Friday, June 19, 2009

Druid Tech Part 3

A Primal Race from the Heavens – The Kodama

In the previous parts of this article, I discussed the nature of the People of Jurai from the anime Tenchi Muyo and how incorporating a civilization which draws its power directly from nature could be put into a technological/future style setting of Dungeons and Dragons.

In this part, I’ll introduce my homebrew race the Kodama and talk a little bit about the inspirations behind them.

The Kodama – Children of the Forest Planet

The Kodama are a highly advanced civilization that draws an ultimate power from nature itself. They dwell on the Forest Planet known as Shinrento; this planet is completely covered by forest and nurtured by healthy sunlight and continuous light rain which is produced out of the atmosphere and circulates around the planet.

The Kodama themselves stand little more than 3 feet tall, has hair that changes color with the seasons on their home planet, has pale skin and dark black eyes; at first glance, they may easily be mistaken for a Halfling were it not for the looming guardian spirit that stands above each of them, plain to see and visible to all, which appears to be a mid size human, translucent, but bearing some resemblance to the Kodama to which it is bound. This guardian spirit is the spirit of a great tree growing on the Kodama home planet of Shinrento and connected to the Kodama at birth; when the Kodama is born, a tree sprouts into being on Shinrento. The Kodama never age, perpetually being seen as children, but their guardian spirit, the spirit of their tree ages normally; when the tree lives out its full lifespan, which may be hundreds of years, the Kodama dies peacefully along with their tree. If their guardian tree spirit is killed or takes root on soil not from Shinrento, they begin to age normally and begin to grow and age as normal humans.

As a civilization, the Kodama are very intelligent and have a masterful hold on both technology as well as magic. They are counted as some of the greatest technomancers in all of the planes. They are a wholly good race, very rarely does a Kodama turn evil, but when they do, the tree that grows on Shinrento begins to whither and its leaves turn black, signaling the tree out for culling; the Kodama do not suffer this kind of evil lightly and usually purge evil elements from their society at the first sign of a turning.

The Kodama have grown very powerful. They are considered to be one of the most advanced civilizations in the universe possessing the highest affinity and link to nature throughout the known galaxies and planets. They use their link to their guardian tree spirit to draw life energy, radiant energy, from the holy forests of Shinrento and channel that energy in battle. Through this ability, the Kodama have been successful in creating massive armadas powered by the radiant life energy of Shinrento. They use these armadas to protect nature across civilizations as well as restore peace to war-torn planets and star systems.

Individual Kodama’s character traits vary, they often take on traits which are similar to that of their guardian tree: pine trees stand tall and resolute, willows are often drowsy or depressed, oaks are stubborn, etc. But, for the most part, all Kodama carry themselves with respect and dignity savoring nature and respecting it. They can be quick to anger when dealing with matters of passion or nature, but are usually serene and good judges of character.

Influences for the Kodama

The Kodama as a race carry a link to the society of Jurai as mentioned in previous articles in this series from the standpoint of a highly advanced nature revering race, but they are also influenced by other sources as well.

I am a current resident of Japan and major in Asian Studies and so I usually draw upon Japanese elements for many of my game designs and character concepts. Kodama is a Japanese word for tree spirits; these spirits can be seen in many Japanese places, the most prominent of which is the movie Princess Mononoke, by Studio Ghibli. But, the Kodama of Princess Mononoke and the Kodama of Shinrento share little in common other than their small stature and black eyes. Other sources of influence for this race are the forest children of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time (as well as other games in the series).

Drawing on multiple sources of reference I feel is necessary in creating a unique concept; Something that I feel is true is a phrase I have been told over and over again, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Concepts evolve and change, but virtually everything has been done already in some respect. It is always about putting your new spin on something that already exists or shaping multiple existing concepts in such a way that you can create something which resembles something new.

Next time in Part 4 of Druid Tech, I’ll present the stat block for Kodama as a player character Race in Dungeons and Dragons 4e as well as further define the reasons that a person might want to play a Kodama in their game.

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