How To Build A Circle Of The Blighted Druid In DND

Druids in Dungeons & Dragons tie themselves to the land through worship, a series of meditative practices, or through years and years of study to understand the energies and balance of the world around them. But what happens when that land is distorted and corrupted by vile, destructive forces that seek to undermine that balance?


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In Matthew Mercer’s Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting: Reborn, druids bound to corrupted land make up the Circle of the Blighted. Warped by this bond, these druids worship death and decay, often bringing its rot to every corner of the world, reminding those who forget that nature is as cruel as it is beautiful.


Circle Of The Blighted Features

A twisted tree construct stands
Wraithroot Tree by Elisa Serio

You can choose your druidic circle at second level, where you will be expected to exalt the corrupted land around you. Some druids are befouled by happenstance and others are warped by ancient evils with wicked designs. Some willingly walk to the decay of the land, angry, saddened, or simply intrigued by the power the rot can offer them.

The Circle of the Blighted focuses primarily on summoning creatures as opposed to turning into them, relying on what others can do for you rather than vice versa.

Perhaps nothing embodies this circle more than the first feature you receive, which allows you to tamper with the land you walk on.

Defile Ground

  • You may use a bonus action to pollute land or water as long as it is within a ten-foot radius and is within sixty feet of you. It will last for one minute and will function as difficult terrain in the meantime, as long as the creatures within it are hostile to you and your allies.
  • If a creature is damaged from an attack for the first time, it will take 1d4 necrotic damage. The Circle of the Blighted relies on necrotic damage, much like the Circle of Spores. As a bonus action, you can move this area of land thirty feet.
  • At the tenth level, the power of this feature increases, and the area increases by twenty feet. Also, the damage the creature takes while within the corrupted ground will increase by 1d6, and then 1d8 at fourteenth level.
  • This feature replenishes on a short or long rest.

Defile Ground is a fantastic control option and can make for a good tactical decision while fighting groups. Casting this right off the bat ensures that some enemies will be slowed and that your party can get in some damage bonuses with their attacks, stacking damage up prematurely to take down your foes.

The next feature appears at second level as well, changing your form to reflect the unconsecrated land you draw power from.

Blighted Shape

  • While transformed using your Wild Shape, you will achieve a +2 to your AC as your shape assumes an unnatural form as well. Your beast form will receive darkvision, whether it has it or not. If it does have darkvision, the creature will gain sixty feet more. If it doesn’t, then the darkvision caps at sixty feet.
  • You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill, as your veins visibly darken under your eyes, or you take on some sort of eerie, unnatural, look.

At sixth level, you learn to summon creatures drawing on the life energy of your foes. This is the Blighted Druid’s bread and butter, so making sure you have a summon on hand may be integral for your build.

Call of the Shadowseeds

  • If a creature is damaged within the zone of your Defile Ground feature, you have the ability to summon a blighted sapling within that area. You use your reaction for this. You can direct this sapling to make an attack on anything within five feet of it upon summoning, and it will share your initiative. It will obey anything you tell it to do to the best of its ability, and it understands you. It serves you until it is killed or until you take a long rest.
  • Your proficiency bonus determines how many times you can use this. This also replenishes after a long rest.
  • It uses the Blighted Sapling statblock and gains an extra attack when you reach the fourteenth level.

Your next ability clocks in at tenth level, in which your summons receive a boost to their stat block. They will become rife with decay and will gain two new features.

Foul Conjuration

  • Blighted Resilience
    • This gives your saplings immunity to necrotic and poison damage. They are also immune to the poisoned condition.
  • Toxic Demise
    • This ensures that the summoned creature will explode into a necrotic, toxic mess upon death. Every creature (including allies) will make a Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC if they are within five feet of the death zone. Upon failure, they will take necrotic damage influenced by the summoned sapling’s challenge rating.
      • You can utilize this feature offensively, as you can use an action to detonate the creature yourself without any killing blow, essentially sacrificing your sapling by, say, sending it into a group of injured enemies and showering them with necrotic damage from your eviscerated creature.

Creature CR

Toxic Demise Necrotic Damage

1/4 or lower

1d4

1/2

1d6

1 or higher

A number of d8s equivalent to the creature’s CR

No CR

A number of d6s equivalent to your druid’s proficiency bonus

Exploding your sapling will allow you to stay far away from the battle and will work best if your character plans on backlining. By contrast, your sapling will also be able to soak up a small amount of damage for your party if you want to assist more frontlining party members. Your sapling doesn’t require a spell slot to be used up. It is a free cast.

Your last feature leans heavily into the defiled land your druid draws from, letting you boost your armor class. This happens at fourteenth level.

Incarnation of Corruption

  • Your form changes yet again, giving you a deathly pallor and a +2 bonus to your armor class. You are also resistant to necrotic damage.
  • If you start your turn within the radius of your Defile Ground feature you may use a bonus action to gain temporary hit points equivalent to your proficiency bonus.

Best Circle Of The Blighted Species

artwork for Dungeons and Dragons Ravenloft curse of strahd
Creeping Hut by Jedd Chevrier

For the Circle of the Blighted, you should not wait to have resistance to necrotic damage. Choosing aasimar, shadar-kai, or gem dragonborn will do this job for you early, and while it may negate some of your class features, the last thing you’ll want is to receive that buff at fourteenth level if you get caught in melee with your sapling nearby. Shadar-kai will also give you a teleporting option with Misty Step, and Protector Aasimar allows you flight.

Firbolg is also a great option and a good way to take the classic firbolg druid in a darker direction. Their features won’t expend the ability to speak with animals from your spell slots, which could be potentially useful. Fire Genasi will give you fire resistance, and water genasi lends you acid resistance, both of which improve your durability.

In terms of lineages, dhampir and hexblood may be worth looking at: dhampir for its mobility, allowing you to walk up trees and cast your Defile Ground feature from a safe distance, and hexblood for its access to Hex, which will stack damage with your Defile Ground feature.

Lizardfolk gives a boost to your AC and a pool of temporary hit points with their innate features. Once the Blighted Druid’s features start kicking in at later levels, you may have a ridiculously high AC and a very frustrated Dungeon Master.

Best Ability Scores For Circle Of The Blighted Druid

Dungeons and Dragons Three Hags Around A Campfire Cauldron Smiling and Cooking
Van Richten’s Guide To Ravenloft Art via Wizards of the Coast

Wisdom is your spellcasting modifier and will determine how high your spell save DC is. As such, this should be first. Dexterity should be next in terms of your ability scores. Keep this high for Blighted Druid, as your AC bonuses will give you an already higher-than-the-regular-druid AC. Slap some medium armor on, and you won’t need to worry as much about your Constitution.

As a Circle of the Blighted Druid, you won’t be expected to take hits, but because Constitution determines your hit points, you should at least consider it. Because your AC may be high, you can afford to keep this third.

If you want to do well on ability scores, Charisma may be fourth, as you’ll get proficiency in Intimidation, and Intelligence may come next, as Strength will not be essential outside your Wild Shape feature.

What About Wild Shape?

Wild Shape is one of the druid’s universal features: the ability to turn into creatures as long as they are within the druid’s CR rating, and they have seen the creature before.

Your Blighted Druid gains an AC bonus to their Wild Shape, which will make them a semi-effective last resort defensive option as long as they’re able to avoid hits, but the class doesn’t overly emphasize Wild Shape, which is more uncommon for the druid.

Circle of the Blighted Druid stands holding a staff
Camellia Springshower by Lauren Walsh

These are the key cantrips that every Circle of the Blighted Druid should consider in their mystical repertoire.

Guidance

You get 1d4 added onto ability checks at will. If nothing else, this will make your party far nicer to you than your decaying self may otherwise beget.

Thorn Whip

Thorn Whip makes a melee spell attack on your foe and if it hits, the creature will take 1d6 piercing damage. If they are smaller than size large or size large themselves, they’ll pull ten feet closer to you. You can stand thirty feet back and do this from across the field, dragging your enemy right into your Defile Ground feature.

Shillelagh

It’s a standard druid cantrip, and while Blighted Druid is all about a break from form, you may be happy to have this cantrip in a pinch in case someone attempts to attack you while in melee rather than at a distance and won’t damage everything around you like Thunderclap. This will let your summons (assuming they’re nearby) remain at peace until something explodes them, doing what Thunderclap would’ve done for you.

Frostbite

This does 1d6 of damage to your enemy and gives them disadvantage on their next attack.

These spells are for early levels to help you craft your Blighted Druid. As the subclass is about control, some buffing could serve you well, as could some more viable control options.

Entangle

Slapping Entangle on top of Defile Ground will be disrespectful, which means you should always do it. At early levels, this will help prepare you for actually playing a class that helps with control, and it stays a pretty viable option for the first few levels. This can also be used to restrain enemies outside your Defile Ground feature, as Strength saves aren’t incredibly common.

Absorb Elements

You absorb damage from a spell and expel it on your next attack. You shouldn’t be overly concerned about this happening as Blighted Druid works best at a distance, but should you adapt melee into your playstyle, this will work nicely with Shillelagh.

Faerie Fire

Unless you’re playing a drow or half-drow, Faerie Fire is a great buffing spell, giving advantage to your party’s next hits and highlighting all hostile creatures in a shimmering aura. You may want to stack this with Defile Ground to maximize damage.

Healing Word

This is a source of easy healing to pull from, and it extends to a group that may be spread out, making it a more viable option than other healing spells like Cure Wounds. Furthermore, it casts on a bonus action.

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