Guardian of Nature is a super fun spell that will transform you into what you’ve always wanted to be: A big hairy beast! A medium-sized King Kong! An animal hybrid with enhanced speed and strength that totally isn’t a lycanthrope, a mild-mannered photographer from New York, or an amnesiac super soldier lost in Canada! Or even a Tree. You know you’ve always wanted to be a tree and give free hugs to hippies.
Guardian of Nature
- Casting Time: 1 bonus action
- Range: Self
- Duration: 1 minute
- School: Transmutation
- Class: Druid, Ranger
- Level: 4
- Damage/Effect: Buff, shapechange
- Attack/Save: None
- Components: V
- Ritual/Concentration: Concentration
Spell Description. A nature spirit answers your call and transforms you into a powerful guardian. The transformation lasts until the spell ends. You choose one of the following forms to assume: Primal Beast or Great Tree.
Primal Beast. Bestial fur covers your body, your facial features become feral, and you gain the following benefits:
- Your walking speed increases by 10 feet.
- You gain darkvision with a range of 120 feet.
- You make Strength-based attack rolls with advantage.
- Your melee weapon attacks deal an extra 1d6 force damage on a hit.
Great Tree. Your skin appears barky, leaves sprout from your hair, and you gain the following benefits:
- You gain 10 temporary hit points.
- You make Constitution saving throws with advantage.
- You make Dexterity- and Wisdom-based attack rolls with advantage.
- While you are on the ground, the ground within 15 feet of you is difficult terrain for your enemies.
Who Can Cast Guardian of Nature?
Druids and Rangers, naturally, have access to this spell.
This makes total sense, although I could see a Cleric of Nature or even some type of wild Warlock (Archfey?) asking the DM for access to Guardian of Nature.
In addition, the Divine Origin for Sorcerers leaves a precedent open to give a new origin of Sorcerers who get access to Druid spells the same way Divine Origin Sorcerers get access to Cleric spells.
Those homebrew Sorcerers should also be allowed to cast Guardian of Nature.
Is Guardian of Nature Better Than Other 4th-Level Spells?
Guardian of Nature becomes available at the same time as another spell that is similar: Polymorph.
Is Guardian of Nature better than Polymorph?
The answer to that is… complicated. Like every other binary choice you are given in life, such a question oversimplifies the nuanced reality of the situation.
That reality is that Polymorph is better in some situations while Guardian of Nature is better in others.
First, Polymorph is both an offensive spell that can be cast on an enemy and a supportive spell that can be cast on yourself or an ally. Guardian of Nature can only be cast on yourself. Point for Polymorph.
Second, Polymorph changes the target into a beast that may or may not have the same benefits as what is granted by Guardian of Nature. However, with Polymorph, you run the risk of forgetting that you are not, in fact, actually a tiger, toad, wolf, or weevil. Point for Guardian of Nature.
Third, Guardian of Nature is strictly beneficial. It will take what you do and make it better. Polymorph will swap your abilities out completely with that of a beast — albeit a beast that is more powerful than your wild shape can produce and tailored to this specific situation. Point for both.
Simply put, the debate between Guardian of Nature and Polymorph is a silly one. Some characters will do better with one, and other characters will do better with the other.
When Should You Cast Guardian of Nature?
If you decide to give Guardian of Nature a go, there are some things to consider when you cast it.
When casting Guardian of Nature in conjunction with Wild Shape, realize that it will take you two rounds to complete the process.
Guardian of Nature is a bonus action, and Wild Shape is either full action or a bonus action. Just remember that you can not take more than one bonus action per round and you can not cast spells while in Wild Shape.
Therefore, cast Guardian of Nature before you Wild Shape, and then either use another spell and Wild Shape as a bonus action on the next round or take your full action to Wild Shape on that first.
Either way, you won’t be able to attack until your second round.
This can be problematic. Since Guardian of Nature is a concentration spell, you may need to make concentration checks before you even get a chance to attack. So do this either from stealth or while not drawing aggro from the bad guys.
If you are primarily a spellcaster in your party, cast the Tree version of Guardian of Nature to grant yourself advantage on your spell attacks and on concentration checks to retain this spell.
Furthermore, if your Wild Shape looks more like a boost to spellcasting, such as the Circle of Stars Druid, the combination of Guardian of Nature and Wild Shape will be very stackable.
If you are primarily a martial position in your party, either as a single-class Ranger or a multiclassed Druid (Barbarian or Fighter), you will more than likely want to cast the Primal Beast version of Guardian of Nature.
The bonus to speed and strength checks will serve you well.
The only exception to this variation is if you are a multiclass Monk/Druid. The Great Tree version of Guardian of Nature will give you advantage on your martial arts, and as addictive as it may be, you really don’t need another boost to your speed.
Common Questions About Guardian of Nature
We get a lot of questions and comments on our posts all the time about various spells and abilities.
I sorted through those and found the most common questions about Guardian of Nature and have presented them here for you.
You’re welcome. I don’t do that kind of work for just anybody, you know.
Does Guardian of Nature Combine With Wildshape?
It does, although there are many things to consider when trying that combination. Look in the section above for the details.
Does Guardian of Nature Make You a Shapechanger, or Is It Affected by Moonbeam?
Although Guradian of Nature is a shape-changing spell, it does not change your type to shapechanger.
In the RAW, if you are subject to the Moonbeam spell while under the effects of Guardian of Nature, you do not suffer the penalties that a shapechanger would face.
However, if transformative magic can be seen through with true sight, then I should think that transformative magic should count as shape-changing, albeit temporarily.
As a rule of cool, in my games, a Moonbeam spell will end Guardian of Nature if you fail the save, but you do not have disadvantage on the saving throw as a natural shapechanger would.
Does Guardian of Nature Give You a Bonus on Shillelagh?
The Great Tree form of Guardian of Nature will grant you advantage when using Shillelagh AND all of your other spells. Since Shillelagh does not require concentration, you can have both it and Guardian of Nature active at the same time.
What Is the Best Way To Use Guardian of Nature?
User Beerbarian over on the DnD Byond forums gave us the best use for this spell. It’s so good, we thought we would put it here!
Best use for this? Moon Druid with Mobile Feat. Shift into any creature that has the Pounce ability.
You have +10 movement from Mobile, and +10 movement from the spell. Deinonychus is ridiculous with this. Three attacks with advantage and four if the target fails STR save on the Pounce attack.
Four attacks at 1d8 + 2 +1d6 with Advantage. And then you run out of range, and do it again the next round.
For the DMs
I once made a magic item completely based on Guardian of Nature. I am very fond of the kung fu film genre, and as such a fan, the Monkey King is one of my favorite classic characters.
This staff is wildly overpowered, but, hey, it’s an artifact! It does not gain any of the minor or major properties in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
The staff itself can be used as a major plot hook, a McGuffin, or the basis of an adventure.
Behold, Staff of the Monkey King!
Staff of the Monkey King, by BCRPG
The Staff of the Monkey King is a legendary artifact that greatly increases the fighting ability of any humanoid or Beast (primate) that wields it. It is also the dedicated weapon of the legendary trickster, Sun Woo Kong, and as such, it also grants its wielder shape-changing and deceptive abilities.
While wielding the staff, you gain the shapechanger subtype. You also gain the benefits of guardian of nature continually and without the need for concentration. You may switch freely between either version of the spell but no more than once per turn.
If a primate Beast (any ape or monkey) grabs this staff, they will be compelled to carry this staff with them. If they manage to hold on to this staff for 24 hours, they will also gain the benefits of the Awaken spell in addition to the Guardian of Nature spell. They will also become a Medium creature if they are smaller. Large and Larger creatures will retain their size.
The staff itself is a +2 Quarterstaff that is considered to have the Shillelagh spell cast on it at all times.
The staff has a maximum of 10 charges and regains 1d6 charges daily at dawn. While wielding the staff, characters may expend charges to cast the following spells:
- Jump (1 charge)
- Mirror Image (2 charges)
- Disguise Self (1 charge)
- Charm Monster (2 charges)
- Animate Objects (This staff only; you may change its size when you give it a command; it makes 2 attacks instead of 1; 3 charges)
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].