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A Dungeons & Dragons character class
Publication history
First appearance Supplement III - Eldritch Wizardry
Editions All
(as a standard class) 1st, BD&D, 2nd, 3rd, 3.5
(as an alternate class) OD&D, 4th
Based on Druid

The druid is a playable character class in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game.[1][2] Druids wield nature-themed magic. Prior to 4th edition, they gain divine magic from being at one with nature, or from one of several patron gods of the wild, while in 4th edition, they gain primal magic from the world and its nature spirits. Unlike the cleric, druids do not have special powers against undead and, in some editions, cannot use metal armor. Druids have a unique ability that allows them to change into various animal forms, and various other qualities that assist them in natural settings. Prior to 4th edition, druids work very well with animals, and can try to improve a wild creature's attitude the same way they would improve an NPC with diplomacy. Prior to 4th edition, druids gain a greater control of their body and at higher levels they can change appearance at will, become immune to natural poisons and even stop aging.

Publication history[]

Creative origins[]

The druid is named for the pre-Christian Celtic priests called druids.[3]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)[]

Druids appeared, but not as player characters, in the original Greyhawk supplement from 1974. They were presented as a player character class in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement in 1976.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)[]

The druid was one of the standard character classes available in the original Player's Handbook,[4] and appeared as a sub-class[5] of cleric. The druid was one of five subclasses presented in the original Players Handbook.[6]:145 Originally, druids were very limited in their choice of weapons and armor (almost as much as magic-users), and were of True Neutral alignment, but were able to cast spells more times per day than the magic-user and at a faster speed than clerics; they also had access to both healing and attack spells (albeit at different levels). Essentially, they were in many ways in between the cleric and the magic-user in function and use, with different special abilities. There were also a set of societal rules governing druidic life as well as higher-level abilities. In order to reach some of the higher levels, players had to defeat a higher-level druid in combat; after accomplishing this, they earned different titles (such as Archdruid) and gained lower-level druids as followers. The later-published Unearthed Arcana featured several higher-level abilities for druids, including the ability to summon various elementals and para-elementals, the ability to enter and survive in various planes (such as the elemental planes and the Plane of Shadow), and so on.

Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)[]

The druid was available as a character class in the game's "Basic" edition, introduced in the Companion set. Druids were clerics who adhered to a special code of conduct, maintaining a Neutral alignment; in exchange they gained some special powers and additional spells.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)[]

According to the second edition Player's Handbook, the druid class is only loosely patterned after the historical druids of Europe during the days of the Roman Empire and acted as advisors to chieftains with great influence over the tribesmen.[7]

The second edition Player's Handbook changed druids somewhat, making them more similar to the cleric in terms of spellcasting (druids now learned spells at the same rate and level as clerics, as long as the spells were available to them; casting times were also the same). Certain higher level abilities as introduced in Unearthed Arcana were also removed (or ignored), such as the ability to enter the Plane of Shadow. The Complete Druid's Handbook, published in 1994, provided more details on the druid class, including druidic society, magic groves, class kits and herbal lore.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000-2007)[]

Druid is one of the base character classes presented in the 3rd edition Player's Handbook (2000). In the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, Druids are free to use different forms of weaponry, but they lose the ability to cast spells or change into animal form for a day if they wear metal armor. The alignment restriction now requires that druids remain neutral on at least one (but not necessarily both) alignment axis (Good vs. Evil and Law vs. Chaos). i.e., they are restricted to Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Neutral, Neutral Good, Neutral Evil, or True Neutral, to reflect belief in the balance and amoral, impartial character of the natural world. Druids have also gained the ability to have a special animal companion; other abilities have been added or modified as well. For example, they can spontaneously convert a prepared spell in order to summon an animal that will serve as a temporary but loyal ally.

In the 3rd edition Player's Handbook, Druids were limited to a single animal shape. In the 3.5 edition, Druids are allowed significantly more freedom so that an appropriate animal shape can be chosen to match the circumstances. At higher levels Druids can even change into elementals. Animal companions are more clearly defined in the 3.5 edition as well.[8]

Urban Druid[]

In the Dungeons and Dragons official magazine series Dragon, issue #317, a new Core Class is introduced in the form of the Urban Druid- a kind of "Anti-Druid" who is tied to civilization in the same way normal Druids are tied to nature. Urban Druids receive slightly different spells (including several unique ones), possess different animal forms and also different animal companions such as Monstrous Scorpions/Spiders, Animated Objects and Carrion Crawlers.


The Complete Divine sourcebook for D&D, develops a blighter prestige class for fallen druids. The blighter gains spells by destroying nature, rather than preserving it.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–)[]

The Druid was introduced to Fourth Edition with Player's Handbook 2. The newest incarnation of the class has the Primal power source and the Controller role. They are proficient in simple weapons and light armor, use staves and totems as implements, generally use Wisdom for power attack and damage rolls and, like all primal classes, their powers are called evocations.

Unlike most classes, druids know a third at-will attack power, however they must have at least one and at most two at-will attack powers with the "Beast Form" keyword. Each of the two Druid builds presented in the Player's Handbook 2 emphasizes one of the class's two secondary roles. Guardian druids lean towards the Leader role, focus on Constitution and ranged evocations, and take the "Primal Guardian" class feature, which allows them to use their Constitution bonus in place of their Dexterity or Intelligence bonus when determining AC while wearing light armour, as well as giving some druid evocations additional effects, many of which are based on Constitution. Predator druids lean towards the Striker role, focus on Dexterity and melee and short range evocations, and take the "Primal Predator" class feature, which makes them more mobile while wearing light armor, as well as giving some druid evocations additional effects, many of which are based on Dexterity.

All druids also have "Wild Shape", an at-will power which allows them to switch between their natural and beast forms. While in beast form, they cannot use weapons, and cannot use weapon or implement attack powers without the "Beast Form" keyword. Like clerics and wizards, druids gain Ritual Caster as a bonus feat.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014-)[]

The druid has been included as a character class in the 5th edition Player's Handbook.[9]

Party Role[]

3rd edition[]

In his book Of Dice and Men, David M .Ewalt describes the druid as "a magic-user who draws his powers from nature".[6]:23

Druids and rangers both play a role of wilderness adventurer in Dungeons & Dragons, but a ranger is more martially inclined, while a druid has more magical skill. Druids are typically less suited to front-rank combat than divine casters such as clerics or paladins (as they cannot make use of metal armor), nor are their overall healing powers as strong as that of either class. They can, however, use their wild shape ability to propel them beyond the ability of the cleric or the paladin. They excel, however, in marshalling large groups of summoned allies and are perhaps the most self-sufficient of all classes.

Druids work well as supportive characters, being both versatile primary spellcasters and capable fighters. Druids can cast transportation, augmenting, defensive, destructive and recuperative magic, while spontaneous casting allows them to summon animal allies to their side. At higher levels, Druids become increasingly powerful; the wild shape ability allows them to assume the form of animals specialised for differing purposes - they can become a hawk to scout, a cat for stealth, a horse for transport, a snake to climb, or a bear for combat.

Their animal companions can also fill some of these functions to a lesser extent, and like most primary casters, they benefit greatly from advance notice of their enemies' plans and time to prepare, which makes recon abilities especially useful.

Wisdom is crucial to druids, as it determines their access to divine magic and aids many of their wilderness skills. Their role as shapeshifters also makes high Constitution useful, as animal forms gain no benefit from armour, are limited to melee attacks and retain existing hit points. In addition, Constitution complements defensive casting via Concentration checks and the Natural Spell feat, while animal forms substitute for Strength and Dexterity. The general de-emphasis on physical attributes means druids can often afford to invest heavily in mental attributes.

4th edition[]

In 4th edition, druids are controllers, the same role as wizards. Like all controllers, druids' capabilities are focused on multi-target damage, debuffing and battlefield control. In addition to their controller capabilities, druids can also lean towards the leader role, gaining buffing and damage prevention capabilities, or the striker role, emphasizing mobility and single-target damage.

5th edition[]

Campaign settings[]

Dark Sun[]

Druids are bound to the essence of a particular oasis or other geographic location.[10]


  1. Livingstone, Ian (1982). Dicing with Dragons, An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (Revised ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-7100-9466-3. 
  2. Yee, Nick (2006). "The Psychology of Massively Multi-User Online Role-Playing Games: Motivations, Emotional Investment, Relationships and Problematic Usage". Avatars at Work and Play. Computer Supported Cooperative Work. Springer. pp. 187–207. doi:10.1007/1-4020-3898-4. ISBN 978-1-4020-3883-9. 
  3. DeVarque, Aardy. "Literary Sources of D&D". Archived from the original on 2007-07-21. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  4. Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  5. Turnbull, Don (December 1978 – January 1979). "Open Box: Players Handbook". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (10): 17. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ewalt, David M. (2013). Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It. Scribner. ISBN 978-1-4516-4052-6. 
  7. Cook, David (1989). Player's Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-88038-716-5. 
  8. Slavicsek, Bill; Baker, Richard; Mohan, Kim (2005). Dungeons & Dragons For Dummies. For Dummies. pp. 238. ISBN 0-7645-8459-6. 
  9. "Keeping it Classy | Dungeons & Dragons". 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2014-09-21. 
  10. Swan, Rick (September 1992). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR) (#185): 65–66. 

External links[]

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