Druids in Shadow World.

The recent discussions on Druids here on the blog seemed a relatively easy assignment. I hadn’t given a lot of thought to Druids and generally argued for a more distinctive Druid by making them either a semi-spell user or even an Essence based profession. For me the Druid was just a new name on a predictable template already covered by Clerics, Animists and Rangers.

However, several comments and some googling made me start thinking about Druids quite a lot…

druid, druid religion
An arch-druid in his judicial habit.

Who were the Druids?

There is not a lot of first-hand knowledge of the Druids, but it’s generally believed they were: “philosophers, teachers, judges, the repository of communal wisdoms about the natural world and the traditions of the people, and the mediators between humans and the gods.” So, in some respects this sounds a lot like a Cleric or Priest, and in RM terms, a Channeler. But there are other descriptions of Druids that evoke a more mysterious and perhaps even sinister aspect. Then, while reading this description,

Druids, like numerous cultures both prehistoric and modern, were fascinated by the movements of stars and other celestial bodies. This implies that they were still using Neolithic monuments such as Stonehenge to track different astronomical alignments.

I was struck by a thought. While the Druid profession was missing in the original RM, the Astrologer was not. The Astrologer is an odd profession–I certainly thought it was cool when I first was introduced to RM, but the concept seems curiously unfinished. First, I think star-based spell lists are a very setting specific idea and the the lists themselves were incomplete with very few actual spells on each list. Assuming some fixes to the Astrologer lists, a great Druid concept would consolidate the Druid base with the Astrologer base lists. That would make the Druid interesting and unique while still retaining some the cool factor that the Astrologer promised. In this scenario I see possible Druid Base Lists as:

  1. “Far Voice” But a rewritten combination of Astrologer “Far Voice”, “Way of the Voice” & “Starsense”
  2. “Visions” A combination of Astrologers “Time Bridge” and “Holy Visions”
  3. “Starlight”. Original Astrologer but needs some fixing.
  4. “Druidstaff”. Either the original RMC I version, Hurin’s version or my BASiL list “Talisman”.
  5. “Natures Forms”. Original Druid list.
  6. “Stone Mastery”. Original Druid list.
  7. “Weather Mastery” type list as an alternate.

These six Base lists make a Druid very distinct from other Professions, especially the Animist and Ranger, by dropping the Animal and Plant control spells. To me this still feels like a “naturalist” spell user but in a more raw and visceral way. There is a nature and elemental angle to the class with “Starlight” and “Stone Mastery” and a touch of a Seer with “Visions”. Plus the elemental spells and the Druidstaff gives the Druid combat and offensive ability. “Far Voice” allows the individual Druids to communicate across vast spaces with each other–providing them a network of information.

I was pretty satisfied with this new Druid concept and would have left it alone…but I kept thinking about Druids and Shadow World. Shadow World has an organization that aligns quite well with a Druidic concept: The Earthwardens. In SW canon, the Earthwardens helped heal and rebuild the shattered planet. They built great earthworks, megalithic constructions, circles, henges, and passages, while nurturing civilization back from the brink. This is a familiar tale–not unlike legendary figures in our own history: Hermes, Thoth, Quetzalcóatl, and other “bringers of civilization” that were steeped in hermetic traditions.

While it’s not implicitly stated or clarified, the Earthwardens were using “proto-magic”; early Essaence before it was divided into the individual realms. The Earthwardens built structures on Essaence Foci–basically “Earthnodes” and “Leylines” often associated with Druidic tradition. While the Earthwardens esssentially disappeared during the Interregnum, it’s conceivable that their knowledge was passed down through a secret tradition and organization: The Druids.

So putting it all together we have an organization/profession that utilizes “proto-magic” and “Earthnodes” and is the repository of ancient traditions and wisdom. To me, that sounds a lot like what many people would think of for a fantasy Druid archetype. What types of spell powers are proto-magic? Luckily, I don’t have to write a bunch of new spells–just adopt the Arcane Magic lists as Druid base lists! In fact, Rolemaster Companion I has every thing we need: earthnodes, arcane magic and Druids! The base lists would be:

  1. Bladerunes. A great utility spell list that gives the Druid weapon enchanting ability and replaces the list “Druidstaff”.
  2. Earthbloods Ways. Obviously, this is easy to convert to Shadow World’s versions: Essence Flows and Essence Foci.
  3. Entity Mastery. I would make some changes and eliminate the homoculous spells, but I like the idea of a Druid commanding Golems and Elementals.
  4. Ethereal Mastery. Not sure about this one, but I like the concept of Astral Projection for Druids.
  5. Mana Fires. Feels very Allanon’ish and Druids should be “Wielders of the Secret Flame”.
  6. Shapechanging Ways. Gives the Druid the connection to Flora and Fauna.

The Arcane lists in RMC I are right on point for Druid spells and work well as inherited knowledge of the Earthwardens. With these lists, Druids tie into SW history and make a kick-ass profession with unique powers.

So what do you think? Druid/Astrologer or Druid/Arcane? I like them both, but Druid/Arcane fits my SW campaign. You can read my amended history of the Earthwardens in this file (inspired by page 5 of Rolemaster Companion I)

7 thoughts on “Druids in Shadow World.”

  1. I always liked the Astrologer. I liked them so much I actually have costs for them as a profession in RMU. But you are right to say that their spells and class concept were undeveloped. I imagined them as a kind of Grand Vizier, an adviser to kings (who in the Middle Ages really could have a court Astrologer!).

    But your concept of reimagining the Druid is a cool one. The Earthwardens are a bit different type of Druid, but I think the concept does work specifically for Shadow World.

    By the way, where is this ‘Talisman’ list you mention? I looked through BASiL, but didn’t find it there. I’d like to take a look.

        1. Thank you in advance. As I’ve slowly come back into Rolemaster (being gone far too long), I’ve come to appreciate the hard work you’ve done, ESPECIALLY with Basil.

  2. Earthwarden/Druid is a great concept, and I agree it fits into SW quite nicely. The Arcane linkage seems quite insightful, and works well with the overall idea of the profession. I also liked the bit of history bit too, as the Storm Wizard always seemed a bit nebulous to me, both in the Master Atlas and Terry’s book.

    Lastly, having just picked up a copy of Arcane Companion (ICE 5600) it’s fresh in my mind that it has a few pages on Earthnodes, Lay Lines etc… No idea if it’s a straight copy of RMC1, but from a quick glance it appears to be at least somewhat different.

    1. I guess I need to check out the Arcane Companion–I actually forgot that it existed. A lot of the later RM books post RMC III I basically ignored. By the early 90’s I already had my own house rules built on RM2 and I was focused solely on SW as a setting.

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