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In my previous question, I asked if there was any means, in RAW or RAI, DnD 5e, for a character to create a druidic focus out of a living tree, as described in the PHB:

A druidic focus might be a sprig of mistletoe or holly, a wand or scepter made of yew or another special wood, a staff drawn whole out of a living tree, or a totem object incorporating feathers, fur, bones, and teeth from sacred animals. A druid can use such an object as a spellcasting focus.

And although interesting alternatives were presented, there doesn't seem to be any means by which a druid could do this in the scope of that question.

I am looking instead for a means to do this in a previous edition or different system, that I can then adapt to my game. Bonus points for suggestions on implementation.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would the druid in question already have a focus and they're doing this to create a new focus, or is this to create their first focus? Or is this to create focuses for other druids? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28, 2017 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ All of these would be valid uses, as you don't need a focus to cast spells, there's component pouches, and you can also use the materials specified. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28, 2017 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ what is wrong with just cutting or breaking a branch that already looks like a staff? If it is not pieced togehter it is whole and since it was removed from a living tree it fulfills all the requirements. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29, 2017 at 4:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin there's nothing wrong with doing that, but the quote above specifies making foci out of some special wood OR drawing it whole out of a living tree. It seems like an odd distinction to make, unless one is drawn by magic, while the other is carved\cut from wood. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 29, 2017 at 9:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joao Duarte As I read it, it seems to just be making a distinction between different types of foci -- a sprig, a wand or scepter, a staff, or a totem object -- with a bit of extra flavor thrown in for each type. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 31, 2018 at 14:24

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I found something for D&D 3.5 which could potentially do it:

The Wood Shape spell. A second level Druid Spell, which makes it pretty much right for the task at hand.

Wood shape enables you to form one existing piece of wood into any shape that suits your purpose. While it is possible to make crude coffers, doors, and so forth, fine detail isn’t possible. There is a 30% chance that any shape that includes moving parts simply doesn’t work.

Discussions on the uses of it in other threads indicate that using it in conjunction with crafting checks could yield good quality crafted items.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I"m reading too strictly, but that seems like a 5e Stoneshape. It doesn't let you take wood out of a tree, but let's you shape a piece of wood/wall of wood, etc. Removing a section and shaping that i'm not sure is what you're looking for if your goal is to draw a complete staff from a living tree. This makes me think more of a sculptor with a block of wood. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 28, 2017 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Oh my..! I realised Wood Shape wasn't in the game, but it never even occurred to me to search for Stone Shape. I think this makes for a much better spell template to create "Woodshape" from for 5e. It actually seems like a more powerful version, as it says that you can create weapons, idols, coffers, etc. and has less limitations than 3.5's version. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28, 2017 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ It still needs to make the leap from "shape an existing item" to "pull something out of an existing item". Unless you're working with a 5' tall tree. Then you're all good. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 28, 2017 at 14:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although thinking more clearly, I guess you could shape the section, and just leave it attached by a little bit and break it off. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 28, 2017 at 14:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoaoDuarte Really? I remember 10x10. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jun 29, 2017 at 9:15
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Unearthed Arcana 2023, Bastions and Cantrips might have something you can use.

Of course, this is not a version of D&D "previous to 5E", as your question says, and it is more than six years later, but it might still be useful to someone.

This playtest material presents rules for bastions:

A Bastion is a location that belongs to a player character: a home, a stronghold, and a place of power that the character nurtures and develops over the course of a campaign.

Specifically, it presents rules for a "Sanctuary", which can be used to create a sacred focus.

Craft: Sacred Focus. You commission the facility’s hireling to craft a Druidic Focus (Wooden Staff) or a Holy Symbol. The work takes 7 days and costs no money. The item remains in your Bastion until you claim it....

While the document does not specifically say the Druidic Focus is "drawn whole out of a living tree", it would be easy enough to implement the Sanctuary for this particular druid as a sacred grove, and the staff could be produced as drawn whole from a tree in the grove.

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