Hello all, and welcome to a new Segment called “They’ve got Class.” In this segment we focus on either a class or a subclass and try to parse out what makes it unique and what it does well, particularly what it does well in contrast to other options within the same class if it is a subclass.
In Japanese Folklore, the wolf is a symbol of winter, and with so little humidity in the night sky in the Northern hemisphere during the winter months, the Moon shines particularly brightly, even lighting up the landscape if there is a coating of snow and turning trees coated in ice into wondrous chandeliers. So in honor of the moon and the glories of the winter landscape and their associations with a vicious predator, today is as good a day as any to talk about the circle of the Moon Druids.
Druids are one of the spellcasting classes in 5e and have a wide variety of spells, both offensive and defensive that they can use to aid their allies or devastate their enemies. Circle of the Moon druids are somewhat different in that their wild shape form is far more useful than it is to other kinds of druids.
Most druids have strict limitations behind their wild shape options, which means the effectiveness of their animal forms quickly is eclipsed by their probable opponents as they reach higher levels. A Circle of the moon druid has the option to take an animal as high as CR 6 with a fly or swim speed, making them effective combatants in these forms for considerably longer. Furthermore, attacks in beast form become magical after level 6, thus rendering druids very effective physical fighters in a similar way to monks.
So why would you want to play a circle of the moon druid.
The stat reasons.
- You can spend less time on the physical stuff: If you are playing smart as a Circle of the Moon Druid, you’ll be spending a lot of time in your beast form. Combined with stronger forms, the high dexterity, strength, and constitution scores of many beasts will mean that because such stats replace your own, you will get to focus more on your mental stats. In addition, high CR forms have a significant number of hp which will translate into a source of temporary hp for yourself. This supplements the lackluster druid hp bonus and growth. You also have the ability to spend spell slots in order to restore hp. This is particularly useful as you will not be casting spells in beast form until very high levels.
- More exotic forms: Druids of the circle of the moon can become elementals starting at level 10, thus allowing them stronger and more varied physical attacks, opening fire if they become a fire elemental, and also giving them a number of resistances and protections, depending on which form they take. By doing this, a druid can gain immunity to petrification, prone, poisoning, and many other forms of attack that might be dangerous to many other party members. Also being able to squeeze through one-inch openings or having an earth elemental’s enormous strength is always helpful.
- magical physical attacks: This feature that druids of the circle have above level six means that they can battle creatures such as many devils, undead, golems, and even elementals with ease. In some cases, the fighter might have to step aside as the druid, in the form of an elk charges the wraith. You essentially have built-in magical weapons which helps against many of the more dangerous monsters in the game.
- Self-healing: With your ability to heal yourself while in wild shape using spell slots, you will be able to function without needing the help of a cleric, bard, or other druid. You can use spells, no matter what you have prepared to keep you up and fighting thus allowing your allies to direct their efforts elsewhere.
- The final ability you get from this subclass allows you to cast the alter self spell. This makes you a powerful and useful tool even when you are not in beast form.
The flavor stuff.
- If you play humorously, having a wider assortment of animal forms allows for more animal humor. Although we are not recording a playtest session. We’re doing, I’m playing a hobgoblin druid who is taking the form of a dire wolf and we are making a lot of silly dog jokes about it, and just imagining an enormous wolf doing puppy things is really funny.
- If you want to be a really scrappy druid who gets right in the thick of things rather than being a quiet and reserved protector of nature, this is a subclass for you.
- Perhaps your constant time spent as an animal flows over into your humanoid life and if you want to play someone who is rather feral, this might be a good fit.
- If you’d like to explore the primal nature of the world on a level with your powers many other druids don’t, the ability to turn into an elemental really suits that.
- If you want to demonstrate that your time as a druid is changing you fundamentally, using the alter self ability you get at level 14 is a good way of describing that.
Ideas for what kinds of characters could be represented by this subclass…
Druids of the moon embrace the full animalistic side of nature and also are focused on change and embracing the wild itself. Here are a few concepts you could go for a basic character concept, either as a PC or NPC to use this subclass.
- Some sort of super-lycanthrope or someone with lycanthropic ancestry that also has magical talents.
- A feral child of the forest.
- A shaman of a large band of Barbarians who revere a wide array of animal totems.
- Someone who understands animals on a fundamental level and who has worked in a menagerie, zoological garden, gladiatorial arena, or laboratory where transmutation magic was researched.
- Someone with ties to the outer plane of the Beastlands.
- A descendant or chosen of a god of nature, particularly a violent one.
That’s all for now, let us know what you think and I eagerly wait to see you again.
About the Author:
Zachary ruffing is one of the DMs for “Companions of the Perception Check” and is running “Children of Gith” for the party. He lives with his two dire wolves and enjoys bad movies and good books. If he could wild shape he says he’d most like to be a dire emu, or failing that, a dire penguin, or in the last option, a dire rhea.