While it’s easy to get bogged down talking about spells that do damage like Fire Bolt, sometimes there’s more to spell casting than just whittling down hit points (or, in the case of healers, stacking them back up). Sometimes, spellcasting involves options that aren’t so easily classified, or whose best applications aren’t so easily or quickly apparent.
Sometimes you can find a spell that’s too often overlooked actually has uses you didn’t consider or has a greater than expected value hidden underneath. But with just a little creativity, those “afterthought” spells can be a surprising asset. And with that in mind, let’s take a look a simple and too-often ignored cantrip in D&D 5E – Druidcraft.
What is Druidcraft?
Let’s start off with the basic mechanics of the Druidcraft cantrip:
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S
When cast, this spell allows the druid to invoke the spirits of nature to create a variety of small effects within range:
- Instantly make a flower blossom, a seed pod open, or a leaf bud bloom.
- Either light or snuff out a candle, torch, or small campfire.
- Create an instantaneous, harmless sensory effect in a 5-foot cube, such a light breeze, small animal noises or scents (including the musk of a skunk) or falling leaves.
- Create a sensory effect that shows the local weather for the next 24 hours, such as falling snow or rain, clouds, or a sun. This effect is tiny and harmless.
While Druidcraft is a cantrip on the druid lists, Priests of the Nature Domain would also be able to access it, as would Bards through the Magical Secrets ability.
What Would I Do with Druidcraft 5e?
At first blush, there wouldn’t seem to be a lot of practical use for Druidcraft. Put it alongside another cantrip from the druid list, Guidance, which adds 1d4 to any single ability check for a willing target. Or compare it to the usefulness of a few other cantrips from that list, Produce Flame and Thorn Whip, which both have direct (as in damage-dealing) combat uses.
It’s easy to see why Druidcraft gets passed over in favor of more obvious cantrips like these. But take a deeper look at the possibilities of Druidcraft.
Predicting the Weather
Knowing the weather a day in advance isn’t nothing. Consider the value of knowing whether it’s going to be a clear moonlight knight when you want to sneak into the goblin camp, or if there’s going to be a dense fog.
By the same token, let’s imagine you’re planning the best time to strike at the kobolds encamped in the old fort. Will it change your plans to know that tomorrow will be overcast rather than sunny when the light-sensitive kobolds will suffer penalties if you can fight them in the open?
And this, of course, overlooks the simple benefit of knowing when the weather is good for traveling the next day, whether because you want it bright and clear or because you’re counting on rain to wash away your tracks and scent as you go.
Flint and steel are fine, and usually at least a few people in the party will get them via the standard equipment packs. And if we’re being honest, most DMs handwave things like lighting campfires and such anyway. That said, the ability to Druidcraft to instantly light candles, torches, or campfires is still a handy trick.
And an even handier trick is the ability to snuff them out just as quickly. If you’re trying to make your way cautiously down a corridor holding a torch for the party members without darkvision, there is some benefit to being able to switch it off instantly if you hear a door open down the way – and flip it right back on once the party members that can still see have assessed and maybe addressed the situation.
And while the cantrip normally doesn’t present itself as having combat uses, let’s note that instantly lighting a candle in combat so it can be, say, dropped in oil is a valid creative use of the cantrip. No DM is doing to let you light a campfire in an opponent’s hair, but simply starting a small flame amongst nearby flammables to burn down a building? That may be more likely to win their OK.
It’s hard to see the immediate value of making a brief rain of leaves, a kaleidoscope of butterflies, a light breeze, or various woodland scents or sounds. There’s certainly no combat value to it, as none of it would rise to the level of genuine distraction and certainly there’s no potential for damage.
But while this one is certainly more of a reach, the potential is still there. Imagine meeting a group of devout nature servants, whether human or fey. Being able to throw such effects is an immediate sign of the druid’s bona fides and can change the whole flavor of an encounter.
Conversely, if cast in secret at a group of superstitious enemies, Druidcraft could certainly build the image of a haunted wood – perhaps enough so to scare them away and avoid a combat entirely. And if you’ve inserted yourself in a posse tracking someone you don’t want them to find, tossing a bit of skunk scent in the path of the tracking dogs on the sly could save the day.
While this is probably the hardest ability of Druidcraft to rationalize as useful, even it has some potential. One of the most obvious ways this ability could come in handy is when the party needs an herb that’s not currently in season – say, needing a few leaves of henbane in the dead of winter. This, of course, hinges on how much your DM wants to mess with herbalism in their game, but it’s still a way to make the ability practical.
Likewise, it’s obviously of use if you need a particular flower or leave for a spell component at the wrong time of year (and you’re DM isn’t just handwaving such things). Or if a particularly mischievous alchemist gives you a deliberately impossible to task to bring a fresh flower out of season before he’ll aid the party. As noted, this ability is the hardest to justify from a practicality standpoint, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t situations, however rare, in which it has possible uses.
Druidcraft, Is It Worth It?
There are obviously more immediately useful spells than Druidcraft. That said, any spell can be of value in the right hands, when used in just the right way for the situation. It may be harder to find such situations for this cantrip than for others, but the potential is still there for those that want to take a truly creative approach to how they use the cantrip’s abilities.
And more to the point, Druidcraft adds a touch of flavor to a druid. It’s easy enough to get lost in the meta-math of what spells are useful from a game mechanics standpoint, but there’s also roleplaying value in a simple cantrip that lets a druid act like a druid, even if the rare situations where it may find practical application never come along.
Druidcraft DnD 5e FAQ’s
The Druidcraft cantrip allows for a number of effects, and while many of them could be seen as mere “flavor”, some have identifiable practical uses as well. Predicting the next day’s weather has obvious uses, for example. Likewise, there could be value in making small sensory effects, just as there are with minor illusions. And the ability to light or extinguish a small flame (including a campfire) has obvious uses as well. With a little creativity in the right situation, even the “flavor” uses could have a practical application as well.
In a manner of speaking, yes. The cantrip does allow you make a flower or leaf bud instantly bloom. It does not, however, allow you to create flowers from whole cloth – merely make one bloom ahead of schedule. However, Druidcraft can also allow you to create “falling leaves” as a sensory effect. While the text isn’t specific, the inference is that these are real, physical leaves rather than an illusion. With the DM’s permission, flower petals or whole blooms could likely be substituted for leaves.