Good, Evil, Nature, and Druids - Page 5
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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by SallyGreen View Post
    I think "evil" druids won't be our usual understanding of evil.
    My usual understanding of evil is to destroy with the outcome of that nothing replaces what is destroyed.

    This is in contrast to the usual 'natural' world view that destruction is good only in as much as it is a prerequisite for renewal. Thus the usual druidical world view is presented as wanting a balance - death is good only in as much as it feeds and sustains new life, forming a cycle without loses.

    An evil druid would tend to want something or everything to be destroyed without being replaced.
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  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    My usual understanding of evil is to destroy with the outcome of that nothing replaces what is destroyed.
    That's a narrower definition than I've usually seen. In D&D terms, isn't "evil" usually defined as greedy and selfish, like you're looking out for your own interests without concern for the suffering of others? In other games that lack an alignment system, the term is used more subjectively, along the lines of how people use it in the real world, applying it to vicious criminals, people who show no concern for others, genocidal warlords, etc. Even genocidal warlords, however, typically want to replace one ethnic group with their preferred ethnic group, so they're not just destroying everything because they want nothingness.

    An evil druid would tend to want something or everything to be destroyed without being replaced.
    Interesting. In my game world, such a druid would almost have to be insane because their power comes from life itself. But, that would be fitting, since the only beings that regularly desire such total nothingness are classed as "elder things" that exist outside of the usual good/evil continuum and generally cause madness.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by uzirath View Post
    That's a narrower definition than I've usually seen. In D&D terms, isn't "evil" usually defined as greedy and selfish, like you're looking out for your own interests without concern for the suffering of others?
    There's usually some sense of active malice, I think. Not just selfish, but cruel. You might only look out for yourself, but watching others suffer because they didn't do as good a job watching out for themselves as you did is a nice bonus.

    The extreme World Axis version of CE was a sort of aggressive nihilism, destroying-without-potential-for-renewal fits that.

    But, if you consider destruction evil and preservation good (which is oversimplifying, sure), the balance ethos is neatly summarized by supporting the cycle of renewal. Wanton destruction breaks the cycle, but so does indefinite preservation - a wanton killer who murders children, and a benevolent alchemist who finds the secret of immortality would both be breaking bad in the balance books.


    One thing I found interesting about the idea of Druids as keepers of big-picture balance was that, if someone wanted to play a Druid, and everyone else was Good, they'd work together fine - /in a world where Evil was currently ascendant/. So it's easy enough to have a setting where Druids would be counted among the 'good guys' quite consistently. But in a particularly pleasant setting, a settled, kindly, peaceful, domesticated world, say, a balance-obsessed Druid could well be a master villain, stirring up wars, starting plagues, resurrecting extinct predators and the like.
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  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by uzirath View Post
    That's a narrower definition than I've usually seen.
    I consider it a far broader definition than you have probably seen.

    In D&D terms...
    D&D writers have had a notoriously hard time defining morality.

    isn't "evil" usually defined as greedy and selfish....
    Sure, but why is "greed" or "selfishness" actually evil? What is wrong with it? I put forward that the problem with them is that they are destructive, and to the extent that they are not destructive we wouldn't consider them evil. For example, while greed is frowned upon, a person who is thrifty and prepares up a store to survive a hardship is admired, and while "selfishness" is considered wrong, a person whose self-interest benefits themselves and does not harm others is likewise not considered evil. It's only if you take at another's expense, that we see it as evil. Mutually beneficial exchanges of labor or other partnerships, while they might be motivated by self-interest, aren't seen as evil but good, since there is a net profit - that is, a net growth and creation. People can and arguably should marry for self-interested reasons, but as long as there is a mutual profit and benefit, the marriage is healthy. In short, things like "greed" are only evil if they are destructive. Specifically, greed is the evil of hoarding something not for use, but for the pleasure of withholding it from someone else. Consider for example the example of Ebenezzer Scrooge, who though he is immensely wealthy, never spends any of his money for his own pleasure. He's merely satisfied to think to himself how much more he has than others, even though he himself lives in near poverty. It's this holding something while withholding something from a good use that is "greed", and hence it is destructive. His merely being wealthy was not greed - the 19th century reader would for example immediately recognized that he contravened the normal social order by being both wealthy and yet employing no one. His wealth was a dead end, that didn't return to the community. Also note that the origin of his wealth is not any sort of productive activity, but simply rent seeking and arbitrage. He doesn't make anything. He just takes.

    Finally, note that we also consider many acts which are without self-interest to be evil, if the harm is done to the self. The shared problem is not self-interest, but destructiveness, whether self-destruction or harm to others.

    Even genocidal warlords, however, typically want to replace one ethnic group with their preferred ethnic group, so they're not just destroying everything because they want nothingness.
    Sure, but the desire to replace a diversity of tribes with your own tribe, and the belief that the entire meaning of existence is simply power, and the general notion of nationalism without limit, is strongly associated with the idea of "Lawful Evil". That is to say, it's not Pure Evil, but mixed with the notion of "the needs of the many" in a way that is a blend of both the goals of evil, and the goals of law. Thus, lawful evil generally does not see "the needs of the many" as being associated with weal, since weal in the minds of Lawful Evil types brings softness, love of pleasure, and other sorts of social illusions that allow people to forget what life is "really about".
    Last edited by Celebrim; Tuesday, 7th May, 2019 at 05:17 AM.

  5. #45
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    Has anyone played druids in the historical sense? As a religious class from an older religion, that does not revolve around gods. Nature is revered or at least understood as the primary source of power in the universe. They also have an older pantheon of gods, but have a different relationship to them. They are powerful beings, but also just part of nature. They believe in reincarnation, and act as mediators, judges, healers, wise men, and bearers of a peoples original oral history.


    It would seem that these Druids and their religion are differentiated from the divine classes and their religions by their belief in reincarnation instead of an afterlife. They don't have the same relationship to the gods as the majority of people in a typical D&D world.


    Because they are not deriving their power from a god and because their life is not ordered around a god's wishes and hope for the afterlife promised by a god, a druid really could be any alignment, because there is no god to take away their powers when they act "out of alignment."


    This may be why MOST druids would naturally default to a neutral alignment. Perhaps as sentient beings with souls, they cannot be unaligned. They would be more drawn to the idea of balance and cycles. But there is nothing that would prevent or punish a Druid from being Lawful Good or Lawful Evil, it just wouldn't have anything to do with a god.
    Last edited by MNblockhead; Tuesday, 7th May, 2019 at 05:57 AM. Reason: grammar fixes
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  6. #46
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    I like the 4e idea of separating Divine and Primal.

    Primal magic is the province of the Elements and the Inner Planes.

    Alignments are a function of the Outer Planes.

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNblockhead View Post
    Has anyone played druids in the historical sense? As a religious class from an older religion
    I'd certainly /tried/ to back in the day, but did not find DMs receptive to it. The vision too many had of the Druid was as some sort of hippie environmentalist (hey, the 70s were still fresh in everyone's minds).

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNblockhead View Post
    Has anyone played druids in the historical sense?
    About 20 years ago I tried, and I went to the college library to learn everything I could about the historical druid.

    Turns out, everything we actually know about the historical druid fits in a small paragraph. What you just outlined in your short post is considerably more than is actually known about historical druids.

    So I pretty much gave up at that point.
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  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    About 20 years ago I tried, and I went to the college library to learn everything I could about the historical druid.

    Turns out, everything we actually know about the historical druid fits in a small paragraph. What you just outlined in your short post is considerably more than is actually known about historical druids.

    So I pretty much gave up at that point.
    True. So much of what we "know" about Druids is from biased Roman accounts.

  10. #50
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    Yeah, the lack of knowledge about historical druids is what would hold me back, though I love to reskin race and class archetypes in my campaigns to play against expectations (or at least to have variants that do).

    I'm not sure about the idea that historical druids didn't "revolve around gods." That may be true, but there were certainly Celtic gods, so it may be that scholars just don't have enough information to go on.

    But, in a game context, I like @MNblockhead's conception of druids. The reincarnation motif is interesting and the idea that the gods are newcomers or outsiders or something like that is also fun to play with. That could create fun political conflicts between clerics and druids.

    In the Dungeon Fantasy RPG, druids don't have healing spells by default (that's the core domain of clerics). But, many GMs (including me) have houseruled them back in. (I can't remember how various editions of D&D handle this and I don't have my books nearby.) I had a discussion a while back on one of the SJG forums about how one might differentiate druidic from clerical healing. One idea I was mulling was that druidic healing is more "natural," which also means that it might be a bit slower, possibly more painful, and would leave scars. Clerics, on the other hand, basically erase wounds altogether. This could create all sorts of intriguing cultural elements. In a culture where clerics abound, having scar-free skin might be a sign of the upper class. Only farmers and peasants near the wildlands would stoop to cheaper druidic healing.

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