Druid in Dungeons & Dragons is a versatile class, offering unique role-playing opportunities and combat utility that fits many play styles. Choosing your druid circle at level two is by far the most crucial decision you’ll make with this class. But choosing your cantrips begins at the first level, and the choice of which spells to take can be just as important.
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Considering that druid spells are primarily area-of-effect based and require concentration, you’ll want damage-focused cantrips to pair. But your druid won’t likely be fending off attackers all the time, so cantrips with out-of-combat functionality are necessary, and with a druid, there are plenty to choose from.
Updated by Chris Stomberg on January 24th, 2024: As 5th edition grows older, classes that weren’t as popular from the outset are beginning to see more play. Druid is one such class. Druids are known for their ability to wild shape into various animals. However, many players forget that they also have access to a unique spell list that contains spellcasting options no other class can access. As you might have guessed, some of these options just so happen to be cantrips.
With frostbite, you can force your target to make a constitution save or take 1d6 cold damage. Failure to beat the saving throw means the target of this spell takes a disadvantage on the next attack they make, lasting until the end of their next turn.
The secondary effect of the cantrip is reason enough to consider taking it. Keep in mind that the damage this spell deals out is relatively low, though.
11 Create Bonfire
You concentrate for one minute on spawning a fiery pit inside a five-foot cube. Creatures in the space of the bonfire immediately make a dexterity save or take 1d8 fire damage.
Depending on your current layout, this spell can be used to blockade a doorway or similarly narrow space. It requires concentration, and you may find a spell at higher levels more effective than this cantrip, but this spell is a great way to practice control-based tactics at lower levels. Utilize other spells at your disposal, like Thorn Whip, or other actions, like Shove, to turn your next fight into an impromptu cookout.
Cast Mending to magically repair a break or tear one foot in length. The spell can be used on mundane items, clothes, weapons, magic items, and even constructs, to name a few.
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As most spellcasters can learn this cantrip, ensuring your group is not doubling up on it is important. If not, consider taking this at the fourth or tenth level when you gain access to another cantrip. Mending is invaluable for your party, whether you’re resealing broken wax on an important document or repairing broken arrows.
As the name suggests, Infestation creates a haze of insects, such as fleas or other parasites, that attack a foe within 30 feet. Unfortunately, the target has to fail a Constitution saving throw for it to take the 1d6 poison damage this cantrip causes. If they do fail the save, you roll 1d4. The creature moves five feet in a random direction based on the number you roll.
We say “unfortunately” because Constitution saving throws are something almost all creatures will at least be decent at. Furthermore, poison damage is one of the most commonly resisted damage types in the game. Nonetheless, this is an especially poignant cantrip for a druid to cast as far as roleplay is concerned, and forced movement is often quite useful even when you don’t have full control of where the creature goes.
8 Thorn Whip
You yank your target ten feet closer to you on a successful spell attack and deal 1d6 piercing damage. Note that Thorn Whip has a range of 30 feet, so the target isn’t necessarily being pulled into melee range.
This cantrip’s damage, like Frostbite, isn’t ideal. However, as mentioned above, combining Thorn Whip with a preexisting area-of-effect spell, even a simple cantrip like Create Bonfire, creates deadly combos. You should also factor in the surrounding environment or the angle at which you’re pulling a target to unlock the potential of what this spell can do.
7 Produce Flame
For ten minutes, you can hold a flame in your hand that provides bright light up to ten feet and dim light for another ten. While you’re holding it, or even immediately upon casting, you can throw your flame at a creature up to 30-feet away to deal 1d8 fire damage.
Having an open flame whenever you need it is always a handy tool and one that deals 1d8 damage is hard to pass up. If your race lacks the darkvision trait, you’ll get a lot of use out of this spell, and the light source is considered magical, which aids against several spells that threaten the light source from an average torch. Druids don’t receive a more versatile ranged spell attack.
6 Mold Earth
This is a rather controversial cantrip as its uses can differ based on Dungeon Master (DM) interpretation. However, D&D designer Jeremy Crawford has weighed in on the topic, saying that its intended uses are for moving earth that could otherwise be moved by a shovel. Mold earth can instantly excavate a five-foot square of loose earth.
You can also use this cantrip to cause images, words, and shapes on an area of dirt or stone. Lastly, you can turn an area of dirt or stone up to ten feet into difficult terrain. Aside from digging out a new entrance into an underground dungeon that isn’t bound by stone, this cantrip is great for creating quick pit traps, assuming you have a couple of rounds before a combat encounter begins.
As the eldritch invocation Repelling Blast has proven, forced movement is a very useful ability to have on hand. Gust is capable of pushing a medium or smaller creature five feet away from you if the creature fails a Strength saving throw. Gust can also move an object that weighs no more than five pounds up to ten feet away from you.
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Finally, this cantrip has some roleplaying implications thanks to its ability to cause harmless sensory effects such as opening or closing windows, rustling leaves, and the like. In the best-case scenario, you can use Gust to blast a creature off a cliff or into another dangerous environmental hazard. However, there’s also a use case for simply removing an ally from an enemy’s melee range.
4 Shape Water
Wave your hands to bend a five-foot area of water to your will. This cantrip allows you to change the water’s direction in any way you please, alter its color and opacity, shape and animate it, and even freeze it.
The effects from this spell can last an entire hour, so provided you’re carrying a suitable amount of water wherever you go, you’ve got quite a few solutions on hand for a shocking amount of scenarios. The water can’t be used in any harmful ways, but with time for preparation, an icy floor or a pool of boiling water floating overhead make terrifyingly terrific traps.
Fortify your druid’s club or staff for a minute, turning its 1d4 bludgeoning damage into a 1d8 magical bludgeoning. You’ll now also utilize your spellcasting modifier to boost the attack roll instead of Strength. Be warned: this effect ends if the weapon leaves your hands.
If you’re looking to make attacks in the melee range, you have two options for cantrips, and this is the first. Shillelagh requires a simple melee weapon, but you can now also benefit from feats like Polearm Master. It’s also worth mentioning the benefit of having magical melee attacks at lower levels, bypassing pesky resistances from monsters like Lycanthropes.
2 Primal Savagery
You make a melee spell attack with either your teeth or claws, dealing 1d10 acid damage on a successful hit. Like any spell, this cannot be cast while in Wild Shape, as Wild Shape does not allow for spellcasting while in an altered form.
Primal Savagery boasts higher damage dice than that of Shillelagh and deals acid damage, which is rarely resisted by monsters. Unless you’re going to boost your druid’s melee efficiency purposely, this cantrip is the best melee spell attack choice.
Similar to Resistance, you touch your character or a creature, but this time, the target of the spell gets a d4 they can add to an ability check of their choosing. This effect requires concentration from you and lasts for a single minute.
In combat, this spell eats up your concentration, but when you’re not, cast this as often as possible. That +2 average to ability checks is the make-or-break number for a rogue’s stealth check, or a barbarian’s athletics check. Ask yourself this: when should you not be casting this on either yourself or a fellow adventurer?
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