Sunday, March 4, 2018

Holmes & Cook: Druid

Since I am in the frame of mind to do so, I have been meditating upon how to fulfill the promise of this paragraph from Holmes:
There are a number of other character types which are detailed in ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. There are sub-classes of the four basic classes. They are: paladins and rangers (fighting men), illusionists and witches (magic-users), monks and druids (clerics), and assassins (thieves).
The most challenging of these (given my own prejudices and predilections) is the druid. Traditionally, the druid forgoes the cleric Turning ability and heavier armor in order to excel at nature-based skills and magic. Given that my only source material for creating a druid class for my version of Holmes & Cook is, well, Holmes and Cook, that approach really doesn’t lead me anywhere. There are no real mechanics about nature skills nor are there that many spells that could be described as nature magic.

This leaves me with an extant mechanic that normally is never associated with druids: Turning.

While this may seem odd, given the context of Holmes, where the druid is clearly labelled as a type of cleric and Turning is clearly a cleric-based mechanic, it actually make more sense in my head to go down this path rather than the one historically taken by D&D.

Therefore, the question becomes what exactly will the Turning ability represent in the case of a druid?

Given the whole nature schtick that is normally associated with the class, it occurred to me that the Turning ability of a druid could be associated with animals in the same way that it is associated with the undead with clerics.

Thus, a druid could use the Turning table to represent their ability to scare off or make friends with animals of various HD. A result of ‘D’ could then indicate the ability to take on an animal as a henchmen, rather than just being friendly.

Otherwise they function exactly like clerics.


  1. In all twenty some years of gaming; I have never played a druid! I guess I don't understand them... even though I work in the woods, hunt regularly, and have an acreage that I maintain with much love and consideration;
    Turning seems more natural for druids nowadays, since many folks are unconnected with the land; the energy of negation and undeath seems to go against Nature in a way that seems very , well, natural! Seems like druids would be zealous defenders of life vs. undeath.
    Very good thinking point :)

  2. The two primary cults of religion are the fertility cult and the death cult.
    So your inovative review and rebuild of the Druid makes perfect sense to me. If the Druid defends life and death without any temple system it would suggest that Druidry is a cult.

    1. I think this categorization is too simple. Christianity doesn't really fall into either, although I imagine that it could be argued that elements fall into both categories. In the sense that Christ defeated death by death one could see it falling into the "death cult" category; however, throughout Scripture barren woman are able to bear children through the grace of God and Mary conceived the Christ while remaining a Virgin. These suggest Christianity also falls under that "fertility cult" label. I wouldn't mind having a discussion about what you mean by these two categories...

  3. FrDave, have you read the Traitor Son Cycle (by Miles Cameron)? The books take place in a pseudo medieval Europe and the main conflict is between the civilized world (and its monotheism which is very much a Christianity analog) versus the Wild. Civilization uses "gold" magic (hermeticism) and the Wild uses "green" magic. As the series continues we see analogues of Eastern Europe and Africa. The main theme of the books is "evil is a choice." The series reminded me of some of your thoughts on a christian-centric approach to D&D. I think you would enjoy the series (and the 5th and final book is already out).

    1. I haven't. I will have to check them out. Thank you!


  4. Not sure I'd retain turning, in any form, for druids...why should such a character be able to turn the natural world? The cleric's ability to turn undead seems to be a divine response to the creatures that are an abomination in the sight of the Lord, a spitting in the face of the plan for the Afterlife, chaining spirits to the material world when they should be moving on the path of the Divine Plan (whatever that is). Druids, with their affinity for the natural world, would have a more amiable (or respectful) relationship with the animal kingdom than the abjuration/dismissing ability clerics have for the undead...which, I suppose, is implicit in your re-thinking of a "D" result.

    [I just don't like the idea of druids "scaring off" animals or interfering with an animals natural instincts. Bear's got to eat, right?]

    You're talking about a supernatural system replacing the normal reaction rules found in Holmes; I'd simply be willing to give druid a characters a bonus to reaction with animals (the "special inducement" Holmes mentions) regardless of the character's charisma (or lack thereof).

    I did a lot of thinking about using the druid class in Holmes (and how it would fit with the existing cleric class) a while back; if you're interested, you can read my ideas in the following posts:

    Given your particular "prejudices and predilections," I can see retaining some of D&D's traditional ideas (like a maximum number of levels, no turning, and the absence of high level healing); if the druid class represents a more "primitive" path of spirituality (of which the "cleric" represents the idealized, evolved path), you can show the limits of that path while giving it a few "primal" or elemental abilities (taking spells from the MU list and making your own list...the way you did with the illusionist in your previous post).

  5. Not turning animals, commanding them.

  6. I imagine that a Chaotic cleric can call undead to him, either from the undead nearby or the actual dead around his feet. They will serve for ten rounds and then depart - like the opposite of turning.

    Just imagine dead men at arms, having been slain in that instance of combat or one from earlier , suddenly animating as zombies and lurching around. Wow!

    Likewise a Druid might be able to call natural or dire beasts to serve him for a combat. And conversely, turn them away.

    Additionally, perhaps he can parley with them on the reaction table as if he speaks their language.

    To trade out plate for leather and give up healing magic, these seem like good trades to me.