Adventure Hooks: This Place is a Zoo!

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 30, 2014

a-to-z-2014-zZoology is the scientific study of all things related to animals including their classification, physical characteristics and behaviour. In a fantasy gaming world this would naturally extend to monsters and other fantastic beasts. Those interested in zoological studies will often collect animals in a zoo, sometimes for the protection and wellbeing of these creatures, sometimes just to make them easier to observe and study by bringing them all together.

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 “Z” is for zoo, and you’d better believe that a zoo in a fantasy game setting will be more wild and exotic than anything in the real world.

When we think about possible adventure hooks relating to a D&D zoo there are a few different directions they can go. There’s are the logistics involved in creating a new zoo, the challenges of keeping order in an established zoo, and the fanaticism of destroying the walls of a zoo to set free the creatures held inside it. It’s up to the DM to figure out how the PCs will react to the idea of a zoo and then how to best let them peruse the aspects they’ll feel most passionate about.

Adventure Hooks: This Place is a Zoo!


Once known for his fierce reputation as a hunter, an NPC has turned over a new leaf and dedicated his life to animal preservation. He wants to atone for all of the senseless slaughter he was responsible for in his lifetime so he’s creating an animal sanctuary. He’s reached out to many adventurers to help get things set up and running smoothly.

Related Adventure Hooks

1. Let’s Build a Zoo

PCs with an affinity to the natural world (e.g., primal classes or Fey origins) are asked to help find a suitable site for the sanctuary. This would include cataloguing the indigenous creatures and determining what other kind of similar monsters and animals might cohabitate there if brought together. During this fact-finding mission the PCs discover a hidden community. If this site is going to be part of the sanctuary the people will have to leave. How do the PCs handle this challenge?

2. Protecting the Boarders

In order for the sanctuary to be effective, there needs to be some deterrent against anyone intending to harm the animals. Spells and rituals can be put in place but they require preparation. The PCs are asked to gather components and then place them at strategically significant places around and within the sanctuary.

3. You Can’t Stay Here

With plenty of room available inside the sanctuary for other creatures it’s time to fill it up. The hunter asks the PCs to travel around the realms to collect suitable animals and monsters to add to the preservation. The creatures must be captured and brought back alive. Under no circumstances are they to be killed. The PCs are also told to identify any plant life the creatures eat and bring back seeds and buds so they can be transplanted in the new environment.

4. Tear Down These Walls

Not everyone is thrilled with the animal sanctuary. There’s opposition from locals that were displaced and forced to relocate. There are extremists believe that all creatures should be free. And there are hunters who resent being told that they can’t hunt in this area (by a former hunter no less). These enemies will go to great lengths to see the project fail. Perhaps some of the PCs are sympathetic to one or more of these factions, if so how might they help.

5. The Most Dangerous Prey

With troublemakers identified, the PCs are tasked with finding and stopping hunters from illegally poaching in the animal sanctuary. The heroes realize that the hunters aren’t interested in bagging typical animals or monsters, they’ve set their sights higher – they’re hunting the PCs.

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1 Joe April 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

And of course, just like with Jurassic Park, collecting all these dangerous critters in one place could NEVER go wrong. I like this idea… it combines Zoo Tycoon with Pokemon & other collector-type games. I may need to run a zoo plot for my players now. Plus, I can blame YOU when a python swallows the wizard’s familiar.

2 Tarkabarka May 1, 2014 at 12:13 pm

I have been thinking of giving my players a campaign based on Noah’s Ark just to see how they deal with that. The sanctuary is a lovely idea! 🙂
It has been a fun A to Z! I’ll be checking back for more 🙂

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

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