Druids are the guardians of nature who seek to preserve balance and protect life. They use the power of the world around them to aid in tasks and dedicate themselves to its care.
Druids harness nature’s raw energy for an incredible breadth of offensive and defensive abilities, as well as to restore life to the wounded. Druids have unmatched versatility in the field of battle. This is in part because druidism is much more than a fighting discipline—it’s a way of life steeped in traditions so ancient that even the origin of their kind is preserved largely in mythology passed on through millennia. Through communion with nature and the demigod Cenarius - Lord of the Forest - druids are supernaturally endowed with the gift of shapeshifting, allowing them to take the form of all manner of nature’s creature and access powers as distinct as they are diverse.
Many druids are part of an organization known as the Cenarion Circle, led by the great archdruid, Malfurion Stormrage. While none are forced to be apart of the Circle, many choose to live their lives with others of their powers and cooperate in their quest for peace and natural growth around Azeroth. Another organization of druids known as the Dreamweavers resides within Val'sharah.
Druids can often be separated into what are known as 'sects'. These sects usually define the druid's characteristics and abilities, as well as particular forms if they so choose. Though druidism is often associated with Elune and the Emerald Dream, there are varying walks of life as well as many races that practice druidism. Kaldorei are the most prolific race to practice the art, with the tauren and their Highmountain cousins being a close second. Darkspear trolls have recently come into the ranks of the Cenarion Circle after being taught the ways of serving multiple animals spirits by their loa, Gonk. This was done out of necessity despite some of the protests from other loa, as Zalazane had trapped many of them within the Dream. Because of the influence of the worgen, harvest-witchcraft has seen a rise in activity after many years, though many Gilneans have also turned to Elune. The human kingdom of Kul Tiras also has druidic practices, with their followers being known as Thornspeakers. The Zandalari Empire practices druidism heavily, although their patron deities are not of Elune or the Dream but rather the loa. Furbolgs and vrykul have been known to practice the art on occasion.
Though not universal throughout, the lifestyle and training of a druid traditionally starts with the choosing of an animal totem and visiting a spirit of the wilds to imprint upon. It is difficult to master different or other animal forms, but it is possible through great commitment and focus. New animal forms can be learned through such pilgrimages and spirit quests. The physiology and coloration of an animal form can change depending on the race.
Cenarius - the patron for all druids - instructed Malfurion Stormrage, with his pupil becoming the first druid of Azeroth to walk the path. This is rather controversial as -according to tauren mythology, Cenarius instructed them first in druidism as recounted in their myth Forestlord and the First Druids. This stems from historical and anthropological misconceptions, as Cenarius did live among tauren's ancestors, the yaungol thousands of years ago. However, the yaungol themselves were not officially taught by the keeper of the grove in the ways of druidism. Rather, it is hypothesized that they practiced crude nature magic, a primitive sort of druidism similar in structure to Gilnean harvest-witches. Interestingly enough, ancient kaldorei practiced very similar magics that pre-date druidism. Their practices were druid-like in tradition, but they themselves utilized arcane magic as opposed to nature. There is no known official term for them though they are known as proto-druids or valewalkers.
Malfurion would lead the night elves through the War of the Ancients and the long years that followed. With the creation of the World Tree Nordrassil, the kaldorei druids were bound to the Dragon Aspect Ysera, and her realm known as the Emerald Dream. The Emerald Dream is the patron realm of the druids, an untampered landscape where intelligent life never formed and is jealously guarded by the green dragonflight. The Cenarion Circle was eventually formed as the governing society of druids, based in sacred Moonglade. They remained predominantly in slumber within their barrow dens on a religious pilgrimage and to heal the scarred landscape. And for ten thousand years did they reside within while Kalimdor changed form outside.
Eventually were the druids awoken by Tyrande Whisperwind to combat the threat of the Burning Legion during the Third War. They were successful, but the Legion's attack left a terrible scar on the natural order. After Archimonde's defeat, the druids chose to remain in the waking world and help rebuild their shattered lands.
Current Sects Edit
The Druids of the Claw are the sect of druids that specialize in advanced melee and espionage tactics, their prowess made manifest in the form of either the bear or the cat. They are well known for their raw power and rage, which can be highly useful in defense and offense. Bears are magnificent tanks on the battlefield and can take immense damage while cats can do quick guerilla strikes and infiltration. Both specialized for individual and group combat, the druid of the claw is seen as the premiere druid sect in some cases.
The great bear Ursoc is their primary patron, the twin brother of Ursol and Ancient Guardian of the Wilds. Both demigods fell in battle during the War of the Ancients to defend Kalimdor. As Ursoc's body faded, his claws were left behind and reappropriated to be powerful weapons of great druid potential, known as the Claws of Ursoc.
The wild panther Ashamane is their secondary patron, another Ancient Guardian who met the same fate during the War of the Ancients. Her most loyal followers are a sect all their own, known as the Ashen. After her body had fallen in battle, her enormous sabered teeth were recovered and recycled into magical druid weapons, known as the Fangs of Ashamane, also known as the Fangs of the First Nightsaber.
The Druids of the Talon are druids who take to the skies in the form of great birds such as storm crows, ravens, hawks, and other birds of prey. They take on an invaluable scouting role as well as messengers. Druids of the Talon are not predominantly specialized for combat roles but can potentially hold their own in a fight. Many may research the ways of the skies and weather, though there are also a large majority who do not.
The Druids of the Wild is the most widespread and prolific sect within the Cenarion Circle. These druids do not specialize in a particular form, rather focuses on all aspects of a Druid. They take on any role that is required of them whether it be a combative, medical, scouting, educational or another aspect. Druids of the Wild are generally held as the jack-of-all-trades but masters of none. However, the most adept and dedicated are able to overcome this handicap and become epic druids of the wild.
By not adhering to a specific sect, Druids of the Wild do not have a particular deity and as such defer to Cenarius and Elune by default. Occasional deference has been given to Alexstrasza for blessing Nordrassil with her life and the elemental lord Therazane for holding the earth and trees up with her mountainous girth.
The Druids of the Antler is a small and reclusive sect, which takes on the form of stags, deer, and moose. Their patron saint is the Ancient God Malorne, the father of Cenarius himself.
Druids of the Antler are perhaps the closest relation to Cenarius and his descendants. As such, they work closely with the dryads and Remulos, who presides over the Moonglade and other corners of the world.
One of the more notable Druids of the Antler would be the mysterious Grovemaster Leart, who is seen as the Pale Stag.
The Druids of the Grove are a sect of Druids dedicated to the healing and restoration of the land, often communing with treants to do so. Rare is it to see in wartime though when seen, they are utilized in helping heal wounds. They are most commonly seen aiding the Alliance in skirmishes against the Horde out in Alterac Valley, one of the few druidic sects to take a political stance.
The Druids of the Moon follow the balance specialization of druidism, their focus on the utilization of offensive magic for combative purposes. This sect is a holdout from the primitive proto-druids as they utilize some degree of arcane and even sun magic. Their primary form is the owlbear or moonkin, though they have also learned to tap into the arcane and manifest themselves as a powerful astral form.
No known patron saint or Wild God is known that they follow, though it is widely accepted to be either Ysera or Cenarius.
The Druids of the Branch forsake combat abilities in favor of healing the injured and cleansing the sick. Taking on the form of a treant, their skin becomes hard as bark and they reach out through the greenery around them to seal shut the wounds of their allies.
The Druids of the Branch possess a valuable artifact, a branch left from the remaining husk of G'Hanir that had perished in the War of the Ancients. In order to protect it from the harpies, Malfurion stored it within the Emerald Dream and its power spread tranquility all around it. The single remaining branch found had a solitary acorn growing atop, which eventually became Nordrassil.
The Druids of the Fin are an incredibly niche sect of druidism dedicated to the protection of aquatic life, their forms consisting of sea lion, dolphins, and orcas. Very little is known of what patron they follow - if any.
Harvest Witches harken back to an incredibly ancient time in human history where they practiced primitive nature magic that vaguely resembled druidism. Though they did practice shapeshifting, harvest witches predominantly used their nature magic for farming and agriculture. However, such practices fell out when Holy magic and the arcane grew in popularity. When Gilneas rejoined the Alliance and lived alongside the kaldorei, there was a movement of historical revisionism to refrain harvest witches as actual druids. This drew a lot of scrutiny from Gilnean and druid scholars, with many kaldorei calling the comparisons "inappropriate" and "culturally appropriative."
Thornspeakers are a form of nature magical practice often agreed to be actual druidism than harvest-witches claim to be. The very first thornspeakers were actually sea-faring vrykul who made landfall upon ancient Kul Tiras after the Sundering split Kalimdor apart, turning to nature magic to survive. Thousands of years later did human settlers arrive, and the Drust waged a genocidal war campaign against them under the orders of Gorak Tul. The Drust druids rebelled against their master and sided with the humans, which eventually led to the sect of druidism being introduced and accepted into Kul Tiran society.
Thornspeaker magic is less elegant than kaldorei, with their forms twisted and macabre but hearty like the people it originated form.
The raptari are an order within the Zandalari Empire consisting predominantly of druids, though warriors and hunters are often known to be allies. Their patron loa is Gonk, who holds a much stronger connection with his Zandalari followers than of the Darkspear. To the raptari, Gonk is a physical part of their very being.
The lun'alai are an incredibly controversial sect of Zandalari druids, active within Zuldazar. They have rejected the cold stonework of the city in favor of embracing the tranquil warmth of nature. So much so that they remain in their animal forms, having very rarely been spotted outside of them. Some lun'alai have been known to frequent bear form, but they have a fascination with the moonkin aspect. On account of their physical attributes, their moonkin form looks more like a fanged arakkoa than the owlbear or feathered pterrordax. The lun'alai are the truest of the druids, their connection with nature spanning farther hack than the bargain with Gonk spans. Lun'alai belief is nature is to be lived in balance and harmony, not bargained with. However, their lifestyle is not without its detractors.
Zandalari society sees their beliefs as heretical and that they worship a false loa. This stems from the fact that their "loa" is actually believed to be Elune herself, as the lun'alai refer to her as "matron" and they manifest strictly into moonkin form. Needless to say, it is not popular.
The savagekin is an incredibly rare sect of druidism that date back to its roots, so rare that many even doubt their existence. The bond between the druid and nature is typically a symbiotic union, though the savagekin surrenders to it fully. A savagekin forsakes their former identity in favor of the pure wild, rarely leaving their humanoid form in favor of remaining as a beast. Abandoning their humanity grants them immense power and a deeper understanding of nature than most druids but at the cost of their sanity and stability. A savagekin shares little differences between a feral animal, trading sentience for strength. They struggle to return to humanoid form and even have speech difficulties, with the connection running so deep that they can be lost to the wild altogether.
Very few can walk the path of a savagekin and retain sentience.
The plagueshifter is a sect invented by tauren druids to combat the plague of undeath permeating the former lands of Lordaeron. They are adept at fighting and resisting disease and sickness, their arsenal of knowledge expanding to encompass poisons as well. It is a sect that requires great diligence and is incredibly dangerous.
A plagueshifter is unique in that they learn and practice magics outside of the standard druid lexicon, such as summoning water elementals and purifying liquids of toxins and impurities. They can place magical barriers in the form of a quartet of enchanted stones, protecting anything within its area from the outside. It is also nigh impenetrable, with even the smallest of vermin being unable to escape. Infected beings within the barrier cannot spread their sickness or be harmed by its afflictions. More unique is their ability to summon white hounds made of divine holy magic, capable of curing from touch alone.
Interestingly enough, the plagueshifter is not strictly limited to the ways of druidism, as shaman can become plagueshifters as well. However, their origins and overall structure stems from druidism, hence why they are often associated strictly with the craft.
Former Sects Edit
The Druids of the Scythe has their origin nine thousand years ago, founding during the War of the Satyr. The demonic remnants of the Legion had manifested in the form of satyrs, and the kaldorei were struggling to stand against them. An experimental new form was uncovered, involving the connection to Goldrinn, the great wolf. The form transformed its followers into wolves, and it was ruthlessly effective against the satyr. However, the animalistic rage it called upon was near impossible to control, and Malfurion nearly injured Cenarius when he had attempted to use it. As such, he forbade the practice of it under any circumstances. His thero'shan - Ralaar Fangfire - was not convinced and believed they needed more conviction to win the day. The loss of his good friend Arvell only embittered him further, as the druid had promised to never use the form again and ultimately died to the satyr for his commitment. As such, Ralaar formed the Druids of the Pack with others to act as a secret strike force.
Alongside his companion Belysra Starbreeze, Ralaar tempered a weapon made from Goldrinn's fangs in order to help them maintain control, called the Scythe of Elune. However, the scythe brought about an unworldly curse and transformed them all into lycanthropic wolf-men known as worgen. They became increasingly unhinged and killed both satyr and kaldorei alike, with no one being spared their wrath. However, Ralaar - now calling himself Alpha Prime - saw this as a blessing rather than a curse. In honor of their so-called 'blessing', the Druids of the Pack changed their name to the Druids of the Scythe. Those that did not die from their attacks became worgen themselves, and it spread faster than the satyr did. With no options left, Malfurion had to banish the worgen to the Emerald Dream and hid the scythe away from the world. Later in life, Malfurion's apprentice Fandral Staghelm would write a novel detailing his Shan'do's failure to the world, which would ultimately set the stages for the worgen's return ten thousand years later.
A kaldorei by the name of Velinde Starsong followed the details Staghelm had left in his book and uncovered the hidden Scythe of Elune. She summoned the worgen and began to utilize them as a weapon against the demons of Felwood, but they were spreading quickly out of control. Velinde had heard rumors that worgen were brought back into the world by the mad wizard Arugal under the orders of King Genn Greymane. They were seen as an alternative to fighting the Scourge, and the cycle soon began all over again. The Druids of the Scythe, now under the name of the 'Wolf Cult' would spearhead the attack on Gilneas City which marked the beginning of the Invasion of Gilneas. Alpha Prime sent his followers after Velinde to obtain the scythe for his own purposes, but it was ultimately lost in a mine explosion before being uncovered by an unrelated third party.
The sect was later destroyed by Belrysa, near the end of the Invasion.
Few sects are more controversial than the druids of the Nightmare. Their philosophy is the worship of the Emerald Nightmare as opposed to the Dream, seeing the chaos within as the true extent of nature. As such, their transformation magic is physically distorted and macabre, manifesting as beasts of plague rather than guardians of nature. The corruption and destruction of nature is their following, and indulgence in said magic over the years begins to physically distort them into twisted beings of nefariousness, such as donning scaly hides or having tentacles for limbs.
Very few choose such a lifestyle, as many are unfortunately lured into the Nightmare while dreamwalking and indoctrinated to its will. But there are those that have dared to choose it as their following. However, with the defeat of Xavius and the fall of N'Zoth, it is unlikely few - if any - are left.
The Druids of the Fang were once a sect under the tutelage of Naralex, who wished to use the Dream to bring lush greenery back to the Barrens. However, they ultimately happened upon the Emerald Nightmare and were driven to madness, now spreading their dark influence from the Wailing Caverns. Naralex was trapped within the Dream and usurped by his own followers, who had taken up a new deadly druid form utilizing serpents.
Their machinations never came to pass, and they were defeated with Naralex's freedom.
The Druids of the Flame were a relatively new sect following the leadership of the traitorous Fandral Staghelm, who had forsaken Azeroth and sworn his loyalty to Ragnaros the Firelord. Malfurion had been trapped within the Emerald Dream for years as part of a plan Staghelm had been enacting, being somewhat mentally coerced by the lingering spirit of Xavius reaching out to him.
They were given fiery new forms and deadly powers, responsible for nearly killing Hamuul Runetotem and Thrall. Staghelm had become the Fire Lord's majordomo and led a crusade to burn Nordrassil down but ultimately had been defeated. With Staghelm and his lineage dead, it is unlikely any more remain.
Notable Druids Edit
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