Every character has a story, and every story has a beginning. For today’s article, we’re taking a Top Ten style look at some things that may have motivated your next character to begin their life as an adventurer.
1. Seeking new horizons. It’s a classic tale, tried and true. The character grew up in a small, sheltered environment, such as a rural farm, a monastery, or some similar locale that is both peaceful and cut off from the rest of the world. You got sick of living your life without ever going more than a few miles from where you were born, and decided to set out to see what else the world has to offer.
2. Out for glory. There aren’t many better ways to make a name for yourself than by becoming a successful adventurer. The wealth is a plus, certainly, but it’s the fame and accolades, the parades in your honor whenever you defeat a rampaging beast that threatened to destroy the town, and the sounds of minstrels and actors retelling your glorious triumphs that you really hunger for. You are looking for greater and greater challenges to prove yourself and to shock and amaze your fans.
3. Displaced by disaster. Sometimes, it’s not so much a matter of why you left your home for adventure, and more a matter of why your home left you. Whether it was a natural disaster like a flood or an earthquake, or something more malicious, like a rampaging orc horde or a tyrannical dragon, you were driven from your home and have little choice but to adventure, at least until you can reclaim a place for yourself in the world.
4. Searching for an object. You are drawn to adventure because you are searching for something, namely a particular relic or artifact of some significance to you. You might be an eccentric scholar who wants to learn more about an ancient civilization, or you might be power-hungry, and looking for an extremely potent artifact. Whatever it is, you know that your only chance of finding it is to plumb the depths of local dungeons, so that’s exactly where you’re looking.
5. Righting wrongs. At the end of the day, you just want to help people. You look out into the world and you see suffering and chaos and destruction, and you know that somebody has to do something about it. Once you realized that it didn’t seem that anyone else intended to do it (or, at least, that those who were trying to weren’t going to be able to do it alone), you decided to step up and take care of things yourself, and you haven’t looked back since.
6. Out for revenge. Someone has grievously wronged you, and you won’t rest until you settle the score. While you might be adventuring as a means of trying to find that person, or trying to find the key to defeating them, on some level, at least, you are adventuring because you know that by facing horror after horror, defeating deadly monsters and overcoming devious traps, that you are honing the skills you will eventually use to deliver the coup de grace to your long-time foe.
7. A direct plea for help. It wasn’t so much that adventure called out to you, as that some specific person did. You may have been hand-picked by local authorities as a capable person who might be able to solve a difficult problem, or you might have received a desperate letter from an old friend in dire need, or you may even have gotten a telepathic plea from a damsel in distress. Whatever the case, this first call for your aid stirred you to action, and you’ve been adventuring ever since.
8. Searching for someone. You are on a quest to find a particular person. This person may be a long-lost childhood friend, a family member, a romantic interest, a mentor, or possibly even an enemy or rival. You may know where they are, but be unable to reach them without something that only adventuring can provide, or you may have no idea where they are, but have some reason to suspect that a clue to their whereabouts might be found in the sorts of places that adventurers frequent. Whatever the case, you’d gladly trade your piles of loot for just a few minutes with the person you’ve spent so long trying to find.
9. In it for the money. As far as you’re concerned, adventuring is just another way for you to pay the bills. As get rich quick schemes go, it has its ups and its downs: it’s very dangerous, yes, and it’s hard work, but the chance for incredible pay-off is far more real than most of the other ways you’ve tried to get ahead. Once you have enough (if there’s even such a thing as “enough” when it comes to treasure), you have elaborate plans for just how you’re going to spend all that gold, but for now, you’re always looking for the next payday.
10. Following a friend. It wasn’t you who heeded the call to adventure, it was someone close to you, and you simply got dragged along for the ride. Whether you felt the need to protect your adventurous loved one, and ensure that no harm came to them on their dangerous journey, or you couldn’t bear to be apart, or you’re just accustomed to doing as they ask, when they set off for wild and dangerous parts unknown, there was no question that you would be coming along as well. That friend may or may not still be with you, but either way, you would never have started down this path without them.