Druids are commonplace in the world of Tolrea, especially in rural and wilderness areas, where they commune with the forces of the natural world and safeguard it against the damages which are often wrought by humanoid creatures’ activities. Many druids also serve as protectors of humanoid creatures who are unprepared to deal with the perils which can rise out of the wilds to strike at them.
The druids of Tolrea are not a unified force, but instead have split into a variety of different factions which pursue a variety of different goals, sometimes in concert with one another and sometimes at cross purposes. A druidic sect may include hundreds of druids, or may incorporate only a handful; most include no more than a few dozen members. All druidic sects are religious in character, often subscribing to animistic and totemic belief systems. Others search for hints of the divine in the workings of the natural world.
Many druidic sects exist. The most prominent of them are:
- The Blight Wardens: This tightly-organized brotherhood of druids originated in the Aureshan Empire, and expanded west to the Mereflow Valley during the settlement of Port Hope by humans and half-elves from there. Unlike most sects, the bulk of the Blight Wardens’ membership is active in an urban setting, where they work to prevent and cure the spread of plagues in the cramped and often filthy spaces of the city.
- The Cleansing Flame: Mintinarn Ceretheliaul (LN male elf drd 7) is the founder and head of this rapidly growing druidic order which includes a little more than a dozen members at the present time. The Cleansing Flame sect is remarkable because it is the first militant druidic sect to arise in the Mereflow Valley to date. It was founded in direct response to the burgeoning human population in and around the city of Port Hope, and its membership is exclusively elven.
- The Daughters of the Efreeti: This order of druidic nuns spends most of its time wrapped in contemplation of the beauty of fire, but from time to time they dispatch their most dedicated and capable sisters on missions to eradicate or contain the encroachment of cold-based entities of all sorts. When an over-large pack of winter wolves takes up residence in the mountains surrounding a busy pass, or an especially cold winter opens a portal to the Spirit World that unleashes an infestation of ice mephits in a normally temperate area, the sisters at Tar Viwa leave their seclusion in the plains of the central Aureshan Empire to give battle.
- The Earth Speakers: Unusually for monastic druids in the Aureshan Empire, this large sect based from the Car Howtarn are on friendly terms with the emperor and the Imperial Legion, for whom they occasionally provide training in small-unit tactics to special units of elite soldiers. Unsubstantiated rumors suggest that they also provide occasional help with assassination for their closest allies, of whom the emperor is one. Beyond these activities, the monks are remarked upon for their maintenance of one of the Empire’s finest bestiaries. Wizards, other druids, rangers, and explorers of all sorts jump at the chance to study the specimens contained in the Car Howtarn bestiary, which is maintained on a sizable grant of land provided by the Emperor for the druid-monks’ use.
- The Preservers of the Glade: This ancient sect of the Mereflow Valley is tied to the church of Leroe, but its members also revere the spirits of trees and other plants, and maintain sacred glades throughout the Tallwood. Mintinarn Ceretheliaul, the founder of the Cleansing Flame, was originally a member of this sect, and many of the older Preservers of the Glades consider his sect a heresy.
Not all druids fall within sectarian boundaries. Many practitioners of the druidic mysteries prefer to work alone or in small circles of like-minded folk, but never codify their beliefs and practices into a formal body of knowledge.