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13 D&D Adventure Hooks To Start Your Adventure

My old man is a Dungeon Master. He raised me as a Dungeon Master also, and today, whilst I have been running the relatively well known Lost Mine of Phandelver he’s been putting together a series of Adventure Hooks for starting a campaign. Here they are – 

It can be hard to find a suitable way to kick off a D&D campaign. Dungeon Masters often have entire storylines described, devious plots concocted, whole continents mapped and a phalanx of NPCs awaiting their turn but still start the adventure in a tavern in which the adventurers just “happen to meet”.

For those DMs who would prefer a slightly different campaign launch here are thirteen adventure hooks to bring the team together…

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Coffee and Chaos

13 D&D Adventure Hooks

Adventure Hook I – Hired By An Idiot

Romuald Skavenforth is the third son of Sir Leoburn Skavenforth, a heroic knight and now wealthy landowner. Sir Leoburn is a fair and popular overlord and he administers his lands justly and well. He has three sons, the eldest two of which are heroic, handsome, courtly and intelligent. The third is Romuald who is not only the runt of the litter but also somewhat lacking in cranial capacity. His father and elder brothers protect him and are not overly nasty to him but he feels a strong need to prove himself to them. To this end he has developed a plan (the nature of which will depend on the campaign the DM has built) and is assembling a group of heroes to perform daring quests which will reflect well on him and gain him the respect of his father and brothers. Romuald has hired town criers and put up posters to attract followers but unsurprisingly has few volunteers to follow him on his self-imposed quest. In fact the only people who answer his call are the PCs and they’re only here because they’re broke…

Adventure Hook II – Relocated by Accident

The Half-Orc wizard, Uglug the Fearful, was a clever spellweaver but somewhat lacking in courage. To make sure he could escape if threatened by danger he developed a small amulet which allowed the wearer to teleport to a safe location (the location will depend on the scenarios the DM has built to follow). Upon his death, Uglug’s amulet was misplaced while his will was in probate and ended up in the pack of an itinerant tinker who tried to sell it in a town market. The PCs all examined the amulet in the market but as soon as they held it were teleported to the safe location.

Adventure Hook III – Captured

Azrik the Barbarian is a slave trader of some renown. His speciality is providing arena-fodder for gladiator schools although he is not averse to dealing in any creature that will turn him a profit. The PCs are slaves of Azrik’s and are heavily guarded day and night until they are sold as a job lot to a Holm Greybeard, a Dwarven gladiator who now owns his own school. Holm believes the PCs to be “decorative” and plans to pit them against his two prime gladiators in the arena as a warm up act (the nature of the gladiators will depend on the scenario the DM has created). Not realising that the PCs have special abilities Holm allows them arms and armour “to make the fight fairer” and throws them into the ring against his two gladiators…who advance menacingly towards them…

Adventure Hook IV – Rivals in Love

Yegeet Vinderhoff is the daughter of ageing Count Vinderhoff, the obscenely wealthy lord of Kastel Vinder. The Count is reaching the end of his allotted lifespan and wants his only daughter to make a good marriage before he pops his clogs. Yegreet has the charisma and intelligence of a garden slug but is a strong as an ox and able to shout loud enough to shatter glass. Despite these appealing characteristics the hefty dowry promised by the Count means Yegreet has no shortage of suitors. The PCs are representatives of various minor landowners and lordlings who have been sent to assure the Count of their employer’s best intentions and get his permission to woo Yegeet. Each PC represents a different wannabe suitor (the identify of the suitors will depend on the campaign environment the DM has designed). All are received cordially enough and spend a night at Kastel Vinder as guests of the Count. They meet over breakfast in the vast cold hall of the Kastel where a shaken retainer informs them that Yegeet is sitting in her bedroom nursing the Count’s severed head.

Adventure Hook V –  The Potion Master

The PC are broke but see an advertisement asking for volunteers to test out healing potions. The promised fee is generous and the PCs congregate with several other people in the wooden stockade which is the home of the half-elven druid Willen Fiaxenhair. Willen explains that he has to set up a control for his experiment so divides the volunteers in the stockade into two groups – the PCs and a roughly equally sized group of other volunteers. All volunteers are wounded slightly (this hurts but doesn’t lose any hit points) and all are fed a slightly minty green fluid. Willen explains that one group have been given the healing potion, the other group water which contains herbs to make it look and taste like the potion. A few minutes pass after which the PCs notice that the other group of volunteers are clutching their stomachs and throats and dropping to the floor. When the look around, Willen is nowhere to be seen and the PCs don’t know if they were given the potion or the water control…

Adventure Hook VI – Ferry Dangerous

The PCs are passengers on a ferry boat which is taking them across a large estuary (what’s on each side of the estuary will depend on the environment the DM has created). About half way across the ferry hits a submerged obstacle and starts to take on water rapidly. Despite throwing a lot of items overboard the crew are unable to stop the ferry from sinking and the passengers find themselves clinging to floating wreckage and being washed out to sea by the strong river current. Fortunately a small group of passengers (the player characters) manage to make it to a sandbank and crawl out of the water while the others are soon swept out of sight, presumably to a watery end. The PCs sandbank is about a mile from the nearest shore and surrounded by a wide and fast-flowing river.

Adventure Hook VII – Misfired

The remote town of Lygor Brahim has a problem. Every year the great red dragon Smogg flies into town and demands his tribute. Every year the town selects twelve people by lot to stand outside the town and get gobbled by Smogg for the greater good of the town (Lygor Brahim is a big and prosperous town and a dozen people are generally seen as a small price to pay for not being torched like the Red Keep – especially since visitors to the town are also entered into the lottery). This year the Smogg levy contains the PCs, a few stoic townsfolk and a visiting gnome called Mazarin. The twelve are forced outside the town by a large armed mob and don’t have to wait long for Smogg to turn up ready for his annual feast. The mob scurry for safety behind their town walls and Smogg advances towards the twelve sacrificial victims, licking his lips as tendrils of smoke rise from each nostril. The dragon is no more than fifty feet away and the PCs can feel his hot breath when Mazarin steps forward and lets Smogg have it with a hail of lightning. The dragon is dead before the charred remains of his carcass hit the ground. Mazarin winks at the PCs and turns back to the town, casually blasting the gates off their hinges as he approaches. It is up to the PCs to decide how they want to react.

Adventure Hook VIII – The Good, the Bad and the Undecided

The King’s Justice is a troop of travelling judges who travel the land hearing cases which are too large or important to be resolved by the local sheriff. When the justice enters a town those accused of the worst crimes are brought before them. Twenty people are selected by the justice to act as jury and the trials are heard. The judges play no part in the trial apart from sentencing unless the jury is divided in which case they also determine the guilt of the accused. The PCs are visiting a small town (the exact location will depend on the campaign the DM has put together) when the justice shows up and a bedraggled skinny man with lank hair is dragged before them accused of fratricide. By chance, the PCs are elected as part of the jury. As the trial progresses it becomes obvious there is no real evidence against the man but the majority of the jury seems intent on conviction. That night the PCs have to decide what to do about an innocent man who will be executed at sunrise.

Adventure Hook IX – Gone Girl

Kya Drull is the eldest daughter of wealthy leather merchant Asix Drull, who is kidnapped by a person or persons unknown. Her distraught father offers a hefty reward for her recovery and the PCs are the first people to step forward to claim it. Asix Drull receives them cordially in the hall of his mansion where retainers offer food and wine. Asix then apologises and dozens of armed retainers enter the hall from all directions. There are far too many for the PCs to fight and they have no choice but to surrender their possessions. Asix and his retainers stream out of the hall doors leaving the PCs standing in their (thankfully clean) under-garments. A few minutes later the real Asix Drull enters the hall and asks who the heck is standing half-naked by his dining table…    

Adventure Hook X – Party

The PCs are guests at a large garden party held by Elgor Crumbb, a probably slightly less than honest merchant that they have worked for before, although never together. It’s a large and lavish event and several guests are already lying unconscious in the shrubbery when a man clad in dark leather rushes through the throng of merrymakers, pushing people aside and spilling drinks. He is chased by a gaggle of servants but is getting away as the servants are more careful about bulldozering the guests. As he rushes out of the garden he throws a handful of small glittering objects over his shoulder which are caught or picked up by the PCs. When examined the objects interlock to form a medallion with a strange carving…

Adventure Hook XI – Fair Enough

The PCs are attending the annual fair in the town of Ebonaire. The small town is packed with traders of all kinds, the inns are full and there is a small forest of tents outside the town. Flags fly on every pole and brightly coloured bunting is strung across the narrow streets. Down a narrow alley is the tent of the Madam Gizelle a Half-Elven fortune teller. The PCs happen to congregate outside the tent at the same time. Madam Gizelle comes out of the tent, looks over the PCs, shakes her head sadly, points to the PCs one at a time and tells them they’ll be dead by the next sunrise. She then walks back into the tent. The PCs follow her to find the tent empty…

Adventure Hook XII – The Anti-Midas

The PCs have a mutual acquaintance in Lady Egla Groothaben, a widow of some means. The PCs may have heard each other’s names mentioned in passing but have never met before the day that Lady Egla invites them to her small manor. The once-formidable old lady seems very quiet and withdrawn but greets the PCs warmly as they arrive and offers lavish refreshments served by the same footmen and maids that the PCs see every time they visit. When everyone has assembled in the comfortable solar, Lady Egla states that she has a wasting disease which will her physician tells her will kill her within the next three months. Her will includes generous bequests to her retainers but still has a considerable fortune to disperse (the exact size will depend on the DM’s view on the economy). She tells the PCs she has much to atone for in her life and believes the PCs are the most honourable of her acquaintances – far more honourable than she is. She wants them to act as trustees and find a worthy recipient for 90% of her fortune. The other 10% is for the PCs to use in their quest for the deserving person.

Adventure Hook XIII – Going Bump in the Night

The PCs are visiting the town of Zydras and are returning to their respective lodgings late one night when each of them hears a strange scream. Zydras is usually a quiet town and the unlit cobbled streets are deserted as the PCs converge on the noise. They find themselves entering the town graveyard from different directions, in the centre of which a large sepulchral monument is bathed in a soft blue light. The monument is in the form of an engraved obelisk but the PCs can not read the inscriptions from their current positions. Approaching with caution the PCs see three ghostly forms apparently moving in and out of the monument. As the first PC arrives within fifteen feet or so of the monument the light vanishes leaving three recently dead bodies lying at the foot of the monument. A whistle sounds and the town watch arrive with lanterns. The DM will take it from here…

And there we have it – thirteen adventure hooks. They’re interesting ideas, and hopefully they will spark a few ideas of your own. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Other Articles from an Experienced Dungeon Master:
An Introduction to D&D (From a DM of Over 40 Years)
Deranged Cackle Optional: Villain Personality Types
How To Flesh Out Your Roleplaying World

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