History and Beliefs
Although most civilized folk believe Druids to be staunch defenders of the wild, and know that they generally eschew populated areas, most of them don’t understand why. Druid is a broad label applied to a number of spellcasters. They don’t draw their power from rote memorization of ancient texts like wizards and sorcerers, and they don’t draw their power from their faith in the divine, like clerics. Rather, they draw upon beings known as the Old Powers—creatures unfathomably powerful, but also bound to the Realms, nameless and hidden from most people.
The Old Powers have no temples, and are not worshiped by many. Rather they have sites where their strength is most potent. There they traffic with the Druids who venerate them. The Old Powers, it is said, were here before the world was made, and certainly before it was un-made by the Adversary. The Druids believe that they will be here long after the Realms die. The sites of their power are often marked with standing stones, tombs, woodland thrones, and other less savory monuments.
The Old Powers are rarely concerned with Good or Evil in the traditional sense. Some, it is said, require elaborate sacrifices be made, others encourage their followers to spread all that grows and is green. There is a concept shared by the Old Powers known as the Balance of All Things. The belief is that the Realms themselves are in a precarious balance between matter and energy, good and evil, light and dark, life and death. That disrupting this balance could wreak havoc among the Realms, possibly destroying them forever, taking the Old Powers with them. So, although the Great Masked Devourer seeks to consume everything, taking and destroying even the memories of the things he consumes, he does not wander far from his ritual sites. His Druids, terrifying and always masked—save for their open mouths, wander the world and seek out new sites to grow his power. And so, as people wander and spread, so does his influence, but it does so proportionally, maintaining and unseen balance. Even the Great Masked Devourer understands that should he swallow everything, he would starve ever after. Druids who praise the Lady of the Verdant Palm, similarly seek to see domain of their Old Power grow steadily. Though her worshipers work tirelessly to spread seeds of life wherever they are, and shroud themselves in garb of living green, they understand at a deep level that the work they do relies on and fuels other cycles in the Realms. So they are not diametrically opposed to death, although they worship life. (Or rather, worship an ancient nameless power who, though her motivations seem enigmatic and alien, appears to desire a great density of life.)
Druids utilize decorations, idols, and fetishes to aid them in the evocation of the power they worship. For example, Druids who follow the Great Masked Devourer wear large adorned masks that cover most of their face—leaving only their mouth exposed. Those who worship the Lady of the Verdant Palm wear clothing crafted from still living plants and mosses, and when they shapeshift their hides are woven with life.
Druids do not generally get along well with other practitioners of magic. Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards, they believe, work their magics with little to no care for the Balance. They are confounded by the power of these magicians, and many Druids believe the magic worked by Mages is some how stolen from the Old Powers, or at least from the world they worked to create. In fact, there is a sect of Druids that actively hunts and persecutes Mages, although their numbers are few. Mages, conversely, do not trust Druids because they do not understand and generally fear the Old Powers.
Druids are similarly confounded by Clerics, and other workers of faith based magic. Why would someone worship a deity when there were clearly beings of great power hidden already in the realms? Clerics most frequently view Druids as those who traffic with demons, devils, and other blasphemous spirits.