Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Noble Druid

"And when, precisely, will Lord Vanus have time to speak with me?" the envoy asked, attempting to keep his irritation masked beneath a sweet tone.

"He is on his morning constitutional right now," the steward said. "I am certain that, when he returns, he will host you properly."

The envoy's mouth was parted to say something else, when heavy thuds came from the veranda. A monstrous bear, shaggy and brown as high summer earth, ambled in as if he had not a care in the world. The envoy leaped to his feet, panic in his eyes, but the steward merely took a robe down off the wall and held it up. The huge grizzly reared up on its back legs, and shook itself. As the bear shook, the fur and skin slid away, becoming loose and empty as a cloak. A man's scarred hands took the hood, shaped from a bear skull, and peeled the enchanted skin away from himself.

"Thank you, Barrister," Lord Vanus said, slipping into the green robe and covering himself. The steward nodded, and took his lord's beast cloak, folding it carefully. Lord Vanus turned to the envoy, his thick, bushy beard splitting with a smile. "I do hope I didn't frighten you. Now then, I believe you've come to deliver the proposals for a new road. I shall attend you in my study as soon as I have had a chance to properly dress myself."

ROAR! "Let the record show the duke's objection in this matter."

A True Lord of The Land

The purpose of a noble is to steward a land, and its people. The reason the gentry was formed was they were given the responsibility of governance, and that responsibility was handed down over the generations. It is their job to make hard decisions, and to guide those under their care.

Someone who strove to maintain those ideals might easily find that, though they were born to privilege, that their stewardship is blessed by nature itself.

The precise method for a noble becoming a druid (not a druid who was raised to noble status for deeds performed, that's a separate concept) will vary based on the story you want to tell. For example, you could take a page out of the film Dragonheart, and have a sickly noble who was cured by a cabal of druids, a powerful fey creature, or some other representative of nature, which resulted in them being gifted with a part of that creature's power. Perhaps every Lord or Lady who ascends to take the family's mantle receives a blessing in a sacred grove, and swears an oath to the spirits who live in their land to be their champion. It's even possible that this particular family rose to the position of nobility specifically because the line tends to result in druids, rangers, and others who are both at-home in nature, and who can stand for the land as well as the people who live on it.

Do not anger the Lord. His allies are even more fearsome than he is.
It's important to remember that you can go through all kinds of shades of gray with this idea, as well. If you want to play a good druid, then perhaps he sees his responsibility as the head of a wolf pack, or the leader of a pride; to shepherd and protect those who aren't as strong as he is, while fostering bonds with his people. On the other hand, a corrupt or brutal noble family might see themselves as the apex predators, ruling through strength and raw power over lesser peoples. They might even be seen as more beast than man, taking pleasure in hunting people (often in wild shape), or even in eating the flesh of sentient creatures. The only law they maintain is the law of the wild, and in that duty they never falter.

Whether your noble druid is the latest in a long line of animal Lords and Ladies, or a unique anomaly in their family line for one reason or another, you have all kinds of options available to you for bringing this concept to life. And for my Pathfinder players, you might want to consider Inspired by Heraldry by Flaming Crab Games. This feat supplement gives your character supernatural abilities derived from their crest, allowing you to gain gore attacks for boars, flight for falcons, and a slew of other abilities that would be perfect for scions of noble houses. Or if you're just looking for a pre-made noble family, then you might find the half-feral Blackbriars or the swamp-dwelling Dredgers in A Baker's Dozen of Noble Families to be right up your alley. Lastly, if you want something specific for your character to draw on, then you might be interested in 100 Nobles to Encounter as well, as it's full of orcish War Dukes and elven High Boughs in addition to the usual aristocracy we're all familiar with.

If you're looking for more advice on breaking out of the stereotypes that are associated with druids as a class, check out 5 Tips For Playing Better Druids.

Also, for more about bear lords and druid stewards, you should take a few minutes of your time to check out the second installment of Mythconceptions over on Dungeon Keeper Radio.

That's all for this installment of Unusual Character Concepts. If you'd like to see more of my work you can head over to my Vocal archive, or just click my Gamers author page if you only want to see my tabletop stuff. If you want to stay on top of all my latest releases, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, to help support me so I can keep making content just for you, consider leaving my a one-time tip by Buying Me A Ko-Fi, or going to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a regular, monthly patron. Either way, there's a bunch of free stuff in it for you!

1 comment:

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