9 Adventure Hooks

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 14, 2011

The best adventures begin with a simple idea. And if you’ve been DMing as long as I have then you know that sometimes coming up with that idea is tougher than you might think. Whether you’re looking to begin a long-term campaign or a one encounter adventure, the right adventure hook makes all the difference. If the PCs aren’t interested right off the bat everything becomes more difficult.

To help new and experienced DMs alike, Dungeon’s Master again shares 9 adventure hooks. They’re generic enough to be suitable for almost any camping, yet provide enough intrigue and mystery to get even the most skeptical PC asking questions and biting the hook.

9 Adventure Hooks

  1. An author approaches one or more of the PCs because he wants to write a book about them. What the PCs don’t realize is that the author is planning to model his villains after them, not the heroes.
  2. The PCs are about to venture to a particularly treacherous location as part of their next adventure. A local herbalist asks them to bring back a plant that only grows in that area and agrees to pay them handsomely for it. The plant is a powerful hallucinogen and even casual contact with it will influence a person’s perception.
  3. A group of recently retired adventurers have formed an acting troupe and are gaining a solid reputation for their performances. Although applauded by high society, the regular people see this new carrier choice as laughable and demeaning for real men. The troupe approached the gruffest, manly-man in the party and asks him to join them on stage for an upcoming performance. They clam that they’ve seen him fight and feel his grace in battle makes him a natural performer.
  4. During a night of heavy drinking one or more of the PCs believes they see a man with a strange tattoo on his left hand. At first they don’t pay it any mind, but eventually they remember that there is a substantial reward for a dangerous escaped criminal with that exact tattoo. Now where’d he go?
  5. One night in the local tavern, the PCs tell tales of their recent exploits in a far-away land. A man joins their table and offers to buy them a round. Although he’s never been to this place he has two sons that live there. He goes on and on about how proud he is of his boys. The PCs soon realize that they actually killed one of the sons during their adventures and that the other son has sworn revenge upon the PCs.
  6. A very pregnant Human woman begs the PCs for help. She’s going to have her baby in the next week. She’s concerned that her husband is not the baby’s father. She won’t know until the child is born. (Her husband is Human, but the child may have pointed ears.) If she needs to leave town quickly and quietly will the PCs help her?
    [She is in fact a Changeling spy. No one in town knows the truth, including her husband. Although she’s been completely faithful to her husband, she knows that there is a 50/50 change the child will look like a Changeling when born. Not only will it devastate her husband but it will blow her cover.]
  7. In order to smooth over diplomatic relations between two kingdoms, one of the PCs must agree to be betrothed to a Princess as part of a peace treaty. She’s only 12 years old. The PCs must swear to remain chaste and loyal to his betrothed until she reaches her 18th birthday and they can wed. If he breaks this vow the treaty is voided. Suddenly those who want to see the treaty dissolved hire the most beautiful women to tempt the PC.
  8. For years the PCs have collected many art objects among their various treasures. One painting becomes especially valuable when a fire destroys almost all other known works by a recently deceased artist. The heroes obviously don’t carry the painting around with them, but will want to make sure it’s still safe when they realize how much it’s appreciated. When words gets out that the PCs have one of the last know works by this artist they have to deal with those who wish to purchase and steal the painting.
  9. Made popular through song, the lyrics of a well-known ballad described how the bastard son of a nobleman proved his claim to the throne by presenting an ornamental dagger that his father left him as a child. The song describes the dagger in extraordinary detail. The noble, now all grown up, will be visiting the local town during their annual fair in a few days. When he arrives the PCs realized that that ornamental dagger he carries is the one from the song. Except the jewel in the pommel is green, not blue as the song lyrics describe. Is the song inaccurate or is this man an impostor?

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1 Vance June 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

Thanks a lot for these!

2 Jaana June 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

Hey! This is great! Am I allowed to tranlate it into german and share it via my blog? (trackback of course!)

Thank you for all the help you are providing to DMs and PCs alike!

3 Ameron June 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm

We’ve discovered that our adventure hooks articles are incredibly popular. We’ll keep proving more as we dream more up. Glad you enjoy them.

Feel free to translate this article. Please be sure you give us proper credit and link back to the original article. Thank you.

4 Rian Q. June 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Here’s one I plan to use

“A single conjured Outsider is capable of wielding the entropic Undersword (Immortals Handbook: Bestiary, under the Amidah entry) without suffering its -50 penalty to hit and damage.”

Possible reason: She is actually the weakened avatar of a God of Entropy.

5 mbeacom June 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

These are some great hooks. Thanks!

6 j0nny_5 June 15, 2011 at 9:00 am

There’s some good stuff here! Nice work.

I love number 5… oops, didn’t we kill him?

These ideas spawned more ideas, as they always do. I see the players finding a locket on a creature they killed. Inside the locket, the picture depicts (a player, their mother, a distant relative, etc.)

7 Naz June 18, 2011 at 1:32 am

More great stuff! A nod of appreciation to the author(s)!

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