Druids of Oakentree
|Deity||Oakentree, God of Nature|
|Place of Worship||Sacred Grove|
Falstaff (Book) |
|Major Temple||The Citadel|
Oakentree is the only Elder God who plays an active role in the affairs of the inhabitants of the Realm. As the God of Nature, Oakentree is the ultimate caretaker and protector of nature. He is also the deity of the druids. In order to carry out the duties of Oakentree, the druids have, over the centuries, organized and established an extensive information network, although they only occasionally meet in formal settings. In times of great need, the druids will call meetings of their members which span three main orders - each order with its own mission and specialities. Druids revere and are associated with the following symbols: mistletoe, holly, and oak leaves. Many of the stone monoliths around the Reaches are associated with the earliest practices of the druids.
The Orgins of Druids
In the earliest of days, those who were most in harmony with nature, most attuned to the balance of all things, most eager to bring serenity, prosperity and beauty to the world became aware of Oakentree, God of Nature. For many years, there was no formal organization of the followers of Oakentree, and none seemed to be needed. But gradually, Oakentree perceived growing threats to the balance, and he bid his followers to form the organization known as simply as the Druids of Oakentree. The leaders of this organization became known as druids. The earliest druids were elves, and in those days elves were by far the most numerous of Oakentree's followers. Oakentree taught his druids in the ways of the balance, of the wonders of nature, and the means of mastering great magical powers. The druids grew in power and wisdom. Early in the First Age, the elves spread the teachings of Oakentree to the other sentient races, especially the humans. Thus the ranks of the druids swelled in both numbers and influence. To this day, virtually all elves honor Oakentree; many elves are druids, and it is not uncommon for some of the most powerful druids to be elves. However, humans (because of their vast numbers) are now the most numerous among both the followers of Oakentree and among the druids themselves.
The Three Orders of Druids
The druids have three primary missions: first, to protect and foster nature itself; second, to spread the teachings of Oakentree, the way of the balance and the harmony of nature to the sentient peoples of the world; and third, to guard the balance from chaos and threats of every kind. To pursue these missions, the early druids founded the three Orders of Druids: respectively, The Order of the Leaf, The Order of the Staff, and the Order of the Book. Collectively, the three Orders are known as the Society of Druids.
Each Order is led by an Archdruid. The Archdruid is directly assisted by three Grand Druids, who along with the Archdruid himself form a leadership council, called the Directorate of the Order, which provides overall coordination and administration for the Order. The Directorate is assisted by a group of several Master Druids who perform most of the mundane coordinating functions.
Outside the Directorate, the Archdruid assigns other Grand Druids to various domains or offices (such as Forestals, Temple Keepers, Librarians and so on), or dispatches them on various missions around the world. Collectively, the Archdruid and all the Grand Druids of the Order are called the Conclave of the Order. All Grand Druids report directly to the Archdruid. The Grand Druids, in turn, supervise the various Master Druids, and so on.
It is not unusual for an Archdruid to be personally involved in the most important work of his order, and as such may frequently be found travelling on various missions. At such times, the routine administration of the Order falls to the three Grand Druids of the Directorate, although the most important decisions and actions are always made with the informed consent of the Archdruid.
The three Orders are largely autonomous; however, there is significant and close coordination at all levels to ensure that the Druids can be most effective at achieving their goals. Likewise, within each order, individual Druids or small groups of Druids often act independently for significant periods of time, relying on their own judgement, skill and initiative to meet the challenges before them. However, these actions are always guided by mission of their Order and are generally within the framework of a long-term assignment from the Archdruid or another authority. The Directorate itself maintains a Citadel where it generally meets and coordinates communication, but the Citadel itself is not crucial to operations of the Order and other locations often serve. Despite the tendency of the Druids to decentralize their efforts, they can rapidly muster highly effective collective action at need.
At times of great need, the three Conclaves (comprising the three Archdruids and all the Grand Druids of the three Orders) may hold a special council to elect a Grand Archdruid to preside over all three Orders for a period of time. The three Archdruids preside over this council, but do not vote. This event is quite rare, but when a Grand Archdruid is elected, it typically is one of the current Archdruids.
The Order of the Leaf
The mission of The Order of the Leaf is to protect and foster nature in all its forms (not just forests). For each major forest (and several other natural regions), the Archdruid of the Order of the Leaf assigns a Grand Druid to be Forestal. Smaller regions may have a lower ranking Druid assigned as Forestal. The vast forest of Elothian is so large that it has seven Forestals of Grand Druid rank assigned to its various regions.
The Forestal, and the Druids and other allies under his leadership, are responsible for the care and nurturing of the forest or other natural domain. They deter harmful intruders who cut, burn or otherwise threaten nature; they fight disease, drought and other hazards; and they nurture growth, expansion, diversity and beauty in their domains.
Sometimes called Caretakers, the members of the Order of the Leaf generally live a solitary life and are generally associated with a particular natural area.
The Order of the Staff
The Order of the Staff provides leadership, teaching and succor to the human and other communities that follow Oakentree throughout the world. A small village is lead by an Adept Druid, a town by a Master Druid, and the largest communities by a Grand Druid. The Order of the Staff teaches respect for Oakentree, how to live in harmony with nature, and the way of the balance. This Order seeks to gently attract followers to Oakentree and to foster the growth of the existing Druidic communities.
This order is responsible for erecting and maintaining most of the Druidic Shrines and Temples throughout the world. Most Shrines are very simple and are defined simply by cleverly cultivated arrangement of trees, bushes and flowers which mark sacred locations. Many other Shrines are simple circles formed of great stone monoliths. These Shrines also mark sacred locations, and the arrangement of the monoliths often has hidden meanings. Such Shrines can be sources of mystical powers. A few Shrines are large and elaborate enough to rise to the level of a Temple. Druidic Temples are a source of great power and great inspiration (both visually and spiritually); however, there are only a handful of such Temples in the world. Each Shrine cared for by an Adept Druid or Master Druid, and each Temple is lead by a Grand Druid.
Sometimes called Pastors, the members of the Order of the Staff generally live a more social life within their communities and are generally associated with a particular community.
The Order of the Book
The mission of The Order of the Book is to protect nature and the balance by identifying disruptions and dealing with threats. Within this order are two distinct roles, the Sages and the Unfettered.
The Unfettered within this Order roam the world seeking knowledge and information, and identifying and dealing with threats as they are found. The Unfettered maintain a vast but very subtle information network that touches nearly all towns, regions and institutions in order to identify threats early. This Order is also devoted to gathering all types of knowledge, so that the means of dealing with threats is most likely to be at hand when needed. It is most often the Unfettered that meet grave and unusual threats directly, whether by diplomacy, guile, stealth or battle.
The Unfettered communicate what they learn to the Sages, who often work in groups focusing on analysis, research and coordination. The Sages often discover new insights or interpretations that can be of great use to the Unfettered in defeating threats to the balance. The sages maintain the great Druid libraries, which are some of the few permanent Druid structures. There are three libraries, which function not only as archives for texts and artifacts but also as full research facilities for mundane and magical endeavors. For security, all three libraries contain a complete set of texts, and the Druids endeavor to copy each new acquisition or discovery as needed. Unlike the priests of Sarth, who seek all books, the Druids seek only true knowledge and enlightenment. Thus they are not concerned with the form of the text, only with the veracity and insightfulness of its contents. The libraries themselves are well-hidden, protected by natural and magical defenses, and safely located deep within Elven lands.
Sometimes called the Bards, members of the Order of the Book generally live a wandering life, solitary life. These druids sometimes play the roles of musician and storyteller as a means of completing their primary missions.
As Druids advance in power, skill, wisdom and responsibility, they are accorded the following ranks: Novice Druid, Initiate Druid, Adept Druid, Master Druid, Grand Druid, and Arch Druid (these ranks do not correspond directly to experience level, which is a measure of power and skill only).
Each Order recruits likely candidates to enter the Order. These candidates are thoroughly screened for suitability; those that are both acceptable and willing become Novice Druids. Each novice is trained in various arts by many different Druids, but each novice is paired with a single mentor of Adept or Master rank who provides overall guidance and supervision for their training. There is no Druid school building or location. Novices and mentors travel from place to place as needed, learning from various Adepts and Masters and visiting various sacred sites.
Novice Druids who excel are accorded the rank of Initiate Druid. At this level, formal study may continue (either under a mentor or at one of the great Druid Libraries), but some Initiate Druids begin to take on assignments for the Order, and they hone their skills through their own experiences. The most capable Initiate Druid are elevated to the rank of Adept Druids. An Adept Druid is fully competent in the lore of his Order and can be given assignments of significant importance. Those who surpass this level and actually expand the power and wisdom of the Druids, blazing knew trails of knowledge and understanding, become Master Druids. A few whose power and wisdom are very great indeed are chosen for high office; these few become Grand Druids or even Archdruids.