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I feel like as a whole, casters can be rather rigid in their designs. That's not to say they're terrible, just that my personal preference is up close and personal, which leaves out a lot of fun spells, I created this subclass to try to make a convergence of sorts. combining some of the aspects of both styles to create something that could pose as either depending on the situation. Thoughts?

Druid: Circle of the Beast

Looking for a more powerful connection between nature and its magic, members of the circle of the Beast strand themselves in the wilderness, allowing themselves nothing that cannot be found in nature. As such, their connection to magic has devolved into a more primal state, turning their body into an apex predator at the cost of the ability to wield traditional magic.

Primordial predator:

Your complete connection to nature has changed you, turning your body into that of a beast. At 2nd level, your unarmed strikes and bites now do 1d4 slashing damage. You also gain proficiency in animal handling, perception, or survival. You also choose one of the following changes to your physical form:

  • Your body grows by 2 feet and is covered in hair.
  • You grow patches of scales, your fingers and toes gain webbing.
  • You grow horns and your nose compresses into a snout.
  • You grow feathers and a miniature set of wings*

Arcane Primalism

Due to your transformation to a more primal state, your magic has also changed to suit your needs. At 2nd level as a bonus action, by sacrificing one of your spell slots you can do one of the following until the end of your turn:

Metal Claw: By sacrificing a 1st-level spell slot, you can increase your unarmed strike and bite damage by an additional d4. This increases as you use more powerful spell slots. 2d4 for a 2nd level spell, 3d4 for a 3rd level spell, and so on.

Blur: by sacrificing a 1st level spell slot, you can increase your movement speed by 10 feet. This increases to 20 feet with a 4th level spell slot, and to 30 feet with a 7th level spell slot.

Predator’s skill

The dangers of nature and the beasts it holds have rendered you numb to fear. At 6th level, you gain proficiency with intimidation and lose the ability to be frightened. Your unarmed strikes and bites now count as magical weapons as a means of killing other predators.

Adamantine Hide

As your body converts more magic into primal energy, you can now harden your skin on command. At the 10th level as a bonus action, not wearing any armor, you can now sacrifice a 3rd level spell slot to increase your AC by 2, this increases to 4 with a 6th level spell slot. this lasts until the end of your next turn.

Apex Predator

Fully connected to the cycle of life, your body is only angered by pain. At 14th level, while below a third health, unarmed strike and bite damage, and metal claw die are all doubled to d8s

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    \$\begingroup\$ Balanced against what? What niche are you trying to filll, what do you intend to do with it? Please read rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/q/8121/44723 \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Dec 10, 2021 at 17:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ sorry, should have specified what it was balanced against. As for the intended niche, I sort of made this as a thought bubble of sorts, and to have a more physical caster. \$\endgroup\$
    – Krimson42
    Dec 10, 2021 at 17:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ What do you want it to do well that the other sublclass don't do well? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Dec 10, 2021 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your Arcane Primalism and Adamantine Hide features don't have a duration. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2021 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify this sentence: "unarmed strike and bite damage, and metal claw die are all doubled"? You are saying all damage dealt by unarmed strikes/bite is double, but for metal claw, you roll twice as many dice? It look like you might be doubling damage twice as written - double metal claw dice then double the unarmed strike damage (since metal claw is unarmed strike). \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2021 at 17:13

2 Answers 2

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There is nothing apex about this predator.

The main features here are exceptionally weak. Let's review each feature:

Primordial Predator:

Your complete connection to nature has changed you, turning your body into that of a beast. At 2nd level, your unarmed strikes and bites now do 1d4 slashing damage. You also gain proficiency in animal handling, perception, or survival. You also choose one of the following changes to your physical form:

  • [...]

1d4 is pretty weak, but it lines up with natural weapons granted by races. This feature is probably fine, since it is mostly flavor, and you intend to buff the natural weapon with later features.

Arcane Primalism

Due to your transformation to a more primal state, your magic has also changed to suit your needs. At 2nd level as a bonus action, by sacrificing one of your spell slots you can do one of the following until the end of your turn:

Metal Claw: By sacrificing a 1st-level spell slot, you can increase your unarmed strike and bite damage by an additional d4. This increases as you use more powerful spell slots. 2d4 for a 2nd level spell, 3d4 for a 3rd level spell, and so on.

Blur: by sacrificing a 1st level spell slot, you can increase your movement speed by 10 feet. This increases to 20 feet with a 4th level spell slot, and to 30 feet with a 7th level spell slot.

This feature is really weak, as in, it is almost useless when you consider the opportunity cost of a spell slot. For Metal Claw, you are expending a 1st level spell slot and your bonus action for one chance at an additional 1d4 damage, on top of our already modest 1d4 base damage. So for a chance at dealing 2d4+Strength damage, we are spending:

  • 1st level spell slot
  • Action
  • Bonus Action

Alternatively, a druid could just cast ice knife for 1d10 on a hit and a chance at an additional 2d6 to the target and every creature around it. This feature is really weak.

Blur is similarly weak. A 1st level spell slot and a bonus action for 10 extra feet of movement one time? You're never going to use this.

Predator’s skill

The dangers of nature and the beasts it holds have rendered you numb to fear. At 6th level, you gain proficiency with intimidation and lose the ability to be frightened. Your unarmed strikes and bites now count as magical weapons as a means of killing other predators.

This feature is actually fine. Immunity to frightened is a good thing to have, but not OP. This feature can stay as is if you fix the others. I would rephrase it to say "you have immunity to the frightened condition."

Adamantine Hide

As your body converts more magic into primal energy, you can now harden your skin on command. At the 10th level as a bonus action, not wearing any armor, you can now sacrifice a 3rd level spell slot to increase your AC by 2, this increases to 4 with a 6th level spell slot. this lasts until the end of your next turn.

I want to compare this to the circle of the grassland druid's haste spell. For the cost of a bonus action and a 3rd level spell, you get +2 AC until the end of your next turn. Or, the haste spell would give you +2 AC, double your speed, and an extra attack for the next 10 rounds. This feature is weaker even than similar 1st level spells, such as shield, which you can activate with your reaction for a +5 AC until your next turn, or shield of faith which gives +2 AC for ten minutes; both of these are 1st level spells. A 6th level spell slot for +4 AC until your next turn is never going to be used ever by anyone.

Apex Predator

Fully connected to the cycle of life, your body is only angered by pain. At 14th level, while below a third health, unarmed strike and bite damage, and metal claw die are all doubled to d8s

Finally at 14th level, our 2nd level feature becomes somewhat usable. This is how strong Primordial Predator and Arcane Primalism should have been at 2nd level, not 14th.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the Imput! I'll be sure to buff it so that it can be up to par with the other subclasses and is worth the loss of spell slots. as for metal claws, would you suggest i compound into just an action and a spell slot loss? or just raise the damage dealt? \$\endgroup\$
    – Krimson42
    Dec 10, 2021 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Krimson42 I'll think about that some more and maybe add another section with my suggested adjustments. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2021 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am currently making an updated version of the class with the input I've gained which should hopefully be more apex than my first attempt. I'll edit it onto the bottom of this one once I am done. \$\endgroup\$
    – Krimson42
    Dec 10, 2021 at 17:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Krimson42 one of the rules of this site is that it is preferred that you ask another question instead of editing it into this one, and that you wait a bit before asking the next question so more people have time to answer your first one :) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 10, 2021 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok, ill continue working on the updated version and post it later then. \$\endgroup\$
    – Krimson42
    Dec 10, 2021 at 18:02
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This seems too weak

This does not appear to grant the druid the ability to attack multiple times per round, so this character's base damage at first level is just 1d4+STR, once per turn. For comparison, a greatsword fighter would get 2d6+STR, or a monk would get 2*(1d4+DEX).

Assuming the "Metal Claw" ability is intended to be a one-round buff, this is trading a first-level spell slot for +1d4 damage. For comparison, a paladin's smite ability lets them trade a first-level spell slot for +2d8 damage (and they can choose to activate that after they hit).

The "Blur" ability lets you trade a first-level spell slot for 10ft of movement. For comparison, the expeditious retreat spell lets you trade a first-level spell slot for 30ft of movement, for up to 10 minutes, as concentration. (Also, there's already a spell named blur, so this name is a bit confusing.)

The "Adamantine Hide" ability lets you spend a 3rd-level spell slot as a bonus action to gain +2 AC if not wearing armor, but the shield spell lets you spend a 1st-level spell slot as a reaction to gain +5 AC whether you are wearing armor or not.

You could try to fix these issues by upgrading all those abilities to be on par with the other abilities listed.

After you do that, you'd want to write out for yourself the AC and damage potential of this class, compared to the AC and damage potential of a fighter or monk. You'd want to make sure the numbers were similar, or maybe just a tiny bit lower to compensate for the druid's better spell selection.

You could just play a moon druid

There's already a druid subclass that focuses on melee combat, and it's the moon druid. I'm playing one in a game right now, and it's pretty good! You'd probably be happier playing that rather than trying to homebrew something.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you so much, honestly, I sometimes forget paladins are a fighter/caster combo as well. I did think it might've been a bit underpowered, so I'll probably double the numbers or something similar. \$\endgroup\$
    – Krimson42
    Dec 10, 2021 at 17:31

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