I've never really mucked around with Druids in D&D. Sure, shapeshifting is cool, but I don't want to be the one guy in the party who keeps having to remind his pals to recycle. It's too much responsibility. But after Larian revealed the final Druid subclass in its last Baldur's Gate 3 Panel From Hell, I became a convert. Walking around the Forgotten Realms as a biohazard with the ability to raise an army of fungal zombies? Yes, please.
Baldur's Gate 3's classes are an eclectic bunch and I suspect that my first few hours are going to be spent agonising over which to pick, but the Circle of Spores Druid is right up there, beckoning me towards a life of gruesome nature magic.
The highlight of this subclass is the ability to infect corpses with spores, raising them as undead mushroom creatures, which look a lot like the clickers from The Last of Us. While some notes may have been taken from Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic series in terms of the monster design, the subclass already exists in D&D and, while I haven't dabbled in it when playing the tabletop game, I'm already a big fan.
Become a Druid of the Circle of Spores and put the "fun" in "fungi" 🍄 Manipulate spores to harm your enemies and then raise them as a fungal zombie! #OnlyInBaldursGate Baldur’s Gate 3 releases August 3rd on PC. https://t.co/DTgPBxCh0M pic.twitter.com/B75q1E0fT2July 19, 2023
Fungal Infestation is the most tantalising spell in the list. This bad boy is a 6th level spell that gives your spores the ability to reanimate corpses. Effectively these are zombies, with all the stats associated with them, and they stay animated for one hour. They can't do much, but they can attack your foes, which is all you really need. I'm sure the citizens of Baldur's Gate will be extremely pleased to see me saunter down the streets accompanied by a legion of crusty fungal monstrosities. Typical hero stuff.
Circle of Spore Druids have a few other tricks up their sleeves too.
- Halo of Spores (level 2): Surround yourself with invisible, necrotic spores that can attack your enemies within 10 feet, dealing additional damage at higher levels.
- Symbiotic Entity (level 2): Augment Halo of Spores with magic, giving yourself temporary hit points, extra damage with spore attacks and buffing your weapon with necrotic damage.
- Fungal Infestation (level 6): Zombie army time!
- Spreading Spores (level 10): Start throwing those spores. They can be tossed up to 30 feet away and fill a 10-foot area, affecting anyone in the area with Halo of Spores damage.
There's a final spell that you get at level 14, Fungal Body, where the spores get all up in you and protect you from becoming blind, deaf, frightened and poisoned. Baldur's Gate 3's level cap is 12, however, so we might not gain access to this spell.
At level 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9 you'll also gain additional Druid spells that don't count against the number of spells you can prep each day. They're freebies, essentially, giving you a few more opportunities to annoy your foes with pesky nature magic.
- Chill Touch (level 2)
- Blindness/Deafness, Gentle Repose (level 3)
- Animate Dead, Gaseous Form (level 5)
- Blight, Confusion (level 7)
- Cloudkill, Contagion (level 9)
I don't expect a Circle of Spores Druid to be the most powerful character around, but I'm looking for something more flavourful and fun, rather than an OP demigod. There's a lot of roleplaying potential in playing a killer mushroom farmer. The Underdark also hosts a bunch of fungal creatures, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some unique encounters with this subclass.
There might also be some interesting interplay between the mind flayer tadpole infestation and your spore infestation—there are some similarities, and I'd be surprised if it didn't come up at all, at least in conversations.
Druids in general are going to be a good time, mostly thanks to Wild Shape, which you can already get a taste of in the early access version since it unlocks at level 2. This spell lets you transform into an animal, as well as an elemental if you pick the Circle of the Moon subclass. Many of these shapes have utility that goes beyond combat, and you can, if you fancy it, play the whole game as a very large badger. Its unique ability lets it burrow underground and then erupt beneath enemies, but I just enjoy watching it sit on stools.
Baldur's Gate 3 is shaping up to be a game that lets you have plenty of fun even if you're just some boring human fighter, but the immersive sim qualities mean that I feel compelled to play the weirder classes and subclasses, just to see how this reactive world shapes itself around my weird choices. In our last magazine preview (which hits the shelves today) Larian really emphasised just how much the game will reflect your decisions, whether its changes in dialogue, a combat encounter other players might miss entirely, or the game reacting to your unique abilities, like the nasty voice inside The Dark Urge's head.
And it's not long to go now! Baldur's Gate 3 will finally be leaving early access on August 3, giving us all two weeks to figure out what character we want to make first.