Rodorsceaft: Pillar of Heaven
The Draiocht is the worldwide organization of Druids that serves as the power behind the throne for every kingdom, empire and dominion in the Branches of Mother Tree. They enjoy near-absolute power, tempered only by their mandate, that being to preserve the balance in all things and prevent the civilized world from encroaching too far into the wilds.
The Draiocht is organized into groves, each a small community of class Druids and a mix of PC and NPC classes. All members of the Draiocht are properly referred to as Druids regardless of their actual class. Druids who are members of a Grove are usually assigned a mentor or superior, who handles their training and their duties. Druids are also occasionally assigned as Druid errants, with no specific duties or responsibilities save to uphold the Draiocht’s mandates.
Each Grove is headed by an Ovate, who is usually (but not always) the highest-level class Druid present. The Ovate is selected by trial by combat and must be a class Druid. The Ovate is absolute ruler of his individual grove, but has no intrinsic authority outside it.
In the interest of preserving the balance, Mam Coeden empowers only a certain number of Druids for each class level beyond 12, called Archdruids. Specifically, there can be only 27 Druids of level 13, 9 Druids of level 14, 3 Druids of level 15 and 1 Druid of level 16, who is the Hierophant and the head of the Draiocht as a whole.
Advancement requires the prospective Archdruid to seek out one of the existing Archdruids of the prospective level and challenge him to single combat (not necessarily to the death). The loser is reduced in XP to the midpoint of his previous level. A special restriction is that only single-class Druids may attain the position of Archdruid or Hierophant. A corollary to this is that only single-class Druids are ever able to advance beyond Druid level 12.
The Hierophant can retire at any time, by gaining another level of Druid. He is, at that point, an Elder, and entitled to advance freely as a Druid or as any other class.
Druids as a whole are afforded a position of respect in society. Commoners will revere them and nobles will defer to them as their position demands. A druid errant might be called upon to mediate a dispute between farmers or to clarify a point of lore. Druids are expected to be conversant with the oral history of their Grove and to have a broad and specific knowledge of nature and natural things.
All members of the Draiocht, regardless of class, are entitled to learn Druidic. However, non-class Druids must spend a skill point to learn the language.
Druids as a whole exist in a special place in society. They are not subject to society’s laws and are always accorded free status. The Draiocht does, however, police its own, and a druid who falls too far out of line will be recalled for punishment. Druidic punishments are frequently very harsh.
Druids do not marry; once per year, during the Druidic month of Mawr Helfeydd, a Druid (of either gender) is permitted to choose any mate they desire from outside the Grove. The child (if any) from the union belongs to the Grove and is raised by the Grove. Groves also, as a rule, accept any orphans they are offered.
The children of a grove are raised communally, with members of the grove watching them for their aptitudes. The best and brightest are initiated into the Druidic order proper; those with a more martial or skillful bent are trained as Rangers. The truly artistic are sent to the Bardic colleges. Those who are average, unexceptional, are trained as gleaners or experts.
Members of the Draiocht receive a tattoo marking their home grove at birth or induction. This tattoo is placed under their left eye and serves as a mark identifying them as a druid. As druids gain in power and influence, they may receive other facial tattoos.
The Draiocht is a reflection of the natural world. While it has, on rare occasions, allowed druids to leave the order peaceably and operate as independents, the Draiocht usually keeps its members until death.