This druid circle is a drastic departure from the “feral child” druid archetype, but it was inspired by the same source: stories of children raised in the wild by animals.
This 5th edition class conversion was inspired by this month’s RPG Blog Carnival topic: “The Summerlands,” hosted by Tales of a DM.
Druid: Circle of Wilding
You were raised in the wild, and are more feral than even your druid brethren. While you cannot read or write, you have a close bond with a single powerful animal. Your bond with that animal is so strong that you can choose that form for your Wild Shape, and an animal of that type accompanies you on your adventures. As you gain levels, your druid abilities tie you more closely to that beast’s environment, and your bond with your companion strengthens.
Raised in the Wild
You were raised among (if not by) animals in the wild. At 2nd level, choose one of the following animals: ape, brown bear, crocodile, deinonychus, dimetrodon, dire wolf, giant boar, giant elk, giant hyena, lion, panther, seal, or tiger. You can use your Wild Shape to transform into an animal of that type.
In addition, you gain the benefits of the speak with animals spell for the purposes of communicating with beasts of your chosen type. You can use this ability even while you are using your Wild Shape ability.
You cannot read or write any of your chosen languages, unless you spend a tool or language proficiency to learn to do so.
At 2nd level, you gain a beast companion of your chosen type that accompanies you on your adventures and fights alongside you. Add your proficiency bonus to the beast’s AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any saving throws and skills it is proficient in. Its hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or four times your druid level, whichever is higher.
The beast obeys your commands as best it can, taking its turn on your initiative, though it does no act unless you command it to, unless you are incapacitated, in which case it uses its action to defend you. On your turn, you can command the beast to Move without using an action. You can use your action to command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action. At 6th level, you can use a bonus action to command it to take the Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action, as long as it does not attack that turn. If you command your companion to attack, it may only attack once, even it normally has the Multiattack action.
If the beast dies, you can obtain another one of the same type by spending 8 hours bonding with it.
At 6th level, moving through nonmagical difficult terrain costs you no extra movement. You can also pass through nonmagical plants without being slowed by them and without taking damage from them if they have thorns, spines, or a similar hazard.
In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against plants that are magically created or manipulated to impede movement, such as those created by the entangle spell.
Finally, when you are traveling with only your beast companion, and traveling through a terrain type associated with your chosen beast, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.
At 10th level, your attacks and that of your beast companion in beast form count as magical for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.
In addition, when you use your action to command your beast companion to Attack, you can make a single attack, and your companion may use Multiattack, if it has that attack option.
When you reach 14th level, creatures of the natural world sense your connection and are hesitant to attack you. When a beast or a plant creature attacks you, that creature must make a Wisdom saving throw against your druid spell save DC. On a failed save, the creature must choose a different target, or the attack automatically misses. On a successful save, the creature is immune to this effect for 24 hours.
The creature is aware of this effect before it makes its attack against you.
In addition, when you cast a spell targeting yourself, you can also affect your beast companion with the spell if the beast is within 30 feet of you.
Hacking the Feral Druid
While this druid circle fits best into varanus society in the Summerlands, since the varanus are already unable to read, it could just as easily fit anywhere. The archetype of the child raised by animals is ancient, and even in our modern world, stories persist of feral children raised by wolves. In this archetype, I tried to combine the most interesting elements of the Land Circle druid with both an animal companion and a powerful-but-limited wild shape. The end result is, I think, not quite as powerful as the Moon Circle druid, but more interesting. I wanted every level to improve the connection to the land, but also the animal companion. The trade-off is a lack of expanded spells from the Land Circle, more limited wild shape choices, and an animal companion choice that’s specific and story-focused.
The list I put together isn’t perfect. I simply tried to pick the beasts from the Monster Manual that made the most sense, while not being overpowered. Why would someone pick a panther when the more powerful lion is available? Because, sometimes, D&D isn’t about DPR and power. Sometimes, it’s about picking the most interesting options (and, in the case of the panther, wanting to focus on stealth over raw power).
Next time: Beasts of the southern wilds! Insect swarms, disease, the deinonychus and the dimetrodon!