Follow the Crows
The Old Faith
The Old Faith is the chief druidic order in the Flanaess. Its Grand Druid claims authority over the whole of the Oerth, though other druidic orders exist in other lands. Though strongly associated with the faiths of Beory and Obad-Hai, the Old Faith also encompasses other deities, principally those concerned with natural phenomena. A quartet of gods representing the seasons is common, though the identities of these deities vary from culture to culture.
The Old Lore
The Old Faith is closely associated with the bards of the Old Lore, to whom they entrust many of their secrets.
Rangers of the Gnarley
The druids of the Old Faith are more loosely allied with the Rangers of the Gnarley. Their alignments differ, but their goals are compatible.
The Old Faith opposes the entities of the Far Realm and the cult of Elemental Evil, which are entirely outside of and hostile to the nature they protect.
The Old Faith has divided the Flanaess into nine separate regions, each under the dominion of a Great Druid. These regions are known colloquially as the Baklunish West, the Bitter North (“Old Blackmoor”), the Western Nyr Dyv (“Old Ferrond”), the Sheldomar Valley (“Old Keoland”), the Empire of Iuz (“Northern Reaches”), the Thillonrian Peninsula (“Barbarian North”), the Old Aerdy West (“Old Nyrond”), the Old Aerdy East (former Great Kingdom), and the Isolated Realms.
All druids of the Old Faith within a specific region are organized into a Circle.
Adherents of the Old Faith hold trees, particularly oak and ash, and the sun and the moons as sacred. Druids of the Old Faith believe they must protect trees, plants, and crops from destruction; to a lesser extent, they protect their human followers and animals as well. They recognize that humans, humanoids, and animals need food and shelter, and don’t begrudge them the right to hunt or practice agriculture if they do so responsibly. Druids of the Old Faith may not destroy woodlands or crops, though they may work to change the nature of these things if they feel it is worth the effort to do so. For example, an Old Faith druid could cleanse a corrupted wood of its evil taint, but the Old Faith is strongly neutral in alignment, believing that Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos should exist in balance.
The Old Faith holds itself aloof from worldly affairs, being primarily concerned with the cycles of nature: life, death, and rebirth. They view all things as part of a great cycle, with Good and Evil only temporary phases. Only when the cycle itself is threatened do they feel called to action.
Old Faith communities are found throughout the Flanaess. Most of the inhabitants of Hommlet belong to the Old Faith, for example.
Druids of associated deities make up the priests of the Old Faith. Common symbols are oak leaves, holly leaves, and mistletoe. Druids of the Old Faith have their own secret language known as Druidic; it shares roots with the Flan tongue, but is much more specialized, dealing mostly with the natural world and the growth of plants. Many druids also learn the languages of centaurs, elves, gnomes, green dragons, hill giants, lizardfolk, manticores, treants, and fey.
Druids of the Old Faith prefer to live in sacred groves, in small, simple houses built of logs, stone, or sod. At higher levels, they generally dwell in building complexes in woodland areas.
The Old Faith’s lowest-ranked clergy are known as Aspirants, who seek admission to the order. Next are the Ovates, who read auguries and perform minor administrative tasks. Next are the Initiates of the First Circle, followed by higher ranking Initiates of the Second through Ninth Circles. Above these ranks are those who have the right to the title of Druid. There are only nine Druids to each region. Above the nine Druids are three Archdruids, who answer to the Great Druid of their region. Admission to the ranks of Druid, Archdruid, and Great Druid is only granted via trial by combat. It is said that above the Great Druids stands a single Grand Druid, whose dominion includes the entire Oerth. Former Grand Druids are said to make up an inner circle of ascended mystics known as the Heirophants of the Cabal, though their existence is not remarked on outside the Old Faith hierarchy.
Old Faith services take place at megalithic stone circles or woodland groves. Oak groves are particularly common, but ash is also held sacred, and deklo and usk groves are also sometimes used. Each type of tree has a different meaning among the Old Faith, and so the different groves serve very different purposes.
The four festivals of Needfest, Growfest, Richfest, and Brewfest are all observed by the Old Faith. The night of Great Moon’s Glory (Readying 11th) is also held as sacred.
The Old Faith emerged from the ancient nature cults of the Flan people. As the faith grew, it spread to Oeridians and Suloise groups, who adopted its concepts to their own deities, though Beory remained the chief deity associated with the faith.
In ancient times, the Old Faith druids allied themselves with dark magic-users of the Ur-Flan such as Vecna, electing not to challenge their depraved, evil rites and spells. The Old Faith still preserves some of their magical secrets. Vecna, however, betrayed them, and many died when the lich twisted their powers over nature into powers of undeath.
When the Aerdi, particularly the Celestial Houses Naelax and Torquann, conquered the lands watered by the Flanmi River, they encountered groups of Flan worshipping demon lords such as Demogorgon. Horrified (by the chaos, at least, though many of them were Hextor worshippers and not particularly phased by evil), they eagerly slaughtered all Flan priests that they found, driving the surviving druids into the wilds within the lands controlled by the Aerdi.
The druids prophesied that they would survive their Aerdi rivals. With the recent fall of the Great Kingdom, this prophesy came true.