Originally druids were one sect of the celtic priesthood. Because they practiced their rites in the wilderness in great secrecy, and wrote nothing about what they did, little is known about them. Most historical accounts are from the writings of their enemies, who rarely qualify as reliable sources. For centuries, the lack of concrete information about the druids has made them convenient for imaginary priesthoods, ranging from wise and patriotic leaders of resistance against Roman conquest, all the way to bloodthirsty practioners of Human Sacrifice
In modern fiction, "druid" is typically used for a nature-themed magic-user that usually has flavour of priesthood
, especially if they hail from pre-Christian Europe (or fantastical equivalent). Unlike standard issue Fighter, Mage, Thief
or well-defined concepts such as The Paladin
, druid capabilities may vary highly based on setting, although in principle it's a very broad spectrum: their powers
govern just about everything connected to living things and unliving manifestations of nature and may include:
However, druids also typically have common weaknesses:
- Dealing with manmade and artificial (Such as getting their power to function in urban environments)
- Technology and science in general
- Creatures outside the natural order of things such as demons or undead
Common associated personality traits are
- Being True Neutral of either "Balancing good and evil" or "Don't get involved" varieties
- so-called "Practicing Darwinism", better known as eugenics, which is anything but Darwinist (for Grim Dark or Corrupt Church versions mostly)
- Unlike other fantasy priesthood tropes, druids may worship no specific diety, but unpersonified "Mother Nature" instead. The Sun and/or the Moon may be worshipped as gods.
Compare Witch Doctor
Live Action TV
- The main character of the Iron Druid Chronicles is an druid who gets his powers through a bond with the Earth and its many aspects. He can talk to animals and can shapeshift into four animal forms. He can use his magic to imbue herbal potions with extra powers culminating in his Immortali-Tea which keeps him young and immortal. His powers are constrained by a very specific form of Thou Shalt Not Kill which will kill him if he uses his magic to hurt another living thing. As a side result he can only use his magic to heal himself since healing others might be considered hurting their bodies. However, these druids are not pacifists and instead use their magic in indirect ways to make them major Badasses even among the fierce Celtic warriors of ancient Ireland and Scotland.
- Druids are very prominent in the Shannara books by Terry Brooks, although the Shannara Druids have very little in common with typical fantasy Druids except the name. They fits the archetype of the fantasy wizard much better: the dwelt in a great isolated tower-fortress called Paranor, where they maintained huge archives of books on magic and many other areas of scholarly pursuit, and had very little to do with nature-magic.
- In Simon R. Green's Secret Histories, the Drood family name is the result of linguistic drift from their ancestors being the original druids.
- Druids exist in the Witcherworld. Despite the occasional fearsome reputation they tend to be laid-back people of non-hostile mindsets, on average. They can use magic and have good relations with various creatures. On the other hand, they aren't above organizing annoying environmental protests, and can get nasty if you piss them off too many times.
- The Druids are a big part of Merlin. They have been persecuted by Uther, helped Morgana with her nightmares, produced Mordred and Freya (who becomes the Lady of the Lake), guarded the Cup of Life, and Merlin, known to them as Emrys, is a big figure to them.
- Dungeons & Dragons has a character class named "Druid", and is likely the base from which all (MMO)RPG druid classes are spawned.
- A type of creature in Magic: The Gathering. Most of them cost green mana, the magic associated with nature, and they often have abilities in some way related to producing mana.
- GURPS Celtic Myth gives rules for druids based on authentic Celtic culture and mythology. What we know of it anyway.
- In Ironclaw the Phelan wolves have druids, whom House Bisclavret have been burning at the stake since they converted to S'allumer.
- Diablo II: Lord of Destruction features Druid character class
- Baldur's Gate series both contain druids and allow you to take one as main character.
- In the Warcraft series druids first get mentioned in the second game, where they are said to have built the runestones protecting Quel'Thalas. However, these druids have since been retconned into just being mages. Actual druids first appear in Warcraft III in the night elf faction, and in World of Warcraft the tauren of the Horde get their own druids as well. Then, in the Cataclysm expansion of World of Warcraft, druidism spread to the resident werewolves (Worgen, Alliance) and trolls (Horde).
- Magicka has druids allied with the Beastmen. They only cast spells associated with nature in some way, and have the special ability to summon treeants.
- Battle for Wesnoth includes druids as an advanced spellcaster for the elves. They can entangle units and have a magical attack.
- The Druids in Fire Emblem differ from the usual depiction of them. A promotion of the Shaman class, Druids are practioners of Dark Magic, which in the Elibe and Magvel universes, is less Black Magic and more The Sacred Darkness, though there still some who are Evil Sorcerer(s) despite its Dark Is Not Evil nature, like Nergal, The Big Bad of Blazing Sword whose class is specically called Dark Druid.
- Fall from Heaven includes druids as advanced priest units with additional nature spells.
- Might and Magic's Druids have varied between game and game, from Heroes 1 and 2's energy-bolt throwing guys in hooded robes, to Heroes 3's Magic Hero for the more nature-themed castle, over Might and Magic VI and VII's generalist spellcasters.
- King's Quest VI had an island of Druids.
- In the Dragon Age series, many apostate mages who live outside the Chantry seem to fall into this category.
- Morrigan from Origins, Velanna from Awakening and Merrill from Dragon Age II all are variations on this role. The former being one of the legendary Witches of the Wilds, while the latter two were both trained as Dalish Keepers.
- A playable class in Pillars of Eternity, following the D&D model.
- The Smurfs have a group of druids that are trapped in a haunted tree in "The Smurfs' Time Capsule", and its leader emerges from it to set them free in order to plunge the world in eternal darkness.