A druid is a versatile and often heroic character, capable in both combat and casting spells. Druids obtain these powers from one of several godly patrons of the wild. Druids are not often trained in wearing heavier armors or most weapons but instead have the ability to change into powerful beast forms. Through their spells and abilities as a creature of the wild, druids can turn the tide of a battle, hindering their foes as easily from afar or in a melee or sometimes striking them with deadly force or healing nearby allies.
Known for their mysterious nature druids call the wilderness their home and views its dangers as a challenge to meet and conquer. With a great respect and veneration for nature, druids stray away from extremes of good, evil, order, or chaos, instead seeking only to maintain a natural state of being which most of the civilized world cannot or will not understand. But though druids may appear at first serene they can be provoked into fits of fury and are often cunning, and thereby dangerous, foes.
Powerful sentries of the natural world, druids are often seen by outsiders as primal controllers of the wilderness. However, though druids indeed draw great power from nature, druids, nigh universally, do not see themselves as masters of the wild but rather its servants, much as a cleric might serve a god or a knight his liege. To a druid, claim of power over the world is something that only an urbanite removed from nature could profess, due to a lack of understanding. The primal power that druids draw upon comes to them not through control, but through unity in spirit. This distinction is, however, lost on most.
Druids are not the only caretakers of the wilderness, though they are perhaps the best known. Comparable to wizards in many ways, druids are often nature's lorekeepers, possessing an enormous degree of knowledge about the inhabitants, locations, and phenomena of Toril's wildernesses. However, while wizards seek this knowledge for knowledge (or sometimes power)'s sake, druids act on behalf of that which they study. More than anything else, druids value the pristine wilderness, accepting its cruelty and ugliness along with its wonder and beauty, but harboring a deep hate for that which twists or violates the laws of the natural world, such as aberrations or undead. As such, while druids rarely act selfishly, they are nonetheless as likely to be good or evil.
Druids share a brotherhood of sort with all other druids, though it is often a loose association rather than a tightly bound network. Ignoring the artificial boundaries of kings and princes, druids respect and protect all the lands of the world, working with druids from far-away lands as readily as with those whom they know personally. Induction into these societies often requires knowledge of secret rites and passing dangerous tests but once received, druids are rarely cast out and allowed to more or less carry on their work in their own way. Many of these societies are religious in nature and tied to a church of some sort, but not all are. In particular, druids find themselves drawn to the worship of the gods Angharradh, Chauntea, Mielikki, Auril, Silvanus, Sseth, Talos, Umberlee, Isis, Osiris, Aerdrie Faenya, Baervan Wildwanderer, Cyrrollalee, Gwaeron Windstrom, Shiallia, and [[Thard Harr], Anhur, Eldath, Lurue, Nobanion, Rillifane Rallathil, Sebek, Segojan Earthcaller, Ubtao, and Ulutiu.
Druids are most often Tel-quessir, gnomes, or humans, particularly more feral tribes. A few druids also come from other racial backgrounds, such as gnolls, ghostwise halflings, lightfoot halflings, or wild dwarves though, generally, druids are uncommon amongst other races and cultures. Druids as a whole reject civilization as a false comfort and as a result sometimes find it difficult to get along with its inhabitants, such as paladins, rogues, or arcanists. Druids instead prefer the comfort of individuals with like minds, such as barbarians, rangers, or such.
Regardless of race, druids are most commonly found in regions where there remains pristine wilderness, such as Aglarond, Chult, the Great Dale, the High Forest, the Moonshaes, the North, the Vast, the Vilhon Reach, or the Western Heartlands.
Druids work well in a support role, since they are both competent spellcasters and combatants. Druids can cast ability-augmenting, offensive, defensive, and healing evocations, making them versatile casters and able secondary healers, often with the aid of implements such as staffs or totems. Like clerics or wizards, druids know how to cast rituals and are, even at the start of their training, capable of using beasts of the wild as their messengers.
The ability to wild shape is one of the druid's most potent abilities and allows druids to shapeshift into any beast of roughly their size, including some plants as well as several fey. At its most basic level this ability allows druids to shapeshift into an indistinct being of feathers, fur, or claws that resembles the Primal Beast spoken of in many druidic legends. From this Primal Beast the druids draw some of their primal energy, whether in their beast form or unchanged, either increasing their durability or making them swifter, in either case while wearing hide or lighter armor. Druids can change appearance at will, and some do not age, although they still have the same life expectancy as other members of their race. Some experienced druids can extend this capacity for shapeshifting at will into any person they desire.
Wild Shape (Su): At 5th level, a druid gains the ability to turn herself into any Small or Medium animal and back again once per day. Her options for new forms include all creatures with the animal type. The form chosen must be that of an animal the druid is familiar with. For example, a druid who has never been outside a temperate forest could not become a polar bear. A druid is limited to one form per rank of Knowledge Nature. The druid can pick any animal that is native to the area that is considered Local for the druid. The areas are aquatic, desert, forest, hills, marsh, mountains, plains and underground. The driud may pick one area at 1st level and an additional area at every five levels. A This ability functions like the alternate form special ability (see the Monster Manual), except as noted here. The effect lasts for 1 hour per druid level, or until she changes back. Changing form (to animal or back) is a standard action and doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity. Each time you use wild shape, you regain lost hit points as if you had rested for a night.
Any gear worn or carried by the druid melds into the new form and becomes nonfunctional. When the druid reverts to her true form, any objects previously melded into the new form reappear in the same location on her body that they previously occupied and are once again functional. Any new items worn in the assumed form fall off and land at the druid's feet.
A druid loses her ability to speak while in animal form because she is limited to the sounds that a normal, untrained animal can make, but she can communicate normally with other animals of the same general grouping as her new form. (The normal sound a wild parrot makes is a squawk, so changing to this form does not permit speech.)
Other druids have less common abilities. Some druids have, in addition to their wild shape evocations, animal companions that fill some of the functions provided by wild shaping. A few druids are experts in the fields of botany and zoology, identifying various species with perfect accuracy by instinct. As a result, druids are naturally wary of possible deception by wildlife and fey. Likewise, druids have a natural sense for the safety of drinking water. Similarly, many druids are immune to the effects of organic poisons. Several druids are also masters at moving through the wilderness at fast speeds, ignoring the hampering effects of natural hazards such as thorns or briars. With enough training, these druids do not even leave a hint of their movement through the wild.