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My friends and I are about to start a Pathfinder campaign and I am going to be playing my first druid character. I really like the character class but I don't understand why a druid would leave his/her home to go adventuring with a gang of misfits. It seems to me like the primary motivation for a Druid would be to stay at home and keep nature in balance, why would they join a band of mercenary style groups or even the Pathfinder Society?

For example, I want to create a jungle druid from the wild and uncharted Mwangi Expanse in Golarion, the Pathfinder campaign setting. My party will be various classes and races from all over the world. What would motivate a druid to leave the inner jungle and journey into civilization and go far, far away from his homeland to go on a series of adventures?

I could always just say that my character wants adventure and to see the world, but that seems a little forced for a character who has devoted his life to serving nature in one particular geographical location.

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Related: How does one work a druid into a campaign? –  Jason_c_o May 11 at 21:31
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Are you playing a specific adventure path? –  DanceSC May 11 at 21:58
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The last character I played was an Elf Druid. She left home and started wandering as an adventurer because she never got along with her mother, and as she got older she got rebellious. The person who enabled her escape was a Human Druid who took a liking to her, and she wound up learning how to be a Druid from him after they eloped.

Did she care about nature, and want to protect the balance and all that? Sure (along with a dislike for large concentrations of people, like cities). But it wasn't what actually motivated her in the first place. Being a Druid is part of her, not her literal definition.

My point?

Druids Are People, Too

You're over thinking it. A Druid is a person. People have all kinds of motivations for doing things. Many of them have nothing at all to do with what their calling or career is. If you're not sure of "Why would a Druid leave and join an adventuring party?", instead try asking "Why would Bob leave and join an adventuring party?" When you answer that, then ask "Does that work as a Druid?" Most of the time, the answer is yes.

Off the top of my head, some possible answers:

  • Tracking down a poacher who was in the jungle but fled
  • Hearing rumors about bad things happening to natural areas elsewhere in the world and wanting to check it out
  • Some issue at home that means you're forced to leave (see: mommy issues, above)
  • A simple desire to travel. Humans have been motivated to see beyond their borders for centuries. Considering their love of the natural environment, it seems entirely normal that a Druid would want to go see more of it.

A list for why a Druid might join an adventuring party is just as long as one for why pretty much any other class would join one. Some of those entries are "Druid-y" things, and some of those entries are just "people" things. You shouldn't limit yourself to just the stereotype that Druids are one dimensional tree huggers.

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Another example: in my current campaign, I'm playing a Dwarf Druid. She was sick of living in the caves and wanted to get out into the world and experience nature. Basically becoming a big hippie. Adventurer first, Druid second. (Yet she still swings a mean heavy pick :) ) –  Josh May 12 at 11:56
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I had a Druid who, during a particularly harsh winter, allowed a starving pack of wolves to eat some of the sheep he was supposed to take care of. His people didn't take very kindly to that decision, so he left, travelled, and found no shortage of horrible affronts to nature to rectify. On top of caring about all life (as long as it's not trying to kill him), he's also turning out to be somewhat Chaotically inclined and takes some pleasure in ignoring or disrupting human order when he's in a city. –  mcv May 12 at 12:30
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There are many reasons a Druid might leave the forest. I can't outline them all here, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Something is threatening the Druid's home, and the Druid must leave the forest in order to find a solution. E.g.: A deadly parasite/disease and the Druid is looking for a cure.

  • The Druid is part of a druidic order or sect that dwells within the forest and they have chosen her to leave to scout the world outside. Learning more about the world beyond the forest could be very beneficial when the time comes to protect it.

  • The Druid was helped by a a visitor to the forest and has made a solemn vow to repay them, and must leave the forest to fulfil that vow.

  • The Druid has left the forest with the seeds of a new one, and is looking for a suitable place to begin planting.

  • The Druid is acting as an emissary of the forest to neighbouring regions.

All in all, a Druid could chose, or be compelled, to leave their home for many reasons. I hope these help stir your imagination! Also think about what race your druid is, as this may provide ideas as well, depending on the societies and cultures within the campaign.

Your best bet would be to speak with your GM in order to establish a campaign story-related reason. This will help give your GM plot-hooks to use and will help invest your character more in the events of the story and you as a player in the game.

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* The druid had to leave his forest because it got corrupted by a force of evil too powerful for him to fight (maybe the Big Bad of the campaign or linked to them?). Now he is seeking for anything which makes him more powerful so he can take it back (allies, magical items or just exp). Justifies pretty much any adventure. –  Philipp May 12 at 11:08
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Your place of residence does not have to come from the wilderness and thus you could be adventuring to find a place to call home. The description the book gives is "Within the purity of the elements and the order of the wilds lingers a power beyond the marvels of civilization... these primal magics are guarded over by servants of philosophical balance known as druids... these often misunderstood protectors of the wild strive to shield their lands from all who would threaten them and prove the might of the wilds to those who lock themselves behind city walls." Being a druid does not mean you have to stick to a remote location, you simply strive to protect the wilds and the creatures within.

Perhaps you were sent out from a druid tribe to protect lands that are not yet guarded? Or your homeland was once burnt down or attacked and now you search for a new place to call home. Rather than saying your character wants adventure and to see the world, your character could be forced to branch off as a form of Right of Passage.

Also check out the APG, UC, and UM for Archtype variants. Depending on if you prefer tooth and claw combat style or tapping into the magic of the elements you could be adventuring in search of hidden knowledge that only the different forms of nature could teach you.

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Why Do People Leave Home, And Seek Adventure?

There's lots of reasons. They've heard tales of great adventurers and want to become one. They're seeking riches. They're seeking riches in order to marry the girl they love. They're out to revenge something, or prove something. They are talented, and easily bored. They seek fame. They seek excitement. They seek travel. Their best friend wanted to be an adventurer, so they went with him. Their family expected it of them. They are looking for someone. They are looking for something. They want to be written into the annals of history. They are desperately trying to find the answer to averting something. Everyone they know is dead and their only profession is violence. They're on the run. They really, really, really like killing things. They don't really know why they fell into this life, it was just easier than the alternatives (and they're good enough at it not to die). It's a job, like any other. Society must be defended. Someone must fight the good fight. Village soothsayer told me to. Priest/father/lover/old tree told me to. They seek power. I'm being paid to do this. I was threatened/blackmailed/forced/mind-controlled/convinced to do this.

Any of the above with 'pretending to be' any of the above. Any of the above + any of the above. Half of any of the above with any other half (I have played, successfully, 'They are desperately trying to find a job'). Any of the above + half of any of the above with any other half.

The simplest is always the dreamer, leaving home to seek fortune, fame, riches, girls, success, powerful magicks, whatever. People leaving home to seek stuff isn't really common in this age of globalization, but most fantasy worlds aren't globalized - leaving Peasantville McFarmingland (or isolated forest land) behind with little to no idea where you were going or what you were going to do was the only way to advance oneself in any way - and odds were, you'd die horribly long before you even got close (just like adventuring!).

My favourite thing for that concept, though, is this;

Raised by Owlbears

Tarzan was raised by an ape, Mowgli was raised by a bear, Romulus was raised by a wolf, and in the D&D world your character can be raised by creatures much more exotic. The sky is really the limit here: simply pick some improbable beast and your character was protected and fed as a small child by that beast after she was orphaned or abandoned in the wilderness. While I'd like to think that we've all read enough Burroughs that this story pretty much tells itself, the truth is even more astonishing. This character background has become cliché and we're totally fine with that. You can really have an interesting and memorable character with a clichéd backstory and a three sentence intro that ends with "And then I came to this village to reclaim my birthright as a gnome."

Frank and K's Races of War

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He suffers from Hay fever and is looking for a jungle having none of the 7(known) plants he can't cope with.

Do not forget to sneeze every now and then.

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