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War of the Druids

by Kit Navarro

This started with the question: What is the difference between druids who worship nature, and druids who worship deities of nature?

(Admittedly, part of it comes from my trepidation with the Forgotten Realms pantheon politics! What's the point of having one *god* of nature, then an elven *god* of the same thing? And I thought these *gods* were supposed to be all powerful beings! At least, in Mystara, we can admit that our Immortals are really not omnipotent, so it's okay for our deities to be squabbling over portfolios. Anyway, enough Forgettable Realms bashing...)

So, getting back on topic, I thought this question could actually be best addressed in the Mystara setting (for the reasons mentioned in the above rant) and the conflict can be exemplified by an adventure conflict.

Basically, on Mystara, there are two groups of these nature worshippers: There are the druids who worship Nature, an abstract idea, an impersonal and all-powerful force, and simply the way of the world. They worship none of the Immortals, and they are considered pagans at best, heretics at worst.

There is a second group of druids, those who actually worship a particular Immortal of Nature, and thus are technically clerics with druidic or druid-like powers. They generally believe in a common "way of nature" (not unlike the elven philosophies), but they do maintain certain faiths/doctrines that subtly promote the will of their individual Immortals (i.e. Followers of Djaea are more conservative and concerned with preservation, while those of Terra are more open to new flora and fauna and interested in how these new species play a role in the entire ecosystem.

Followers of Eiryndul and Ordana have an pro-elven bias in their ways, while those of Faunus have an affinity to the fey.) Some of these druids are even ecumenical, worshipping all and every nature deity in whatever shape and form. Of course, the "true druids" (the first group) think these "nature clerics" are inferior, needing such anthropomorphisms/personifications of nature for their feeble human/mortal minds to even comprehend the vast power of nature.

Of course, most mortals, especially in more urban cultures, have no inkling of such druidic matters--or the conflicts that will arise from them. And if the PCs come from such backgrounds (which most probably they do), then they're in for a bunch of surprises!

What happens next?

I actually haven't detailed this part out yet, but this would be the meat of the adventure. Basically, the two groups of druids start having a go at each other. Turf wars, so to speak. So PCs who go into more natural (not just woodland) environments will have a taste of nature gone wild--animals acting crazy, plants acting crazy, weather acting crazy, new monsters, new magic, hazards animal, vegetable, and mineral, and maybe even a vicious duel or two between powerful druids!

And if the PCs can't be lured into a natural environment, then nature will go to them. Nature will start to invade into the urban comfort zones of the more complacent PCs. And nature, doesn't have to "follow the rules." Nature will go wild! (DM plot device: Mix and match your Random Encounters by Geography tables to introduce those rarely used encounters in your campaign.) Desert sands emerging in lush forest areas. Mountainous crags appearing in fertile agricultural plains. Artic weather, flora, and fauna in temperate or tropical climates.

And since this a nature thing, it transcends cultural and political boundaries, so it can happen anywhere and everywhere in Mystara, even outside the traditional druid forests. (DM plot device: Introduce foreign characters into your campaign, say an Ochalean druids with their bamboo and oriental magic, or Atruaghin druids and their brand of nature worship outside the plateau.)

The motives? What moves these crazy druids?

The possibilities would be:

1. Conflicts in doctrine, as discussed above. ("My druid kungfu is better than your druid kungfu!")

2. Conflicts in policies about the realm of nature. (Eco-conservation vs. eco-preservation vs. eco-terrorism vs. eco-domination)

3. Influenced by the lords of Entropy. The list of suspects would be Nyx (who is actually a nature Immortal herself), Thanatos (He hates living things. Period.), Atzanteol ("The Corrupter," perhaps in a bid for becoming a reigning Hierarch of Entropy), or Loki (aka "The Prince of Deceit").

4. Influenced by a less evil, but nonetheless chaotic nature Immortal. ("Did I jusss... *hic*... spill my drink?... into the... *hic*... Oh... My bad!" said Faunus)

OR.... (And this is a scenario I've been toying with in a while...) 5. Another force of chaos and nature is causing all the chaos in nature.

Read: The Faerie Realms! ("Well, well, you just took our Dreamland, so we just thought, well, phooey on you Immortals and your stoopid wrath! So there!) This could be a post-Wrath of the Immortals, post-fall of Alfheim scenario, where the faeries are just pissed at those stupid mortals and those high and mighty Immortals for screwing up their earthly home. And a non-pissed faerie could be crazy enough to handle, so what more a pissed one? (Note: Faunus will definitely have a role to play in this scenario, since he'll be one of the few Immortals in-the-know with the faeries.) And perhaps, since the links to the Material Plane have been weakened, they can't use their usual crazy fey magic, so they just channel it through their attunement with nature, making all the druids and nature worshippers all screwy, until they get their home back. (And who can really get fairy logic anyway?)