D&D's least-popular class is getting a boost to its best ability

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The Druid class might be getting one hell of a buff for the next edition of D&D.

Playtests for this update (codenamed 'One D&D') have been ticking along in the background for a while, but a video (opens in new tab) from publisher Wizards of the Coast suggests that the Druid in particular is getting a lot of attention. This is largely due to the fact that, "as beloved as the Druid is from a sentiment standout, in actual play, the Druid is the least played class [in the core rules]."

According to D&D game design architect Jeremy Crawford, this could be because the Druid requires players to learn complex shapeshifting rules alongside the usual class mechanics that are common for the best tabletop RPGs. To combat this, Wizards is doing away with transforming into creatures from the Monster Manual whilst using the 'Wild Shape' ability. Instead, you'd be using three universal stat blocks instead - an Animal of the Land, Sky, or Sea.

Although certain mechanical elements will remain the same regardless of the form you take (Animals of the Land are always more resilient, for example), these definitions are deliberately vague to let players define what they want this form to look like. The result is a chance to tailor and tweak your Druid's Wild Shape appearance without having to look up lots of extra monster rules.

While this does mean that you won't be able to change into Elemental creatures anymore, you can confer those powers onto your Wild Shape form. In other words, you might become "a fiery wolf. Instead of becoming an Air Elemental, you could become an owl that has thunder or lightning bristling around it." This will give you resistance to that particular damage type, and at later levels, you'll be able to dish it out too. 

And yes, you will be able to mix animals together if you want to turn into an owlbear like in the upcoming D&D movie. While it won't be a classic owlbear from the Monster Manual, it can certainly be so in appearance (or you could create some other unholy abomination if the mood takes you).

Basically, its an attempt to open up your options - as the video points out, your Druid could theoretically transform into some woodland creature or something truly gross like "John Carpenter's The Thing." 

However, it's not just about streamlining Wild Shape for future Dungeons and Dragons books. As Crawford goes on to explain, "the Druid has got a lot of really nice new abilities that are integrated together to try and not only make Wild Shape - this iconic feature of the class - better integrated into the class, but also better integrated with the classes' broader identity of also being a nature magician, also being a healer."

It's worth pointing out that none of this is decided just yet, though; because it's part of the playtest for One D&D, all this could change if users respond negatively.

Things are changing fast in the tabletop space. For example, a new book is on the way that is basically D&D Dark Souls, but with a key difference - hope. Similarly, Hasbro has admitted that it "misfired" with the D&D OGL, and D&D is kinda like Transformers now.

Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to Lego buying guides. I have been writing about games in one form or another since 2012 and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.