New: D&D Circle of Blood Druid
Welcome back to the Zurn blog! Today we are continuing our discussion on new subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons, adding more flavor and uniqueness to your character build. Today's post lays out an idea for a druid, a protector and preserver of nature, who uses blood magic and rituals to uphold their duty.
Like the Blood Oath Barbarian (or "BOB"), the druid uses their life force to assist them in keeping their bond, in this case to nature. While BOB uses his blood to increase his combat prowess, the Circle of Blood druid uses his life essence in more shamanistic ways, sometimes aiding in striking down a foe, but more often it shows itself in utility and portending ways.
This helps to keep the theme of the classes separate, and will also help to distinguish both from the blood pact warlock that we will discuss in a few weeks.
Circle of Blood Druid: Theme and Inspiration
Based on Skade from The Last Kingdom and shamans that use blood to aid them in their augury and magical power, the Circle of Blood is a conclave of druids that use their life essence to aid them in protecting the natural elements of the world from threats native and foreign to the plane.
Shamanistic blood magic takes various forms: scrying, aiding in the destruction of a foe, and in some cases regaining strength spent earlier in the fight. We've attempted to include all of this into the subclass, building it out to increase your combat and non-combat abilities to capture the heart and soul of the blood shaman.
Like the Circle of the Land druid, the blood shaman is a "casting focused" subclass, relying more on the spellcasting side of the class than the shapeshifting side, though many of the abilities aid you while in beast shape as well. So the subclass is not as strong as the Circle of the Land in its spellcasting or the Circle of the Moon in it shapeshifting, but it hits a nice balance that will give you bonuses regardless of your role in the party.
Circle of Blood Druid: Mechanics
You can find the details of the subclass here, easily printable for your game master to consider if desired thanks to the team at Homebrewery. The subclass starts out at 2nd level, like other druid subclasses, and gives you its signature ability: the ability to spend a hit dice to add the amount to an attack (melee, ranged, or spell attack). So while the BOB adds to its damage, the blood druid adds to its ability to hit, giving you greater security in hitting the target.
This means you could be a druid that takes a Great Weapon Master or Sharpshooter feat, as the penalty to hit can be overcome through your blood magic. This could turn a druid that relies on cantrip damage into a powerhouse damage dealer at lower levels, and a decent one at higher levels (the lack of Extra Attack kinda hurts you compared to martial classes). You might even do more damage while not in your beast shape, which makes for a unique way to play a druid. Just keep in mind that, if you take something like Great Weapon Master, you will not be able to use that with Shillelagh or while you are in wild shape, so plan your transformations and cantrip choices accordingly.
Like the BOB, you don't get all of your hit dice back at the end of a long rest, and by using your hit dice in combat you are cutting into your natural healing after the fight is over. So your effectiveness goes down on the day after you have fought in a battle and used your blood magic, but if it means you can deal greater damage and look cool doing it, it may be worth it. And since you get access to a wide suite of healing spells including Healing Spirit, you might be okay with using up your hit dice for offense because you won't need them for healing later.
At 6th level you gain the ability to deal damage more reliably against targets that you have already damaged if you still have their blood on you. This doesn't help you if you are building a ranged attacker or spellcaster, but if you are fighting up close you don't have to spend hit dice to take down an enemy. You are passing up the ability to make all of your beast shape attacks magical like you would as a moon druid, but it's a nice bonus that can help you in and out of wild shape.
As you advance to 10th level you gain the ability to scry effectively against people whose blood you have with you. You also gain the ability to reduce your damage to a target to gain foresight on them while they are near, making it hard for an enemy to hide from you.
And as you cap out your abilities at 14th level you gain the ability to heal yourself based on how much damage you deal to the target. Note that this is damage done to the target, not the damage you roll: resistance and immunity to damage will reduce your healing amount, so keep this in mind. You also use the power of the blood to purge your body of poisons, curses, and diseases, allowing you to keep yourself in prime condition through the fight. And since this applies in both wild shape and in your normal form, it can keep you on the field a bit longer than your average druid.
Our goal in making these subclasses is not to build "the best druid ever," but to build a flavorful druid. I don't think from an offensive standpoint this druid is as good as a Circle of the Moon druid, it has less options than a Circle of the Land druid, and doesn't heal or protect targets as well as the Circle of the Shepherd. But if you are looking for a fun way to play a seer who is also competent in combat, consider using the Circle of Blood.
In our next post we take our shot at the Circle of the Sun, a subclass that others have also attempted to create in the past, and we are very proud of how well-rounded the subclass is in its portrayal of the power and theme of the sun.
Until next time,