I'm playing in a seven-member party in a homebrew campaign. There's a chain warlock (me), a vengeance paladin, a valor bard, a fighter, a trickery cleric and two Circle of the Moon druids. We're on our 9th session and the druids have used Wild Shape a total of 5 times between them, none of these events in combat.

Most of these have been for fairly low-stakes scouting purposes (e.g. climbing a tree to avoid getting lost, or snooping around in a prison). The thing is, both players either don't know or simply won't use it in combat and constantly complain that their characters are weak (low HP specifically).

Can moon druids who rarely use Wild Shape still keep up with the rest of us in combat? Or should I try and convince them to start using Wild Shape?

P.S. They also seem to have taken the "beast that you have seen before" line in the PHB really really seriously, despite us having seen creatures like giant rats and owlbears and one of the characters being a forest-dwelling hermit.

I asked one of the druid players outright why they hadn't used it in combat and they said they had never thought of it before and would in the future. Not sure about the other one, but given that he went on a trip to the stables and a market to look at a horse and a spider respectively - and those are the only animals that he's turned into - he's definitely taking the "beast you've seen" bit to rather ridiculous levels (considering his character is a 100-year-old elf).

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    \$\begingroup\$ side note: doesn't matter if they've seen an owlbear, they can't turn into it. It's a monstrosity, not a beast. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 11:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah that takes the fun out of it a little. Considering the party adopted a recently orphaned owlbear cub immediately after we fought the first owlbear, I hope the DM allows it if we get to higher levels. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 12:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ It would be perfectly balanced to add an exception for owlbears \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 13:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this a limitation they are imposing on themselves, or that the DM is imposing? beast that you have seen before" line in the PHB really really seriously .. and does your table have access to Xanathar's Guide to Everything? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 13:11

4 Answers 4


Wild Shape is pretty important to Moon Druid.

I'm currently playing a Moon Druid, and Wild Shape is key to the effectiveness of a Moon Druid in combat. If your players had wanted a spellslinger Druid, Circle of the Moon was not a great choice. Circle of the Land or another Circle that improves spellcasting would be a much better choice.

TL;DR: Yes, as a Circle of the Moon Druid they should definitely be focusing on their Wild Shapes if they want to be most effective in combat. However, you can play the character and have fun without Wild Shaping in combat by slinging spells (particularly healing and control spells such as Cure Wounds, Healing Word, Entangle, Faerie Fire, etc).

Your best course of action depends on why they aren't using the Wild Shape. Are they making the conscious decision not to, whether for story or personal reasons, or are they just not using it because they're inexperienced and not sure how to use it properly? Or, perhaps they aren't using Wild Shape in combat because they see the party composition and they don't want the entire party to be in the front line swinging at the enemy, so they choose to hang back instead.

Now, if they're complaining about their characters' low HP, then I would hazard a guess that it's because they're inexperienced and don't know any better. In that case, I'd pull them aside together (with the DM if possible) between sessions and show them some of the cool shapes they have access to (not sure what level you guys are but Giant Hyena, Dire Wolf, Giant Toad, and Giant Spider take the cake at low levels for me).

Yes, you probably have seen a Brown Bear, Lion, Tiger or Dire Wolf at some point.

If they insist that they haven't seen any of those beasts yet, you'll have to talk them through the process of going through their characters' lives BEFORE they became adventurers and consider what they would have seen during that time. Page 24 of Xanathar's Guide to Everything has a really good bunch of tables on it that they should have a look at. The tables are organized by biome (grassland, forests, mountains, etc) and have a fairly long list of beasts up to CR 1 that your characters would have probably seen during their lives pre-adventuring if they were from that type of area.

Discuss with your DM and those two players and see what you can work out. If you have noticed their complaining and lack of Wild Shapes, the DM probably has as well. If you include your DM in the process it'll go much smoother.

Inspiration/Excitement for your players

--Warning: D&D Math Below!!!---

My MVP wild shape pre-level 4 for prolonged combat has got to be Giant Hyena. I'm going into power-gamer mode for a minute here: doing some basic math, 45HP per wild shape (giant hyena) at 2 transformations per rest is 90HP. If we assume level 3 then you have 4 first level spell slots and 2 second level spell slots, for a total healing amount of 8d8 hit points over the course of 6 turns (one slot per turn), which averages 36 hit points. If you assume that your characters have 12 CON (+1 bonus) and that they take average HP at each level up, they will have 19HP at level 3 on the un-transformed character itself.

Adding this all up, you have 90HP + 36HP + 19HP which is 145HP at level 3, assuming average healing and HP rolls and that you expend all of your resources, and that's without any external assistance such as your cleric or health potions. Show that to your Druid players and hopefully they stop complaining about low HP.


I don't mean to encourage extreme powergaming and it's unrealistic that they would blow all of their spell slots on healing and all their wild shapes in a single combat. I mainly wanted to show how effective the Wild Shapes can make the Moon Druid and hopefully this can inspire and excite your players to get into the next game and try out their Wild Shapes, instead of hanging back and slinging Thornwhips and Ice Knives.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a side note: If they want to go for HP tanking, multiclassing into Barbarian for the rage feature is borderline broken in my opinion. If they rage before they Wild Shape, the rage carries over into the Wild Shape and any non-magical bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage they receive is halved while they keep the rage up. As per this post Wild Shape does allow you to keep on being really angry at everybody. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've had a chat with the DM about multiclassing and she probably wouldn't allow it until level 10 or so. We're all level 5 at the moment. Thanks for the idea about Xanathar's Guide though! I'll float the idea with them before our next session. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 22:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can rage while wildshaped, as wildshaped allows you to use class features \$\endgroup\$
    – Pliny
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 10:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthewHitchings be sure to let me know how the next session goes! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 14:48

They chose to be weak

Moon Druids are considered to be one of the strongest subclasses in the entire game, solely because of Wild Shape. Without it they become the weakest subclass of an already not-so-strong class, as their power comes mostly from the Wild Shape feature.

Wild Shape

At level 2, no class is as strong as a Moon Druid in Dire Wolf form. Later their advantage decreases, but they are still top-tier.

Base Druids are rather weak

At low levels, you don't have many spell slots, and all full casters are quite weak without spending those, because cantrips are weak and Druid cantrips are among the weakest1.

At higher levels, Druids are like watered-down Wizards. They do not have many good class features besides spells, but those are arguably worse than Wizards'.

Hit Points
You don't mention the cleric complaining, and the Druids have the same amount of HP with the same attributes. What differs is the AC, Druids have the worst on average, so they will lose those HPs quickly.

One level of Monk can help a lot here.


Tell them they feel weak because they do not use their strongest feature.

Brown bears are quite common, and if your DM shares your concern, he should introduce a Dire Wolf, so the Druid can learn that shape.

1) They can do up to 1d8 damage per tier, while Clerics can do 1d12 per tier if they target a wounded creature.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm aware of the class HP given that most of the party (myself included!) is using a d8 hit dice. The only other thing is that they have fairly low constitution mods and rolled consistently low when rolling for level HP. Thanks for the answer though! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 22:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MatthewHitchings, one more reason to use the beast's HP instead. Also, rolling for HP is its own punishment \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 7:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Any reason for the downvotes? \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bash smart Moon Driuds are never in human form when in combat. Giant Constrictor Snakes can't use shields or armor. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 11:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SirTechSpec, you should read Shillelagh again. It is 1d8+5 even on level 20 \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 7:22

Circle of the Moon druids are considerably powerful. If they're complaining that they're low HP, tell them that if they wild shape into high-HP monsters, like a bear or something, that it's effectively like having a second health bar... Also, speaking from a lore point, why don't they just mention that they saw these creatures years ago in their past. In our campaign, we haven't fought a bear, or wolves I don't think, but my druid is a gnome and came from a forest, so it's not illogical for me to have seen a bear. If the DM permits, they should start playing a bit more chill; otherwise, playing druid might not be for them...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Please take our tour. The question specifically asked about whether a moon druid can do well without Wild Shape so suggesting that the character should use it anyway is fundamentally a non-answer. Furthermore, The question is not about how to convince the other player to change their playstyle. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 8:23
  1. Make sure that your druid players have access to Xanathar's Guide to Everything (XGtE) in some fashion. There's a handy-dandy table for what creatures they would likely have seen, as well as some new druid circles and a slew of useful spells.

  2. Make sure they are aware that uses of Wild Shape recharge on short rests as well as long rests. They might be holding them in reserve because they think they only get two a day. (This is for all druids, not just CotM!)

  3. Make sure that they know if they don't want to Wild Shape often, CotM is not the circle for them, as its strength is based entirely around Wild Shape. Circle of the Land has great features if they want to cast more spells, and the Circles in XGtE are flavorful utility fun as well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 23:59

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