Druids and Spirits of the Land

Various bits of lore mention that druids can, ususlly upon their deaths, merge with the spirit that inhabits their guarded lands.


  • In 2e, a 30th level psionicist/druid melds into their local spirit of the land, according to Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

  • Rise and Fall has lower level druids merging with the spirit upon their deaths, existing in a kind of dream-like afterlife.

So, this begs the question…what do you think happens to these druids after merging?


For mine, I use three types of druid afterlives.

  1. Wanderer Druids are those without Grove Master levels. When they die their spirits merge with the closest Spirit of the Land, adding their knowledge and memories to the existing Spirit of the Land. These slowly melt away over time as the base Spirit of the Land fully absorbs the power of the Wanderer Druid.

  2. Guardian Druids are those with levels of Grove Master. When they die their spirits return to the guarded land and merge with a feature found there or an existing Spirit of the Land. A Grove Master who has not yet achieved 10 levels in the prestige class become a generic Spirit of the Land, slowly losing memories just as a Wanderer would. A Grove Master who has achieved 10 levels in the prestige class becomes a Spirit of the Land but retains memories, skills, and abilities. Until the Grove Master dies, she may leave the Guarded Lands for up to half a year. After a half year has passed, a Grove Master will die if she has not returned to her Guarded Lands.

  3. Spirit Initiates are those who have taken the Spirit Initiate prestige class (Druid/Psions). They are on their way to becoming Spirits of Athas. They treat all lands as their Guarded Lands (irrespective of having Grove Master levels). When they die they form new Spirits of the Land where they have died. In the case of Grove Masters, they can choose to become new Spirits of the Land in their guarded lands instead. At 1st level of the Spirit Initiate class they are common Spirits of the Land, at 10th they retain all memories, skills, and powers just as a Grove Master would.


A fascinating topic. I would have it, I do believe, that the merging druid would add his soul and intellect to that ancient spirit. Such a merged spirit would be almost wholly subsumed by that great spirit. A well role-played character spirit of the land would by degrees become increasingly less human in personality, and almost certainly more detached from human affairs with each new level he gains. Even at 21st level, such a character I would rule to be immortal.

According to AEFW, even mundane high-level druids may transport themselves to the Elemental Planes should they wish, and surely so could a PC spirit of the land. However, even at 30th level, such beings would have no natural home upon the Elemental Planes. They might venture to such realms, perhaps aiding and meddling in the Silent War in order to effect parallel changes on the Prime Material Plane, but they would never retire there indefinitely. Upon reaching 30th level, their powers and even existence are wholly linked to their guarded lands.

Interestingly, even if their lands were wholly destroyed, I am not certain such a PC spirit of the land would truly and fully die. Review this passage from their MC entry:

Spirits whose resident land feature is de-
stroyed either die or return to the elemental plane, no one is cer-
tain which. This is a mystery even the great druids cannot
answer. Neither does anyone know where the spirits originated.
The popular theory is that Athas was once a world so filled with
life energy that the spirits may have been responsible for the cre-
ation of life itself.

To fully explore your question, Pennarin, I believe this leads us once again into Dark Sun’s cosmogony.

A secular Creation of the Dark Sun universe --that is, creation without gods-- seems all but certain to me. Whatever the act of Creation was, I speculate that at some primordial moment, there was an inherent unity when for but one instant the Prime Material and Ethereal Plane were One. This would explain the profound and essential connection between the PMP and Ethereal Planes. As creation settled, the Ethereal spirits from the beginning of time seem to have settled upon inhabiting the Elements that most appealed to their Nature. Some of these spirits must have settled upon the PMP, and among the greatest of these was that spirit that became the Spirit of Athas itself. This being may have literally helped form the planet, and to it were attracted lesser spirits, the future spirits of the land that inspired the creation of the great land formations of that world.

In theory, should the lands of a spirit of the land be wholly destroyed, a PC spirit might return to the Ethereal Plane from whence it (or at least its predecessors) originated in the depths of primordial time.

It would be fascinating to hear any group of players actually played a PC spirit of the land. As I am sure is the case for almost all of us, none of my players have succeeded in ever reaching such advanced levels of play, and for those of you who would boast of having done so, I would narrow my eyes in suspicion, as you would need to convince me of the quality and maturity of your campaign in which you legitimately reached 21st/21st. How fun if anyone actually ever has!

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“Ethereal” ? Is that a typo?

Actually no, Pennarin. In short, my metaphysical conception of the Dark Sun cosmology suggests that the future “Spirits of the Land” were in their primordial origins spirits from the Ethereal Plane, from which was born the Elemental Planes. The first “elemental” spirits were, in this conception, without elemental substance, only spirit, yet most presumably entered the Elemental Planes as suited their individual natures. The same spirits may at this moment of primordial genesis have entered into the Prime Material Plane, into Athas, associating with material reality much as their spiritual kin entered into the Elements.

In my example, a character Spirit of the Land, even a junior one of 21st level, may have tied his soul inexorably to the spirit of his guarded lands. Should the guarded land become utterly destroyed, such as by extreme defiling, perhaps then even the PC’s spirit might live on, by escaping with that spirit back to the Ethereal Plane. This is surely nuanced metaphysics! But perhaps even a 21st level character spirit of the land may retain a pearl of awareness within the parent spirit, and might even be “resurrected” in some extraordinary fashion in the future. If a fully metamorphosed character spirit of the land were destroyed and his lands with it, his personality (and 30 levels) might recover quickly by fleeing to the Ethereal to mend, and then return to Athas by embedding himself in new lands that fit his former elemental persona, though only of course if such lands were lacking their own spirit. If he were a spirit of a hot springs, for example, perhaps new hot springs could be conjured by his companions on Athas.

If my theory is correct, PC spirits of the land would avoid the oblivion of the Gray. Food for thought.

I imagine an only slightly bit different take. Such druids are nurtured by the spirits of the land and over time budded off to form a new spirit of the land. They seek to fill the entirety of Athas with their kind so that they can take over the entire planetary surface, perhaps eventually the planet entire. They would then remake it in their preferred imagining.

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