|The Priesthood of the Tuatha de Danann
|Depending on the campaign, the term "druid" can have one of two meanings. PC and NPC druids in the Tolmara and Damrosil campaigns are standard druids from the 3.5 D&D Player's Handbook. PC and NPC druids in the Tabula Rasa campaign use the rules given below. Should a player wish to play a druid or a filidh of the Tuatha de Danann in either the Tolmara or Damrosil campaign, he or she should clear it with the DM first.
The Priesthood of the Tuatha de Dannan
Druid means at the same time "man of the oak tree", but also "thick with knowledge". In fact the word druid is used for all members of the priesthood of the Tuatha de Dannan who belong to one of the three branches, each of them having its own specialization (and is represented by a specific character class). The three druidic branches are:
1) Druid. [Use the SRD druid class; however, the description / ethos is different.]
Druids are priests, natural philosophers, and sages. They wear the white linen robe and the oak crown. The druids conduct the religious ceremonies that maintain balance between the realm of Faerie and the mortal plane of Andurin. In game terms, Faerie is a layer of Sul. They otherwise preside over the structure and order of Arashan society, and act as arbiters, judges, etc., among the Arash. For instance, while Calabria is ruled by a High King (who is in fact a noble warrior), in practice he does nothing without the druids' advice and agreement.
2) Fili (plural Filidh). [See new class described below; sometimes also use the SRD cleric.]
Filidh are seers, healers, and various specialists such as judges or technicians. They wear the green robe. While filidh are bound to show the normal reverence to the whole of the Tuatha de Dannan, they nonetheless must choose one as their patron deity. That is, the god who exemplifies their field of study. For example, a fili specialized in medicine will choose Diancecht as his patron deity; and one specializing in magic will choose Math Mathonwy. In any case, filidh help their communities with their knowledge and magicka. In the absence of a written culture, they are the repositories of sciences and techniques of the Arash.
3) Bard. [Use the SRD bard class; however, the description / ethos is different.]
Bards are poets, musicians, teachers, historians. They wear the blue robe. They are the keepers of history, and praise or blame nobles, passing on the memory of tribes and heroes in an exclusively oral culture. Bards also support their tribe and patrons with their magicka, but otherwise do not perform religious ceremonies. Many bards are travelers going from tribes to tribes, making a living at praising those who would host them, but also bringing news from the outside world.
The druids have their own hierarchy based on competence, that determines the respect and privileges they get in society. On the other hand, they have no "religious order hierarchy" where higher ranking priests rule, and those under them are expected to obey. A higher ranking druid receives greater respect and privileges than a lower druid, but otherwise has no authority over him (especially if the latter belongs to another tribe).
There are thus seven grade of ability for druids (those of the fili and druid classes), which are based on knowledge and magical ability. Bards may also have access to these grades, but only provided they meet the requirements. From highest to lowest they are:
Ollamh: the Great High One (also known as a "Doctor"). Requirements: 7th level spells or higher, and one Knowledge skill at 16+ ranks or two Knowledge skills at 10+ ranks.
Ansruth: the High One (or Sage). Requirements: 6th level spells, and one Knowledge skill at 14+ ranks or two Knowledge skills at 9+ ranks.
Cli: the Bright Stream. Requirements: 5th level spells, and one Knowledge skill at 12+ ranks or two Knowledge skills at 8+ ranks.
Cana: the Clear Stream. Requirements: 4th level spells, and one Knowledge skill at 10+ ranks or two Knowledge skills at 7+ ranks.
Dos: the Enlightened. Requirements: 3rd level spells, and one Knowledge skill at 8+ ranks or two Knowledge skills at 6+ ranks.
Mac Fuirmid: the Questioner. Requirements: 2nd level spells, and one Knowledge skill at 6+ ranks or two Knowledge skills at 4+ ranks.
Fochloc: the Apprentice. Requirements: 1st level spells, and one Knowledge skill at 4+ ranks.
Then, after a druid has reached the Ollamh rank, he may become an archdruid. However, this isn't a new rank, and an archdruid is not a spiritual leader, elder, or patriarch of Druidism. Archdruids are not the heads of a druidic order which doesn't exist. Rather, they are exceptional druids who have almost pierced the secrets of the universe, and thus achieve much honor among the Arash. Druids of legends and primordial druids were all archdruids. They represent a supreme degree of wisdom and understanding among druids.
Knowledge: A much important thing to consider, is that in Arashan society there is no difference between science and religion. Both belong to the same thing. As such, science (as we would see it today) is explained in religious terms and seen as sacred. In a world where magicka and the gods are real, science and knowledge comes from the gods; hence, trying to learn about the universe is also trying to commune with the gods and acquire divine abilities (reflected by the magicka wielded by the druids). Note by the way that science is not only intellectual and rationale, but also intuitive and magical. Thus, since science and religion go together, Arashan druids may be seen as being both priests and scientists. In fact, the druids combine natural studies, poetry, astronomy, religion and other disciplines to form groups of experts from each field, thus enhancing the picture of the universe to be studied as a whole. The whole point is that Druidism is to know about the laws which govern all things, so people may live harmoniously in the world and so prevent disasters to fall upon them.
The Truth: Otherwise, another important aspect of druidism is the value put on truth.
"Righteousness of Truth"
Druids are thus expected to always say the truth (on important matters where their advice is sought), and not doing it may have terrible effects on them, resulting in a loss of powers. Note that a druid who doesn't want to answer may ask for the price he is entitled to for his advice (which may be quite high at higher levels), and which may be beyond those asking possibility.
Deity Worship: The druids revere the Tuatha de Dannan as a whole. As such, no deity has a specific church or priesthood as for traditional pantheons. Instead, some druids (specifically: the filidh) choose a deity to act as their spiritual guide and source religious inspiration. However, the druid doesn't worship the god as a creator deity; and there is also no rivalry or enmity between druids having different patron gods.
Druidic Groves & Temples
The druids do not built temples of wood or stone, as other religions usually do. Instead they conduct their religious ceremonies in sacred natural places which are consecrated to druidic use, and considered holy. Although a fili may dedicate him- or herself to a patron deity within the Tuatha de Danann, these sacred places do not act as temples specifically consecrated to a specific god or goddess.
Sacred Places: The druids don't erect buildings to act as temples, but have their own sacred grounds in which they conduct their religious ceremonies, train their students, etc. Such places are normally a grove of oaks in a natural location where the spirit of the Great Mother, Danu, runs strong.
A druidic grove is called a "nemeton", which means sanctuary or sacred place in the language of the Fae. This is a natural location enclosed within a wooden palisade or wall of thorns, and where the religious rituals are carried out in the open, under the sun, the moons of Andurin and the stars.
A nemeton is composed of sacred trees, altars, and stone circles. There are also three circles / ritual spaces for each of the three druidic orders: Druids, Filidh, and Bards. A few huts used as druids' habitations may also be found.
One of the functions of the druids (but not the filidh and bards), is to discover, bless and develop a natural location appropriate to turn it into a nemeton. Such a place must first have a preexisting oak grove of more than eight trees and of at least 300 years of age. Additional sacred trees have to be planted (such as yew, birch, or willow). There must also be a well or spring at this sacred site. Lastly, the underground nature of the sacred place and its underground spring must connect it intensely with the energies of the realm of the dead, the realm of Faerie and the magicka of the Great Mother.
Standing Stones: The druids may erect standing stones in their sacred groves, yet most circles of standing stones (at least the most impressive ones) weren't built by druids. They were in fact built a long time ago by the Tuatha de Dannan. These gigantic structures served various magical purposes, but could also be used to record the passage of time (days, months, seasons, and years). As such, those knowledgeable in the use of these structures would know when best perform magical ceremonies of importance, or open a gate to the Faerie (or another plane). On the other hand, circles of standing stones were never intended as temples, even if they could be found as features of sacred groves or dark druids' temples.
Mortuary Mounds: Kings, nobles, and heroes, can at times receive sumptuous funerals. When it is the case, they are generally buried with their most prized possessions (usually weapons, armor, jewelry, horses and chariot) in tombs that have corridors and rooms reminding of their castle when they were alive. Then, their champions and warriors will be later also buried there, as could be some of their descendants. Entering such a tomb could prove hazardous, as usually the dead won't let intruders enter freely, and may pursue robbers out of the grave. Also, on the night of Samhain such dead have been known to go out of their mound, with some of them trying to visit their descendants with various purposes in mind. Of all these mortuary mounds, a couple are very large, being true necropolis where are buried generations of kings, nobles, and heroes. Such graveyards are normally guarded by filidh dedicated to Arawn.
Sacred Plants & Animals
Druids who serve the Tuatha de Dannan are not "forest lovers" for its own sake (as most RPG druids tend to appear), yet they hold nature in high esteem. They believe that everything has a purpose and reason. As such, when killing an animal nothing should go to waste, but everything could be used, from providing food to making clothes, medicinal or talismans. Plants and trees may be used for magicka, construction, and healing.
Sacred Plants: Plants and trees hold a central role in the druidic rituals and life, as each tree or plant is connected to special powers or properties. In fact the tree is a primary symbol of druidism, and each species of tree known to the druids has a meaning of its own.
The tree is the connection between all elements. It reaches from the earth to meet the sky, representing balance as well as a bridge between the Sky and the the realm of Arawn, the material world and Faerie.
Here are some examples of plant properties:
Hazel Tree: the hazel-tree is associated to wisdom and to the Sacred Salmon (of knowledge).
Oak: the oak (king of the forest) has a special role among all other plants. The Long Forest contains a great number of oak trees, and there the druids gather once a year, and close or under an oak the druids teach their lessons. Its Arashan name ("Duir") means doorway, and the oak symbolizes a doorway to mysteries and strength. Moreover, the oak is the supporting tree for the mistletoe, probably the most sacred plant within the druidic tradition.
Walnut-Tree: the walnut-tree is feared among Arash because it is believed to be dangerous to fall asleep under its shadow. Witches often use its leaves for witchcraft.
Willow: the willow is related to the gift of second sight and prophecy.
Yew: the yew is connected with the death and the birth, and also stands between this world and Faerie. From its wood the druids sometimes make magical tablets that act as magical scrolls.
Mistletoe: the mistletoe is held in great reverence by the druids. It is a rather ugly, poisonous plant that grows amongst the branches of the oak or the yew, seemingly without sustenance. It grows high off the ground without roots and is considered the sacred plant of the sun. Hence, a tree that hosts a mistletoe plant is a tree marked as particularly sacred by the gods. When the druids discover it on a tree, they will gather it with great ceremony, in separating it from the oak with a purified knife (normally a golden sickle). The mistletoe must be cut only at some particular periods, and it is sought by the druids only when they have visions that lead them to the sacred plant. Mistletoe that is gathered in such a fashion has magical properties, enhancing spells and magicka that protect against all kinds of evil. If the DM allows a PC druid to harvest some mistletoe in this manner (dependant upon campaign circumstances), he will get enough of it for 2d4 spells. These must be spells used to attack or protect from undead and evil outsiders. In using mistletoe when casting the spell, the spell gets the benefit of one of the following metamagic feats (without increasing the spell's level): Spell Penetration, Empower, Enlarge, Extend, Heighten, or Maximize.
Sacred Animals: For druids of the Tuatha de Dannan, all animals have meaning and special attributes. However, certain animals more than others hold special symbolism.
Boar: the boar represents fierceness, strength and boldness, and all qualities necessary for warriors and battle. It often represents those who partake in such events.
Cow: cattle have various meanings from economic stature to fertility.
Crow: crows are primarily associated with the otherworld and as such often accompany deities with strong ties to the otherworld.
Deer: the deer sometimes indicates the presence of an entrance into the Otherworld. It represents the unconditional faith and trust necessary to enter.
Dog: dogs mostly are an integral part of human companionship. Many druids have a dog as animal companion, though usually such dogs tend to be exceptional individuals of their race.
Horse: horses, especially white horses, are sacred to the god Lugh.
Salmon: the salmon is a symbol of wisdom; e.g.: the "Salmon of Knowledge".
Serpents and Drakes: serpents and good-aligned drakes (e.g., sunrise drakes/gold dragons, quicksilver drakes/silver dragons) represent those deepest inner abilities that people hold within themselves.
Calendar & Sacred Days
One of the druids' duties is to record the passage of days and seasons. This is important both for agricultural and religious reasons. One needs to know the proper time to seed and harvest, or to propitiate to the gods.
The calendar they use is as follows:
There are 13 Arashan months of 28 days based on the cycle of the silver moon Tintagel, where each month is associated with a tree. (Beviir and Elantyreth have different cycles that do not synchronize as easily.) The lunar and solar cycles are naturally synchronized, so the first day of the first month equals the first day of the year.
The Arash count by nights and not days, as their unit of reckoning is the night followed by the day. Each month is made up of two "fortnight," meaning fourteen nights (or two weeks). The moon grows during the first fortnight, and recedes during the second. As such, the days of the month are counted taking into account the day of the fortnight associated to the growing or receding moon (such as for instance: the 9th day of the receding moon of Beith, of 268).
Unlike with other calendars, there is no specific attribution of the fortnight's days to work, rest, or else.
The Arash do not use centuries (units of 100 years), but units of 30 years (that conveniently represent a generation) to record large periods of history.
The druids often use circles of standing stones to precisely determine the passage of time.
Arashan Month Tree Moon Time of: Seasons
January/Beith -- Birch -- Cold Moon -- Staying home
February/Luis -- Rowan -- Moon of Ice -- Thought and contemplation
March/Nuinn -- Ash -- Moon of Winds -- Carving and craftsmanship
April/Fearn -- Alder -- Moon of Seeding -- The first crops shoots
May/Saille -- Willow -- Bright Moon -- Flowers and meadows
June/Huath -- Hawthorn -- Moon of Horses -- Beginnings and journeys
July/Duir -- Oak -- Moon of Claims -- Arbitration and challenges
August/Teinn -- Holly -- Moon of Poets -- Creativity and inspiration
September/Coll -- Hazel -- Singing Moon -- Dancing, parties, and raids
October/Muinn -- Vine -- Moon of Harvest -- Reaping and fruition
November/Gort -- Ivy -- Silent Moon -- Planting and sowing
-- /Ngetal -- Reed -- Dark Moon -- Mist, rain, and darkness
December/Ruis -- Elder -- Dying Moon -- Endings and death
SAMHAIN (1st of Beith)
Winter (1st of Beith / 7th of Fearn)
IMBOLC (8th of Fearn)
Spring (8th of Fearn / 14th of Duir)
BELTAINE (15th of Duir)
Summer (15th of Duir / 21st of Muinn)
LUGHNASADH (22nd of Muinn)
Autumn (22nd of Muinn / 28th of Ruis)
There are four holy days in an Arashan year, the most important of which is Samhain. Religious ceremonies are performed by the druids for the communities on those days. Nonetheless, festivities are not limited to these single dates, but usually begin three days before, and continue three days afterwards. So these feasts last for a full week, except for Samhain which lasts a full "fortnight", beginning seven days before, and ending seven days thereafter. Of course, such festivities are an excuse for wild parties, drinking and over-eating. Even during Samhain, when much cattle is slain for there is usually not enough fodder to feed it all through winter.
Samhain (1st day of winter): Day of the dead and beginning of the new year, Samhain is when the frontiers between the mortal realm, the realm of Arawn and the realm of Fae opens. During Samhain, the living may communicate with the dead, although they do it only when it is really necessary. Furthermore, during the night of Samhain undead and supernatural creatures roam the world, usually for the worst. As such, people stay at home during this time, and are wary of what may occur outside. Only the bravest of heroes dare to go out during the night of Samhain, for this is really the most dangerous period of the year.
Imbolc (1st day of spring): Day of fertility and renewal, Imbolc celebrates the end of winter and the return of life. During the Imbolc feast many marriages are celebrated. Imbolc otherwise marks the beginning of the Time of Light's rise.
Beltaine (1st day of summer): Day of light and fire dedicated to the god Beli-Mawr, Beltaine also celebrates the victory of light over darkness. During Beltaine people dance around great fires, and, when it is possible, wicker-men (e.g.: a large wooden statue of a giant in which are put sacrificial victims) are burnt to bring about the protection of Beli-Mawr for the year to come. Beltaine is also a feast of love and lust, and it is believed that children conceived during Beltaine are gifted with beauty and strength.
Lughnasadh (1st day of autumn): Day of abundance and prosperity dedicated to the god Lugh, Lughnasadh celebrates the end of harvest and summer, and the abundance it provided. During Lughnasadh kings and chieftains distribute their riches and are honored. During this feast people attend to shows and participate in various contests of music and poetry. Lughnasadh otherwise marks the beginning of the Time of Light's decline.
The Arash make sacrifices to the gods, but these are essentially of gold and other precious objects. Then, in important occasions, such as a king's investiture, an animal such as a white bull or fine horse would be sacrificed. On the other hand, and contrary to what some may pretend, human sacrifices are not a normal feature of druidism. In any case, a true religious sacrifice always requires a druid to perform, nobody else may do it properly. Here follows the different forms of sacrifices practiced by the Arash:
Wealth: The most common form of sacrifice is that of wealth, in the form of gold, jewelry, and valuable armors and weapons. Such sacrifices are done by the druids on behalf of those asking for the gods' blessings and who provide with the wealth to be sacrificed. Typically, this wealth is thrown into sacred wells and lakes during a ceremony that many people attend to.
Animals: In some important ceremonies like the crowning of a king, animals will be sacrificed. This is always horses or cattle, never lesser livestock or wild animals. For example, for the crowning of a king, a typical ceremony involves the ritualistic sacrifice of a white mare which is then eaten, during a special feast, by the new king and his tribe.
Evil Creatures: The burning of a creature of darkness in a Wicker Man during Beltaine brings protection to a community for a full year. This kind of sacrifice however, of course requires to have captured a supernatural and evil monster related to darkness.
Oneself: In some very rare cases, a king or druid, will sacrifice himself to restore the balance. Typically, a tribe would suffer some disaster due to the king's inability to fulfill his duties, or due to his inappropriate behavior. In such case, the king or druid accepts to be sacrificed to lift the curse that plagues his people and that he feels he is responsible for. Such sacrifices are performed in a very ritualistic ceremony where all of the tribe participates. Generally the king is ritually stabbed to death, then burned on a pyre.
Criminals: The druids being not only priests, but also arbiters and judges, are called upon for most legal matters. Usually, all crimes, including murder, are not "punished" but compensated with a relevant fine paid by the criminal to those he wronged. However, there are some rare cases where the crime is so special or extreme, that the criminal will be put to death instead.
In such cases the druid, as the judge, will oversee the execution which is held in a ritualistic form. However, this is by no way a sacrifice to the gods, and thus has no religious purposes.
Prisoners of War: The Arash are sometimes known to sacrifice prisoners of war to the gods. This is not, however, a true druidic practice, and should rather be seen as an excuse for savagery. Such sacrifices are in fact always performed by servants of the goddess Morrigann. In doing this, they only truly want to encourage violence, cause more mayhem, and hope to bring more worshippers to the terrible goddess. But such bloody and evil practices have absolutely no religious value from a druidical point of view.
Druidism is certainly not an evil religion. Some druids may be of neutral-evil alignment, but they won't perform human sacrifices. On the other hand, in some remote regions or in lands where the Arash mingle with other populations, can be found a degenerated druidic cult of evil practices. These are the "Dark Druids". In fact they shouldn't be considered true druids; their faith is based on druidism, but they worship dark gods and abide by hideous practices which have nothing to do with true Druidism. Some differences between evil (but true) druids, and dark druids are:
Evil Druids: Since druids may be of any neutral alignment, some of them are neutral-evil. Nonetheless, such druids must remain true to Druidism (including "Righteousness of Truth"), or will lose their druidic abilities and powers. This means that an evil druid performs much like any other druid (thus no human sacrifice or worship of dark entities). The difference is that an evil druid will use his power and authority for his own gain, where druids should normally serve their community. An evil druid could thus be merciless and oblivious of others' lives, yet will not stray from his druidic obligations.
Dark Druids: This evil cult is but a degenerated parody of Druidism. As such, dark druids are not only evil, but also worship demonic entities and perform human sacrifices on an almost regular basis. The dark druids' cult outwardly appears similar to druidism, but wields important differences:
Dark druids do not honor the Tuatha de Dannan, but rather worship evil deities such as Crom Cruach or Balor of the Fomorians. These deities are not evil gods within the Tuatha de Dannan, but demons opposed to them.
Dark druids have replaced "Righteousness of Truth" by "Righteousness of Might". That is: the strongest can do everything he wants provided he has the power to impose it, which is supposedly a reflection of the ways of nature, and thus seen as right by the dark druids. As such, they will often have savage animals (such as winter wolves) and evil sentient plants at their command, with which to threaten their slaves and combat their enemies.
Dark druids do not serve their communities. They are parasites who live off the populace through the use of fear and superstition. They support the warrior caste only so in turn it sides with them.
Dark druids are easily recognized from true druids. Instead of wearing white, blue, or green robes, and shaving the front half of their head like true druids, dark druids harbor savage garbs. They typically wear brown robes made of animal skins, and wear caps ornate with horns or animal skulls. Their hair and beard are totally unkempt, and in fact dark druids usually stink from lack of hygiene as well as rotten flesh and dried blood. A dark druid is thus almost impossible to mistake with a true druid.
Dark druids do not conduct their ceremonies in sacred groves and other natural places like true druids. Instead, they built large and sinister temples above and under ground. These are typically filled with corridors and traps, haunted by evil spirits, and normally have a gate to the otherworld through which their dark gods may manifest themselves (especially Crom Cruach).
Dark druids have replaced sacrifices of gold and jewelry by bloody human sacrifices. As such, they can please their dark masters without losing their wealth (and any so-called sacrifice of wealth goes to their pockets).
Character classes: dark druids may be of the druid or cleric classes (in the latter case worshipping either Balor or Crom Cruach). Note that they get the Intimidate skill instead of Diplomacy, and have a few special feats of their own (such as Undead Shape and Lycanthropic Shape). Players may not create dark druid PCs in the Tabula Rasa campaign.