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Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > Making the Most of Wild Shape Forms for 5E D&D Druids
5E D&D plants dm tips out of the box

Making the Most of Wild Shape Forms for 5E D&D Druids

Cawood Publishing Challenges Adventurers with Monsters of the Wilderness
Use This Circle of the Moon Druid for Your Next 5E D&D Game

Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted get animalistic and take a look at the best beasts in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons for a druid to Wild Shape into during tier one of game play. While they point out the highlights of various beasts I’m of a mind to expand on this and see all the possibilities from official 5E D&D sources along with the environments in which they’re typically found. So let’s get into it.

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Live the beasts mode lifestyle in 5E D&D

When it comes to Wild Shape for 5E D&D druids there’s parameters for the beasts eligible through this iconic class feature and the Circle of the Moon takes the feature further by making it usable as a bonus action as well as allowing for more powerful beasts in which to transform.

A 5E D&D druid’s level determines the limits of Wild Shape as a baseline. At 2nd level the maximum challenge rating for beasts they can transform into is 1/4 and is further limited to beasts without flying or swimming speeds. This bumps up to 1/2 at 4th level and removes the restriction on swimming speed. Eligible beasts cap out at CR 1 for 8th level druids with no limitations on movement speeds.

Circle of the Moon druids focus on improving the Wild Shape feature and start off at 2nd level with a maximum challenging rating of 1 but with the same limitations as other druids. At 6th level eligible beasts are those with a challenge rating equal to the druid’s level divided by three, rounded down.

Wild Shape eligible beasts for 2nd-3rd level druids

BeastEnvironmentSource
AlmirajUnspecifiedTomb of Annihilation
Axe BeakGrassland, HillBasic Rules
BaboonForest, HillBasic Rules
BadgerForestBasic Rules
BoarForest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
CamelDesertBasic Rules
CatDesert, Forest, Grassland, UrbanBasic Rules
Cave BadgerForestOut of the Abyss
Chimeric BaboonUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Chimeric CatUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Chimeric FoxUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Chimeric RatUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Chimeric WeaselUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
CowGrasslandVolo's Guide to Monsters
Cranium RatUnderdark, UrbanVolo's Guide to Monsters
Deep RotheUnderdarkVolo's Guide to Monsters
DeerForest, GrasslandBasic Rules
Diseased Giant RatForest, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanBasic Rules
Draft HorseUrbanBasic Rules
ElkForest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
FastiethUnspecifiedEberron: Rising from the Last War
FoxUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Giant BadgerForestBasic Rules
Giant CentipedeUnderdark, UrbanBasic Rules
Giant Fire BeetleUnderdarkBasic Rules
Giant LizardCoastal, Desert, Forest, Swamp, UnderdarkBasic Rules
Giant RatForest, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanBasic Rules
Giant Riding LizardUnderdarkOut of the Abyss
Giant WeaselForest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
Giant Wolf SpiderCoastal, Desert, Forest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
GoatGrassland, Hill, Mountain, UrbanBasic Rules
GuthashForest, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanSunless Citadel
HadrosaurusGrassland, SwampVolo's Guide to Monsters
HareUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
HaungharasskUnspecifiedWaterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage
HyenaDesert, Forest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
JackalDesert, GrasslandBasic Rules
LizardUnspecifiedBasic Rules
MastiffForest, Hill, UrbanBasic Rules
Mountain GoatUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
MuleDesert, Hill, UrbanBasic Rules
OxGrassland, UrbanVolo's Guide to Monsters
PantherForest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
PigForest, Grassland, HillStorm King's Thunder
PonyUrbanBasic Rules
RatSwamp, UrbanBasic Rules
Riding HorseGrassland, UrbanBasic Rules
RotheGrasslandVolo's Guide to Monsters
ScorpionDesertBasic Rules
SheepGrassland, Hill, Mountain, UrbanStorm King's Thunder
SnarlForest, Grassland, HillLost Mine of Phandelver
SpiderUnspecifiedBasic Rules
Stench KowUnspecifiedVolo's Guide to Monsters
VelociraptorForest, GrasslandVolo's Guide to Monsters
WeaselUnspecifiedBasic Rules
WolfForest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules

Wild Shape eligible beasts for 4th-7th level druids

The beasts in this table add to those from available to 2nd-3rd level druids for the Wild Shape class feature.

BeastEnvironmentSource
ApeForestBasic Rules
Barnacle BeesCoastalGhosts of Saltmarsh
Black BearForestBasic Rules
Clawfoot RaptorUnspecifiedWayfinder's Guide to Eberron
Constrictor SnakeDesert, Forest, Swamp, UnderwaterBasic Rules
CrabCoastalBasic Rules
CrocodileSwamp, UrbanBasic Rules
DimetrodonCoastal, SwampVolo's Guide to Monsters
DolphinCoastal, UnderwaterVolo's Guide to Monsters
Fiendish Giant SpiderCoastal, Desert, Forest, Grassland, HillOut of the Abyss
FrogUnspecifiedBasic Rules
Giant CrabCoastalBasic Rules
Giant FrogForest, SwampBasic Rules
Giant GoatGrassland, Hill, MountainBasic Rules
Giant Poisonous SnakeDesert, Forest, Grassland, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanBasic Rules
Giant Sea EelUnspecifiedGhosts of Saltmarsh
Giant Sea HorseUnderwaterBasic Rules
KingsportUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Knucklehead TroutUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
JaculiUnspecifiedTomb of Annihilation
OctopusUnderwaterBasic Rules
Poisonous SnakeCoastal, Desert, Forest, Grassland, Hill, SwampBasic Rules
QuipperUnderwaterBasic Rules
Reef SharkUnderwaterBasic Rules
Sea HorseUnspecifiedBasic Rules
SealUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
WalrusUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
WarhorseUrbanBasic Rules

Wild Shape eligible beasts for 8th+ level druids

The beasts in this table add to those from available to 4th-7th level druids for the Wild Shape class feature.

BeastEnvironmentSource
BatUnspecifiedBasic Rules
Blood HawkArctic, Coastal, Forest, Grassland, Hill, MountainBasic Rules
Brown BearArctic, Forest, HillBasic Rules
Chimeric HareUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
ClawfootUnspecifiedEberron: Rising from the Last War
DeinonychosForest, Grassland, HillVolo's Guide to Monsters
Dire WolfForest, HillBasic Rules
EagleCoastal, Grassland, Hill, MountainBasic Rules
Flying MonkeyUnspecifiedTomb of Annihilation
Flying SnakeDesert, Forest, Grassland, UrbanBasic Rules
Giant BatForest, UnderdarkBasic Rules
Giant EagleCoastal, Grassland, Hill, MountainBasic Rules
Giant FlyUnspecifiedDungeon Master's Guide
Giant HyenaDesert, Forest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
Giant OctopusUnderwaterBasic Rules
Giant OwlArctic, Forest, HillBasic Rules
Giant RocktopusUnderdarkOut of the Abyss
Giant SpiderDesert, Forest, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanBasic Rules
Giant ToadCoastal, Desert, Forest, Swamp, UnderdarkBasic Rules
Giant VultureDesert, GrasslandBasic Rules
Giant WaspForest, Grassland, UrbanBasic Rules
HawkUnspecifiedBasic Rules
Ice SpiderDesert, Forest, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanStorm King's Thunder
LionDesert, Grassland, Hill, MountainBasic Rules
MoorbounderUnspecifiedExplorer's Guide to Wildemount
Nyxborn InyxForest, GrasslandBasic Rules
Old CroakerCoastal, Desert, Forest, Swamp, UnderdarkExplorer's Guide to Wildemount
OwlArctic, ForestBasic Rules
PteranodonCoastal, Grassland, MountainBasic Rules
RavenHill, Swamp, UrbanBasic Rules
SangzorGrassland, Hill, MountainCurse of Strahd
Spider KingDesert, Forest, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanOut of the Abyss
StirgeCoastal, Desert, Forest, Grassland, Hill, Mountain, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanBasic Rules
TigerForest, GrasslandBasic Rules
TressymUnspecifiedStorm King's Thunder
Two-Headed CrocodileUnspecifiedInfernal Machine Rebuild
VultureDesert, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
5E D&D plants dm tips out of the box beasts

Eagles, elephants and rats wander a magical grove in Menagerie, one of the 55 dynamic encounters in Out of the Box. Druids can Wild Shape into any of these beasts but it’s a much stranger kind of magic ensorcelling these creatures. [Art by Kim Van Deun]

Wild Shape eligible beasts for Circle of the Moon druids

Wild Shape eligible beasts for 2nd-5th level Circle of the Moon druids are identical to those available to other druids found in the tables for 2nd-3rd and 4th-7th level druids above and subject to the same level based limitations on movement types. The options expand tremendously starting at 6th level when Circle of the Moon druids can Wild Shape into beasts with a CR equal to their druid level divided by three, rounded down.

Circle of the Moon 6th-8th level (CR 2)

BeastEnvironmentSource
AllosaurusGrasslandBasic Rules
AurochsGrassland, Hill, MountainVolo's Guide to Monsters
Cave BearUnspecifiedMonster Manual
Enormous TentacleDesert, Forest, Swamp, Underdark, UnderwaterAcquisitions Incorporated
Giant BoarForest, Grassland, HillBasic Rules
Giant Constrictor SnakeDesert, Forest, Swamp, Underdark, UnderwaterBasic Rules
Giant CrayfishUnspecifiedHidden Shrine of Tamoachan
Giant ElkForest, Grassland, Hill, MountainBasic Rules
Giant White Moray EelUnderwaterGhosts of Saltmarsh
Hunter SharkUnderwaterBasic Rules
Ice Spider QueenDesert, Forest, Swamp, Underdark, UrbanStorm King's Thunder
PlesiosaurusCoastal, UnderwaterBasic Rules
Polar BearArctic, UnderdarkBasic Rules
RhinocerosGrasslandBasic Rules
Saber-Toothed TigerArctic, MountainBasic Rules

Circle of the Moon 9th-11th level (CR 3)

BeastEnvironmentSource
AmphisbaenaDesert, Forest, Swamp, Underdark, UnderwaterHidden Shrine of Tamoachan
AnkylosaurusGrasslandBasic Rules
Awakened White MooseUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
Bristled MoorbounderUnspecifiedExplorer's Guide to Wildemount
Giant Lightning EelUnspecifiedHidden Shrine of Tamoachan
Giant ScorpionDesertBasic Rules
Giant Snapping TurtleUnspecifiedTomb of Annihilation
Killer WhaleUnderwaterBasic Rules
QuetzalcoatlusCoastal, Hill, MountainVolo's Guide to Monsters

Circle of the Moon 12th-14th level (CR 4)

BeastEnvironmentSource
ElephantGrasslandBasic Rules
Giant Coral SnakeUnspecifiedGhosts of Saltmarsh
Giant Subterranean LizardUnspecifiedForge of Fury
Giant WalrusUnspecifiedIcewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden
StegosaurusForest, GrasslandVolo's Guide to Monsters
Two-Headed PlesiosaurusUnspecifiedTortle Package

Circle of the Moon 15th-17th level (CR 5)

BeastEnvironmentSource
BrontosaurusForest, GrasslandVolo's Guide to Monsters
Giant CrocodileSwampBasic Rules
Giant SharkUnderwaterBasic Rules
Hulking CrabUnspecifiedStorm King's Thunder
Large Subterranean LizardSwampAgainst the Giants
ObliterosUnderwaterWaterdeep: Dragon Heist
TriceratopsGrasslandBasic Rules

Circle of the Moon 18th-20th level (CR 6)

BeastEnvironmentSource
MammothArcticBasic Rules

Beasts, beasts everywhere!

Whew! Combing through all those 5E D&D beasts and creating tables caused me a level of exhaustion. A few observations emerged while doing the legwork. First off the vast majority of beasts come from the Basic Rules, which are also found in the Monster Manual and some in the Player’s Handbook. There’s also only five beasts with higher CR than any druid could Wild Shape into (giant ape, huge giant crab, sperm whale, Traxigor and tyrannosaurus rex).

The most widely spread beast at least according to the environments shown at D&D Beyond is the good old stirge. I included the environments because I know lots of druid players enjoy drawing from a pool of beasts found in particular biomes. Speaking of D&D Beyond it’s worth mentioning on character sheets the Extras tab allows players to add various creatures directly onto the sheet for easy access. Also players can unlock individual creatures from books so if a druid player wants to Wild Shape into a Chimeric Fox from Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden they could unlock the creature without purchasing the entire book from the D&D Beyond Marketplace. (Unlocked content prorates future purchases from the same source.)

Comparing the beasts available for any particular druid’s Wild Shape feature with the Learning Beast Shapes section in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything can be useful for players too. Any time the 5E D&D design team creates a new beast I imagine there’s consideration for Wild Shape opportunities. Nyxborn Lynx stood out to me with its Magic Resistance for example.

There’s definitely many more 5E D&D beasts out there from third party creators as well. All of the creatures in our own Chimes of Discordia: Fantastical Mounts come to mind. You can find this title over at Nerdarchy the Store here.

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Doug Vehovec

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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