5 Adventure Hooks: Happy Birthday

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 7, 2012

Today is my birthday. Sunday is Wimwick’s birthday. So it seemed appropriate to write an article that was in some way birthday related. The solution: birthday-themed adventure hooks. Each of the hooks provided below are tied to someone’s birthday.

As a DM I find that I’m always trying to come up with a good reason for why something happens at a particular time in the adventure. Tying it to someone’s birthday is as good a reason as any.

I’ve tried tying key events in my campaign to a PC’s birthday but I usually experience two major roadblocks. 1) We don’t track time accurately (or at all) in most games. 2) Very few players ever bother to specify when their PC was born. In the end we just say that a PCs birthday falls when it’s important to the story or whenever the player wants it to happen.

In campaigns where tracking the passage of time (and by default birthdays and other milestones) was important we used to say that every PC you play has your birthday. However, in our group there are five Virgos so all the PCs ended up having their birthday within two weeks of each other. In the end we just let the power of plot drive PCs birthdays and that’s worked pretty well over the years.

5 Birthday Adventure Hooks

1) Holding the bag

A successful adventurer decided to leave all his material wealth to his son. Fearing that any wealth left in trust would be stolen before his son was old enough to spend it, the father had a special Bag of Holding created. Once closed the bag could only be opened by his son, and only after the boy reached his 21st birthday. When the father died the son was left penniless (for now). However, people were willing to lend the boy money once they learned he would come into great wealth when he turned 21. With his birthday less than a month away the boy realizes that he’s actually in great danger once he gains access to the money in the bag. If only some brave adventurers could protect him?

2) It’s a party and EVERYONE is invited!

A retired adventurer is having a 50th birthday party. He’s invited everyone he ever adventured with to attend. Some of the gusts are not what you’d expect. The PCs are hired to keep the peace especially when a Dragon, a Giant, and a few other unusual guests show up. Things really get out of hand when a few uninvited guests try to crash the party.

3) Marking the occasion of your birth

Everyone knows the prophesy. When the man with the birthmark turns 25 he will be transformed into a creature of terrible evil and will wreak havoc on the land. Most dismiss it as fable until three men all approaching their 25th birthday are revealed to have the mark. The locals are scared and the people with the marks fear for their safety. The heroes are hired to protect the city should any of these marked men transform. Unfortunately someone sees what they believe to be the mark on one of the PCs. [In truth, the prophesy is false but the chaos of people's imagination is very real.]

4) Your last birthday

During the long journey home after a great adventure the party finds hospitality in a small town just in time to celebrate the birthday of one of the PCs. The town is thrilled to see the heroes and upon learning that one of them is having a birthday they insist on throwing him a party. At midnight, after the PCs have had a few drinks, the locals turn on them and attack. The town is under a curse and only sacrificing someone not already cursed on their birthday will lift it.

5) The perfect gift

The PCs are invited to the birthday of an important NPC (the higher level the PCs, the more important the person celebrating the birthday). If the PCs can find the perfect gift they will gain significant favour with this NPC. After some subtle inquiries the heroes learn that the thing the NPC wants more than anything else is his father’s sword. Unfortunately the old man died on a quest years earlier. Finding an old sword shouldn’t be too hard for experienced adventurers? Unless it’s still on the father’s body in the Dragon’s lair. Or worse yet, what if another adventuring party already defeated that Dragon and took the sword as part of the treasure. With the birthday only a week away the PCs better get moving.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lift2Win September 7, 2012 at 11:08 am

Hey, I have been thinking about working on a under water campaign and was wondering if anyone had any ideas on 1- how my characters could survive in a creative way other than a spell, 2- what kinds of creatures i should look towards using for lower levels 1-10 i want to start them at level one.

2 Tom Coenen September 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

Happy birthday, tomorrow is my birthday so these adventure hooks are perfectly timed.
I like the adventure hooks, I think I’ll use #5 for my campaign.
I like self-fulfilling prophecies so I would use #3 as follows:
the fear of a marked person gives him/her a heart attack which kills him/her. Then the deceased comes back as an undead monstrosity.

3 Ameron (Derek Myers) September 7, 2012 at 11:50 am

@Lift2Win
Check out this article: Secrets of Eberron Revealed (Part 12) in which I describe an undersea city in Eberron. I also include a few adventure hooks and some ideas for breathing/not breathing underwater that you might find helpful.

You may also find 8 Adventure Hooks for Campaigns on the High Seas useful.

4 Alphastream September 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Happy Birthday! Thanks for all you do, and for digging up that picture of Presto, which I will now use for all geek birthday events.

I’m struck by the realization that PC birthdays don’t come up. It’s a cool idea to bring that into the story!
Alphastream´s last blog post ..Classic Adventures – Converting Saltmarsh to DnD Next

5 Rogue #1 September 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm

So stealing number 4!

6 Chaosmancer September 12, 2012 at 1:54 am

Happy Birthday guys :D

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