Introduction To Druids
Druids, along with animages, are one of the most enigmatic professions in the world. Like the animage, part of this stems from the fact that the job specialization found within the profession can, at times, be so distinct as to make the specializations seem like completely different professions. Also, like animages, druids tend to guard rather closely the secrets of their power, making themselves seem more mysterious. This is different from clerics, who make no secret about where their power comes from, or wizards, who also make no secret of what they are doing, rather they simply charge a lot to teach people what they are doing. Finally, unlike the animage, druids' sense of secrecy comes not so much from historical reasons, but rather from the fact that most druids are more concerned about the natural and spirit worlds than the worlds of men. Hence, druids tend to ignore the questions of men, trying to answer, instead, the questions of nature.
There are three distinct types of druids. All three types share the same method of collecting and utilizing mana, and all three have effectively the same goals in mind: that of understanding and preserving the natural world around them. The differences in the specializations come in the means to these goals and their training on how to observe the natural world.
All druids generally use processed mana, or spirit mana, that has been absorbed and collected by living things. They collect the excess mana radiated by the living world around them and channel it back into the world in more constructive manners (in theory, at least). This is not a hard and fast rule, however. Because they use mana that has been processed by living creatures, they are similar to clerics, but they haven't the intermediate buffer of the deity, so their use of mana can be a bit more hazardous.
The different approaches for druidic lore are given below. These are only rough overviews of the different lores. These are broad patterns that often vary and even overlap in different places and cultures. Also, one should be aware that while the ultimate goals are the same, and that while in some cultural groups these traditions and methods may overlap and blend, mix, and match, there are also places in the world where the different traditions are vehemently opposed to one and other. The most notable are conflicts between hermetic and animistic druids in some parts of the world.
Hermetic Lore: Hermetic druidism holds that the entire world, nature, and super nature is a completely closed set. As such, it has limits and rules that can be understood and manipulated. Hermetic druids use ritualistic Ceremonies, Chants and complex Dances to manipulate the natural world and influence the spirits that govern the day-to-day operation of nature.
Shamanistic Lore: Shamanistic druidism holds that the world is populated by vast numbers of powerful spirits and beings, humanoid kind being only the smallest part. It is the harmonious interaction of all these beings, these flows of animus and spirit, that drive the world. All such spirits have knowledge and intelligence to at least some degree, and by interacting positively with these beings, the good of all can be served.
Animistic Lore: Animistic druidism holds that all of nature and supernature is one. While, on the surface, there is the appearance of separateness and individual free will among different beings and spirits, in reality all are part of a single entity. While, at times, parts of the body may work in opposition to each other and sometimes even against the greater good of the all, these are but temporary deviations. Animistic druids work at causing all parts of the Oneness to work together harmoniously for the greater good. Since animistic druids realize that all spirit, all animus, and even all matter and mana are one, they are able to manipulate all of these forms of the Oneness, much as they would their body. As a consequence, the actual manipulation of mana and animus is very similar to that of animages.
Druidic magic comes in three basic forms: spells, disciplines, and Totem. Spells are divided into three basic types: Ceremonies, Chants and Dances. Ceremonies are completely analogous to clerical rituals and Chants are analogous to clerical Mantras. Mechanically speaking, Dances are a combination of Chants and Ceremonies in the sense that their casting time is until something happens or until the spell caster gets tired and gives up.
Dances are used primarily to influence or entice spirits into doing what the caster desires (if one is a Shaman -- Hermetics generally insist that Dances are simply extremely complex patterns that are used to channel energy).
Disciplines work similar to animage disciplines and/or skills. As one progresses in knowledge of a discipline, one gains the ability to do greater and greater things with that discipline.
Druidic disciplines function completely analogously to animage disciplines.
Totem is something very hard to explain to a non-Shaman (or non-Totem-ed individual of any sort). Mechanically, Totem behaves something like a skill or discipline; it is certainly measured in SL's like a skill. It is, however, much more. Totem is a way of life, an outlook, and a guide and guardian all rolled into one. One important distinction is that one does not exactly direct or use Totem. Instead, Totem guides, directs, inspires, and assists the Totem-ed individual. The whole point of the 'Totem skill' is actually learning to listen to one's Totem. It is the ability to recognize, listen to, and understand one's Totem that is measured in skill levels.