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The Hamadryad is a subspecies of Dryad from Greco-Roman mythology. A forest nymph, hamadryads differ from their cousins in that they have their souls bound to the lifeforce of a specific tree, which means they suffer if it is sick and perish if it is destroyed.
If you're scratching your head and saying "wait, isn't that the dryad?", then that's understandable: that trait has often been applied to dryads by mistake and hamadryads have been left out of acknowledgement entirely. Why? Well, mostly because Dungeons & Dragons did it first (sort of how we got the Medusa and Gorgon by way of the Catoblepas) and other games have followed in its steps. Plus, it doubles as an attempt to make dryads something a little deeper than "sexy female elf druids who can cast Charm Person".
Despite this, the Hamadryad has shown up as its own thing in Dungeons & Dragons.
First appearing in Dragon Magazine #101 for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, the Hamadryad is characterized as... well, not that different from the core dryad. They're tree-nymphs bound to oak trees, easily marked by their green hair - they actually photosynthesize with it, so shearing them bald will kill them - and green eyes. Their biggest difference, beyond being stronger and having a more versatile array of innate powers and spell-like abilities, is that they are free-roaming. Although so shy and, somewhat understandably, enamored with the wilderness that they rarely do so, hamadryads have a much stronger spiritual link to their tree, and so they can wander much, much further away. Theoretically, so long as her tree remained safe in the wilderness, a hamadryad could become a world-wandering adventurer!
They also continue the tradition of Dryads being considered "Good" despite some rather dodgy practices. For example, like dryads, they shamelessly charm good-looking men who make the mistake of catching their eye and using them as servants, such as to ward off woodcutters who are endangering the hamadryad's tree. This is shady enough, but then their entry undercuts itself; first it claims that hamadryads "release such men when their service is complete"... and then it says it usually does so near a dryad's tree, meaning the poor schmuck will probably end up being kept as a lifelong prisoner by the dryad next.
Their AD&D 2nd edition update (Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix II, Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three) was pretty much identical to their 1e version.
4th edition, however, gave them something of a makeover, relating to the makeover it gave to Dryads. First and foremost, 4e Hamadryads are a playable race, detailed in "Heroes of the Feywild". The 4e Hamadryad ties into the 4e lore for dryads, which is that they were originally Autumn Nymphs (nymphs, in this edition, being the children of the fey embodiments of the seasons and the fey embodiments of the four winds) who gave up their old carefree nature to become ferocious defenders of the forest. The hamadryad is an intermediary state between nymph and dryad, descending from those who didn't go to the full extremes of their dryad cousins. This makes them, essentially, a weaker, more human-like, and thus playable form of dryad. Although still linked to a tree by default, it's not impossible for a 4e hamadryad to survive its death, and even without this violent sundering, they can still adventure far with tokens from their tree as a tangible link to its essence.
Incidentally, hamadryads in 4e don't necessarily have to be female. Although "Female Only" is given as a racial trait, just like satyrs receive "Male Only", a sidebar notes that D&D is flexible and gender is cosmetic, so a DM who wants there to be male hamadryads or female satyrs is perfectly legitimate. Despite this, no DM has ever done so, since the casual presence of unmistakably male hamadryads would probably result in even louder cries of "Magical Realm!" than they'd get if male hamadryads were traps.
- Ability Scores: +2 Wisdom, +2 Intelligence OR +2 Charisma
- Size: Medium
- Speed: 6 squares (30 feet)
- Vision: Low-Light
- Skill Bonuses: +2 Diplomacy, +2 Nature
- Fey Origin
- Forest Walk: ignore difficult terrain based on forest growth
- Oaken Vitality: +5 racial bonus to Endurance checks to resist starvation, thirst or suffocation, go twice as long before needing to make such checks, trance as per an elf
- Tree Mind: +2 racial bonus to saves vs. daze, dominate and stun effect
- Racial Power - Hamadryd Aspects: As a minor action, activate either Spellbinding Beauty (all enemies that can see you will grant you combat advantage until the end of your next turn) or Wooden Form (Resist 5/10/15 to all damage until the end of your next turn).
|Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races|
|Player's Handbook 1:|| Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf |
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
|Player's Handbook 2:||Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter|
|Player's Handbook 3:||Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden|
|Monster Manual 1:|| Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki |
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
|Monster Manual 2:||Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku|
|Dragon Magazine:||Gnoll - Shadar-kai|
|Heroes of Shadow:||Revenant - Shade - Vryloka|
|Heroes of the Feywild||Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr|
|Eberron's Player's Guide:||Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged|
|The Manual of the Planes:||Bladeling|
|Dark Sun Campaign Setting:||Mul - Thri-kreen|
|Forgotten Realms Player's Guide:||Drow - Genasi|