Is the star chart a material component for the Guidance and Guiding Bolt spells from the Circle of Stars druid’s Star Map feature?

The Circle of Stars druid’s Star Map feature grants the following benefits (TCoE, p. 38):

You’ve created a star chart as part of your heavenly studies. It is a Tiny object and can serve as a spellcasting focus for your druid spells. You determine its form by rolling on the Star Map table or by choosing one.

While holding this map, you have these benefits:

  • You know the guidance cantrip.
  • You have the guiding bolt spell prepared. It counts as a druid spell for you, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can have prepared.
  • You can cast guiding bolt without expending a spell slot. You can do so a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Neither guiding bolt nor guidance have a material component. It would seem from the language that RAW one must hold the chart in one hand and cast these spells with the other, unless one has the War Caster feat.

Is my interpretation of the rules correct? And what is actually intended?

Is the star chart a material component for guidance and guiding bolt?

Can you foresee any balance issue with a Stars Druid using the Cleric spell list instead of the Druid’s?

Homebrewed campaign where tinkering with class mechanics is encouraged to suit your character, I just want to make sure it isn’t horribly unbalanced.

I have an idea for a divination/stars/universe/fate obsessed character, lumbering, slow, strong, wise, warm. Heavy armour melee/mid-field support. However, I don’t really like the Twilight Domain’s Channel Divinity.

The Stars Druid subclass abilities seem like a good match but the spell list leans towards the terrestrial/battlefield control/summoning rather than astral/divination and I don’t see this character ever using wildshape.

Ideas:

  • make a Stars Druid that uses the Cleric spell list and loses wildshape etc

  • make a Twilight Cleric and swap the Channel Divinity (twice per rest resource for most of the game) for one of the Stars Druids abilities?

  • your idea?

Any input and ideas welcome. When homebrew is encouraged I like to troubleshoot for balance.

When do Druids gain the ability to cast each spell level?

I understand spells and that spell levels don’t correspond with character level but on this website it says:

Spell level and character level don’t correspond directly. Typically, a character has to be at least 17th level, not 9th level, to cast a 9th–level spell.

I understand this, but what character level is a Druid required to be to cast a spell at any given spell level?

Just to be clear, I am not asking about spell slots here.

Does casting Goodberry activate the Circle of the Shepherd druid’s Unicorn Spirit totem?

The Circle of the Shepherd druid’s Unicorn Spirit Totem (XGtE, p. 24) says:

The unicorn spirit lends its protection to those nearby. You and your allies gain advantage on all ability checks made to detect creatures in the spirit’s aura. In addition, if you cast a spell using a spell slot that restores hit points to any creature inside or outside the aura, each creature of your choice in the aura also regains hit points equal to your druid level.

Does casting Goodberry count as a spell that “restores hit points”, since the characters then have to do an additional action to actually restore the hit points?

Does the Shepherd Druid’s Mighty Summoner feature apply to creatures summoned through their Faithful Summons feature?

Mighty Summoner says (emphasis mine):

Any beast or fey summoned or created by a spell that you cast gains the following benefits: […]

Faithful Summons says (emphasis mine):

If you are reduced to 0 hit points or are incapacitated against your will, you can immediately gain the benefits of conjure animals as if it were cast using a 9th-level spell slot.

Does the phrase "as if it were cast using a 9th-level spell slot" indicate that we should treat this as if we are casting the spell, thereby allowing us to apply Mighty Summoner to the creatures summoned?

Note, this question is different from this Q&A, as it is unclear if Faithful Summons counts as casting a spell: Would the 6th level Shepherd Druid’s Mighty Summoner feature works on summoned creatures not made from spells

How do druids keep other druids from using Transport via Plants to show up uninvited?

What options do druids have to keep other druids out of their sacred groves?

Some contrasting examples:

  • Wizards like to Teleport. To keep out other wizards, a wizard can use Dimensional Lock (on an admittedly tiny area).
  • Clerics don’t have a lot of teleportation spells. To keep out those clerics with access to the Travel domain, other clerics could cast Dimensional Lock or Forbiddance.

Druids probably have a tree or eighty nearby. If a druid wants to go somewhere using Transport via Plants, I imagine having any "normal plant (equal to the druid’s size or larger)" around would be both convenient and thematic.

The options I have found so far to prevent uninvited druids from showing up via either Transport via Plants or Tree Stride:

  1. The druids kill all the vegetation nearby. This seems kinda…. anti-druidic.
  2. Create a House Rule that druids can cast Forbiddance on one grove, and one druid may have only one Forbiddance spell in effect at one time. I’m probably going to do this, but not sure what else it will break.

Is a Circle of Stars Druid’s Chalice form affected by Grave Cleric’s Circle of Mortality?

If a Stars Druid/Grave Cleric multiclass were to use a Cure Wounds on an unconscious creature at 0 hp, and they designate that creature as a target of their Chalice form’s healing ability, does that mean they receive 16+double wisdom mod healing, or 8+1d8+double wisdom mod healing?

Circle of Mortality

At 1st level, you gain the ability to manipulate the line between life and death. When you would normally roll one or more dice to restore hit points with a spell to a creature at 0 hit points, you instead use the highest number possible for each die.

Chalice. A constellation of a life-giving goblet appears on you. Whenever you cast a spell using a spell slot that restores hit points to a creature, you or another creature within 30 feet of you can regain hit points equal to 1d8 + your Wisdom modifier.

In the Forgotten Realms, are Druids fundamentally against necromancy?

In my group, we have an undead skeleton necromancer and a Druid. The Druid is very, very against necromancy and the undead because he is under the assumption of “that’s how Druids are role played because Druids worship life”.

I was under the impression that Druids didn’t worship life, but specifically nature. That and Druids are traditionally neutral. I would understand if the Necromancer was creating undead plant life, but is it mentioned somewhere that a Druid should be at least ambivalent to undead creatures if they are used for the common good?

This is in the Forgotten Realms setting.

Would the 6th level Shepherd Druid’s Mighty Summoner feature works on summoned creatures not made from spells

To clarify, when I say "summoned creatures not made from spells", I mean summons that are from class features and the like, so the Shadow Sorcerer’s Hound of Ill Omen, the Hexblade’s Accursed Specter, Raven Queen’s Sentinel Raven (tho less hp on this would be nice) and the Beastmaster/Drakewarden’s Animal/Drake Companion. Sinces these are features that summon creatures, would they work with the Shepherd Druid’s Mighty Summoner if they aren’t technically spells?

Do I use my druid’s own proficiency bonus for the attacks of their wildshape?

Let’s consider this example: A lvl 12 Druid has a +4 proficiency bonus. They proceed to wild shape into an ape, whose attacks have a +5 bonus to attack rolls, easily calculated to be +3 from its Strength and a +2 proficiency modifier. Does the wildshaped druid attack at +5, or at +7? I’ve seen the first interpretation to be more common but I’d like to know the reasoning for such.