Dryads are a nature-loving, sylvan race that strives to work in harmony with the natural world. Their connection with a Spirit Tree helps to guide them through life and deepens their connection with the natural world.
Dryads must wear pointed ears and have a green wig or green-colored hair.
Dryads are creatures born of nature and do their best to maintain close ties to their natural heritage. They will tend to the surrounding wildlife wherever they go and are known to contact a nearby Dryad village when they enter new territory. When possible, Dryads prefer to live in more natural environments as opposed to brick and mortar settlements. When posed with a decision they can be seen as slow to action by shorter lived races as a Dryad will consider the options for a time before making a choice; exceptions exist, of course, for drastic situations.
Dryads originated from a massive tree planted near Dawn that came to be known as the Dryad Tree. The tree bore large flowers which, upon blooming, carried tree nymphs. These tree nymphs were the original Dryads and, as with all nymphs, were all female. It was not until other Sylvan races encountered the Dryads and intermingling of the races occurred that the Dryads of today were born.
These Dryad descendants, regardless of the fathers’ race, became their own sub-race with strong resemblances to their Mother Dryads. This new race contained both male and female members and, thus, was capable of reproduction among itself. These descendants lived among the Dryads for ages until the Shattering. The Shattering brought the end of the Dryad Tree and the mother race. Once the turmoil of the Shattered world calmed, the descendant race donned the name of their Mothers. These are the Dryads of today.
When a Dryad reaches an appropriate age or sufficient skill they will make contact with their Spirit Tree in a guided meditation called the I'omentien. The first meeting between Dryad and Spirit Tree is a celebrated event and is usually assisted by another Dryad to help guide the young Dryad on their spiritual voyage. The guide will take the young Dryad deep into the woods to find an ideal place for meditation. Smokehouses, fires, and herbs are often used to promote a heightened state of meditation to make the ritual easier on the young Dryad. This ceremony can vary tribe to tribe and even among individuals. The two will not return to the village until contact has been made.
The relationship between the Dryad and their Spirit Tree is both sacred and intimate. The Dryad may discuss the conversations they have with their Spirit Tree, the genus of their Spirit Tree, and any number of other matters regarding their Spirit Tree; however, though Dryads will share types of Spirit Tree (listed below), each Spirit Tree has a unique name. The name forms the most sacred bond between the Dryad and Spirit Tree, and a Dryad who shares the name of their Spirit Tree greatly insults and becomes shut out by their Spirit Tree. One who breaks this sacred bond risks never having contact with their Spirit Tree again.
A Spirit Tree serves as both a guide to the Dryad and indicator of the path they will walk in life. Once the Dryad and the Spirit Tree meet, the bond is forged, and the Dryad will have no other Spirit Tree for the remainder of their life. The Spirit Tree does not have a physical form in the material world but instead is a spirit of nature that helps guide the Dryad through life.
There are five major Spirit Trees that a Dryad may meet though other less common Spirit Tree varieties exist. While these other Spirit Trees are not necessarily rare, the vast majority of Dryads will find guidance from one of the major five. These five are detailed below; each has attributes and strengths that carry over into the personality of the Dryad. A Dryad's actions and personality will reflect their Spirit Tree.
Oak - The Oak tree represents strength and steadfastness. Those with an Oak Spirit Tree respect strength and work continuously to improve their combat prowess. They often serve as defenders of the village and can be found in the thickest parts of the battle. As adventurers, they are powerful allies who wade into battle with no trepidation and defend their friends with their lives. It is not uncommon for a village to send an Oak to fight in a nearby tournament to gain the respect of other races as well as to serve as a visual warning of the village's might to those who would seek to invade.
Willow - The willow tree is known for its medicinal benefits and its flexibility in heavy winds. Those with a Willow Spirit Tree are natural medicine-men/women who often pursue healing magics to aid their villages. They are also very patient with other races and more easily adapt to the changes of time. While Oaks will fight alongside other races in combat, Willows strive to interact with and build relations with the other races that are their allies.
Aspen - The Aspen tree is known for its large tree colonies interconnected by a singular root system. Those with an Aspen Spirit Tree are deeply concerned with the safety and prosperity of their family and village. Their drive to place family and village above all other issues is second only to their need to protect nature. Aspens oftentimes have difficulty interacting with other races as an Aspen can be uncaring and uncompromising in dealings with the concerns of others. For example, an Aspen may bypass a fallen ally in order to aid a family or village member in combat. Because of their strong interest in the safety and prosperity of the village, Aspens often serve as village Roots as this enables them to focus primarily on their own race and remain with the village at all times for training.
Olive - Branches of the Olive tree have been used throughout history as a sign of peace. Those with an Olive Spirit Tree actively seek out peaceful resolutions between their villages and surrounding territories. Their patience is well known and serves them well in their role as diplomats. Olives have served as diplomats between races, cities, and nations in negotiations. Though many Dryads reject the idea of negotiation as valuable time wasted, Olive negotiations tend to yield positive results for all parties involved.
Hazel - The Hazel tree is a symbol of wisdom in Dryad culture. Those with a Hazel Spirit Tree seek out wisdom and knowledge in all forms. They are often curious about natural and magical secrets; they can spend their days buried in research or deep conversation with scholars. Village Branches are often Hazels as their natural curiosity aids them well in the Branch's efforts to learn about the world. A Hazel believes knowledge can provide the answers to any question.
Dryads congregate in village communities of seventy-five to one hundred matured members. When a group grows too large, half of the village will move away in family groups to create multiple new communities. This is partially to avoid placing excessive stress on their local environment and partially to foster closeness and community intimacy where all members know one another.
Within a village, there are small family groups each consisting of a mated pair and their offspring. These families live in individual homes.
A village is managed by a small council of five to seven elders. Should an elder pass a new council member is selected by the remaining council members. In addition, this council is advised by two other venerated members of their village: the Roots and the Branches.
The Roots of a village is a male raised by a previous Roots and educated comprehensively in Dryad history and culture to ensure that none of their heritage is forgotten. The Roots uses this knowledge to advise the council in times of need or uncertainty. Should a Roots be unable to fulfill his duty for any reason (most commonly death) a trainee will take his position in the community.
The Branches of a village is a female who, upon reaching the Dryad period of adolescence, is cast out into the world alone but for a servant/protector. It is her responsibility to learn about the fluctuations of other cultures and witness the great happenings of Orn as she may. She is to meet with the masters of all crafts and learn the nature of all conflicts. Upon the death or retirement of the sitting Branches, she will be recalled to serve at the leisure of a local council and put all the world’s many wisdoms to use for their benefit.
In order for a new village to form, there must be enough members for a council and a sufficiently trained Roots and Branches.
Dryads seek unity with the world around them, constructing their homes and villages into the landscape rather than bending the land to their wants and needs. They are omnivorous but hunt and gather only what is needed and make use of all parts of a creature hunted or a plant gathered.
Despite their natural origins, Dryads are not made of plant parts nor do they have the ability to create a plant from nothing. They are capable, however, of manipulating the plants around them to bind an opponent. As they become more attuned to the world around them they are able meld into trees.
Legends of the Dryad Tree and the Mother Race live on in story and song. It is not uncommon for Dryads to pray to both an immortal and the Mothers, nor should an outsider attending a Dryad gathering be surprised to hear cheery songs praise the beauty of the Mothers and the work they performed to shape the natural world.
Most will spend their multi-century lives with their village, tending to the natural world. Occasionally, however, one will leave their homes in search of a larger purpose in life. This purpose could be to track down a guild of poachers, help restore dying forests, or even to help prevent mass destruction of lands or even a shard. Regardless of their reasons for leaving their villages, Dryads always remember their origins and never forsake the natural world; they will even take steps to prevent friends and acquaintances from defacing nature.
Early in life a Dryad meets with their Spirit Tree and from that point forward seeks the Spirit Tree's guidance through life. This relationship spans the life of the Dryad and impacts many of the important decisions in the Dryad's life.
Due to their lineage, Dryads intermingle easily with other Sylvan races. A hunter or tender of the wild, regardless of race, will find friends among this forest race while poachers and destroyers of the wild will be met with resistance.
Dryads are a generally peaceful race but will use their knowledge of the wilds and their natural allies to ensure the safety of their villages and surrounding lands. Many a trespasser with ill-intent has claimed to have been surrounded by Dryad defenders when only seconds before there had been no presence around them at all.
The two most commonly revered immortals are Antasia and her successor Loreyza. Many elders devote themselves to the memory of Antasia and are hesitant to accept Loreyza while Dryads born after the Shattering are more likely to follow Loreyza and still pay respect to her predecessor.
Other immortals are also honored by Dryads as they were introduced to the descendant race by their fathers. As such, Dryads may pray to another immortal for concerns outside the concerns of nature.
A Dryad may leave their village for many reasons. Some move to other villages, some live deep in the wilds to further their connection to nature, and some become adventurers.
Dryad adventurers can fill various roles. Their familiarity with the natural world can make them excellent hunters and trackers. Their knowledge of herbs and medicines make them natural healers. Some from the border villages have been known to take up swords and wade into battle alongside and against the fiercest of races.
"By the Mothers." - a solemn oath.
"Uprooted" -describes a traveling Dryad, or a Dryad without a village
"Nature remembers the fallen Oak." - a sentiment of honor for a fallen warrior.
"Flex like the Willow." - being too rigid can result in breaking whereas flexibility allows survival in the strongest storms.
"The Mothers." - The Dryad mother race.
"Dryad Tree." - The one tree that gave birth to the mother race; destroyed in the Shattering.