Shillelagh: D&D 5e Spell Guide

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A true Irishman would never leave home without one.

And for your druid, this spell is a great tool to keep in your toolbox.


Shillelagh

Type: Transmutation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: Touch
Components: V S M (Mistletoe, a shamrock leaf, and a club or quarterstaff)
Duration: 1 minute

You imbue nature’s power into your club or quarterstaff.

For the duration here, you get to use your wisdom bonus instead of your strength bonus for both the attack and damage rolls. So you now get what should be your highest ability score as your melee bonus.

The weapon also becomes magical if it isn’t to begin with.

The spell ends after a minute, or after you let go of the weapon, whichever comes first.


Who Gets It?

Shillelagh is a spell exclusive to Druids.

It takes advantage of their primary stat, Wisdom, by allowing it to apply in melee combat with quarterstaffs and clubs, and in the form of a cantrip with no concentration.

Shillelagh Uses

Basically, if you’re going to melee with your druid and not in your wild shape form, Shillelagh is your go-to spell.

It replaces strength as the score for quarterstaffs and clubs with wisdom.

Since wisdom is your main ability score as a druid, it allows you to not have to worry about using one of your good ability scores in strength.

The other benefit is having access to a magical weapon at such a low level, making it so you can hit through resistance.

Shillelagh Build Ideas

Shillelagh is a weird spell as a class that does not normally get the spell benefit more than druid itself (except for Circle of Spores), which is a good fit for Shillelagh.

We can look into more detailed breakdowns below.

Circle of Spores Druid

The Circle of Spores Druid is a great choice for crowd control.

And there are a few things that can combo really well here.

Let’s say you pick a Variant Human with +2 to Wisdom and +1 to say Dexterity. Take Shillelagh as a cantrip and Polearm Master as your feat.

The circle of spores’ first two abilities allow for even more damage with your quarterstaff attacks. And you have some flexibility with your reactions, being able to use either Polearm Master or Halo of Spores to hit enemies that move into melee range.

Depending on resistances, you can choose between magical bludgeoning (Shillelagh+Polearm Master) or necrotic (Halo of Spores)

Symbotic Entity can stack with your normal attack and bonus attack from Polearm master, allowing for a possibility of a lot of damage.

If your wisdom is 18, here’s an example:

1d8+4 magical bludgeoning + 1d6 poison + 1d4+4 magical bludgeoning + 1d6 poison

That’s an average 11 damage if the first attack connects and 6 damage if the second attack connects.

So there’s a lot of flexibility in this build. Thematically, Circle of Spores can fit with Shillelagh, mainly since both Druids and Shillelagh derive from Celtic origins.

Mechanically, Symbiotic Entity allows Druids to work in melee, making it also great with Shillelagh.

Clerics

Clerics have a lot of flexibility in their subclasses, so let’s quickly run through some options.

Nature Domain lets you avoid having to take the magic initiate feat, or a dip into druid to gain access to Shillelagh with heavy armor for free. This allows for more melee possibilities.

Thematically, this fits best for Shillelagh out of all the cleric subclasses. Mostly since the Nature Domain takes some aspects from Druids.

Arcana Cleric + Magic Initiate or a dip into Druid is a really interesting combo.

Due to the wording and the fact that Shillelagh is not concentration, Shillelagh can stack with Green Flame Blade or Booming Blade, allowing for an even more insane damage output. Plus Wisdom being the primary stat, since they count as Cleric Cantrips for you.

The War Cleric also benefits from Shillelagh through one of the two methods above. Then you can have Wisdom be your main stat overall, and it won’t force a choice between Strength and Wisdom.

Gaining an extra attack as a bonus action and heavy armor also helps.

Spell Comparisons

Shillelagh is a weird spell that honestly doesn’t have too many comparisons.

It stacks with things like Green Flame Blade, so these fit together but it doesn’t make sense to compare them. And other melee spells are wildly different.

Basically, Shillelagh is a spell that you build a character around. As it’s only worth taking for Circle of Spores Druid and certain Cleric subclasses that can either gain it naturally, or where it makes sense taking magic initiate for the combinations.

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