Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition has been a smashing success for the tabletop RPG genre, and has brought many new players into the hobby, along with the rise of live-play streaming. Wizards of the Coast have produced a number of books for D&D, but have been primarily focused on pre-written adventures, with little in terms of new class options. This wasn’t a problem at first, however going on five years, players are beginning to request new content and options for their characters. This brings us to the development of Unearthed Arcana. Essentially, Unearthed Arcana is a set of test-rules released by the developers of D&D in order to gain feedback from the community before including these new options in an official product. Anyone can download these new rules from the Dungeons and Dragons website, and provide feedback by taking a short survey. So, let’s take a look at one of the new Druid options that is spreading around the community like wildfire.
Druid – Circle of Wildfire:
At 2nd level Druids will choose a Circle in which to follow. This circle acts as an archetype, shaping the spells and abilities the character will have access too. The newest circle being tested by the D&D team is the Circle of Wildfire. This is an interesting choice, as one wouldn’t immediately associate the nature-loving druid with such a destructive force as a wildfire, but upon deep druitic meditation, I found the idea of cleansing flames making way for new life to be very much in line with the class. So, what spells and abilities does the Wildfire Druid have access too?
(Keep in mind that Unearthed Arcana is a set of test rules and are subject to change!)
The first thing that jumped out upon reading was the destructive casting ability of the Wildfire Druid. Personally, I do not play a druid often as I’m not a fan of the Wild Shape feature, or keeping up with various creature stat blocks. For these reasons, the idea of leaning toward the caster end of the spectrum may interest those of you like me. The Wildfire Druid gains fire-bolt as a cantrip, as well as the below spells at the designated levels:
- 3rd: Locate Animals or Plants, Scorching Ray
- 5th: Fireball, Plant Growth
- 7th: Aura of Life, Fire Shield
- 9th: Flame Strike, Raise Dead
The fire-bolt cantrip guarantees the druid will always have some form of offense casting ability, while the rest of the spell list continues the fire theme with scorching ray, fireball, and… wait, raise dead? This provides the Wildfire Druid with a different toolkit for sure, but I’m not 100% on is how this fits in thematically. The idea of a wildfire is to destroy all within its path in order to allow new life to take root. Raising zombies is a bit of a stretch, right? I am interested to see if this spell is left in the final rules. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool as hell, and I would use it all the time to create flaming zombies.
Further enforcing the caster elements, at 2nd level, the druid can sacrifice their Wild Shape feature to summon a Wildfire Spirit. Lasting for 1 hour, this little guy, you guessed it, shoots fire. The spirit also has Fiery Teleportation, which can teleport you, and your allies within 5ft, to an unoccupied space you can see within 30ft. I understand they want to give you something else to replace Wild Shape, in order for the druid to focus on their destructive casting ability, but I just wish it wasn’t a pet that has to be micro managed. That could be a personal thing, as I’m not a fan of pets or familiars. That being said, I love the teleport, but found myself trying to think of alternate rules to replace the fire spirit, however as we read on, this spirit becomes deeply intertwined in the class features. Though, having a little flaming friend could be fun for role-play, and there are plenty of people who do enjoy this play-style.
At 6th level the Druid gets Enhanced Bond, playing off the fire spirit. When you cast a fire or healing spell, you can roll a d8, and gain that bonus to the spell. The rule is not clear if this bonus is to hit? damage? or maybe the player can choose? I would like to see this bonus explained in more detail. In addition, when you cast a spell with a range other than self, the spell can originate from you or your wildfire spirit. So there is some nice interplay between the Druid and this familiar on a mechanical level.
Flames of Life:
At 10th level, the druid gains the ability Flames of Life. Turning death energy into a blazing fire that can heal your party or burn your enemies. If a creature within 30ft of you or your fire spirit dies, the druid can use a reaction to cause flames to spring from the body. If anyone touches the flames, you can choose to heal them or deal fire damage equal to 2d10 + Wisdom modifier. This ability is versatile, but feels overly complicated for such a situational spell. A creature has to die, which okay, you are playing D&D… combats happen often, but then your party will need to require healing and be within touch range of the burning body. It could work well, allowing the druid to place a heal on the battle field that can be used when needed by the party. Maybe this ability just needs to be a bit stronger for 10th level? I would have to play test this more to get a feel for its usefulness, but I’m on the fence right now. Though, with raise dead, you could make a walking flaming zombie of healing or damage… I get it now. I changed my mind, this spell is awesome.
This spell is what I’m talking about! Your bond with fire is so strong, that if you are reduced to 0 hit points, but don’t die outright, you only drop to 1 hit point, and gain temporary hit points equal to five times your druid level. Reborn by flame baby! Upon your triumphant resurrection, all creatures you choose within 30ft take 2d10 + druid level in fire damage. Like a phoenix from the ashes, the Wildfire Druid comes back with a vengeance!
I have to say, the Wildfire Druid really won me over, and appeals to the part of me that wants to play a strong caster with a connection to the elements. There is room to flirt with the use of death and what role nature plays within that circle. I can see a character that becomes consumed with rage or passion the more he/she taps into this elemental force. Just by using fire as a theme, a number of role-play options stick out to me, and on top of that, you spice it up with healing through flaming zombies… well, someone has to be the party healer, you just don’t have to tell them how!
Editor’s Note: I realize that Raise Dead, is NOT the necromancy spell, but rather a spell in which returns players to life. So, the premise of flaming zombies is incorrect. I am leaving this commentary in the article, primarily for its flavor, but also if you party with a wizard or caster that CAN use necromancy, then the premise of healing through flaming zombies can be achieved.