I am planning a character who is a lvl 1 druid with the shape-shift variant from PH2. He is human and has the following feats: Sacred Vow, Vow of Poverty, and Intuitive Attack. I'm not a big fan of spells and was wondering if there was a way to get rid of the druid spell casting. I'm not going for power cause the other members of the party cover the combat need, I am looking to make a flavorful role-playing character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why not simply just not cast spells? \$\endgroup\$
    – Luris
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 19:02
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you want to simply remove it, or are you looking to replace it with something else? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 13, 2018 at 19:04

4 Answers 4


Consider a different class with wild shape

Druids are spellcasters. It is, in reality, both their strongest and most defining class feature. Wild shape is very powerful, and very iconic, but it still lags behind spellcasting. Even if a druid variant were found without it, there are better ways to handle a non-spellcasting wild-shaper.

Unearthed Arcana (also on the SRD) offers a ranger variant that trades the combat styles for wild shaping, and Dragon vol. 324 offers the wild monk. Both are limited relative to the druid’s wild shaping, but they both reference the druid class feature. Ask your DM to allow you to swap those for shapeshifting, as the druid gets, and you’re golden (note: the shapeshifting is a major loss of power relative to wild shape, even the weaker forms of wild shape offered by ranger or monk). The ranger, of course, still has spellcasting; there is a spell-less ranger in Complete Warrior (note: it, too, is awful for you from an optimization perspective).

Both wild monk and wild-shape ranger work, and have better features than a druid-ignoring-the-spells. Furthermore, both qualify for the master of many forms prestige class in Complete Adventurer, which is a pretty solid prestige class revolving around wild shape, getting you around a lot of the limitations of the monk or ranger versions of that feature. It doesn’t work with shapeshifting, though (nothing does, since shapeshifting was introduced pretty late in 3.5e, in a supplement that Wizards didn’t want to make books dependent on).

Or a class with something like wild shape or shapeshifting

The totemist from Magic of Incarnum is a pretty middle-of-the-road class (Tier 3), power-wise. It’s also got the ability to shape the claws, fangs, hide, wings, and so on of a variety of magical beasts. If you’d like to tear into your foes with the four arms of a girallon, the wings of a pegasus, the tentacles of a kraken, and the heart of the Tarrasque, the totemist is for you. And incarnum is very different from spellcasting (though still very magical).

Be warned, however, that Magic of Incarnum is a very poorly organized book. Incarnum isn’t actually a very complicated system, but it is a pretty hard system to learn. Shneeky the Lost’s Incarnum Reference Guide can be invaluable for figuring out how it works.

Note, however, that this all may be very low-power

More than you might be imagining. The character you are proposing will be extremely weak:

  • Druids are extremely powerful, but that’s mostly because of their spellcasting. You don’t want to use those.

  • Wild shape is also very powerful, but you’re replacing it with vastly-weaker shapeshifting. On a regular druid, this is a reasonable, balancing nerf. On a spell-less druid, though, it’s very rough.

  • Vow of Poverty is crippling. A druid, being extremely powerful and flexible, is actually one of the best candidates for keeping that vow, but nevertheless a druid would still rather break the vow and waste the feats rather than keep it. The vow is that bad. And that’s a regular druid—a shapeshifting, spell-less druid is not in nearly so strong a position.

  • If you take my advice, note that though better than nothing (as in the druid-ignoring-spells), monk and ranger are still on the weaker side of classes. With wild shape, they are much-improved, but shapeshifting probably isn’t good enough. See our Q&As on optimizing monk and making a tier-3 (middle of the road) ranger.

  • Totemist is better, and again like druid does somewhat better without items than most classes. However, even a totemist would vastly prefer having magic items over the meager benefits provided by Vow of Poverty.

If you are doing this intentionally, as a challenge, or to play with players who also make very weak characters, or as a way to bring the druid down, that’s fine (though I think you’re badly overshooting the mark). If you made these choices thinking, however, that this series of choices is going to be powerful or even anything but extremely weak, however, I invite you to revisit these decisions. Unfortunately, 3.5e is not a balanced game, and not everything works as advertised. Vow of Poverty is a big one. Shapeshifting is less so (it’s still pretty good, and wild shape was probably overpowered), but it is definitely a big step down in power. And spells dominate everything in the game. If the game materials gave you the impression that non-magic was an equally-powerful option, I’m afraid you have been misled. It is not.

Also, regardless, consider Nemesis and stalker of Kharash

Nemesis is an exalted feat that gives you unparalleled senses for your favored enemies. Stalker of Kharash is a Book of Exalted Deeds prestige class for rangers that offers “favored enemy—evil” at 2nd level. Taking nemesis for all evil creatures ever is extremely potent. Considering the other features of the stalker, including scent, it is a very good choice for an exalted, but wild, character. Working it into any of these builds is worth the effort.

For more on stalker, and on the ranger in general should you go the wild ranger route, I direct you to Forrestfire’s excellent answer to the aforementioned Tier-3 ranger question. And if you really insist on sticking with Vow of Poverty, I have written up builds for a wild character with Vow of Poverty, using monk/totemist and using ardent/totemist.


There appear to be no official druid variants that replace the spellcasting feature

By reference to the sterling work done on the Alternative Class Features reference thread on the Giant In The Playground forums, there do not appear to be any published variations on the Druid class which remove or replace spellcasting. The Druid's most significant class feature is the ability to cast spells, so it's not surprising that it's retained in all versions of the class.

If you want, you can just not cast spells, or you could just devote all your divine spellcasting to healing (will pretty much always be useful) and ignore the other options. You will not be nearly as powerful as a druid who is making full use of their spellcasting, but it will still be playable in a group that isn't obsessed with optimising.


No, at least not entirely.

Consulting the Character Class Index, there are variant or alternate druids, but none lose their spellcasting or trade it for another ability.

Druids in D&D 3.5 are essentially a primary spellcasting class: spellcasting is their main thing. You can't give that up completely without losing the entire point of the class, so the game won't let you do it, at least not in official content. A character who can shapechange but not cast divine spells wouldn't be a druid; more like a kind of barbarian.

You can trade away part of your spellcasting by taking one of the numerous prestige classes available to druids, which are too numerous to list individually here. However, you wouldn't gain improved druid shapeshifting powers for those levels, making it less than optimal.

If your problem is that you can't cast spells in wild shape, take a feat like Natural Spell (Player's Handbook), which allows you to cast spells in wild shape.



Since you're taking Vow of Poverty and seeking to forgo spellcasting, I assume you are trying to minimize the power of your character as much as possible. The best way to lose your spellcasting abilities in this case is pretty clear:

A druid wearing metal armor and/or who so much as carries a shield made of any material other than wood (e.g. bone, hide, metal) is affected thusly according the PHB:

A druid who wears prohibited armor or carries a prohibited shield is unable to cast druid spells or use any of her supernatural or spell-like class abilities while doing so and for 24 hours thereafter.

A masterwork spiked large steel shield costs 180 gp. If the spikes can be given the properties of the -2 cursed sword, a low-level party is unlikely to be able to rid the character of the shield. The shield prevents spellcasting with the added benefit of further crippling your character by stripping them of all supernatural and spell-like class abilities.

This option further synergizes well with your Vow of Poverty feat, because you must never use the shield or you lose the dubious 'benefits' of that feat, yet if you ever try to wield a weapon, "The sword’s owner automatically draws it and fights with it even when she meant to draw or ready some other weapon". This means that while you can carry the shield, provided you do not own it, and in so doing you can avoid losing your Vow of Poverty feat, you cannot fight with or otherwise use it in any way, nor can you use any other weapon for any purpose. Since this also strips you of your spellcasting and wildshaping abilities, you're left with a quite effectively neutered character (so long as you continue to voluntarily comply with the prerequisites of Vow of Poverty; you can pretty easily get out of it if you ditch that drawback, which you can unfortunately still do at any time).

Alternatively, if you want to keep Wildshaping et al., you can just dump Wisdom. A druid with a wisdom score less than 7 can never cast druid spells, even if they age up through venerable, without first increasing their level or benefitting from temporary Wisdom-increasing magical effects. If you want to make this penalty truly permanent, you may seek to benefit from a casting of feeblemind (while you can't effectively buy items with your Vow, you can still buy services and still own permanent magical effects):

Intelligence and Charisma scores each drop to 1. The affected creature is unable to use Intelligence- or Charisma-based skills, cast spells, understand language, or communicate coherently.

Which works pretty great in terms of bricking your character while leaving wild-shape usable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since this is suggesting eliminating all druid supernatural abilities, I offer an alternative that you're welcome to: just dump Wisdom. A Wis 9 or lower druid literally can't cast spells and keeps all his other supernatural abilities. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 13, 2018 at 21:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ does vow of poverty allow for armor? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 13, 2018 at 21:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Vow of Poverty does not allow for armor, and thus wearing armor breaks the Vow—which contradicts the stated goal of minimizing character power, since a character with a broken Vow of Poverty is stronger than a character sticking to a Vow of Poverty. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan You can't own or use armor, but there's no prohibition against carrying an item you don't own and also don't use. You don't have to use a shield-- just carry it-- to lose druid powers, though you would have to use armor to do the same. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 13, 2018 at 22:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer I would say you are splitting some extremely fine hairs. I would read “carries” in that sentence, in parallel with “wears,” as referring to having a shield equipped and ready for use, enjoying its shield bonus to AC. If nothing else, your answer should be more explicit about that if that’s what you’re doing. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 22:53

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