D&D General What is Druidism in your game?

Stormonu

Legend
In my homebrew, they are the keepers of the Aunn - the lifeforce of nature. The Aunn is a cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth that continually feeds the natural cycle. Things like civilization (at the city level) and undead disturb this cycle, preserving things that were meant to be created and destroyed in a never-ending cycle. to druids, without the cycle things would fall apart - if one does not return from death, then eventually nothing will remain, and without death things cannot be reconsituted into new life to change and grow - and eventually one will grow tired (or bored) of a life that has no end or hope of change. The latter is the state of the gods, and they are considered to stand outside the Aunn, but they are disliked by druids for the souls they pull out of the cycle to dwell in afterlives of bliss or torment.
 

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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
It's closer to Shamanism in my games, with a mix of philosophy. They "worship" (or at least "venerate") nature spirits and concepts (life, death, undeath, rebirth, the elements, the Fey Courts, apex predators, etc). They're heavily connected to Elementals, Fey, and Beasts, but also Plants (including Fungi), some Monstrosities, Dragons, and some Undead, and the different Circles choose to follow certain groups of these more than others. Circle of Wildfire Druids venerate Elementals associated with Fire (some even worship Imix), the Circle of Dreams follows the Seelie Court, the Circle of Spores follows fungal plant-creatures and fungal undead (occasionally worshipping Zuggtmoy), the Circle of Stars venerate creatures from "beyond the stars" (those from the Astral Plane), the Circle of the Moon venerate beasts (and sometimes strive to achieve some type of lycanthropy), and so on.

They're followers of the "true ways to live", and believe that various aspects of nature can tell people how to properly live. The different Circles are just a result of philosophical debates over which specific parts of nature to follow.
 
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beancounter

Adventurer
Nothing fancy or extensive in my campaign. They are the protectors of nature, and the balance of nature. They can worship gods or some ambiguous personification of nature. Player's choice.
 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
Druids of my world are primal casters that commune with the Primal Spirits and tap into the Primal Weave. The various Druid Circles tends to venerate certain spirits, from various small local spirits, to larger sprits that can span large chucks of land, to even the great Eldest Spirts (of which there are 8) that act as the Primal Colossi which are part of the god-like Pantheon that protects and maintains the balance the plane and keeps it from collapsing (the plane was abandoned by the gods and left unstable after the Dawn/Creator Wars). Each Circle tends to follow different aspects of nature, spanning various and even contrasting philosophies.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
- The immune response of the world to unnatural incursions from the the undeath, fiends or aberrations.

or

- A mix of Taoist alchemist, geomancer/feng shui master and general emissary for the the thousands on lesser gods/spirits inhabiting seemingly anodyne objects and places.

or

- The favored soul of a Primal Spirit chosen for a specific task.
 


They are nature priests who hold the sun and moon as deities; they revere and protect all animals and plants that are "natural" to a given campaign world, but hold trees in particular reverence. They universally embrace the cold and seemingly cruel neutrality exhibited by the natural world, but see the imbalance that is disproportionately inflicted by evil and therefore often (but not always) side with good to correct that imbalance, as well as work to ensure that ALL peoples restrain their continuing expansion of "civilization" and exploitation of the wilds.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Right about the rangers! I tend to think of druids as higher-level interventionists. Rangers keep the pilgrims safe from orcs and keep the loggers from killing all the wolves and fend off aberations, but druids keep the gods of nature and primal spirits from bringing down drought, famine, plague, and flood on hapless humanity (humanoidity?). They keep the stars spinning and the sun rising and the crops growing.

In truth, that take on druids has only seriously come into play in one campaign of mine, so it's certainly not my only interpretation. But I do like it.
Okay Ireally like that. Works just as an additionto my take, I think, too.
 

aco175

Legend
They tend to be the link between the land and the frontier. They act more solo than priests and meet to deal with a problem rather than discuss. They may enjoy communities but not cities. They may aid local farmers or give guidance to travelers and merchants along the roads. Druids and rangers may be your best bet if you are looking to deal with goblins and orcs in trading or negotiations.
 

I usually see them as the priests/shamans of a specific religion, one that reveres the Cycles of Nature; all things should be on harmony with these cycles, and when you act outside of it, you suffer both for your self and cause suffering in others. It's kinda fatalistic. Gods are only good when they adhere to this same principle.

PC druids are whatever the player wants, so long as it jives with the mechanics at least a little bit.
 

Druids in Jewel of the Desert are one half of a two-sided tradition, the Kahina; the other half are Shamans. The Kahina collectively revere, though do not usually worship, the spirits. They classify spirits in two ways: "living" and "dead."

"Living" spirits are those which arise from and, in general, primarily reside in the mortal world (Al-Duniyyah) or its highly elementally-charged reflection (Al-Akirah). This includes things like actual elementals, the spirits of trees and forests, the spirit of winds, etc., but also the semi-concrete spirits of various types of animals too, that is, the essence of what it means to be a desert raven, to be a wildcat, to be a camel, etc. Druids, who focus on living spirits, see the whole world as awash in spiritual influences. You have the spirit of this wind, here, today, which forms part of the spirit of the winds of this local area or city, which forms part of the spirit of the winds of this region, which forms part of the Spirit Of All Winds. Such hierarchies, where technically you have simultaneously many individual spirits, but also one spirit that arises from all those subsidiary spirits, is a common feature of living-spirit stuff, though not always (e.g., elementals are less likely to form such things).

"Dead" spirits are not necessarily dead in the formal sense, though "common" ones usually are. Dead spirits do include the lingering essences of creatures that have died, particularly if their deaths were unusual, noteworthy, dramatic, etc. But they also include things like the Spirit of Owl--not the essence of what it means to be an owl, that's a Living spirit thing, instead Owl herself, who abstractly represents all Owls. Greatfather Tempest, the First Oak, the World-Serpent, these are the kinds of spirits that Shamans truck with--not taking the spirit into yourself or nurturing the spirit where it "lives," but calling on the spirits that naturally come from the Spirit World and binding them to totems to call upon their aid.

In general, "living" spirits tend to be a bit less...intellectual than "dead" spirits, though this depends on their nature. The vast majority of "dead" spirits that a Shaman would be interested in binding tend to be able to actually speak human languages, whereas the vast majority of living spirits that a Druid would call on are either animalistic or non-sapient, working more in emotions, experiences, and sensations than words.*

Socially, Kahina in general tend to be more dispersed and more "direct," I guess you could say, in how they interface with society. The Safiqi priesthood maintains temples and monasteries and the like, and the vast majority of them live at least partially separated lives from the general public (though unlike some religious traditions, they do not forbid marriage, and welcome all genders and races among their number, for the One is beyond such limits.) Safiqi provide a significant amount of free, publicly-available healing and other works to support the common weal, such as feeding the poor and helping them find jobs and housing, as well as offering counseling and guidance to their flocks.

The Kahina, on the other hand, tend to take a more personal and worldly involvement. Shamans tend to set up shop and be the spooky witch-doctor type that is a bit feared but very respected and trusted with helping the community deal with Issues (you'd go to them to help treat your sick ewes, put down the strange spirit making noises at night, hoping they can play matchmaker, etc.) Druids tend to be very active, some of them even actually leading nomad tribes or serving as the village elder; even those who don't take such an openly political role will still tend to hunt down threats before they grow and actively work to enrich and sustain the land. Many remote villages naturally attract a pair, one Shaman and one Druid (sometimes a mated pair, sometimes just "coworkers"), whereas in the cities it's a bit more "whatever one can get."

*Incidentally, I have leveraged this difference to communicate that certain kinds of things seem to be very Different from what the party has encountered before. When interacting with spirits more of the "living" type or those of dead animals, the party has to sort of do away with abstraction and symbolism and get down more to actions and sensations. The phrase I used was that it was, in a sense, the step "before" language, not quite actual language but still expressing and communicating. In the one and only situation where the party has encountered beings that they weren't sure what they were, the situation was reversed, with the being almost using something above or higher than human languages, expressing incredibly complex thoughts in both abstract and concrete terms simultaneously, with just a few of their "words.")
 
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toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
It varies by my game world.

In my current setting, we opted for a Celtic pantheon, so I did my homework on how druids operated in that hodgepodge of European influence, such as directing the festival of Samhain, orally conveying new laws, sleeping outside at a time the spirits were most active, etc. They're a major part of its society that operates outside the laws of any kingdom but are integral to any kingdom's existence. They're also a mystery in that the god of the dead Arawn requires permission to raise the dead, but reincarnation by a druid falls as an exception, and no one knows or is willing to say why.

In another world, I might have a totally different paragraph. I love my classes to be more unique in my worlds than the PHB makes them.
 





Laurefindel

Legend
On a more serious note, you could say that a druid's magic is from the same source as fey magic, and thus druids refuse to encase themselves in iron as it is disruptive to their magic.
Although I don’t want to derail the thread too far, I like to see the druidic metal armor taboo as a Celtic-like geis (You can't ever do X, but as long as you don't, you are empowered to do Y). To tie in with my "proto-wizards" druids, metal represents refined nature similar to how arcane magic is refined natural magic. As long as they are not clad in metal, druids can be clad with the skin of animals (wild shape).
 
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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
On a more serious note, you could say that a druid's magic is from the same source as fey magic, and thus druids refuse to encase themselves in iron as it is disruptive to their magic.
Tim Powers On Stranger Tides associates iron in the blood with Magic power and also refers to Cold ‘magnetized’ iron dampening magic.

I liked that idea and it works well as a reason why druids (and wizards and fey) don’t like ‘cold iron’ as well as invoking blood sacrifice rituals as a key to more powerful invocations 🩸
 

Voadam

Legend
A couple druid concepts I have played:

Jair Feyfriend Druid in the Forgotten Realms:

Originally instructed by the treant Vinathus of the unicorn's horn circle of druids who contained many harper members. Trained in the arts of druidic shapeshifting, curing, and summoning animal spirits, the young priest has potent mystical abilities and studies the druidic arts, looking to the day he can become one of Mielikki's Champions of Nature. Jair has been sent to the Dale lands to begin to re-establish a druidic presence after the destruction of the local circles there and to place a harper minion in the locale.

As a druid of Miellikki, patroness of rangers and good forest creatures Jair is required to call and serve a dryad or treant once a month. Jair, a handsome and personable young man bonded with the dryad Alleah who lives in the forests of the Dales, and fell into a courtship with her according to the customs of the fair folk. Jair is now considered fey touched and has grown in his druidic powers establishing a rapport with the local good fey and some of the mortal residents who follow the druidic faiths or who wish a mediator with the fey.

Jair works hard to create a natural haven of good in the forests of the Dales but takes his role as a Mielikki priest and champion seriously and will investigate and confront any unnatural evil that threatens his new desmesne or the people who call it home.

Josea Cabranes Gnome Druid

A small wisp of a gnome, Josea harkens back more to the wild fey heritage of his people. He has pledged himself to the Wild Hunt Aspect of the Wyld and has joined with other hunters as his soulpath journey. Hunting dangerous prey comes with risks, and Josea is ready to step in to patch things up after tooth and claw do their business.

Raggi Half-Giant Druid from Dark Sun

Raggi feels endowed with a double purpose. He wanders the desert nurturing and healing where he can. However when he sees a sickness upon the Land he feels the heat of the desert boil forth from within him to be unleashed in cleansing fire. According to his druidic beliefs defilers and undead both need to be scoured from the land.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
The elves were the first people to harness the magics of Orea. They enjoyed a mystical capacity inherent to their nature. Some secrets gleaned from their interactions with the gods. Much was learned from the dragons and titans, who worked the powers of the cosmos before even gods walked the realms. The most easily worked by elfish affinities was the magic of the physical world, itself. The green growing things of Llyndra's care, Pehn's mastery over animals, the secrets of the elemental forces that formed creation.

When the Five Tribes of Men were brought to the world, it was the Tribe of Green that were first to establish peace and trelations with the elvish lords and lands and it was to them the first secrets of magic were shared with humanity. To these were shared the songs of the winds and rain, the cycles of the moons, the tongues of beast and bird.

These Men of the Green Tribe, revelled in, to, and with the natural world. Seeking not power over it, but the respect, vitality, and knowledge freely available and inherent to those who knew the ancient ways of connecting with it. They became as the Myrielldiin, those of the Holy [now also called, "Ancient"] Order of Mistwood - the original, most sacred, and largest wooded stronghold of the order. Those who men have come to call Druids.

By the end of the first Age Men, the most senior masters and elders among the Myrielldiin transcended this world, leaving those to whom they shared their secrets to see to the continued protection and healthy administration of the world of Orea. And this they have done, to the best of their ability, through the ages.

The Initiates of Ancient Order revere the natural world, from the plants and animals (including peoples), to the cycles of the seasons, Orea's two moons, and life/death/rebirth. They revere the sun, moons, and the turnings of the stars, the rivers and hills, the mountains, deserts, and all the lands, seas, and skies. However, the Myrielldiin hold no reverence for those personifications, those "Gods of Men," which represent those same facets of the Creation.

They can get along with the adherents and faithful of those deities, who do not hold objectionable views to the natural world. But they do not, themselves, offer worship or require the grace of those entities to work their magic. They know the hiddens ways to interact with fae, shadow, and elemental entities, but do not draw power from them, per se.

"Druidism" works spells of power -"Nature Magic"- by their secret sacred tongue, unknown to all but those intiated in the order. The forbidden language, predating humanity, so powerful and primeival as to cause madness in any uninitiated who overhear it. They channel remarkable powers from the direct forces of the world, those elemental and energetic powers ebbing and flowing around and through the material (and adjacent) planes.

Largely, druidism has been relegated to the lands between cities and large settlements, and those frontier realms more removed from the great citadels and stone cities of nations and kingdoms of Men. In the south lands abutting Mistwood, the great northern wood of the O'Douhn Duchy in the kingdom of Grinlia, and the [formerly elfin] "Green Kingdom" of Mostrial, those of the Ancient Order still command great respect and broad appreciation from the common folk and a good degree of respected (or feared) authority and counsel among the nobility.

The Holy Order of Mistwood works across the continent, commanded by their enigmatic ruling body, known only as the Grove. They hold sites in all manner of terrain as sacred, from the earliest ages of Men (and some earlier than that). These are mostly tended by the Keepers (druids of 7th level or greater). Those Initiates beneath the station of "Keeper" are subject to the directives, instruction, and machinations of those above them in a simultaneously loose but unquestioned hierarchy. Within a Keeper's site/jurisdiction, their word is sacrosanct, regardless of the level of any visiting druid save a Grove member.

All druids take a personal name after initiation. This "Green name" is most commonly a type of animal or sylvan creature, plants, or some other natural phenomenon. Other than Keepers, the Mouth of Mistwood, or the lords and ladies of the Grove, all druids are refer themselves as Brothers and Sisters with their taken Green Name: "Brother Heron," "Sister Sage," "Brother Fen," "Sister Brook," etc... The members of the Grove, the thirteen most powerful druids on Orea, are the "Lord/Lady" of one of the sacred trees, and no other druid can take/hold that name. For example, the Grove's "ruling" member, the Lord of Oaks, is the only druid who has a name referring to oak. Also, (and this is not particularly relevant to "druidism," as such, but a world/setting detail) only the Grove's spokesman in the realms of Men, "the Mouth of Mistwood," is/can be known as "Mistletoe."

The Ancient Order has moved nations, formed peace and beset wars, seen to the protection of the natural world and guardianship of communities -of human and sylvan creatures alike, aided the forces of Law and those of Chaos, promoting the Good at one time, seemingly Evil at another. All of this had been done through the ages, in the name of maintaining the Balance and the Cycle. Combined, the Balance and the Cycle, symbolized in the order's half sun/crescent moon icon, is sometimes referred to as the druidic philosophy/ideal of "the Green." All missions and concerns assigned by the Order to its agents across the realms are in the great service of "the Green," assuring the maintenance of the Balance and the Cycle...for the diminishment or offsetting of the Balance, or stagnation of the Cycle, leads only to the destruction of all Creation...and that would only be the annihilation of what is now called "druidism" and the Myrielldiin.
 
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