I’ve brought up the idea of creating a bridge between perils on different levels, to create a consistent flow of events on a daily and weekly basis for adventurers. I want to create a more realistic adventurer lifestyle that integrates training, living, and adventuring. I don’t want anything to do with the ridiculous “awesome-powered hero stops to rescue a cat from a tree” side quest idiocy.

I figured I’d approach this problem by starting at the bottom layer and working my way up. Like making a pie crust before the filling. Uh, I realize cakes don’t have pie crusts, but I think “layered cake” is easier to picture than “layered pie.” I could be wrong, but it’s the image I went with. Uh, anyway. The bottom layer begins with integrating the hero into a community at the human level. Doing work that benefits the community.

This kind of solves two problems at once. First of all, starting the character off with some kind of job and expectations gives them both a background and a connection to the other characters. In the game I’m working on now, the character begins the story apprenticed to a wood cutter. The event that sets the story in motion is the character learning how to find and choose the right kind of wood to take.

The woods are magical and inhabited by spirits of all kinds. This creates a context in which the character is expected to perform the task to a set of specific parameters, for example, “don’t take wood from living trees, as they are inhabited by dryads, take only dead wood.” The character spends hours at a time searching for dead wood, so as not to anger the dryads. (The character takes hours to find wood, not the player.)

I don’t want to bog down the player with unexpected gameplay changes, like the roleplaying equivalent of pixel hunting of running around one or more maps collecting random objects to satisfy some arbitrary requirement. Rather, many of the tasks are simply a matter of managing the character’s time and energy levels. Do you spend the day searching the forest for firewood, or chopping it up and delivering it to the locals?

Completing tasks on this level gives you a reputation in the community for being hardworking. You complete tasks and jobs and earn goodwill within the community. Members of the community are treated to food and drinks and are allowed to join in festivities. At a certain point, you become a “lifetime member” of the community, and you build up a certain amount of “un-work tolerance.”

Your adventures are then layered on top of this. Living and working in the community earns you the respect and support of the community, which enables you to adventure without worrying about whether you’re going to have someplace to sleep at night. Adventuring isn’t an immediately profitable or reputable trade. Of course there are monsters threatening the community, but there always are.

Once your character can demonstrate an ability to juggle community work with adventuring, the community is more tolerant of your character’s adventuring, and it becomes possible to trade adventuring work for the same benefits gained through more “menial” labor, though the hero is always welcome to return to their previous tasks. It may not be as personally fulfilling, however…