I remember fondly the days of playing a Druid during my tenure under the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I loved the druid, my very first character I ever played was a Cleric of Kelemvor, my second character I played was Ranger. Druid to me was the best of both worlds. The 4th edition Druid was a fun class with some interesting options as well, granted I played largely Swordmages during 4th edition career but the two times I played Druid, they were still fun. When 5th edition came around, I was pensive and worried for how one of my three favorite classes were going to be handled. When I saw the outcome, I was more than thrilled. The Circle of the Land path was my personal favorite, it truly embodied the sage archetype soundly, especially a sage that lived off the land. The Circle of the Moon fulfills that Warshaper itch from 3.5e, though not as broken which is personally an upside. But the one archetype that I played vividly in 3.5e was a Blighter/Walker of the Waste. A Blighter detested nature in its current form and often times they sought to destroy it or twisted it. Talona in the Forgotten Realms was the Lady of Poison, most off her druidic worshipers were considered blighters that profaned nature and spread sickness. Would make for an interesting Druid Circle wouldn’t it?
The Spirit Shaman was a new concept during 3.5e that used the Druid spellcasting, but with some domain like aspects. It become the Shaman class in 4th edition and Pathfinder which focused on buffs and debuffs. The 3.5e version used strictly buffs with bonded spirits and augmented the debuffs from the 3.5 divine spells that could be downright debilitating. Using the philosophies from the sources and from my own personal take on spirits both in the natural world and the Shadowfell (formerly the Plane of Shadow), I think we can come with something just as fulfilling and nostalgic. Burrowed heavily from the Spirit Path from the Unearthed Arcana playtest (found here).
Circle of the Blight – Spread the taint, spread decay, spread the suffering
The path of a Blighter is steeped in contradictions, typically a Druid embodies and respects nature, why would such a devoted individual ever seek to bring harm to nature? Let’s delve into the psychology of Druids and their aspect of traditions. Most Druids typically revere nature in various aspects. Life and Death is one the most typical philosophies in Druidic traditions, all things die to give sustenance to perpetuate life. Undeath is a great insult to this system of thought, most Druids typically stick to the “life” aspect of druidic traditions. Safeguard life, promote life and accept when death that comes. But what about the other aspect of death? To know life is to know death. Death is the beginning not the end, death allows life to continue and prosper. The strong live, the weak die. It is the natural order of things, for blighters they simply internalize this philosophy. But what about diseases and plagues, while we are playing a fantasy game, germs and plagues are for the most part living things and therefore fit in the frame-work of life and death. Weak plagues and diseases get cured and die, while stronger plagues and diseases destroy and kill their hosts. The strong live, the weak die. In a way, a blighter is no different from a non-blighter druid, they simply embrace the harsher, unforgiving aspect of nature’s true face.
Blighted Touch: At 2nd level, you can infuse your touch with baleful energies that disrupt and corrupt living matter. By using a bonus action to expend a spell slot, you may make a melee spell attack as an action, to deal 1d6 necrotic damage per spell level expended. Against fey, elemental, and plant-type creatures, the damage is doubled. When a fey, elemental, or plant-type creature that is slain by this effect, the blighter gains temporary hit points equal to 2d6 + druid level.
At 10th level, when you expend a spell slot, your touch deals 1d8 necrotic damage per spell slot expended.
Bonus Cantrip: When you choose this circle at 2nd level, you learn one necromancy cantrip from any class.
Blight Spells: The blighter’s connection to death, decay, and disease grant the ability to cast certain spells. At 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th level you gain access to additional spells to spread death and decay to the lands and your foes. Once you gain access to a blight spell, you always have it prepared, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day. If you gain access to a spell that doesn’t appear on the druid spell list, the spell is nonetheless a druid spell for you.
3rd – ray of enfeeblement, blindness/deafness
5th – stinking cloud, vampiric touch
7th – blight, evard’s black tentacles
9th – contagion, cloud kill
Power of the Blight: At 6th level, you learn to infuse your blight into your spells. By using a bonus action, the next spell you cast this round that deals damage, now deals necrotic damage instead of the normal damage stated by the spell. A blighter can only use this feature a number of times between a long rest equal to 1 + your Wis modifier (minimum of 1).
Mantle of Decay: Beginning at 10th level, your constant exposure to disease and poison grants you immunity to disease and poison. Creatures and effects that grant immunity to poison and disease are considered to have resistance instead.
Plaguewalker: Beginning at 14th level, your very presences befouls water and food, making any edible food tainted and spoiled. In addition, creatures and plants that are within 20 feet of you have disadvantage on saving throws against your spells that deal poison, or necrotic damage, or has a disease-like effect.
Circle of the Spirits – heed the spirits’ wisdom, honor their memory, bear their fury
Druids master the ability to attune with nature, their spells are directly channeled from nature itself as opposed to worship to deities like clerics or paladins. Most Druids focus on the Life aspect of nature, but even in death, there is still some semblance of life. There are traces of energy that flow through nature and a shaman taps into a deeper and often forgotten part of this nature. A spirit shaman is often a mediator between the spirits of nature and the living, with good spirit shamans seeking to preserve the peace and promote harmony, or with evil spirit shamans that seek to bring ruin and discord on behest of malevolent entities.
Spirit Bond: Starting at 2nd level, you bond with a nature spirit, a companion that represents the essence of nature. The spirit companion provides wisdom, and aids you in combat. You must perform a ritual that takes 1 hour to complete, you summon and barter with a spirit in return for its services. Once you form this bond, you cannot change your spirit companion until after you complete a long rest. The choice of spirit ally grants you features starting at 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 14th level.
When you invoke your spirit ally’s magical powers, you must finish a short rest or long rest to regain the ability to channel your spirit companion’s power again. At 6th level you can channel your spirit’s powers twice between rests, and at 14th level you can channel your spirit’s powers three times between rests. You must finish a short or long rest to regain an expended uses.
Spirit of the Guardian
This spirit desires to protect the natural world against those who would seek to destroy it.
2nd level: Your spirit ally helps to protect you and creatures closest to you. As a bonus action, you invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or an ally you can see. The chosen creature gains temporary hit points equal to 2d6 + your Wisdom modifier.
6th level: Your spirit ally temporarily materializes into a harder than steel veil. As a bonus action, you can invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or an ally you can see. The chosen creature gains resistance to all damage types except for psychic damage until the beginning of your next turn.
10th level: Your spirit ally becomes an umbra that protects you, like a suit of armor. As a bonus action, you invoke your spirit ally and your Armor Class becomes 18 until the start of your next turn.
14th level: Your spirit ally protects not only your body but your mind and soul now. As a bonus action, you can invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or an ally you can see. The chosen creature gains advantage on all saving throws against being charmed or frightened. If the chosen creature is already charmed or frightened, they make a new saving throw to shake off the effects.
Spirit of the Seeker
This spirit is drawn the endless expanse far from civilization, searching for secrets ancient and forgotten. It values secrets and knows that some need to be protected. 2nd level: Your spirit ally lends its keen senses to you and your companions. As a bonus action, you invoke your spirit ally and choose a creature you can see. Until the end of your next turn, all attacks made against the chosen creature have advantage.
6th level: Your spirit ally aids in your search for hidden paths or surveying terrain ahead. As a bonus action, you can invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or an ally you can see. The chosen creature gains double their proficiency bonus in Intelligence (Investigation) and Wisdom (Survival) checks for 1 minute. The chosen creature is also treated as being proficient in both skills if they weren’t before.
10th level: Your spirit ally grants you mobility and grace. As a bonus action, you can invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or an ally you can see. Other creatures have disadvantage on opportunity attack rolls against the chosen creature and can use the Dash action as a bonus action until the end of your next turn.
14th level: Your spirit ally offers a new point of view and vantage point. As a bonus action, you can invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or an ally you can see. The chosen creature gains a flying speed equal to their current walking speed until the end of your next turn. The chosen creature falls if it ends their turn in the air and nothing else is holding it aloft.
Spirit of the Stalker
This spirit is nature’s vengeance and fury, it seeks its prey and hunts it down.
2nd level: The spirit ally lends its ferocity in a fight to you or your companions. As a bonus action, you invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or a creature you can see. The next time the chosen creature hits with a weapon attack, the target of the attack takes extra slashing damage equal to 2d6 + your Wisdom modifier.
6th level: The spirit offers its prowess to stealthily approach its prey to you or your companions. As a bonus action, you invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or a creature you can see. The chosen creature on its next turn may use the Hide action as a bonus action and its current walking speed increases by 10 ft during that turn.
10th level: The spirit imbues its ferocity to you and your companions. As a bonus action, you invoke your spirit ally and choose yourself or a creature you can see. The next time the chosen creature attacks with a weapon attack, they may as a bonus action, make another weapon attack.
14th level: The spirit instills its tactics to handle large foes to you or a creature you can see. The next time the chosen creature hits with a weapon attack, it may use a bonus action to knock the target of that attack prone.
Spirit Medium: Beginning at 10th level, the spirits have taught you spells that allow you channel their latent powers. You can access to the following spells: Spiritual Weapon, Speak with Dead, Spirit Guardians, and Guardian of Faith. These spirit spells are considered prepared spells for you and are also considered as druid spells for you.
Emissary of the Spirits: Beginning at 14th level, your exposure and constant negotiations with the spirits grants you the ability to have more than one spirit bond instead.
Woo! I am exhausted, it’s been a while since I’ve done a big blog post. I hope you enjoyed this little indulgence of mine regarding the Druid class. Please like and subscribe to the blog, if you have questions or comments please comment down below. If you want updates from the blog or want to chat with me, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. We want to expand our horizons and do more in the future, we left a tip jar button on the upper right corner, anything is appreciated. Thank you again for reading along and I hope this inspired you all to take another look at the Druid class for 5E. Have fun!