D&D: Jumpstart Your Game With These Quick Adventure Hooks
Time is meaningless these days, but if you need an adventure in a hurry, these five adventure hooks take you from zero to rolling for initiative in no time.
We’ve all been there. Gameday comes up much faster than you expected, especially if it’s on a Wednesday. And while you’ve been admirably playing out the hand life has dealt you, it’s left you with little enough time to prepare. Well. We’ve got five adventure hooks to help you before it’s too late. Grab one or more of these, see what sparks your interest, and go to town. Sometimes creativity just needs a little push. Let’s get to it.
The Carnival Is In Town
This is a great “downtime” adventure. Something to fill in the gaps when your party has just finished a major event/combat and you’re looking to change up the pace of your game a little. Have a carnival, traveling fair, wandering show, or other thing come to town. Spend a little time giving your players a chance to relax, cut loose, and unwind. Let the adventurers see how much fun the locals are having. Let them have fun themselves! But then–after all this is D&D and it just wouldn’t be right for something to come to town and not have some kind of calamity attached–one of the performers rushes up to the characters and begs them to take a crystal ball, claiming that it is dangerous and haunted and can they please get rid of it. Somehow.
It is in fact a Hag’s Eye, and the hag has been cursing those who stole it long ago. The characters must decide what to do with it once it comes into their possession, or risk being attacked by vengeful spirits called up by the hag.
Is the party stalling out, not sure what to do next? Are they not interested in going after the evil sorcerer living in the evil tower in the evil mountains surrounded by an evil mist? How about offering up something that feels comparatively small potatoes but with the promise of a big reward. There’s nothing quite like a treasure map to get a party up and active. It forces them to be proactive in pursuing it–and gives you a chance to craft some interesting foils/rivals who might also be after the treasure. It doesn’t even have to be all that cryptic, just dangerous and exciting to find. Especially since having lots of gold can be an interesting motivator for PCs once they realize they can’t just spend it on magic items. So here we go:
A map reveals the location of a lost temple, rumored to hold massive amounts of gold. It might be protected by traps or monsters, all that gold is out there, just waiting for you to take it.
Short but sweet: as the players prepare to leave one town to head for another, an NPC rushes in to warn the town that a vicious Landshark has been spotted on the nearby path. It’s preying on horses, caravans. Everything. The road out isn’t safe until someone does something about it.
Bulettes are an office favorite here at BoLS. Think of them as a hazard or an obstacle that must be overcome. Sure the players can fight it, but this adventure hook also works very well if the party is low-enough level, or there are enough bulettes that combat shouldn’t be the first option. Let your players try and think of a way to drive it off, or to lure it somewhere else. Or just try to sneak past it–slowly making your way through a bulette’s new feeding zone can be a session all itself.
Speak for the Trees
Need an excuse to get your players into that spooky forest where they’ll stumble across that crucial piece of lore they need? We’ve got one for you. As the players are traveling, a druid notices them and follows, disguised as an animal through their wild shape abilities. Astute or observant PCs might notice that the same bird/squirrel/possum/velociraptor is following them. Let them get weirded out, then the druid reveals themselves and asks for the PC’s help–a blight has come to a special grove. Ghosts are being drawn to it and they don’t know why.
But you do, GM, it’s because they’ve been drawn to the grove by a fragment of a fallen star, that fell under a night of ill omen. Ghosts and worse are coming–but if they can find the fragment, they can earn the respect of the forest and a boon while traveling inside it.
A Wizard Did It
Need a side quest to add to your adventure? Just add in a 30×30 room of carved stone with a marble dais that seems out of place with the rest of the dungeon. As the players explore the room, they activate a teleportation circle that takes them to an extradimensional dungeon, and the only way back is through. Take a weird tangent, have an excuse to put a dungeon inside another dungeon, and see what other magical BS you can get away with.
We hope these help you get your game going–we’d love to hear your hooks, toss ’em in the comments and, as always, happy adventuring!