D&D General Druids and Path Dependency: Why the Scimitar Helps Illuminate D&D

Remathilis

Legend
But as for the D&D druid, it's really become a palimpsest, moving from a hodgepodge of history, some inaccurate, and "close enoughs," to a class repeatedly redesigned and refined. Like a lot of D&D tropes, it started off inspired by a couple different ones, then became its own trope.

If you really want to go down the rabbit hole path dependency, I think the name Druid is a far bigger example than Scimitar.

While the original druid was a mishmash of bad Celtic lore, there is barely anything Celtic about the class as it currently sits. It's equal parts nature priest, shaman, green witch and elementalist. Sometimes you can add Summoner/zookeeper to that mix. It almost feels too limiting to have a class that could represent a variety of naturalist faiths, traditions and magic under the name of one specific cultural example. It would be akin to having the rogue class be named "ninja"; it does describe what the rogue class does but it is too specific to represent the wide array of other types of sneaky characters the rogue class currently does. (And the class was renamed from Thief for that exact reason).

But I wager inertia will keep them named druid, unless there is some major Twitter outrage about it. The class is too well known by that name (and has spread to too many other derivative fantasy works) to adjust to a more culturally neutral term.
 

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Mad_Jack

Hero
But I wager inertia will keep them named druid, unless there is some major Twitter outrage about it. The class is too well known by that name (and has spread to too many other derivative fantasy works) to adjust to a more culturally neutral term.

Yeah... Nobody's ever going to bother to complain about the cultural appropriation aspect of it - we live in a world where a derogatory 18th century newspaper caricature of Celtic culture is still used as a sports mascot and to sell children's cereal, and non-Celtic people don't see anything wrong with getting rowdily trashed on green beer during what's supposed to be a religious holiday... :rolleyes:
(Hell, I'm only being semi-serious writing this, lol.)
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Yeah... Nobody's ever going to bother to complain about the cultural appropriation aspect of it - we live in a world where a derogatory 18th century newspaper caricature of Celtic culture is still used as a sports mascot and to sell children's cereal, and non-Celtic people don't see anything wrong with getting rowdily trashed on green beer during what supposed to be a religious holiday... :rolleyes:
(Hell, I'm only being semi-serious writing this, lol.)

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Pictured- Druid (Circle of the Charms)
 



Laurefindel

Legend
I may be in a minority here, but I’m quite happy with the druid as is, mismatched anachronistic misinterpretation, sickle, scimitar, non-metal armour et al.

It fits my headcanon that druids are proto-wizards, a magical tradition dating back to the time of arcane/divine schism (in people head at any case), and that they hold on to their magical powers by tradition, with everything that tradition implies with taboos and obligations.
 


Mad_Jack

Hero
I may be in a minority here, but I’m quite happy with the druid as is, mismatched anachronistic misinterpretation, sickle, scimitar, non-metal armour et al.

It fits my headcanon that druids are proto-wizards, a magical tradition dating back to the time of arcane/divine schism (in people head at any case), and that they hold on to their magical powers by tradition, with everything that tradition implies with taboos and obligations.

Yeah, that's kinda how I see it as well - the D&D druid is sort of the spellcaster who uses the Old Magic of the world, before it became codified by wizards, which is why their magic is closer to the divine magic of clerics.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I may be in a minority here, but I’m quite happy with the druid as is, mismatched anachronistic misinterpretation, sickle, scimitar, non-metal armour et al.

It fits my headcanon that druids are proto-wizards, a magical tradition dating back to the time of arcane/divine schism (in people head at any case), and that they hold on to their magical powers by tradition, with everything that tradition implies with taboos and obligations.
So more like the Druids of the Shannara series, like Allanon?
 


aco175

Legend
Wouldn't the kukri be more like the sickle than the scimitar? I guess 1e didn't have it and people wouldn't like a d4 when they can have a d6.

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Voadam

Legend
Wouldn't the kukri be more like the sickle than the scimitar? I guess 1e didn't have it and people wouldn't like a d4 when they can have a d6.

View attachment 262395
In the 1e PH classification chart a Kukri, depending on blade length, could fall under short sword which "includes all pointed cutting & thrusting weapons with blade length between 15” and 24”."
 


MGibster

Legend
Yeah... Nobody's ever going to bother to complain about the cultural appropriation aspect of it - we live in a world where a derogatory 18th century newspaper caricature of Celtic culture is still used as a sports mascot and to sell children's cereal, and non-Celtic people don't see anything wrong with getting rowdily trashed on green beer during what's supposed to be a religious holiday..

Those images belong just as much to the descendants of the Celts who moved to the United States as it does to the ones who stayed in Europe. They immigrated here and their distinctive flavor melted and became a part of this great queso we call American culture.
 

First off, props for mentioning Forrestals. If someone wanted a great fictional example of a druid in fiction, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever is a great resource. Not just the Forrestals, but the Rhadhamaerl and Hirebrands, and indeed, the very way the people treat the Land.
I always equated monks with the Bloodguard from Thomas Covenant, so I never really got the hate they often get for not being "appropriate".
 



Remathilis

Legend
Yeah... Nobody's ever going to bother to complain about the cultural appropriation aspect of it - we live in a world where a derogatory 18th century newspaper caricature of Celtic culture is still used as a sports mascot and to sell children's cereal, and non-Celtic people don't see anything wrong with getting rowdily trashed on green beer during what's supposed to be a religious holiday... :rolleyes:
(Hell, I'm only being semi-serious writing this, lol.)

If D&D were being designed for the first time today, it probably would have some generic name and would represent all manner of different archetypes: shamans, witches, druids, animalists, summoners, etc. It's rough because while the idea of a nature-communing magician is universal, the druid often gets kicked for being too "western". File the name off, make some minor edits and the class fits fine outside of Faux-European settings.
 

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