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Why Are You an Adventurer?

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In our last episode of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast, we discussed player character backgrounds, what we want from them, what we use them for, etc.

I put out the question: What do you as a GM want from a PC background — what question do you want answered.

The most common response was, “why are you an adventurer?

And it makes sense. We as GMs are trying to understand the PCs and what makes them tick. More importantly, if we know why the PCs quit their 9-to-5s, left their families and road off into the sunset, we also know what the players are expecting or hoping for from the game.

I started thinking of some reasons why someone would drop everything and go looking for adventurer. Some are common, some aren’t.

  1. Revenge. He says with a gravelly voice, “I have no family.” So now our hero is off to kill the man who killed his ma. This is really common, but it doesn’t have to be so final as murder. Maybe someone did something unspeakable to your mother, but she’s still alive — mad perhaps, but she’s a constant reminder that someone’s in store for a comeuppance.
  2. I ain’t got no where else to go. Probably the most common reason to really leave everything behind is because you don’t have anything to leave behind. Maybe you’re dirt poor. Maybe your middle-aged, don’t have a family and your parents finally kicked it (rather than get murdered).
  3. Beats working. Maybe you’re just the sort of person who either doesn’t want to hold or can’t hold an ordinary job.
  4. I’ve made some people angry. Sometimes, you drop everything and leave because that’s the safest thing for you (and possibly your loved ones and friends).
  5. We’re on a mission from God. Perhaps God (or a god, or a god’s prophet) has spoken to you and told you to go out and do good (or bad) works.
  6. It’s the easiest way I know of to make a lot of money. Perhaps the PC turned to adventuring for the same reason others turn to crime. It sometimes seems easier and less boring than working.

Written by

Stu Venable is the producer of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast and writer and editor of DoucheyDM.com. He is founder and director of the Poxy Boggards and a member of Celtic Squall. He holds a degree in Journalism and Public Relations from California State University, Long Beach. He is a husband and a father. He hates puppies.

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One Response to "Why Are You an Adventurer?"

  1. Brian Berg (TPK Games)No Gravatar says:

    As a GM, I want enough detail surrounding a character background that the character becomes more than just numbers on paper. I want the character to rule the numbers, not the other way around.

    A solid character background should give the GM 3-5 plot ideas before you ever even begin playing. When you create a carbon copy, optimized character with no background you are actively limiting your own enjoyment from the game. Said characters blaze brightly for a brief moment, but their spark fades quickly.

    The player with a great background, rich in history who is truly immersed in the campaign setting is going to be much more enjoyable to play and will even encourage others to roleplay more.

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