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Shifting with nature: Roleplaying the druid

Anne Stickney

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.

There have long been arguments about just how the first druids came to pass, and which race was the first to become druids. But all of these shapeshifters, regardless of race, have a keen affinity for nature magic that is somewhat akin to the elemental call of the shaman. However, while shaman speak and listen to all of the elements, a druid's first call is to nature itself; the ebb and flow of the natural order of the world.

In vanilla, only night elves and tauren could be druids -- but this class has been expanded to include both troll and worgen as well in Cataclysm. Each of these four races have their own unique story behind the origin of their druidic practices, and each are equally compelling to roleplay. With a history that extends thousands of years in the past, druid roleplayers have a lot of material to work with.

Shifting with nature Roleplaying the druid SAT

Who you are

The druid races each have their own story behind how they came to be. While the worgen storyline is tied into the night elf storyline, its origins extend back farther than that -- how far, we aren't certain.

Night Elf The druids of the kaldorei have been around for thousands of years -- ten thousand, in fact. Malfurion Stormrage is recorded as being the first night elf druid, as he was taught directly by Cenarius himself. Originally, night elf druids were charged with protecting the world tree Nordrassil and subsequently the Well beneath it, but this all changed after the Third War, when Nordrassil was all but destroyed. Kaldorei druids were once upon a time primarily male, but began taking women into their ranks at some point during kaldorei history. Today, there are just as many female druids as male -- and while you cannot visit the Emerald Dream today, the druids of the kaldorei are still just as devoted to protecting life and preserving nature as they were when they began so long ago. The kaldorei organization for druids is the Cenarion Circle, dedicated to teaching druids the correct way to practice the druidic arts, and to preserving and protecting nature as well.

Worgen The worgen druids have a history that ties directly into the night elves, due to the curse of the worgen that inflicted the inhabitants of Gilneas. But even before these events, in the early days of humanity there were those humans that practiced simplistic forms of nature magic. Because of Gilneas' isolation and general refusal to interact much with the rest of the world, these simple practices were kept preserved -- although those that practiced them weren't called druids at the time, they were called harvest-witches. Once the kaldorei arrived in the Eastern Kingdoms to help the Gilneans, the term druid was widely adopted as the proper alternative to harvest-witch. Harvest-witches were not full-on druids per se, they were limited in the scope of what they could do. It was the worgen curse that amplified these simple natural powers into the shapeshifting powerhouses that are true druids.

Shifting with nature Roleplaying the druid SAT
Tauren Tauren druids are arguably older than the druids of the night elves, although the night elves proudly claim that they were, indeed, the first druids of Azeroth. But tauren legend tells tales of Cenarius teaching the tauren druidic ways. Either Cenarius was simply a friend of the tauren at one point in time, or Cenarius did, indeed, teach the tauren about druidism -- but neither he nor they referred to it as being a druid, and that particular name for it was indeed first adopted by night elf culture. Tauren and night elves have long had a standing relationship when it came to the druidic arts, but it wasn't until Hamuul Runetotem befriended Malfurion Stormrage that a tauren was allowed to join the Cenarion Circle. Hamuul was also the first tauren to become an Archdruid -- a title only bestowed on a very few druids.

Troll The troll race is one of deep spirituality that extends back for centuries, but it wasn't until recently that they began practicing the druidic arts. When the Darkspear came to Kalimdor, they settled on the Echo Isles, but were driven off the island by the treachery of the witch doctor Zalazane, who slowly began cutting the witch doctors off from the Loa -- the natural spirits of the world. While everyone else fled, there were some witch doctors who were far too ashamed of their failure to recognize what Zalazane was doing, and they remained behind. One of these witch doctors, Zen'tabra, was contacted by the spirit of a Loa named Gonk, and he took her spirit to the Emerald Dream. This is where all the Loa had gone -- their spirits were trapped in the Emerald Dream, unable to get out. Zalazane was killing all the beasts on the isles, and the Loa wanted the trolls to help, so they began teaching these trolls the ways of the druid. This handful of troll druids was not discovered until Vol'jin launched his plan to take back the Echo Isles just prior to the launch of the Cataclysm expansion. Now these former witch doctors teach young trolls who wish to learn the ways of the druid, although the Loa have been freed from their imprisonment.

Shifting with nature Roleplaying the druid SAT

What defines you, and why you fight

In the case of the druid, nature quite literally calls, and a druid stands as one of those who will fight for nature's cause. In the case of the night elves, this primarily involves protecting the forests of Kalimdor and encouraging new life to grow -- in the case of the tauren, this is a deep connection to the Earthmother and preserving the balance of the world. For Gilneans, being a true druid is a new and foreign experience. Harvest-witches were by no means masters of the druidic arts, so they are taking their cues from the kaldorei, who are teaching the Gilneans as fast as they can.

As for the trolls, while the Loa of the Echo Isles have been freed, troll druids recognize the dangers of tampering with the natural world, and they seek to preserve it in exchange for the gifts the Loa have taught them. All four races of druid may have different reasons for doing so, but what it boils down to is that all druids have a deep understanding, respect, and love for nature, and they will preserve that balance of nature at all costs, including their own lives if necessary.

But this doesn't just mean that a druid will spend all day merrily skipping around in the forests and planting posies -- far from it. Because the various races of Azeroth represent part of that natural order of the world, druids will do their best to assist these races when and where they can. They can heal, they can fight as ferociously as anyone with a sword or dagger, and they can leap in to protect as well, if necessary. What path a druid chooses is ultimately up to them -- and that path says a lot about a druid character.

What path has your druid chosen to follow? Is he a fierce fighter, skulking through the shadows to pounce on his prey? Does he have a natural affinity with healing, choosing to mend and heal rather than fight on the front lines? Is he a protector, a guardian, one who keeps his friends and family safe? Or does he use the natural spells he's learned to unleash the wrath of nature on any who would threaten its balance?

Shifting with nature Roleplaying the druid SAT

Interaction with others

Druids represent a curious crossing of faction lines. While night elves and worgen are Alliance, and tauren and troll are Horde, they meet together with the druids of the Cenarion Circle. This organization has no factional lines, and will teach Alliance as well as Horde. A druid is quite likely the character with the most bent towards peace, because harmony between Alliance and Horde is not only possible, it's been demonstrated time and time again by the Cenarion Circle. And frankly, peace between factions is far less likely to upset the natural balance of the world.

But this doesn't mean that druids of either faction are automatically close friends -- it merely adds a potential twist for your character. Is he equally respectful of all of the druid races, or does he believe his own to be superior? If he's a kaldorei, as far as history is concerned he comes from a long line of druids, the first druids in existence. What does he think of the tauren and their inclusion into the Cenarion Circle? What does he think of the worgen, and how they were created? And what does he think of the trolls, who are new to the druidic arts, but perhaps one of the kaldorei's oldest enemies?

Shifting with nature Roleplaying the druid SAT
For worgen and troll roleplayers, the story has a slightly different side. What does your character think of being a druid? What does being a druid mean to him, and how does he respond to the other druid races of the Cenarion Circle? Is he working hard to gain the respect of those races, or does he consider himself part of a new guard that is potentially far superior to the old? Because tauren are neither the first druids nor the newest, you may want to consider both lines of questioning for a tauren druid.

Part of being a druid is the ability to shapeshift into an animal, which adds a fun twist to roleplay. Can your druid communicate when he is an animal? Is he still himself, just in animal form? Or does he literally become the animal, unable to communicate, his mind taking a back seat to the mind of the creature he's become?

Druids represent one of the more interesting classes to roleplay, simply because there are so many different facets to their nature. Their race and that race's history plays a far larger part on their attitude towards druids of other races, and the other creatures of Azeroth as well. And their ability to shapeshift presents an entirely different personality that could be brought into play. A druid has the potential of being not just several different combat roles in one, but several different personalities in one as well -- and that makes them intriguing choices for roleplay.

All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!

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