Brown Bear Creature Guide DnD 5e — A Good First Wild Shape?

Last Updated on November 27, 2023

Brown Bear

Large Beast, Unaligned

  • Size:  Large
  • Creature Type:  Beast
  • Alignment: Unaligned
  • Armor Class: 11 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points: 34 (4d10 + 12)
  • Speed: 40 ft., climb 30 ft.
  • STR 19 (+4) DEX 10 (+0) CON 16 (+3) INT 2 (-4) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 7 (-2)
  • Skills: Perception +3
  • Senses: Passive Perception 13
  • Languages: —
  • Challenge: 1 (200 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus: +2

Keen Smell. The bear has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.


Multiattack. The bear makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.

  • Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage.
  • Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage.

Is a Brown Bear the Best Wild Shape Option?

With a CR of 1, solid damage output, multiattack, good speed, and okay hit points, the Brown Bear is one of the favorite first Wild Shape options for the Circle of the Moon Druid subclass. 

At level 2, 34 HP and TWO +6 to hit attacks, is fantastic.  As in, nearly overpowered.  I say this as someone who played a CotM Druid and wildshaped into a Brown Bear pretty often.

However, this Wild Shape option really is just for Circle of the Moon Druids — and low-level ones at that. This is because other druids are limited to CR 1/4 and 1/2 Wild Shape creatures until they hit 8th level. 

When you’re level 8, a Brown Bear doesn’t bring anything to the table in terms of hit points, AC, or damage. 

Okay, the Strength is great at pretty much any level, but you can achieve something similar with a Giant Constrictor Snake if it’s grappling you’re after.

Check out our Wild Shape List for our top picks in each CR category. 

Brown Bears in DnD 5e

The Brown Bear is a CR 1 beast that roams woodlands and forests in the world of Dungeons & Dragons 5e. It’s also probably one of the first monsters that new D&D players fight that has multiattack. 

In terms of aggressive behavior, however, a single Brown Bear isn’t much of a threat to an adventuring party unless surprised

Combat: Fighting a Brown Bear

If you do wind up in a situation where a Brown Bear wants you dead, your best option is probably to fight head-on and trust the numbers advantage to win the day. 

Speed and Durability

Brown Bears have a very good speed for a land animal that isn’t a horse and can easily outpace a humanoid on foot with a speed of 40 feet. 

Their 30-foot climb speed is also especially scary as that’s basically double that of your average adventurer. Basically, if the bear wants to fight you, there’s not much you can do other than fight the bear. 

However, once you get into combat, the bear’s lackluster AC and relatively small hp pool (you know, given how many hit points I feel like a goddamn bear should have) mean it’s not as big of a threat as it initially appears.  

Damage Dealing Beast

The bear’s claw-bite multiattack combo boasts a nasty +6 to hit, which is rather high for such a low-CR creature and is largely thanks to the bear having a higher Strength score than a Young White DragonD&D is weird, y’all. 

It does respectable damage if it can consistently hit its targets and could easily knock a 1st- or 2nd-level character unconscious in a single round of combat. 

Roll really well or crit, and you could dish close to 30 damage in a round, and that’s more than enough to push brand-new adventurers into instant kill territory. 

Overall Capabilities

All in all, a bear is a solid berserker-style fighter. It can close the distance to the nearest PC with a dash of 80 feet and then pours multiattack onto its intended target until it’s distracted or the target goes down. 

The bear’s low Intelligence means it likely won’t be especially tactical in how it chooses targets, can be distracted easily, and will probably flee from fire and maybe even a burst of light and noise from something like Thaumaturgy or Prestidigitation

Again, that’s assuming you haven’t come too close to the bear’s offspring.

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