Evil Druids and the Evil Beasts, Elementals and Plant Creatures Serving Them in 5E D&D

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Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted explore the dark side of druids in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. In the video they share three ideas for evil druid concepts to explore in 5E D&D from a Dungeon Master’s perspective. Creating villains informed by character classes presents a unique opportunity to homebrew new custom creatures and NPCs. Our approach to these sorts of creatures involves plucking class features, spells and other player character abilities and modifying them to creature traits. If you plan to create your own evil druid antagonists for your 5E D&D campaigns I highly recommend this method as opposed to creating a player character version of a creature. But that’s a discussion for another time. Right now we’re taking the next step when it comes to evil druid villains and considering the minions serving them. Who or what does the bidding of an evil druid? Let’s get into it and find out.

Evil druids and their minions in 5E D&D

When it comes to villains and their minions in 5E D&D a Dungeon Master can of course pair anything they can imagine. An evil druid’s goals certainly inform the sorts of creatures allied with them and in this regard the choices are limitless. But for a bit of guidance and to narrow the field I filtered the options to beasts, elementals and plants with any evil alignment. Keep in mind alignment is an amorphous concept to a large extent especially in light of recent discussions about monolithic cultures, diversity and absolutism within the game. In other words, printed alignments need not be adhered to or restrict a DM’s options. This is especially true since alignment in 5E D&D is almost completely irrelevant to the game mechanics themselves. Nevertheless, it’s something we can use as a springboard. With this in mind here’s a list of creatures falling within those parameters you might consider when developing your own evil druid villains, listed in order of challenge rating from low to high.

Beasts

  • Cranium rat
  • Giant vulture
  • Sahaugin hatchling swarm
  • Sangzor
  • Obliteros
  • Swarm of cranium rats

Both Sangzor and Obliteros are named versions of beasts, a giant goat and giant shark respectively. The former appears in Curse of Strahd and the latter in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. In both cases their appearance in the text includes a few modifications to the standard creature stat blocks. In particular these beasts possess higher Intelligence and chaotic evil alignment. These are terrific examples of how to easily tweak existing creatures to fit our evil druid’s goals. Even a little intellect represents a path towards making moral choices, putting creatures like this firmly in the role of allies for an evil druid rather than mindless minions. Evil beasts make great minions for the anti-civilization druid. What better way to display nature’s power and fury than with an army of evil beasts ready to rampage over the towns and cities of a campaign setting? They also fit nicely with the hunter druid, particularly in cases like Sangzor and Obliteros that can represent apex versions of distinct beasts.

Elementals

  • Mud mephit
  • Smoke mephit
  • Steam mephit
  • Dust mephit
  • Ice mephit
  • Magma mephit
  • Fire snake
  • Four-armed gargoyle
  • Gargoyle
  • Salamander
  • Giant four-armed gargoyle
  • Statue of Talos
  • Dao
  • Efreeti
  • Olhydra
  • Yan-C-Bin
  • Imix
  • Ogremoch

Quite a bit longer of a list, elementals add a planar quality to an evil druid’s machinations. These are all intelligent creatures of varying degree. Mephits make fantastic minions with plenty of different types to go around and really succinct descriptions of their motivations and behavior. Elementals pair well with anti-civilization druids who bring raw elemental power to bear against growth and expansion. Not only can they assault those who attempt to tame and control the surrounding environment but they can also stymie growth and expansion by disrupting the environment itself. In the case of the last four on the list these princes of evil elements can represent powerful benefactors for evil druids. Princes of the Apocalypse pits adventurers against powerful elemental cults and makes a terrific resource for DMs to pull apart and use for their own campaigns too. There’s no shortage of elemental themed dungeons and side quests inside one of my favorite 5E D&D adventures.

5E D&D evil druid creatures
Evil beasts, elementals and plants like cranium rats, corpse flowers and mephits make perfect minions for evil druids in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. [Images courtesy Wizards of the Coast]

Plants

  • Bridesmaid of Zuggtmoy
  • Lycanthropickle
  • Twig blight
  • Needle blight
  • Needle spawn
  • Vine blight
  • Chamberlain of Zuggtmoy
  • Needle lord
  • Kelpie
  • Corpse flower

I don’t know about you but in my D&D experience evil plants creep players out. Something about sentient plant life seeking to extinguish adventurers lives is off putting to players. Incidentally, along with oozes in my experiences plant creatures creep players out the most. These creature types pair nicely with the mad druid concept, and in fact blights in particular stem directly from this source with their origins in Sunless Citadel. Evil plants can represent the influence of a powerful entity like Zuggtmoy or a lone druid’s approach to ecoterrorism. And let me tell you, evil plants put players on edge. I’ve used plant creatures many, many times in games and they tend to really creep people out.

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Nerditor-in-Chief Doug Vehovec is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, with D&D in his blood since the early 80s. Fast forward to today and he’s still rolling those polyhedral dice. When he’s not DMing, worldbuilding or working on endeavors for Nerdarchy he enjoys cryptozoology trips and eating awesome food.

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