Monday, 27 May 2019

Druids as Oral Geneticists

A lot of the Uud/Eldritch Foundry classes and races have distant quasi-Scientific/technological inferred backgrounds. Not necessarily from our kind of technology but from some kind of technology.

Druids are meant to be some fallen form of super-Bio-Scientists. Though I'm not sure how any kind of science can turn you into a flock of birds.

(I also got a moon reference in there.)


The Druids, Chimerae, Wod-Wid, Woodwise, or Greenseers of the Mountains of Reality are little known, and much feared beyond that land.

Those who visit in winter will know the eerie thrumming of their drums echoing from valley to valley, floating over the unquiet snow in the night, and may have seen one on occasion, barefoot, bearing knives of stone or clubs of wood, wearing the simplest robes and a sting of amber beads. And strangely warped from human kind.

What all know is that they are illiterate, refusing to either read or write, that they 'advise' the Gloom Queens, that they are Doctors, ambassadors, ritualists and magicians, that they have prodigious memories, that they love nature, and strangest of all, is that many, or most, are no longer entirely human at all.

Darker rumours say that though they are defenders of the land, they have little love for humanity, and even grimmer rumours speak of murderous rivalries between or within their Circles or ‘Travails’, and of human abduction and sacrifice for unknowable goals.

What god, or force, or agent they worship, if they are even truly 'religious' in any real sense, seems to change shape and name according to the place and time, The Helix, The Wheel, The Web, The Grootwamme The Umbor, The Great Incubator, The Mother or The Green Moon, it could be any or all of these.


At some point in their development and education, every Druid must take what is called The Step of No Return; they must become something other than human.

When this happens, or what they become, can differ a great deal from Travail to Travail, and from Druid to Druid. Some take the step almost immediately, others not until old age, and a few never take it, becoming what are derisively referred to as 'Skelseers' by other Druids; the unchanged.

No matter how much power they have, what they have learnt or what they have achieved, until they take the Step of No Return, no Druid will ever wield meaningful influence amongst their own kind.

What they become afterwards can vary wildly. Some are symbiotes with a fungal intelligence, some are part plant with green blood and leaves for hair, able to drink sunlight and root themselves in the earth. Some become Hive Druids, able to become insect swarms at will. Others have transferred their soul, or mind to an immortal animal of some kind, that may live long after their body dies. Some are animal/human hybrids able to warp spasm into other forms, or eternally trapped between them. Some are flocks of birds and can no longer sleep in human form. Some are living infections, ageless, immortal, passing from host to host.


The Druids believe that the Umbor cannot be worshipped or served with anything made by mortal hands. Thusly, they are obsessed with finding and using natural tools and weapons with minimal, or no working or manipulation used in their creation.

Their weapons are stone and wood, they perform surgery with their hands, they write nothing down and memorise their entire culture and philosophy. Their currency amongst themselves is in amber gems, one of the few forms of outward status they are allowed to wear. Its whispered that the bugs frozen in such gems are their spies, daemons and assassins.


"It is curious that a people so changeable in form possess such remarkable continuity of knowledge" - Vosil Fail, excommunicated Sophont of Yga.

The Druids may be one of the few groups to have a direct line of knowledge dating, not just from before the Fall, but from the age of Uud at the height of its power.

It's in code. In fact its encoded in multiple overlapping levels; metaphorical, cryptologic, phonetic, tonal, rhythmic, mathematical and conceptual, and they have but few of the keys to 'read' it.

Reading they would never do of course, because all the knowledge of their culture is based in practice and oral transmission. The Druidic story-cycles can take a decade to learn, it’s said, and a lifetime to understand.

Even this is untrue. They take several lifetimes to understand, and many of the oldest and strangest Druids are deeply engaged in this process, and are actively guarding their methods and understanding from the few of their peers that approach their power level.

It is the information encoded in these Sagas that gives the Greenseers their magical abilities.

Druidical magic is actually made up of individual pockets of precise bioscience linked together and activated by a magical superstructure. In terms of pure thaumatological power, it’s pretty light, only bending reality enough to gain access to and to utilise its techniques of forgotten superscience.

In comparison to the work of Sorcerers who gain control over reality by poking holes in it and trying to control what comes through, and Wizards, who mould spacetime carefully like wet clay, Druidic 'magic' is quite mild, it leave little magical trace and damages the Real only slightly. Nevertheless it can be supressed and disordered by the same things that affect most magic.

If they were to ever fully decode their inherited knowledge, all the understanding of the Green Moon, the Umbor, the Grootwamme, whatever it is, will be theirs to use as they wish. Whether this would be a good thing is less certain.

In comparison to recalling and endlessly trying to comprehend this massively encoded and highly complex culture-thread, the mere act of remembering the entirety of the law system of the Gloom Queens, and all the relevant information from the Mountains of Reality and Blackwater as a whole, mere political and social information, is a not-particularly-taxing side job.


There are two prime laws for the human subjects of the Mountains of Reality, the Courts Vital and the Courts Objective.

The nature of the Courts Objective is intelligible to any visitor, ultimate power to decide any case resides with the Beodomor, the Queen-of-Queens, (if you can wake  her up), who rests in Morningspain. From her, power flows to each of the subsidiary Queens, (Queens-Ordinary), and from them to their Knights, each of whom is responsible for a particular part of their kingdom, and who may appoint a seneschal with their temporary authority.

All of this is as expected for a feudal government (considered a backward and regressive form of organisation in most of the Grey Cities).

But the Courts Objective only cover legal issues to do with objects, abstracts, distant things or non-living things.

Anything to do with living bodies, growing things, life, or more generally, processes instead of states, comes under the authority of the Courts Vital - the Druids, who are broken down into a complex series of 'circles' or 'travails', each of which have shifting areas of authority.

Theft is a Queen thing.

Sexual crimes are a Drudic matter.

Murder is a matter for both Knights and Druids. Technically, for a direct servant of the Queen, murder counts as 'misuse of sword', or whatever the weapon used was. Legally, if you strangle someone with your bare hands before a Knight, they cannot arrest you, but most will try to detain you by force and then drag you before the local Druid who will usually make the detention legal by making the arrest and confirm the crime. (Often after speaking to the microfauna in the body in question.)

Pairings of Knight and Druid are common in investigations in the Queendoms, their abilities complement each other neatly and each can pursue one aspect of the crime, depending on what evidence presents itself.

Appeals in the case of the Courts Objective ultimately go to the Beodomor, and can be made in writing, with reference to the law which itself is written down.

Appeals to the Druids must go through a series of Travails, ending finally at the Last Travail, the High Circle of the Druids. The Supreme Court of the Courts Vital is actually a trial-by-combat between High Level Druids, constitutional change can only come about through a fight to the death.


Each Gloom Queen has a Druidic judge, a magician, doctor and advisor, who acts as the head of the Court Vital in that Queendom and who either rules, or reports to, the local Travail.

The incredible memory, scrying abilities, strange vital magics and generally sound wisdom of the Greenseer makes them an invaluable help to the Queen. They organise agriculture and the use of natural resources, help arrange marriages, perform medical treatments and essentially place themselves at the disposal of the Queen.

They also control the means of rapid communications between the separated valleys and Queendoms. In summer and spring singing birds wing their way from valley to valley, singing their songs into the ears of the local Druid before passing on. Only the Druids can decode the meaning of these songs. In autumn and winter when the environment becomes difficult indeed for smaller birds, the Druids engage in massively sustained low-frequency drumming episodes, often banging on huge rotten logs for hours or days at a time. The deep unearthly thrumming flows through valleys and over hills for many miles. As with the birdsong, only the Druids know the deep meanings of these rhythms.

The Druids have also placed themselves in charge of many of the smaller bridges in the Mountains of Reality. This vertical, crevasse and river-cut land has many valleys and settlements accessible only by bridge, or cut off during winters or floods. The bridges reaching these places are made of natural materials, wood and grass rope, they are easy to repair. And they need repairing a great deal since they break down continually.

Agriculture in the Queendoms is self-sustaining, well-run and has a minimal impact on the environment. It is also ruinously inefficient and keeps the majority of peasants at the edge of starvation, rarely providing any kind of tradeable surplus.

All of this is entirely intentional. The Druids are one of the primary forces for conservatism in the Mountains, keeping technology, other magics and cultural change to a minimum. They have their own interests in the Mountains and the environment, and humanity makes up only a small part of them.


In the Mountains, the Druids are usually the only reliable and available help. This is another strong reason to stay on their good side and to grow both crops and children the way they tell you to. Should you rotate your crops in the wrong manner, of let your pigs dig up the wrong truffles in the wrong season, you may find yourself banned from medical care.

Medical issues are one of the reasons that Druids are (occasionally) invited into the Grey Cities, since their strange abilities can sometimes address complex medical problems which even Grey City sophonts are unable to comprehend.

The cures of the Druids though, can often leave the patient.. changed. Either in personality or form, or both. They can heal cancers, but insist on keeping the ones so removed, and taking them away to do... something, with them.


The reputation of Druids in the Grey Cities could hardly be worse. Not only are they strange wizards but they are strange foreign wizards who hang out in forests and bogs. They lair in the Zomia, the unpopulated and desolate areas, thick forest, moorland, mountains and swamp where crops will not grow and guards will not patrol.

Many of the Greeseers in the Grey Cities are ones kicked out of the Queendoms, often for good reason. They may be genuinely murderous and deranged, bent on human sacrifice or following a sociopathic personal interpretation of the Sagas, holed up in a cave making mutants or splicing things together that should not be. Or they might be reasonably people fleeing a corrupt Travail or bad doctrine, you could be one of these escaped radicals, someone with too much sympathy with mankind, too little respect for tradition, or fleeing a corrupt and evil Travail.

High status Druids are sometimes summoned to particular cities for diplomatic or medical reasons, these can operate under 'diplomatic immunity' as representatives for their Queens, theoretically under the protection of the Beodomor.

Others might be simple aspirants or learning Druids who have been sent out amongst the cities on one of the strange quests of the Woodwise.


Its customary, at some point during their training, for a Druids teacher to give them a quest both subtle, but also almost incoherent.

This might be to "Learn the dark face of the Green Moon", discover "What is All?" to seek out "The Dream of the World" or some other riddle or koan.

The aspirant is then essentially booted out and told strongly to not come back until they have learnt the meaning of the lesson.

These 'quests' serve many purposes; they get the aspirant out of the way, make sure they get some life experience, they give the person in question and chance to run for it and back out of the final step if they are scared of it, they might get the aspirant killed, (but if this happens they probably weren't worth the trouble anyway), they act as a kind of Rumspringa, and there is always the slight chance that they might actually find the real answer to the lesson.

They are also a reasonable way of removing particular druids if they disagree too much with their Travail, are truculent, improvise too much, are Scared of the Great Change, seriously screwed something up or accidently won an important court case they were expected to lose, thereby throwing local politics into confusion.

If you did not run, it is highly likely you were sent.


  1. It is refreshing to see Druids having roles in the rest of society, such as judges, and not being fully cut off from it, as it is often happening.
    Knight and Druid as 'buddy cop' kind of procedural.

  2. A great big list of seemingly-impossible quests would be of great use to me, that sounds like an excellent character motivation...