Adventure Hooks for Divine Characters (Part 1)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on May 20, 2011

Adventure hooks are usually pretty simple. One or two sentences serve as inspiration, helping the DM create his next encounter or even a whole arc of the camping. However, adventure hooks designed to include divine characters have the potential to be a lot more complicated.

Right from level 1, divine characters have the support and resources of their church behind them. The PC may not be important or powerful enough within the hierarchy to request a magic item or demand an audience with the high priest, but this relationship exists. Even in circumstances where a divine character has left or been expelled from his order, he still has his faith. Should this character require aid he only needs to find others with similar beliefs and he’ll likely get it.

In most cases, PCs are in good standing with their church. They will often aid followers of the same faith and other members of the church if they need it. Likewise there is a good chance that these same people will assist the PC if the situation is reversed. This makes adventure hooks that feature divine characters a lot more complicated.

What may at first seem to be a very straight forward adventure hook could be used in multiple ways and result in very different outcomes depending on a number of factors. If the divine PC follows the same deity as the organization in the hook they will likely take different actions then if they are directly opposed to this organization.

This becomes even more complicated if there are multiple divine PCs in the same party. You’d assume that they either follow the same deity or at least follow deities that have some overlapping dogma. However, this will certainly add spice to any hook that involves only one of the divine character’s churches. So keep all of this in mind as you look for inspiration in these adventure hooks.

10 Adventure Hooks for Divine Characters

  1. A Cleric has been taken prisoner in a neighbouring country whose inhabitants don’t worship the same deity. The PCs are asked to find him and rescue him.
    [He isn’t a prisoner. He found purpose serving a different deity and changed religions.]
  2. A divine PC has made a holy pilgrimage to witness the arrival of “The Chosen,” as described in prophesy. When “The Chosen” arrives his race shocks the faithful.
  3. A group of people seek out the divine characters in the party in order to bask in their greatness. Some “worship” PCs, others constantly criticize. How do the PCs react? How do the non-divine PCs react to the followers or to the divine PCs themselves?
  4. All faithful followers of a particular deity are asked to convert a friend before the next religious holiday (a month from now). Everyone who is successful is promised a reward. Some parishioners will do anything to convert a friend and get that reward. Will a divine PC try to convert a member of the party? Is he doing it because his church asked him to or because he too wants the reward?
  5. A divine PC is given a task by his church that seems opposed to the beliefs of the faith.
    [This is a test of the PC’s faith and loyalty to the church.]
  6. A quiet, mild-mannered member of the church is thrust into supreme leadership despite his reluctance to step up. His shy demeanor could be bad for the church in the short-term. A divine PC is asked to act as the face of the church during the transition.
  7. Clerics are forced to go into dangerous lands to spread the holy teachings to the locals. A divine PC is asked to accompany the next expedition and keep the travelers safe since the last three expeditions never returned.
  8. A radical change in church doctrine is to denounce material wealth. A local perish is distributing cash from their reserves to the locals. The town’s population is booming and locals are flocking to join this religion. A divine PC is asked to investigate. Will a PC of the same faith follow this new mandate and give up his own personal wealth? If the PC is of a different faith perhaps his superiors are suspicious of the motives for such generosity.
  9. Two divine-classed NPCs of differing faiths have started a holy war. The locals are caught in the crossfire and are suffering. The PCs (one of whom is the same religion as one of the NPCs leading the fight) needs to step in and resolve this conflict before more people are hurt.
  10. A local church believes that a great battle will soon be upon them. They are stockpiling supplies to survive. Part of the preparation is to acquire potent magical items to defend the church. A PC currently possesses one of the items they seek. If it’s a divine PC does he follow the same deity? What will it take for the PC to relinquish the item either way?

Visit Dungeon’s Master next week when we provide more Adventure Hooks for Divine Characters (Part 2).

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1 4649matt May 20, 2011 at 9:50 am

These are some solid hooks.
These are simple enough to be introduced in the background if need be, but could definitely blossom into full adventures.

Off-topic: the cleric image is awesome! Where is it from?

2 Ameron May 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I find you can never have too many adventure hooks. They don’t all have to be gold, but in a list of 10 you’re bound to find a few that you can easily use for your game.

The image is from Heroes of the Fallen Land. If you have a DDI subscription, you can download all the images from this book from the Art Gallery.

You can also find a lot of great images in the Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms Art Gallery.

3 Captain Spud May 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm

My party has an Avenger of Bahamut. He periodically has flashes of purpose– Bahamut flashes him the faces of people who have committed great crimes, the victims of which are still suffering. It’s then up to him to find the person and avenge or stop the misdeeds. In my setting, Bahamut’s focus is on the victims of misdeeds– he doesn’t care about punishing the transgressors, as long as the victims’ suffering is ended (an ongoing difficulty for the player).

He’s done one of these “divine missions” successfully, and I’ve got another one lined up. Both are straightforward and lead the Avenger to a main villain in the story. But once we get to the next big town, he’s going to get his most intense flash of purpose yet– which directs him to the selfless, charming, completely wonderful old lady who runs the local orphanage. Some other things will have been happening by this point to hopefully make him wonder whether his “super power” is broken, as every investigation he makes will yield absolutely nothing incriminating– this woman really is just a remarkably terrific person, and yet Bahamut will keep flashing him ever-stronger pokes to punish her for her “crimes”.

After a while (several weeks in town), if the Avenger keeps investigating, eventually he’ll figure out that the nice old lady did one very bad thing a very long time ago, and someone else was punished instead. The lady was too afraid to admit it was her, so she said nothing and simply redoubled her efforts to be a wonderful person. Meanwhile, the wrongly convicted is still alive and in prison to this day.

My purpose in doing this, aside from the fun of messing with the players, is to emphasize two points:

1) The whims of the deities don’t necessarily have anything to do with your mission. Yes, the first two “divine targets” were arc villains, but that won’t always be the case; quite often, your god(s) will have need of your services for matters you don’t understand.

2) Similarly, the *priorities* of the gods are equally inscrutable. An offense doesn’t have to imperil an entire kingdom for a god to take notice of it.

My plan is to eventually have the avenger’s “Justice Sense” be both something I can use to drive the plot forward, and something the player can lean on to help make hard choices. But I neither want it to be infallibly clear and direct (because at that point it’s just me lazily deus-ex-machinaing my way through the plot), nor bafflingly abstract and confusing. I like my divine cues to be just direct enough to pique interest and set players in the right direction, while still requiring interpretation and judgment on the part of the recipient.

And stuff. 🙂

4 Camelot May 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm

That guy really loves Erathis.

5 Jools May 21, 2011 at 7:38 am

Wow, these are great. Any others hidden away on the site?

6 Ameron May 21, 2011 at 11:36 am

@Captain Spud
This is a great idea. Sounds like you’ve got a really great campaign going. I may borrow this idea (or maybe just a really abridged version) for a future hook, if you don’t mind.

What’s not to love, that’s an awesome picture.

Indeed we do have more of these. Let me put together a list for you.

For just a straight up list of adventure hooks like the one above we have:

For more detailed adventure hooks we have:

And on our Eberron page are the links to our ongoing series “The Secrets of Eberron Revealed” in which we provide adventuring hooks specific to the world of Eberron.

7 Sorain May 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm

A fun little side hook (that you can easily use to setup a real adventure later down the line) is to have two common members of the PC’s faith arguing a point of doctrine, such as which domain to list first on a pamhlet describing what the deity is concerned with. In many ways this is a trivial matter, but to the arguers, this is serius, and the PC’s neutral opinion would help a lot.

Later on (perhaps a adventure or two down the road) this can be brought up in a more major capacity, with two cherismatic leaders espousing either side as the primary concern of the deity in question, and the threat of a minor schism or even major church intervention.

If you want to reallly have fun with this one, have the winner in that schismastic spait be on the losing side when it comes time for the church’s overall opinion, threatning a holy war on par with catholics and prodistants if something is not done to resolve this. At high enough levels, it might require directly traveling to the deitys domain to get a final answer on the matter.

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