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Druidism

by Marco Dalmonte English translation by Gary Davies

Worshipped in: all over Mystara
Druidism is a religious philosophy that began to spread in the world after the nuclear disaster of Blackmoor, sponsored and theorised by Djaea before becoming Immortal in order to avoid repeating the global catastrophe that resulted from the errors of Blackmoor, and spread to the four corners of the world following her ascension. Djaea had become the inspirer of the first priests devoted to this cult without ever directly revealing herself but assumed the general and immanent aspect of Mother Nature. Druidism as a tout court philosophy doesnít recognise any higher divinity, but identified in the eternal soul of Nature the only force to worship. The cardinal principle of druidism is maintaining the natural and universal balance through the respect of the ecosystem, of the flora and fauna of every type of habitat. The task of the followers of druidism is therefore to reject the commodities of the more advanced civilisations and preserve animal and plant life, looking after the habitat in which they live and confronting any type of contamination or threat that risks altering the balance of the ecosystem. In particular, druidism is completely opposed to all that is considered unnatural, that is to progress, to technology and especially to the creatures magically constructed or animated, first of which are all the undead races, which constitute an insult and a challenge to the natural cycle of birth and death that governs the creation. The druids (the priests of druidism) are therefore balanced individuals, frequently attuned to a simple and reclusive life, by many considered rather prohibitive. They find themselves more at comfort among the plants and animals, as well as with the races more linked to nature (like those sylvan), while reducing to an unavoidable minimum the contact with the inhabitants of civilised settlements. The druids attempt to always be in communion with the universe, and in particular judging that nature is the most perfect form of existence, and that therefore it is a duty of the humans to live together with the gifts that it grants to the mortals, taking just enough in order to survive, without putting in danger the lives of the animals or ruining an ecosystem. Because of this they constantly wear clothing of simple manufacture, only using weapons and items made with natural materials, and they can be distinguished by the material focus used for casting magic is always a plant characteristic of the habitat to which they are bound.
For the druidic culture the oral tradition is extremely important, and they rarely make use of writing (although they arenít illiterate), preferring to rely on their memory and word-of-mouth in order to pass on their own secrets (and avoid that others discover it). Also because of this they use a very particular language, the secret tongue of the druids, an idiom coined by the first druids that is based on very simple expressions (in line with their culture) in order to spread any type of concept. The use of symbols and writing is limited only to the creation and sanctification of particular places and objects (like the erected stones of the druidic circles or their holy items), since in the druidic runes flows the ancient power of nature and they only use them in very special circumstances.
The majority of druids pay homage to the disembodied force of Nature, but receive their divine powers from Djaea, who has always been attributed the role of Mother Nature. In some cases instead, the druids consider specific Immortals as the purest incarnation of their philosophy and therefore pay homage to them, receiving their powers (druidic not clerical, by their own choice) from the latter. The Immortals dedicated to a particular aspect of nature that sponsor druidic orders are the following (all of Neutral alignment): Ordana (Mother Forest), Protius (Father Ocean), Calitha, Zirchev, Chiron and Mahmatti.

Druidic Orders
Every druid is a specialist in the knowledge and treatment of a certain type of natural habitat, and it is the different existing ecosystems that are basis of the differences between them. There therefore exists a druid for every type of habitat: arctic, desert, forest, sea (and water courses), mountain, plain, swamp and underground.
Furthermore, each druid is part of a group of druids that control a certain region, and it is these circles that group together characters of diverse extraction and allow them to exchange ideas and knowledge and act in common for the care and the protection of the wider regional ecosystem. There essentially exist two types of groups to which each druid belongs: a druidic circle and a druidic order.
The druidic circle is formed by all those druids of the same habitat that collaborate in order to defend and protect a finite ecosystem (like a forest, a desert, a mountain range, etc.), and is led by an Archdruid (a druid of 10th level or higher), who watches and guides the actions of the druids belonging to the circle, presiding at the most important ceremonial rituals (during solstices and equinoxes), and convenes the annual Druidic Council in order to reunite the members of the circle (and a few other trusted individuals, like sylvan creatures, rangers and friends of the circle), exchanging information, resolve questions, rewards or punishments, celebrating the new members and renew the vows of fraternity and obedience. A circle can have only one Archdruid, and therefore any druid that passes 9th level is forced to leave the circle and to found a new one, taking new acolytes and instruct them, or remain a wandering druid for an unknown time, must answer for his work only to the High Druids and to the Great Druid of the order (see below). This is clearly a expedient in order to expand the power of the druids in all the regions, and in order to introduce to new people the philosophy of nature and balance carried forward by these characters. The druidic order instead is a much more vast ensemble, which itself is made up of several druidic circles that operate within a vast area (generally no larger than a continent), over which the order watches. The order is made up by the so-called High Druids (characters that have attained at least the 21st level of Classic D&D, the 16th of D&D 3E), to which all the druids of lower level must obey, and it is led by the Great Druid, an extremely wise and powerful individual (the only one in that geographic area to have reached 31st level in Classic D&D, 20th for D&D 3E), who perform a similar task to that of the archdruids, but on a much wider scale. He is assisted by nine Emissaries (druids of between 12th and 20th level), who act as his eyes, ears and hands, and always has the final word on any decision of the order or of the lower circles (even if he very rarely speaks in the issues of the druidic circles, unless it of interregional importance), plus deciding to place a ban on a druid who isnít behaving himself according to the rules.
Any druid that attains 31st level must challenge the Great Druid in order to be able to advance and fill that role: the challenge is conducted in the presence of two High Druid witnesses, in a place and time agreed by the two challengers, with rules agreed before two witnesses ahead of time. If the challengers arenít able to agree, it is the two witnesses who decide the time and place, and the fight doesnít have any rules, except the prohibition of outside help: the loser is the one who dies or surrenders. The loser (if still alive) loses a level (to 30th for Classic D&D and to 19th for D&D 3E) and must recommence to earn experience in order to challenge again; the only other possibility is of emigrating into a region in which no druidic circle or Great Druid is already present, and found one of his own. In any case, the ďnatural selectionĒ allows the druids to increase their power and their knowledge, and this is all to the advantage of the world-wide balance and of the prosperity of nature. This rule is based on the assumption that only one Great Druid is necessary for each large area of the world, and therefore if someone isn't worthy of the title he cannot gain any more power: respecting this dictate is meant to keep the world-wide natural balance (such that the druids are disposed to do so even at the cost of their life). Presently there only exists Great Druids for these regions of Mystara: the Known World (including the Isle of Dawn, Pearl Islands and Ochalea), Norwold, the Midlands (including the Great Waste, Hule and Hyborea), the Savage Coast (including the Arm of the Immortals), Bellissaria, Skothar, Davania and the Sunlit Sea; there are currently no Great Druids present in the Hollow World.