Adventure Time!

Adventurers are not like soldiers.  Some adventure for glory and profit. Some adventure for altruism and to save the world.  Some adventure for power.  However, when separates them from other people in the world is that adventuring is a trait that in some ways defines who they are and what they do. 

Very few people in the real world would have qualified as "adventurers" for any significant period of their lives.  There were no real "adventurers' clubs" such as seen in Around the World in 80 Days.  Even career soldiers spend little time in the field and certainly much less than your typical adventurer. 

In the real world, mercenary soldiers of fortune, perhaps, would qualify.  Possibly, some special operations forces.  Historically, perhaps the conquistadors, travelers, and captains during the Age of Exploration.  Maybe pirates would qualify.  In the Iron Age, there were likely captains of marauder bands.  But for the most part, "adventure" was really "war" and it was not something many people made a career of.

That means that most of the people we think of as adventurers spent most of their time not adventuring.  And this is also reflected in the backgrounds of the heroes we roleplay.  Sometimes it manifests in the character's history: the blacksmith turned warrior, the street urchin turned wizard's apprentice, the humble farmer called to serve a benevolent deity.  Sometimes it manifests during play: the adventuring team that buys a tavern, the hero with her own shop, the merchant who happens to be a potent sorcerer.  Soemtimes, it is merely an aspiration: the knight errant seeking to reclaim his ancestral home, the wizard retiring to her tower, the priest who founds a grand cathedral.

D&D generally focuses on the time spent adventuring.  But how much do the characters actually spend adventuring?  Truly, if we count it up, an adventurer maybe spends a month's worth of time actually adventuring, at most.  The rest of the time may be spent traveling, training, recuperating, praying, taverning, and, perhaps, engaged in other pursuits. 

Different campaigns may have diferent focuses.  One campaign may be like a war zone.  The heroes are on all the time.  Danger s everywhere and there is never a moment to relax.  The entire campaign may occur over a few months of harrowing near-escapes.  Other campaigns may go the other direction, with the "heroes" carryign on mundane lives for the most part, and being called upon to adventure only when the need arises. These campaigns may span years or decades (or, if everyone is of a long-lived race, even centuries) of time.  Many campaigns will fall somewhere in the middle, with heroes spending most of their adventuring career actually adventuring, but with some "downtime" during which they can pursue hobbies or pasttimes. 

In this poll I want you to express how much time "your typical" D&D character spends adventuring during an adventuring career.  By "your typical" I mean what you personally default to when thinking about adventurers, not when you think everyone else does, or even what you actually end up doing at the table.  (This poll will run until May 11.)  Feel free to discuss you opinions below!

Also see the related blog.
Unearthed Wrecana
I see adventures as being somewhat Mission Based (Some task or Quest that has a finite duration/goal)


Between time I see Adventurers enjoying their gains, checking in with Families/Guilds/Temples until "the call goes out"


  

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/20.jpg)

A player character ma fit any category, but one that self-describes as an adventurer is filling a niche that, for the most part, doesn't have many equivalents in the real world, excepting perhaps the flagrant looting of cultural relics that the 19th and early 20th centuries termed "Archaeology".

The universe implied by D&D is not entirely familiar: the advancement of its society (when you take into account magic covering for tech) is somewhere inthe vicinity of the Rennissance, yet the world is no more tamed or controled by humanoids than one might expect of a bronze age setting: monsters wander the wilderness, tracts of land remain unexplored and unsettled.

Into this area come the proper Adventurerers, the ones who choose to make a career of exploring their world and daring its dangers.  There are other archetypes for player characters as well, and one can easuly be an exceptional personage and have adventure without being an Adventurer.

Much as the dungeon has bred its own strange ecology in the D&D world, so does it breed its own economy as well.  Brave men and women set out to find their fortune in the world.  Many die.  Some manage, discovering gold and magic in a place where most would fear to tread, and return to comfortable lives thereafter.  Few take it up as a career.  They find the danger to their liking, or at least acceptable with shown the profits of a successful venture,  Perhaps they have altruism behind them as well, and see the slaying of monsters or righting of wrongs as, at least partially, its own reward.

Whatever the case, they keep doing what no other sane individuals would do: throwing themselves at the hazards that the D&D world presents -- owlbears, gelatenous cubes, dragons, and the like -- and reaping the rewards that are likewise presented in their situation.

So, I would think, an Adventurer at most dabbles in other things, practicing some half forgotten trade while enjoying the fruits of his or her labor in town, say, before moving on to the next part of the map where "Here be Dragons" is yet to be crossed out.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

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THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

I think the question of real-life adventurers is interesting. One person who comes to mind as having been a real-life full-time adventurer is Giacomo Casanova. As well as his famous bedroom exploits, Casanova was variously a student priest, con man, nightclub promoter, necromancer, royal secretary, science-fiction author, amateur physician, jailbreaker, duelist, lawyer, soldier, musician, gambler, lottery organiser, secret society member, playwright, spy, and finally librarian. His memoirs - which by his own admission were not comprehensive - run to twelve hefty volumes. (In game terms, he seems best suited to being depicted as a bard.) A campaign covering even a decent fraction of this activity would take more time and energy than most groups can muster for all their games combined!

I've mentioned before the remarkable career of Hortense Mancini, the late-17th-century traveller and mistress of Charles II of England. Her activities included breaking out of a nunnery, spying, swordfighting, affairs with members of both sexes, literary patronage, and (unlike Casanova) getting her memoirs published within her lifetime. Most of her life was spent on the ordinary activities of a woman of her class, both happy and unhappy, but she nevertheless had an adventurous time. Her sister Olympia also had a busy life, including being expelled from both France and Spain as a suspected poisoner. These strike me as good examples of part-time adventurers - people whose lives were punctuated with incident, and who travelled extensively, but did not spend their whole time on such things.

Other inspiring part-time adventurers include:


  • Solomon 'Sol' Star (1840-1917), born in Bavaria, who was a businessman and entrepreneur in Deadwood SD (as seen in the TV series Deadwood), and his friend and business partner...

  • ...Seth Bullock (1849-1919), an Anglo-Canadian politician, businessman, lawman, gunfighter and twice a US Marshal - who was also a close friend of fellow Dakota lawman Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan (1611-73), the original of Dumas' hero, who was a spy, jailer and soldier.

  • Grainne 'Grace' O'Malley (c 1530-c 1603), Irish pirate and rebel leader.

  • Kit Cavanagh (1667-1739), an Irish pub-owner who disguised herself as a man and served in the British army.

  • Ibn Battuta (1304-1368/9), a lawyer and religious scholar from North Africa who became the best-travelled person of the entire medieval era, travelling as far south as modern-day Tanzania, north to Tatarstan, east to China, and west to al-Andalus (modern Spain) and Timbuktu.


All of these people had other jobs and responsibilities, but nevertheless gave quite a bit of their time to what we would regard as 'adventurers', whether military or otherwise.


Z. (edited to remove a colossal typo)

D&D should support many campaign styles.


  • I like low income campaigns where the money is tight and the players cannot afford to rest.

  • I like epic adventures where the characters need to stay active to keep an enemy at bay.

  • I like "slow" games where the characters have time buy an inn and pick their battles.


I don't like situations where one character forces the group to pause so he can craft. Sometimes I feel that the best roleplaying act would be for the group to move on without the crafting character. After all he can just join later. But the meta gaming situation forces me to pause and act out of character.
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
One of my back burner campaign ideas is one based loosely on the Road to El Dorado (animated movie).  The player characters are con men and thieves always looking for the next big score...but, they also squander away whatever gold they make in their exploits, thus necessitating the next job/adventure.  

In that context, adventurers are those people who are too lazy or unfortunate to have a "real" job or place in society.  They are scoundrels and ne'er-do-wells.  Perhaps they are good-hearted, but the powers-that-be don't like their methods.

Then again, one of my favorite characters is a dwarf wizard whose goal in life is to open a weapon and armor smithy, crafting magic items on commission.  He only adventures to get enough gold to start up his business.  Of course, he keeps spending gold on outfitting himself, so opening the smithy keeps getting pushed back until "after just one more adventure."

Regarding real world examples of adventurers, I think many of the explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries would qualify.  They may have been in the employ of whichever crown funded their expeditions, but their personal motivations were very much like those of D&D adventurers.   

All around helpful simian

Thanks for this post, wrecan!

I have always thought of adventures as being sporadic events.  From the point of view of the average commoner, anyone who was a full-time adventurer would tend to the shady side (evil or mercenary tendencies at best), while most honest folk would have a decent profession.  This, of course, would be the norm only for predominantly human areas well away from the borders of civilization.

However, once into the wilderness, SURVIVAL becomes the major pursuit and there very well may be no opportunity for anything but the most harrowing of "adventures".  After a few weeks of inclement weather, harsh terrain, vermin infestations, and bloodthirsty savages, I would think even the most hardened mercenaries would want to retreat back to the bosom of civilization for some well-deserved R&R.
But then, that's just asking for the kind of trouble that an urban adventure can deliver!

It seems to me that a full-time adventurer would not survive more than a year or two without dying or going stark, raving mad!

-DS
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />It seems to me that a full-time adventurer would not survive more than a year or two without dying or going stark, raving mad!

-DS


I've always posited that most full-time adventurers aren't sane, but have the outward appearance of normal individuals thanks to their particular brand of insanity, which must necessarily include equal parts adrenaline addiction and desensitization towards the horrors of the overworld and dungeons that most right-minded individuals avoid.

Okay, I'm being too harsh, but you've got to expect that anyone willing to go up against something with impeneratable scales, fire breath, and claws the size of claymores isn't totally right in the head.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Adventurers should at least have a hobby.  Good adventurers shouldn't need a part time job, and bad adventurers should be dead.  Or retired after taking an arrow to the knee. ;)
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
I've never played a character who didn't have a secondary job. After all, Adventuring is not a very reliable job. I mean, it's not every day that a noble comes down from his manor and tells you that he need someone to clear out the Kobalds from his land holdings. My favorite so far was one in 3.x, who was a Wizard and had the background of being an Architect. It almost never came up, but It was fun to have that as the background.

I am currently raising funds to run for President in 2016. Too many administrations have overlooked the international menace, that is Carmen Sandiego. I shall devote any and all necessary military resources to bring her to justice.

Really great article.

In my campaigns I usually prefer if the players consider their characters being forced into adventuring (they don't have enough money, don't have a job, are running away from assassins etc.), and because the campaign story (which I created ) is so good, thw adventurers keep on questing, but once the campaign story is over, the characters retire.

So, the adventurers are one day normal people, then are forced to adventure for a while, and then they return to their normal lives, not necessarily to their old life.

If you check old stories like the Knights of the Round Table, Lord of the Rings etc. it is usually the same situation.

Superhero and anime characters changed this concept into the full-time hero Batman cliché that is now so popular.
Good adventurers shouldn't need a part time job


The thread isn't about need.  It's about downtime from adventuring.
In my present campaign we do a lot of dungeon crawl, so characters seldomly last more than a few months. we don't play with raise dead, so whenever someone loses a character he rolls up a new guy and adds him to the group.

This often leads to a funny conversations, where the new character ask the oldest surviving character what happened to all the former group members, but for some reason the new group members always choose to stay hoping that they are good enough to make it big in the advernture business.

 
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
Good adventurers shouldn't need a part time job


The thread isn't about need.  It's about downtime from adventuring.



I'll give my input primarily from a video game viewpoint then: I go out and kill stuff in Oblivion or Skyrim, and then I take all the extra stuff from harvesting or the food items and go cook, alchemize, etc because those things are fun.  I see them as side hobbies and downtimes from the adventures I take to kill things, take their stuff, and move the story along.  But taking up a part-time job, such as selling stuff for a merchant means that I have to make room in my adventuring schedule for that job.  While it can work from table to table, campaign to campaign, player to player each on  cas-by-case basis, I think hobby is a better facet for adventurers than part time job.
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Thanks, Kalnaur!  That definitely clarifies what you mean.
Thanks, Kalnaur!  That definitely clarifies what you mean.



I try.

To give an example of adventurers who needed a part time job (or several), Run Soldier Louie, an anime, contains a Warrior, Priestess and Thief/Rogue, all female, who recruit a thick headed, fairly unlearned male mage with a habit of swinging his fist before casting a spell.  Because their adventures often end up as a bust, the Thief often takes on multiple part time jobs, and those jobs are even the focus of one of the stories (she gets sick;  the Mage and the Priestess, who are constantly at odds with each other for story reasons, take up the burden of her jobs, and the Mage shows surprising ability to just do, ending the story mainly with a show of how even when he is bumbling, he isn't without his ability).  So, while in most instances part time jobs might get in the way of adventuring, in other instances a part, or even full time job (Such as running an item shop, and having to go adventuring for the stock of the shop like in the first Mysterious Dungeon Game for the SNES) can in fact enhance a story.  It's just not a normal facet of adventuring life, and should be considered, at least in my mind, "advanced gaming/storytelling" with advice on how to do it right.

Hopefully this gives even more insight?
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
fun quotes
58419928 wrote:
You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
In my last campaign we had a system where the group deliberately spent 1 week per level between adventures doing other stuff.

Here is the stuff they did...
1.  Advance their position in their organization.  This often led to adventures.  I had a Paladin and Rogue who both really pushed this part.
2.  Opened a business (a tavern).  
3.  Did charitable works in the poor quarter.  Ultimately built a chapel to their God and fed the poor.
4.  Setup a network of travelers that shared information from city to city and rented that information out.
5.  Developed a network of allies.  They collected NPC contacts for future use.

They used the gold they got from their adventures to advance their agenda in the city.  They operated out of a large Greyhawk like city. 

In past campaigns I've had characters that...
1.  Collected art.   They spent small fortunes becoming the center of art in the world.
2.  Spent fortunes on luxuries like clothing etc...
3.  Constructed a castle in the wilderness.
4.  Renovated an adventure location to make it their own.




 
Originally skipped this thread thinking it was about the cartoon.

I think people in third world countries might be leading more adventurous lives than I do.  I'd imagine if I were dropped in their without knowing the language or customs, it would be quite and adventure.

Downtime always sounds good, but in practice partied I have played in and DMed just go, go, go.  Having to wait days to heal up naturally was the only rest we got, eveer.
One thing I would add, adventuring is a great way to piss off people, whether it be townsfolk, bandit lords, monsters or the local constable. In my campaigns PCs spend a lot of their off time dodging people or putting out the fires they started while on an "adventure."
It really depends on the edition. When you can use money to buy gear at Item Mart, it's 100% adventure. My players never bothered using their money on anything else than gear in 3rd edition (and the little 4th edition I played).

In 2nd edition, adventuring was a part time job after level 8-9. My players were always trying to buy houses, taverns, shops, keeps... Whatever made them happy.
I rarely have a character who doesn't intend to spend time not adventuring... but campaigns frequently end up being a long series of misadventures with little time inbetween.  Even if that isn't what the characters want.  Some campaigns are part of an epic story where the characters don't get an opportunity to rest for more than a day or so before they need to  move on.  When the story comes to a close though... there could well be several years downtime before the next event begins.   My characters tend to be put in positions where they simply don't have the opportunity to spend much time doing other things (other than during the several years downtime bits :p).

I think the characters would like a rest occasionally...   
It really depends on the edition. When you can use money to buy gear at Item Mart, it's 100% adventure. My players never bothered using their money on anything else than gear in 3rd edition (and the little 4th edition I played).

In 2nd edition, adventuring was a part time job after level 8-9. My players were always trying to buy houses, taverns, shops, keeps... Whatever made them happy.



No, it really depends upon the type of campaign being run, not the rules edition.
It really depends on the edition. When you can use money to buy gear at Item Mart, it's 100% adventure. My players never bothered using their money on anything else than gear in 3rd edition (and the little 4th edition I played).

In 2nd edition, adventuring was a part time job after level 8-9. My players were always trying to buy houses, taverns, shops, keeps... Whatever made them happy.


No, it really depends upon the type of campaign being run, not the rules edition.


I believe that 3.5ed is balanced on an assumption that players spend a certain amount of old on gear.  If none of the players spend gold on gear, then some classes become stronger than others. If the characters have too much money to spend then you also don't get balance.

Earlier editions didn't have this problem in the same way....  but let us not derail this fine thread :-)
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
The only times I play a character who is 100% adventurer is when the game being run doesn't permit anything else.
Thankfully I don't play in many of that type of game....

Several of my characters;

In one game, set in fantasy Rome, I play a fighter. 
He learned fighting as a Legionaire, but his actual "job" (when not adventuring) is as an engineer.  He builds roads, bridges, aquaducts, fortifications, etc etc etc.  And he's good at it. 
This alone has led him into areas where adventure has ensued.  Sometimes he's just there working when x happens.  Or because x happened.  Or in preperation of x happening.
Other times?  He's been contracted for more specialized expeditions because he's an engineer.  (that he can swing a sword is just a bonus)
Every now & then he'll take a purely mercenary fighting job though.  Or be answering a call for help from a contact/friend. 
   
I've played a 1/2ling big game hunter.
(a Pathfinder gunslinger who used an elephant gun & had a loyal assistant thanks to the leadership feat)
His actual job?  He was a wine merchant.
When the rest of the party encountered him he was on "Holiday" in Varisia hunting sphinx. 
The party needed a guide through the area & up to a fort.  So he took their coin, led them through the wilderness, & once at the fort even helped them repel a small army of ogres.
Unfortunately this ate up his remaing free time & he had to return home - without a sphinx kill.

In our long running Thur. night game?
I play a human wizard - who dropped out of THE premiere magical college to go "adventuring".  (Actually he has a list of about 15 places/things/people he wants to see or meet.)
Why did he drop out?  Because he's a human & the college is Elven.  After being enrolled for 17 years he'd only made it to lv.1....  The elves might be content learning at this rate, but then they'll also live for hundreds of years....
He'd have beeen perfectly happy to spend every single day on the road.
You know how that turned out?
In his travels he's gained a wife (a fellow adventurer as well) & is now the father of twins.
So he only gets to spend 1/2 his time on the road & the other 1/2 of his time in town.  And when he goes to loot the lost temple of crocidiles?  Well, the loots really important & he has to then describe the adventure in an entertaing way to a 3 year old audiance.
   
Shoot! I was hoping to read some cool stuff about Finn and Jake in this thread...  Cry 
My characters - in D&D anyway, are professional adventurers. When not adventuring, they carouse for a bit to celebrate the last adventure, then train, plan, and gather information for the next adventure.
Since the poll is now closed, I figured I'd conclude the thread with my analysis of the results.

It's important to note that the results were fairly spread out.  "Might Dabble in Other Activites" was the most popular, but only received 36% of the votes.  Five of the seven categories received 10% or more of the votes.  Only "Dabbles as an Adventurer" and "Adventures Reluctantly and Rarely" failed to get 10% of the vote.

Another way to look at it is that two-thirds of respondents see adventuring as a character's primary occupation, while the remaining third is split evenly between those who see adventuring as a secondary occupation, and those who see characters splitting their time evenly between the two.

A third way to look at it is that 90% of the respondents felt that adventurers do spend time doing things other than adventuring, and more than half see that aspect as significant (part-time job or greater).

So I would say the game should assume the adventurers primarily adventure, but should be open to ways to address other occupations.  That may simply be a section with narrative advice, robust themes that incorporate part-time professions, secondary skill charts, or even -- as much as I loathe them -- craft, perform, and profession skills.