In DnD 5e, druids of the Circle of Spores appreciate the cycle of life and death, learning to control a colony of fungal spores and even raise the dead. This build is perfect for a melee fighting druid, dealing extra necrotic damage to enemies around me. Plus, I’ll quickly be able to summon zombies in multiple ways.
When building and playing a druid Circle of Spores, consider the following:
- Try a firbolg or lizardfolk character.
- Build 1st-level druid for melee combat and defense.
- Circle of Spores abilities: Halo of Spores, Symbiotic Entity…
- Bonus Circle of Spores spells: chill touch, animate dead…
- Consider druid spells like barkskin, cure wounds and flame blade…
Try a firbolg or lizardfolk character.
The inherent Circle of Spores abilities lean toward melee fighter, so I’ll focus on Strength, Constitution and Wisdom. My favorites are firbolg and lizardfolk for their inherent ability bonuses. Plus, each race comes packed with interesting abilities that enhance my Circle of Spores play style.
Firbolg gain a +2 Wisdom/+1 Strength ability bonus—giving them a boost to druid spells and the power to deliver attacks with a scimitar. Firbolg Magic gives them detect magic and disguise self, with a short or long rest needed between uses. Hidden Step gives me the ability to turn invisible until the start of my next turn or if I interrupt the effect (attack, spellcast). Finally, Speech of Beast and Leaf can come in handy in gameplay as I talk to my fungal spores.
On the other hand, lizardfolk gain a +2 Constitution/+1 Wisdom modifier—because, oh, the wisdom of lizards. This build can utilize a swampy background, giving me the ability to Hold Breath for 15 minutes. Plus, the combat abilities like Natural Armor and Hungry Jaws give me melee combat options. Natural Armor gives me the option to use 13 + Dexterity modifier as my AC. Hungry Jaws gives me a bonus action to Bite an opponent and gain temporary hit points equal to my Constitution modifier.
The lizardfolk druid is my favorite version of this build. Combining a swampy homeland with a connection to fungal colonies and the circle of life and death fits this race perfectly. Plus, my Natural Armor and high Constitution will enhance my defense—especially because I’ll be a melee fighter without heavy armor.
Build 1st-level druid for melee combat and defense.
Because my spores will activate against enemies within 10 feet of me, I’ll need to lean into the shield and scimitar druid build. Druids can’t wear armor or use shields made of metal, so I’ll need to find a medium armor and wooden shield for my initial build. However, I can and will use a scimitar as my primary weapon.
For proficient skills, I’ll want to consider choices like Medicine and Survival, which play off my Wisdom score and general archetype. Yes, this means potentially making a lizard man doctor for the party… who also bites.
At level 2, I gain Wild Shape, giving me the ability to shapeshift into various creatures. At first, this means a land creature with a CR of ¼ or lower. However, as I level, I gain access to swimming and flying transformations with a max CR of 1 at level 8. Though I’ll keep shapeshifting in mind, my fungal spore abilities use this Wild Shape to trigger.
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Circle of Spores abilities: Halo of Spores, Symbiotic Entity…
I gain my Circle of Spores abilities at level 2, starting with Halo of Spores and Symbiotic Entity.
Halo of Spores generates a colony of spores around me, dealing necrotic damage to enemies who within 10 feet. The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be dealt 1d4 necrotic damage. This damage raises as I level, changing to 1d6 at level 6 and more at higher levels. The idea is to wear down foes with damage over time—giving me the need to close in with combat.
Symbiotic Entity transforms this colony into a fierce ally. I can use my Wild Shape as an action, channeling magical energy into the spores and granting me several benefits.
- I gain temporary HP equal to 4 X my druid level.
- Double Halo of Spores damage.
- Melee weapon attacks deal an extra 1d6 necrotic damage.
Level 6 grants me Fungal Infestation, which animates foes who fall in combat as a bonus action. The idea is that spores infest the body, raising them with 1 hit point. Then, this creature uses the zombie stat block, taking its turn after mine. Spoiler alert—this druid learns animate dead as well. Now, I can fill the field with zombies while I engage in melee combat.
Spreading Spores comes at level 10, granting me the ability to summon my Halo of Spores 30 feet away for 1 minute. The halo takes up a 10-foot cube of space, dealing necrotic damage to enemies who end or begin their turn in its grasp. Foes can only take this damage once per turn.
Fungal Body gives me fungus armor—granting immunity against being blinded, deafened, frightened, or poisoned. Plus, any critical hit against me counts as a normal hit.
Bonus Circle of Spores spells: chill touch, animate dead…
This list of spells unlocks as I level and doesn’t count against spells known.
- Chill touch: A ghostly hand clutches a foe as a ranged spell attack, dealing 1d8 necrotic damage. Until the start of my next turn, the target can’t regain HP. Undead hit with this spell have disadvantage on attacks against me.
- Blindness/deafness: On a failed Constitution save, target is either blinded or deafened. They can take a Constitution saving throw on their turns to break the effect.
- Gentle repose: I gain the ability to protect a corpse from being raised. Plus, I can effectively extend the lifespan of raised zombies.
- Animate dead: Raise a zombie. Party on.
- Gaseous form: I can infuse into my spores as a gaseous form, giving me a flying speed of 10 feet. In this state, I gain advantage on Strength, Dexterity, Constitution saving throws and has resistance to nonmagical damage. Plus, I can squeeze in tight spots.
- Blight: Necromantic energy drains a target of moisture and vitality—dealing 8d8 necrotic damage on a failed Constitution save. Plant creatures have disadvantage on the saving throw and take maximum damage.
- Confusion: Create a field of confusion, looking like a 10-foot radius sphere of spores in my case. Targets must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or fall under the spells confusing effects. These range from moving in random directions to hitting random creatures.
- Cloudkill: 20-foot radius fog of sickening yellow green poison deals 5d8 poison damage. Targets who end or begin their turn in this cloud must make a Constitution saving throw to take half damage instead.
- Contagion: On a successful attack roll, poison an enemy. The enemy makes a Constitution saving throw on each of their turns. If they fail 3 saves, the fall under a long list of diseases.
Consider druid spells like barkskin, cure wounds and flame blade…
Of course, I shouldn’t forget the list of basic druid spells, especially in my first few levels. I’ll want to consider spells that fit with my battle strategy, role in the group and character theme. Healing, swamp-related poison damage, field manipulation and spells that benefit melee combat should all be considered. For example:
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- Druidcraft: I can connect with spirits of nature—manipulating small plants, telling the weather, light a campfire or make sensory effects.
- Poison spray: On a failed Constitution saving throw, target takes 1d12 poison damage. Having a damage spell as a cantrip is always a good idea.
- Resistance: Touch one willing creature and grant that creature 1d4 to add to a saving throw. I’m thinking I can use this on myself or surrounding allies while facing magical foes.
- Thorn whip: Generate a vine whip that deals 1d6 piercing damage. Also, I can pull an opponent 10 feet closer to me, dragging them into my Halo of Spores.
- Cure wounds: Heals 1d8 + Wisdom modifier HP for me or an ally. I can increase this healing by 1d8 for higher spell slots.
- Detect poison and disease: Being a swamp-loving fungus lover, detecting poison and disease is a thematic choice that benefits the party in adventure.
- Detect magic: I can detect where a magic source is coming from and what school it’s from.
- Animal Friendship: This spell is like animal handling on steroids. I can bond with creatures such as horses and wildlife.
- Barkskin: My skin turns wooden and hard, and my AC can’t be less than 16.
- Flame Blade: Generate a sword of fire that deals 3d6 fire damage on a hit. Lasts 10 minutes.
- Hold Person: On a failed Wisdom save, target is paralyzed. I’ll keep foes in my Halo of Spores damage range.
- Lesser Restoration: I gain the ability to cure poison, blindness, deafness and paralysis.