I've been thinking a lot about character motivations of late. Part of this is trying to find a motivation for one of my characters beyond simple survival - because let's face it, if your goal is to survive you're better off not being an adventurer. I've gone through a few different ideas, but then something popped into mind: Immortality.
Most times someone says their character's goal is immortality and you end up with a picture of an evil character - probably a wizard, sorceror, or warlock. However, there are different types of immortality. One that I've found myself quite fond of - though perhaps not super useful for every character - is the pursuit of Immortality that Achilles was after: a name that will echo through the ages.
This motivation does not restrict us to an alignment. Philosophically, it may make being good harder. After all, if you are doing things for the self-driven goal of being remembered for all time are you actually doing good or just fulfilling your own needs? However, you can be desiring to be remembered for your deeds, and do good along the way. Or you can be neutral. Or you can be evil. You can be honorable or dishonorable. You can have scruples or have no scruples. How you intend to achieve this immortality of reputation is up to the character and will be the biggest determinant of your alignment.
Even better, this alignment fulfills the biggest question you have to answer? What makes this person go out with a small group of friends and actively seek out the lairs of goblins, trolls, dragons, liches, and other dangers? What makes them forsake a safe life with the trappings of contentment, love, wealth, families? Why don't they take their cut from that first big score and retire? Open a tavern somewhere? Perhaps start their own general goods store?
The driving goal of making a name for this explains it all. Few will remember the name of the person who made a good home and raised a family. Their family will, but in time even that will fade. Tragic as it is, I couldn't tell you - nor did I ever even meet - one of my grandfathers. I know the names of none of my great grandparents. My sister doesn't either. They're fading from memory.
A few more people may remember the name of one of the heroes that solved a problem worthy of a level 5-15 adventurer perhaps. Depending on how prominent it was. Their name will spread. More will remember them if only for saving their lives. But that name too will fade.
But if you keep going? If you keep pushing. If you keep taking down monsters, saving towns, making friends with kings and queens, accumulating titles? You may be remembered. You may be able to achieve immortality. And if not, you may be able to achieve a death that will be remembered.
It's a good motivation. And one that I'm curious to try exploring.