Steal This: 50 Adventure Hooks To Swipe For Your Game
Adventure hooks! For every five a Game Master dangles in front of their players, the little devils usually only bite hold of one. For the GM who is running an open world sandbox style game, or even the narrative GM looking for a brief one-off to break up the monotony of their larger story, the Adventure Hook not only serves as a means of inspiring the person that runs the game but inciting the ones who play the game.
But what Game Master has the kind of time to sit around and think up possible adventures ideas that their players might just give a hard pass? Fear not, your time-saving teller of tall tales tenders a transcendent tithe of tantalizing tropes to tempt the tastes and torture the tenacious team of traveling transients (PCs).
Voila! 50 Adventure Hooks to swipe for your game!
1. A strange-looking, low-hanging cloud hangs over the village. What's really odd is that, despite the wind, it never moves.
2. A local boy has gone missing. His friends had dared him to venture into an old, abandoned cottage in the woods outside down. That was the last they saw of him.
3. The rotting corpse of a giant is found alongside a well-traveled road. The giant looks like it has been dead for weeks, but travelers at a nearby wayside inn swear that it wasn't there when they ventured through yesterday afternoon.
4. Two lovers are having in a very loud spat in the street. Suddenly, one of them falls dead, their face contorted in a look of horror. A strange symbol glows on the side of their neck and slowly begins to fade into nothingness.
5. The animals in the nearby area have been acting strangely. They no longer seem to fear people, and are all suffering an insatiable hunger for meat... even the herbivores.
6. A shopkeeper, while renovating the cellar of his shop, discovers a strange, stone door behind a shelf.
7. A small town is unsure of what to do. A small child's voice can be heard from a long-abandoned dry well, but no children in the town are missing. What's more concerning is that every person who has ventured into the well in an attempt to rescue the child has not come back.
8. A man in a long black coat and wide-brimmed hat hastily checks out of an inn. As he rushes out the door, a small vial of swirling green liquid falls from his pocket.
9. A farmer rides into town, white as a sheet. He claims his scarecrows have been moving closer to his home each day. This morning they were outside the windows of his house. Is this the work of local pranksters, or something else?
10. A tall, handsome man in fine clothes stands in the center of a crossroads. He seems to know each of the PCs names and says he has information that would be very valuable to them if they choose to return to this spot tonight when the moon is at its apex.
11. The stuffed head of a fantastic beast that adorns a place above the mantle in a local tavern suddenly comes to life and screams something in a strange language before bursting into flames.
12. Locals say a star fell from the sky last night and landed somewhere nearby.
13. Every mirror in town ceases to show reflections, but rather gives glimpses into a shadowy keep.
14. The sound of yelling echoes in the night as a band of villagers, armed with torches and pitchforks, gather outside a home, demanding the residents surrender their young daughter.
15. A cloaked man in a dark corner of the tavern tells the party he has work for them but promptly dies, a dagger in his back and a sealed letter in his hand.
16. A concerned father approaches the party at a tavern and asks for their help. His daughter is seeing a man and he doesn't approve. He pleads with the party to end the union. The only catch; the man his daughter has been seeing recently died two years ago.
17. An innkeeper informs the players that a package arrived for them last night. It is a small silver locket with a date engraved on it. The date is one week from today.
18. The caretaker of a local cemetery is screaming that there are people in the mausoleums scratching at the doors.
19. Something big has been attacking Farmer Biden's cows. Whatever it is, it's killed five in the last week.
20. Late at night, the sound of far-off drums can be heard in the darkness. War drums, and lots of them.
21. In a large city, to rival street gangs vie for control over a neighborhood, leaving many innocent bystanders dead. The local thieve' guild sits back and waits to endorse the winner.
22. A city official approaches the party discreetly, offering them a fair sum of money to kill her husband. She then reveals her husband died two weeks ago but has been lurking the streets ever since.
23. A new noble from an unknown house arrived in the city last month. Around the same time, several vagrants in the area started to vanish.
24. Someone has hired assassins to eliminate a single member of the party, but who is behind the plot and for what reason?
25. A nomadic barbarian tribe is passing uncomfortably close to town and officials, as well as the citizens, are getting very nervous.
26. A cleric gives the party a list consisting of pieces of monsters from the area that she is looking to acquire for her "work". She offers to pay the party a handsome sum for each piece.
27. A mysterious island suddenly appears off the shore of a stretch of coast or a lake.
28. A mysterious island suddenly appears in the sky over a town or city.
29. A raven flys through an open window and lands on the floor, seemingly dead, with a message attached to its leg. The raven then promptly transforms into a bloodied man.
30. A new brothel opens up nearby, but strangely they charge their patrons nothing. What's the catch?
31. A woman storms up to one of the PCs with a member of the town/city watch, points at them, and yells "That's the one! That's the one that killed my husband!"
32. While laying in bed one night in an inn, one of the PCs hears a small thump under their bed. It seems to be a journal that had somehow been dislodged from its hidden resting place. It details an extensive plot to assassinate a prominent leader in a town three days away. The last date in the journal is two days ago.
33. The owner of a nearby orchard has been complaining that his trees keep changing positions during the night.
34. A young boy approaches a PC and hands them a heavy, leatherbound tome with a heavy lock on it and whispers "I'm sorry" before running off in the other direction.
35. A local baker whose business was failing suddenly manages to turn things around with her new, delicious meat pies. Meanwhile, unattended children have been vanishing at an alarming rate.
36. An old man in a dusty, roughspun robe claims to be a gold dragon in disguise and offers to lead the party to a great treasure.
37. Kobolds have tunneled into the basement of a nearby temple and refuse to leave.
38. A savage-looking tribe of orcs arrive outside the gates of a small town and offer peace. Is it a trick?
39. The party receives invitations for a formal ball held at a local noble's estate. The invites were sent by a Mr. Dusk.
40. A new drug is running rampant through several cities and is slowly making its way into nearby towns. The drug seems to offer the brief ability to perform minor magical spells, but prolonged use leaves the users withered husks.
41. A prestigious bardic college stands accused of manipulating events to write more interesting stories and songs.
42. A lovelorn man drinks away his sorrows in a tavern because his bride-to-be was kidnapped by bandits along the road after a picnic.
43. The players find an abandoned village. Tables are still set with as if for dinner, but with moldering food. Clothes and personal possessions are still found in homes. Even a minstrel's lute can be found leaned against a stool upon a small stage in the tavern. In the center of the village is a well with some rough words scratched into it in elvish ("A price must be paid").
44. A dragon has been collecting a tribute from a small town once a week for over fifty years. Two weeks ago, the demands stopped and no one has heard anything from the dragon.
45. A local temple employs what is quite possibly the worst cleric ever. It seems that anyone he treats dies. Luckily his church has given him a duty to make up for his perpetual blunders; they've made him an undertaker as well.
46. Some local children come running into the tavern looking for their parents, breathless and gasping about a cave behind a waterfall not far outside of town, and the large, unseen thing the began growling inside of it.
47. While arriving in town, the party sees a wanted poster with pictures of their likenesses drawn upon it. It states that they are wanted for murder, extortion, blackmail, thievery, and arson. They are extremely dangerous and there is a significant reward for their capture... dead or alive.
48. A fire appears in the sky over a town or city. It traces a circle around the perimeter. Then it begins to rain hot pitch.
49. A long abandoned mine suddenly seems to be alive with the sounds of picks and hammers echoing from within... in the middle of the night.
50. An emissary from the elven lands arrives in the city, and suddenly high-ranking government officials begin dropping dead, apparently poisoned.
And there we are. 50 Adventure Hooks to cast your PCs' way. By the law of averages at least one of these should work. Cheers!
Roll well, my friends,
+Ed The Bard
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