How to Get The Most Out Of Your D&D Character's Druid Circle
What is a Druid Circle?
A druid circle is a group of like-minded druids that one chooses to associate themselves with, beginning at Level 2. In Wizards of the Coast published material, circles include the Circle of the Moon, Circle of the Land, Circle of Dreams, and Circle of the Shepherd. Each circle has unique characteristics and abilities which druids gain as they increase in level.
Circle of the Moon druids are guardians of the wilds, who take the forms of animals to watch over different environments. These druids are especially skilled at wild shaping into beasts, allowing them to become one with the environments they watch over and blend into the landscape.
Circle of the Land druids are mystics who guard the oral tradition handed down by generations of druids. They act as counsel and advisers to powerful leaders, and carefully influence the politics of nations to ensure the protection of nature. Circle of the Land druids learn certain spells based on which area they hail from (arctic, coast, desert, forest, grassland, mountain, swamp or Underdark).
Bonds & Flaws
While all druids are involved in protecting nature, the specifics of the Druid Circle can help identify particular bonds for its members. For instance, a Circle of the Shepherd or Circle of the Moon druid is likely to have a bond to animals and Fey spirits, a Circle of the Land druid has tight bonds to the land they protect, and a Circle of Dreams druid may have close political or personal bonds to specific Fey.
Similarly, each Circle suggests flaws; for instance, a Circle of the Shepherd druid may care for animals more than humans, resulting in an antisocial attitude and lack of care for civilized customs, while a Circle of the Moon druid may prefer to be in wildshape at all times, making them bad at social interaction and communication. A Circle of Dreams druid may prefer the dream world to reality and a Circle of the Land druid may be a strict vegan, caring more for the plight of plants than other humans.
While a Druid Circle often represents a certain ideology, it can also depict an actual group of druids which the character interacts with. A player character may have a mentor druid within their circle, as well as other fellow initiates which they have bonded with (in accordance with their backstory). This offers the opportunity for further bonds, possible NPC appearances, and other in-depth character developments as characters continue to evolve.
Perhaps the murder of a druid’s mentor at the hands of an abomination led that druid into the adventuring life. Alternatively, a druid may be searching for a rare ingredient that their circle needs to complete a ritual in order to preserve or bless a tract of land. This can lead them to join an adventuring party that’s traveling to the location where this ingredient grows.
Conflict within a character’s backstory may result from discord with their Circle or from interactions the Circle has with the outside world. For instance, a character may distrust wood elves after a group of them ignored the guidance of the Circle and became corrupted by a demon lord’s influence,burning down a tract of forest. After several days of firefighting and the loss of a fellow druid’s life from the flames, this character developed a callous demeanor and disinterest in aiding others who do not value nature.
While a character is not fully initiated into a circle until level 2, their backstory may still involve members of the circle that they have trained with prior to their formal initiation. Additionally, these NPCs may stick around as a character continues to grow and evolve, acting as quest givers and points of contact during a character’s adventures.
Once initiated as a member of a circle (at level 2), a druid would have contact with other members of the same circle. These members could offer guidance, assistance, information, or even food and board.
Druids can also communicate with Druidic, a language only known by other druids. This can be useful in role-playing scenarios where information needs to be communicated in front of a group, but only have certain others understand it. Notes may also be written in Druidic so as to prevent interlopers from uncovering the message inside.
Because druids are in tune with the world around them, resident druids may have useful information about recent changes in the landscape, such as effects of a recent hag incursion, migrating bullette herd, or a portal opening into another realm and shifting the balance of nature. Seeking out these figures when visiting a new natural area can be especially beneficial when gaining intel. Common areas for druid guardians are caves, large trees, mountain cabins, and other gateways or places they can look over the natural area.
By utilizing Druid Circles when developing a backstory, characters can create strong bonds, flaws, and connections, as well as a rich, developed understanding of themselves, which will lead to compelling role-playing experiences.
How did your Druid Circle impact your character? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!