Friday, July 24, 2009

I don't want to be an adventurer

I have been reading online about Dave Arneson's Blackmoor. A little reading about older D&D, since I didn't start playing until mid 3.5, has given me a lot to think about.

It seems like in their game, and in other older games I have read about, there was no Adventurer class in their fantasy worlds. If you were a PC, you were a vassal of a king, a footman, a magic user, but adventurer was a . . .subtitle.

Naturally, this got me thinking about my own gaming experiences, and how they relate. They *don't*. Not at all. I think that every one of my characters, fully fleshed out back stories to one shot shadow puppets, is an adventurer first, and everything else second.

So I decided to change that. From now on, I will endeavor to give my PC's goals. Goals wholly separate from adventuring. For instance:
- My current PC is a Gnomish Illusionist. Until 10 minutes ago, his only real motivations were story driven. Who killed me? Why? Where is my next reward coming from? This is not really satisfying. A good goal for him to have would be to establish an Academy of Illusion in Khorvaire, to compete with the Academy of Summoning. Since he had a bad experience there, living in poverty just to attend, I can see this as a legitimate goal for him.
- My previous PC (who is at this moment playing chess in a bar in Hammerfast with his good friend Arlarond), had met his only goal, to catch up to his friend. What now? He is a warlock, so his goals could be fulfilling the desires of the powers that hold him to his pact. Perhaps the fey demigod or primal spirit wishes him to build a shrine in a key location in the real world, strengthening their power in the Feywild? Maybe he would like to investigate the accident that caused him to be mired away from the real world. Since I am not playing him, this is all just a mental exercise...
- My backup PC for our Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign is a Warforged. Owned by Dwarves for the first 50 years of his life, and now free to do what he wills, why would he adventure? To prove his worth as a living being? To establish a legal place in this world?

I think the adventurer label is bad. It oversimplifies things. Why does your character need to sink all of his gold into gear upgrades, why not tithe, or build, or loan, or. . .something new? I believe these kinds of things can add flavor to your character.



R said...

I've played 2e since its inception and one of the things that keeps me away from the later editions is how streamlined everything is and how everyone is an "adventurer" and each adventure involves rooting around in some form of dungeon.

All of the PCs in my campaigns are real people. They have real goals, desires, flaws, fears, friends, acquaintances, enemies, and so on.

It's much better to me when there's real motivation and role-playing among my players, and not just a bunch of hunting around, searching, looting and stat-mongering.

shyDM said...

I think you make a good point. It IS important to give you PCs a life beyond being an "adventurer."

I started my gaming career in some really big groups, so I never had to give them much motivation beyond getting from point A to point B because the GM didn't have the time to focus on anything non-story related. Now I'm in some smaller groups, in addition to a game my S.O. is running for me, and I've been trying to give my characters more life than just "quiet paladin" or "hard-working sorceress." It's been a little hard to start thinking about what my little guys would really want, but it's much more fun now too! I feel more invested, and more accomplished when I get closer to these side goals.

GodSyndrome said...

Giving your character a real good goal and purpose helps role playing a lot. Most of my players have goals beyond being an adventuring and building stories for them is so much easier for me.

@R I've never read 2e books, I'm barely familiar with 3e or 3.5e, I've only begun really getting into D&D with 4e and I've had no problems getting into role playing with my players, even on the part of giving the players definable goals. It all came pretty naturally to me after reading the PH and the DMG. I don't think giving your character motivations has to do with the editions but the Dungeon Masters who don't take the time to read the books properly and really think about them. (And I do think that the dungeon master is responsible for getting their players to create good role playing.)