“The power of nature is impossible to resist. It can bring ruin to the stoutest fortress in minutes, reducing even the mightiest works to rubble, burning them to ash, burying them beneath an avalanche of snow, or drowning them beneath the waves.
It can provide endless bounty and breathtaking splendor to those who respect it— and an agonizing death to those who take it too lightly. You are one of those who hear nature’s call. You stand in awe of the majesty of its power and give yourself over to its service.”
These are the immortal words that start the entry for the Druid in the Pathfinder Core Book, and they really set the tone for what a persona can expect when choosing this class.
The Druid is a champion of a natural and primal force that makes up the bedrock of the living world. They can be unrelenting in their fury, calculating in their plans, icy cool in their resolve, and unstoppable once they have a plan.
But what is the secret of their magic? Where does it come from, and what does it do?
That is what we are here to find out!
The Primal Source
Magic in Pathfinder is primarily derived from four different traditions of magic:
- Arcane: Magic gained through study about formula and calculation of the nature of reality.
- Divine: Magic granted through the devotion to a deity of some sort.
- Occult: Esoteric Magic gained by willpower and finesse, or through the power of blood.
- Primal: Natural magic of the physical world through an intense connection to all living things.
A Druid’s power comes from the Primal Tradition. It is focused through their connection to the living and breathing world through plants and animals. They are attuned to the cyclical nature of reality: Day and Night, Predator and Prey. Life leads to Death, which leads to new life. Cue the Lion King soundtrack.
This inevitable cycle of life is what gives them their power. It fuels their spells and influences their lives from the ground up. Literally.
Roleplaying Druids and Their Magic
The stereotype for druids is often the hippie pothead who wants to be in “tune with the natural world maaaaaan” or the raving conservationist who finds even the process of pitching a tent to be inimical to the way the life cycle should go.
Here is the thing though, both of those are valid.
So is the hunter who follows the herd, picking off the sick and weak to make sure the herd is stronger. So is the Undead hunter who seeks to make sure the natural cycle of life and death is preserved.
Druids can be roleplayed in a myriad of ways. The largest aspect of their personalities are informed by the natural world. To you, the outdoor world is your home, and you are both its representative and steward.
Druids often see their magic as extensions of the world, rather than just their own power. A Druid is the conduit for the will of the storm, or the focus for the raging power of a forest fire. They are just another part of the complex web of life, but one that thinks and reasons like these other humanoids.
Druids have specific rules they cannot break or they lose their connection to the wild (i.e. their magic).
A Druid may not use metal equipment, because wrought metal is unnatural (though most druids do not have any compulsions about their allies using it).
A Druid cannot despoil a natural place in the world.
A Druid must not teach their secret language (druidic) to other non-druids.
If any of these are broken, a Druid must seek forgiveness for his transgression and use an Atone ritual to regain their powers.
In addition to the above, Druid Orders also levy another anathema a druid must follow.
Speaking of Druid Orders…
When you become a druid, your character joins what is referred to as your Druidic Order. Each order has a different focus when it comes to the natural world.
You may change Druid Orders over time, and it is not unheard of for Druids to expand their own knowledge this way. Though it takes some roleplaying effort and shouldn’t be done on a whim.
It is worth noting that the combination of these can actually make you into a Pathfinder Version of Captain Planet, but only if you have a really cheeky GM. The red speedo doesn’t have an armor bonus though.
Mechanically, joining a Druidic Order supplies your character with a Druid class feat, training in a specific skill, and an Order spell, which acts as a Druid Focus Spell.
We’ve done an article all about How Focus Spells Really Work in Pathfinder RPG 2nd Edition, so I won’t go into too much detail. However, I will say they are a special type of magic that is incredibly powerful for the caster, and they use a specific resource called Focus Points.
Below is a list of the Druidic Orders and what they offer you:
Their Anathema is being cruel and harmful to animals, but they may defend themselves if attacked or hunt for food. They just may not be cruel.
Their Anathema is allowing unnatural fires to spread, or preventing natural wildfires from occurring in a way that harms the environment.
The Leaf Order focuses on plants and their health. They teach ways to sustainably harvest crops, and seek to protect plant species from exploitation. They gain training in the Diplomacy skill, the Leshy Familiar feat, and the Goodberry focus spell along with an extra 1 Focus point.
Their Anathema is like the Animal Order, in that they may not cause unwonted cruelty to a plant, but they may defend themselves or take a harvest as long as it does not disturb the natural order.
The Stone Order is the steadfast order of the solid ground. They take influence from the rocks of the earth. They gain training in the Crafting skill, the Steadying Stone feat, and the Crushing Ground focus spell.
Stone Druids may not allow the natural rock to be despoiled through heedless destruction from mining or carving. Small amounts of shaping and mining are allowed as long as they maintain the natural balance.
The Storm Druid Order takes its guidance from the unrelenting storms of the sky. They gain training in the Acrobatics skill, the Storm Born feat, the Tempest Surge focus spell, and an additional focus point.
Storm Druids must not allow the air to be polluted, or allow those who pollute the air to go unpunished.
Wave Druids cannot allow waterways or natural water to be polluted, nor can they allow those who do pollute to go unpunished.
Their Anathema is “Becoming fully domesticated by the temptations of civilization” which can be somewhat confusing. Basically they can never call a city or town home, nor exist completely using processed or manufactured goods. They can stay in cities for short periods of time, but they must always move on.
What’s the “Best” order?
As this is a guide for Best Spells and Cantrips, it would be a bit rude to list the orders and not highlight which is the best or most efficient.
While they all have utility and none are useless, The Storm Order and the Wild Order are the true standouts.
Storm is the stand out Caster option. Stormborn can offer you the ability to drop spells like Obscuring Fog directly on top of yourself, and yet you can see through it just fine.
This also goes for any enemies weather spells attempting to hinder you. Tempest Surge is also a very powerful Single Target DPS, and with an extra Focus Point you can really unload on a target.
The Wild Order often makes people think of doing the “I AM BEAR TANK” combat option, but where this REALLY excels is the utility from all the different shapes you can take.
You can give yourself climbing, darkvision, swimming, breathing underwater, reach, and even a breath weapon. As a Wild Druid, you are great at being the party scout and perception monkey (literally).
The only downside is that most of your forms are not going to be able to talk. The other downside of this is when you are wild shaping you can’t cast spells.
30 Best Druid Spells and Cantrips
Finally, we get to the meat-and-potatoes.
Primal as a spell list is one of the best in the game for almost any roll. The only thing they don’t excel at is any illusion magic. Though they are some mind-affecting spells that are pretty close.
The two places they excel the most in are Direct Damage and Crowd Control spells.
Druid is a power caster when it comes to dropping some serious damage on a single target or a group.
Electric Arc: Great little cantrip for zapping. Not a great amount of damage, but it has a good range and can hit more than one target.
Scatter Scree: Like Electric Arc above BUT creates some difficult terrain for advancing enemies.
Scorching Ray: Reach out and touch someone with the power of the Sun! If you spend more time casting, you can hit more targets and do some SERIOUS damage.
Fireball: The OG classic explode spell. The only spell you will ever need for any situation.
Chain Lightning: Another classic. This is going to be a big one for the Storm Order Druids in the audience. That 8d12 is going to seriously hurt everyone it hits. Does anyone actually own that many d12s?
Horrid Wilting: I would argue this spell might constitute unwanted cruelty depending on its use, but Druids can just suck the water out of creatures with this one. Be aware of what you are using it on though. Elementals without water are just gonna laugh at you if you try it.
There are some Focus Spells that are good for some Direct Damage here.
Tempest Surge: For when the Storm Druid ISN’T casting chain lighting. Multiple Focus points mean you can call this multiple times. Don’t knock the fact that it also debuffs the target with a clumsy 2 trait, and gives them a recurring 1 electrical damage dot.
Combustion: Then the Flame Druids want to get in on the fun. If you have ever played the Bioshock games, this is the “Snap Your Fingers” spell. Light an enemy on fire and watch them burn for multiple rounds. They get a save to avoid the worst of it, so watch out for monsters or enemies with a high Fortitude Score.
Crushing Ground: Easy little single hit spell. This one does damage and can also lock down an enemy, slowing them, making them flatfooted, and potentially stopping them dead in their tracks. Not that great if your enemy has a high reflex or is flying, but a good way to lock down something slow moving and set them up for a sneak attack from the rogue.
Stone Lance: Slightly upgraded version of Crushing Ground. Adds a bleed damage effect and takes away their save. You still need to roll well on the attack roll to get the immobilized effect, so I wouldn’t count on it.
Pulverizing Cascade: Tidal Waves anyone? Great AoE spell for the Wave Druids here. It deals decent damage, but the reflex to get out is pretty easy to hit. Use this on a crowd you know isn’t going to get away.
Powerful Inhalation: NO ONE ELSE CAN BREATHE BUT ME! Screw those other casters!
Crowd Control Effects are going to be good for locking down the battle and making sure enemies are going to be right where you want them.
Gust of Wind: An AoE emanating from your hand that will shove enemies away or even knock them down. They still get a basic save, so it is a gamble if you are facing some stout opponents. If they fail though, they are flat on their asses.
Lose the Path: Not really a combat spell, and more a utility, but it will definitely cause people to lose you easily. Befuddle the mind and keep the bad guys off your trail.
Fear: What it says on the tin. Make a target afraid of you. They start taking penalties against other saves. You can use this as a set up for stuff like Gust of Wind.
Aqueous Orb: This is just a silly spell, I’m not going to lie. Roll the water ball over the enemy to pick them up and carry them around for a bit. The creature still gets a save, so keep that in mind when using this. If the target is fast, you might want to use something else.
Wall of Water: Self explanatory. Create a Wall of Water to stop anything from getting to you. Most weapons are stopped, but piercing weapons still have a chance of breaking through. Beware swimming creatures.
Wall of Stone: Does…does this even need a description? Wall of well…Wall!
Burning Blossoms: This spell gets serious style points. Sprout a tree of scintillating colors! Anyone caught under it takes fire damage, while those outside of its branches have to make a save to not be hypnotized by the colors
There are a pair of Crowd Control Focus Spells Druids can call on.
Impaling Briars: Lock down an area with thorns that will bend and shape every round you control them. They can block movement, ensnare enemies, or even just stab people for 10d6 damage.
Storm Lord: Like Impaling Briars, you can summon a storm and make it do various effects while sustaining the spell. This includes calling on Lightning to Strike specific targets.
Druids make great utility buff casters. These are great to cast before combat starts and you wild shape.
Longstrider: Gotta Go Fast! +10 Feet can mean the difference between making it out of a blast zone or getting the charge you need.
Protector Tree: We call this the Nope Tree. “Nope, you didn’t actually hit them.”
Shattering Gem: The Nope Tree, except it explodes into the enemy’s face!
Haste: Gotta go FASTER! Multiple Hits means more damage!
Envenom Companion: This one is specifically if you have an animal companion. Imagine a Wolf with a poison bite? I would rather not.
Organsight: This one is weird but still technically a buff spell. Have you ever wanted to know EXACTLY where your target’s spleen is?
Stoneskin: For all your Gargoyle cosplay needs! Gives you some Damage Reduction to keep yourself going if you are taking a bunch of hits.
Elemental Gift: Multiple Choice Buff! Choose an Elemental Buff: Air gets a fly speed and a +30 to movement speed, Earth gets the ability to resist knockdown and can ignore difficult terrain, Fire adds fire damage to unarmed and melee weapon strikes, and Water gets resistance to fire and a swim speed. Air is the most powerful buff here, especially for Ranged fighters.
Clone Companion: What’s better than one animal companion to fight by your side? TWO ANIMAL COMPANIONS!