Druids in Thorn’s Mystara do not necessarily follow the classic D&D trope of champions of nature, but take on different roles according to their native culture.
In Karameikos, the Druids are caretakers of the Old World, keeping the traditions of the Traladara alive amidst the integration with Thyatian settlers. To some degree, this involves seclusion within the older forests of the Grand Duchy, thus there can be some confusion among visitors to the country as to the druids’ purpose.
Since the Traladaran clans and city-states were so numerous and spread out, the druids became the intermediaries when disputes arose between two factions. They traveled the lands, sitting with clan chiefs and kings of city-states, learning the various laws and ways of the people, and then moved on. Over time, it became customary for druids to oversee trials. This grew to them becoming not only jury, but also judge, when it turned out that they knew more of the finer aspects of the tribal laws than some of the tribal elders.
But druids did more than settle disputes: they observed, they noted, and eventually began to compile stories, legends, and histories from the many different tribes. Because paper was scarce, the druidic orders set their histories and legends to song and canto, and passed them down to succeeding generations of druids.
Druids of Thorn’s Mystara start from 1st level, advancing as Clerics, with the same spell progression, and follow the the provisions for spells, armor, and weapons as outlined in the Druid class (Companion Player’s Manual and Rules Cyclopedia). Their avoidance of metal armor and weaponry, as well as living apart from cities is from their keeping to the Old Ways of the Traladarans. Beholden to none of the kings or clan-chiefs for arms, armor, or shelter, they avoiding any appearance of having taken favor from one ruler over another.
Druids start with either Singing or Storytelling General skill (for free). Most also begin play with some sort of instrument, generally a wooden flute or set of panpipes. Druids gain a +2 bonus to any local knowledge or history checks. Journeyman druids must return to the nearest Circle every three or four levels to transcribe their skeins, sharing their knowledge with the others in the group.
On reaching 5th level, a druid may choose to join one of the various sects: Ashbound, Children of Winter, Gatekeepers, Greensingers, or Wardens of the Wood. This is not mandatory, and usually only one in every 100 druids actually join one of these sects. While many may regard the Ashbound and Children of Winter as ‘evil,’ they only represent the downturning of the cycle of nature. The Ashbound, particularly, fill an important role in ferreting out rogue wizards and those who would traffic with demonkind in order to gain power (similar to the Red Robes from Alphatia’s Tower of Lights)
At 9th level, a druid may opt to settle and form his own Circle in a secluded wooded area. This will attract a certain number of journeyman druids, which the druid is then obligated to teach and guide, passing down his accumulated knowledge of history, songs, and legends.
Those druids that do not settle continue as Elder Journeymen, continuing their work as chroniclers, arbiters, and guides until such time as they seek to settle down, as described above.
In Karameikos, Greensingers and Wardens are the two most popular sects to which the majority of druids aspire. As Greensingers, they gain an ally among the fey, with whom they work to purge the demonic taint, either from a given area or in whichever areas their wanderings may take them. The DM is encouraged to develop a retainer for the druid from the “Tall Tales of the Wee Folk” Creature Crucible (if that resource is available). Otherwise, the druid may choose a ‘stock’ companion (or the companion may choose the druid!) from the list below:
- Dryad (the dryad will only wander if she has not taken a soul tree; the druid must settle the area where the dryad companion takes her soul tree if he wishes to keep said companion)
- Wood Imp
- Drake (may be impersonating another of the fey/humanoid races)
- Sidhe (there is only a 1 percent chance to take a sidhe companion, unless the DM rules otherwise)
The druid must spend the nights of every new moon cleansing his companion of accumulated demonic taint, lest they succumb to the madness and decay that plagues the elves. This involves a ceremony that costs 200 gp per level of the druid (or druid’s companion, if the DM is using the PC1 rules); as they grow in power, the corruption grows more difficult to siphon off. The precise details of the ceremony are up to the player and DM to decide.
Druids joining the Wardens sect act as protectors of a wooded area, using their magic to drive out those who would disturb the natural balance of the lands they have claimed. They form close bonds with the lands they maintain, gaining a +2 to AC when fighting in woodlands (or their chosen terrain).
It is worth noting that the tradition of Greensinging and Warding both hail back to the days of Old Blackmoor. The Elves of the Redwood were said to have been among the first to teach Men the ways of woodcraft and natural lore. Given their love of the wilds and natural rapport with the fey, the famous Wizards of the Wood like Pete and Sildonis (and in later times, Zirchev) may have, in fact, been Greensingers, rather than true wizards.
In the third arc of Thorn's Chronicle, the druid Thorn is raised to Greensinger, bonded to the half-sidhe Silva.