We are the Rememberers, the tellers of tales, those who stand between the people and the gods.
The Druids are the priests of the gods of the Albanni - the keepers of the traditions and the rites, and the intercedents between the people and the supernatural. It is their role to interpret omens and visions, to provide spiritual guidance, to advise, to remind people of the traditions and to serve as the voices of the gods.
- Base Hit Points: 2
- Short weapons, bucklers
- Interface for and to the Gods
- Tells the stories of your village to the Keepers, that they become legend.
- Can daub characters with woad, doubling their hit points.
Between the Gods and Mortals
Albanni history talks of a time long ago when the gods walked among the people openly and any could speak with them. Only the Druids, though, knew of the ways to propitiate them, what sacrifice should be offered to them in order to earn their favour in such a way that they offered boons. Those days are long behind us and for an age - since the fall of Doggerland - the gods have not walked among the people, and only Druids have heard their voices at the appointed times and in the appointed places.
Druids alone know the places where the gods still walk and listen to mortals, and what offerings are needed to propitiate them. They can instruct Hunters on what sacrifice to make, and ask for the Gods intercession on that basis; they understand the nature of the desired sacrifice, and they can bring advice, admonishment or supernatural consequences back from the gods to their people.
Mostly, the Gods offer advice or information; they teach secrets that sometimes look like magic. Sometimes they will confer a specific power upon someone for a specific purpose. Legends speak of Druids who learned ways to embody the powers of the gods, and were powerful beyond measure.
Druids, Gods, Hunters and Sacrifice
The true power of a druid is knowledge. They know where the gods walk, they know what they want, and they know some of their secrets. Druids hear the gods voices and pass their demands on to the people. But Druids cannot, themselves, offer sacrifice to the gods. The gods only delight in sacrifice offered through the hunt; only the hunters can make Totems, valid divine offerings. No matter how devout the offerer, or valuable the offering - if it has not been prepared by a Hunter, no God will recognise it.
The hunters of a community are not solely beholden to the Druids though - for their shamans will also be calling on them to make sacrifice to the Spirits, to gain their favour and support. A druid must therefore use their wits and their persuasion to get what the Gods demand, for it is them who will face the most direct consequences of the gods will being ignored.
Persuasion and the Silver Tongue versus Knowledge and the Secret World
There are two ways to approach the Druid. One is as a priest of the Gods who seeks to enact their will, and one is as a champion of the Albanni who seeks to understand the gods' secrets. In all cases, the Druid's key skill is their ability to persuade others to follow what they say is the right course - whether that be because it comes from the gods, or from the Druids' growing understanding of the way the world of Alba works.
The Village Elder
Let me tell you a tale of your grandparents time, when the Formori came...
- You keep the history and legend of your village and you have done so for a long time. Perhaps you are training your successor as a druid, passing on your knowledge to a new village elder who will look after your community in the times to come. To you, the legends are your lifeblood, and keeping them flowing your reason for living. You honour and fear the gods, but perhaps you do not especially love them. For you, the telling of the tales of your people to the Keepers is the greatest honour.
The Travelling Bard
I have seen many things on my travels, and learned many things too.
- You have travelled across Alba, perhaps in the company of a Keeper, trying to learn the stories of as many communities as you can in your time, but you have finally settled down now. Perhaps you trade the stories you know for hospitality, or perhaps you bring word to a village of a great quest to be followed, seeking hunters and warriors keen for glory. You may serve the Gods, or you may simply serve the story you wish to tell. But your joy is the telling of the tales of heroes, either before the Keepers or just for the joy of it.
Fflewddur Fflam (Chronicles of Prydain)
The Cunning Magician
When the solstice moon rises, seek behind the great stone for the herb that grows there and harvest it in the dawnlight...
- You keep your own counsel, and have your own plans. Your knowledge and power you use to further your own goals - those goals may be for good or ill, only you know that for sure. You have a broader goal, a higher strategy, to your actions and all things - Albanni communities, gods, spirits, Those Who Came Before - are tools in your grand plan. You may make deals for power - personal or political - with all kinds of people. When you shape a tale for the Keepers or speak to the Gods, you always have a mind for what you want out of it too.
Merlin, Cadellin Silverbrow (Alderley Edge cycle), Dallben (Chronicles of Prydain)
The Cult Leader
Nobody but you, I and the god will ever understand the value of your sacrifice
- You have chosen one or two gods and you are building a cult around them, a cult where Hunters offer sacrifice in the way you prescribe, and warriors and shamans serve the greater aims of the cult - as you define them. Your community may be in on the cult or you may nest, cuckoo-like, in a community unaware. But for you, the cult is a route to personal power; you offer your chosen gods the service of your cult in expectation of personal reward, and your tales to the Keepers always portray your own people in the best light.
Thulsa Doom (Conan), Veran (Britannia)
The Plaything of the Gods
I have seen Her Face in the moon and now I cannot control my dreams...
- Perhaps you began as a cult leader, and you overestimated your power and overplayed your hand. or perhaps you stayed in a stone circle under a full moon to witness the May Queen's dance. For whatever reason, the gods or the spirits have cursed you and now you are their plaything, wracked with dreams and prophecies you cannot understand or control. You are driven by the fates, with little understanding of why you say or do what you do, and your sanity hangs by a fragile thread. Only the Storyteller knows what the Keepers make of your babbling, but the Gods seem to love you - or at least, be amused by you.
Storytelling and the Keepers
The Druids and The Keepers
The other role of the Druids is to keep the traditions, legends and histories of the Albanni. As part of that task, they are the ones who tell the tales of the Albanni to the Keepers. It is the role of the Druid to decide beforehand how they will tell the tales of the days' events, and to what actions they will give emphasis. In their hands are the chances of the Albanni to be remembered and to have their deeds recorded by the Keepers; only to their words will the Keepers give weight.
When a Keeper comes to a village, it is the responsibility of the Druid to decide what, and about whom, to tell; on their words hangs the legend that accrues to the names of the heroes of Alba. It is a great and subtle power.
If the Keepers are sufficiently impressed - with the story, and with the telling of it - they will use their unique understanding of the written word to record the legend for posterity. This act grants some of those involved in that story tokens to represent their increased status and mythical force.
Infrequently during a game of Alba there will be a formal opportunity for a Druid to go before a group of Keepers and their nominated co-jurors. That panel will listen to the tale or performance the Druid puts on to tell of the deeds their associates or they themselves have undertaken that day. Based on the heroism of the deeds described, their understanding of the context, and other factors, the Keepers will then note down for posterity the deeds of the ehroes of Alba. Those deeds deemed worthy to be recorded accrue a Story Token for someone (usually but not always) the protagonist of the tale the Druid has told.
When deciding on the merits of a tale the Keepers will be looking for characters and tales which display the following themes.
Be it the warrior standing against insurmountable odds, the Hunter whose sacrifice appeased the angriest of God’s, the Druid whose tales themselves inspire greatness or the Shaman who stares down a Great Spirit in defiance, the Keepers will be listening. Even if the protagonists gamble did not pay off as expected or is no longer alive to reap the honour bestowed upon them the Keepers will implore you to speak.
The communication of a characters actions will be a key theme of the game, especially for those wanting to play Druids, but it does not mean players need to be expert orators in order to succeed. The actions of the character told in the tale will be key to its success in receiving in game rewards such as story tokens and the notice of the Gods and Spirits.
For those who require it out of character notes will be permitted as a memory aid but they must remain as such and not become shared reading material in or out of character
One of the key mechanics in Alba will be the process of earning and using story tokens. These tokens provide an opportunity for a player to change the narrative in their favour - to invoke a legendary or magical event to change the course of their destiny and build their personal legend.
These tokens are the true currency of Alba; the means whereby myths are made and legends carved out. And while it's possible the gods and spirits may occasionally grant one, the main source of them will be from the Keepers, in response to the storytelling and performance of the Druids.
Players can choose to spend those tokens at key moments - to reverse the effects of a game-changing event on themselves. To shrug off a fatal injury, to return alive from a massacre, to cure a terrible curse, or to do something that should not be possible.
The tokens will have other uses too - but the primary use is to give players the chance to seize the narrative for themselves, to say "no, today, this story takes a different path".
What are the limits of a story token?
In the first instance, a token can be "played" to do one of two things - to change the outcome of a significant event that has happened, or to empower a character to do a single thing which they normally could not. A token could be played to reverse a fatal injury, or to allow a character to shrug off the negative effects of embodying the Pike too many times.
The intent of the tokens is to speculate to accumulate; gaining your first token should be difficult, but then you spend them to create more heroic stories, which a druid tells to the Keeper, which earns you more tokens...
There will not be hard and fast rules around how a token can be used. A lot of it will be situational.
Can I keep them? How common will they be?
There will be a limit to the number of tokens that can be in play at one time, otherwise they become cheapened. They will be somewhere between uncommon and rare; the arrival of one in a group should be a cause for celebration.
How many can I have?
There will be a hard limit for how many a single character can carry. That limit will be in low single digits.
What happens in a PvP situation where competing tokens are used?
Oho. Contests between heroes - now that's the proper stuff of legend, isn't it? Where possible, we will adjudicate a result that honours the intent of the tokens played - the immovable rock will move, the irresistible force will be resisited. But remember; the intent of Alba as a game is not to use mechanics to overcome your opponent, but to create a heroic myth to which your character's name is attached.
The Druids of Alba have applied woad to their people for generations – it is one of the cornerstones of their community traditions. Woad signifies belonging, and protection – druids apply woad to the members of their community, to show that they stand together and to give them the strength to fight or to survive.
Woad is a thick paste, applied to the skin in a ritual fashion, which grants reserves of strength to all who wear it. The application of woad by the druid will double the hits of the one it is applied to. Druids can apply woad to themselves as well as anyone they deem worthy, although traditionally a druid will apply woad to their own village community and maybe those of nearby villages, but not those from further away.
Woad is regional – each region uses a different colour of woad, made from the plants and minerals available to them. An Albanni wearing woad may look at another Albanni in woad and know where they are from, whether they are from roughly the same place – or somewhere else.
The Colours of Woad
- The North Country – Dark Blue
- The Summerlands – Mustard Yellow
- The Greenwood – Forest Green
- The Fenlands – Dark Brown
- The Old Country – Rust Red
What Woad Means to the Albanni
The ritual of applying woad is individual – each druid will have their own way of applying woad, this may be a large community ritual or it may be individual – they could apply strict specific patterns to denote their village and allegiance, or they may apply free-hand patterns at their own whim. Some druids will grant protection to their whole village, others may require an individual to earn their woad before they may wear it.
Woad is protection, but it is also duty – it denotes allegiance, and the Albanni know to keep and honour the allegiances they wear. While it is possible to wear woad from a different area to your own, any Albanni doing so would essentially be treated as from the region that matches their woad, and may be required to wash off their woad should their allegiance be unclear or split. Many druids will refuse to paint those from outside their region – instead suggesting they find a druid from nearer their own village to paint them.
Woad is an ancient tradition – older than the Albanni. The myths and tales speak of lost colours, of other allegiances – monstrous strangers from across the sea who wear colours and patterns unknown to the Albanni. The tales also tell of great heroes who won the favour of great and powerful druids and were rewarded with patterns and colours gifted by the gods – the intricate mixing of traditional colour and black woad.
The only hard rule is no white paste – this colour is reserved for the work of the Shamans, to denote the favour of the spirits. No white paste would ever denote woad, it is reserved for the marks of Shamans, and can be worn by anyone from anywhere.
Mechanical Effects of Woad
- Woad doubles the base hits of the character it is applied to.
- Woad colour is determined by your region.
- At the start of play, druids know how to make their region’s woad colour only.
- It is assumed all Druids have access to the ingredients to make their woad.
- Woad can be applied by any Druid, in a ritualistic fashion.
- Woad can be phys-repped using simple facepaints in appropriate colours, or more elaborate pastes.
- Woad patterns are for you to decide; they could be group-specific, family-specific, druid-specific or individual.
- Druids may be gifted lost woad colours, which may have all kinds of effects.
- Players cannot teach each other woad for other regions, all such knowledge will be from other sources.
A Daughters Pride (A Tale of Alba)
A life time ago, in the deep winter at the time of the Gods offering the land froze and with it came a great horde of Trollfolk. A horn sounded as the first burning torches began to light the horizon in an orange glow. It was as if dawn had come early betraying the night.
Furs and blankets were cast aside, fires abandoned. All but one.
Merin the Druid was still sat by their fire, hands outstretched to the flames for comfort. “Come Druid, give us strength.” The village called out in unison, their spears raised high. But Merin the Druid remained still.
Daggers in hand pointing to the false dawn they pleaded. “Come Druid, prepare us for battle.” But Merin the Druid remained still.
Furious my mother stepped from the now silent crowd.
“Why do you forsake us to fight without woad, you abandon us to death.” She said gesturing to the village now overcome with fear.
“Have none starved this winter, are our stores not full. Truly we have appeased the Farmer. Have we not mourned the passing and celebrated the new life it brings. Truly we have appeased the Midwife.”
“You speak the truth.” My mother replied. “But it is these stores and this life we must protect, no matter the cost. What of the Warrior, have we not appeased her these passing seasons?”
Merin the Druid laughed aloud. “You have now.”
As the false dawn drew closer my mother was marked with symbols unseen before and never again, the woad used was a mix of brown and black. Out into the darkness she walked, alone she went to face the false dawn.
“Have faith in the Warrior.” Merin the Druid told me as my mother disappeared into the darkness. The false dawn never arrived.
My mother is Arien, the Troll slayer, I am Eirwen, former apprentice to the Druid Merin.