This article is for everyone that enjoys Dungeons & Dragons, but its mostly for the DMs. Whether a DM is just beginning or has been composing grand adventures for decades, it can get taxing thinking of new adventure hooks - especially after years of playing. At times it feels as though every quest has been played through. Dungeon crawls are fun, but occasionally the players need to an opportunity to play the role they’ve chosen. Here are ten great adventure hooks that will make for memorable gaming adventures. There are suggestions where these hooks might lead, but DMs should feel free to tailor these adventure hooks to their own party and chosen setting.
10 The Inheritance
This is an adventure hook to use whenever a campaign has just been finished, and the DM wants to plant the seed of the next campaign. One of the characters is contacted by a messenger with official documents. A long lost relative has passed away and left the character a small manor house in the country. This is also a great way to start a new party of 1st level characters. The manor house is a about a fortnight’s travel away – this will allows for a little adventuring along the way. Once at the house the party may; have to clear it of monsters, or discover an entrance to a cave in the basement, or discover a map to where a family heirloom is hidden in a remote location.
9 The Reverse Pickpocket
The party is wandering through a town (a big city is better) when, unbeknownst to them, a thief has secretly hidden something in the pack of one of the players. This “something” could be anything valuable; a large finely cut gem, a small magical item (like a ring), or information (evidence of a crime, or a map). Also unbeknownst to the party is that there are powerful forces that want this treasure back. Use the possibility of receiving some good loot to lure the party into this adventure if they seem disinterested. It worked when Luke needed Han’s help – “She’s rich”,… “How rich?”
8 Political Influence
This is a suitable adventure hook once a party has established themselves in an area and has fought to keep the area safe. The local town is run by a mayor; a mayor that is elected every 5 years. The townsfolk are unhappy with the current corrupt mayor and want one of the members of the party to enter the upcoming election (a paladin is perfect for this role). Whether the chosen party member chooses to run for mayor or not, the party has become involved. What happens when the town elects the chosen character even if they didn’t enter the election?
7 The Scavenger Hunt
The local wizard decides to clean his tower and collect spell components at the same time. This wizard is offering one selection per party member from a collection of magical items for the team that retrieves the most components. The components should be unusual items, like a hill giant’s toenail, or a masterwork platinum spoon. There are several competing groups in the scavenger hunt – this would be an great time to introduce a group of adventurers to be the party’s rival group. Why the wizard needs these unusual components is up to the DM.
6 The Auction
The party enters town as an auction (a silent auction is better) is taking place. There is a large locked chest that nobody is bidding on. Try to entice the one of the players to bid on the chest. If nobody does, then have the auctioneer give it to the party after the auction. The key has been lost, the lock is unpick-able, and no amount of force could open the chest – or even make a dent. What is in the chest? It could be anything: the bottom of the chest could be a stairway leading down into darkness, or a sacred relic that needs to be returned to a specific temple.
5 The Buried Secret
A local farmer comes running up to the party, telling them he uncovered a buried door that leads into an underground area. The farmer only peeked at what’s beyond the door, but describes the underground area as looking like the halls of a palace. The farmer asks the party to investigate. The DM could make this underground area anything. It could be the underground sections of a long-forgotten wizardry school, or a temple to a forgotten god, or it could be the remains of an actual palace. There’s no way the players will be able to refuse this adventure hook.
4 The Messenger Raven Of Doom
A raven suddenly lands by the party and won’t leave the party alone; the players notice the note tied to the raven’s leg (which it then removes and leaves behind). If the party is in a town, the note reads, “Leave town now!” If the party is anywhere but a town, the note reads, “Head north immediately!” It is up to the DM to decide why the party needs to get out of the area and who sent the note. Is the town/area in danger, or is someone trying to rid the area of able adventurers in order to increase the chances of their evil plans succeeding.
3 Quest From Above
Most parties have a cleric, or at least one character capable of casting divine spells. The deity granting these spells has decided to test one of her/his faithful – which happens to be the cleric in the party. The god could instruct the character to find and restore a long-lost temple only a small journey away. Have the god give the character clues on where to look in the form of riddles. The temple may be infested with nasty monsters, or rare ingredients may be required for the cleric to re-consecrate the temple grounds.
2 Unwilling Accomplices
This adventure hook works well with entry 7 (Scavenger Hunt). The party is contacted by a powerful wizard in need of rare spell components. The wizard becomes aloof if asked why he needs these components. He/she is offering a nice amount of loot for each component the party brings back. Have the party retrieve one component at a time. Should the party accept the job, have them slowly learn (maybe too late), that the wizard is constructing something that could cause mass destruction in a wide area. This might adversely affect the party’s reputation with the locals.
1 Was That There Yesterday?
Have the party appear in a different part of the world every 24 hours game time, or two hours real-time; whichever comes first. The party will probably have a little fun with this phenomenon for a gaming session or two. Maybe the party discovers there are only a set number of places they can appear every night. At some point they will need/want to discover why this is happening to them, and how it can be undone. This translocation effect could be: the result of a cursed item, the revenge of a powerful enemy from a past adventure, or that magic itself might need to be repaired somehow. That last suggestion could have the world shrouded in a wild magic zone; resulting in a random spell when a spell is cast or a magic item (not potions) is activated.