The Player’s Handbook introduced two Druid classes. Both are pretty secretive orders, but the Circle of the Land is the civilized aspect of Druidic. Unlike the Circle of the Moon, these Druids are often community leaders, advising rulers about what would anger nature. When they are not amongst civilization, they talk with each other about weather and Druidic. These are the keepers of the tradition, and what most people think of when they hear of Druids. Can this council member become a major part of an adventuring party? Read our Circle of the Land 5E Guide and see for yourself!
Defend Nature’s Secrets: Circle of the Land Druid
The Land Druid is a backline spellslinger, using the Druid’s spell list. Unfortunately, it can be somewhat tricky to really be a purely dedicated spellcaster with their list. You still get solid options for your goals, and a lot of Concentration spells that deal consistent damage. In addition, the Land Druid gets some abilities that increase their consistency in the midgame, and are especially good problem solvers.
To start, you get another cantrip.
When you choose this circle at 2nd level, you learn one additional druid cantrip of your choice.
Because of their weapon proficiencies and Wild Shape, Druids start with 1 less cantrip than other 9th level casters. This puts you back on par with other full casters, which is nice.
Druid cantrips aren’t exactly insane, but this allows you to get some extra utility or damage options. For example, you’d normally only take 1 damage option. Now, you could take something like Primal Savagery as well as a ranged cantrip, an option that deals more damage but has less utility.
You may want to invest in Guidance as well, since guidance adds a d4 to most things someone cares about. Shape Water can be useful in most dungeons, though the other Minor Utility spells are some of the worst in the game (i.e. Druidcraft and Control Flames).
Realistically, see what utility spells your party needs, and then choose damage options that fit your build. If you can afford to wade into melee, Primal Savagery does great damage, and Thorn Whip has decent combat control. Otherwise, you’ll likely want Produce Flame or Bonfire. Bonfire is especially good if your party members can shove enemies across it over and over!
To add to your spellcasting usefulness, the Druidic Circle rips a class feature straight from Wizard.
Starting at 2nd level, you can regain some of your magical energy by sitting in meditation and communing with nature. During a short rest, you choose expended spell slots to recover. The spell slots can have a combined level that is equal to or less than half your druid level (rounded up), and none of the slots can be 6th level or higher. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.
The ability to regenerate spells is one of the most potent things a caster can do. Druids are among the 9th level casters unable to do it by default. Now, you can regenerate them without expending another strong resource (take that, Sorcerer!).
This scales pretty great. At every odd level, you get an additional spell level, up to 10 spell levels at 19. Unfortunately, you can’t replace any 6th level slots, but that’s to be expected. Those slots are ridiculous!
Because of how many Concentration spells the Druid has, this actually isn’t as good as Arcane Recovery. Call Lightning can last a full combat on one spell slot, while dealing good damage. Natural Recovery will let you grab your important slots before a boss fight, at least.
Use this ability wisely and you’ll be the environmentalist Wizard your party wants.
The Circle of the Land has one of the most awkward implementations of subclass spells in 5e. That’s fine. You get a 2nd level spell at level 3, and then you get 3rd, 4th, and 5th slots every two levels afterwards. These spells are always prepared, but you get no extra spell slots to cast them with. These are just options you get for free and always have the option to use.
- Arctic: These spells are centered around slowing your enemies… up until the 5th level options, which gives you some information and area of effect. Decent mix of damage and combat control, but extremely heavy on Concentration.
- Coast: Coast is almost entirely a mixed bag of everything except damage. Mobility is the main focus, with 4 spells that at least help you move around a watery battlefield. Otherwise, you get some defense, summoning, utility, and information. Really mixed, but unfortunately they are extremely water-focused.
- Desert: Desert brings some illusions into the mix, primarily for defense. Protection from Energy is a real standout, since that’ll keep you alive in a lot of 5E’s most dangerous encounters. Otherwise, you get okay damage, some caster shutdown, and defensive options.
- Forest: Forest may be one of the worst ones. You get next to nothing that’s outside of the Druid spell list, but it’s at least a solid mix? You’ve got mobility, defense, information, anti-lockdown… but again, only one spell outside of the Druid’s options. And Divination almost gets entirely replaced by Commune with Nature.
- Grassland: Grassland has some awesome options, such as Invisibility and Haste, that aren’t available to Druids. You don’t get much damage until Insect Plague, and Dream kinda stinks. At least this time, you get Divination and not Commune with Nature.
- Mountain: Mountain is pretty focused on combat control. You finally get the ability to cast Lightning Bolt from your hands instead of the skies, but you’re otherwise really interested in rocks here. No joke, this is one of the best options, almost exclusively because you get so many problem solving tools and an efficient use of 3rd level spell slots.
- Swamp: Swamp Druids get really good options right away, and then slowly fade to obscurity. Your 4th level spells are extremely situational (though I hold Freedom of Movement on a pedestal). If you know your quest is going to be about finding someone, then you get both Scrying and Locate Creature. Just for that extra bit of insurance.
- Underdark: Also known as the Fart Druid, the Underdark is hilariously powerful. You get mobility, insane combat control, defense, Greater Invisibility… You even get Stone Shape! This fights with Mountain for the best list, just because of how spammable the spell options are.
Because having extra spells prepared is never a bad thing, none of these lists are fully terrible. You can just prepare good spells from the Druid’s spell list, and have your Land options be there as problem-solving solutions. With how many of them have Freedom of Movement, that was likely how this was designed!
No matter what you choose, you’ll get at least 1 out-of-class option, and usually much more. Solve all the problems!
Unfortunately, it goes downhill from here. You’re going to start to get a bunch of utility abilities that help in incredibly rare situations.
Starting at 6th level, moving through nonmagical difficult terrain costs you no extra movement. You can also pass through nonmagical plants without being slowed by them and without taking damage from them if they have thorns, spines, or a similar hazard.
In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against plants that are magically created or manipulated to impede movement, such as those created by the Entangle spell.
Nonmagical difficult terrain is fairly rare; not too many dungeons utilize a major portion of that. And by now, you really want to have Winged Boots or another method of Flight. If that happens, you no longer care about difficult terrain, since Flight is just too nice.
Unsurprisingly, being able to strut through nonmagical plant life without taking damage or slowing down is similarly weak, but even moreso. There are maybe two situations where you’d need to literally walk through a thornbush: if there’s a body in there, or if there’s somehow a hallway specifically closed off and constructed in a way that forces the party to walk through nonmagical plant life.
At the very least, you’ll sometimes get the bonus to saves against magically created plants. Entangle is actually pretty devastating, especially if you can’t quite find Winged Boots yet. Unfortunately, there are pitifully few spells at this level that are specifically plants, and specifically allow a save.
Overall, you get three situational bonuses, but all three are so incredibly situational that you may never see any of them. Remember that you have these, but don’t spend too much brainspace on it.
At least this situational bonus is only a sentence!
When you reach 10th level, you can’t be charmed or frightened by elementals or fey, and you are immune to poison and disease.
Oh I wish it were more than a sentence…
So, Elementals are in a situation where their ability to do anything other than just damage is limited. Most elementals just beat the crud out of you. Occasionally, there will be elementals that can fear you, but those aren’t that threatening. Fey are significantly more likely to charm or fear you, but they have less creatures at high CRs than Elementals; the highest CR a Fey gets is 10. That means, by the time you get this ability, you are fighting the highest level Fey currently available in Wizards-made statblocks. That’s… not amazing.
Now, immunity to poison and disease? That’s what I’m talking about! If the Sage Advice Compendium is correct, then immunity to poison covers the poison condition and poison damage. That’s great! The poisoned condition is disadvantage on “yes”, and poison damage is… fairly common? Not too common, but common enough to be annoying. If you’re fighting in the newly-produced Theros, a lot of undead creatures augment their weapons with Poison.
Diseases are a bit rarer than poison in general, but when you get hit with a strong disease… it sucks. Your character could die completely, become permanently scarred, or require intense magic to get rid of it. Because 5E wanted disease to be more potent, some DMs might make diseases an adventure hook, and devastate a character!
Now, your character isn’t gonna be the hook. Joyous!
At level 14, you apply a permanent Sanctuary effect on yourself… against specific targets.
When you reach 14th level, creatures of the natural world sense your connection to nature and become hesitant to attack you. When a beast or plant creature attacks you, that creature must make a Wisdom saving throw against your druid spell save DC. On a failed save, the creature must choose a different target, or the attack automatically misses. On a successful save, the creature is immune to this effect for 24 hours.
The creature is aware of this effect before it makes its attack against you.
So, not to harp about CR… but I’m gonna harp on CR.
At level 14, you’re beyond beasts and plants. Beast CR caps at 8 (for T-Rexes) and at 9 (for Treants). Of course, your DM can change thing; maybe you’re battling a corrupted treant, and 9-10 T-Rexes will likely pose a threat to your party. But… in general, your party should not really care about these enemies by now.
Also, why are you fighting these creatures? This might sound strange, but most Druids are friendly to plants or animals. Perhaps this plant or animal is corrupted? Perhaps your fighter insulted that treants family, and your Druid-ness wasn’t enough to stop it? Who knows?
If your GM is creative with enemies, and experienced enough to make Beasts and Plants at higher difficulty, then this is a permanent Sanctuary against those creatures. That’s good! Neither monster type is known for fantastic Wisdom saves.
If you’re playing with a new DM, or are running a specific module, then this might not really help you very much.
Best Race for Land Circle Druids
Land Druids need to get their Wisdom to 20 quickly! Get your saves high, get your attack rolls high, be happy. Afterwards, the only physical stats that matter (unless you multiclass for whatever reason) are Dexterity and Constitution for defensive purposes.
One of the races of Ravnica, the simic Hybrid is insanely versatile. You gain a +2 to Constitution and a +1 to plop onto Wisdom. Darkvision is solid in all cases, and then you get some bonuses! Consider Nimble Climber to get pseudo-flight, Manta Glide for pseudo-Feather Fall, and Carapace. This is a superb option for druids, since it can let you get away from combat, get okay AC, and let you choose things based on campaign. This is a near must-have for underwater campaigns!
Firbolgs, from the Volo’s Guide to Monsters, are one of two races that get access to +2 Wisdom by base. They happen to be better for Druids. Firbolg Magic is good for defense, and can keep you from getting discovered. Hidden Step is extremely powerful for casters, and Powerful Build lets you dump Strength without a problem. Speech of Beast and Leaf can make Nature’s Sanctuary useful; while the T-Rex fails to bite you, you can try and talk them down. Not bad at all!
Kalashtars from Eberron aren’t bad. You get that +2 Wisdom, some utility abilities, and some damage reduction. Not bad at all, especially if you want to go for a psychic-based Druid. Just… make sure Firbolgs can’t do what Kalashtars do, but better. That +1 Charisma isn’t really worth very much!
Conclusion – Our Take on the Circle of the Land
That wraps up our Circle of the Land guide. One of the original druid subclasses, this spellcaster has som issues but offers a lot of firepower through its spell list. Give us a shout in the comment section below and let us know what you think of this one!
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