A dryad is a sapient nature spirit that forms a symbiotic relationship with trees; the dryad matures by taking on it’s physical form using plant tissue and the tree obtains a consciousness and another body capable of locomotion. As they share life-force with a tree, dryads become the guardian of it and its native region.
Quick Species Profile
Average: 800 years
Max: That of their bonded tree
Average Height: 4’8″ to 5’11”
Average Weight: 90-180 lbs
Creature Type: Nature Spirit (plant, humanoid)
Dryads are incredibly beautiful feminine humanoids, about the size of a human female. Being composed entirely of plant matter, their skin is either the texture of polished wood or a lightly fuzzy herbaceous stem and their hair is made of leaves or grass.
Their appearance often mimics and changes with the seasons- dark brown hair and eyes and very fair skin in winter; vibrant green hair, bright green eyes, and pale green complexion with rosy cheeks in spring ; forest green hair, deep hazel eyes, and a yellow green or golden tan complexion in summer; light brown, red, or strawberry blonde hair, amber eyes and a brown yet rosy complexion in fall.
Physical Manifestation: Initially dryads are ectoplasmic entities that are intangible to everyday matter. To interact with the physical plane, first they possess the seed or sapling of a tree and use their lifeforce to bond with it. Next the spirit is able to use the plant tissue from the developing tree to create its own physical body to inhabit. As such dryad bodies often contain chlorophyll, are capable of photosynthesis, breathe carbon dioxide, and exhale oxygen. They also have immunity to nature and light spell damage and resistance to water spell damage as well as plant derived toxins.
Botanical Shapeshifting: All dryads can transform into plants, most commonly that of the tree it is bonded to. In this form, the dryad appears as a particularly healthy specimen of that particular plant. A dryad can also become a female humanoid that is composed of plant matter like wood and leaves. A dryad can assume plant form or humanoid form whenever she wishes.
Regeneration: Dryads can regrow their corporeal bodies if damaged. If their bodies are damaged beyond the point of repair, the dryad will be forced to retreat from their physical form as a featureless wisp and renter their personal tree (or its seed) until it is strong enough to completely a new one.
Tree Bond: A dryad is mystically and symbiotically bonded to a single tree from its birth that is connected to her life-force, thus she basically becomes the tree’s soul and overall consciousness. Most dryads bond with oak trees, but other trees can function as well (often having subtle influences on a specific dryad’s personality and appearance). A dryad who moves 300 yards beyond her bonded tree immediately becomes fatigued. Every hour thereafter, she must resist becoming nauseated for an hour. A dryad that is out of range of her bonded tree is sickened every 24 hours—eventually, this separation can kill the dryad. If her tree is destroyed while a dryad is merged with it, the dryad dies. If her tree is destroyed while a dryad is not merged with it, the dryad loses its merge with tree ability and its regeneration, and becomes permanently sickened (until it finds a new tree). A dryad can forge a new bond with a new tree by performing a 24-hour ritual.
Plant Manipulation: A dryad can shape and manipulate plants, including wood, vines, plants, moss, and parts of the plants, such as leaves, seeds, fruits and flowers and their physical form’s own tissues. They can cause plants to grow, move/attack or even rise from the soil and “walk”, mutate plants by rearranging DNA structure and revive withered or dead plants. This arcanist ability may also deal a series of offensive techniques on a target. Using the plants as weapons enables users to grasp and strike continuously with vines and roots, project thorns at a distance, and quickly regenerate the withering weapons at the user’s will or release damaging toxins and pheromones, affecting targets in which conditions should be treated quickly with ailments. An high level, experienced user of this power may also control plants in their altered forms, i.e. derived forms, such as cotton clothing/fabric, paper, etc.
Communicate with Plants: Dryads can make plants able to sense, see and move on their own, which enables a dryad to speak and empathize with them. Magical flora with at least some consciousness can easily commune with dryads.
One with Nature: As she lives naturally in the environment, a dryad is knowledgeable on all of the matters in nature around her and sense the overall well-being and conditions of one’s immediate environment and natural setting stemming from a psychic sensitivity to nature.
Verdant Burst: When its corporeal form is disrupted or destroyed, a dryad explodes in a burst of fertile life energy. All plant creatures within 30 feet of a slain dryad heal and plant life of the same type as the dryad itself quickly infests the area. If the terrain can support this type of plant, the undergrowth is dense enough to make the region into difficult terrain for 24 hours, after which the plant life diminishes to a normal level; otherwise, the plant life has no significant effect on movement and withers and dies within an hour.
Dryads do not need to breathe, eat, or sleep (although they can do so in a corporeal form if they wish). Physical dryads do need to drink water to stay healthy. As she is composed of plant matter, a dryad’s basic sustenance is water and nutrients from the ground, by placing her roots into the ground.
Dryad reproduction mirrors that of oak trees, in that despite their feminine appearance, they produce both male and female gametes. So not only can they breed with each other, but also hybridize with a small number of humanoids.
Dryads make ectoplasmic versions of pollen and ovules which combine to create baby dryads in the form of wandering wispy spirits barely conscious of the physical world.
Lifespan and Growth
Dryads like most nature spirits, need to have a physical natural form to mature and spend the majority of their life cycle that way. In their pre-physical life, a proto-dryad will wander around ethereal plane to simply absorb the energy to live, barely even noticing the physical world it. At some point they become deeply aware of it, which triggers an irresitible urge to possess a body and leads her to actively seek out a (usually oak) tree seed or seedling to form a symbiotic bond with. Once the young tree is able to form a thin trunk, is typically when a dryad is able to use it’s tissue to form a physical feminine humanoid body of roughly middle childhood age out of the plant tissues.
As the tree grows the dryad’s physical form will also age along with the tree until her body reflects the look of a humanoid in the prime of her life.
Forests, woodlands, or swamps in boreal, temperate and subtropical regions
Dryads are spirits that arose within the areas of the Godrealms that the various nature deity of the various pantheons lived. They were typically characterized with large amounts of forests that the feminine spirits loved to dwell among. Dryads came to be accepted as spirits that lived in these realms and made friends with various gods and goddesses, to the point that any creature in the physical plane that harmed a dryad’s favorite trees without appeasing her first, would suffer divine wrath in retaliation.
For most of classical history they had little effect on civilizations due to staying deep in the wilderness due to shyness. It was until during the Ghulat Wars and forests were being cleared that the dryads started to stop coming to the mortal world and stayed in the otherworlds exclusively. It didn’t last long for the end of the Ghulat Wars also led to the destruction of most otherworlds like the Godrealms that many dryads lived in.
Many spirits including the dryads were forced to live in the physical world, its self having problems from the environmental damage from the war and the destruction of major civilizations. The dryads had to attach themselves to oak trees growing in isolated areas to survive. Overtime the flora and fauna of the wilderness began to reclaim the world, benefiting from the recovery of nature. The dryads in particular evolve with the trees that they coveted for generations, fusing with the essence of a tree during their own life cycle to become a trees consciousness.
Dryads don’t built or look for shelter most of the time. They can stay out in the sun or rain without ill effects due to their plant physiology. If any event like high wind or heavy snow, they can take refuge within their tree. Many woodland creatures also take refuge within, on top, and under the roots of their trees.
Many dryads are either implicit atheists (due to being too young to grasp the concept of a deity or not being exposed to the idea) or Naturalists due to living within nature, developing the belief that it should be revered as they are a manifestation of it.
One unique aspect to them and their understanding of the world is their relation with the tree they are bonded to. This is a sacred process to them as the spirits are only truly considered dryads once they form this bond. Although they recognize plants as having a soul as significant as any other form of life, they see their symbiotic fusion with a seed or sapling as their responsibility to becoming the future tree’s soul itself to provide the plant a consciousness, self-awareness, reason, creativity, and mobility.
Most dryads live somewhat isolated from other sapient beings or even other members of their species, mainly due to their trees needing a decent amount of space and tree seeds being spread far and wide. Thus most dryads are self sufficient from when they are young. There are some large oak tree forests where a community of dryads come together to form a collectivist society focused on maintaining the forest.
As most dryads are isolated from sapient beings and societies, many don’t develop the need for clothing or develop the concept of modesty. There are dryads that either live close to a society or near people who live in the wilderness, who become interested in them and thus may dress themselves like peasant girls, shepherdesses, and followers of the hunt as a way to interact with humanoid races and may even secretly assist those living in the woods. Instead of putting on premade clothing, a dryad can shapeshift the foliage attached to their body to appear as clothing made of nautral fibers (and they actually are).
Most of their trees have a naturally long life of a few centuries, dryads will spend much of their time developing a variety of pruning techniques that will keep their tree healthy and extend its lifespan. They often secretly help animals and some people living among their forests, and think nothing of helping those in need and befriending strangers. Dryads are sociable, preferring the company of faye and other forest races and quick to fall in love with humanoids and will seek out the company of those that are respectful of the forest.
Most dryads focus on biomagical abilities like their manipulation of plant life. Very few dryads go beyond this to learn spellcraft or use magetech, though a few have unique individual powers.
Science and Technology
Dryads generally don’t worry much ab0ut transportation, since they have to be around their bonded tree.
Dryads don’t really use weapons due to a combination of preference of their manipulation powers and a reluctance to kill most living beings. However if they need to, a dryad can make a makeshift spears with fallen wood or stones. Some may make simple self bows with strings made from hemp or flax fiber or animal sinew.
Due to their ability to communicate with and through plants, dryads can learn about almost anything within their vicinity that has plant life.
Treatments for their physical bodies rely heavily on herbal remedies, ground up animal parts and flowers extracts. They also embrace holistic therapies like acupuncture, qigong, reiki or ayurvedic message and treatment.
As a race that primarily stays or returns to heavily wooded areas, they rely on very little technology and those that they use them are based on forest materials and leavings. At the most they make of plant resins for various things such as salve or adhesive.
Here’s another race of nature spirits, the dryads. Although plants are not usually considered sentient, dryads fuse with oak trees to become their consciousness and self awareness. Although they have feminine appearances, they produce male and female flowers like oak trees.