Adventurers and the Explorer's Guild
Adventurers take after the Heroic tradition. Felmourne, Kullervo, Matthias, Tevil: these are all exemplary paragons of heroic might.
Adventurers and heroes are there to protect the weak, kill monsters, deal with danger, and inspire songs. The romantic ideal of an adventurer has led to many wannabes, and wannabes tend to be poor adventurers. So the Explorer's Guild was set up to manage any who would like to travel the world and kill monsters for gold. The Guild gives out contracts to prospective adventurers, and adventurers accomplish the contract thereby earning gold. All loot had to be turned into the guild, and the adventurers got a cut of the loot.
Guilds make money through two methods: through adventurers looting and turning in this loot, and by the contract's patron. The contract's patron pays a fee to set up a contract with the guild. Depending on the difficulty of the task the fee will be high or low. It is normal for a Guild to give half of the fee as a reward to the adventurers.
Sometimes a Guild will give a much higher reward than the fee paid by the patron. The more prestigious branches of the Explorer's Guild will provide food, housing, and training to adventurers who have proven themselves. As for less reputable branches...well, it's not unheard of that a Guild will set itself up in a village, take an entrance fee from prospective adventurers, and then disappear with all their gold.
Explorer's Guilds are headed by the Lead Guild in the capital Juraedon.
Contracting and Rankings
Contracts are given out to parties depending on the parties' skills. Skills are determined by previously accomplished contracts, or by recommendation. Skills are publicly shown by the colored rings all adventurers are legally obliged to wear (though most don't unless they want to be spotted).
Depending on ring color you can be contracted to kill a dragon or to chase some goblins out of town. But monsters aren't the only things adventurers fight. Adventurers are contracted by gold, and so are little more than mercenaries.
Unless you are at the top of the leaderboards, you can expect the normal mercenary work. Killing people, warring against kingdoms, pillaging and looting for an army - glorified soldiers. Lower Huraedon is rife with these sorts of adventurers.
A Poor Reputation
As a result, the moniker 'adventurer' is mostly a negative one to the majority of the world. Adventurers are troublemakers; they bring trouble and cause it more often than not. Only the more powerful sorts of adventurers - the ones that swagger in gilded robes and glowing plate, carrying weapons that give off powerful auras - are thought of as akin to the heroes of old, and these powerful adventurers are respected and feared by the common folk.
Wizards especially are feared. The title 'Master Wizard' is one reserved for the obviously arcane. But these powerful adventurers aren't only feared for their might, but for what they also represent.
The Imperial Leash
Most, if not all, of these higher tier adventurers are on the payroll of the Empire. They represent her strength, and they execute her will. Eventually, if you manage to reach these heights and attract attention, a messenger will find you on the road. The messenger is the same. He has one eye and a wide brimmed hat. He has golden teeth, and a silver walking staff. On his belt - which is buckled to the last hole - hangs a sword which glitters like ice. His name is Drill-tooth and he is bound to service for the Empire.
Decline and he will harass and follow you forever. Drill-tooth will send magical message after message of his location and where you are. He will follow you wherever you may go, private or magical - that is his power. And eventually, you will be caught and executed by the Three-fold.
So most adventurers accept. Besides, nothing really changes if they do. All that's different is that if they are commanded by the Emperor, they must follow immediately rather than putting those charges on a backburner and hiding somewhere.
Of course, if you lay low and don't attract attention, Drill-tooth won't find you, regardless of your strengths.