.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Circle of the Blighted
The Circle of the Blighted is a weird all-rounder. It has no huge strengths, other than a flat +2 bonus to AC that it gets at level 14. The subclass just has a bunch of pretty decent tools! It loves short rests, though, so try to fit in with a party who also takes a few short rests per day. This is a great Druid archetype for those wanting a caster druid without memorizing new spells. And it might be one of the best Summoner archetypes for its reaction ability to summon!