In all the years I’ve been playing D&D very few characters in any of my adventuring parties have ever had kids. Even the PCs who live long and fruitful lives, adventuring into their old age and accumulating incredible amounts of wealth still don’t stop to settle down and have a family. It’s as if having kids in-game is a sign of weakness, or even a curse to your favourite PC. I suppose it’s because as soon as you say your character has people he cares about in his life the DM will use that against you.
Throughout April Dungeon’s Master is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge is to write a new article ever day in April, excluding Sundays. That’s 26 articles over the course of the month. To make things even more interesting the title of each article will begin with a different letter of the alphabet. This year we’ve decided that every article will provide our readers with new adventure hooks. Today’s “B” adventure hooks all center around a baby in one way or another.
Clever DMs long ago realized that gamers see children, and especially babies, in-game as kryptonite. A baby is a nuisance that gets in the way of serious adventuring. It’s not like you can bring a child into combat or schlep it though a dungeon delve. Babies are problematic in-game. So what better way to hook your players into their next adventure than by using a baby? We’ve even come up with some great adventure hooks to get your creative juices flowing.
Adventure Hooks: Oh baby!
1. Are you my daddy?
When the PCs return to a village or town they’d previously visited a woman claims that one of the PC is her child’s father. Although the PC will likely deny being the father, the woman has been telling everyone that this is the child’s father since she first started showing her pregnancy a year earlier. During the night the mother dies in her sleep (of unexpected, yet natural causes). Townsfolk are suspicious of the PC and the party and now the child has no parents. Will the PC step up?
2. A whole new meaning to treasure bundle
In the distance the PCs hear the sounds of battle. Monsters have attacked a caravan and by the time the PCs arrive everyone is dead or dying. The PCs will no doubt kill the monsters and extract justice for the dead. When the fighting’s over the only survivor is a baby who slept quietly in the wagon during the whole fight.
[The adults running the caravan who all died were in fact kidnappers. The baby was snatched from a noble house a week earlier. Bounty hunters are already looking for the child with orders to capture the kidnapers and bring them back for trial. How will the PCs react when they are accused of stealing the child? Will anyone believe that they found it?]
3. Snu snu
The PCs are captured by monstrous humanoids (Gnolls, Giants, Drow, whatever works best). The tribe’s ruling matriarch is honour bound by the tribe’s traditions to allow the party’s champion to face the tribe’s champion in single combat. If the PC wins, the party will be set free. When the PC wins, the matriarch agrees to free the party after the winning PC spends the night with her. The same tradition demands that the champion of single combat have sex with the matriarch to ensure her offspring are born of the most powerful fathers. Will the PC do it?
4. The Finster Baby
While the PCs are in town a baby is left on the Church’s doorstep. There is no note, no indication of who the child’s parents are of who the child is. The church compassionately takes in the helpless baby.
[The baby is actually a changeling or some other creature that can shape shift. He’s a thief and this was the only way he could think of to bypass the church’s magical defenses and gain entrance undetected. He keeps up his ruse as a baby for as long as necessary; acting only when he believes he can successfully accomplish his mission.]
5. The birthmark
A child with a strange birthmark is born to humble parents. Although the mark is unusual no one recognizes it as anything special. A wandering Bard get’s really drunk one night and let’s slip that he thinks the mark is actually a sign of evil. He’s seen it before on adult spellcasters who are absolutely corrupt and evil hearted. He believes the child should be killed. His comments are originally dismissed as drunk talk until a few days later another traveler makes a similar comment in hushed tones. By the time the PCs arrive in town everyone is convinced that all the unfortunate mishaps occurring in town are the fault of the cursed child. The child’s parents fear their child will be killed. When the PCs arrive in town the mayor explains that a child is possessed by evil spirits and must be killed. They ask the PCs to do it.
[The Bard who first noticed the birthmark and spread the rumour is actually a creature from another plane (disguised as Human). The birthmark is a sign of power. If the child matures it will be a strong champion of good, and this creature wants to ensure that doesn’t happen. He paid a few other wanderers passing through town to confirm his tale of the birthmark’s evil nature.]
6. And the prize is… parenthood
The PCs hear about a contest of champions that they think that can win (the exact nature of the contest is up to the DM based on the party’s strengths). This contest has a reputation for awarding unusual and extremely valuable prizes. When the PCs win, their prize is a healthy baby. The contest organizers will not take the child back or give any details on where they got it. When other contest participants see the prize they are immediately envious. Many offer to take the child if the party seems reluctant. It’s clear that none of those offering to take the child have good intentions.
7. The ugly baby
After defeating the monstrous humanoids the PCs find one surviving monster newborn baby. Do they kill it? Do they rescue it? Are the PCs willing to leave the child with strangers? Are they sure these caregivers will treat it with love and compassion? How will the PCs know for sure?
8. Sink or swim
While taking a ferry the PCs witness a woman fall overboard. She can’t swim and screams hysterically as soon as she hits the water. Only after she’s back on the ship does she realize that her child must have also fallen overboard and is still underwater. When the child is recovered minutes later he is perfectly fine. He shows no sign of distress despite being submerged for so long. The mother has no explanation. Is the child blessed, cursed, or just incredibly lucky?
[The child’s great grandfather on his father’s side was a water soul Genasi.]
9. The duplicitous mother
A beautiful, healthy baby girl is born to proud Elvin parents. However, after a few days the child’s skin darkens. After a few weeks it’s apparent that the child is half-Drow. The father is outraged and accuses the mother of being unfaithful. She tearfully confesses that she was assaulted by Drow the summer before. The Father hires the adventurers to accompany him as they track down the Drow responsible and kill them.
[The mother is in fact a Drow suffering under a curse. She must spend 100 years as a surface Elf before she can return to Lolth’s good graces. Her sentence is nearly done. She wanted a daughter that she could bring back to the Underdark with her as a sacrificial offering to Lolth. Her husband has no knowledge of her true nature. She made up the story about being attacked but did provide accurate directions to a Drow outpost. She hopes her husband is killed facing the Drow.]