Druids are beings who draw on the forces of nature for their power.
Like most spellcasters, they are very versatile, and how you build a spellcaster will shape which role you fill.
This versatility is reflected in the druid’s spell list, and we have a great many spells to choose from that deal damage, support teammates, control the battlefield, and even heal others.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the druid spell list is that most of these spells are deeply tied to some aspect of nature.
How your druid chooses to fight for the world around it is up to you, but it’s going to start with which spells you prepare for the day.
Cantrips are a spellcaster’s lifeline. Being able to fill your role on the battlefield, or create some utility when dungeon crawling, without having to burn through your spell slots is essential.
Choosing just two at low levels can seem impossible. Even after 10th level when you plateau at four cantrips can be a bit underwhelming.
I’ve chosen a few of the available druid cantrips that I feel create the most utility.
Shillelagh lets you turn a quarterstaff or club into a magical weapon with a d8 for its damage die, along with allowing you to use your wisdom for attack and damage rolls.
Shillelagh is a go-to melee cantrip, especially at lower levels. As a druid, you really shouldn’t have much use for strength, so being able to use your high spellcasting ability instead is a lifesaver.
Get over here! Thorn whip lets you channel your inner Scorpion or Indie, and create a vine-like whip to pull a creature towards you 10 feet. Plus, as the name implies, it’ll be covered in thorns as well, so you can deal some good damage.
This spell is great for control, and if you get creative, it can have some incredible effects. Using this while any lasting AOE spell is on the battlefield to drag an opponent through or into a danger zone is a great way to maximize effectiveness.
Both of these spells allow you to provide a willing creature with a d4 to use as they choose. Guidance allows them to use it on an ability check, while resistance focuses on saving throws.
If you’re looking to fill a more supportive role as a druid, one or both of these spells are a great way to do so, especially at lower levels when a d4 can make a huge impact.
No matter what level your campaign starts at, you’ll probably rely on your 1s-level spell slots pretty heavily. The three spells listed are meant to round out a set of prepared spells, so that whatever else you choose to add in will compliment your arsenal and make it your own.
Starting off simple, this healing spell lets you heal a creature by 1d8 per spell slot level + your wisdom modifier. This scales wonderfully as you level, so having it ready to go is a smart move for any nature lover.
Here’s a spell that supports your entire party with extreme efficiency. Within a 20ft cube, objects and creatures (who fail a dex save) are outlined in light. Not only does this eliminate invisibility, but it allows attack rolls against affected creatures to be made with advantage.
While Ice Knife is an excellent damage spell, and other 1st-level spells let you deal damage or enhance damage, this spell takes the cake. The wave of thunder that you create deals 2d8 of damage, and pushes creatures 10 ft away from you.
This is a great combination of control and damage for such a low level. Additionally, this makes a boom that can be heard from 300ft away, alerting any party members you might be separated from that you are in danger.
Mid-level Spells (2nd through 5th)
I don’t often like to bring up disappointing statistics, but according to a study done by D&D Beyond, most campaigns stop by level 10. By no means does this have to be true for your campaign, but it warrants consideration.
We don’t pick up 6th-level spell slots until we reach level 11 in our class, so it’s a good chance that this group of spells will be the bulk of our spellcasting.
This is also the group of spells that max out at 3 spell slots, so you’ll be limited in how many of these you can let off in a day, especially if you get in the habit of upcasting your spells.
We’ve chosen a few spells for each of these spell levels to highlight. That doesn’t mean these are objectively the best, just the most well-rounded choices. Almost all spells the druid has to choose from are good options, and ultimately it’s up to you.
Spike Growth (2nd Level)
Remember when we talked about Thorn Whip? Well, this is the spell to pair it with. This spell creates an area of dangerous terrain with a radius of 20 ft that causes 2d4 of piercing damage for every 5 ft traveled through it.
If you use this with a thorn whip you’re dealing 1d6 for your whip and 4d4 pulling someone through it. Not to mention they are now trapped in your spike field.
Whipping someone through is just one way to double down on effects, but the concept is incredibly useful once you know how to create these opportunities.
Flame Blade (2nd Level)
Flame blade is your improved shillelagh, instead of 1d8 you’re dealing 3d6 with a blade of pure fire. This is such an iconic druid spell it’s used in the PHB opening paragraphs describing the might of a druid’s fury.
Call Lightning (3rd Level)
Something to remember about druids is the fact that they’re not just casting spells in a vacuum. They get a list of other powerful features, with Wild Shape being the calling card of the class.
While you can’t cast spells in your beast form, you can hold concentration or take actions as part of a spell you cast before changing forms.
Call lightning is the perfect example of doing so with efficiency. First, you summon a cloud and let your first strike of lightning deal that 3d10 of damage.
Next, you take your beast form, maybe a flying creature that’s hard to hit.
As you continue to battle, you can use any of your actions to call lightning so long as you’ve held focus since this spell can last up to 10 minutes!
That’s 10 barbarian rages, do you know how many turns you have to deal damage in that timespan? It’s a lot.
Polymorph (4th Level)
Polymorph is a spell with such a wide range of use. Disguise an ally to get past some form of security? Check. Turn an enemy into a frog to stop them where they stand? Check. And of course, the classic turning oneself into a T-Rex for all the mayhem you can handle. Checkarooni.
There’s a running joke that wizards can solve any problem with a well-placed fireball, and the same goes for the druid’s ability to turn anything into a beast of equal or lesser CR.
Guardian of Nature (4th Level)
This spell has two choices, you either take the form of the Primal Beast or the Great Tree. Each of these will give you attack bonuses and turn you into a powerhouse on the battlefield.
Primal Beast is focused on a melee druid, or enhances your abilities when you wild shape. Great Tree is going to make you hard to budge while you cast attack spells with ferocity.
Maelstrom (5th Level)
This spell creates a 30ft radius of 5ft deep water that deals damage to and pulls in creatures who fail their strength saving throw. For starters, 6d6 bludgeoning damage is a lot to take on a failed saving throw.
Then we get into the movement aspect. Since this is considered difficult terrain, movement speeds are essentially halved, so even if they don’t fail a saving throw they’re going to have a hard time escaping.
Creating this maelstrom to trap even one big creature, especially one with a lower strength or low walking speed, means that you’ve trapped them in a cycle of damage that can last up to a minute. Not to mention the fact that anything less than 5ft tall is going to be at risk of drowning.
Wall of Stone (5th Level)
There are plenty of other powerful 5th-level spells, so instead of listing all of them, I chose to highlight one with probably the widest range of utility. You create ten 10ft by 10ft panels that are 6 inches thick, have an AC of 15, and have 30 HP.
You can use this spell to create a building, a shield around your allies, make a bridge or a ramp to get away from a high location, the list goes on.
You could create a labyrinth with this to give your allies time to flee from a surprise enemy! I mean, this spell is really only limited by your creativity.
What’s more, is that if you manage to hold focus for the duration of the spell (10 minutes) the effects become permanent and you have created a stone structure.
That means you can use this ahead of time to set the grounds for whatever combat you have coming up or… whatever you wish to do without worrying about failing your concentration save.
High-level Spells (6th through 8th)
Getting to use these spells is an accomplishment. It means you’ve managed to stick in with a campaign for long enough to see the more amazing and awe-striking things D&D has to offer.
You may not get many slots for these spells, but you will get your bang for your buck. Each of the spells in this category are extremely powerful. The spells we’ve highlighted really just boil down to our favorite at this point.
Heal (6th Level)
This lets you heal a creature by 70 HP, which is a lot no matter how you slice it. An average 20 level barbarian (the most durable class) has about 150 HP, which means you’d be healing them halfway, and more than half for just about anyone else.
You’re also going to find a lot more spells inflicting diseases at higher levels, which this spell can cure.
Plane Shift (7th Level)
If you need to get out of dodge quickly you can jump you and 8 willing creatures to another plane. That’s probably the most combat effect it has, but that alone is basically a full safety net.
Aside from combat the ability to jump to different planes is just such a powerful ability that it seems insane that you can do this with just an action.
Reverse Gravity (7th Level)
Let’s discuss fall damage. Falling creatures take 1d6 per 10 feet, for a maximum of 20d6 of damage. This spell reverses gravity in a 100 ft tall cylinder with a 50 ft radius for 1 minute. Anything not anchored to the ground is affected by this.
Let your allies know to buckle up, or make sure they’re safe, and send your enemies hurling to the sky. If there’s something hard at the top they’ll hit it like they fell onto it, taking a maximum of 10d6 damage, depending on how high up it was. Then they’ll fall back down when you’re done and take it all again.
Add in the fact that falling objects weighing more than 200 pounds deal damage equivalent to the falling damage and you have a great way to hurt your opponents.
Send them to the top of the cylinder and then push or conjure items that are heavy enough to hurt them within the cylinder and create an upside-down shower of pain.
I mean you can even drown them in this if they were on top of water, the effects are crazy, but for a spell that deals no damage, you can certainly deal a lot of damage.
Feeblemind (8th Level)
At the time this article was written, there are seven 8th-level spells available to all druids. This doesn’t give you the most options, but each one is extremely powerful in the right situation.
Feeblemind is no exception and is mainly useful on a BBEG that uses spells. This spell drops a target’s Intelligence and Charisma to 1, and eliminates its ability to cast spells, activate magical items, communicate in any intelligible way, or understand language.
Basically, you hit them with the stupid stick.
This spell does require the target to fail an Intelligence saving throw, so make sure they are under the influence of a saving-throw disadvantage effect or some sort of debuff. You don’t want to waste an 8th-level spell slot on a failed saving throw.
If you succeed in casting this spell on your target you will have essentially eliminated a BBEG, or at very least a spellcasting baddy that’s been a thorn in your side. You know, at least for 30 days until they make their next saving throw.
9th Level Spells
There are four 9th-level druid spells: Foresight, Shapechange, Storm of Vengeance, and True Resurrection. You only get one 9th level spell slot, so choosing one to prepare is 100% based on preference and the status of your campaign.
Of these, Shapechange is the standout choice and is essentially a buffed-up version of wild shape, or polymorph, that allows you to change into any type of creature with a CR equal or less than your level.
After that, it’s a power struggle and each one of the other three spells could surpass shapechange in the right scenario.
This being said, some of the best 9th-level spells are actually lower-level spells upcasted (casted with a higher level spell slot) to gain incredible bonuses.
Conjure Animals (3rd Level)
Many people love this spell for its ability to create a swarm of beasts. The breakdown is that you have 2CR to split evenly among up to eight creatures. So you can have anywhere from one beast with a CR of 2 all the way down to eight beasts with CRs of ¼ or less.
Casting this spell at higher levels (5th, 7th, and 9th) allows you to multiply the effect. So conjuring animals with a 9th level spell slot can give you up to 32 beasts to launch at a foe.
At such a low CR you’re getting tiny meatshields, but if each one deals just 1d6 of damage, that’s up to 192 damage in a turn.
I particularly like a cauldron of bats (yes that’s what a large group is called). With a CR of ¼ and the ability to fly and bite for 1d6 +2, it’s hard not to want to get into the spooky spirit.
Wall of Fire (4th Level)
This is a great spell at its normal level, allowing you to create a large wall of flames that deals 5d8 damage to anything in its way when you create it, and anything trying to get through it later on.
It also deal that damage to anything with 10 ft of it on one side which you choose, making the effects of this spell covering a volume of 12000 cubic feet.
At 9th-level this is boosted up to 10d8 of damage, which is very obviously insanely high, and on a failed dex save they’re still taking half of that.
Certain spells are excellent in unique scenarios, or just very fun. I’ve thrown a few here because being “the best” is conditional. At the end of the day, sometimes I play the best when my characters are having the most fun.
Create or Destroy Water (1st-level)
This is a terrifying spell if you (or rather, your DM) consider a body to be an open container because you can simply drown a creature.
Water Breathing (3rd-Level)
Up to ten willing creatures being able to breathe underwater is beyond impressive for a 3rd level spell slot. This is essential for at least one member of your party to have when traveling to any water locations, or on any boats.
Tree Stride (5th-Level)
You enter a tree and then exit another tree up to 500 ft away, and you can do this for up to a minute of concentration. Obviously, this is an incredibly useful spell for mobility. For some reason though, this just embodies how cool druids are.
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