Is there a citable reference of druids using curved swords?

Is there a citable reference of druids using curved swords?

Pliny writes of druids using sickles to cut mistletoe,

and there are curved swords (coined Falcata in the 19th century) from the pre-Roman Iberian peninsula.

Are there any references to druids actually using these curved swords? The timing and location seems plausible, but I've not found a direct reference other than those implied by games, like Dungeons & Dragons, where the druid character class (loosely based off of Celtic/Gallic historical druids) wield (rather anachronistically) scimitars

and khopesh swords,

in what appears to be an effort to associate them with a curved sword.

This may be unanswerable since

"not one single artefact or image has been unearthed that can undoubtedly be connected with the ancient Druids." Hutton, Ronald (2009). Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain. p. 23

I did find this, but I can't read Latin. It does however have the words, druid and machaera Hispana, the latter referred to in the article on the falcata.

Thanks to the helpful comment from @Comintern, the portion that mentions the curved sword comes back from google translate as

The reason that he was angry because he allowed himself the knowledge of the means of the old fabu- 1am and take away : * Do Thou, of course, are not the one . ' * We / I * Caesar, not to recognize me , for when this was done, I was a whole . Afterwards it belonged to me, the eye in the battle of Munda, 5 , torn out , and at the head of some bones . Nor helmet if seem to recognize that . Spain is divided saber / He forbade her performances Caesar and business fields in which viripotens the cause of strife and lawsuits had been a soldier in his favor.

and the portion that mentions druids

The Germans differ much from these usages, of safety. for 20 they have neither Druids to preside over those who the things of God , nor

But there is no clear correlation between the two, nor is the translation clear enough to provide any insight.

I also found this from the Deal Warrior find, but the sword is not curved, nor does it have the characteristic hilt of the Iberian curved sword.


A contemporary reference is Pliny the Elder's account of the ritual of the oak and the mistletoe, wherein a ritual sacrifice of cattle and vegetation is conducted with a sickle.

Historically, farm implements have been a first go-to weapon option for the common folk of every continent. The sickle is no exception.


No.

Druids were part of the elite but were not typically warriors. The Deal warrior mentioned above is suggested as a Druid as the crown has been posited as a Druidic headdress and has been compared to the Roman apex worn by flamens.

In the image above the apex is the disc with spike (piece of olive branch).

There is a partial crown of similar type from Roseldorf in Austria which was found in a sanctuary along with cult items like antlers that had been modified to fit into a cult statue. Sword fittings and horse bits were also found so it can't be ruled out that the crown had no religious significance.

The Deal crown was worn bare, at least for burial, as traces of hair were found on the inside of the metal bands so it had no defensive purpose. As druids were from the noble class it makes sense they were buried with status symbols like swords, we can't know for sure. The Cavenham crowns which date to the middle of the Roman occupation are thought to be Romano-British religious headdresses.

The one of the left is similar to the "Druid" crowns and appears to incorporate an apex on top lending credence to the idea that the crown of the Deal Warrior is religious in nature.

But the question was whether Druids would have used curved swords. The standard la tene blades were straight, curved swords did exist in the Celtic world. There is the falcata from Spain and the Sica/Machaira type swords (which the falcata likely share ancestry with) from the Balkans, neither place which has furnished much if any evidence for Druids.

If the Deal Warrior is actually a Druid then it's possible evidence that they wore swords. If there was a prohibition of them having weapons then nobility aside I find it doubtful that such an anathema object would be included in the grave. So if we allow for druids and swords and assume that druids existed in all parts of the Celtic realm (something which is not certain) then eastern Celts could have had druids with curved swords like this:


Druidic Clothing and Dress

The topics of what to wear when practicing Draíocht and the equally varied topic of what the ancient Druids wore when performing ritual and ceremony is one that is often discussed among those who follow the ways of Druids. These are the beginnings of some thoughts that I have had on this topic from time to time:

The Druidic Revival concept of Druids was of men with long white beards and robes, perhaps wearing larger golden torcs or necklaces known as lunulae, and possessing a golden sickle. This approach is often ridiculed by modern scholars and some Pagans. I'm not so sure that the clothing and adornment concepts are wrong, so much as they are off in terms of style and application to the occasion.

The golden sickle was most likely a bronze one and perhaps was worked or plated with gold. Such implements were ornamented and in common use among Bronze and Iron Age Celts. There are two very nicely ornamented bronze sickles shown as line drawings in _A Social History of Ancient Ireland_ on page 273 of Volume 2 by P.W. Joyce. These are called serr or searr (sharr) in Irish, but another name is carrán (which means a reaping hook). Each of these sickles looks as if it would have been suitable for ceremonial use in gathering herbs or field work in cutting wheat and other grains. In _Forbhais Droma Dámhgháire, Seán O'Duinn translates an episode in which the great Druid Mogh Roith had a ". gray curved sword, .. bronze dagger, .. two hard five-forked spears. the hide of a brown hornless bull to cover whole surface of the chariot. " He uses this hide and "..his speckled bird-mask with its billowing wings.." to ascend clouds of smoke into the Sky to do battle with other Druids among the clouds..

It would seem that bull hides were the clothing of the day when doing battle. In _A Guide to Irish Roots_ William and Mary Durning, state,

"The druid had four ritual uniforms, each identified a different function. During religious ceremonies and advisory councils, his white robe represented purity. When acting as an observer during a battle, a bull's hide and feathered headdress were worn. In council, at banquets or when reciting the genealogies, the uniform was a coat of six colors. When acting as a judge, a collar of gold was added to the coat."

In _A Social History_ Joyce cites the Druids as wearing a white robe based on notes by Tirechan regarding Rechrad, the Druid of Amalgaid, and his eight companions who were wearing white tunics when they attempted to kill St. Patrick. He also cites Pliny remarking about the white robes and "golden sickles" of the Druids during the mistletoe ceremony.

Speckled and Multi-colored Garments

In _Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish_ Volume III by Eugene O'Curry, there is a translation of a color guide for the classes from the Book of Ballymote that says:

Now this book is a 14th century writing, though it contains traditional materials that are probably 9th century or before. The clerics mentioned are surely Christian clerics and not Druids (though I think that Druids would have worn similar clothing when they held a corresponding rank in Irish society.)

O'Curry also describes a Druid named Tulchinne. the royal Druid of Teamhair during the reign of Conaire as wearing a speckled white cloak with clasps of gold on his ears (Da Derga's Hostel). In the same work, the swineherds are said to wear green frocks and black kilts. The three judges, Echdruim, Echruid, and Echruathar are described as wearing kilts of mixed colors with silver brooches for their robes. The harpers wore light blue cloaks with gold brooches, gold ear clasps and silver torques. Da Derga is said to have worn a white shirt and a green robe.

In another place O'Curry describes the dress of the three Fili, Sui, Rosui, and Forsui, as being "three speckled cloaks. three shirts with red interweavings of gold. and three brooches of gold.."

Cathbad the Druid
From the Tain Bo Cuailgne
(Described by Fergus Mac Roth)

"There came yet another company to the mound in Slane of Meath," said Mac Roth. "A most terrible, dreadful sight to behold them. Blue and pied and green, purple, grey and white and black mantles a kingly, white-gray, broad-eyed hero in the van of that company wavy, grizzled hair upon him a blue-purple cloak about him a leaf-shaped brooch with ornamentation of gold in the cloak over his breast a shield, stoutly braced with buckles of red copper yellow sandals he wore a large, strange-fashioned sword along his shoulder. Two curly-haired, white-faced youths close by him, wearing green cloaks and purple sandals and blue tunics, and with brown shields fitted with hooks, in their hands white-hilted swords with silvered bronze ornaments they bore a broad, somewhat light countenance had one of them. One of these cunning men raises his glance to heaven and scans the clouds of the sky and bears their answer to the marvelous troop that is with him. They all lift their eyes on high and watch the clouds and work their spells against the elements, so that the elements fall to warring with each other, till they discharge rain-clouds of fire downwards on the camp and entrenchments of the men of Erin."

The Ancient Irish Color System for Clothing

The Ancient Irish had a color system for clothing (detailed later), with white being a very rare color reserved for the finest of shirts and garments. I personally think that a Druid would have had a white undergarment or long shirt and a speckled robe, that was threaded and embroidered with gold, though there is mention made of the Druid Mogh Roith wearing a brownish gray bullhide when he went into battle..

Clothing for Modern Druids

I see no reason why a modern Druid could not wear a white robe or long shirt with a speckled or tartan brat (robe or kilt) as a part of today's ceremonial garb. I'm also wondering if there might be a reason why a white shirt has long been considered to be a part of formal attire. Is it because, such a shirt must be often cleaned or new in order to not show soiling? In the past, access to such levels of cleaning must have been a mark of social standing or proper behavior, even as it is today. Let's see what else can be found through research about colors in Celtic clothing.

Research on colors in Celtic dress produced some additional information. Here are some of the quotes that were discovered. It seems that the léine or long shirt would sometimes be banded with several stripes of different colors as was the right and status of the person who wore it. Cloaks and tunics were sometimes different colors, with crimson and scarlet being favored colors of the upper classes. If one was related to a king, a Druid or a Fili, then gold or silver jewelry and ornamentation also was used. Other folks used brass and copper. The outfits were completed with the wearing of a sort of kilt that came down close to the knees. Here's the bare facts:

The Color System of Tighernmas

Tighernmas introduced the colors of yellow, green and blue to Ireland in 900 BCE (according to Lebor Gabála and Keating).

Slaves wore saffron (yellow) colored long shirts.

Druids wore white robes in ceremony, grey bull hides in battle and many speckled robes on state occasions such as banquets and court appearances.

The kings usually wore robes of crimson or red.

The foster sons of kings wore cloaks of scarlett, purple or blue.

The information above regarding Tigernmas "The Lord of Death", who introduced the colored system of clothing came from both "Irish Mythology" by Peter Beresford Ellis and "A Guide to Irish Roots" by William and Mary Durning.

According to the Cain Law, the dath was proscribed as follows: satin and scarlet for the sons of king black yellowish, grey and blay clothes for the maic na ngra'd fene. The mac in airrech, mac in airrech tuis, mac in airrech ard, mac in airrech forgill, mac in airrech rig, also had colors assigned to their cloths as well, though no mention is made of them in the Dictionary of the Irish Language (DIL).

In another reference, the following colors were prescribed for these classifications:

Other Sources About Colors in Gaelic Clothing

Only the Scottish high king could wear a purple stripe in his tartan.

The shields of the five provinces of Ireland (Leinster, Munster, Connacht, Ulster and Meath) contain the colors: red, gold, white, blue, green, black and purple.

Scottish tartans had a hierarchy of color numbers just as did the Irish.

The Scottish King could have seven colors in his tartan. All others could have only six colors. The extra color was purple. The Royal Stewart tartan contains the colors: red, yellow, white, blue, green, black and purple (very similar to the colors of the shields of the Irish provinces).

From the Tain Bo Cuailgne: (describing the cavalcade of Bodb Derg)

From "The Story of the Irish Race" by Seamus Mac Manus: (said of Tighernmas, Milesian King of Ireland)

From the Tain Bo Cuailgne: (Said of Connor Mac Nessa by the herald MacRoth)

From the Book of Ballymote: (describing Cormac Mac Art at the Feis of Tara)

Here is a description of Edain from the Tale of the Bruidean Da Dearga:

From the Book of Rights: (details of the tuarastal payable from the king to subordinate kings)

In the tale of Bruidean Da Dearga, Incel reports of Conari Mor's druith (jesters):

A description of Maine, son of Ailill and Medb:

In the "Colloquy of the Two Sages":

From the _Metrical Dindshenchas_
(referencing the cloak of Fer Berna from Brius):

The Numbers and Types of Clothing Colors

I previously mentioned that Tighernmas (900 BCE) introduced the colors saffron (yellow), blue and green to Ireland from trading with the Phoenicians. He also was said to have established the numbers and types of colors that could be worn by the different classes of Irish society. Many works define the actual number of colors for each level in Irish society, though none of these lists (in my knowledge) specifically equates these levels to particular colors. From my research, I'd like to suggest these colors for the different levels of Irish society:

This list is based on information regarding the léine, the long shirts of the Irish which preceded the belted plaid worn by the Scots, that I found in "Scottish Clans & Tartans" by Ian Grimble. The léine was said to have been "striped" and persisted into the 17th century before being replaced by kilts or "belted plaids". The class structures were mentioned in both "Celtic Myths and Legends" by T.W. Rolleston and "A Guide to Early Irish Law" by Fergus Kelly. I also got this information regarding colors from "The Sacred Cauldron" by Tadhg MacCrossan": White for truth, red for physical strength, green/blue for fertility.

According to Seán O'Tuathail from Cainteanna na Luisce, these are the symbolic color meanings:

Many Colors and Many Choices

I think that we can see from the research into the facts of colors in Celtic and Druidic clothing and ritual, that there are many choices. In my opinion, Druids selected and wore colors to appropriately indicate their role in a working. White, speckled, and black are each forms of all the colors in terms of reflection, separation and absorption, respectively. Green and brown are colors that blend into Nature. Blue, gray-green and gray are the colors of the Sky and Sea. Red is the color of blood and sacrifice. Gold is the color of the Sun and silver is the color of the Moon. I would choose the color of vestments to suit the spirit and nature of my actions today. I'd think that the Druids of yesteryear would have also chosen their colors to suit the symbolism of their workings. It is important for us, as followers of the ways of Druids in the modern world, to establish the meanings and relationships of colors and dress as we perform ritual and Druidical actions. The choice of color in clothing is a statement of meaning, style, status and intent in any Druid's ritual or actions.


Celtic Weapons and Armor

I recently received a very sweet note from a sixth grade girl named Trinity, asking for help with a project she’s doing on King Arthur. Her questions were specifically around weapons and armor and it occurred to me that I’ve never done a blog post dedicated specifically to that topic. So this is an expansion of the information I sent her. (Best of luck, Trinity!)

As with all other generalizations about the Celts, sources contradict one another and the information will vary depending on time period and place. For purposes of this post, I’m focusing on Britain during the time period of my novels, approximately 400-550 AD/CE.

Armor
The Celts wore trousers, tunics and cloaks into battle. The early Celts did not wear armor, but later on armor was most likely a leather jerkin. As time went on, some fought protected by a type a bronze plate. But it is possible they also used a type of chain mail, which the Celts actually invented. What is not known is when it stopped being used. The web site ancientmilitary.com mentions Ceannlann armor, “a layer of metal scales sewn onto linen which is in turn sown on to chain armor creating a very effective multilayer armor that could cover the entire body.” (I have not been able to back this up with other sources. If you know of any, please tell me.)

As for the tradition that they fought naked? Perhaps it was all hogwash. Maybe it was true at some point, or true of some of the tribes and not others, but from what I can tell, most of the time, they fought clothed and at least lightly armored. Given the success of the Celtic armies over the centuries, I tend to believe they used armor.

Celtic horned helmet now in the British Museum (150-50 BC: from the River Thames at Waterloo Bridge, London, England). The helmet is made from sheet bronze pieces held together with many carefully placed bronze rivets. It is decorated with the style of La Tène art used in Britain between 250 and 50 BC. Via Wikimedia Commons

As with armor, at first the Celts fought without helmets. When they did adopt them, the helmets seem to have been metal and looked a lot like a Roman’s helmet (some say the Romans intimated the Celtic helmets, others argue it was the other way around) or they may have had horns (there is one in the British Museum that has horns, but it is from the Iron Age).

They carried large shields made of wood, bronze or leather, which could have been rectangular in shape or cone-shaped with a boss in the middle meant to catch the opponent’s weapon. The shields were tall enough to cover them from the shoulder to the knee.

Weapons
The Celts’ favorite weapon was the spear. There were two kinds: a light one that they could throw like a javelin, and a heavier version that was used in close contact battle for thrusting, more like a lance. These were the weapons par excellence for most of Celtic history.

Their second favorite weapon was a sword. At least in early times, the Celtic sword probably would have been smaller than the broadswords we think of from the Middle Ages. It was likely more like the Roman short swords. As time went on, swords got longer and heavier. Alcock notes that the Irish and Picts were known to fight with extremely long (20-22 inch) double-edged swords. (He also reports that the Saxons fought with two-handed swords up to 36 inches long.) These were meant for one-handed fighting (stalling and slashing) and intimidation of your opponent. I’m no fencing expert, but it stands to reason that longer swords were less effective the closer your opponent was, given the space it took to wield them.

The Celts also fought with slings (slingshots that launched rocks and other projectiles), and bows and arrows, as well as axes and daggers. Duffy also mentions a “javelin-like weapon called a Madaris (84),” but I haven’t been able to find any additional information on that weapon.

What have your heard, read or seen about the Celts in battle? What do you think is true? What questions do you have?


Why do Druids use metal weapons but not armor?

They use scimitars, daggers, axes, crossbows and maces, but won't wear any metal. What gives?

Way back in 2E/AD&D, druid weapon options were limited to things associated with farming or similar tasks. The standard set included club, sickle, dart, spear, dagger, scimitar, sling, staff, and scythe.

"Most of the weapons permitted to druids of a particular branch resemble tools used in herding, hunting, and farming, or hold symbolic meaning to the druid. For instance, the curved scimitar and khopesh represent both the sickle used in the harvest and the crescent moon, which stands for birth, death, and rebirth in the cycle of Nature." (2nd Edition Complete Druid's Handbook)

Awesome, thank you. This is what I wanted.

I always thought the problem was physically touching metal, like a faerie touching iron. I just assumed most Druid weapons either had a wood shaft, or whatever handle they did have was covered in wood or leather. Now, obviously I wouldn't allow a Druid to put on plate armor if they wore an undershirt, but still.

I like the ⟊n't touch iron' idea as well. Very thematic.

Metal doesn't 'meld' properly when shapeshifting. It can meld into your new form's claws or horns, but not its skin or hide.

Unless you are a turtle druid. Than you can wear all the plate armor you want :)

That makes a lot of sense, actually.

It's not about using metal so much that's the problem, it's being covered in it that's the issue.

Dead things (never been alive things) vs things with a history of life/nature/natural world.

This doesn't really address why metal shields are forbidden.

Apparently, it violates a vow they took. It's never explained in any detail exactly how the metal armor violates the vow but metal weapons don't. Honestly, this is a flimsy piece of lore fluff that could benefit from some fleshing out. In my game world, the Druids wax poetic about how wearing metal "hides their hearts from Nature". It's cheesy, but at least it's something.

I've never understood why this bothers people so much. I've always thought that the taboo of metal armor was a really cool bit of D&D druid lore. Sort of like the Drow's sunlight sensitivity. Neither one is given a blanket explanation, but to me that just leaves it up to the DM to explain the origins in their world.

Perhaps the issue with both druid armor and drow sensitivity -- as well as barbarian frenzy, for that matter -- is that 5e players do not expect to receive penalties from their race and class choice.

edit: I expect this question to come up a lot more after this week, as people multiclass Life Cleric / Druid for the Disciple of Life / goodberry synergy and then feel put out that their character won't wear the heavy armor their Life Cleric deserves. One solution is to take a two level dip into Ranger rather than Druid. Then you'll get both goodberry and a fighting style Defense is a good one for a cleric.


Culture

Night elven culture has been greatly influenced by the ancient Celts. The night elves are a people who have dedicated their individual lives, as well as the very organization of their entire society, in the pursuit of the protection of the natural world. They are at one with the subtle ebb and flow of the Kalimdor forests they call home. The druids of their people spent ages walking in a spectral realm guarded by the great Green Dragon Ysera the Dreamer known as the Emerald Dream. The night elves were once immortal but after the Third War, they gave up their immortal nature to defeat Archimonde and were forced to fully rejoin the world and fight for its survival. Though the night elves venerate and honor many creatures, Moon Goddess Elune is honored above all others.

Prior to the conclusion of the Third War, night elven society was divided by gender (with many exceptions made, of course), with the majority of men being druids and the majority of women serving as highly skilled warriors, priestesses, huntresses, or a combination thereof. Γ] These roles more or less defined the culture of the kaldorei for ten thousand years. Ε] Ζ] In the years since the end of the Third War, this gender division has ended in favor of more practical concerns, Ε] setting aside its historical strictures on membership. Γ] Masses of eager, intelligent women have taken up the mantle of the druids, Ζ] just as men have begun to choose the path of priesthood and/or war and have thus affiliated with (although have not yet qualified for/been allowed to join) the sisterhood of the Sentinels. Ε] Women night elf druids have been just that- druids- and in fact very important ones as part of the Cenarion Circle since right after the end of the Third War- before it they weren't allowed to affiliate with the Cenarion Circle. Γ] Ζ]

Right now, both men and women are practicing the arts of war, healing and druidism. Their society is really a balance: a night elf man will most certainly respect a night elf woman, and she will respect him in turn, as can be seen by them calling one another brother and sister and trusting one another, almost as though all kaldorei are one family with very few exceptions. In such a culture of mutual respect and trust, it is not surprising that when the rare night elf does something significantly horrible enough to betray the trust of the people, the punishment is harsh and the trust is slow to return.

This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.

Night Elf culture continues to change and is now referred to as been in a Post-Vigil state as arcane magic usage and practice is no longer banned and the ban on The Highborne is lifted. This is in part due to the discovery of other Night Elven groups that survived the Sundering independent of the main group. One such group, the Highborne of Eldre'thalas have been accepted back into Night Elven society, but remain distinct with their own cultural values both parties have agreed they are free to live by. Despite initial distrust due to this groups particular role in the War of the Ancients and the way their behaviour since to present, they are also free to practice magic without restriction and night elves are free to learn from them. This took several weeks of negotiation Η] ⎖] . Highborne have a distinct culture to the post-vigil Night Elf culture around them.

This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.

The nature-orientated culture is not the only one amongst night elves. An alternative night elven civilization emerged from isolation in the events of World of Warcraft: Legion. The Nightborne civilization represents a strong Arcane pre-sundering Night Elven culture. These evolved night elves still carry on life in a heavily arcane influenced manner typical of all Night Elves prior to the sundering, but without the recklessness that characterized the end of Azshara's reign or her caste system - understandably as Suramar did lead the rebellion against her. They were highborne led at the time of their isolation but now simply refer to themselves as Nightborne. They appear to have nobles and non-nobles. They give the clearest picture and detail of the other side of Night Elven culture the Vigil group abandoned when they left all forms of developing civilization as we know it to carry out their sacred charge of guarding the World Tree and the secret it protected.

The fate of the Nightborne and Suramar City has not yet been determined, but the Legion walks its streets and a resistance of Nightborne and Night Elven denizens of the Broken Isles are working together to overthrow the invasion.

Possible Future Cultural Implications

It's also quite clear that after these events, Nightborne civilization will change, just as the Vigil group changed after their emergence in the 3rd War. Note that where for 10k years the Vigil group cut themselves off from making any use of the arcane via sorcery and adapted their civilization accordingly, the Nightborne civilization being preserved in an impenetrable shield has also found itself cut off from nature nearly entirely. From their history we know the night elves are linked with strong natural affinities to the arcane and nature. It is fascinating how we see two groups have developed entirely focusing on just one part of their affinity.

Understandably both have had limitations and have not recaptured the breadth and effectiveness of their former selves, but the emergence of the nightborne presents an incredible opportunity should these two groups decide to combine reuniting advanced nature expertise with advanced arcane expertise, filling the deficiencies in each others' ranks allowing them perhaps for the first time since before the sundering to have a second go of doing it all over again, but correctly, avoiding the pitfalls that led to the ruin and current predicament.

The nightborne would need allies and help with the nightwell source that in the long years of isolation, been severely restricted from Azeroth's whole by a shield, has become corrupted. It is also very interesting that Vigil group druids and priests have 10,000 years being purifying and enhancing arcane sources achieving harmony with nature by calling on the Goddess and natural citizens of the land ⎗] . Seems they have exactly what the Nightborne need, and in contrast, the post-vigil night elf group have struggled immensely against magical assault, especially those at the hands of the Blood elves, suffering great defeats in Shaland'ris Isles, Ghostlands, Azshara campaign, Desolace, something the refugee Highborne from the cataclysm were unable to prevent.

Faith

/> This section concerns content exclusive to the Warcraft RPG, and thus unlikely to be canon.

The night elves worship the Ancients, who are nature deities attuned to the forest and the hunt. Elune the moon goddess and Malorne the Waywatcher are the most prominent figures of worship. After Cenarius ' death, the night elves will never forgive the orcs for this, his children live on and gain power each passing year. The night elves venerate the children of Cenarius as he was venerated, and perhaps one day these children of the slain demigod will aid the night elves in repaying the orcs for the transgressions of the past. ⎘]

Some night elves also worship dragons. The Sect of the Dragons hosts many kaldorei adherents. It is not currently known how many kaldorei actually worship the dragons.

Languages

Night elves primarily speak Darnassian and Common. The night elves once worked with orcs to halt the Burning Legion, and now they retain knowledge of the race's language for tactical reasons. ⎙]

Animated image of Night Elf Rogue

Government

The Sisters of Elune hold by far the most power as one of a small handful of kaldorei organizations to survive the War of the Ancients , and the only one to be based upon aptitude and not lineage, they were largely responsible for the establishment of the new government after the War's conclusion. Among their early actions were to reorganize the old, class-based army into the Sentinel pattern used today, and to adjust the order's charter to include public service. The head of the Sisters would be the sole head of the night elf government.

The Cenarion Circle, then still under the direction of Cenarius himself, took no active part in governmental affairs, as their numbers included druids from several other species. Though Archdruid Stormrage did take part in the government on occasion, the druids typically remained aloof. At all times, the Sisters of Elune hold the true power. Γ]

Though Tyrande is still the undisputed and highly beloved leader of the government, the Sisters are not the only players on the field power in the night elf government today is set largely across three groups: the Sisters of Elune, the night elf faction of the Cenarion Circle, and the Sentinels. In particular, Arch-Druid Staghelm believes himself to be a much more capable leader than Tyrande, and a silent power struggle has erupted between the two leaders. Only the highest of the Sisters and druids are aware of the battle that could tear kaldorei society apart. Γ]

As of the events of Stormrage: Malfurion Stormrage has returned and Arch-Druid Staghelm is no longer with the Night Elves. Tyrande and Malfurion have wed and together now lead the Night Elves of the Alliance. Malfurion Stormrage continues also in an independent capacity as the head of the Cenarion Circle.

This section concerns content exclusive to Cataclysm.

The Highborne group are led by Archmage Mordant Evenshade. Night Elf post-vigil rule is not a dictatorship, decisions made concerning the Highborne are done with mutual agreement on both sides. The Highborne seek to reclaim their City and restore it to the great bastion of Arcana it once was.

This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.

The Nightborne group are independent of the Vigil group currently and are led by Grand Magistrix Elisande, a war hero turned traitor now for aligning with the Burning Legion. A resistance movement led by second in command First Arcanist Thalyssra works to overthrow her and drive out the Legion. Arcanist Thalyssra has offered sanctuary and care for both Nightborne and Night Elven refugees of the current conflict and together with the help of adventurers are taking back the Night Elven home.

Suramar City is where the majority of all current Night Elves and all Nightborne originate from.

Technology

Night elves rely on their magic and the benefits of the natural world around them to maintain their society. Their magic is druidic in nature and flows straight from the natural world. They use this magic and their affinity for nature to shape the trees and stone and make friends with the animals around them. It is with these skills rather than engineering, steam power, or metalcraft that they survive.

While they cultivate a relatively low-tech society, when compared to those of the dwarves or gnomes, they seem to have been able to create some relatively simple mechanical weaponry, such as the large glaive Thrower, a mechanical siege weapon, which they developed during their period of isolation from other races. Though the night elves obviously have metallurgical skills (the aforementioned glaives don't forge themselves), there is only one anvil and forge present in Darnassus or on Teldrassil. This is found on the right hand side of the ramp (coming from the bank) leading up to warriors terrace. There are likely other forges in ancient kaldorei lands and the reason kaldorei choose Darnassus/Teldrassil to not host major/many forges is because of basic intelligence: Darnassus is a tree, on a tree, and that tree is Teldrassil. Wood and fire do not mix well and the peoples of the alliance have long been trading with one another, no matter what their opinions might be of one another, trade seems to continue. though the night elves are without a doubt the most self-sufficient of all the races native to Azeroth.

As the city of Darnassus exemplifies, the night elves are skilled at building and stonecraft. These skills probably date from before the War of the Ancients, when the kaldorei were more "traditional" in terms of technology. It should be noted that their lifestyle is not "anti-technology," but rather one where technology is not the goal.

Architecture

Night elf structural architecture is based on the Norse. Night elven architecture can be seen almost everywhere in Kalimdor, with their beautiful ruins all over the land. Darnassus is a perfect example of their unique style. The temple of the moon,

and the bridges that lay over the lake are showing the elves excellence in stonecrafting. Their style of architecture is a mix of Byzantine classicism to ancient Greek and Nordic pagodas. They build their pagoda-like wooden buildings around tall trees, but in places where that is not possible, the houses are on the ground.

This section concerns content exclusive to Legion.

Post-Vigil Night Elf group have only recently for the first time started building homes and cities since the destruction of their civilization during the Great Sundering. For 10,000 years the village of Moonglade was the capital as the night elves lived in harmony with land focused only on their sacred duty of vigil, and not concerned with rebuilding their ruined cities. Since coming out of isolation, now the Long Vigil has ended, Darnassus is the first attempt for 10,000 years.

For more information on pre-sundering Night Elf architecture, see Suramar City. It stands as the only non-ruined Night Elf city from before the Sundering with distinct architecture. It is worth noting that Thalassian structures are also derived from this, as the High Elves though changing much about their former night elven nature, are still based off of them. Quel'thalas bore the cities of Quel'danis and Silvermoon.

Other more-intact ancient Night Elf ruined cities are Eldre'thalas commonly known as Dire Maul and Vashj'ir, the Sunken City.

The Art of War

Rather than drawing from the chaotic and darker side of magic, theirs is pulled from Azeroth itself. Stone, root, flora and fauna all are avenues through which their magic travels. Druids are able to change into animal forms, snare their foes with roots or harden their skin like tree bark.

Their warriors are not to be taken lightly either. The night elves are among the most deadly adversaries to be found anywhere, due to a combination of their proficient skill with a bow, their stunning agility, and the ability to melt away into the shadows of the night. Few use common weapons such as swords, most preferring the mighty glaives (triple-bladed swords) they have grown accustomed to. War panthers, hippogryphs and even the mighty chimaeras and mountain giants have all been known to aid the night elves in battle.

For ten thousand years, all night elven war and "foreign policy" has been based solely on the safety of Ashenvale Forest and Mount Hyjal from outside incursion. The Sentinels, hidden safely among Ashenvale's leafy trees, effectively sealed off the region from unwanted interference for ten millennia. The Sentinel's method of deterrence was successful until the invasion of the Legion-endorsed Scourge at which point the night elves were forced to awaken the Druids and accept aid from the Alliance and the Horde.

Night elven society has changed since the battle of Mount Hyjal, and the Sentinels now function in an entirely different manner. As the Burning Legion threat has been averted, at least for now, the night elves are no longer considered in a state of war. However, many Sentinels and druids have begun to hunt down and kill Warsong Orcs, as a result of their operations in Ashenvale, and the death of Cenarius. Α]


Since the fantasy sword list seems useful, you guys may also be interested in the guide I made for historical swords.

The other list I made, admittedly has IP like hobbit and LOTR which works great for DnD settings but whenever I am world building or drawing characters I do take queues from history, so hopefully this will help someone as well.

These swords were all drawn from actual examples in museums, castles, personal collections, or at auction. They are meant to be reasonably representative for each sword “family” but admittedly they can cover hundreds of years across many countries so it is still a bit limited in generalization.

I’m happy to answer any sword related questions.

I reposted it so thank you for the content and great job!

Which list would something like ysgramors battleaxe or a khopesh be on?

Where is the fantasy one? Id love to see it!

I know these thanks to forged in fire lol

Yeah I wasn’t expecting to know so many of these but I learned it from watching a lot of shows like that

I do love the commitment to accuracy here, I've seen a lot of graphics like this with completely fictional designs on them. Also great to see a couple good historical Dao.

Now, if I could get this in chronological order, with the most popular armour at the same time and area. I would be so happy :)

The swords are in approximately chronological order, going from older to more recent from top to bottom.

I also grouped them by area of the world (ish). But with swords, they could made in one place and sold or traded across the continent to be hilted and used locally, so placing a sword as from “one country” or area could be problematic depending on the time period.

German bladed were used in Ireland, India, Morocco, Poland and beyond, right next to native swords.

If you would like to see the armor history of a certain area I can see if I can help you out.

Tell me what weapon and period and I can tell you what armor!

This is wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to make this. My one critique is that the sword on the right labeled “Two Handed Sword” is more accurately called a Highland Claymore, aside from that it’s quite lovely.

Would you maybe consider making one that was just a really long picture of all the swords arrayed chronologically and aligned at the cross guard to give the best comparison of blade length? And if not, might I have your permission to go ahead and do that myself? I think it could be a useful tool for world building.

The Highland twohanders have indeed been called Claymores by institutes of great repute, and I debated using that label just out of name recognition. But sword terminology is a fluid thing, and if we want to be faithful to history, Claymore was not used as a name in period. It was used eventually for the Basket Hilted broadsword (while they were still in use). Leading to this sort of distinction in Gaelic:

Claymore
Hilted Sword
From the Gaelic Claidheamh-mór – great sword
Pronounced ‘Clayav Mor’
Used in the Jacobite era

Two-Handed Sword or Long Sword
Claidheamh dà làimh to – two-handed sword
Pronounced ‘Clayav da lav’
Quarterfoil design
Two handed medieval sword used between 1400 to 1600 with some smaller version used before this time

Just like Rapier means different weapons to different people at different times, "Great Sword" in Gaelic ended up referring to a couple different blades, but was never used in period for the large sword.

As to reorganizing the picture, if you need them lined up by hilt, it could be done. The dates of many of the swords overlap so I'm not sure exactly how much better they could be set chronologically. A couple of them may be out of order, but in general they go oldest to newer, top to bottom, and are separated by culture.


Bludgeoning weapons

Flanged mace. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A club is a club is a club. Well, maybe. It’s true a mace is basically a club with a metal head, but sometimes a mace will have a metal shaft as well, and there are some cases of a mace’s head being made of some other material, such as stone or hardened wood, etc. Then there is the morningstar, basically a mace with spikes sticking out of the head, but there are plenty of other bludgeoning weapons which fall into the mace or club category. Let us not forget the flail, for instance.

Historically there is sometimes a distinction made between a footman’s and a horseman’s bludgeoning weapon. Typically a horseman’s mace is shorter and a footman’s mace is longer. Whether or not this leads to any mechanical differences within the game, that’s up to your DM and your own imagination.


Contents

Meliodas Edit

Elizabeth Liones Edit

Hawk Edit

The Seven Deadly Sins ( 七つの大罪 , Nanatsu no Taizai ) were the strongest and cruelest order of Holy Knights in the kingdom, formed by Meliodas and six other brutal criminals from various races who were branded symbols of beasts to symbolize the sin that motivated their crimes. Each of the members of the group had the highest Holy Knight ranking, Diamond. They were branded as traitors to Britannia, having allegedly abetted the assassination of the Great Holy Knight Zaratras. The Deadly Sins are eventually absolved of their crimes after liberating Liones from rule of the Holy Knights.

Diane Edit

King Edit

Gowther Edit

Merlin Edit

Escanor Edit

The Four Knights of the Apocalypse ( 黙示録の四騎士 , Mokushiroku no Yonkishi ) are an order of Holy Knights that serve as the protagonists of the sequel series. Each described to possess unique powers, the Four Knights were prophecized by King Arthur Pendragon to be destined to bring destruction to the world.

Percival Edit

The Liones Kingdom is the setting for most of the story with its Holy Knights ( 聖騎士 , Seikishi ) being among the most powerful knight orders in Britannia. Sometime before the beginning of the series, via the machinations of the demon Fraudrin, Hendrickson orchestrates a coup d'état and takes control of Liones. This caused the kingdom to fall into a state of distress as citizens from towns and villages surrounding the kingdom were enslaved or forcefully recruited into joining the Holy Knights in preparation for a Holy War. Under the rule of the Holy Knights, death was the penalty for insubordination. Following Hendrickson's defeat and Dreyfus's disappearance, Baltra pardoned most of the knights as he preferred they atone for their actions.

Liones Royal Family Edit

Holy Knights Edit

Weird Fangs Edit

The Weird Fangs ( 不気味な牙(ウィアード・ファング) , Wiādo Fangu) are Holy Knights in charge of Baste Prison ( バステ監獄 , Basute Kangoku) , who aided in the capture of Ban whom they kept prisoner there. Following the destruction of Baste Prison, the surviving Weird Fangs leave Liones before later returning, only to learn of the chaos that occurred in their absence.

Roar of Dawn Edit

Roar of Dawn ( 暁闇の咆哮(ドーン・ロアー) , Gyōan no Hōkō(Dōn Roā), "Dawn Roar" in manga) are a group of independent Holy Knights known for their tenacity to see their missions through to the very end. They first encounter the Deadly Sins while tasked with decapitating the Armoured Giant and bringing his head to Helbram, with Gowther ending the conflict peacefully. The group later dwindles to two members after the other three were killed by Fraudin while escorting Dreyfus to prison.

Pleiades of the Azure Sky Edit

The Kingdom of Camelot ( キャメロット , Kyamerotto) is the newly established kingdom in the southern regions of Britannia, ruled by Arthur Pendragon with Merlin as his advisor. Though Camelot was taken over by Zeldris and later destroyed during the battle between the Seven Deadly Sins and the Demon King, Arthur uses his gained powers as the Chaos King to rebuild Camelot as an "everlasting kingdom".

Arthur Pendragon Edit

Pellegarde Edit

The Demons clan are a race of humanoid beings who were at odds with the Goddess race 3,000 years ago until Meliodas' actions caused his people to wage war against the Goddesses and Stigma, an alliance of the Human, Giant, Fairy races. The demons were sealed away, only to be released into Britannia through the machinations of the demon Fraudrin. The high-ranking Demons possess seven hearts, making them difficult to kill.

The Demon King Edit

The Demon King ( 魔神王 , Majin-ō) is the ruler of the Demon Clan, and being the father of Meliodas and Zeldris as well as the one who cursed Elizabeth with reincarnation. Like the Supreme Deity, he was created by the entity Chaos whom they sealed away. [ch. 337] Due to his power being potent enough to wipe out Britannia, he is physically forced to remain in Purgatory. He is also the creator and leader of the Ten Commandments, handpicking its members and granted them their Commandments to condition them as potential vessels to transfer his spirit once one among them absorbed all the Commandment sigils. [vol. 36] During the New Holy War, the Demon King manages to possess Meliodas when he absorbed the Commandments and engages his son in the metaphysical battle while battling his comrades and mortally wounding Zeldris. Though purged from Meliodas, the Demon King's spirit was able to take over Zeldris's body with Cusack's help before engaging the Seven Deadly Sins in an epic battle. [vol. 37-39] The Demon King is eventually exorcised from Zeldris, forcing the entity to create a body from the surrounding countryside before Meliodas destroys his father for good. [ch. 332] However, the Demon King's death causes an imbalance that weakened the seal he and the Supreme Deity placed on Chaos. [ch. 337]

The Ten Commandments Edit

Ten elite demons selected personally by the Demon King, they were originally led by Meliodas 3000 years prior before he fell in love with Elizabeth, which caused the Holy War. Each of the Ten Commandments can make use of a curse which plays on the virtue that they represent. The Commandments are named after virtues they are branded with, later revealed to be fragments of the Demon King's soul, which play on the nature of their curses. A commandment's sigil passes to whomever defeats the current holder or receives it willingly, with the one who possesses all ten sigils gaining power equal to the Demon King's yet subject to becoming his vessel. [vol. 36] The Commandment sigils are eventually destroyed when Meliodas permanently destroys the Demon King. [ch. 332]

Original Demon Edit

Original Demon ( 原初の魔神 , Gensho no Majin) is a centaur-like demon that Demon King had created as his adviser and ended up splitting into two separate beings as punishment for attempting to overthrow him during a revolt. [vol. 35] The two halves of the Original Demons, Chandler and Cusack, are instilled with the need to mentor the Demon King's sons Meliodas and Zeldris as the Demon King's heirs with both unaware of how the succession works. The Original Demon is briefly restored during the New Holy War when Chandler and Cusack regain memories of their original self, before Mael's attack splintered him back into two components. [vol. 35, 37]

Lower Class Demons Edit

The Vampires of Edinburgh Edit

A Vampire Clan who had a treaty with the Demon Clan, but were sealed in a sarcophagus by the Demon Zeldris 3000 years prior, and 12 years prior to the inception of the story, they broke their seal and took over the Kingdom of Edinburgh, killing all of its inhabitants or turning them into vampires, including the Holy Knights. Since their presence threatened Liones and all of Britannia, The Seven Deadly Sins were sent to deal with them. It turns out that it was the Vampire King Izraf who broke the treaty by rebelling against the Demon Clan and Zeldris was intended to be the executioner, but instead, he sealed them since he was in love with the Royal Vampire Gelda ( Voiced by: Yuko Kaida ).

One of the five races of Britannia that are Demon Race's equals and are led by the Supreme Deity, a being created by Chaos alongside the Demon King before they sealed their creator away. [ch. 337] Three millennia ago, as a result of Elizabeth falling in love with Meliodas, the Goddess Race declared war on the Demon with support from the humans, the giants, and the fairies. Though they won the war by using the Coffin of Eternal after the demon mage Gowther altered their memories that Mael was killed, the Supreme Deity was sealed away while the other members of the Goddess Race lose their physical forms. Following the return of the Demons, members of the Goddess Race begin to resurface and gather for a new Holy War.


Druid's Conclave: The Hivemaster

This is going to be an ongoing series detailing nature-types and how you can use them to spice up your games!

The Hivemaster Druid lives to foster insect and arachnid life wherever it exists. Most see themselves as outsiders in the Order, relegated to the mead/cider farms or wax-works run by allies of the Order (or worse - pest control), but they provide a vital guardianship for the most fragile, and necessary, elements of any ecosystem - the insects and arachnids. Without them, life stops. The Hivemaster Druids are zealous, intractable, and prone to speech-making, and while most have a close relationship with an area's population (unlike a lot of the other archetypes), they are not always seen as a wise and stabilizing force. The Hivemaster's role in a community is varied and unique, and as such, they do not travel as much as other Druids, tending to stick to one populated area and dividing their time between all villages, hamlets, towns and cities found within.

There are 4 known insects that make hives - the bee, the ant, the wasp, and the termite. The way these creatures survive informs all of the virtues that a Hivemaster holds dear - cooperation, diligence, patience, and determination. The Hivemaster sees the Hive as the ultimate expression of Nature working perfectly, and as a result, many model themselves to mimic these qualities. Though they are strongly opinionated on the qualities of these virtues when explaining to a local about why their lives are so chaotic and sorrowful, they are rarely prone to grabbing power for themselves - even though many consider themselves superior to any current ruler who doesn't espouse the same virtues as the Hive.

Arachnids and other insects, numerous they may be, are respected and preserved whenever possible, but it is the Hive that truly drives the Druid. They will foster hive-life within their territory, insomuch as they fit into the ecosystem, and will ensure that the hives are allowed to live out their natural lifespans, free from outside scavengers (like honey thieves). Insect life is fleeting and sacrificial by its very nature. The roles they play are meant to drive the quick and day-to-day web of life. Insects devour the dead, convert the rotting, and are themselves devoured in turn. A Hivemaster is not sentimental, even more so than the other archetypes, they understand the short nature of life, and can be seen as cold to the communities they serve. In times of disease or other catastrophe, a Hivemaster often has no words of comfort for the bereaved, believing that all have played their role in preserving the Balance.

However, every Hivemaster celebrates the life that we are given in countless ways. The natural products provided by bees alone are traded and gifted to those who need and want them, and the Druid ensures that the quality of these natural gifts is always of the highest standard. To farm these products, a Hivemaster needs to be skilled in gardening, insect husbandry, woodworking, wax-working, beer and wine making, and even cooking since fruit trees and beehives do so well together. A working hive setup can produce a lot of useful products, and Hivemaster communities tend to attract Chandlers, Brewers and Vintners. This, in turn, creates wealth for the community, but sometimes this can upset the balance of the Hivemaster's goals, and oftentimes they are forced to deny the Hive products to the voracious maw of commerce. This has caused much havoc in the past, and while the Order does not like upheaval, each Druid is free to pursue the Balance however they see fit, in most cases, and the Order does not interfere.

Some Hivemasters do travel, however, since bees are a vital part of the pollination process, a traveling Hivemaster will visit hamlets (villages with orchards) on a "tour" each year, ensuring that the agriculture of an area stays healthy. Some travel with arachnid "shows", educating the population on the virtues of their ecological niche. Some act as "pest control" and prune populations back to a sustainable level, sometimes eradicating millions of insects in the process. Hivemasters are the only druid archetype who understands that the charges they protect and nurture are often prone to ecological disaster-scenarios, where the population grows exponentially and threatens the whole web of life. They are masters of poisons, traps, baits, and flame. These are their tools as well as ice, acids, and straight force, Hivemaster tend to pack a more potent magical punch when it comes to selecting spells.

Among the more "utility-type" spells, there are some differences with a Hivemaster. For example, Animal Friendship, Speak With Animals, and Summon Animals will effect insects, giant insects, or arachnids only. Hivemasters roll with Disadvantage when using animal skills on non insects/arachnids.

When using wildshape, a Hivemaster can assume a giant bee, a giant spider, or a giant ant instead of the other choices (bird, mammal, reptile).

The other spells favored by Hivemasters are Sleep, Giant Insect and Insect Swarm, and these last two function as if the Druid were 2 levels higher. Fog Cloud can be modified by a Hivemaster to become a wood-smoke cloud, but only if working to control insects. Smoke affects bees by tricking them into thinking a fire is nearby, forcing them to gorge on honey and then become docile because they overate, and smoke interrupts/blocks the Alarm pheremone common to the species. This allows a Hivemaster to move and interact with them without being swarmed and stung.

Hivemasters gain a Resistance to insect/arachnid poisons and can pass through Web spells as if they were not there.

Toddle Angre: This Human Hivemaster lives and works near a bustling hamlet near a trade road. His honey and wax products are quite popular, and this has increased the demand for them. He has doubled the number of working hives and has taken on 3 apprentices, but this is still not enough. Discouraged, he is considering packing up and moving somewhere else, but he is loathe to leave his insects behind. His dedication to the Order is absolute, but his zealotry for beekeeping is causing him stress from the dichotomy.

Zorba Rune: This Elven Hivemaster had her hives and webs destroyed by marauders, and now she is on the verge of becoming an Avenger Druid. She hunts and lives as the bees and spiders do - with ferociousness and relentless aggression. Her anger has caused her to tip the Balance out of whack in a number of places, and the Order has had to clean up her messes (if you call burning a village of 300 to the ground a "mess") and all Druids have been given the task of reporting to the Order if she is spotted. Her one saving trait is that she cannot bring herself to sacrifice her insects and arachnids in battle (making Giant ones are a favorite pastime), and so she is waging this war alone and it is starting to take its toll on her.

Hickander Maplebranch: This Gnomish Hivemaster is a traveler - going from village to hamlet to town to village, he gives educational classes to the youth and curious about bees and termites with several mockups and practical demonstrations (including some magical spells for effect and examples). He gives all his wealth away, confident that Nature's gifts will provide. A trusting and open sort, he believes the Order should use its power to tip the scales of Balance towards a more harmonious existence with humanoids, and away from the stern and unforgiving "justice" that the Order metes out.

The party receives a letter from an old Druid ally who has joined the Order as a Hivemaster. The Druid begs for aid, as their beekeeping farm has become corrupted and Giant Bees and Wasps are now running amok, killing livestock and the local populace. A corrupted Druid, and enemy to the party's ally, is behind the events.

The party finds themselves in a deep wood, among huge spiderwebs. The party gets ambushed by Giant Spiders, but before the encounter ends, a Hivemaster shows up, angry and threatening the party for killing his "pets". The Druid calls for Giant Insect reinforcements and bullies the party into leaving the wood. If left unchecked, this Hivemaster's arachnids will eventually populate the entire forest.

While visiting a village, the party is offered honey at the Tavern, and told its local. If the party eats some, they become sickened and begin to suffer strange transformations - bee wings, antennae, and eventually a stinger. If the party does not eat the honey, they see the villagers undergo the same transformations. Told that a local Hivemaster has gone missing, the party will find the Druid, dead, and the trappings of a ritual that appears to have killed the Druid. Revenge or a curse, the party does not know, but time is running out before the transformations are permanent.

A series of Giant Termite mounds begin appearing in local farmland, and the villagers are in a panic as the insects have begun devouring houses and local businesses. All attempts to drive the termites off have failed, and when the party arrives, the villagers are holed up in the local Mill - the only stone building in town. The villagers explain that their local Druid was driven off, accussed of a crime it was later discovered they didn't commit. If the party searches, the Druid has taken up residence in a nearby wood, but refuses to help the villagers who betrayed him. He offers no advice and no explanation as to the termite phenomenon, but knows that it is the result of a Hag's curse.

The party is contacted by a local Hivemaster who asks for aid in destroying a series of Giant Wasps nests in the area. The wasps have been killing locals and are breeding in numbers. The creatures have been naturally warped by a font of raw dweomer deep underground, its "vapors" seeping to the surface and causing strange mutations (and not just among the wasps).

An angry Hivemaster has decided to punish a local Elven village for defying their orders to slow their breeding down. The Druid has been casting Insect Swarm every day and harassing the colony. The Elves are at their wit's end and beg the party for aid. If the party confronts the Druid, the Hivemaster will show incontrovertible proof that the Elven presence is going to disrupt the local ecology, sending ripples throughout the web of life that will eventually result in this entire area becoming a wasteland.

Massive thanks to /u/Zweefer for schooling my non-beekeeping ass. For what's right, thank him, for what's wrong, blame me.


Druids: Branches, Orders and The Shadow Circle

Druids are great! One of my favorite classes. Been playing them for years and years. I'm not a huge fan of the limited archetypes in 5e though.

2e had a great mechanic. They were called Kits, and they were roleplaying paths with some minor mechanics tacked on. They were, in short, amazing.

There doesn't seem to be any difference in the branches of 5e Druids. A Druid from the forest is pretty much the same as a Druid from the swamp.

This post aims to provide some new ways of creating NPC Druids, to give your games some more, much needed, flavor by shamelessly plundering the past (with a few of my own ideas thrown in for good measure).

Arctic - Arctic druids feel at home on the frozen polar tundra or on the slopes of snow-capped mountains and ancient glaciers. They even venture at times across lifeless ice fields to assist lost animals. If an Ice Age took place in the distant past, Arctic Druids may very well claim to belong to the oldest druidic branch, tracing their ancestry all the way back to the days when humans huddled within caves. Arctic Druids concern themselves more with animals than with plants. Guardians of caribou herds, penguins, auks, seals, polar bears, and other arctic and subarctic animals, they relentlessly pursues those who exploit animals out of desire for profit. However, they faithfully befriends hunters and trappers who respect the land and take from it no more than they need.

Holy Symbol and Grove: Arctic Druids use, as their holy symbol a bone of an arctic animal that has been carved into the shape of a knife, whistle, flute, or other instrument. If the Druid dwells beyond the arctic tree line, he chooses as his "grove"--usually near a glacier--an ancient cave whose walls are covered with prehistoric paintings of animals.

Desert - The deserts prove as inhospitable to most normal plant and animal life as the arctic regions. However, deserts remain vital to the worldwide order of Druids. Desert Druids are either members of native nomad tribes or hermits who have moved to the desert to escape civilization. Valued for their abilities to heal sick animals (and people) and to find or create pure water, they normally remain on good terms with desert nomads. Although Desert Druids revere all the flora and fauna of a desert, from cacti and scorpions to vultures and camels, they most fiercely protect the few fertile oases, which house their sacred groves. Desert Druids also may reside in semi-desert areas, hot scrub lands, and chaparral. Unless a DM sets a campaign in actual desert land, this branch best suits an NPC the party may encounter traveling through the wastes. Many Desert Druids live as hermits, not fond of disturbances, and can be short tempered or downright eccentric. However, no one can top their knowledge of their own desert area. If a party seeks something in the trackless wastes or finds itself lost, facing a sandstorm, or running out of food or water, a chance encounter with a Desert Druid may spell salvation.

Holy Symbol and Grove: A desert druid's grove normally lies within a beautiful oasis in the deep desert. Branch members use as their holy symbol a vial of water from a sacred oasis, filled under a full moon.

Grey - The rare Grey Druids inhabit and tend the shadowy realms of the hidden life that exists without sunlight--fungi, molds, and slimes--and the nocturnal creatures that dwell in lightless, subterranean realms. Grey Druids are more closely associated with the earth than with other elements of Nature. While many of them live in underground caves or ruins (especially in the Underdark), they are found any place fungal life grows abundantly, either above or below ground. Grey Druids tend to oppose dungeon delvers, especially dwarves, who they believe defile and exploit the underground environment. They have very good relations with deep gnomes and passable relations with drow, who they feel show more appreciation of the beauty of the Underdark than most dwarves or men. But the Grey Druids don't always oppose surface dwellers. Suppose a maze of caverns has developed a complex ecology: fungi, slimes, rust monsters, subterranean lizards, purple worms, and so on. Then an evil wizard and his ogres move in and begin "clearing" the caverns, destroying the monsters in preparation to establish an underground stronghold. In this situation, the Grey Druid might recruit a party of adventurers--not to loot the caverns (though the PCs may take the wizard's treasure) but to defeat the wizard's forces--and in so doing, save the local ecology from destruction.

Holy Symbol and Grove: Grey Druids use a puffball mushroom grown and harvested in complete darkness as their holy symbol. They usually take part of an underground cavern--a thriving subterranean ecosystem--for a grove.

Forest - The Forest Druid serves as the guardian of both the great forests of the wilderness and the smaller woodlands and orchards that lie next to cultivated fields in flat lands, rolling plains, or wooded hills. Forest Druids hold trees (especially ash and oak) sacred and never destroy woodlands or crops, no matter what the situation (although a Druid could act to change the nature of a wood enchanted with evil, for instance, without destroying it). The Forest Druid acts as a living bridge between the wilderness and those humans--such as hunters, loggers and trappers--who dwell on its borders.

Holy Symbol and Grove: The grove of a forest druid is just that: a stand of hallowed trees. Druids of this branch generally use mistletoe as a holy symbol. For full effectiveness, they must gather the mistletoe by the light of the full moon using a golden or silver sickle specially made for this task.

Jungle - The protectors of tropical rain forests, Jungle Druids usually grow up in tribes, as jungle pests, vegetation, and climate discourage farming, herding, and city-building. Because most tribal members live closely attuned to the natural world, Jungle Druids have a greater likelihood of involving themselves directly in the affairs of humans than other druids might. In fact, a Jungle Druid usually holds a position of power and respect, wielding great political authority. However, Jungle Druids do not associate themselves with a particular tribe or people, as do most tribal priests or witch doctors. Instead, they adopt a neutral position, mediating inter-tribal feuds and handling relations between human tribes and jungle-dwelling humanoids, demihumans, or intelligent monsters. In some cases, a Great Druid becomes a virtual "king of the jungle," wielding power over a coalition of several tribes, nonhumans, and animals.

Holy Symbol and Grove: The jungle druid uses a tom-tom (jungle drum) as a holy symbol. Constructing a replacement takes two weeks. The grove is usually a circle of trees, often near a waterfall.

Mountain - The Mountain Druid dwells in areas of rugged hills, alpine forests, and peaks and rocks above the tree line. Members of this branch wield over their environments a power gained from the element of earth and especially from stone. They also draw power from the weather, especially storms and clouds. Mountain Druids protect mountains and alpine flora and fauna from those who would exploit them. This role frequently brings them into conflict with miners, especially dwarves. Mountain Druids often ally themselves with storm and stone giants, which further angers dwarves.

Holy Symbol and Grove: The Mountain Druid uses an eagle feather as a holy symbol. The grove of a Mountain Druid usually lies in the higher elevations, often a glade near a beautiful waterfall on a slope or an ancient circle of standing stones on a peak.

Plains - The Plains Druid lives on open grasslands with few or no trees: temperate prairies and pampas, hot veldt and savannas, cool steppes, and the like. They often find themselves in the company of nomadic hunters and herders. Their powers and interests resemble those of a forest druid, but they has a closer interest in the weather and the health of great herds roaming their lands than in trees and crops. Second only to the forest branch, Plains Druids remain among the most common and best known of all druids.

Holy Symbol and Grove: Plains druids typically wear their holy symbol: a diadem or arm band woven from prairie grass under a full moon. They often choose as their grove a circle of standing stones on the open grass.

Swamp - The Swamp Druid's role centers around guarding marshes, fens, bogs, wetlands, and swamps, as well as the abundant plant and animal life within them. Most Swamp Druid's particular habitat makes them less socially acceptable. They oppose anyone who would drain the swamp in the name of "progress," even if such land were needed for farming or urban construction. Swamp Druids often live as hermits the more sociable among them sometimes serve as priests for outlaws hiding in the swamps or for lizard men who lack their own shamans.

Holy Symbol and Grove: The grove usually lies deep within a marsh or swamp- -a stand of beautiful mangroves, weeping willows, swamp oak, or the like. Many groves are actually islands, sometimes guarded by natural traps such as quicksand. A Swamp Druid uses as a holy symbol a vial of water from a sacred swamp grove.

Urban - The Urban Druid's role is to protect the natural places of an large urban centers. Parks, gardens, cemeteries, or even nearby farmland could all be considered worthy of protection from an Urban Druid. They can find their way through the most tangled of streets and alleyways - street level, rooftop, or sewer, its all the same to the Druid. Their companions are the rat, the roach, the pigeon, and the stray dogs and cats that roam the feral streets. They commune with weeds and potted plants, with moss and hedges in formal gardens. They are highly sought after for cures to combat urban diseases that run like wildfire in crowded populations.

Holy Symbol and Grove: The Druid will usually choose a park or a garden as a sacred space. Some place with wildlife, water and plants are vital. An Urban Druid usually uses a chunk of brick or stone blessed in the full moonlight as a holy symbol.

Adviser - They can act as counselor to a ruler-- perhaps a local knight or a high king. Think of Merlin, whom older tales cast as a druid. An Adviser tries to make himself indispensable to his lord. An Adviser can use his "eyes in the wilderness" to provide his master with timely and vital information. At the same time, the druid subtly manipulates his master to serve his own ends. For example, An Adviser might encourage his lord to hunt in a beautiful forest the druid wishes to protect. Why? Because the Druid knows the lord is a jealous man. Once he sees the beautiful forest and its fine animals, the lord will pass a law making the forest a royal game preserve. As a result, the lord's foresters will keep poachers away and prevent peasants from cutting the trees down. The ruler and his courtiers will hunt there only once or twice a year'not enough to threaten the animals seriously. For similar reasons, a Druidic Adviser might take over part of the education of the lord's children, ostensibly to teach them herb lore, history, survival, and similar skills. Actually, he uses the opportunity to instill in them a respect for Nature and the neutral world view--and perhaps encourage them to become Druids when they grow up.

Role: An Adviser is usually a man of subtlety and mystery. He rarely speaks unless he has something important to say, and he always thinks carefully before he says it. While not a fixture at his lord's court, he keeps an eye on things from a distance, often using animals to observe the ruler. He tends to pop up when most needed or least expected, stay a day or a month, then vanish into the wilds. Always hungry for information, an Adviser often roams the land disguised as a common traveler (or, at high level, in animal form), listening to the gossip of peasants, traders, and innkeepers to better serve his own interests and those of his lord. As a PC, he carefully considers the purpose and long-term ramifications of each adventure and insists on careful preparation and information gathering before taking action.

Avenger - The Avenger Druid has seen Nature suffer great wrongs. Maybe the Avenger had hoped to live as a Guardian or Village Druid (listed later in this list). However, during his training, forces defiled the area under his protection and slew his mentor. Maybe he feels he was too gentle, too weak. It doesn't matter. He won't let it happen again. The Avenger no longer holds the defensive. Instead, he roams the world seeking wrongs to right and foes to fight. And whether his opponent is a brutal king cutting down an ancient forest to build a fleet of war galleys, or an evil vampire menacing a peaceful halfling village, the Avenger acts to stop him. Permanently.

Role: This Druid is a grim, strong, and silent warrior of the wilds. He has little time for anything but his mission, although he's as patient as a spider when it serves his plans. A loner, he avoids love or friendship, fearing either could compromise his mission if he associates with a party of adventurers, he treats them as allies, but not as friends. The Avenger rarely speaks more than absolutely necessary to humans and most demihumans (although he may talk to animals or sylvan races like wood elves). He doesn't bother to explain or justify his actions. The Avenger dislikes remaining in one place, and frequently moves on after finishing a particular job.

Beastfriend - A deep--perhaps instinctive--knowledge of the habits, actions, and behavior of animals comes naturally to a Beastfriend. A typical Beastfriend Druid feels quite protective of animals and fiercely punishes those who inflict unnecessary harm upon them. She has nothing against people hunting for food (which, after all, animals also do) but considers hunting for sport repugnant and the use of animals in gladiatorial games a horrible crime.

Role: A Beastfriend spends most of her time in the company of animals. In fact, she lives so much of her life around animals that sometimes she lacks social graces among humans. Many Beastfriends are gruff and hostile, preferring the company of honest natural creatures to deceitful humans, demihumans, and humanoids others like people, but feel shy or tongue-tied around them and sometimes behave with poor manners. Beastfriends usually travels with one or more animal companions to whom she feels especially devoted

Guardian - Some Druids establish themselves as the guardians of a particular place--the habitat of an endangered species, a stand of ancient trees, the lair of a dryad, or a sacred grove. Often the Druid watches over a sacred grove with magical powers that others try to exploit for selfish or evil purposes. The DM should decide the extent of the Guardian's responsibility--usually one Druid protects no more than a few acres of wilderness--and establish why the area needs special Druidic attention. For instance, a mountaintop might serve as the nesting place of a rare breed of hawks prized by nobles as hunting falcons, forcing the Druid to continually guard against those who want to steal the chicks or eggs. A Guardian may act as the protector of several places in a lifetime. Say the Druidic order places a low-level Guardian in charge of a nonmagical grove. If he fulfills his charge (and rises to at least 3rd level), the Order may grant him the responsibility of a magical grove, while a lower-level Druid takes over his old position. In order to abandon their charge a Guardian has to find someone else (usually a druid of similar level) to take over his guardianship. He must abandon the kit involuntarily if someone destroys or irreparably desecrates his grove. In this case, the Guardian might become a Lost Druid or devote his life to revenge as an Avenger.

Role: A Guardian lives deep in the wilderness, away from humanity. Like most Guardians, they normally feel wary of strangers, suspecting that they come to exploit or threaten the site they defend. Some Guardians can become fiercely protective: If a Guardian were to witness the near-extinction of a particular species of plant or animal, the last few examples of which now live only in his grove, he could grow into an angry and ruthless protector. Such Druids may strike out without warning to frighten off or kill intruders or even may make pacts with local monsters to protect the grove. Other Guardians are simply shy hermits who welcome visitors with good intentions. Perhaps they live as a lonely, dedicated sentinel they misses human contact, but their strong sense of duty prevents them from leaving his post undefended. Frequently, a Guardian goes years without seeing another human a Guardian may have as his only friends just the animal or nonhuman residents of his protectorate. As a result, he may seem eccentric or awkward relating to humans--even other druids

Hivemaster - The Hivemaster druid lives to foster insectoid and arachnid life wherever it exists. Most low-level Hivemasters work as beekeepers or the like.

Role: Hivemasters appear somewhat enigmatic. Many attempt to instill insectoid virtues in their followers, such as patience, hard work, and close cooperation. Some higher-level Hivemasters even attempt to influence human societies to adopt a communal pattern modeled on that of hive insects. Others--often styling themselves Webmasters--take on the patient, deadly personas of predator arachnids or insects such as dragonflies or spiders, ruthlessly hunting down (or lying in wait to trap) the enemies of the druidic order. A Hivemaster--s grove usually centers around the dwelling place of the creature for which the druid has the greatest affinity--a forest covered with spider webs, a field with beehives, etc.

Lost Druid - The strangest members of the druidic order, Lost Druids find that many other druids no longer consider them kin. The Lost Druids come from lands that have been maliciously destroyed--forests burned to the ground, swamps drained, mountains ruined by mining, and so on. Rather than try to rebuild or move on, a Lost Druid allows his heart to darken from brooding on the devastation and embraces strange magic to seek revenge.

Role: Lost Druids always feel bitter. Sometimes they go insane, their hearts filled with an insatiable, often impossible, desire for vengeance against those who destroyed their land. For instance, if a Guardian became a Lost Druid when he found his forest destroyed by orcs, he may attempt to plot the downfall of the entire orcish race and the death of every last orc. Most Lost Druids live solitary existences, but sometimes they group together, often within the sinister Shadow Circle (see "Druid Circles" later in this post).

Natural Philosopher - From youth, the unbridled curiosity of Natural Philosophers has lent them a fascination about everything from the characteristics of plants and animals to the workings of natural forces like lightning and weather, in addition to the ancient history of the druidic order.

Role: Typical Natural Philosophers delight in the study of new plants and animals. She thinks nothing of venturing into a haunted forest to observe a rare circle of toadstools or visiting a dragon's den to observe firsthand the miracle of a hatching. She rarely interferes with her subject of study, preferring to observe and sketch rather than bring home specimens. Natural Philosophers often undertake adventures out of sheer curiosity. Perhaps a Natural Philosopher hires a party to accompany her on a dangerous scientific expedition to visit a living island spotted in a sahuagin-controlled ocean. A party also might accompany her to study the ecology of the salamander on the Elemental Plane of Fire or to check out a rumor that a previously extinct species of giant owl now lives in the woods by a lich's castle.

Outlaw - In a region where evil forces have triumphed and hold a position of authority, good people who resist have turned outlaw. From their exile in the wilderness, these folk conduct guerrilla warfare against the cruel victors in the fashion of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Since the balance has swung so far to the side of evil, the Druid may freely act as a military commander in the struggle to overthrow the oppressors. In some situations, the Druidic order itself may be outlawed then the Outlaw Druid faces threats like widespread persecution of Druid followers and burning of sacred groves.

Role: Because an outlaw band often fights in the wilderness (ambushing enemies along forest roads or defending against patrols), the druid's powers and skills naturally come to the forefront. Outside combat, he proves excellent at gathering information and using his priestly curative powers.

Purifier - Life and death are but two sides of the same coin. A Purifier strives to seek balance between the two, with little regard for the day-to-day troubles of the wider world. A Purifier is a lone Druid struggling to maintain the purity of Neutrality.

Role - A Purifier serves as the true balancer in a region. If a human village's population grows too large, the Purifier will introduce disease to stem the fecundity, and if the birth rate is too low, a Purifier will provide fertility concoctions to the child-bearing females of the village. The same would go for Orcs, Giants or any other creature of the wild. Its all one and the same to a Purifier. For this reason, they can be seen as aloof and even cold-hearted. Nothing could be further from the truth. The health of the environment is all they care for, and compassion has its place only when that balance isn't threatened.

Savage - This druid lives in primitive Stone Age tribe, usually in a rain forest. They differ from a savage priest, shaman, or witch doctor in that he belongs to the worldwide druidic order and, of course, to a druidic branch. Some Savage druids work and live among primitive tribes as missionaries from more civilized cultures.

Role: Rather than associate with a particular tribe--as do most shamans or witch doctors--the Savage druid adopts a neutral position, mediating inter-tribal feuds and handling relations between human tribes and neighboring humanoids, demihumans, or intelligent monsters. Most Savages live as hermits in the wild, although if they gain a high rank, he could control a coalition of tribespeople, nonhumans, and animals. If he joins a party in more civilized lands, he occupies the role of outsider and observer. The Savage character should act puzzled by some aspects of more advanced civilization, impressed, amused, or disgusted by others. The Savage druid's reaction to big cities is unlikely to be favorable.

Totemic Druid - The Totemic Druid closely identifies with a particular species of mammal, reptile, or bird. While they stop short of worshiping their totem animal, they believe that the particular animal represents their spirit. The Totemic Druid picks a normal (real-world) wild mammal, reptile, or bird as his totem. This creature cannot be larger than a bear or smaller than a mouse. Some common forest/mountain/plains choices include the black bear, bobcat, eagle, owl, wolf, rattlesnake, and beaver. Each Totemic Druid must choose a totem animal that inhabits their particular branch (terrain).

Role: Totemic Druids tend to adopt characteristics associated with their totem animal. They feel especially protective of their totem animal in the wild and want to befriend the creatures. A Totemic Druid acts to promote the interests of the totem species and its individual members. Even if his totem is traditional prey (a deer, for example), a Totemic Druid never hunts the animal himself, nor does he eat its meat. While he usually does not try to ban hunting of his totem (except in the case of endangered species), he opposes cruel or wasteful hunting practices.

Village Druid - A Village Druid associates himself closely with a single rustic village or hamlet. As he gains experience, his influence can extend to cover a shire, barony, or entire region. However, his focus remains rural. A Village Druid always hopes to see ordinary folk live in harmony with Nature. As a Village Druid, their aim is twofold: to keep people from exploiting Nature (by short-sighted agricultural practices, etc.) and to defend and protect villagers who follow the proper Druidic path. Thus, although he will not stand idly by to see the wilderness threatened, his more vital interest lies with the local crops, domestic animals, and his own followers. He uses his skills and magic to protect all living things within his village from foes, disease, drought, forest fires, or natural disasters.

Role: A Village Druid normally replaces a conventional priest or cleric in villages where most inhabitants subscribe to the druidic ethos. As well as offering protection and guidance, the druid leads the citizenry in ceremonies to observe births (of humans and animals), deaths, marriages, harvests, the changing of the seasons, and so on.

Wanderer - While most druids eventually settle in a specific locale, Wanderers travel widely, delighting in Nature's infinite variety of life. They typically have a better idea of the "big picture" in the world than other druids and usually remain on good terms with local bards and rangers. Druidic leaders often use Wanderers as messengers or missionaries.

Role: Wanderers are more gregarious than most druids, enjoy meeting and talking with people--especially rural folk. Although she acts carefree, this genial nature masks a keen mind and a strong interest in everything going on around her. Many Wanderers have animal companions.

These should provide you with plenty of interesting Druid NPCs for your characters to meet, interact with, fight and negotiate with. Don't let Druids be same-old, same-old, give them some life!

The Druidic order--often simply called the Order--can be thought of as a federation of regional priesthoods that form a loosely organized worldwide faith, all of whose members worship Nature and follow a similar ethical philosophy. Druids divide up their world into regions, here called domains. A domain is a well-defined geographic area bounded by mountain ranges, rivers, seas, or deserts-- druids normally divide a good-sized continent into three or four domains. Druidic regions do not rely on national borders, or on racial or ethnic groups a domain can encompass several countries, races, and peoples.

NOTE: You can obviously call this whatever you like. In my world of Drexlor, the Druidic order is called the Canathane, and has a regional name of the Quluthane in the desert lands of Ashaaria.

All druids dwelling within the bounds of a domain are organized into a circle. Circles typically are named for the geographic area their domain occupies, but sometimes they bear other names, harking back to their founders or the gods the druids worship (if they worship deities rather than Nature itself). For instance, druids might have formed "The Dragon Isles Circle" or "The Circle of Danu." The members of a circle hold themselves responsible for the well-being of the wilderness and the continuation of the orderly cycles of Nature within their domain. This doesn't mean a circle remains unconcerned about what occurs in other domains-- forming circles is just the druidic order's way of recognizing that those druids who live in a particular region can best serve to protect it, and should therefore hold formal responsibility for the domain.

Circles operate within a very loose structure. They use no large temples or abbeys, for rarely do more than a few druids live together. When they do, their dwelling places are usually less than ostentatious: small cottages or huts of the style of local hunters or farmers. All druids within the circle acknowledge a single Great Druid as their leader and recognize this figure's moral authority. The Great Druid gives the circle's members great freedom compared to most other religious leaders. The druids adhere to a rather informal hierarchical structure and require their initiates to hold true to the basic ethos of the druidic order and respect higher-ranking druids.

All druids, from the humblest initiate to the Great Druid, may freely follow their own interpretation of druidic beliefs and act however they believe best serves Nature.

A typical domain (one that has seen no persecution of druids but includes other priestly faiths as well) contains, on average, one druid for every 10 square miles of rural farmland or 400 square miles of lightly inhabited wilderness or steppe. Druids dwelling in rural areas usually are initiates (1st to 8th level, generally). Those in the wilderness usually have reached higher experience levels, frequently 7th to 11th level. A domain might feature one druid per 500 to 1,000 citizens, although this statistic gives a distorted picture, since druids are concentrated in some locales and rare in others.

We've examined the different branches of the Order: forest druids, desert druids, and so on. A given circle normally covers a domain vast enough to include members from several, but usually not all, branches. A domain with a temperate climate might contain a circle composed of forest, swamp, and mountain druids. In contrast, a circle in a tropical domain with flat terrain would consist of jungle, plains, desert, and swamp druids. All druids should possess an equivalent number of advantages and disadvantages regardless of branch. However, equality is never guaranteed. In most fantasy worlds, the forest druids exercise the most influence. Due to the resources of the woodlands and humanity's desire to clear them for use as farms, forest druids often consider their problems the most pressing. The Order's priorities frequently reflect this stance circles dominated by forest druids try to make sure that a member of that branch ends up as Grand Druid, the leader of the druidic order. As jungle druids and swamp druids share many of the forest druids' concerns, they often become allies. A well-balanced druid sees each branch as part of a single tree, all equally important. Unfortunately, though, not all druids have this vision. Members of the informal forest-plains-swamp-jungle coalition sometimes look down upon desert and arctic druids due to the relative infertility of their habitats. Sometimes druids fall too deeply in love with their own particular part of the world--forest druids who see trees as the be-all and end-all of Nature may hold arctic, desert, and gray druids to be inferior. The victims of such prejudice, in turn, can come to resent the forest branch. Great druids from the few circles dominated by arctic or desert druids often ally to try to keep a forest druid from becoming Grand Druid-- although more often than not, they fail.

As stated earlier, the great druid leads a circle. Like other inner circle members, the great druid usually has won the position through the challenge and has to maintain the ascendancy by defeating other challengers. However, some great druids become so respected (or feared!) that subordinate archdruids forgo challenging them, instead preferring to enter the service of the Grand Druid or wait until the Great Druid advances in level.

The Great Druid can impose a strong, nonviolent sanction upon those who have offended the circle. All must shun someone placed under the ban no druid in the circle will aid, speak to, or associate with the target of the ban. When an entire town or village suffers the ban, no druid may enter that area or speak to or aid any resident. Some druidic allies volunteer to follow the custom of the ban as well. For instance, a clan of sprites or centaurs on good terms with a circle may receive word of a ban and choose to honor it.

The great druid has the right to pronounce a ban on any druid in the circle. A ban also can cover nondruids, whole communities, or druids visiting from other domains (except the Grand Druid and personal servants), to demonstrate the circle's displeasure.

To pronounce the ban, the great druid stands up during a moot and announces to the group the reasons to impose the ban. Then the subject of the ban--if present--answers the accusations before the assembly. Finally, the High Council of the Moot votes on the matter openly, usually at sunset. If a majority of the council votes in favor of the ban, it passes. If not, the great druid should start keeping an eye on the circle's archdruids--the opposition to the ban likely reflects an impending challenge.

A ban generally lasts 10 summers. However, the inner circle can vote to lift a ban early or (once the time is up) to extend it. The shunning does not extend outside the domain, so banned druids usually choose to go into exile--the result the great druid probably intended in the first place.

Above all others within the Order stands the figure of the Grand Druid, the highest-level druid in the world.

Duties of the Grand Druid: First and foremost, the Grand Druid acts as a politician, responsible for keeping harmony between the great druids of each domain and between the various druidic branches. The Grand Druid also rallies the circles against the rare global threat to Nature or the cosmic balance. This always proves a difficult task, as many circles fiercely cherish their autonomy, believing each one should remain self-sufficient and not meddle in other domains' affairs. Few circles willingly send contingents off to aid other circles unless they feel absolutely certain that the threat will menace their own domain as well. To make matters worse, the inflated pride of many circles prevents them from accepting help from "foreign" druids. As a result, often only one thing can convince the Order a threat warrants a combined effort: the destruction of an entire circle. Fortunately, such occurrences are few and far between. The Grand Druid and entourage spend most of their time visiting different regions and speaking to the great druids, archdruids, druids, and, rarely, lowly initiates. In particular, this leader serves as a diplomat and peacemaker, who mediates disputes between druids of neighboring circles and struggles involving members of the mysterious Shadow Circle (described later). Normally the circles act with autonomy. However, if a circle appears in great disarray--for instance, an enemy has killed most of its members or forced them into hiding--the Grand Druid may try to rally the circle or recruit aid from other domains. If a circle has been effectively destroyed, the Grand Druid might decide to rebuild it from scratch.

The druidic order tolerates a wide range of philosophies under the umbrella of its loosely organized structure. The variety of different branches demonstrates this scope. So does the existence of the Shadow Circle. A secret society of druids within the larger druidic order, the Shadow Circle accepts members who see Nature as a hostile, cleansing force that ensures the survival of the fittest. According to their philosophy, civilization--especially the building of towns and cities--has weakened humankind and many demihuman races.

The members of the Shadow Circle keep their allegiance secret from other druids while maintaining their parallel "circle" rankings. An archdruid in the Shadow Circle is also an archdruid in a mainstream circle, for example. Shadow Circle druids adopt secret names to conceal their identities from each other. When they meet, they do so while shapechanged or wearing masks carved to represent predators native to the domain. This secrecy is important. Although the Shadow Circle ethos corresponds to that of the Order, most druids disdain the group's methods--and therefore, its members. Low-ranking druids who work for the Shadowmaster are called Shadowed Ones and they serve as the eyes and ears of the Shadowmaster.

A known Shadow Circle initiate faces the enmity of other druids--and possibly the ban, for refusing to recant--as well as the ire of local authorities.

The highest-level druid in the Shadow Circle--usually an archdruid or druid--takes command of the group as the Shadowmaster. Unlike the semiautonomous mainstream circles, the Shadow Circle maintains strict discipline over its various far-flung arcs. The Shadowmaster exercises absolute authority over the membership.

Only the Shadowmaster knows the real names of members of the inner circle--the identities of even these high-ranking members remain unknown to each other.

Members of the Shadow Circle work in secret, pretending to be mainstream druids. But every season each arc of the Shadow Circle also holds its own secret meeting--the Shadowclave--in the dark of the moon. The meeting lasts three nights, during which the membership celebrates its own version of traditional druidic ceremonies and receives new orders from the Shadowmaster and inner circle. Prisoners the Shadow Circle has taken throughout the season--along with disloyal or disobedient members--are kept alive until the Shadowclave. There, the inner circle tortures and publicly executes them, to remind the membership of what happens to traitors and enemies of the Shadow Circle.

The Shadow Circle does not take volunteers--it finds new members on its own. Recruitment, by invitation only, is in the hands of the Shadowmaster and the inner circle, always on the lookout for druids who seem ready to embrace the ruthless Shadow Circle philosophy. A Shadowed One spies on the potential member for a few weeks or months, often using animal spies as additional eyes. If the druid's deeds and words seem in sympathy with the Shadow Circle's goals, the character receives a visit from this Shadowed One (or a pair) before the next Shadowclave. The Shadowed One explains the group's purposes, inviting the newcomer to join. Of course, druids who refuse--or even waver--coincidentally turn up dead shortly thereafter.

Candidates who agree to join are blindfolded, given a mask, and taken to the Shadowclave. There the Shadowmaster gives each a secret name. After receiving their sworn allegiance, the Shadowmaster formally welcomes the new members into the Shadow Circle and commands them to perform some symbolic but dangerous task to prove their ruthlessness and dedication. (The difficulty of the assignment depends on the character's experience level.)

This kind of mission usually involves assassinating a specific enemy of the Shadow Circle, such as a noble or priest in a city the group has targeted for destruction. However, the task might be physically much simpler-- say, poisoning a town well. The Shadowed One who recruited the druid will follow along (secretly), ready to slay a newcomer who shows weakness, risks capture, or tries to betray the group. Those who succeed, the Shadow Circle embraces as full members.

NOTE - I have shamelessly stolen most of this from the Complete Book of Druids written by David Pulver in 1994. It has been used without permission. Sorry Dave. Love your work.


Watch the video: Θάνος Πετρέλης - Σαν Εσένα. Thanos Petrelis - San Esena - Official Video Clip