Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A to Z Blogging Challenge: D is for Druids

After giving the Church of the All-Father the once over yesterday, today we take on the other side of faith in Greatholm--The Old Faith.

I had never really looked too much into the historical roots of Druidism until just now and I realized that a whole lot of what is out there is just speculation.  The nice thing about this is that there is very little to get "wrong."

It isn't just because the Church of the All-Father is the state religion of Greatholm, that the Old Faith has been suppressed.  Even under the Sterling Potentate's polytheistic faith, the Old Faith represented a spiritual place for those who dissented.  If the spiritual solace were taken away, the task of oppression could be made easier.  Active promotion of the Old Faith would represent a threat to the power of the Potentate's Priests and now represents a threat to the Church of the All-Father.

The thing is with magic, the question isn't if there is one god, it's who has the right god.  Currently, the Old Faith is suppressed.  It hasn't gone away, however.  In the western part of the island, particularly, the Old Faith thrives, albeit in secrecy.

The fact that the Old Faith has been forced underground for the last 300 years has given it a flexibility that most religions lack.  The Druidic Tongue is only spoken, with all written records of it extinguished.  This was part the doing of the other religions and in part the actions of the Old Faithful themselves.  By relying on an oral tradition, there is no written proof of heresy.  As each practitioner needs to exercise discretion when practicing the faith, there are numerous unique approaches to the faith, compared to the one axiomatic approach taken by the Church.  (On a side note, I'm not entirely sure how to reconcile this lack of structure with the Druidic hierarchy from the Adventures Dark & Deep Player's Manual.  I'll worry about that when I get a 12th-level Druid in my game.)

Druids play the role of spiritual advisers to the members of the Old Faith.  Most practitioners of the Old Faith do so in small groups, which may or may not be led by a classed Druid.  Druids will frequently travel to meet with these groups from time to time, under the guise of a scholar or merchant, to answer questions of faith or perform important ceremonies.

Members of the Old Faith swear by the "Three Realms" -- The Sky, the land, and the sea -- tied together by the fire of inspiration or freedom (depending on who you ask).  They respect and revere the elements and the spirits inherent in everything around them.  This can manifest itself in gentle thanks to objects or animals who benefit them.  Speaking to inanimate objects or animals is often seen by the more suspicious members of the Church of the All-Father as signs of heresy.

All classed Druids will speak Druidic.  Non-druids can also learn it, but the language is rare even among the faithful.  Usually only devout members of the Old Faith who lead the prayers of their peers learn the language.  It is also possible for some outsiders to learn it.  Many of the more inquisitional members of the Church have pieced together enough Druidic to identify its speakers as heretics.
Players who chose to have their PCs be members of the Old Faith would be able to come up with their own tenets of faith, but should still maintain the spirit of what has been written before.  Druids and Rangers, particularly must be more rigorous with their observations of the various changes of season.