Dr. Lissa Goins
Penned by Sir Ironback the Bandit Slayer
It is frequent that an adventuring party adopts a style of gaining experience. Some parties prefer to push their skills and are occasionally horrible showoffs. Some parties prefer to lean on their problem solving minds and will outthink the least necessary puzzles before heading into combat. Some tend more toward marathon adventures deep in the bowels of some cavernous darkness; these adventurers often only return to civilized quarters when their last goblin jerky rations and rotting zombie-clothing torches have run out. It is the proud few who return more than once to their patron towns and cities to share their found goods and spoils.
While many adventures start at some tavern or inn, these places may never be seen again by those brave souls. In my case, it has always been a mark of pride that my own personal style has returned me to my home many, many times. It was a small place in my youth, a bustling and busy town on a well-used road. Forest, wild and untamed, stretched several days in all directions. Somewhere in the distance could be seen mountains, where the castle keep of our local lord stood, invisible to onlookers from my humble home. Humble it was then. But I digress.
I was a strong lad even then in those days, and I swore to defend the people of my home with my last breath. It was with stunned horror that my wooden shield and padding armor were reduced to near-useless splinters and shreds at my first brush with a monster in that forest. I say ‘near-useless’ because at least the padding was able to stop the bleeding somewhat. I was terribly ashamed to trudge through that mud and rain to the local healer’s building. It was with even greater shame that I learned the monster’s name was Antony and there was, in fact, a system of bread and honey bribes to keep him at bay. If I had only asked around, I would have further learned that I’d walked in the wrong direction to catch the bandits I’d been hoping to stop.
Ah, I laugh now to write those words. I was a young fool, full of that silly spirit that starts so many on this path. I could have let my shame rule me then and quit forever to become a merchant or a thug. Strangely, that silly spirit hasn’t left me even now. With my wounds bandaged and a borrowed shield, I walked in the correct direction and earned the name ‘bandit slayer’. It was at that point that I packed stolen goods on stolen horses and limped euphorically home, after leaving a curious Antony the biggest honey biscuit the baker had been willing to part with.
Unlike so many others, I have always returned home. As this town has grown up around me, I have continued to share the treasure I have acquired and none can say that I am a jealous or hoarding fighter. But, returning time after time, I have found that my home too cannot be said to be either jealous or hoarding. From the blacksmith came my armor and corded muscle from working at the forge to earn it. From the merchants I received most of my early work, and good weapons from far and wide. From the townsfolk I learned so many things; diplomacy, local lore, tricks and riddles to entertain and distract.
I have so many stories in my heart, earned from sitting on the porch of the tavern, listening to those old souls who had traveled every game trail and forest bend and seen everything there is to see in this small fiefdom. These are things I would not have if I had set out all those years ago to track those few escaped bandits to their den, dragging my loot behind me and bleeding sluggishly from the forehead. I would probably still be that strong but unskilled fighter. I am stronger and tougher and there are none yet who have defeated me because of this way of life that I have chosen.
In summary, it is my honest suggesting to all who are considering embracing the spirit of adventure to look to their homes for more than simply a starting quest. Much can be found in places you have never thought to look, and much heartache and bleeding can be avoided if you simply ask around before setting off into danger. In the end, you may be poorer for returning, but, in the end, some things just can’t be bought.
Dr. Lissa Goins is the Vice President of Dwarven Tavern and author of "The Hero: The Villain's Story".