Adventure Hooks: Healing

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 9, 2014

a-to-z-2014-hTime heals all wounds. Unless you’re a PC in a fantasy role-playing game like D&D in which case there is plenty of healing magic at your disposal. Now divine spells and potions heal all wounds so nobody needs to stay down and out for more than a few seconds.

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 “H” is for healing as we explore way to turn the need for medical assistance into an interesting adventure hook.

Many players take magical healing for granted, which is why there seems to be a stigma of playing the Cleric. No one wants to be at the party’s beck and call, there only to heal them when they get hurt in combat. But in D&D magical healing is a necessity for most PCs. After all, the way combat works is that the combatants exchange blows until one falls down. It’s unusual for one side (the PCs) to kill all the monsters without taking any damage at all. Magical healing allows the PCs to keep going after each fight and get more done in one day.

Familiarity breed contempt and this is true when it comes to healing in D&D. So DMs should remind players just how vital healing is to them and to the game by tweaking their expectations and changing things up once in a while. To help DMs do this we’ve got new adventure hooks that all revolve around healing in D&D.

Adventure Hooks: Healing

1. The panacea potion

Someone the PCs care about is sick… really sick. They’ve been infected with a rare and fatal disease. After some investigation the PCs discover that a cure may exist in the form of a rare potion. However, the ingredients for the potion are almost as rare as the potion itself. Now the PCs must face all manner of obstacles to get all the ingredients before their friend dies.

This idea can easily be modified depending on who is sick. It could be the king, his wife, the newborn prince, the head of the church, a great general, the child who’s prophesized to grow up and bring balance to the Force, or even one or more of the PCs themselves. If the PCs are infected perhaps they begin to develop symptoms as the disease progresses. This would be a good way to keep them on track and fighting the clock.

2. Hurry up and die

The PCs are on one side of two warring nations. The conflict has been going on for years despite diplomats from the PCs’ side calling for peace. As long as the opposing side’s king lives the fighting will continue. Recent rumours suggest the king is ill. The PCs intercept a messenger baring a secret request from the king himself requesting rare herbs needed to combat his illness. The plants are only found in the lands the where the PCs reside. If the request is granted the king will likely live and the war will continue. If the medicine is withheld and the king dies the fighting will stop. But what will happen if the truth is ever discovered? Will it lead to another war? Will the PCs be seen as heroes or villains for withholding medicine? Will each side judge them differently?

3. Don’t die on me

This is the flip side of the hook above. The PCs are on the side of the charismatic freedom fighter. He united his people and led a revolt against their oppressing masters to forge their own nation state and fight every day to keep their sovereignty. Although others are being groomed to become the new leaders of the land, the rebel leader is the only thing keeping all factions united against a common enemy. When he falls sick the PCs realize it’s only a matter of time before the infighting starts and the rebellion fails. They must find a cure fast or lose everything the people fought to achieve thus far. The only known cure for the ailment is a rare plant that only grows on the enemy’s side. Do the PCs try a diplomatic approach? Do they try to sneak into enemy territory to get what they need knowing they’ll be executed if caught? Do they try to purchase the goods through back channels even though it will clearly signal that someone important needs the cure?

4. You’re cut off

The PCs have taken some action that angers the gods or perhaps just one god. The punishment is that they cannot be healed by divine spells until they perform some penance. They can still receive the benefit of healing potions of other self contained healing, but not from spells.

5. Know your limits

If a DM finds that his party has become overly reckless because they have an abundance of healing at their disposal (perhaps multiple Clerics in the party), introduce some mechanic whereby each PC can only receive a set amount of magical healing in a given time. For example, if a PC has 40 hit points maybe they can only benefit from 40 points of magical healing per day. Imposing limits in this way will remind players that their PCs are mortal and should fear injury.

6. The Red Cross

During a large battle against humanoid monsters the PC spot a Cleric on the enemy’s side. The healer wears the holy symbol of a neutral deity of healing and is clearly not participating in the combat, just tending to the wounded soldiers. Does the party treat the enemy medic any differently than they would the rest of the monsters in the battle? Do they take special actions to attack or neutralize the medic quickly?

7. Pampering the prince

The PCs are travelling with a snobbish prince. Maybe they’re hired to act as his bodyguard; maybe they’ve rescued him from capture and are on the way home; maybe he’s their prisoner – the reason is up to the DM. What’s important is that he is treated appropriately and with the respect due to someone of his stature. On the journey the Prince complains of aches and pains (falls and scraps his hand, blisters on his feet, sunburn on his exposed skin, etc.). He demands that the party’s Cleric heal him immediately. His “injuries” are superficial at best, yet he demands the party heal him. The PCs know if they don’t comply with his requests it could make for a difficult ending when they part ways. But if they keep healing him they’ll expend magic they may need if they’re forced into battle or face an ambush.

8. Earning a Dragon’s trust

For years Dragons have been hunted to near extinction in this region. It began with the evil chromatic dragons but eventually the good metallic dragons were targeted too. Most Dragons fled or went into hiding. Now a young nobleman is trying to make amends by educating people about good Dragons and seeking the forgiveness of good Dragons. Local Dragonslayers are fearful that they’ll lose their livelihood so they attempt to kill the young man. He is badly wounded but does not die. Unfortunately the Dragonslayers coated their blades with Green Dragon’s blood which is poisoning him. The only antidote is blood from a metallic Dragon. The PC must find a good Dragon and convince the creature to provide enough blood to form a cure. The nobleman refuses to accept any antidote that is not given freely by the Dragon.

Related reading


Looking for instant updates? Subscribe to the Dungeon’s Master feed!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fawn Carriker April 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm

You have chosen an interesting theme throughout the A-Z Challenge. I enjoyed it! – Fawn

2 Tarkabarka April 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I love these! Mess with the healer, you mess with the group. Once I did a campaign where one of the PCs ate a fruit that slowly started to turn him into a tree. On top of looking for the cure, they also had to deal with him getting slower…
I love the blog, will be checking back!

@TarkabarkaHolgy from
Multicolored Diary – Tales of colors
MopDog – The crazy thing about Hungarians…

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: