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 Woodcarvings by Maura

 

The Dryad

In Greek mythology, the dryads are female spirits of nature (nymphs), who preside over the groves and forests.
Dryads are the spirits of the trees. Unlike wood nymphs, each dryad has a specific tree to watch over and protect. When the tree dies, the dryad dies as well. Except for that, dryads are immortal. However, they can never stray far from their tree for very long. Hamadryads are a type of dryad that live inside the tree and can never leave it. Dryads are beautiful, intelligent tree sprites. They are as elusive as they are alluring, however, and dryads are rarely seen unless taken by surprise -- or they wish to be spotted.

Dryad Emerging

The dryad's exquisite features, delicate and finely chiseled, are much like an elf maiden's. Dryads have high cheek bones and amber, violet, or dark green eyes. A dryad's complexion and hair color changes with the seasons, presenting the sprite with natural camouflage. During the fall, a dryad's hair turns golden or red, and her skin subtly darkens from its usual light tan to more closely match her hair color. This enables her to blend with the falling leaves of autumn. In winter, both the dryad's hair and skin are white, like the snows that cover the oak groves. When encountered in a forest during fall or winter, a dryad is often mistaken for an attractive maid, probably of elfish descent. No one would mistake a dryad for an elf maid during the spring and summer, however. At these times of year, a dryad's skin is lightly tanned and her hair is green like the oak leaves around her.

Dryads often appear clothed in a loose, simple garment. The clothing they wear is the color of the oak grove in the season they appear. They speak their own tongue, as well as the languages of elves, pixies, and sprites. Dryads can also speak with plants. Combat

Dryads are shy, nonviolent creatures. They rarely carry weapons, but they sometimes carry knives as tools. Though a dryad can use this as a weapon in a fight, she will not resort to using a knife unless seriously threatened.

Dryads have the ability to throw a powerful charm person spell three times a day (but only once per round). This spell is so powerful that targets of the spell suffer a -3 penalty to their saving throws. A Dryad always uses this spell if seriously threatened, attempting to gain control of the attacker who could help her most against his comrades. Dryads will only attempt to charm elves as a last resort because of their natural resistance to this type of spell.

The dryad's use of her ability to charm is not limited to combat situations, however. Whenever a dryad encounters a male with a Charisma of 16 or more, she usually tries to charm him. Charismatic victims of a dryad's attentions are taken to the tree sprite's home, where the men serve as amorous slaves to their beautiful captors. There is a 50% chance that a person charmed and taken away by a dryad will never return. If he does escape from the dryad's charms, it will be after 1d4 years of captivity.

This tree sprite also has two other powers that are very useful in defense. Unless surprised, a dryad has the ability to literally step through a tree and then dimension door to the oak tree she is part of. She can also speak with plants (as the 4th-level priest spell). This enables the dryad to gather information about parties traveling near her tree, and even to use vegetation to hinder potential attackers.


Some legends claim that dryads are the animated souls of very old oak trees. Whether this is really the case, it is true that dryads are attached to a single, very large oak tree in their lifetimes and cannot, for any reason, go more than 360 yards from that tree. If a dryad does wander farther away, she becomes weak and dies within 6d6 hours unless returned to her home. The oak trees of dryads do not radiate magic, but someone finding a dryad's home has great power over her. A dryad suffers damage for any damage inflicted upon her home tree. Any attack on a dryad's tree will, of course, bring on a frenzied defense by the dryad.

Although dryads are generally very solitary, up to six have been encountered in one place. This is rare, however. All this really means is that a number of dryad oaks are within 100 yards of one another and the dryads' paths cross. These dryads may come to each other's aid, but never really gather socially. Any treasure owned by a tree sprite is hidden close to her home tree. The gold and gems that make up a dryad's treasure are almost always the gifts of charmed adventurers.

These tree sprites realize that most humans and demihumans fear them for their ability to charm, so dryads only deal with strangers on rare occasions. When approached carefully, however, dryads have been known to aid adventurers. They are a useful source of information, too, as they know a great deal about the area in which they live.


Dryads are staunch protectors of the forest and groves in which they reside. Any actions that harm the area, and especially its plant life, are met with little tolerance.

 

This information courtesy of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragonís Monster Manual. All of this information here has been copyrighted to TSR Inc and Wizards of the Coast.

 

 

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Maura Macaluso
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