What *is* a druid circle?
By - FollowTheLaser
Druid circles are akin to a witch's coven and a church. How often they meet, whether they are an organized group, and how involved they are is entirely dependant on the circle. In earlier editions, as mentioned, druid levels were the same as your rank and power within the circle, as druids were part of the priest toolkits. In order to claim higher levels/ranks you had to kill the one above you. It was a very "nature" themed idea of survival of the fittest. With this in mind the religious leader at the center, the archdruid tends to be the one who makes a majority of the decisions that decide the path of the circle.
Also, how involved they are with the outside world is very dependent on the circle themselves and even sometimes just individual druids.
Is there only one of each Circle in the world, do you think, or are there multiple traditions of the circles in different places?
Actual druidic circles within the settings don’t line up with the subclasses, they’re a different thing.
The only one I know off the top of my head is the Circle of Swords which is somewhere on the Sword Coast.
Huh, interesting, so a Circle the faction is usually unrelated to the mechanical Circle. That might be the way for me to handle it.
The mechanical "Circles" are honestly probably more like Druidic philosophies. Kinda like how the Wizard Schools are more categories of magical theory, but could also represent literal academies with different focuses.
Let's use some made-up-on-the-spot examples and say there's a Druid Circle called the Circle of Ashthorn Wood; they're *all* Wildfire Druids who tend to a forest at the foot of a volcano. They have a shared belief in how wildfires allow new life to grow in the place of the old. In this case, Circle (Mechanical) and Circle (Factional) are essentially one and the same. They might recognise other Druidic factions/Druids with a similar philosophy; send a Druidic postcard to the Circle of the Smouldering Coast or whatever, but if they're the only Circle with this kind of druidry in the setting, then they *are* the Circle of Wildfire.
On the other hand, let's say there's the Circle of Moot Grove, who are from one huge forest. They're big, and they're varied; there's Land Druids, Dream Druids, Shepard Druids and all sorts hanging out in stone circles and smoking pipeleaf. They all believe different things (within the same vaguely druidic worldview), hold debates about how to best do Druid stuff, and probably argue a lot. Here, Circle (Mechanical) and Circle (Factional) are entirely unrelated.
Finally, we've got Gregor Bearpelt and Durian Wildwalker; Gregor is a Moon Druid who travels the continent alone, having taught himself how to shapeshift into animals and cast spells, while Durian is a Firbolg Fighter who grew up as the non-magical defender of a Druidic Circle. In their cases, Gregor has a Circle (Mechanical), but has no faction associated with him to speak of, and Durian is tied to a Circle (Factional), but has no mechanical circle whatsoever because he can't even cast spells.
Ah, I see; thanks for the explanation!
There are probably dozens if not hundreds of Circles around a DnD world.
I think in previous editions it was about one per continent - but that was when the higher levels were limited numbers and could only be achieved by defeating the current holder (i.e. there could only be one level 20 druid per circle. Want to get to level 20? Best be able to take down the current holder of the crown then! Which would drop their level to 19, so could be done non-lethally at least)
Conservation of Magic at its finest
The most druid lore comes from early editions, like how in 1e there was literally like one level 10 archdruid and you had to kill him to become the 10th level archdruid.
Ah the old kill the king, become the king situation
They are basically an HOA for the outdoors.
The most terrifying force in the world.
*Excuse me, Zaldigar the Oakheart? You seem to be spreading Amonita spores here and have a non-Arctic lupine familair. those are a forbidden in this grove as of last Spring. You have two moons to appeal or face cave-based imprisonment*
So, the way Druids: Secrets of the Primal Circle explains it (basically a third party resource book all about druid, it's fantastic), druids would be mostly hermit-like and organize themselves based on the regions they're protecting. Druids protecting regions in the same forest, or along the same river, would likely form a council. Councils could share news once a month or so about going-ons in their section of the land, possibly helping inform their fellow druids potential issues. Then numerous councils would organize a high council, and numerous high councils would organize a congress. Councils and circles are sometimes synonymous but don't have to be.
I know it isn't official, but I prefer this interpretation of druid society.
This seems like a good way to interpret it - thanks!
I have two thoughts on this:
1. Each individual community of druids belong to a specific circle, and that community is also a member of the global (national, regional, continental, whatever) group of druids belonging to that same circle.
2. Each individual community of druids includes members of varying circles. They have their own hierarchy both within the community and amongst members of each circle.
I've always considered druid circles to be akin to communes of like-minded druids who have their own take on the whole "natural order" thing.
ie a circle of Spore druids would have much different beliefs and customs as opposed to Coastal land druids, Mountain land druids or Wildfire druids.
They probably don't understand each other very much.
Druid circles is the name given for a collective of druids. Many of those druids probably have something in common, usually the place they protect, soo they can be called something like "circle of the big root" or "circle of the white coast". A reason to join these circles can be any for those druids, to feel acceptance, to gain more power, to help a cause or anything.
The game also uses circle to describe the druid's subclass. This is just a fun name for them, the character doesn't need to be part of a circle, but talk to DM if you want it too. Different druids can be part of the same circle, or maybe not even druids, a nature cleric may join in too.