Sometimes an adventurer is exactly what he seems. Others have a dark secret or secret motivation that compels them to a life of adventure.
A secret motivation can be a great way of adding depth and role-playing fun to your PC. Such secret motivations not only act as a reason for the PC to adventure but can also form a vital facet of his personality. Some possible secret motivations include:
- Cursed: The PC is cursed. Whether this curse has an tangible mechanical benefits or not, the PC has been compelled to leave home. The curse may linger until he has completed a certain quest, slain a particularly creature or achieved some other goal.
- Fractious Family: Not everyone comes from a loving family. Some are factious while others are abusive, controlling or manipulative. Fleeing such a family is an excellent reason to go adventuring.
- Love or Marriage: The PC may be fleeing an arranged, loveless marriage. Alternatively, he may be trying to prove himself worthy of his true love.
- Mystery: The PC could be investigating some strange mystery that requires him to travel to many faraway places.
- On the Run: Accused (either wrongfully or not) of a crime the PC has been compelled to flee his home.
- Revenge: The PC is seeking revenge against a certain person or organisation. They may be hiding – and thus the PC is searching for them – or he may adventuring to gain enough power and wealth to crush his enemy.
- Shame: The PC is fleeing some terrible, secret shame and has decided the anonymous life of an adventurer is for him. If the shame is linked to a well know public event, all the better
- Tragedy: Some terrible tragedy has befallen the PC – the death of a loved one, the destruction of his home and so on – and the PC cannot bear to stay at home. Instead he wanders the world.
- Wealth: The PC lusts after the finer things in life and thus adventures to gain the requisite loot. This is quite a common overt motivation for adventuring and so the PC should have a compelling reason to keep his wealth secret. Perhaps he seeks to buy a certain property, has massive debts on which he intends to default and so on.
When considering a secret motivation for your PC, remember they are much more fun if your companions can gradually learn about them. When designing them, consider ways of enabling your GM to bring them into play on occasion. In this way, the GM can provide side quests and encounters specifically tailored for your PC – perhaps vengeful relatives are chasing your PC or occasionally he disappears for a week or so on private business. (Just remember, you need to make sure your GM knows it’s a secret motivation, otherwise he might blurt it out in the first session – which happened to me once!)
Help Fellow Players!
Have you used a different secret motivation for your PC? Let us know what it is in the comments below and help your fellow players develop cool secret motivations of their PCs today.