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Which script should my character use when writing in druidic?

Druidic (PHB 66)

You know Druidic, the secret language of druids. You can speak the language and use it to leave hidden messages. You and others who know this language automatically spot such a message. Others spot the message’s presence with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check but can’t decipher it without magic.

Druidic is also not listed in the languages tables in the PHB 123.

I am looking for a RAW answer (maybe from previous editions, if it's not specified in 5e), as many languages are specified in the rules to use a specific script (like in 3.5e, Giantish was said to use the Dwarven script and kobold to use Draconic). Failing that, lore from an officially published TSR/WotC D&D product, including novels, that describes Druidic script would be helpful.

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Some languages use symbols rather than letters and scripts.

The rules don't specify a particular script or family of runes, which leaves the detail of how the secret Druidic language is presented in written form up to each DM/campaign.

The PHB text that you cited is what you have to work with in 5e, RAW. So what do you do? Tapping into previous editions is one choice.

An example of previous edition lore: AD&D 2e

Script per se may not figure into the druidic language at all. For example, in AD&D 2e, in the Complete Druid Handbook, under the heading "The Secret Language" we find:

Finally, the secret language of the druids remains a purely spoken tongue. A few simple runes or marks (symbolizing danger, safe water, safe trail, and so on) exist for marking paths and leaving messages, but the language cannot communicate actual sentences and complex ideas in writing

This points to the Druidic language as being symbol based, not script based. That has the potential of making Druid Scrolls problematic (as they were in 2e). This can be an obstacle if you want Druid spells to be available on scrolls in your 5e campaign. It might also be workable, in that the Druidic language and Druidic magic are rooted in the same basic philosophy and symbolic system. When it comes to magic, symbols often substitute for words/letters, as shown in the Glyphs of Warding in Clerical magic, for example. Druid symbology written onto scrolls can get around the obstacle and make spell scrolls viable.

The Rules Don't Try to Cover Every Granular Detail.

Where the rules are sparse, the DM and the players are expected to flesh out the detail in a 5e campaign. That's a feature, not a bug.

Recommendation: treat the Druidic secret language as symbol based, rather than script or letter based, using the guidelines in AD&D 2e as a point of departure.

Aside: historically, a symbol-based form of writing, hieroglyphics, was very effective for the Ancient Egyptians.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would recommend runes for the druidic. Similar to the old Celtic writing. \$\endgroup\$ – Fernando Fuentes Martins May 26 at 19:14
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The real-world Druids of Gaul used the Massilian Greek and Inscriptional Latin alphabets. The Druids of Ireland used the Ogham "tree-letters" script. The Druids of Britain may've used both; though in modern times, a Bardic script was retroactively attributed to them.

There is a specifically Irish precedent in the name of the Shillelagh spell, a Gaelic word. Also, the AD&D 1st Edition bardic schools were based on the Irish Gaelic language. And 1st edition Bards had to dual class as a Druid in order to become a Bard.

Since Ogham is more quintessentially 'Celtic' than Greek alphabet, I would suggest using Ogham to represent Druidic script. (And Classical Irish to represent the Druidic language.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogham


Edit: Above, I gave at least three in-game examples of Irish Gaelic language being used to represent D&D druidic terminology. Yes, that is not fully explicit 'proof' of D&D Druidic script equating to Irish Gaelic Ogham script, but it certainly is implicitly related.

Here are two more implicit suggestions that Celtic parallel may be especially relevant in filling out the hinted details of the D&D Druid and its script: WotC officially confirms the Celtic 'origins' of the D&D druid, in WotC's official product history of the AD&D2E Celts Campaign Sourcebook:

"D&D is a hodge-podge of different historical and fantastic influences; the Celts entered that melting pot primarily thanks to B. Dennis Sustare, who provided the basics of the druid class that were fleshed out in Eldritch Wizardry (1976). Granted, the AD&D druid moved somewhat distant from its Celtic roots, but every once in a while an article in Dragon would remind D&D players of those origins, with Bill Fawcett's "The Druid in Fact and Fantasy" from The Dragon #32 (December 1979) being one of the best."

And Bill Fawcett's above-mentioned 1979 article "The Druid in Fact and Fantasy," published during the time of Gary Gygax's oversight of the magazine, further points to the Celticity of the AD&D Druid, as close parallels. In regard to scripts, see p.21:

"The Celtic culture was 'prehistoric' in that writing and literacy were virtually nonexistent. The Celts never did develop a written language that was universally used. Later the written languages of nearby cultures were adopted, particularly Latin after Caesar's conquests. Therefore, the tradition of Druidism was entirely oral. […] This is reflected by the inability of a Druid to use any written magical items. Presumably this includes all tomes, scrolls, and similar types of paraphernaila."

and the somewhat contradictory p.32 "Together with the Bards and Seers, they formed the priesthood and literate class of the Celts for the entire history of the culture."

Fawcett's quote hints at the written language that some Celts did develop, but which wasn't "universally used"—namely the Ogham developed by the Celts of Ireland. Obviously, Latin or Greek don't represent a 'secret script.' That leaves Ogham (or a 'D&Dized' version of Ogham).

Given the Irish Gaelic name of the Druid spell Shillelagh (see the Wikipedia article) the Irish Gaelic names of the AD&D Bardic colleges (Fochlucan, Mac-Fuirmidh, Doss, Canaith, Cli, Anstruth, Ollamh—with Ollamh being the real-world name for a high-ranked Bard or Druid in Ireland, and not in any other Celtic culture) and given that 1e Bards were all required to be Druids, and thus presumably from the same cultural milieu as the 1e Druid), it follows implicitly (but not explicitly), that the traditional, pre-moden Irish Celtic script--Ogham--is a fitting model for the secret script of the D&D Druid, at least in 1st Edition AD&D, if less explicitly in later, more 'hodge-podged' evolutions of the Druid. This is implicitly supported by the above facts, though not explicitly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While there may not be much doubt this is the inspirational origins of druids in the game(s), real world facts and suppositions are not necessarily applicable to game elements and this question is explicitly looking for an answer from the game books (or similar source). There are previous answers which have invalidly suggested Ogham and been deleted. See myx's comment to the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil May 26 at 18:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ But where are my manners, Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil May 26 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Relevant meta: Don't signal your edits in text. Instead, you should edit your answer to read as if it were always the best version of itself; anyone interested in older versions can view the revision history. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 26 at 23:39
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Which script should my character use when writing in druidic?

If this is when they are using it to pass messages then consider that there is no script but the message is passed in another form, maybe something like trail signs, i.e. knots in tufts of grass, leaves folded in certain ways or stones and berries placed specifically. A druid would leave messages to be picked up by others.

If you want the messages to be passed along rather than left to be found then they could be passed as images of these signs, so a doodle in the corner of a misleading message written in the characters typical style contains the druidic message, or in a book of plant illustrations the images of the plants hold the druidic message. Similar to answers to this question https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/18736/encrypting-maps

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