Obad-Hai is the deity of nature. He is a patron of druids and a friend to those who dwell in harmony with their natural surroundings. Characters or creatures who despoil or wantonly harm either animal or vegetable life are his foes.
Obad-Hai's faith has developed mainly in wooded regions under human dominance. Most of the worshipers of Obad-Hai are human or half-elves. It is also reported that gnomes, hobbits, certain woodland creatures, fey and very rare dwarfs pay homage to him. They serve as protectors of nature, acting as the agents of retribution when their protection is insufficient or too late.
Most of Obad-Haï's followers are simple people, living in contact with nature. They are hunters, gatherers, peasants, loggers, shepherds, etc. They live with nature on a daily basis and it is where they draw their sustenance. For this reason, game, plants, trees, forests are precious, even sacred, to them.
Of all the Druids, those from Obad-Hai are the most concerned with uncultivated land and wild animals. They perceive hunting as a natural balancing element of the ecosystem and teach to practice it in a reasoned way, by choosing for example the weakest element of a herd and on the contrary avoiding to kill the pregnant females. On the other hand, they actively fight against any excessive or unnecessary hunting. In the same spirit, although they protect wild lands, they allow and supervise the controlled exploitation of certain areas while taking care to counter any abuse.
Clerics maintain hidden woodland shrines that are usually located far from civilization. They keep to the wilderness and to themselves, rarely getting involved in society.
VestmentsObad-Hai's clerics wear russet-colored clothing, with vines, leaves and twigs often intertwined into the fabric. They often carry quarterstaves.
HierarchyThe clergy is in fact exclusively made up of druids, no hierarchy exists and the druids treat each other as equals, regardless of level. However, the elders of a congregation are always listened to with respect, the highest wisdom coming with age. The Obad-Hai druids located in the same geographical area constitute a branch of their order.
Every Druid is attached to a chapel, a church, or more rarely to a sacred natural place (Druid sanctuary, sacred grove, circle of raised stones, magic spring, etc.). The number of druids present then depends on the size and importance of the place of worship. Most of the time, there are no more than three Druids; however, some congregations have more than twenty Druids.
Hierarchical Progression & Obligations: An ordinary aspirant studies under a mentor, while keeping a rural occupation (groom, beekeeper, cultivator, breeder, etc.). He spends most of his time near the church/grove to which he is attached. He can also be assigned to the service of a druid (level 12) and find himself responsible, for example, for maintenance of the dwelling of the druid. This bondage is very well accepted because, in return, it is the opportunity to have a powerful mentor and solid support to climb the Druid hierarchy.
The initiates from the 1st to the 4th circle are the cornerstone of the Druidic order, and generally devote all their time to their faith. They most often live in small stone or wooden houses and protect either a small part of nature (a wood, a valley) or a village or a group of hamlets. Those who opted to protect a village have often become respected leaders in their community.
The initiates from the 5th to the 9th circle have considerably widened their area of influence. The latter can now include entire forests or small mountain ranges. Although attached to a given chapel or church, they generally stay there infrequently. In fact, they spend most of their time traveling through the territory for which they are responsible and looking after the ecosystem. When their territory includes villages, they often spend some time there to teach hunting, to bless the fields or to care for men and animals. When they are in their church, they create potions, teach novices or prepare their future expedition. The regional authorities respect (or fear) them and many call upon them as advisers.
When he officially obtains the title of Druid, their influence and responsibilities take on proportions that go far beyond the framework of their clergy. They continue to watch over the flora and fauna inside their region but they must also devote more energy to the selection of aspirants and to the tutoring of initiates placed under their control. From time to time, the Grand Druid of their elementary circle can entrust missions to one of his nine Druids.
TemplesAll the churches and chapels dedicated to Obad-Hai are made of wooden logs. Their interior is always sober and functional. Most of them are simple huts. They are found in rustic places, most often small villages on the fringes of civilization. However, there are some very elaborate ones, which can sometimes be in the trees, which host powerful Druidic congregations. They are found in the deepest forests, out of sight of men. These temples are usually defended by dozens of guardian animals and other denizens of the wilderness, many of whom are content to observe visitors from a distance.
All Druid shrines are sacred areas, imbued with the magic of nature. They generally consist of oaks planted in concentric circles around a pool of clear water.
RitualsObad-Hai's prayers and psalms often start with a reference to birth or growth and end with a reference to death or ending. One common prayer for guidance begins, "Shalm, my thirst for knowledge grows/Lend me your wisdom and bury my doubts." Services involve the consecration of earth, fire, living flowers, and water. Rites in Obad-Hai's name are seasonal, often triggered by events such as the year's first birdsong or snowfall.
The Awakening: Those who are attempting to gain acceptance of Obad-Hai, are often taken into the woods to attune and survive in nature. This rite is one which is generally not dangerous, however they can turn dangerous (as Obad-Hai teaches).
Midsummer's Night: Worshippers of Obad-Hai consider Midsummer's Night to be the holiest of all. All quarrels between the faith of the Shalm and other sects are set aside, and they join in celebration of the Oerth and the Balance they serve. This is considered the best night to harvest mistletoe.
Picking mistletoe: This solemn ceremony involved picking mistletoe when the two moons of Oerth are full. According to the oral tradition of the Old Faith, the mistletoe is able to capture the essence of the two moons of Oerth in the form of magic energy, which can be used for healing purposes. This plant serves as a material element for many druid spells.
Ordination: When one is ordained aspirant-druid, the novice must appear naked before his peers. They then offer him his first clothes, his weapons (according to his choice), his first sickle and his sacred symbol.
Consecration of a Sickle: The sickle must first be purified in spring water. It is then passed through an open flame and then left to cool in the wind. It is essential that the blade of the sickle is silver or gold, these noble metals better preserving the powers of plants than steel or iron.
Birth: When a child is born, the druid picks plants and braids a cradle with them. The object is then offered to the infant's family. Druids believe that this crib protects the newborn from evil spirits while sleeping and guides him on the path of wisdom.
Death: The death of a person is an event like any other for Obad-Hai Druids, even if that person was dear to them. It is a moment of meditation. The deceased is almost always buried and a tree is then planted near his grave to protect him. The tree can be of any type but, when the dead is a druid, it is always an oak which can sometimes become a Sylvanian.
FestivalsFroidenoce, Regain, Chaudenoce, Brassine: These four festivals are important religious holidays, marked by the summer solstice, winter solstice, fall equinox and spring equinox. It is on these occasions that the Druids meet and exchange news. Groupings often take place in the area of the highest ranking Druid living in the region.
OrdersOrders include The Hidden Watchers, The Warriors of the Wood, and the Black Deer Trackers:
The Black Deer Trackers: These are fighters affiliated with Obad-Hai, who can be found in the darkest and oldest corners of the forests of Flanaess, working to maintain the balance between the different creatures who reside there. They obviously have a lot of respect for the Druids of Obad-Hai and most often follow their directives. However, each of them is free to act and, within their order, no one imposes their will on the others.
Any tracker can call-to-arms when he deems it necessary, and any tracker can refuse to join. Their symbol is a golden tassel and their clothes are dark green, almost black, in order to hide more easily in the dark woods they appreciate so much. The trackers are not very active but when they act, it is with rare efficiency and deadly precision. Their favorite weapons by far are axes, spears and long bows. They never wear a shield and their favorite armor is light leather armor.
No one can live a happy life if he does not know how to live in harmony with nature in all its forms. Those who harm nature deserve swift vengeance in an appropriate manner. Those who are one with nature, however, have little to fear, although the well-meaning but foolish are sometimes brought down by a danger they could not avoid or divert. The wilds can sometimes be ugly, dangerous, or terrible, but that these things are a part of nature and should be respected as much as those that are beautiful, harmless, or wonderful, for these characterizations mark a newcomer's perspective.
Obad-Hai is most often shown as a lean and weathered man of indeterminately old age, dressed in brown or russet and looking like a hermit, although nonhuman communities depict him as one of their own race. He plays a shalm (a double-reed woodwind musical instrument, also spelled "shawm") and takes his title from this instrument. He also carries a staff.
Because Obad-Hai strictly adheres to neutrality, his primary rival is that of Ehlonna, however their rivalry is more so that of intellectual then aggressive (i.e. taking up arms against one another). While Obad-Hai is a chief nature deity, his brother Rillifane Rallathil of The Seldarine is worshipped by the Elves.
MythologyAccording to the ancient traditions of the Old Faith, Obad-Hai is reborn every spring, hatching in the form of a young boy from the fruit of a sapling that grows from his own grave. By summer Obad-Hai takes the form of a strong young man, the Stag King, leading the Wild Hunt against those who would defile Nature. By autumn he has grown into the weathered old man of his standard depictions. When winter begins he is slain by Nerull, who hangs his corpse on the Summer Tree. After seven days, Pelor cuts him down and buries him in the earth, where Beory's tears cause a new sapling to grow, which drops the fruit that hatches into the young Obad-Hai once again in the spring.