How common are adventurers?

How Common are Adventurers

  • A dime a dozen: The world is just lousy with them.

    Votes: 6 7.0%
  • Not Unheard Of: Few people choose adventuring but it is common enough to not be considered "weird."

    Votes: 45 52.3%
  • You Do What, Now?: Adventuring is a rare vocation, one possibly viewed with suspicion or at least in

    Votes: 30 34.9%
  • Special Snowflakes: The PCs are effectively the only people in the world without real jobs.

    Votes: 3 3.5%
  • Nonexsitent: Not even the PCs count as "adventurers." Nobody does that.

    Votes: 2 2.3%

  • Total voters
    86
In your campaigns, whether homebrew worlds or published ones, how common are adventurers in the world. i don't just mean classed NPCs, but actual adventuring groups or individuals) outside the PCs.

As a corollary, how common is it for your PC group to interact with other adventurers?
 

Undrave

Adventurer
I'd say it's fairly common at low level, simply due to the lure of all that PHAT LOOT! But as you go in level there's fewer and fewer ones.

In my campaign we, a 6th level group, recently encountered a group of level 1 wannabe adventurers... the party's Paladin, our leader, then hired them to go on a sidequest we didn't do and asked them to go meet us at our base of operation afterward. The side quest, to recover a signet ring, was completely superfluous because we just stole the map we were supposed to get in exchange for the signet ring! AND the guy who asked us was probably thrown in jail, or executed, for corruption not long after (it's complicated).

In a following session we ALMOST hired a Goblin and Bugbear bandits we had defeated to track that party down and see who would come up on top, but we ended up killing the Bugbear and employing the Goblin for something else.

All in all, an hilarious event.
 

David Howery

Adventurer
I'd say it's fairly common at low level, simply due to the lure of all that PHAT LOOT! But as you go in level there's fewer and fewer ones.
yeah, adventuring tends to have a harsh Darwinian 'thin out the herd' process about it...

I'd think adventurers would be more common in a 1E or 2E world than a 5E one... because 5e has all those non-adventurer 'monster' type humans at the back of the MM. In 1/2E, those roles had to be filled by adventurer types.
 
I really like to have other adventuring parties out there for the PCs to interact with, as rivals, enemies, or possibly allies. They're more interesting than monsters or helpless peasants. My main influences here are superhero comics which are indeed lousy with other superhero teams.
 

Jer

Adventurer
I mean, should I pick one campaign in particular to answer this question? I've done all of these but the last one over the years (unless you stretch the last one to mean "Call of Cthulhu Investigators", which means I've done them all).

Right now in my campaign set in the FR the entire world is just littered with adventuring groups. Just lousy with them all over the place, to the point where it's becoming a running gag that other adventuring crews might be in the same dungeon looting the same stuff. In the game I'm running set in Mystara there are almost no adventurers - the PCs are unique in their willingness to go off and fight monsters that are terrorizing the area they're in. In my 13A game it's somewhere in between - there are other adventurers out there, but they're not nearly as successful as the PCs, and the PCs have on occasion had to step in at the behest of one of their patrons to clean up the mess some lower level adventuring party has made.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I tend to have each large city have an adventurer's guild. There are advantages to joining (and some disadvantages as well), and the guilds tend to react badly to adventurers who don't join up after a short time in their territory. Mostly they are there for adversaries (as a whole if the PC's decline to join, or a place for rivals if the PC's join) and to encourage the players to think of noncombat solutions (usually too many high-level guild types for the PC's to just "kill the guild"). Also, I usually have a guild bar and a higher-end guild social club (where the wealthy can smooze with higher-level guild members).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Every world is different, but in general I run games with “adventurers” being not unheard of, but not quite common.

But also, what is an adventurer?
 

Ringtail

World Traveller
I would say it depends on the world.

For example, I'd say a standard High Fantasy world such as Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms would probably be in the 'Not Unheard of' category by default, with variation based on personal preference.

Golarion from Pathfinder has a world-wide guild called the Pathfinder Society that is all about adventurers and their best exploits are published in serialized magazines/journals. While I don't think Golarion is "lousy with them" they are definitely more common than other places and are probably well known.

While not D&D, I imagine Warhammer's "Old World" is very much a "You do what now?" That setting and that game is much more lethal than D&D. I think the concept of someone who just adventures in Warhammer is so foreign many would just consider them dangerous vagabonds. Homeless guys with swords. (Basically brigands) Though Warhammer does have lots of adventurous professions like Road Wardens, Witch Hunters and Caravan Guards.

Personally in my own worlds I like a mixture of 'Not Unheard of" and "You Do what now?" depending on the tone of the game I want to run.
 
Every world is different, but in general I run games with “adventurers” being not unheard of, but not quite common.

But also, what is an adventurer?
Someone who actively goes out in search of fame and fortune at great personal risk without some sort of moral obligation. You know, adventurers. We have them today, too. It happens that in most D&D worlds the dangers are much larger, and so are the rewards, but its essentially the same thing as going big game hunting or searching for sunken treasure ships or swimming solo across the Atlantic.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Someone who actively goes out in search of fame and fortune at great personal risk without some sort of moral obligation. You know, adventurers. We have them today, too. It happens that in most D&D worlds the dangers are much larger, and so are the rewards, but its essentially the same thing as going big game hunting or searching for sunken treasure ships or swimming solo across the Atlantic.
Yeah, I know all that. My point was that the thread doesn’t clarify, so it could be referencing specifically dnd PC level adventurers, or simply people who go out into the world seeking adventure.

But your definition is off. Someone with a moral obligation is still an adventurer, nor does adventuring require profit-motive.
 
Yeah, I know all that. My point was that the thread doesn’t clarify, so it could be referencing specifically dnd PC level adventurers, or simply people who go out into the world seeking adventure.

But your definition is off. Someone with a moral obligation is still an adventurer, nor does adventuring require profit-motive.
Of course, but there's value in using simple definitions to discuss a things. I dont understand the constant tendency to want to muddy the waters with edge cases. It turns threads about 5x5 squares into acrimonious arguments over historical minutia (just by way of example).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Of course, but there's value in using simple definitions to discuss a things. I dont understand the constant tendency to want to muddy the waters with edge cases. It turns threads about 5x5 squares into acrimonious arguments over historical minutia (just by way of example).
It just isn’t a good definition. Adventurers who don’t fit it aren’t even edge cases. They’re common dnd adventurers.

Again, the point is that I don’t know if the intention is to ask about “people who travel around seeking adventure” or “people with PC class levels”.

Edit: the answer also depends on whether people who work for an organization dedicated to keeping the roads safe, or getting dangerous artifacts before even more dangerous people can, etc, count for the purposes of the question. Are FR Harpers adventurers?
 
In my campaign that I'm DMing and in some campaigns I've been in, the party starts as members of a Guild of "Adventurers". Almost like "Witchers" or "Mercenaries", people with specialized skills that people call on to investigate odd occurrences, work as escorts for long journeys, fight monsters, etc. They get paid for those jobs, and then a cut goes to the Guild. The Guild uses their money to pay for training, information, etc. This benefits the "Adventurers" as it gives them both credibility and direction. So there are assuredly others in the same profession, but they aren't the stereotypical band of meandering adventurers that just appear to help your town that's being attacked by gnolls.
 
It just isn’t a good definition. Adventurers who don’t fit it aren’t even edge cases. They’re common dnd adventurers.
I am not sure what you mean. By my definition, the Fellowship of the Ring are not Adventurers because they aren't out for fortune and glory, they are actors with a moral imperative to try and destroy the Ring.

Again, the point is that I don’t know if the intention is to ask about “people who travel around seeking adventure” or “people with PC class levels”.
I thought I was clear in my OP when I said I did not mean just anyone with class levels (and by association, NPC adventurers don't need to be statted up as PCs, but that's a different discussion).

Edit: the answer also depends on whether people who work for an organization dedicated to keeping the roads safe, or getting dangerous artifacts before even more dangerous people can, etc, count for the purposes of the question. Are FR Harpers adventurers?
If the people keeping the roads clear are hired by local authorities to patrol and protect travelers and such, I would say, No they are not adventurer's. They are effectively police. This isn't to say that the local baron might not hire adventurers to do that job, but if they are adventurers they are only going to do it for as long as it provides fame, fortune, glory or the adrenaline rush. But again, I think this kind of thinly sliced definition inhibits rather that enhances these kinds of discussions.

Also, I don't know anything about the Harpers, but I don't think an organization's motivation is important in determining whether individuals are adventurers. Many moons ago when I was a US Army Infantryman I knew lots of guys that were in the Army because they were adventurers, and lots more than were Soldiers.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Somewhere between options 2 and 3 for me. People know about adventures, but tend to view them with suspicion. A lot like how common folk view rangers in LotR. “That fellow in the back? He’s one of them adventurers. Best not to get involved with folk like that, I says.” Plus if adventurers come through your town, it likely means trouble.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
It really depends on definitions, but I went with not uncommon. People occasionally get the urge to risk life and limb for the chance at treasure. Experienced adventures, however, are quite rare since most die their first time out.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
It depends on the setting. Most of the time adventurers are pretty rare, especially anything over about 5th level.

A setting like Waterdeep though pretty much requires that adventurers are fairly common in the mythos/community awareness, even if their aren't actually hundred of them roaming the city. But in places like Athos, they don't really exist (in my mind) as everyone is more just about trying to survive or get what they can from the world/others. (Even the PC's are usually not adventurers.)
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
IMC, the normal "adventurer" is would more accurately be called a "grave robber". (The local slang is "gleaner".) They search for treasure, sure, but avoid encounters with monsters at all costs. A PC party's more violent/heroic approach is highly atypical.

You've also got the usual assortment of mercenaries and sellswords, but, again, they don't really do what PCs do. Larger groups, more geographically tied down, and they're unlikely to take a contract that involves following a monster into its lair.

For that matter, in my particular party, the majority of PCs also have a general attitude of "Let's not go in there, it might be dangerous!" Imagine a half-orc fighter who wants to become a knight but has the instincts of a mother hen. (Entirely intentional on the player's part, I hasten to add.) It makes adventure design a little bit of a challenge sometimes, but I manage.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Well, I'm the guy that voted 'nonexistent'.

Adventurer is not a recognized occupation in my homebrew world. To the inhabitants of Korrel, the word 'adventurer' means something like the modern word 'Tourist', and it calls up the image of a wealthy, lazy, dilettante often of what we would consider Bohemian preferences. To the extent that they have a job at all, it might be writing a chronicle of their travels in exotic lands that they plan to publish, but more often they are just wastrels spending funds on food, women, and wine. They travel because they are so jaded by ordinary pleasures that they risk the dangers and hardships of travel for no better reason than novelty. Most goodfolk would consider them insane. The PC's are basically never 'adventurers' by this definition of the word.

In JRR Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings", the Took family is rumored to engage in these sorts of "adventures". When Bilbo Baggins actually has an adventure as we gamers would understand the word, he nonetheless frames that harrowing adventure as the sort of adventure his neighbors would be familiar with - "a hobbit holiday".

Instead, the PC's are not on an adventure - they are on a quest, and they are generally drawn from the questing classes - nobility that doesn't stand to inherit, knights errant, templars, inquisitors, gentlemen at arms, priests with divine commissions, and individuals on quests of enlightenment or attainment or even revenge, together with the guides, sages, mercenaries, servants, bodyguards, and so forth that are accompanying them and assisting in the quest.

Most often the party operates under a mercenary charter that gives them rights to go about on the highway armed. Sometimes they are operating under the auspices of a noble person, who has rights to keep armed retainers, and they carry such papers as identify them as the henchmen of that noble. Sometimes, and this particularly true later in the game, their are one or more members of the group that hold patents of nobility in their own right, and they can therefore extend their protection to the rest of the group. At least from a legal perspective, the group is then in the employ of the nobles in the party and is his or her servant, even if internally the party acts in a more democratic fashion with no recognized leader. Sometimes it is a bit of all three, as it certainly doesn't hurt to have multiple layers of legal security.

To the outside world, the PC's are not adventurers. Before the PC's have much renown, they tend to be viewed as dirty no good mercenaries, mere hired killers, greatly to be despised. But as the PC's complete deeds of heroic valor or vile infamy, then they tend to be viewed as heroes or villains or sometimes both depending on who is doing the viewing. By this point, the PC's are no longer viewed by common folk as having a job at all, and tend to - as with the aristocracy in general - be ennobled by the fact that they don't have to work for a living per se, but instead can engage in noble pursuits like slaying dragons, casting mighty spells, and saving heirs in distress. Of course, the old money in the setting will still tend to see them at this point as dirty no good mercenaries, mere hired killers, but at this point they are useful hired killers worth at least maintaining something like a cordial relationship with despite their baseborn origins.

The PC's tend to be if not exactly unique, then pretty darn close to it. One thing that tends to mark them as big darn heroes and chosen of the gods is that they tend to have very unique and diverse backgrounds. It's very rare to see people travelling together who aren't all of the same family, much less of different nations and races. People see a group of individuals from diverse races travelling together as friends, and the first thought they tend to have is, "I bet one of them is a Saint." And their second thought tends to be, "And that means trouble is coming, and I'm going to stay out of the way."

Often as not, the only group comparable to the PC's in this fashion is the antagonists - who likewise consider themselves on a quest and not adventurers. There are of course other factions out there - thieves and assassins guilds, merchant families, noble houses, secret societies, mercenary companies, and temples to name a few - and they can put together something that looks like an adventuring company to further their interests, but then they would just think of themselves as members of that organization with a job to do on behalf of that organization. There are also freelance professional duelists, monster slayers, exorcists, bounty hunters and so forth but they tend to work alone or with just an assistant or two. If the PC's are freelancers without a fixed loyalty, they may be the only freelance organization of that sort for hundreds of miles.
 

Gradine

Archivist
I am not sure what you mean. By my definition, the Fellowship of the Ring are not Adventurers because they aren't out for fortune and glory, they are actors with a moral imperative to try and destroy the Ring.



I thought I was clear in my OP when I said I did not mean just anyone with class levels (and by association, NPC adventurers don't need to be statted up as PCs, but that's a different discussion).


If the people keeping the roads clear are hired by local authorities to patrol and protect travelers and such, I would say, No they are not adventurer's. They are effectively police. This isn't to say that the local baron might not hire adventurers to do that job, but if they are adventurers they are only going to do it for as long as it provides fame, fortune, glory or the adrenaline rush. But again, I think this kind of thinly sliced definition inhibits rather that enhances these kinds of discussions.

Also, I don't know anything about the Harpers, but I don't think an organization's motivation is important in determining whether individuals are adventurers. Many moons ago when I was a US Army Infantryman I knew lots of guys that were in the Army because they were adventurers, and lots more than were Soldiers.
I mean, by this definition I've NEVER DMed for adventurers. Fame, fortune and glory are kind of weak motivators IMHO. Of course I run primarily in Eberron, so there are always quite a few individuals running around for that exact purpose on any given adventure, fairly often as allies, rivals or enemies (or my favorite, frenemies), but my PCs would never fit that description themselves.
 

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