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Recap-How Classes Work: In my book, a mysterious pulse of energy sent a young man named John into another world called Alendyias. This event resulted in John becoming Rorjon, a bluish ghost-like being (Kanyeri) that acts as a force of good, guiding, advising, and blessing the people of his new world (Alendyias). One of these blessings was based on John's love of RPGs like DnD, namely Classes. All Classes magically enhance one's potential (capacity), but only within the limits of their held Class. The level of this enhancement increases as the Class-holder grows and gains experience in their Class, and this increase is measured by Levels.

This question is about the Druid Class, which falls into the Mystic category. Like all Classes, this Class is almost invariably inherited or granted at birth, magically enhancing the holder's potential. However, since it's a Mystic Class, holders of this Class can cast spells. At the same time, Druids are best at (and best known for) one thing: shapeshifting.

Druids can speed, enhance, and manipulate the growth of plants, speed and enhance the growth of animals, heal, and "speak" to animals with their minds and hearts. That's what their spells concern: animals and plants. They can't turn people into animals (that's Witches and Wizards). That's the extent of their magical abilities.

Now, as for the shapeshifting: Alendyias has many different monsters (see Feasibility of Chomping Egg and Feasibility of Flailing Ooze), dinosaurs (dromaeosaurs, thero- and sauropods, ceratopsians, ankylosaurids, pterodactylids, and so forth) and classical additions like centaurs and manticores. Druids can become just about any of these, excepting creatures of such power as a beholder, aboleth, or red dragon (I used these DnD creatures as mere examples; I haven't copied them).

So, my question is: What Roles Would Druids Have In A Fantasy Society?

Consider:

  1. Shapeshifters (and therefore Druids) are well suited for infiltration. Additionally, while Druids cannot become powerful magical creatures like a red dragon, normal creatures like a bear are plenty lethal; Druids may be ideal assassins and well-suited for combat with the right forms.
  2. I have a pretty good idea of what Druids can do: quickly tame and train animals, aid in crop and livestock production, act as healers, act as commanders for certain animals (war dogs?) on the battlefield, assassinate and infiltrate....my question is what I'm missing.
  3. Since most other Mystic Classes (Shaman, Witch/Wizard, and Sage) can take an animal or monster as their Familiar, a Druid can therefore become a Familiar. I'm curious to see what those in WB.SE make of this; I'm not entirely sure what will come of it.
  4. For those who are curious about numbers: Druids compose part of the Mystic 7%, one part of it, which means one out of 4 Mystics (there are four Mystic Classes) is a Druid. The European population changed from about 61 million to around 91 million, and that change occurred (I believe) in 400 years. So, let's assume a number of 81 million as our estimate; that means there are 5,670,000 Mystics and therefore 810,000 Mystics in each of the four Classes.
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    $\begingroup$ The traditional role of druids in a D&D/Sword and Sorcery setting is "Defender of the wilds" or a similar job where druids often band together in circles and fight against the encroachment of natural exploitation and the expansion of civilization. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Jan 8 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for enlightening me! Very interesting.... $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 8 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ That role makes a lot of since in D&D like settings because their power comes from their relationship with nature. But in this setting, it is an inborn power; so, it seems more likely that they would just pursue where there talents lie just like normal ppl do $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jan 8 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, that's actually how my Class system works! Classes are determined by where your talents lie, so you can't change them. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 8 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ If everyone has a class then you will have to consider the value of each class. Some classes may prove more beneficial then others. More melee classes likely have less to offer outside of wartime them mystic classes, with Druids always having a guarnteed job between food and healing potential. That suggests to me that your end up with certain classes in position of power more and certain classes tending to poverty because there is less of a need for their skill set then people able to do it. That suggests a complex social system, class envy, etc coming up in your world. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Jan 8 at 22:56
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You would want them to be farmers, first and foremost

I know this sounds boring, but being able to magically grow crops would be a HUGE advantage in a medieval setting. Normally 90% of most pre-industrial civilizations are farmers, but if your druids were farmers, they could produce the same amount of food as many normal farmers. This would in turn free up a massive portion of your population to pursue other endeavors like large scale construction projects, higher education, municipal services, luxury goods and services, and all those other modern comforts you get when you reduce how many people you need to meet your substance level needs.

What about in times of war?

Let's say 1 druid can produce the food of 50 ordinary men, that means that drafting 1 druid into your army is the same as pulling 50 ordinary men out of your economy, and loosing 1 druid in a battlefield will negatively impact your civilization the same as suffering 50 ordinary casualties. As deadly as a bear or even a dinosaur may be, having 50 well armed men is better, especially if there are other more offensive mystics who might be inclined to target a giant dinosaur with a lightning bolt before moving on to common foot soldiers.

So instead of treating Druids as warriors, threat them purely as logisticians and back line field medics. With druids (depending on how fast they can make plants grow) you might even be able to eliminate the need for an army to have supply lines. Every night when your army makes camp your druids could just go around growing edible plants or summoning various game animals to approach the camp so that your soldiers can harvest/slaughter all the food they need.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, I really appreciate this! I'm considering making Druids capable of blessing plants so they have higher grow rates, yields, and so forth so they don't need to farm as much, but that would require more advanced farming techniques to avoid nutrient depletion.... $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 8 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Many modern civilizations like the USA produce large volumes of low nutrient foods that they supplement with small amounts of healthy stuff to sustain larger populations. You could have your druids basically be your equivalent of the US corn/wheat industry, and then use mundane farmers to grow your healthier stuff. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jan 8 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ If you mean soil nutrient depletion, you can have them grow beans or mushrooms that replenish soil nutrients. In fact so many plants rely on the mycelium network that it might be better to focus on growing that than to directly control the plants, given they can control fungi. $\endgroup$ – Morgan Jan 8 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Daron Depends on the story you are trying to tell, but taking a common trope and drastically changing how it is normally portrayed often makes for great storytelling. Everyone expects Druids to be hermit shamans and what not, but that is not necessarily the best way to slow the destruction of the wilderness. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jan 10 at 4:50
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    $\begingroup$ Note that even if your druids can't all be farmers directly, they still could have an outsized impact by basically being your society's equivalent of a land-grant university's ag extension. This would involve a lot of breeding of crops and livestock, study of the best ways to deal with issues like pests and diseases, and so on, as well as teaching state-of-the-art methods for farming and rearing animals to folks -- their deep knowledge of nature would give them immense potential to blend conservation and innovation in such a role $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Jan 11 at 1:12
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In addition to the obvious farming, consider if they can grow rubber trees or cause the plants to develop traits from other plants. It would be pretty neat if the druid can cause a tree or something to grow spun, long, fine cellulose fibers (ex: flax or cotton). Then clothes could literaly grow from trees.

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  • $\begingroup$ Very insightful! Yes, I could see a 'flora splice' spell that could cause plants to develop traits from another plant species. In fact, such a spell could probably cause mutations in the genome!~ $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Jan 8 at 22:17

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