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Wild Shape 5e

Today, we’re going over the Druid’s Wild Shape ability. We’ll clarify some rules and hopefully give you ideas for your next Druid character. 

What is Wild Shape?

Wild Shape is the quintessential Druid ability. It allows the Druid to shift their form into another creature that they’ve seen before. They’ll be able to take on the physical attributes of the beast while retaining their mental stats. 

This is an incredibly unique ability and it’s useful both in combat and for roleplaying purposes. The Druid can easily get in and out of a tight spot with ease. All they need to do is shift into a cat and walk out the front door. Cats are basically a liquid anyway. 

Wild Shape Improvements

As the Druid levels up, their Wild Shape ability naturally grows along with them. Wild Shape is first gained at level 2 and as they level up, they’ll receive more charges or gain the ability to shift into a wider variety of animals. You can check the chart below or the Player’s Handbook for a quick reference. 

Level Challenge RatingNumber of UsesLimits
21/42 (per long rest)No Swimming or Flying
41/22 (per long rest)No Flying
812 (per long rest)None
201UnlimitedNone

Best Uses of Wild Shape

When a Druid shifts to their Wild Shape form, they gain a completely separate pool of hit points and the physical abilities of the creature they’ve shifted into. The extra hit point pool is the easiest way to use Wild Shape. 

When a Druid Wild Shapes into another creature, they can fight using that creature’s stats until they hit 0 hit points. Once the Druid is knocked down to 0 hitpoints, they revert back to their original Druid shape with their original hit points they had before shifting. 

The Druid typically can’t cast spells in Wild Shape, but they can cast spells on themselves before shifting and still gain the benefits. It’s an easy strategy, but it’s one of the most useful to utilize in combat. 

Pack Tactics

Many of the animals on this list also have an ability called Pack Tactics. This gives them advantage on attack rolls if they have an ally within 5 ft of them while making the attack. It’s an often overlooked bonus but usually will ensure you land a hit while in your Wild Shape form. 

Keen Smell

Another ability a lot of animals have is their Keen Smell ability. It gives advantage to Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell. 

Outside of combat, Wild Shape is also incredibly useful. Most NPC characters won’t be expecting an animal or small creature to wander through their area, and if they do it’s not a big deal. It’s great for recon, escaping cells, and infiltrating an enemy’s lair or base. 

Simply shift into a nondescript creature and wander, shift back, and open the door for the rest of the party. It’s often overlooked when thinking about infiltration, but Wild Shape can honestly be more useful by shifting into a rat instead of a bear. 

Circle of the Moon

The Circle of the Moon subclass gets its own special mention in our Wild Shape guide because the subclass is specifically designed around the Wild Shape ability. 

Every other subclass has a maximum Challenge Rating of 1 at their highest levels. The Circle of the Moon blows way past this with a maximum challenge rating of 6. 

If you’re really interested in playing as a shapeshifting Druid, then Circle of the Moon which can be found in the Player’s Handbook is the choice for you.

The Circle of the Moon Druid can shapeshift as a bonus action instead of an action, and they have access to Challenge Rating animals higher than any other Druid Circle. 

  • Levels 2-5 CR: 1
  • Levels 6-8 CR: 2
  • Levels 9-11 CR: 3
  • Levels 12-14 CR: 4
  • Levels 15-17 CR: 5
  • Levels 18-20 CR: 6

Challenge Rating 0 (CR 0)

Check out our DnD Monsters by CR guide.

Baboon

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Pack Tactics
The baboon is a decent form for its climbing speed. There’s a lot of good utility for this shape, just not too many in combat. 

Badger

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Keen Smell
It has a burrowing speed which is mildly useful if you find yourself in an underground dungeon or trying to tunnel out of somewhere. 

Bat

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The bat is a really cool form to have but you won’t actually be able to use it until level 8 which is a bit of a letdown. It’s great for recon and scouting.

Cat

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Keen Smell
Cats are another great recon and scout form. As I mentioned earlier, cats are basically liquid anyway. Combine that with a tiny size, stealth bonus, Keen Smell, and a decent climbing speed and cats can get you anywhere you want to go. 

Crab

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Fun fact: we’ll all eventually evolve into crabs. Until then, you can become one in DnD. They’re amphibious, have a decent swimming speed, and are great underwater scouts if you don’t want to be noticed. Because of the swim speed, you won’t be able to become a crab until level 4. 

Cranium Rat

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
Cranium rats are odd little creatures. They have an exposed brain which gives them some odd abilities. They have limited telepathy, darkvision, and can use their exposed brain to create light. It’s a cool scout in my opinion, especially with the telepathy. Their base Dex is 14 which isn’t the greatest for stealth rolls, but I think the telepathy makes up for it. 

Deer

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
In early levels, before the Druid has access to flying creatures, the deer has incredible speed and can easily be the go-to mode of transportation for the Druid. 

Eagle

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
An eagle is a great choice for its flying speed, but it’s unusable until level 8 because of it. It’s the best choice at a CR 0, but that doesn’t mean much when you have stronger options in combat like the Giant Owl at your disposal. 

Frog

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Can’t be used until level 4 because of its swim speed. Go with a crab. 

Giant Fire Beatle

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
These guys make decent mobile torches for a party in dark areas. They’re not great at combat, but they’re a great utility choice to have. 

Goat

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
There’s nothing more annoying than a Druid walking up the side of a cliff. They have decent stats for a CR 0 creature, and I think goats are cute. 

Hawk

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Eagle or Hawk? The eagle has better stats so unless you just like the aesthetic, chances are, you won’t use the Hawk. 

Hyena

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Pack Tactics
Hyenas are actually really scary in real life, but they only have OK stats in DnD 5e.

Jackal

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Pack Tactics
The Jackal is another middling-stat land animal but has a good run speed. 

Lizard

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
These are great for spy characters. Who’s going to notice a lizard on the wall? 

Octopus

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Octopus is probably one of the better underwater creatures. They’re unavailable until level 4, but they’re stealthy, have an ink cloud, and all those appendages. 

Owl

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
HOOT! Owls are great creatures for scouting, especially at night. They have excellent vision, hearing, and speed. 

Quipper

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
These are like little piranhas. They are another underwater option at Level 4, but the Octopus is probably the better choice.

Rat

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It’s a rat. Yup. 
They’re useful for stealth and scouting actions because rats are basically everywhere. There’s nothing outstanding about them except how ordinary they are. 

Raven

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
They’re not good for combat, especially at level 8, but if you’re playing a goth or emo Druid, a raven is an absolute must. 

Scorpion

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
They have a bit of poison, but it’s not enough to really make this worthwhile. 

Sea Horse

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Another underwater option for level 4 players. Unless you’re hiding in someone’s fish tank it’s probably not going to be useful. 

Spider

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Spiders can see in the dark, are hard to spot, exist everywhere, and they’re excellent climbers. This is an underutilized but extremely useful Wild Shape. 

Vulture

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Pack Tactics and Keen Smell
They’re a good Wild Shape choice but with most of the other flying choices, the player is at level 8 and has access to better forms. 

Weasel

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Keen Hearing
I mean they’re cute… You could hide in the big baddy’s pocket, I suppose. 

Challenge Rating 1/8 (CR 1/8)

Blood Hawk

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Another flying option that becomes available too late to be super useful. 

Camel

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Camels are super useful in desert settings and can double as a mount, which could be weird and funny to roleplay. 

Flying Snake

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Another flying option that becomes available too late to be super useful. 

Giant Crab

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Like the crab, but all around bigger and better. Ok, maybe it’s just bigger, but it’s cool and the Rule of Cool reigns supreme in all of my games. Because of the swim speed, it can’t be used until level 4. 

Giant Rat

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Pack Tactics and Keen Smell
Definitely a bit more conspicuous than its normal-sized cousin. 

Giant Weasel

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Keen Smell
It’s not super useful, but might be fun for RP purposes. 

Mastiff

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Keen Smell
The mastiff can easily walk around in most cities and areas without making a fuss. Not great stats, but not the worst for something that could literally blend in in any city. 

Mule

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Unless the Druid is pulling double duty as the party’s suitcase, the mule isn’t very useful.  

Poisonous Snake

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Because of its swim speed, they’re unavailable until level 4. Plus, there are better options. 

Pony

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Another rideable Wilde Shape.

Stirge

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Stirge is like a giant mosquito. You’ll be able to attach yourself to a creature and suck its blood. It’s flying, so again, there are better combat strategies at level 8. 

Challenge Rating 1/4 (CR 1/4)

Axe Beak 

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
They’re like a Chocobo from Final Fantasy. They hit hard and are fast, but you’re likely going to get hit enough to get pulled out of Wild Shape early on. Their AC is pretty bad. 

Boar

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Not super useful unless you’re looking for truffles. 

Constrictor Snake

Can be found in the Monster Manual.

This one feels so wasted because it could be so cool. It’s unavailable until level 4, so there are better options, but it lets you grapple and tie up a single opponent in combat. For a single enemy, I would definitely use this option.

Cow

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
Best animal, hands down. No questions. 
What’s that? In DnD 5e? It’s a cow. It’s not great in combat, but it’s cute. 

Dimetrodon

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
This is a pretty cool creature. It’s a dinosaur-type monster that looks like a big lizard with a giant back frill. The crocodile is probably the best amphibious creature in regards to stats, but this guy is pretty cool-looking and has decent stats all around. 

Draft Horse 

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Another pack animal that’s fast and hits hard but with its low AC, you’ll get hit pretty often. 

Elk

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Low AC and low health, but it’s fast and can do some damage with Charge and its hoove attacks. 

Giant Badger

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Keen Smell
They’re good for digging holes.

Giant Bat

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It has a decent amount of health, but again because of flying requirements, there are better options at level 8. 

Giant Frog

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Giant Frog’s swallow ability is a little horrifying, especially to gnomes. It’s decent when facing smaller creatures in the water. 

Giant Lizard

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Giant Lizard has a lot of mobility, but it’s going to get hit a lot in combat and not that useful. 

Giant Owl

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Giant Owls are one of the better flying forms, but you won’t want to use it too much in combat. 

Giant Poisonous Snake

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The poison damage will be a nice touch but because of the swim speed, they aren’t available until Level 4. The damage output isn’t great at that point. 

Giant Wolf Spider

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
I like this one. They’re sneaky, can hide in the shadows, and drop from the ceiling with a poison attack. They’re also good climbers, as you might imagine. This will be a solid go-to form for any Druid. 

Hadrosaurus

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
They’re the big duck-billed dinosaurs. They’re also not that great.

Panther

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Keen Smell
Panthers are a great Wild Shape form. They have stealth abilities and can deal some decent damage. They’re another of the go-to forms a lot of Druids will use. 

Pteranodon

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It’s a flying dinosaur. That’s really all it has going for it, though. 

Riding Horse

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It’s as useful as a horse. If you need a mount with speed you can become your own. 

Velociraptor

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
If you’re in a dino-themed campaign this is going to be a solid choice. When I say there are better options at that level, this is one of the ones I’m talking about. 

Wolf

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Keen Smell and Hearing
Pack Tactics
The wolf doesn’t have a lot of hit points, but this is going to be your damage dealer of choice in Wild Shape at this Challenge Rating. 

Challenge Rating 1/2 (CR 1/2)

Ape

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
If you’re DM allows it, this can be absolutely brutal. They have hands and can use them, which means you can use Ape strength and extra hit points combined with human skill with weaponry. That’s a fun form. 

Black Bear

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It’s a decent attacker with decent speed.

Crocodile 

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Crocodile is one of the best amphibious creatures you can use, especially at level 4. Their bite can do some damage and you can trap things in your jaws. 

Giant Goat

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It’s a pleasant mount, and it has a decent charge attack. There are better options, but head-butting someone as a giant goat is very satisfying. 

Giant Sea Horse

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Remember the Sea Horse. This is a bigger version of it. Why would you change into a giant seahorse? I have no idea, but I’m open to suggestions. 

Giant Wasp

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
There are stronger flying options at Level 8, but I like the Giant Wasp. Its poison damage can be brutal and the sheer terror of one of these flying around the battlefield is worth it. 

Reef Shark

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
For Challenge Rating 1/2 this is going to be your best underwater fighter. 

Warhorse

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
This is probably the best mount/damage dealer at this level. The other ones may have a more thematic flair to add, but the tried and true warhorse is never going to go out of style. 

Challenge Rating 1 (CR 1)

Brown Bear

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Brown Bear is a great all-around Wild Shape. They have a decent climb speed, hit points, and a multi-attack. Their AC is a little low so any spells or buff you can get will make the bear a much more viable fighter.

Deinonychus

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
It looks like a raptor, but it will be able to outperform them on damage and speed. They have quite a few attacks and can even challenge the Dire Wolf in terms of sheer damage. 

Dire Wolf

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Speaking of the Dire Wolf, these guys have Keen Smell, Pack Tactics, and a decent stealth bonus. They’re going to be your go-to attack form if your DM doesn’t allow dinosaurs. 

Giant Eagle

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
These are one of the best all-around flyers. The only one better is really the Giant Vulture. They have a multi-attack that does actual damage in a fight and they are fast in the air. 

Giant Hyena

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Giant Hyenas can chew through swarms of weaker enemies, but stronger single enemies will be able to outclass them. 

Giant Octopus

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Giant Octopus is one of my favorite underwater forms. If you’re going on an underwater adventure, this is a great choice. 

Giant Spider

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Giant Spider’s web attack is extremely useful in any fight, and it has all the bonuses of being… well, a giant spider. 

Giant Toad

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
This is just a bigger version of the Giant Frog, but with added poison. 

Giant Vulture

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Pack Tactics
The Giant Vulture is going to be the average Druid’s best flying form for combat. The Moon Druid will eventually get better choices, but for everyone else, this is the top. 

Lion

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Lion is a solid form but just doesn’t measure up to the Dire Wolf. 

Tiger

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Tiger is also great with a bit more perks than the Lion, but still not as good as the Dire Wolf in terms of damage and utility. 

Challenge Rating 2 (CR 2)

All creatures at this point are in the domain of the Circle of the Moon. None of the other Druid Circles can Wild Shape into anything higher than a CR 1.

Allosaurus

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
This is another big dinosaur form but surprisingly, there are others that do more damage. It’s great if you’re doing a lost-world, dinosaur scenario. 

Aurochs

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
They’re big bull-like creatures. They do excellent damage, but they don’t have the longevity to take too many hits. 

Giant Boar

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Even though this is a Challenge Rating 2, the Dire Wolf is still better in terms of abilities and overall utility. 

Giant Constrictor Snake

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Just like the Constrictor Snake but everything about it is better. I really like this form and their grappling abilities are fantastic. 

Giant Elk

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
If you manage to find a prone enemy, the Giant Elk can do some serious damage by stamping on prone creatures. Other than that, it’s the bigger better version of the Elk. 

Hunter Shark

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Hunter Shark will have advantage on attacks for most of its fights because of its Blood Frenzy ability, so it’s a toss-up between Giant Squid and Hunter Shark for underwater creatures. 

Plesiosaurus

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It’s in line with the Hunter Shark when you look at the stats, but the Advantage on attack rolls makes the Plesiosaurus less useful unless you’re doing a strictly dino run. 

Polar Bear

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It’s a decent attacker, but it doesn’t have any special abilities, putting the Polar Bear at the lower end of this CR.

Rhinoceros

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
It’s all about the Charge ability with the Rhino. If you can charge through a narrow corridor, you’re going to leave some bodies in your wake. 

Quetzalcoatlus

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
For the Druid of the Moon, this is the ultimate flying form. They’re fast, strong, hard to hit, and they’re nasty in a fight. 

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Excellent abilities combined with excellent stats, the Saber-Toothed Tiger does excellent damage and its pounce ability will keep the hits coming. You could also form a trio of 5 Moon Druids with attitude to create your own version of Power Rangers. 

Challenge Rating 3 (CR 3)

Ankylosaurus

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
As you might expect, the Ankylosaurs makes an excellent tanky shield for the party. The dinosaur is basically an armored flail. 

Giant Scorpion

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Remember the regular scorpion? It was just OK.
This is the opposite. The Giant Scorpion is a powerhouse in a fight and you definitely want it on your side. It’s one of the stronger forms the Moon Druids have at their disposal. 

Killer Whale

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Great stats, and in the real world would be devastating. The Giant Octopus and Hunter Shark are actually more useful in combat, though. 

Challenge Rating 4 (CR 4)

Elephant

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The elephant is great if you want a strong mount. Not much else going for it. The Giant Scorpion a whole CR below is more fearsome in a battle. Fun fact: Don’t ride elephants in real life. Their spines aren’t meant for it and it’s rather damaging and cruel to them. 

Stegosaurus

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
Better stats than the elephant, but no special abilities. 

Challenge Rating 5 (CR 5)

Brontosaurus

Can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.
Can you imagine a rampaging Brontosaurus on a battlefield? Yup. It’s as chaotic as all that. They do a ton of damage and are absolute beasts on the battlefield. A single Moon Druid turning into a Brontosaurus could stop a whole enemy charge. 

Giant Crocodile

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
The Crocodile was great, but now the Giant Crocodile is even better when facing off against single-target enemies, especially when there’s water nearby. 

Giant Shark

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Nothing fancy here. Solid stats. Solid Damage. Can’t complain. 

Triceratops

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
Not nearly as useful as the Brontosaurus, but a definite necessity if you plan on making a Power Rangers Druid team. 

Challenge Rating 6 (CR 6)

Mammoth

Can be found in the Monster Manual.
This is the highest CR that the Druid can eventually transform into. It’s got a fantastic charge ability, a lot of damage, and a lot of health. It’s a monster on the battlefield.

We hope you enjoyed this guide, why not check out Uncanny Dodge 5e or Thieves’ Tools 5e.

Wild Shape 5e DnD

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12/09/2022 08:46 am GMT