10 Adventure Hooks Found in the Library

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 22, 2011

If your character is only good at killing monsters you likely dread when the adventure leads the PCs to a library so they can perform research. That’s something best left for the smart PCs. After all, what can you possibly contribute to this situation except mayhem and grief? A creative DM can find plenty of ways to get the whole party excited the next time they find themselves dealing with books instead of monsters, and today we’ve got 10 adventure hooks to make the job even easier.

I’m actually surprised how often my own adventuring party has found themselves wading through books looking for some lost kernel of wisdom. Many DMs prefer to rely on an interesting social interaction with a wise sage or local expect to convey the information the PCs need, but leaving the heroes alone with a whole lot of books can be more fun than you might think.

When I say library it doesn’t have to be a library in the traditional sense. These hooks will work with any sizable collection of literature. It could be a prestigious library at a college, a rich noble’s private collection or a long-lost set of tomes in a musty dungeon. Find and getting into the library can often be an adventure in and of itself. But once surrounded by all those books what do you do next? I recommend checking out Skill Challenge: Research. Use it as presented or just as a guide to get you started.

Regardless of how or why the adventures made their way into the library, once they arrive there are plenty of ways to bait the next adventure hook. If you’re stuck for ideas then may we present 10 Adventure Hooks Found in the Library.

10 Adventure Hooks Found in the Library

  1. Someone made a point of crossing out key words throughout this book. What was crossed out and why? Maybe some of the words are still legible beneath the strike-through?
  2. One of the PCs finds a book that has been vandalized. It could be that key words were crossed out, there are notes or doodles in the margins or that pages are missing. A creative DM can use any of these as a way to get players interested.
  3. The PCs find the book they need but their too late; someone’s beaten them to it and torn out the pages they need. Will reading the rest of the book provides enough context for them to figure out what’s on the missing pages? Perhaps there’s an index or table of contents they can reference?
  4. On the inside cover or the first page of the book is a personal inscription. Clearly this book was a gift. The inscription contains a poem filled with metaphor. Could it be talking about the very thing you’re here to research? Finding the person who wrote the inscription may provide additional clues.
  5. While flipping through a book one of the PCs finds an illustration of a room he’s been in before. In fact the entire party was there. When the PCs all look at the illustration someone realizes that some of the details in the illustration don’t match what they remember. Specifically they see a door or passageway where none existed. Is the illustration inaccurate or was there a secret door in that room the PCs failed to discover? Another visit to that room seems to be in order.
  6. The PCs discovers that one of the book shelves is on a swivel and pivots away from the wall. When the shelf is swung out there is nothing but a brick wall. The mechanism to open the door has to be around here somewhere.
    [This may seem obvious but in truth there is no door here. The shelf used to be in another section of the library where it indeed hid the entrance to a secret passage. The passage still exists and is in this very room, but this is not the way to enter it. Let the PCs try to open the non-existent secret passage for a few minutes, including letting them roll or use powers.]
  7. As the PCs are leafing through a very valuable book that is in pristine condition they notice three pages where the corners have been folded over. Why would someone damage such a valuable tome unless these pages are particularly important?
  8. As one of the PCs innocently looks around he notices a book out-of-place. It could be upside down or just unusual given the other books on the same shelf. With so much care taken to ensure that everything is in the right place, this one book clearly stands out. What make’s it so special?
  9. A villain that the PCs are following was in this library recently. They’re trying to figure out what he was looking for. When they find the books he read there are bookmarks in two pages. What makes these pages so important?
    [The pages are not important at all, it’s the bookmarks that will reveal the clues the PCs seek. But that shouldn't be revealed immediately. Have fun describing the pages the bookmarks rest between. Maybe one has a map or is a family tree.]
  10. The PCs find a copy of the book they were told will help them. When they read through it the book they realize it was very poorly written. A lot of the sentences are awkwardly worded and use the incorrect tenses.
    [This book was not originally written in common. This is a translation, and a poor one at that. If the PCs can find an original, one of them can re-translate the relevant passages and see if they make any more sense.]

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Quirky DM November 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I like it. Those are good ideas. I’ll just be slipping those ideas in my jacket now …
Quirky DM´s last blog post ..Making Characters Put in an Honest Day’s Work

2 Thorynn November 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Cool idea. One way 10 could work pretty easily is to take an English phrase, use translate.google.com to translate it to something else, then translate it back. After a few different languages the English should be pretty well mangled.
Thorynn´s last blog post ..D&D Fonts – Old School Look, New Text

3 Lee November 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Oooh, a lot of these are delicious. I love a good library in any game, they have a distinctly mysterious feel that few other buildings can match. #5 is my particular favorite in this list, the options there are endless. I think this will have to happen next time the party wanders into the house of books. If you wanted to take it supernatural the picture could show the party doing something, like being crept up on while sleeping, getting devoured by monsters, or just exploring. I think an utterly unexplainable still image is priceless. It’s the sort of thing people absolutely can’t resist!
Lee´s last blog post ..Bringing law to The Greenbelt: an in character Kingmaker post by Solus

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