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I'm new to D&D and have been running the Dragon of Icespire Peak adventure for my wife. She is playing a Druid and I'm playing a DMPC Barbarian. I wanted to make a staff for her so she can keep a bit of distance from battle.

I was wondering if this is an okay weapon for a level 3 Druid to use. I was planning on creating a quest for her to get it, or having a Magic Merchant come along who sells it for 100 gold.

Druid's Staff of Thorns

Staff (requires attunement by a druid)

This staff is created by imbuing a branch with nature's power and molding its shape while the branch grows. Using the magic of the attuned druid, the staff grows 6-inch-long thorns. The staff has 8 charges; it regains 1d4 + 1 charges when you finish a short rest, and 1d8 + 1 charges when you finish a long rest.

You can use an action to expend 1 of its charges and fire a spike from the staff at a target within 20 feet of you. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. If it hits, the target takes 1d8 + 1 piercing damage.

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    \$\begingroup\$ And where are our manners? Welcome to the stack! Please take the tour to learn more about us and you can also find additional info in our help center. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 9 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch The magic items she currently has are only a couple of sending stones from a quest. The battles have been mostly with single monsters, since she was killed by 1 Ochre Jelly in our first session. We're using the Essentials Kit and playing Dragon of Icespire Peak. According to the Essentials Kit you can play it with 1 player and 1 DM, but the difficulty seems to be more on the level of about 5 players. The damage would be piercing damage, because it's a thorn that is being shot \$\endgroup\$ – Freerk92 Feb 9 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this staff require attunement? The phrasing in the body seems to imply it but it's not clearly stated. (And I assume that, if so, it requires attunement by a druid? That part doesn't matter too much mechanically, since you're creating the item just for her, but I'm just wondering.) Also, does it expend 1 charge to make the attack? You mention charges and the recharge, but don't explicitly mention how/when charges are expended. I've edited the question based on my assumptions; please look over the question to make sure I haven't changed your meaning. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 9 at 23:26
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Too Many Charges

The damage output of the staff (1d8+1) approximates the Warlock's Eldritch Blast (1d10) which is a cantrip and the Warlock's most frequent means of dealing damage. For the Warlock this is ok because she has a limited set of spells and abilities to choose from, however, the Druid has way more. E.g., at level 3 the Druid can cast 6 spells in total while the Warlock can cast only 2. Not to mention that the druid is more versatile (Wild Shape) and tankier. The fact that the staff can be recharged during short and long rests makes this worse1.

I don't know what's the style of your campaign (i.e., how often your party battles) but by allowing so many charges you basically change the complexion of the Druid. Now she can stand 20 ft away and spam her staff.

My Recommendation

(edited based on @Revolver_Ocelot's comment)

Druid's Staff of Thorns

This staff is created by imbuing a branch with nature's power and molding its shape while the branch grows. Using the magic of the attuned druid the staff grows 6-inch thorns. The user can use their Action to fire a spike from the staff. Make a ranged spell Attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 1d8+1 piercing damage. The damage increases by 1d8 when you reach the 5th level (2d8+1), 11th level (3d8+1), and 17th level (4d8+1).

Charges: 3 per day

Range: 30 ft

You can change the range from 30 ft to 60 ft if you want.


1 Eldritch Blast has a radius of 120 ft while this spell has a radius of only 20 ft. However, the Warlock is a lot squishier while the Druid a lot tankier (especially a Circle of a Moon Druid) and more versatile so I think that the comparison is fair to make (but most likely there are better spells/abilities to compare this to).

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    \$\begingroup\$ 20 feet range kills this staff. You would fare better with light crossbow, if you have at least +1 Dex. Or blast everyone with Create Bonfire for 1d8 damage from 60 feet away. And Dragon of Icespire Peak. It gladly throws encounter twice than deadly and calls it appropriate for 1st level characters. \$\endgroup\$ – Revolver_Ocelot Feb 9 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Revolver_Ocelot You are right. I edited my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Aventinus Feb 9 at 13:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Aventinus Thanks for the help. My campaign style is mostly "I don't really know what I'm doing and trying to keep it fun for my wife", which has made the battles happen a bit less, because she died the first session to an Ochre Jelly. \$\endgroup\$ – Freerk92 Feb 9 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Freek92 No problem! I edited the answer to include the ranged spell attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Aventinus Feb 9 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ While the crossbow does currently deal equal/more, it won't scale up as they level. And it's mundane damage unless they get a magical crossbow or use magical ammunition which may be an issue against creatures resistant nonmagical. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 9 at 14:36
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The staff is underpowered and won't likely be used

The staff is a suboptimal damage dealing trade-off compared to cantrips

Yes, you'll get an extra 1 damage by using this over produce flame at early levels, but once you hit level 5, you'll get more consistent damage from that cantrip at the same action cost.

So for levels 3-4, you may eek out an extra point of damage, but that's about it. After that, it won't ever outpace the cantrip. It'll matter more if a monster is resistant/immune to fire, but there are other cantrip options that are still better than this magic item:

The cantrip magic stone may outpace it even at the lower levels. Even though it's a 1d6 damage die, you can add your spellcasting modifier. Which likely brings the damage threshold above your magic item's. And it's magical bludgeoning which doesn't have as many resistant monsters like fire does.

Even if the damage dice scale like a cantrip, the other options remain better.

Charge regeneration isn't standard

Yeah, this is definitely above and beyond the commonly seen charge regenerations, but with the above issue around damage and action costs, having extra charges isn't really a problem when it's not optimal to even use the staff to begin with.

Goal of distance in battle: unmet because it's already available

You've stated the original goal for this was to allow her to attack from a distance. But she's already got that with no-cost cantrips. As I'd previously said, produce flame has a 30' range and will outscale soon. Magic stone has a range of 60' (3x as much as the staff) and already outdamages the staff. There is also frostbite that will outdamage after 5th level and also provide additional riders regarding reducing their speed.

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It is underpowered, better stick to damaging cantrips instead.

Your staff damage dice is comparable to longbow or light crossbow, but:

  • Deals less damage than longbow or light crossbow in hands of someone built to use them.

  • Has pitiful range

  • Costs 2/4 times as much as longbow/light crossbow

  • Cannot make extra attacks (not that it matters for Druid...)

  • Has a very limited ammunition pool.

On the other hand, it is:

  • Not two-handed

  • Not Heavy

  • You cannot completely run out of ammunition in the middle of hostile land.

You can see that cons overweight pros. Compare to Magic Stone, that has higher average damage if your spellcasting modifier is at least 3 and 60 feet range, Create Bonfire with 60 feet range and just 1 damage point less. At 5th level every other damaging cantrip gets another damage die and will completely outclass this weapon in every possible way.

What can be done

  • Increase range to 60 feet.

  • Make it recharge all charges, or at least reduce bookkeeping by making it regain charges only after long rest as every other item.
    You also forgot to mention that firing a thorn expends a charge

  • Increase amount of charges.

  • Possibly: add spellcasting modifier to damage.

Druid's Staff of Thorns (Staff, Uncommon, requires attunement by a druid)

This staff is created by imbuing a branch with nature's power and molding its shape while the branch grows. Using the magic of the attuned druid the staff grows 6 inch thorns. The user can use their Action to consume a charge and fire a spike from the staff at a target within 60ft. Make a ranged spell attack with the staff. On hit target receives 1d8 + spellcasting modifier piercing damage. Staff has 12 charges and regains all expended charges at the end of long rest.

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