For those who want to be able to change their form into a number of different animals, we have the Circle of the Moon Druid.
With a seemingly endless amount of situations that these Druids can naturally adapt to, they’re a Swiss Army knife!
So today we are going wild and getting in touch with our inner beast as we review the Circle of the Moon Druid subclass in D&D 5e.
What is The Circle of the Moon Druid?
The Circle of the Moon Druid is very likely the most popular Druid subclass – and for good reason!
Druids of the Circle of the Moon are masters of changing their form. With these abilities and a fierce commitment to protecting the natural world, these Druids are a powerful ally for any party!
The strength of a bear, the speed of a tiger, and the eyes of an eagle… This Druid takes the form of whatever beast is most helpful at the moment.
They might be wrecking enemies as a brown bear one moment and then sneaking past guards as a rat the next!
Role in the Party
With a huge number of animal forms to choose from, the Circle of the Moon Druid can fit just about any role that the party may need.
However, more often than not, these Druids work best on the party’s front line. Putting out damage with fangs and claws, taking damage as a tank, or weakening enemies with poisons and webs are all tricks of the trade!
Especially at early levels, being able to put out a ton of damage with forms like the Brown Bear is hugely impactful. Not to mention, you’re also far more durable while using Wild Shape!
You will definitely want to read our Guide to Wild Shape in D&D 5e so that you don’t find yourself getting confused or underusing your abilities!
The Druid’s Wild Shape is the single most important ability for Circle of the Moon Druids.
For any situation you run into, combat or otherwise, there is some kind of beast form you can take to make sure you’re always able to help the party!
Circle of the Moon Druid Abilities
As you continue to level up as a Circle of the Moon Druid, your effectiveness in Wild Shape will continue to increase.
Not only will you be able to do more damage and heal yourself while in beast forms, but you can turn into beasts (and elementals!) that no other Druid can!
So let’s see what features the Circle of the Moon Druid gets as they level up!
Combat Wild Shape (Level 2)
Using the Druid’s Wild Shape ability typically requires an action. With their Combat Wild Shape ability, the Circle of the Moon Druid can do this with only a bonus action!
You get this feature at level 2 which is when you would choose to become a Circle of the Moon Druid.
You gain the ability to use Wild Shape on your turn as a bonus action, rather than as an action.
Additionally, while you are transformed by Wild Shape, you can use a bonus action to expend one spell slot to regain 1d8 hit points per level of the spell slot expended.
While this is super beneficial for your action economy, don’t forget that this ability also gives you a convenient way to heal yourself while in animal form!
When using Wild Shape, you can use a bonus action to expend a spell slot. You then regain 1d8 hit points per level of the spell slot that you expend. So, for example, expending a level 2 spell slot while you are in your bear form would heal you by 2d8!
This ability makes it easier for you to jump right into the fight and stay there!
Most often, you may want to use your action to throw down one of the Druid’s many powerful concentration spells as an action before using your Wild Shape. This provides an ongoing effect on the battlefield while you are free to still tear into enemies in your beast form.
From there, you can use your actions to attack and your bonus action to heal and keep yourself in fighting condition!
Recommended: The Full Druid Class Guide For D&D 5e!
Circle Forms (Level 2)
Another ability that the Circle of the Moon Druid gains at 2nd level is Circle Forms.
With Wild Shape being so important to how this subclass functions, you get some really cool extra benefits.
While most Druids are limited in what they can transform into based on those beasts’ Challenge Rating, the Moon Druid can ignore the standard Wild Shape CR limitations. They have a different calculation for determining what you can turn into.
Right out of the gate at level 2, the Circle of the Moon Druid can turn into beasts with a CR of 1.
This means that very strong options like the Dire Wolf and Brown Bear are immediately available to you. These forms have multiple attacks and/or strong abilities that will quickly outpace almost anything other characters can do at low levels.
For comparison, other Druids can’t turn into these CR creatures until level 8!
Once you hit level 6, you can turn into beasts of a CR equal to your Druid level divided by 3 (rounded down.)
Here’s a quick table to show you your options by level.
|No flying, No swimming
|Dire Wolf, Brown Bear
|Reef Shark, Giant Toad
|Hunter Shark, Polar Bear
|Giant Vulture, Giant Eagle
|Giant Scorpion, Killer Whale
|Giant Crocodile, Giant Shark
Primal Strike (Level 6)
It can be super frustrating to run into enemies that are either resistant or immune to non-magical damage. Thankfully, your beast forms just got a way to deal with those pesky enemies!
Your attacks in beast form count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nomagical damage.
There’s not a ton to really explain here, but it is a very solid buff.
Enemies like Specters and Golems, for example, have resistance to damage from attacks that aren’t made with magical weapons.
The Primal Strike ability means that swiping at them with your bear claws doesn’t reduce you to only dealing half damage on a hit since your claws now count as magical!
Elemental Wild Shape (Level 10)
The Circle of the Moon Druid takes another huge leap forward when they hit level 10.
You’re no longer just limited to beasts, my dear Druid. Now you can transform into elementals and harness the primordial powers of nature itself!
You can expend two uses of Wild Shape at the same time to turn into an air elemental, earth elemental, fire elemental, or water elemental.
Elementals are massively powerful with some incredibly devastating effects. Though they can also provide some incredible utility as well!
All of these elemental options can be found on pages 124-125 of the Monster Manual.
Whether you are igniting everything around you as a Fire Elemental or throwing enemies around the battlefield as an air elemental, you are bringing the sheer power of the elements against your foes.
While being able to turn into beasts is incredibly fun, Elemental Wild Shape is my personal favorite aspect of the Circle of the Moon Druid subclass.
You Might Like: The Best Druid Spells By Level in D&D 5e!
Thousand Forms (Level 14)
Finally, at 14th level the Circle of the Moon Druid gets the Thousand Forms ability.
You can cast the Alter Self spell at will.
In other words, Thousand Forms allows you to subtly change your form however you wish.
This can be useful for quickly adapting to an aquatic environment without needing to use Wild Shape or a spell. It might also help in situations where it’s more prudent to disguise oneself and keep a low profile.
I have to admit, this is fairly “meh” as far as capstones go. But with so much awesomeness at all of the other levels leading up to this, it’s hard to complain too much.
There are countless ways that a Circle of the Moon Druid can be connected to the party and world.
Perhaps the party captured their curiosity and they decided to tag along. They might join the party at the behest of their Circle’s Archdruid for reasons related to the plot.
Because the Circle of the Moon Druid is a fierce guardian of nature, they may have connections all over the land. These may be other Druids or specific animals that they have met before.
More often than not, Moon Druids tend to be more reclusive individuals who find more in common with animals than people. However, they could just as easily be more mercurial and follow their whims wherever they may lead.
Of course, it may even be possible that your Circle of the Moon Druid is more outgoing and spritely with a desire to learn about the world beyond their forest grove.
However you wish to play them is entirely up to you! The sky truly is the limit here!
Is the Circle of the Moon Druid Good?
The Circle of the Moon Druid is largely the archetypal Druid class.
With a heavy focus on changing their form to adapt to any given situation, it’s incredibly rare that the Circle of the Moon Druid won’t be useful for the party.
The Circle of the Moon is one of the best subclass options for the Druid in D&D 5e. This is especially true in the early levels of the game where death is way more likely.
After getting the ability to transform into Elementals at level 10, it will be some time before you get another huge leap in ability. But that’s not to say the Circle of the Moon Druid isn’t good at these levels too.
When the Druid reaches level 18, they gain the ability to also cast spells while in their Wild Shape form. Then, at level 20, they can Wild Shape an unlimited number of times per day.
Because of the power of the forms available to the Circle of the Moon Druid at this level, this makes them nearly impossible to kill.
While the Circle of the Moon Druid may have a slight lull in the mid-high levels, they still stay relevant and powerful at all tiers of the game.
Conclusion – Circle of the Moon Druid
The Circle of the Moon subclass is what most players imagine when they think of Druids. It’s nothing short of iconic!
The ability to shapeshift into various beasts and elementals to unleash the power of nature on their foes is dripping with action.
The sheer impact of this class’s early features, Combat Wild Shape and Circle Forms, makes for an incredibly powerful character right out of the gate. As you continue to level up, it only gets stronger from there!
With endless utility, combat ability, and flavor, the Circle of the Moon Druid is one of the most versatile and exciting options in all of D&D 5e!
Got questions about the Circle of the Moon Druid or a character concept you’d like to share? Let’s chat in the comments!