You are sitting in a tavern drinking ale when a mysterious stranger approaches your table. He speaks, “I am in need of brave adventurers to complete a dangerous quest; I’ll pay handsomely for your services…”
Perhaps the most crushingly boring opening to any adventure in the history of gaming, this type of adventure hook is also one of the most common. These days, it’s used more as a joke or object lesson, but the truth of the matter is that it still crops up from time to time. Perhaps, the PCs are summoned to meet a rich merchant or nobleman who has a problem to solve. Irrespective of where they meet their employer they are still basically meeting a stranger who pays them to do something.
That’s pretty lame.
Instead, consider using one of the hooks below to start your next adventure:
- Dying Wish: The PCs encounter a dying NPC who begs them to honour his last wish. This NPC could be a stranger or friend.
- Escape: The PCs have been captured and now must escape. This adventure hook should be used sparingly. Players get very irritated with blatant railroading and this hook also requires them to lose all their equipment (at least temporarily). Players can get very attached to their magic items and often react badly when they are all taken away.
- Find Plot Hook: The PCs could find an old map or diary detailing a hidden treasure and decide to investigate. Alternatively, they could intercept a message begging for help and decide to intervene.
- Journey: The PCs must go on a journey – perhaps to their next intended adventure site. Such a journey, if of a decent length, is rarely without incident.
- Legend Or Rumour: The PCs could discover a tantalising rumour or legend in the course of their adventures and decide to learn more. This hook gives the players the illusion of choice while allowing the GM to foreshadow upcoming events and adventures.
- Lost: Adventurers spend a fair amount of the time traipsing around the wilderness looking for adventure. If they get lost, they can find adventure, but perhaps not the exact one they were seeking!
- Man-Made Disaster: A fire rips through a town or a plague has a nation in its savage grip. Both events provide a wealth of unique opportunities for adventure.
- Mistaken Identity: A PC is mistaken for someone else – perhaps the target of an assassination or kidnap attempt. Alternatively, the PC could be given a message intended for someone else.
- Natural Disaster: A flood, raging wild fire or earthquake can all spawn the start of a great adventure. Whether they must escape from the disaster or deal with something revealed as a result of the destruction the PCs are sure to remember the ensuing events.
- Sudden Attack: The PCs are suddenly attacked. This could be a “random” event – perhaps the local goblins have started raiding more frequently – or they could be targeted specifically. (For more fun, combine this with Mistaken Identity).
Help Fellow GMs!
So as you can see, there are loads of different ways to propel the PCs into adventure! Have you used other cool starting hooks not listed above? Please leave them in the comments below and help GM start their adventures without resorting to clichés!