Druids (also known as vinebeards) are animists that are practitioners of Y'ffre's True Way (or Druidism), in which one is to lead a life connecting with and valuing the natural world referred to as the Green. The eponymous god takes the forefront of their faith, with some reverence also being shown to the stars. Druids have little interest in the quarrels of monarchies, often leading many to believe that they are pacifists. They however are not afraid to put up a fight, as violence and death are natural. As champions of nature, druids steward its growth and defend their ancient sites from the cruelty of civilization. Druidic spellcraft (which differs from the arcane) is said to be the first truly Breton creation.
Modern druids are defined by many dichotomies, and prime among these is their acknowledgement of their Breton heritage with an embracement of the word Manmer, an archaic term used for early Bretons. Druids believe in Manmer's natural affinity to enhance or perfect nature, reshaping it as Y'ffre once did. Another major contrast is between civilization and nature. Druids believe that Bretons (and others) were not meant to separate themselves from nature, as through it, one can rejuvenate and enjoy Y'ffre's bounty. They are also not to retreat into isolation and prostate themselves before unmarred nature like the Wyrd did, a group that split from the early druids. Druids create settlements where manmade constructions intertwine with and honors nature.
The first vinebeards made up a united entity known as the Druids of Galen, though modern druiddom differs in that its practitioners organize themselves into fellowships referred to as druidic circles. Each circle interprets Y'ffre's will differently, while druids within the same fellowship share the same traditions and objectives. Aside from the three major druidic circles active in the Systres in the Second Era, there are also numerous smaller circles devoted to communing with nature. Druids can also be found on the mainland in the regions of the Illiac Bay.[UOL 1] The Druids of Galen openly embraced civilization, and they found unsavory the Wyrd's abandonment of it. Ironically, modern druids share similarities to the Wyrd in that they are wary of civilization, with self-isolation varying. This shift was in response to historical encroachments and heartless deprivations. Their forebears among the druids of old wanted self-governance without the Direnni's interference, as well as freedom from the religious persecution coming from the Alessian Order. Indeed, xenophobia among the druidic circles varies in the modern day, with the Stonelore being welcoming and taking willing converts, and the Eldertide and Firesong being hostile.
Druidic history is primarily oral history, for many records have been lost, and druidkind has been nearly wiped out several times throughout history. Naturally, the origin of Druidism is steeped in myth. Some say a Nedic figure known as Druid Queen Galen was one of the first to channel the songs of Y'ffre, and became the first Archdruid. Others believe the True Way emerged from an island named Galen in the middle of a lake, where Breton's forebears heard Y'ffre's heart beating. Another story claims it was the name of a spirit that wandered into a proto-Breton settlement and taught them of the Green; yet in another, Druidism was introduced to them by the "daughters and sons … [of] Anuiel." Regardless of the origin, it is agreed that the True Way was born early in High Rock's history.
If Man or Mer came to High Rock first is debated in scholarly circles. Some believe that Nedic civilization and their Druid King were already established in the province when the Aldmer arrived, while others claim that the Nedes arrived in High Rock afterwards, and encountered the elves gradually with a variety of reactions and outcomes.[UOL 2] There is evidence of human settlements in High Rock dating back at least a thousand years before recorded history. Archaeological excavations have dated the ruins of Nedic habitation to as early as ME 1000, predating Ysgramor by centuries. The Aldmer that settled High Rock did so sparsely and in very specific locations, the most successful being Clan Direnni, who came to the province from the Summerset Isles in the Middle Merethic Era.
The Direnni didn't enslave the Nedes as the Ayleids of Cyrodiil did; instead, they ruled them as a noble caste. The elves established a system of feudal vassalage over their new subjects and took Nedic concubines. They inevitably interbred with their human subjects, producing Half-Elven children (also known as Manmer). The Druids of Galen led this new race when they first emerged,[UOL 3] for the children begat from these unions weren't adopted by their Direnni parents, as they were considered sub-mer. Instead, they were given privileged positions among the Nedes, which eventually lead to a recognizable mixed-blood human caste dubbed "Bretons", from the Ehlnofex "beratu", meaning "half". These Bretons were only allowed to marry humans, and over time, the Breton's elven blood thinned, and their human features became more prominent. While the Aldmer maintained control of Tamriel, the Manmeri lived as lower-class citizens. Clan Direnni coexisted peacefully with their Nedic and half-elven subjects, and the Nedes of High Rock flourished alongside the elves.
The Bretons would begin to split into three groups due to the rising Direnni Hegemony. Sisterhoods repulsed by the Direnni became the Wyrd when they retreated away from civilization, and embraced the more primal aspects of nature. The Druids of Galen attempted to hold onto their power with fearsome magic, either behind the scenes or directly. Ultimately, they became the final split around 1E 330, when two major powers vowed for control of High Rock. The Direnni Hegemony did not take kindly to the attempts for druidic governance of the province, and the Alessian Order persecuted them as they deviated from their religion. Following the guidance of a song or an Elder Scroll, the druids left their mainland brethren behind and journeyed into the Systres, but a few remained on the mainland. Some druids seek to restore the soul of Bretondom by returning their city-dwelling brethren back to their Druidic roots, as they are prone to destroying nature, as well as causing bloodshed through wars. The Wyrd however would remain distant, seldom acknowledging their shared heritage, and would come to see the Druids as nothing more than "barons in ivy robes".
When the Druids of Galen arrived to the Systres, the Draoife terraformed a barren volcanic island into a lush and verdant volcanic paradise and named it Y'ffelon. The druids then swiftly expanded across the rest of the archipelago, sprouting life where it was once barren. The dissolution of the Druids of Galen was brought about with the event known as the "three mornings of sail", when priest-navigators set out to sea on enchanted vessels outside the archipelago. Their outside experiences and their interactions with different races resulted in three sects developing, each with their own interpretation of Y'ffre's will; the Stonelore, Eldertide, and Firesong Circles. Other sources claim Kasorayn caused the druidic schism when he foresaw a coming disaster in a prophecy now known as the Dream of Kasorayn. Before the Druids of Galen ventured into the Systres, the last Druid King visited both the Beldama and Glenmoril Wyrd Covens in preparation. Together, they nurtured the nature spirit known as Frii from the dream of the Green. Frii was the Sower, the entity that was to create sacred seeds which were to contain the regalia of the Druid King, royal symbols to be passed onto the future druidic circles. Despite the religious schism, to symbolize their unity matters more and that they share the same goals, the druidic circles came to shaping knot-work into a triquetra, a symbol that would become adopted by civilized Bretons.
The druidic monarchy ended after heretics of the Allwither Order murdered the Druid King in their attempt to seize the Ivy Throne. It is speculated that they wanted to go back to High Rock to enact revenge on their former Elven oppressors. Before Kasorayn succumbed to his wounds, he reverted his regalia into seeds. The crown was given to the Eldertide, the gauntlet to the Firesong, and the staff to the Stonelore Circle for safekeeping until a new Druid King could rise. He then ordered those still loyal to him to rally against the Allwither Cult. The druids were left with the Dream of Kasorayn detailing two possible futures, dependant on the morality of the next Druid King. When the druidic circles are reunited, they may bring the Green Renewal (also known as the Green Reward), in which they would teach everyone to live in harmony with nature. The other possibility was the Green Scourge, in which nature would run amok amongst the tyranny of druiddom. After Kasorayn's death, the regal symbology of the Druid Kings disappeared almost overnight. Filling the leadership role afterwards was the Draoife (meaning druidic council), which consists of some of the most influential members of each druidic circle. They handle the leadership role in modern druiddom, settling disputes and handling concerns.
Eventually, the differences in beliefs of the three major druidic circles nearly led to conflict. This however was stopped by the appearance of a common enemy, the Sinistral Elves, who arrived at High Isle to flee the latest wave of Yokudan immigrants. Their invasion was temporarily halted when Y'ffelon's volcano of Mount Firesong erupted somewhere around 1E 668. Regardless, the Sinistral Elves took over the Systres, and the druidic circles were forced into hiding. With the coming of the Ra Gada in 1E 785, what remained of the Elves were purged, and the Yokudans quickly left the island to go eastward, to seek glory in Hammerfell. In the end, only the druids were remained, a mere shell of what they once were.
Seeking vengeance for Tamriel for the Thrassian Plague that was unleashed by the Sload, the Colovian King of Anvil, Bendu Olo, was granted an Imperial fleet by the emperor of the Alessian Empire, and looked to other races to bolster the size of the fleet which would become known as the All Flags Navy. Sometime around 1E 2243, the Navy arrived in the Systres Archipelago, where they established a naval base and shipyard within High Isle's Gonfalon Bay, which dwarfed others created for this conflict. Hundreds of members of all three major druidic circles were recruited to join the All Flags Navy. After various skirmishes evolved into the eventual final assault on Thras in 1E 2260. The druids acted as weather-soothers and wayfinders on the way to Thras and the entire landmass was sunk into the ocean, with half of the fleet being caught within the giant whirlpool. Some credit the druids as playing a part in this devastation, though that is speculation on a few records. The remaining influential figures returned to the Systres, where these representatives of each race signed the Concordat of Fraternity on All Flags Islet, in hopes to bring about peace and cooperation, and druids healed the wounded.
It is unknown what happened to the few Druids of Galen that remained on the mainland instead of following Kasorayn's exodus, but in Stonelore tales, these forsaken also split into circles and roamed Tamriel's forests doing Y'ffre's will. By the Interregnum, druids had been absent in High Rock for centuries. While the druids of old are gone, Systrean druids during this time period still considered themselves to be the Druids of Galen at least in name in that the title is special and conveys "solace, home and hearth, reverence and conservation".
The Stonelore druids who inhabit Systres investigated and attempted to shut down volatile volcanic fissures that have begun to plague the islands of the Systres circa 2E 582  Around this time, the Mages Guild sought to research druidic magic. The volatile magic of the Eldertide was prioritized.
The Ascendant Order is a pan-Tamrielic movement created response to the bringing the rule of tyrants to an end. Terrorist attacks using druidic magic were used during their operations in the Systres. A faction within the Eldertide Circle joined the Ascendant Order during their assault on the All Flags Islet.
The Firesong Circle wish to bring about the revival of the Druids of Galen by reuniting the druid circles[UOL 4][UOL 5] and crowning a new Druid King. Circa 2E 582, they assassinated the Draoife when they refused to elect a new Druid King, and made moves to obtain the other circle's seeds. The leader of the Firesong was disposed of, but the puppeteer and leader of the Ascendant Order, Lord Bacaro Volorus, took matters to his own hands and took the Ivy Throne. Bacaro's reign was swiftly put to an end by the Vestige, and thus the Green Scourge was prevented.
The Druids of Galen may not be resurrected, for Kasorayn's dream may simply be a metaphor. Druid Laurel of the Stonelore Circle believes that druidkind should live life like it is close at hand, however. How the Systres becoming part of Hammerfell's territory by 2E 864 affected the druid circles is unknown, but by the Fifth Century of the Third Era, druids were once again present on the mainland in the regions of the Illiac Bay.[UOL 1]
The Major Druidic Circles include the following:
- Eldertide Circle: The Eldertide Circle is one of the three prominent Druidic Circles in the Systres Archipelago and live in enclaves throughout the islands such as Tuinh in Galen and the Coral Cliffs in Amenos. They have long been feuding with the Breton coin-barons appointed by the Reman Empire in 1E 2704. The Eldertide believe that the civilization of Man and Mer has chained nature down, and thus they seek to balance the natural world and mortal's greed by washing it away, metaphorically and physically.
- Firesong Circle: The Firesong Circle is the oldest and most hostile of the three prominent Druidic Circles in the Systres Archipelago, where they live on Y'ffelon where outsiders aren't welcome. Their religion is centered around the island's volcano, Mount Firesong, where they hear Y'ffre's voice in its restlessness.
- Stonelore Circle: The Stonelore Circle is the friendliest of the three prominent Druidic Circles in the Systres. Though they are primarily composed of Bretons, membership also extends to outsiders, even those from other races. The Stonelore seek to restore the soul of Bretondom by returning their city-dwelling brethren back to their druidic roots, as they are prone to destroying nature, as well as causing bloodshed through wars. They also seek to show the benefits of the True Way to the other races. They are not hostile to people of other faiths, nor would they force their beliefs on others, unlike the Eldertide and Firesong Circles.
Other ancient groups include:
- Druids of Galen: The first druids predating the concept of druidic circles. The Direnni intermingled with them to create the Breton race.
- Deep Druids: They are an enigma, even thought to be myth. They worshipped and communed with the unknowable entities that call the abyss beneath the seas their home.
Druids practice shape magic into various animals like the way a song or tale can be retold in reverence to Y'ffre. This differs from the shapeshifting of the Glenmoril Wyrd, who instead look to Hircine for this gift.
Druids are known to consort with nature spirits who are tied to the environment around them, but they are as unpredictable as nature itself.
Some among the Druids of Galen practiced necromancy as a legitimate venue of faith, as it is a focus on the end of Y'ffre's blessing of life. Soulrazer Knights are animated suits of armor powered with necromanctic energies with various theories on what created them. One of many is the druids created them.
The Eldertide Circle are able to create the Reefborn, creatures of coral that mimic Nirn's creatures, a process that requires living sacrifices. It is unknown if the Eldertide are also responsible for Reefborn that are present in other islands found in the Abecean Sea.
Certain aspects of the True Way share similarities with the religious practices of the Reachmen. Druids speculated to be related to Wardens, although moreso in the heart rather than in the mind. Druids use the True way to guide their magics, while Wardens feel Nirn calling to them in their gut.
On the Systres Archipelago, druidic architecture is intended to invoke the feeling of a culture that has embraced nature yet is not primitive. Stacked stone huts and thatched roofs are on the simpler side, while rock-cut architecture fills the more complex side and can be seen on the archipelago sandstone cliff faces.
Some megalithic structures of the Wyrd are similar to Systrean druids. Additionally, both are known to dwell in stone huts. The Wyrd however use different patterns of symbology from druids. Whether the spiral patterns on druidic monoliths are purely aesthetic or hold religious significance is a matter of scholarly debate. Patterns do however indicate things, with examples including fertility, flames, and spirits.
The city of Vastyr on the isle of Galen features of blend of druidic and city Breton architecture, thanks to the House Monard's connections to Druidism.
The Oakensoul Ring is a ring showcasing druidic master craftsmanship with some Direnni influence. It represents the authority of the Draoife, and its power represents the might of the druids. It is estimated to have been forged at least sometime around the Twenty-Fourth Century of the First Era for a figure of importance.
The artifact's power comes from the various components that make up the ring's anatomy. With Stonelore craftmentship, the stone shank frame was grinded into shape with Nedic-like stonework, but aesthetically it is Direnni-shaped. It is enchanted with protective energies, and its central grove is shaped to accommodate a second loop made out of petrified oak that radiates with magicka. This oaken loop is accented with enchanted igneous flakes representing the Firesong Circle, theorized to bring immovable strength. The ring's stones larimar gems represents the Eldertide and contain draoifoglyphs--druidic runes. Lastly, Tears of Y'ffre were applied to the ring, used in druidic spellcraft.
The Cowl of the Druid is a hood enchanted to enhance marksmanship, alchemy, and be able to detect life.
Y'ffre is the primary deity associated with the druids, and several druidic circles formed with different ways that they revere him. His existence was known, but his name was not known until the daughters and sons of Anuiel introduced his name.
The druids worship a being known as an Elk of Arrows. Speculation exists on its significance, with one theory that it represents the importance in nature of life and death between hunter and prey. Some also believe it to be associated with Hircine.
The druids of old praised the stars, the Ritual constellation above all.
The Evergrowth and the Allwither
Mara's Tear and Shandar's Sorrow are the ancient Bretonic interpretations of the moons, and were originally mortal lovers in a forbidden relationship. After Shandar suffered a mortal wound defending his lover, the goddess Mara took the two mortals and placed them in the heavens so they could always be together, and the light of their love could shine upon the world as moonlight. Ancient druids had Mara's Tear and Shandar's Sorrow as a witness to sanctify rituals.
A Druid[UOL 1] (Daggerfall)
- For druidic elements, The Elder Scrolls Online developers were inspired by the Moai, Olmecs, and the Stonehenge. Rock-cut architecture came from ancient Turkey, such as the Lycian tombs in Dalyan and Göreme Historical National Park.
- Unused[verification needed — Was it in-game?] dialogue with druids in Arena mentions that some of their practices include conducting services in parks, preparing nature-worshipping disciples, and finding human sacrifices.
- Druids were planned to be used in main installments of the series past Daggerfall, until Michael Kirkbride's writing team reformed their approach and did away with elements from Dungeons & Dragons.[UOL 6] They would later return to the series many years later with ESO.
- Peverel Luluelle's dialogue in ESO
- Draoife Storystone in ESO
- Meet the Character - Sir Stefan Mornard — Knight Commander Jourvel
- Druid Audrine's dialogue in ESO
- Loremaster's Archive - The Druid Circles of Galen — Laurel of the Stonelore
- Wyrd and Druid — Archdruid Barnabe's Discourse with Mainlanders, 2E 553
- Druid Ryvana's dialogue in ESO
- Loremaster's Archive - Bretons & High Isle
- Legacy of the Bretons — Stefan Mornard
- Twice-harvested Knot Rope Antiquity codex entries in ESO
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Druid Farel's dialogue in ESO
- Logbook of Druid Anwas — Druid Anwas
- Dhulef's dialogue in ESO
- Glimmertarn: A Stonelore Community — Manon Rolaine
- Wyress Matilde's dialogue in ESO
- Perryn Thielde's dialogue in ESO
- Death cutscene in Daggerfall
- Druid Peeska's dialogue in ESO
- Druid Laurel's dialogue in ESO
- Systres History Addendum: The Druids of Galen — Varona Vedralu, Senior Lecturer, University of Gwylim
- Exodus of the Druids — Druid Laurel of the Stonelore Circle
- Modern Day Bretons: Man or Mer? — Vastyr Historian Filibert Beauchamp
- Frontier, Conquest — University of Gwylim Press, 3E 344
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Sons and Daughter of the Direnni West: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- A History of Daggerfall — Odiva Gallwood
- Before the Ages of Man — Aicantar of
- Once — Beredalmo the Signifier
- The Bretons: Mongrels or Paragons? — Phrastus of Elinhir
- High King Emeric's dialogue in ESO
- Systres History: Volume 1 — Trilam Heladren, Associate Dean of Eltheric History, University of Gwylim
- Secrets of Amenos — Miramel Charascel, Chairperson of the Gonfalon Bay Historical and Social Society
- Frii's dialogue in ESO
- Sojourn of the Druid King quest in ESO
- Druidic Knotwork Body Tattoos markings description in ESO
- Crafting Motif 93: Ancestral Breton Style — Serge Serlyn, "Military Scholar of Much Renown"
- Druid King Kasorayn's dialogue in ESO
- Stonelore Circle Effigy in ESO
- Systres History: Volume 2 — Trilam Heladren, Associate Dean of Eltheric History, University of Gwylim
- Systres History: Volume 3 — Trilam Heladren, Associate Dean of Eltheric History, University of Gwylim
- Journal of Tsona-Ei
- Systres History: Vastyr — Varona Vedralu, Senior Lecturer, University of Gwylim
- Volcanic Vents in ESO
- Druidic Research quest in ESO
- Meet the Character(s) - The Ascendant Lord and Magus — Adandora, Chronicler-at-Large
- The Ascendant Storm quest in ESO
- Events of Firesong DLC in ESO
- Map of Tamriel – Morrowind Codex
- On Nature Spirits — Archdruid Duana
- Spriggan's Veil item description in ESO : High Isle
- Theories: Soulrazer Knights — Kaladiran, Arcane Naturalist
- Coral Conundrum quest in ESO
- Sunken Trove Crate Apex Mount descriptions in ESO
- Nighthunter's Cowl description in ESO
- Kemshelar's dialogue in ESO
- Loremaster's Archive - Tamriel's Dungeons — Dhulef
- Firesong Developer Preview—The Zone on the official ESO website
- Appearance of Wyrd architecture and Druidic architecture in ESO
- Stonelore Circle Effigy in ESO
- The Druid Monoliths — Ignatius Galenus
- Druidic Wall Stone, Fertility, Flame, and Spirits in ESO
- Oakensoul Ring codex entries in ESO
- Cowl of the Druid item sold by Borba gra-Uzgash in Oblivion
- Druidic Provisioning Station Painted Elk Clay Pot Antiquity codex entry in ESO: High Isle
- Una the Green Elk Figurine item description in ESO: High Isle
- Mara's Tear — Zhen
- Elder Verline's dialogue in ESO
- Occupations and their Descriptions — The Elder Scrolls: Arena
Note: The following references are considered to be unofficial sources. They are included to round off this article and may not be authoritative or conclusive.
- The Dragon's Eyrie/Daggerfall
- Lawrence Schick and Phrastus on Altmer Culture
- https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1592672973 Twitch Stream of ESO Live at Home Firesong DLC & Update 36 Preview, time stamp 17:09-17:36
- https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1604662466 Twitch Stream of ESO Live Legacy of the Bretons Autumn Event, time stamp 59:10-59:26
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhQeU-Izx1w Youtube Stream of Firesong DLC Guided Tour with the Developers, time stamp 25:33-26:08
- Michael Kirkbride's Posts — Michael Kirkbride