Druids of the Old Ways

In these current times of Truth, Culture, and Enlightenment, Druids have had to change. They accept cities as their own environments, alien to their own, and have accepted their small, verdant bastions on the edges of Civilisation, filling in the gaps as it were. Indeed, at this point, this is all some Druids have ever known.

Some refuse this.

Out on the Frontiers, in the Deepest Forests, Druids of the Old Ways still lurk, primal and wild, still in touch with the Earth they speak to through their feet, still whispering to the trees, and the flowers, and the animals. They watch through dust-scratched eyes at the pomp and self-importance of Civilisation and loathe it.

They want it to wither and die.

Druid Aspects:

1 - Skies - The powers of the winds, and the clouds, and the weather.
2 - Predators - They take what strength allows, though they walk alone.
3 - Swarms - They flow and roil, and will always find a way to survive.
4 - Spores - They spread slow roots, and only fruit and bloom when necessary.
5 - Feathers - They spread their wings and take flight, speeding through the air.
6 - Trees - They have a hide of bark, limbs like branches, hair like leaves.
7 - Petals - They blossom with beauty, though hidden when they wish it.
8 - Herds - They stand firm and tall together, and alone they are lost.
9 - Scales - They slither and crawl, cold blood in their veins.
10 - Fins - They swim and dive, the water is their world, not our solid hell.
11 - Winds - They whirl and cavort as they please, winding and free.
12 - Flames - They are bright burning and endlessly feasting, theirs is fury and chaos.
13 - Waves - They are a slow strength, but in the end, they always win.
14 - Stones - They have roots of rock, the strength of stone, and tectonic intuition.
15 - Claws - They slice and catch, digging into flesh, hooked and curved.
16 - Rots - They break down what others leave behind, one's waste is their treasure.
17 - Bloods - They hold the crimson key of life in their hands, dripping from their chins.
18 - Packs - They have the strength of the pack, and the strength of the pack is them.
19 - Webs - They trap and subsume, awaiting their prey to come to them.
20 - Nights - They are the watching eyes in the dark, the black figure in the distance.

There are no Druids of Bones, those are the Domain of the Shaman.

Their magic is slow and flexible, and is only decided through committee. They have no power of their own, they borrow t from the earth, and must offer gifts and friendship in return. Rituals and rites are theirs for the world to listen, and they take their knowledge of what has worked before, for the tastes of the earth are slow to change.

They alter the world to their wishes, they command the elements, they befriend animals and banish foul humours, they cleanse and dirty, they preserve and defile in turn, they reap and they sow again, but only at the whim of the world, at the pace of the natural order.

These are their homes:

Blood Aspect Groves
1 - A Space set about with Bones and Blood
2 - An Area with a Wall of Sewn Guts
3 - A Deep Hole Stained Red and Strewn with Bone
4 - Bones Hang by Gut-Springs from Branches

Building-Aspect Groves
1 - A Ring of Stacks of Stones
2 - In Ruins Torn by Trees
3 - Within a Wooden Pallisade
4 - A Stone Patio-Mural
5 - An Overgrown Henge
6 - A Ring of Standing Stones

Tree-Aspect Groves
1 - A Cathedral of Tall Trees
2 - A Hollow beneath Arching Roots
3 - A Stand of Trees
4 - A Huge Ring of Bushes
5 - A Platform Ringing a Great Tree
6 - A Glade Cleared of Trees

Water-Aspect Groves
1 - A Circular Lake with an Island
2 - A Crescent Bay
3 - A Ring of Coral
4 - A Clearing in a Kelp Forest

Fields Grove
1 - A Scorched Glade
2 - A Circular Hill with a Bare Top
3 - A Mushroom Circle
4 - Within a Ring of Brambles

Mountain Grove
1 - A Mountain Plateau
2 - A Mountain Peak
3 - A Cave at the Bottom of a Crevasse
4 - In a Volcano's Caldera

Underground Grove
1 - A Painted Cave Beneath the Earth
2 - A Gently Sloping Pit in the Earth 
3 - A Cave that Admits a Glorious Shaft of Light
4 - A Deep Shaft of Empty Darkness

They are utterly unlike us, they drink toasts with the mud, they share food with the beasts, mouth to mouth, they drink from the udders of trees, their homes are not homes are we know them. They submit only to strength and the will of the earth. Some groves follow Arch-Druids, strong like stones. Some follow the beasts who only last night mauled and ate the last Arch-Druid in their sleep.

If they were still worthy of being an Arch-Druid, they wouldn't have been eaten.

These are their Allies:

1 - A Local Spirit God
2 - Animal Kings
3 - A Local Monster
4 - Powerful Monsters
5 - A Naturalised Druid
6 - A Fae Contingent
7 - A Colossal Beast
8 - A Tree, brimming with Anger
9 - The Very Sky Itself
10 - The Very Land Itself

Their Magic, as has been said, is the Magic of the Earth. It is also the Magic of Connections. If a Druid is sick, they must offer medicine to the mountain where the plants they ate were taken from, or to the woods where their meat was hunted, for that must be where the sickness had its original root. If they wish to curse their enemy, they must find a herd of deer from which they last took their food, what easier way to harm a person than through their stomach? If they wish to bring rain, they must stab the earth with knives to bleed it of its water, how else can they get it to beg for more?

These are their Holy of Holies:

1 - A Great Spirit Tree
2 - A Mighty Foundation Stone
3 - The Bones of a Titan
4 - A Grand-Totem
5 - A Thunder-Circle
6 - A Unique Stone-Formation
7 - A Hot Spring
8 - An Almighty Semi-Sentient Plant
9 - A Causeway of Hexagonal Stones
10 - A Pit of Endless Flames

Travelers on the roads tell many strange stories of the Druids of the Old Ways. Most all of them end up being true too, though sometimes the travelers aren't even aware that the cause of what they have seen is the Druids. They see strange formations of rock and the trees that have improbably grown around them, they see odd lights in the vast distance, of a small stand of trees that issues forth oceans of mist. They see animals with the heads and faces of men, they see trees branches that end in flakes of stone, they see rivers that run not with water, but with clouds. They see that stars fall to earth and dance around rings of stones. 

These are their Strange Rituals:

1 - They have built a great Pyramid of Wood and now they burn it, they cast leaves into the flames and breathe in the heady smokes
2 - They have strewn the whole, still-living body of a beast about the trees and dance in the bloody rain that falls from it even as it screams
3 - They paint the grove in Psychadelic Hues, whirling and twirling and trilling to the beats of strange drums and eerie songs
4 - They dress themselves in bones and twist their bodies around them, cutting themselves on their own clothes, as the blood-lust sets in
5 - They trail chords behind themselves, sewing them together as they dance, some of them become trapped within it, as the dance intensifies
6 - They process around the grove as the Sun rises, they watch as the light rests on the Grove, cheer, and then bathe it in blood to trace the path of the light
7 - They dig at the earth with their hands and smear it on their bodies, they eat the worms they find, they chew in the roots, they push stones down their throats
8 - They rut together in a tangle of limbs, berries and fruits are pushed into mouths and smeared on flesh, bones break, teeth fly, blood spills
9 - They drag forward a beast, tie its legs together and push it to the ground, then they beat it with rods until it is a bloody pulp slopping further and further apart
10 - They swim together, diving and cavorting about the waters, they grab fish with their hands and tear them apart with their teeth, they wind weeds about their limbs
11 - They dance in the rain, beat their feet into the mud as their arms are raised up to the clouds, they scream and yell, clawing at the air
12 - They sit in a circle, each with an animal in their arms, they hold them close and delicately, cooing to them, stroking their skin, feeding them small morsels

They cannot help but change their shapes sometimes. Sometimes they cannot change back. The worms that speak with the voices of men, the trees that sing songs in the wind, the man with hooves for hands and with insects for his tongue, they are druids, and they are not even particularly bothered by it. They can always change it later. They never do, they take it as it comes, they flow like water through the tides of life. Even if a full-formed Bear were to tear forth from their chest, taking with it their lungs and their heart, they would not mind as their body exploded around them. This has been observed and recorded by civilised folk. The records were later burned by the Witch-Finders.

These are the signs of their Devotion:

1 - Their Eyes are the Eyes of another Beast
2 - They bear mighty Antlers on their Heads
3 - They have vines twisting into and round their skin
4 - They have flowers blossoming from their hair
5 - Their skin is as bark, ragged and jagged
6 - Their skin is covered in mangy and patchy fur
7 - Their hands end in wickedly sharp claws
8 - Their flesh is like stone, rumbling as they move
9 - Their flesh crawls with insects, no, is insects
10 - They sprout fruiting fungal bodies from their back
11 - They have a crest of feathers running down their arms
12 - Their flanks are covered in a coating of scales
13 - Their skin is coloured in many bright hues
14 - Their mouth is full of mud that spills forth in a torrent
15 - Their blood is the filthy water of defiled lakes
16 - Their limbs are long and stretched, ending in huge hands and feet
17 - Their bones are bared to the whole world through ragged holes
18 - Their flesh is covered by armoured chitine-plates
19 - Beneath their thin skin, their flesh is a mess of rotten plant-meat
20 - They have too many limbs, like a spider

They do not hate life, they hate order. They do not hate the stones, they hate the cities they are built into. They do not hate you, they hate what you have learned, what you will try to spread, what you are a sign of. Thus, they will expunge you. Perhaps they will also ask the Shaman to rend apart your spirit once they have rended apart your flesh and bones and painted themselves with the fluids of your eyes and brains.

This is what they fight with:

1 - A Crooked Spear tipped with Flint
2 - A set of Beast-Claws wrapped into their fists like Knuckle-Dusters 
3 - A Great Club of Bones tied together with dried sinews
4 - A Whip of still-living and whipping roots studded with thorns
5 - Their own Bear Hands, tipped with wicked nails, stained with blood
6 - A Wind that flows about them, Suspending Razor-Rocks within it
7 - A Swarm of Insects and bugs that swirls about their arm
8 - A Bubble of Earth that flows around them at their feet like a dog
9 - A Team of Beasts who heed the words of the Druid
10 - An Improbable Storm-Cloud, bristling with thunder
11 - A Wood and Bone Apparatus, sporting at the end the snapping jaws of a beast
12 - A Mantle of waving Tentacles of bone and meat
13 - A Rock, pitted and stained, sparks fly from it when it strikes
14 - A Flame that lives within their chests, they let it free as they breathe and scream
15 - They Crawl in the Mud, and their limbs burst forth from it in improbable places
16 - Their jaws distend, and a Tide of Spider Limbs roils forth from their gaping maw
17 - Their Own Bones burst forth from their flesh, whirling and whipping about them
18 - They Dance crazily and jauntily, and the dance is infectious
19 - They Weep, and as their tears hit the earth, the Earth sprouts forth teeth and jaws
20 - Their Blood tears itself from their flesh and forms jagged, crimson thorns and brambles

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