View Full Version : NPCs and Worldbuilding: Post Happily Ever After

The Fury
2017-01-17, 08:00 PM
So I started on this kick after recalling the joke about all bartenders in Waterdeep are retired adventurers well over 30th level. Then I started thinking about what characters might actually do with their lives after their adventures are over. Funnily enough I had more ideas for ideas for a defeated villain eking out a living in relative obscurity and contemplating their crimes than anything else. Though I'm sure that there's some good ideas around how a victorious hero might live too. Maybe they're rich, married their love interest, and got a cushy gig as a noble's adviser. What comes after that though? Anyway, since y'all have been great to tap for ideas, what are your thoughts on this?

2017-01-17, 08:10 PM
i always thought the idea was that the character retires early off all the gold they make

John Longarrow
2017-01-18, 12:49 AM
Tired wizard, bored because they have little to challenge them anymore, opens a road side tavern staffed by bound outsiders who can change shape to look like common folk.

Old fighter who's no longer in shape to swing a blade goes on to finally allow their creative side to flourish as a tailor and dressmaker in a major city.

Rogue who's lost the dexterity they once had now spends their time collecting, trading and selling art works.

Bard with one too many paternity suits to deal with enters a monastic order to contemplate their ways.

Cleric who is not too important to the order to risk on dangerous adventures is required to spend years at a major temple teaching the new initiates the proper way to worship.

Ranger who's spent decades away from his family lands returns to once more keep an eye on the grapes at his families winery.

For every possible vocation there is a former adventurer who's willing to partake.

Even a barbarian warlord who's saved his people but can no longer abide by their taboos and xenophobia can find solace in keeping the books as a merchants accountant.

2017-01-20, 04:31 AM
So I started on this kick after recalling the joke about all bartenders in Waterdeep are retired adventurers well over 30th level.

For much of Roman history, a farmer was likely to be a retired legionary with 25 years experience. Or a retired dictator (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_Quinctius_Cincinnatus). Cadfael used to be a Crusader. Colonel Pickering used to be, well, a colonel before he settled down to study linguistics.

That aside, though, this trope is as old as dirt. I have game books from the 1980's where every single shopkeeper has class levels and is some form of retired adventurer.

By itself, there's nothing terribly unusual about this - some proportion of mercenary adventurers have to say "@#$% this, I'm settling down to quiet middle-class respectability" - but since most D&Ds don't have any rules for degeneration of abilities due to age or just not keeping up one's regular dragonslaying regimen it can get a bit silly.

Realistically, though, most pre-Renaissance societies aren't going to have massive city populations or a large bourgeois middle class. If they're not capable of just outright getting themselves made a peer, a mercenary adventurer who has enough money to "retire" on is probably just going to buy title to some land from the local ruler, set up a nice little manor house and live off the village rents and resources of his estate.

2017-01-20, 08:12 AM
To an extent it'll depend on what sort of scales your campaign world is running to - if it's up at "Gods and Monsters" level, they're probably hunkered down in the best defended dungeon they can design and dig out.

Under that, there's a possibility of land ownership - there's always been rules in D&D for characters setting up holds and the like, which might be an area of wilderness they and their friends have cleared, or a land grant by a local ruler as a reward (and with expectations of continued loyalty later). Otherwise, whatever you feel, depending on what they can afford - they might have enough to set up a merchant company, buy ships and warehouses and set up trading offices in major cities all around the world, and live the rest of their lives off their share of the profits, or potentially even a bank. And if the campaign world allows, they could become an industrialist (areas like weaving, mining, metal working, even something like courier services - which could be by mundane methods like carts, carriages and pony express-type riders, or magical methods like long distance telepathy and teleportation).

And at a lower scale still, there's the possibility of buying a farm and growing crops or breeding horses/cattle, or a boat they can sail along the cost carrying goods for merchants, paid service in a lords household, which might be weapons tuition for their children or a more formal education, tax collecting, book keeping, steward, even potentially bodyguard, setting up in business (which may be the stereotypical ex-adventurer tavern owner, or something that uses skills they have), possibly military service as an instructor for new recruits, or joining the local watch.

Maybe a cleric or druid settles down in a village and becomes the local physician/midwife/vet, a mage goes off to the capital and gets a teaching job in the university, a thief goes from poacher to gamekeeper and advises merchants on their security, a paladin who sets up an orphanage, and so on.

Or they could write their memoirs (maybe suitably embellished to ensure sales) and have them published.

2017-01-20, 08:28 AM
From an AD&D Campaign (started in 2 and ended in 3.5)

Party approx. 19th level at the end

Magic User
Illusionist / thief

Magic User disappeared (off campaign we know he now has an area with Ravenloft)
Illusionist / Thief set up a school of magic and took over a major town
Paladin married an Orc and now runs the tribes
Cleric became “Pope”
Fighter was rewarded with a Barony and used his money yo improve the land and looks after his peasants

In another campaign – (GURPS)
Note thet classes not so clear cut but closes to D&D classes were

Magic user
Fighter (Barbarian / Nomad)

Assassin and Fighter married – now run the second largest kingdom on the continent
Magic user set up a rival (to the main Empire) school of magic
Bard became head of Guild and chief spy master
Fighter (Barbarian) and Druid married and moved to the plains (think Mongols)

For both “worlds” we have now started fresh campaigns set some years later and they have become major NPCs