If you’re trying to write for your game world or campaign and need to generate ideas - let me tell you how it went for me this morning: (there’s a point I swear)
I’m writing a book currently called Lifestyles. This book is going to make it easy (I promise!) for GMs to charge their player characters for living between adventures in such a manner that it builds the role-playing aspect of the character and the campaign. Anyway, because I was thinking about how a standard housewife in Forsbury or Parnania would start her day and I, of course, came to my standard question: Why? Who cares? Well, without having some understanding of the culture, I cannot truly understand how an adventurer would fit into it. Plus, I was trying to make sure I wasn’t forgetting important stuff that would make Lifestyles a mess.
I assume that adventurers live sort of like college students. Yes, they work, but they have a lot of free time and party a lot. I remembered back to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser - They were always broke, even to the point of having to pawn their weapons. I also thought of the song by Jimmy Buffet, “I made enough money to buy Miami but I pissed it away so fast”. Yeah - That’s how I see adventurers. So where a mother of three if in need of money to feed her family would get a second job, even if it weren’t a “real job” such as taking in laundry or babysitting or cleaning homes (I know those are a lot of work, but I normally don’t classify them as “jobs” - let’s not let vocabulary take us off the point), what would an adventurer do if he was broke and could not find a job? Well Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser would go out and pick a few pockets, but that (oddly enough) I consider a job. So if they really couldn’t find a job, they’d find work that would feed them. Caravan guard is the one that always comes to mind. The caravan master would rather pay less and feed his crew so if you’re broke, at least you get fed and you might get to see the world or travel to where there might be work. I also assume that adventurers have no ties to the community. If you had ties to the community, you are far less likely to go wandering around in old ruins risking your life for profits.
You know I posted something of my opinions about adventurers not being altogether sane and normal folks on a forum and I got a bunch of negative “votes”. I guess that’s what you get from D&D players who have never really thought about role-playing or character development. Anyway, I also thought back to Burn Notice where Michael frequently tells us about what makes a good spy. An affinity for languages and a stomach that can handle both foreign foods and the bugs that come with them. But he also talks about how having an abusive father taught him to read people and stay constantly alert. Also how you can learn combat moves in a class, but it’s fighting with your siblings that actually teaches you how to fight effectively. So once again, I stick with my base edict that adventurers are a little touched in the head, or at least have some serious issues.
OK - This may or may not have been interesting to you, but you want the pay off, right? Back to the immortal question: Who cares about any of this? Well, you may not be as ADHD as I am. Your brain may not run through all these ideas as fast as mine does, but if you have the ability to concentrate, then you can probably intentionally go through this process. Start somewhere - breakfast in your major city, whatever you’re doing now, getting to and from work in your major city, whatever. What comes next? How do they do it in your world? How is it different in the different cultures? Now how is it different for the adventurers? Thinking about how your adventurers do things in your world and how it is different will most often lead you to think about what your adventurers are or should be doing in your world, and that will help you develop the world or come up with an idea for a mission. For me - The ideas come too fast. Hopefully your focusing skills are better than mine (that’s a pretty low bar!).