What does your group do between adventures? Why do they even adventure at all? Those are interesting questions that come up for role players. And if you think of your game characters as Superheroes rather than as ‘ordinary people’ they become much easier to answer.
One session in our game in Denver Jimmy was looking at the costs to create magic items, and what our characters could make and wondered why we didn’t just make items and sell them for a profit. And he had a good point. Between our characters, we could have all made a tidy living creating and making potions and wondrous items, without ever having to adventure again. Assuming that you are able to obtain the rare materials needed to craft the items there really is no need for characters of a certain level to adventure at all.
The answer really lies in looking at the Superheroes. When you look at Superheroes, why do they do what they do? Look at the Avengers again, because they are pretty well known and omnipresent in popular culture. With the exception of Captain America and Thor, these are all people with skills that would make more than a decent living. Tony Stark doesn’t have to do anything, he has enough money that he could just sit around and drink all day, and his skills and talents make it clear that he could make more than enough money even if he had to start from scratch. Bruce Banner is clearly smart enough to make more money than he could ever need. Hawkeye and Black Widow are clearly both skilled at more than just being support personnel, they could walk into any number of companies and make very good livings without ever having to face another bullet or fist. Even Thor does not have to do anything, he is the Crown Prince of Asgard, he has an army at his command. You could run down the same list using the DC heroes if you wanted to.
So why do they do what they do? Why put themselves in harms way? Because they have a calling, a feeling of heightened responsibility, they need to do this? Maybe because they are the only ones capable of handling these threats. Maybe just because helping others is the right thing to do. Or maybe because they are the team for the job, an enhanced special operations team, SEAL team 6 on super steroids.
Well as a GM, when crafting adventures, I prefer the last approach. The first approach is okay, there are Evil creatures out there and it is up to the Good characters to find them and defeat them. But you cannot rely on that, players are not always going to want to do the right thing. Or maybe they realize that they could be making a good living without putting themselves in danger. So I like to go with the approach that the party is a kind of special ops team, at the disposal of the local Lord.
There are reports of strange sounds and lights in that tower in the woods? The neighboring Lord is in need of help fighting off an Orc invasion? There’s a team for that.
Could you run a game where every adventure somehow links to one of the characters profession? Or craft an adventure with basically zero downtime, like a continuous story. But I don’t think that is as interesting, or it requires a lot more out of your players than some players are willing to put in.
(As an FYI I will be on vacation next week, so there will be fewer posts. I am running the game for the boys on Saturday so I should get out a post about that, but otherwise I may not post next week. Please keep coming back to read, and I promise lots more posts in the weeks after that.)