What’s My Motivation?

Something that strikes me about comments I’ve heard from time to time about DMs/GMs in class and level based kitching sink fantasy roleplaying games.

While nobody wants to feel like they are being railroaded into doing a specific thing, I’ve seen people take this to the extreme of having characters not want to take on jobs or adventures to present themselves because they don’t know why their character would take that job.

Now, this makes sense in some cases.  If the job in question is some kind of heist, it may be hard to figure out why the paladin or the cleric of the god of law and order will take the job.

But when you get a treasure map to the Dungeon of Vast Mysterious Lost Things, or you have a patron that wants you to investigate a mysterious forest, and you turn down the adventure because you want to know exactly how dangerous it will be and exactly how much reward will be involved, it makes me wonder something.

In Shadowrun, the assumption is that you are playing runners, people looking to make money and take on jobs.  In Call of Cthulhu, you are playing Investigators, people that will run into weird stuff and look into it instead of ignoring it and going home and sleeping with the lights on for the rest of your life.  In Deathwatch you play Space Marines tasked with killing xenos, etc.

In D&D/Pathfinder/d20 whatever you aren’t playing average everyday folk who just happen to have a level of fighter or wizard.  You are playing adventurers.  If you don’t like the adventures presented to you by the GM, then tell him what kind of trouble you are getting into on your own, or what kind of job you are looking for.

If your adventurer is starting to strike you as someone that might rather settle down and retire unless their patron can assure them that they will be taking two score hirelings to burn down the tents of a goblin warband that they outnumber two to one, and then only take the job if it involves four digit figures of gold pieces . . . think about retiring that character in favor of someone more inclined to wrestle an owlbear for 10 silver pieces on a dare.

The assumption is that you want to be a hero, rich, famous, or powerful, and you are willing to risk your life to do one or more of the above.  Sure, the GM should try to tailor some of the campaign to your character, but you shouldn’t make the GM jump through hoops and resort to Plan E just to get you to leave the Inn either.


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