Saturday, 8 March 2014

city red in tooth and claw

Another spell casting class, another city.  This time it's the druid's turn. Druids are traditionally associated with wilderness.  Nature peeks through the city's cracks, infrastructure provides different niches among the human hive.  Here druids are not Princess Mononoke but more subtle.  Druids are of course, quality material for city leaders.  Take the wisdom of a cleric, wed it to natural charisma and a reputation for impartiality. Add in a versatile spell list, wild empathy, the ability to change shape.  The druid may need to sojourn from time to time but this may be a ruse.

The druid's city has tended gardens and green spaces.  Parks and groves appear amid buildings.  Trees are a regular feature.  Wonders like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are possible without aquaducts using create water.  Pigeons may roost in building eaves.  Bats haunt  high towers.  Cities may also use caves like Derinyuku or Nottingham. The rich and powerful in druidic cities prosper.  They are rewarded for careful stewardship of nature's bounty and given just punishment when they over-reach.  Yet the druid is aloof from courtly antics sometimes working in secret or watching in animal form.  Yet when the spotlight is required, druids take it with considerable force and almost no mercy.  Druids may cultivate links with horse-riders. They often have money and some rudimentary understanding of how to live and work with animals.

Druidic diplomacy is an interesting field.  Animals and plants can spy for a druid.  Here the wild shape ability comes into it's own.  Scrying is an available option.  The secret druidic language is another aspect, here rogues, magic or another druid are your only defence.  Druidic ties to elementals and fey provide additional options.  The vengeful druid burning civilisation is a cliche.  Druids are more surgical in it's use.  Druids also use contagion to thin over-populated areas.  Bizarre animal attacks without reason may lead to stories rivalling the Rue Morgue or The Beast of Gevaudan.  Summon Nature's Ally may mean you wake up to more than a horse's head in the morning.

Even if such high-profile risks are not for you, the druid may have a profession with options.  Brewer, cook, gardener, farmer, fisherman, herbalist, midwife, shepherd, stable master and trapper are obvious choices for the druid.  A professional druid is never poor.  Their trade is useful camouflage in the city.  Even the impoverished druid has advantages most beggars do not if they find time to rest.  Here poverty provides a different camouflage.  A beggar's court of druids is intriguing.

The following may feature in cities tended by a druid.
  • Agriculture is a very good reason for druids to walk a city's gardens.  Spells like create water, charm animal, guidance, plant growth, repel vermin and baleful polymorph make life simpler.  Animals are well-kept of course and of course, awakened plants.
  • Construction will allow for trees and parks (which druids treat as groves). Gardens and communal fruit trees will be encouraged.  Eaves and spires for birds will be encouraged.  Spells like soften earth and stone, wood shape, stone shape and transmute mud to rock are useful.  Buildings may be enhanced by hallow or other spells. 
  • Festivals are popular, goodberries and create water provide simple fare aided by brewing. Those who've seen the original The Wicker Man may have their own take on this.
  • Druids with item creation feats may build stockpiles of useful magic.  While goodberries are seasonal, druids may follow the squirrel's example.
  • Infant and mother mortality are much diminished.  A natural midwife class, spells like cure wounds, remove disease, stabilise, goodberry and restoration help to heal childbirth trauma. Druids may have reasons for helping of course.
  • Ports may be grateful for druids with spells like control winds, control water or gust of wind.  Even a light spell may matter on stormy nights at sea.
  • Summon Nature's Ally makes the druid a formidable foe.  Apart from potential for agriculture (aurochs, dog, horse and pony), there are other options. Morally flexible druids need never be short of poisons either.

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