An adventurer is someone who conducts dangerous expeditions as a profession. Adventurers typically travel a great deal and explore monster-infested dungeons in search of treasure.
The player characters as adventurers have existed since the original Blackmoor campaign which inspired Dungeons & Dragons. The Original D&D core rulebook The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (1974) refers to the player characters as adventurers.
The term "adventurer" appears in the Conan novel The Hour of the Dragon (1950):
- "A dully glinting, mail-clad figure moved out of the shadows into the starlight. This was no plumed and burnished palace guardsman. It was a tall man in morion and gray chain mail—one of the Adventurers, a class of warriors peculiar to Nemedia; men who had not attained to the wealth and position of knighthood, or had fallen from that estate; hard-bitten fighters, dedicating their lives to war and adventure."
D&D blog Monsters and Manuals notes that a high preponderance of adventurers and social structures to support them is a particular feature of Jack Vance's works, cited in Appendix N as inspirations to Dungeons & Dragons:
- "In Jack Vance's fiction, adventurers tend to be commonplace. (Indeed, in some respects almost everybody in Vance's novels are adventurers, because you rarely meet anybody who isn't vigorously pursuing some personal private quest, vendetta, mission or task of some kind.)"
"Adventurer" appears as its own character class in some works inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, where it often represents an all-round generalist character. Examples include tabletop RPGs such as The Dark Eye (1984), video game RPGs such as Knightmare (1991), and the anime Konosuba (2016).
Adventurer appears in the title of D&D 3.5's Complete Adventurer (2005), a sourcebook primarily for rogue-like characters.
- The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (1974), p.9.
- The Adventurer-Dense to Adventurer-Sparse Spectrum: Vance to Tolkien, Monsters and Manuals, 2020