D&D Classing it up: Druid
Getting back to a classier note, it’s time to class it up some more with Dungeons & Dragons. This time, we’re going to look at how you might want to play a druid.
One thing I want to mention first about all of these classes is that playing against type, as I sometimes suggest, is going to be for your more roleplay-focused player versus a more combat-focused player. The reason I want to call it out is because the first example of a druid player I want to mention is Torin from our Dungeons & Flagons podcast. He is not your typical druid in some ways — his background is that of a soldier, and he’s not the hippie-granola character that’s common for this class. Yes, he is a pacifist in a sense, but still has to fight against the urges to destroy.
With that idea out of the way, what is a druid? Most of the time, they are that hippie or granola type I mentioned. They love Mother Earth and all creatures upon it that aren’t humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, etc. (who are probably messing up the land). A druid is often connected to a specific grove or glade that they watch over, and often, their impetus for going exploring is that something is happening to their grove or something is threatening it, so they have to keep whatever it is from happening. People often play druids as lone ranger types (as compared to playing a ranger who likes to be alone, which would be a lone ranger ranger).
Mechanically speaking, druids are spellcasters first and shape-changers second. All druids have the ability to shape-change into various beasts, and this is the feature that normally draws people to the druid. Being able to change into a bear and then run through bad guys seems cool. It isn’t a super-effective means of combat, but can be used well at times (especially for humorous effect). Also, druids tend not to be focused, traditionally anyway, on charisma. Their spell-casting ability is based on wisdom, and with the lone ranger archetype that most people think of for druids, they wouldn’t be too used to conversing with humanoids, so it makes a lot of sense.
Now that we have our framework in mind, let’s look at some possible backstories you could use for a druid character:
Growing up in the city, you always felt a connection to nature — the rats running around, the pigeons that would sit in the market trying to find scraps. When you got older, you ventured out into the country, and you loved it there. The fresh air, the creatures running everywhere — you found that you belonged in nature. However, as you spent time in the country, it laid heavily on your heart that there were some people from the city you grew up in who never got to really see nature. Finding a patron back in the city you had come from, you created a druid grove so that all people could come visit and see what matters so much to you, but now your patron has passed away, and his heir isn’t willing to support you anymore. If you want to keep your little bit of nature alive in the city, you’re going to have to find a way to support yourself.
Your people’s calling was to protect the island you grew up on. There were amazing creatures there that weren’t found anywhere else in the world. One day, however, strange ships showed up to your island. You and your people hid, but these humans had come on a mission to search out exotic creatures, and even cut down some of your trees. What could you do? These people weren’t peaceful like your tribe; they weren’t living in harmony with nature. One day, they left, and things seemed to get back to normal — until you saw more ships on the horizon. They came again and again, and finally, you knew what you had to do. Stowing away aboard one of the ships, you sailed back to the mainland to see if you could find a way to stop this and people who would help.
You don’t remember what your parents looked like. There are blurs of what could have been them, and you remember hearing screams. You were just a baby when they were killed. Out all alone by yourself in the woods, you wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for a kindly wolf who had taken you in. Or that is what you had thought at first — in reality, the wolf was the druid who would raise you and keep you safe as you grew up. Now she is old, and you are tasked with keeping her safe. However, there are goblins raiding in the woods and cutting down trees. What will you do about it? Your mother told you to find help in the outside world, but how do you do that? What is the outside world even like?
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