Considering that most fantasy RPG’s have the player characters be adventurers, it’s perhaps a bit odd that most don’t really discuss what an adventurer really is. They don’t really represent anything from history, at least, where adventurers tend to be either outcast weirdos or plain criminals.
So let’s take a look at our history’s Early Modern Age for inspiration. The Early Modern Age is a strange time in many regards, because at the same time, there was more and less social mobility than today. More in the sense of how someone could rise from very modest origins to become a feted noble and a war hero. Less in the sense that this rarely happened, for instance some people who went from Sweden to fight in the Thirty Years War came back as wealthy nobles, but on the average, they didn’t come back at all. Almost everyone who went off to fight in the 30YW died. Which is very much something I don’t intend to emulate much because that’s a bit dreary.
I tend to yammer on and on about structures. There’s a framework within Swords of the Eastsea which makes adventuring possible, at least as an accepted lifestyle if not an entirely respectable one.
All the character kits represent groups of people who have reasons to go out on the road to find their fortune: Fighters, Rogues, Bards, Hedge Wizards, Scholastic Wizards, Rangers, Dwarves and Elves. You can make a decent buck (or thaler) by just carrying a sword for a merchant or a noble, so the trade networks of the era are the lifeblood of the drifting class. But there’s more: there’s an interest in the historical, so universities pay good money for crazy people to go on expeditions to find this old sword or that old monastery in the high mountains. Then there’s the fact that law enforcement is almost non-existent so again, people need to hire someone crazy enough to go capture a murderer or a rogue magicians. The great mercenary companies always look for specialists to carry out various services, such as scouting the path of an advancing army, being the rear guard for an army in flight, smuggling a load of gunpowder into a port under the eyes of crown agents and so on.
And there’s of course nice opportunities to enrich yourself with less honorable means. Steal a regiment’s pay chest and you’ll be set for a long time. Highjack a treasure galleon carrying a load of silver. Accept a wager from a crazy rich burgher to deliver a load of beer to him from 100 miles away in less than 24 hours with the law on your tail. Because that’s bootleggin’, dontcha know?
That’s what out there that waits doing. And your character will be part of a very special group of people doing all that stuff.