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Circle of Death

Summer and winter. Growth and decay. Life and death. While many if not most druids draw their power from the growing, green things of the world, there are those who embrace the other end of the natural cycle.

Such druids venerate death’s position in the natural order as the great equalizer, as the inescapable ending that awaits all living things, as that which makes room for new life and new growth.

The druids of the Circle of Death see dead things and the magic of death as tools to protect and preserve the natural order; to them, raising a corpse to fight as a skeleton or zombie is no different than skinning a fallen deer for its hide. While their methods and powers are seen by others as being grotesque or macabre, these druids are dedicated warriors and staunch defenders of the living world.

Acolyte of Death

When you choose this circle at 2nd level, you learn one additional cantrip from the school of necromancy. In addition, you can exchange one of your known druid cantrips for a necromancy cantrip. The necromancy cantrips you select may be from any class, but once you select them, they are considered druid cantrips for you.

Circle Spells

This circle grants you new spells at 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th levels. Once you gain access to a circle spell, you always have it prepared, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day. If you gain access to a spell that doesn’t appear on the druid spell list, the spell is nonetheless a druid spell for you.

Level Spells
3rd Ray of Enfeeblement, See Invisibility
5th Animate Dead, Speak with Dead
7th Blight, Death Ward
9th Antilife Shell, Contagion

Undead Wild Shape

When you use your Wild Shape feature, you can cause the beast form to take on an undead appearance. For example, your beast form might have rotting flesh like a zombie, translucent flesh like a ghost, or have no flesh at all like a skeleton. When you activate your Wild Shape in this way, you take on some of the traits of the undead and gain resistance to poison damage.

Starting at 6th level, your Undead Wild Shape also grants you resistance to necrotic damage. Starting at 10th level, you also gain immunity to the poisoned condition while your Undead Wild Shape is active. Starting at 14th level, you additionally gain immunity to necrotic and poison damage when your Undead Wild Shape is active.

Conjure Undead Beasts

Starting at 6th level, you can use your action to expend your life energy and conjure forth undead beasts, which appear in open spaces of your choice within 30 feet of you. The undead beasts remain until they are brought to 0 hit points, until you use this ability again, or until you finish a long rest.

Choose one of the following options to conjure when you activate this feature:

  • One beast of CR 1
  • Two beasts of CR ½
  • Four beasts of CR ¼

All the beasts you conjure are modified in the following ways: they have the undead creature type and are immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition. The undead beasts you conjure are tied to your life force, and are immune to being turned.

All the creatures you summon per use of this ability must be of the same undead appearance, and gain a special ability based on whether you choose to have them appear as skeletons, zombies, or ghosts:

  • Skeleton beasts can be reformed at full hit points after being reduced to 0 hit points. Expend your action and reduce your maximum hit points by 1 per Hit Die of the destroyed skeleton beast(s) you want to reform. You can reform any number of skeleton beasts with a single action, but they must all be within 30 feet of you.
  • Zombie beasts can detach a limb or body part and fling it at a target. They gain a ranged weapon attack that deals the same amount damage as their first melee weapon attack (although the type changes to bludgeoning) and uses the same attack roll bonus. This attack can target a creature within 30 feet of the zombie beast, and deals 1d6 necrotic damage to the zombie beast each time it is used.
  • Ghost beasts gain the incorporeal movement feature. They can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. They take 1d10 force damage if they end their turn inside an object.

The summoned creatures are friendly to you and your companions. The summoned creatures share your initiative and act after your turn. They obey any verbal commands that you issue to them (no action required by you). If you don’t issue any commands to them, they defend themselves from hostile creatures, but otherwise take no actions.

Each time you use this feature, your hit point maximum is decreased by 2d6. Any reduction to your maximum hit points from this feature applies to your normal form’s hit points and not those gained from Wild Shape or Undead Wild Shape. Any reduction to your maximum hit points from this feature lasts until you finish a long rest.

Starting at 10th level, you can double the amount of beasts you summon with this feature, or summon one beast of CR 2, but your hit point maximum decreases by 4d6.

Starting at 14th level, you can quadruple the amount of beasts you summon with this feature, or summon two beasts of CR 2, but your hit point maximum decreases by 6d6.

Mysteries of Death

Your time spent contemplating the mysteries of the beyond has granted you clarity and courage in the face of death.

Starting at 10th level, you cannot be charmed or frightened by an undead creature.

Form of Death

Starting at 14th level, if you are reduced to 0 hit points in your normal form but not killed outright, you can use your reaction to activate Undead Wild Shape if you have uses remaining. You cannot revert to your normal form until at least one minute has passed. When you revert to your normal form, you have 1 hit point.

You can use this feature one time, and you regain the ability to do so after you finish a long rest.

Section 15: Copyright Notice
Circle of Death, A 5e Compatible Druid Subclass Copyright 2021 Small Bite Designs, Author: Ian Lambert-Brown.