Dryads are a generally peaceful creature native to the Mediterranean region. They are nature spirits of great strength, but are only dangerous when threatened. Be aware, dryads are not only protective of their trees but of their entire forest in which they dwell
Dryads are considered demigods of Greek mythology, the nymphs that reside specifically within trees as opposed to bodies of water. Traditional dryads are female, and the majority of their legends depict them fleeing from amorous male gods whose ability to understand consent was limited to non-existent. The stories usually end with the dryad taking her tree shape to escape.
Dryads are usually the daughters of more powerful nature spirits, and their children are either female dryads or share their species and appearance with their father. Male dryads are not believed to exist. The male children of dryads are often demigods in their own right, or mortal heroes of legend.
Traits and Behavior
A dryad is both the humanoid form they can take and the tree in which they dwell. Dryads can leave their tree to move around, but they cannot travel far from their tree. A dryad in their humanoid form will appear female, of varying ages depending on the maturity of their tree but rarely younger than adolescence. Younger dryads struggle to maintain form and will revert back to their tree swiftly.
The dryads appearance will vary based on the their type of tree; a willow will appear thin and graceful, an oak strong and solid. Their skin will often resemble bark, and their hair leaves, and the coloration of a dryad will resemble the seasonal colors of their native tree. Skilled dryads can take on a more human appearance, but their coloration will still appear somewhat inhuman. Dryads eyes can range in color but will typically remain brown or green. Fruit tree dryads can have eye colors or markings that resemble their fruit. Eating the fruit of a dryad’s tree can confer luck or the Sight, but if the fruit is taken without permission it will often be toxic or cause severe misfortune.
Dryads have some control over the plants and trees around them in either form, but this ability varies depending on the distance from the tree and the dryad’s strength.
Dryads gather in communities called groves, and are often the daughters and granddaughters of the oldest trees. Even when the oldest dies, the children can use the root system to grow and be strong, and the grove aids each other. Normal trees growing in the area tend to gather some level of energy from the vicinity, and their wood can create powerful spells.
A dryad tree will not truly differ in appearance from a regular tree, though it may be in better health than its surroundings would suggest. Approaching a dryad tree will often instill a feeling of distraction, and an urge to leave the area is common. Harming the tree in any way will cause bad luck to follow you, if you are able to leave the grove; remember, the trees surrounding a dryad tree are often also dryads. Even the regular trees can be manipulated by the dryads to trap the person, until they lose themselves in the woods. Dryad wood when cut will never sink, but it will lead any who use it to their deaths. When a dryad dies, their grove will allow them to return to the ground naturally, and so even dead dry wood from a dryad will curse any who take it. If a dryad willingly provider her branches however, the person will be blessed with good fortune.
Dryad trees do often appear to have faces in the bark, more often than regular trees. This is more often the case if the dryad has any dead bodies below their roots. Their bark often takes a reddish hue until decomposition is complete.
Dryads in their tree form can be cut down or damaged the same as regular trees, if they aren’t able to chase off the person with confusion or using the surrounding trees to damage others. They are slightly less susceptible to fire than regular living trees, but they will burn if the fire is hot enough or if they are exposed long enough.
Dryads in their humanoid form have tougher skin than the average human, but they can be physically harmed with standard weapons. Forcing a dryad away from their tree will significantly weaken them and can even kill them. A weak dryad will struggle to control their form and will often become more tree-like in appearance. They will also lose their control over plant life, but the surrounding flora may go wild in growth and movement. If the humanoid form dies, the tree will also die, and the humanoid body will disappear.
If the tree itself becomes ill, such as with insects or physical damage, the dryad will also be ill. These things can kill the dryad the same as a normal tree, but the dryad will be hardier than their tree equivalent.