Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dryads as a PC/NPC Race

I've always been a big fan of dryads, probably because one of my first exposures to epic fantasy was the Belgariad by David Eddings, and a dryad figures into that series as a major character.  Official dryads in Pathfinder have certain limitations that prevent them  from being a usable character race, most notably the fact that they are essentially 'tethered' to their tree and straying too far from it is eventually fatal.  Dryads are mysterious and insular by nature, but the dryads presented below are somewhat more worldly than their Pathfinder-canon counterparts.  Due to their fey nature, they have certain special racial traits and abilities, but I've tried to balance those out with disadvantages that I believe make sense.

Racial Traits

  • +2 Charisma, +2 Wisdom, -2 Strength: Dryads are wise, beautiful, and subtle, and tend to prefer magic over brute strength.
  • Medium: Dryads are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Normal Speed: Dryads have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Fey Immunities: Dryads are immune to charm effects and get a +2 racial saving throw bonus against other enchantment spells and effects.
  • Fey Magic: Dryads get a +2 racial bonus to their caster level for enchantment spells.
  • Aversion to Metal: Dryads get a -4 penalty to skills, attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks when touching metal or carrying metal anywhere on their person.  However, metal weapons have no special bonuses against dryads.
  • Treebound: A dryad's life force is bound to the tree of her choosing.  She may undergo a 24-hour ritual to bind herself to a different tree.  If a dryad's tree is cut down or otherwise killed, she becomes sickened and takes 1d6 points of Constitution damage per day until she is bound to a new tree.
  • Forestbound: Dryads become sickened if they are ever more than 1200 yards from the nearest tree.  In addition, after every hour spent in a polluted, blighted, or densely populated area (anything larger than a small city), dryads must make a DC 15 fortitude save or become nauseated for the next hour.
  • Natural Armor: Dryads receive a +3 racial bonus to their natural armor.
  • Tree Meld: A dryad can meld with any tree, similar to how the spell meld into stone functions. She can remain melded with a tree as long as she wishes.  Dryads must Tree Meld in order to rest.  Tree Meld is a supernatural ability.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Dryads are proficient with longbows (including composite longbows), quarterstaves, and shortbows (including composite shortbows).
  • Wild Empathy: This works like the druid's wild empathy class feature, except the dryad has a +2 racial bonus on the check, and an additional +1 for every 4 class levels. Dryads with druid levels add this racial modifier to their wild empathy checks.
  • Woodcraft: Dryads receive a +2 bonus to all craft checks involving wood, and an additional +1 for every 4 class levels.
  • Languages: Dryads begin play speaking Common and Sylvan. Dryads with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Celestial, Draconic, Elven, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, and Orc.


Dryads are always female, and their skin and hair take on the color of the bark and leaves (respectively) of their bound trees.  Apart from this, Dryads appear similar to half-elves in most other respects. 

Aging and Lifespan

Dryads accrue normal bonuses and penalties for aging, do not appear to age beyond adulthood.  Dryads have the same lifespan as elves.


Dryads are typically Neutral, although with slight Chaotic Good leanings.


Dryads typically gather in small communities of five to thirty, called groves.  The eldest dryads in a grove typically form an elder council, and one member of the council is chosen to be the Grove Mother, who is considered to be the leader of the community.  Dryads have a loose social structure, and the Grove Mother often acts more as a first-among-equals than a ruler.


Dryads are insular and naturally suspicious of outsiders, but their tendency toward good makes it difficult for them to completely ignore people in need, and they are often willing to allow outsiders to prove themselves in order to earn their trust.  Dryads refer to humans, dwarves, and gnomes as "metal folk" due to their unusual habit of covering themselves with metal.  However, their physical aversion to metal does not translate to an aversion to races that use metal; instead, dryads view metal users with curiosity and bemusement.


Dryads have a strong preference for charm magic and any magic involving nature or plants.  They tend to shy away from fire, and are strongly averse to necromancy.  Dryad necromancers are exceedingly rare, and are considered traitors to their race.  Neutral dryad clerics (and other classes with spontaneous cure magic and channel energy) will almost always choose positive energy due to the association of negative energy with necromancy.


Dryads are able to reproduce with any humanoid or fey race (including other dryads), and people of either gender.  The resulting offspring are always full dryads, although they may take on some minor characteristics of the non-dryad parent.  (Notably, dryads that have not come into contact with humans tend to be more elven in appearance.)


Dryad adventurers are somewhat unusual, but they do exist.  Dryads generally take to adventure out of a sense of wanderlust, although some do so because they are driven from their home forest for whatever reason (due to logging, etc).  Dryads adventurers tend to take levels in Cleric, Druid, Oracle, Sorcerer, and Witch.

No comments:

Post a Comment