Job Fair

The question “how common are adventurers?” has come up in a few editions, but only 3rd Edition had firm demographics, where as many as 5% of people in a city would have levels in an adventuring class. Which feels like a LOT. I work in an elementary school with almost 500 kids, and that would mean 25 kids would be exceptional. Heck, you could have a full party of four adventurers in every grade level, 1 to 6.

When I see this conversation come up online, most people tend to throw out the “1%” figure as a ballpark, which feels small to most people. Tiny. But that still means one-in-a-hundred people are adventurers and thus exceptional. Going with my school again, we have a large party of five in just that elementary school.

In comparison with other jobs, in the United States there are half-a-million plumbers, 2 million farmers, and one-and-a-half million mechanics. Teachers are one of the most common jobs, also being 1% of the total population. If adventurers were as common as teachers they’d be twice as common as mechanics. More people could cast spells than be licenced to fix a car. There’d be a large party of six adventurers for every plumber.

In fact, if 1% of people were adventurers, that would make it the 4th most common occupation, between general office clerks and cashiers.

I prefer to equate adventuring to being a professional athlete. In the four major sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL) there are 5,000 athletes. When you consider other sports (golf, Nascar, wrestling) and minor leagues, you could probably triple or even quadruple this number. Which makes athletes 0.005% of the population. Five-in-a-hundred-thousand. This feels more reasonable. Rare, but you can get a dozen in a big city, and they tend to gather from across the country.

This also leads to a nice side analogy related to fame. At levels 1-2 you’re in the minor leagues. Nobody cares. At 3rd level you enter the majors. People who closely follow sports news (read adventuring gossip) might know you, but you’re generally unknown to the larger world. At 5th level or so you become recognized as “the talent” in the majors. As a star of the local team, you’re big in your neighourhood but likely less known nationally. At 7th level, you’re a big name, and anyone who follows that league knows you by reputatioon, as does everyone in your hometown—even if not sports fans. Beyond 9th level you start to be known by people even if they don’t follow sports. By 11 you’re an icon, known as much for who you are as the game. This is the Wheaties box stage.  At 13th level, you’re a living legend. The best in the league. At 15th level you’re synonymous with the sport. Gretzky and Jordan.

Give or take…