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Bard and Druid get new DnD subclasses in latest 5e playtest

Wizards of the Coast introduces two DnD subclasses in its latest playtest – the Circle of the Sea Druid and the College of Dance Bard.

DnD subclasses playtest - Wizards of the Coast art of a Dragonborn Bard

Wizards of the Coast may be introducing two new DnD subclasses in the upcoming 2024 Player’s Handbook. An Unearthed Arcana playtest document from June 29 introduces the Circle of the Sea DnD Druid and the College of Dance Bard 5e to the DnD classes roster.

As the name implies, the College of Dance Bard is designed for any D&D player that loves to bust a move. As well as Charisma, Dexterity is an important DnD stat for this subclass. You’ll need to forgo DnD armor to make the most of your fancy footwork, but in return you’ll get a boosted armor class, unarmed strikes, and some extra damage to deal based on your Bardic Inspiration die.

Dance Bards can use their movement to inspire as well as attack. If you see an enemy end its turn within five feet of an ally (and 60ft of you), you can spend your reaction and one use of your Bardic Inspiration to move. You’ll move half your speed, roll the Bardic Inspiration die, and your ally then gets to move feet equal to five times that number – without provoking opportunity attacks.

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As they gain a few DnD level ups, College of Dance Bards will be able to avoid damage on successful Dexterity saving throws. They can even share this benefit with friends (within five feet).

Dance Bards are pretty quick on their feet, and they can spend a Bardic Inspiration die during the Initiative roll to pass this feat on. When the die is rolled, simply pick a number of creatures within 60ft equal to your Charisma modifier, and they get an initiative bonus equal to your roll. The subclass’ final feature means your Bard always has the 5e spell Otto’s Irresistible Dance prepared, and you don’t use a spell slot to cast it.

Whether peaceful or vengeful, the Circle of the Sea Druid taps into the power of the ocean. They use Wild Shape in a unique way, spending a use of the feature to form an aura of ocean spray around them. This allows them to choose a creature within ten feet at the end of their turn, dealing thunder damage and pushing them away on a failed Constitution saving throw.

At sixth level, the Sea Druid gains Aquatic Affinity. This means the Water Breathing spell is always prepared, and your Druid gains a swim speed equal to their regular speed (you can cross the Triton off your planned DnD races). This counts even if you Wild Shape into a creature that can’t swim.

DnD subclasses playest - Wizards of the Coast art of two adventurers meeting an Owlbear

Higher-level Sea Druids also gain a flying speed equal to their speed when their special Wild Shape feature is active. They also have resistance to cold, lightning, and thunder damage for that time.

Lastly, there’s the Druid’s Oceanic Gift. Any time they use their special Wrath of the Sea Wild Shape feature, the Druid can manifest their aura around another willing creature within 60ft. That creature gets all the benefits of the aura – so you can pass your aquatic powers onto a friend. If you spend two uses of Wild Shape, you can both use the feature at the same time.

The playtest document also updates the Monk class; we’ve run down the changes in another article.

You can read the full playtest document on D&DBeyond. For more D&D news, keep a close eye on the DnD 2023 release schedule, where we track all the upcoming DnD books.