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The Dryad is yet another monster that originated in Greco-Roman mythology. Part of the extensive Nymph family, they are tree and forest spirits; sources conflict as to whether dryad specifically means "oak tree spirit" or just the general term for "tree spirit". They had a vast number of sister species tied to specific trees, including: Daphnaeae (Laurel tree), Epimeliades (Apple tree), Kissiae (Ivy), Meliae (Ash tree), Balanos (Oak), Kraneia (Dogwood), Morea (Mulberry), Igeiros (Poplar), Ptelea (Elm), Aigeiroi (black poplar), Ampeloi (grape vine), Balanis (ilex), Karyai (hazelnut), Kraneiai (cherry tree), Moreai (mulberry), and Sykei (fig).
In /tg/ media, dryads typical appear as elfin maidens with druid-like powers over plants and, less commonly, animals. They may display some plant-like traits, usually green hair and/or wood-brown skin, and their life is often tied to the health and well-being of a specific tree, due to a confusion between the mythical dryad (spirit of a grove or forest as a whole) and the hamadryad (spirit of a specific tree). Because of these traits, they tend to hate individuals and species who wreck forests for lumber, farmland or just a love of burning shit.
In Dungeons & Dragons
In Dungeons & Dragons, dryads have been around since the beginning, dedicated to protecting their forests, mostly against the likes of orcs and goblins. They get on well with druids and rangers, but aren't very fond of woodcutters. Traditionally, they're described as being beautiful, elf-like maidens and considered to be either good or neutral aligned, despite their tendency to abuse their innate Charm Person to turn wandering humans and/or elves with sufficiently high Charisma into boytoys, a state in which they can be kept as prisoners for years before their captor grows tired of them and sends them away.
In 4th edition, Dryads got shifted out of the "pin-up monster" category by giving them the ability to shift between beautiful elf-maiden form and an armored, female treeman like form, in which state they could be much more aggressively proactive about defending their forests, instead of depending on Charmed servitors.
Hamadryads have less of a presence in D&D, only showing up in AD&D (both editions) and 4th edition.
The Half-Dryad has appeared once or twice in D&D.
PC stats for dryads appeared under the BECMI rules in the splatbook "Tall Tales of the Wee Folk", a sourcebook on fey player characters. Dryads in this book are stated to be the daughters of hamadryads and their male mates, born independent of the "soul-trees" that sustain the lives of their mothers. At the age of 12, a dryad can either bond itself with a tree, effectively becoming an immature hamadryad, or remain detached, effectively functioning as a kind of variant elf or as a human sorceress; they have innate magical powers due to their fey ancestry, but can roam the world as they please at the price of aging like mortals, until and unless they choose to bond to a tree.
Dryad BECMI PC Stats:
- Ability Modifiers: Maximum of 16 Strength, Minimum of 8 Wisdom and 12 Charisma
- Prime Requisites: Wisdom and Charisma (EXP +5% if one or both are at 13+, EXP +10% if one or both are at 16+)
- Natural Armor Class: 7
- Can speak with plants
- Can cast Druid spells as if a Druid of the same level.
- Dryads can learn the unique spells Insect Messenger and Polymorph Other To Plant.
- Dryads can choose to bond to a tree, at which point they cease aging and no longer need substance, but also cannot increase in experience. They can detach themselves, but this requires a painful process that lasts 24 hours.
- Can only use Magic-User weapons and armor.
- Can use magic items allowed to clerics and magic-users, as well as magical versions of permitted weapons.
- Save as Clerics of the same level.
- At level 0, a Dryad can Charm Person 3/day as per the 1st level magic-user spell. If bonded to a tree, they can cast Charm Person at will and with a -2 penalty on the victim's saving throws.
- At level 3, a dryad can Shapechange 1/day, but only into the form of a specific plant. At every 2nd level after 3rd, they can change an additional time per day, and add an additional plant to their list of forms. A dryad regains 1d4 HP per level when shapechanging, but cannot heal more than half of the damage suffered before shapechanging through this method.
- At level 10, when bonded to a tree, a dryad can invoke the Famine Curse once per month on a creature that has violated their tree; if the target fails a Save vs Spells at -4, they will suffer an insatiable hunger, craving to eat 24 hours a day but never able to gain any satiation, inevitably starving to death unless cured by a Wish spell, or by a Remove Curse cast by a Lawful cleric of at least 17th level.
Dryad Racial Class
- -1: -3,000 XP, 1d8 Hit Dice
- 0: 0 XP, 2d8 Hit Dice
- 1: 3,000 XP
- 2: 9,000 XP, 3d8 Hit Dice
- 3: 21,000 XP
- 4: 45,000 XP, 4d8 Hit Dice
- 5: 95,000 XP
- 6: 190,000 XP, 5d8 Hit Dice
- 7: 380,000 XP
- 8: 680,000 XP, 6d8 Hit Dice
- 9: 980,000 XP
- 10: 1,280,000 XP, 7d8 Hit Dice
- 11: 1,580,000 XP, 7d8+1 Hit Dice
- Subsequent levels require +300,000 XP and grant +1 HP.
|Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races|
|Basic Set:||Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human|
|Creature Catalog 1:||Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao |
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
|Creature Catalog 2:||Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy |
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
|Creature Catalog 3:||Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie |
Sea Giant - Shark-kin - Triton
|Dragon Magazine:||Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:||Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubitt - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:||Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll
Dragon Magazine #251 featured an article called "Beyond the Tree", which examines the dryads of the Dragonlance setting in greater depth. It also provided PC stats for Dryads under both Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2e and for SAGA, via the "subraces" of Quested Dryads and Shaped Dryads.
On Krynn, dryads come into being when an oak tree reaches an age over 50 years, at which point it may spontaneously give birth to a dryad as a spiritual symbiont. Oak trees most often produce dryads either due to the presence of a nearby threat to themselves, or as a result of the loss of an intelligent lifeform within range of the oak's roots. Dryads born from the former tend to be mischievous, whilst the latter tend to be more thoughtful.
"Quested" dryads are born different, with an innate ability to leave the immediate company of their tree and with an intuitive understanding that they have been born for a purpose that will serve nature - usually by destroying places where dark magic is warping nature. However, their lifeforce is still bound to their tree, and they can sense when it is in danger; should it be destroyed whilst they adventure, then they perish.
In comparison, "Shaped" dryads are born as a result of a dragon overlord's terraforming magic, which warps and twists the spiritual link between dryad and tree. This results in physical corruption, with skin, hair and eye colors being altered based on which dragon overlord has corrupted their realm. It also severs the link, allowed the shaped dryad to roam freely, because instead her life is connected to the corrupt magic that warped the landscape - ironically, whilst they instinctively yearn to undo this corruption, restoring the land to its natural state will probably kill them, unless they can restore their tree to true life in the process.
- Ability Score Minimum/Maximum: Strength 3/17, Dexterity 6/18, Constitution 5/18, Intelligence 6/18, Wisdom /5,18 Charisma 8/18
- Racial Classes: Cleric, Fighter, Wizard, Thief, Ranger, Fighter/Mage, Fighter/Cleric, Fighter/Thief, Fighter/Mage/Thief, Mage/Cleric, Mage/Thief
- Quested Dryads can cast Charm Person 3/day, 1/ round, and targets suffer a -3 penalty to saving throws.
- Quested Dryads can cast Speak With Plants 3/day.
- Shaped Dryads gain access to a Sphere or School, and damage resistance, based on their region of origin:
- Beryl's Realm: Animal Sphere, Poison Resistance
- Gellidus's Realm: Evocation School, Cold Resistance
- Khellendros's realm: Evocation, Heat Resistance
- Malys's realm: Elemental (Fire), Fire Resistance
- Sable's Realm: Elemental (Water), Acid Resistance
- Dryad Warriors of either subrace can only specialize in the use of the Dagger and the Shortbow.
- Quested Dryads whose home tree is threatened must answer its summons to defend it, or die within 6d6 hours.
- Shaped Dryads cannot use a certain school/sphere of magic, and suffer a -5 penalty to saves vs. a certain kind of attack based on which realm they hail from:
- Beryl's Realm: Necromancy, Spells
- Gellidus's Realm: Elemental (Fire), Heat
- Khellendros's realm: Elemental (Earth), Cold
- Malys's realm: Elemental (Water), Cold
- Sable's Realm: Elemental (Air), Poison
In Warhammer Fantasy
In Warhammer Fantasy, dryads are a key part of the Wood Elf army force. Representing the more powerful spirits of Athel Loren, they bind themselves to living trees to give themselves a way of interacting with the world of flesh. Known for being real bitches who like to lure humans into the forest by assuming the shape of sexy elven women, then assume a monstrous humanoid tree-woman form and rip them apart for kicks.
Much like nymphs, dryads are considered pretty entry-tier monstergirls; after all, when you get down to it, the typical dryad is basically an elf druidess with some enchanter spells in her arsenal. It doesn't hurt that seducing handsome men and keeping them for their lovers is a pretty iconic trait of theirs, courtesy of D&D.
Even the Monster Girl Encyclopedia doesn't really stray from D&D's formula, it just makes it the be-all, end-all of her focus.
Given the hermaphroditic nature of 99% of Earth's plants, Dryads would, begrudgingly, be a pretty good excuse for dickgirls (insert obligatory "wood" pun here). Alternatively, dryads could be more "literally" genderfluid like the incubus/succubus of D&D 5e; or each female dryad could have a male dryad brother tied to the same tree, which would lend itself to incestuous "self pollination." Ginko trees, btw, are one of the few plant species that have separate male and female individuals, so make use of that if you wish.