Druids, Archdruids, and the Great Druid

At 12th level, the druid character acquires the official title of “druid” (all druid characters below 12th level are officially known as “initiates”). There can be only nine 12th-level druids in any geographic region (as defined by oceans, seas, and mountain ranges; a continent may consist of three or four such regions). A character cannot reach 12th level unless he takes his place as one of the nine druids. This is possible only if there are currently fewer than nine druids in the region, or if the character defeats one of the nine druids in magical or hand-to-hand combat, thereby assuming the defeated druid's position. If such combat is not mortal, the loser drops experience points so that he has exactly 200,000 remaining--just enough to be 11th level.

The precise details of each combat are worked out between the two combatants in advance. The combat can be magical, non-magical, or a mixture of both. It can be fought to the death, until only one character is unconscious, until a predetermined number of hit points is lost, or even until the first blow is landed, although in this case both players would have to be supremely confident of their abilities. Whatever can be agreed upon between the characters is legitimate, so long as there is some element of skill and risk.

When a character becomes a 12th-level druid, he gains three underlings. Their level depends on the character's position among the nine druids. The druid with the most experience points is served by three initiates of 9th level; the second-most experienced druid is served by three initiates of 8th level; and so on, until the least experienced druid is served by three 1st-level initiates.

Only three archdruids (13th level) can operate in a geographical region. To become an archdruid, a 12th-level druid must defeat one of the reigning archdruids or advance into a vacant position. Each of the three archdruids is served by three initiates of 10th level. From among the archdruids of the entire world, three are chosen to serve the Grand Druid (see “
The Grand Druid and Hierophant Druids” section). These three retain their attendees but are themselves servants of the Grand Druid.

The Great Druid (14th level) is unique in his region. He, too, won his position from the previous great druid. He is served by three initiates of 11th level.

The ascendance of a new Great Druid usually sets off shock waves of turmoil and chaos through the druidical hierarchy. The advancement of an archdruid creates an opening that is fiercely contested by the druids, and the advancement of a druid creates an opening in their ranks.

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