Every story begins with a hook. If you’re trying to write the best adventure ever, you want to have a hook that makes fireworks explode in your players’ heads like it’s Lunar New Year.
Killer hooks have and least two of three main components:
- The Mysterious. Something isn’t behaving in the way it’s expected to, like snow in the summer, a villain turned good, or animals starting to talk. The PCs should be curious!
- The Tantalizing. Some hooks promise a reward at the end. This reward could be money, power, or the advancement of a personal quest.
- The Call to Action. The PCs are the heroes of this story; things should happen to them, not just around them.
We’ve made a bunch of awesome plot hooks ourselves to help jump-start your creativity (or for you to steal ruthlessly). Tweet your best hooks at us (@geekandsundry) with the hashtag #criticalhook. Show us your creativity!
Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast
For a random plot hook, roll 1d20:
- A green dragon descends upon the PCs’ castle, but instead of attacking, begs them to help save her wyrmlings from an evil princess.
- While attending a tournament, the PCs witness a legendary sword be shattered in a duel. Onlookers scramble to take its magical shards for themselves.
- The first gun is invented, but its creator mysteriously dies before any more can be made. Now everyone wants her only creation.
- Pirates attacked Freeport, but took no plunder and left immediately. A PC receives a letter delivered by parrot, saying that they’d better hurry to Freeport if they want to find the map the pirates hid there.
- Three hundred dead octopuses wash up on the shore of a lake. Dead marine life increasingly appears wherever the PCs go, no matter how far they are from water. Then, the dead creatures rise as undead.
- The trolls and elves of Ardyngrove have been fighting for centuries, but now the trolls apparently want a truce. Their leader—a troll warlock of the Great Old One—specifically requests an elf PC to lead the peace talks.
- The PCs are a group of treasure hunters and discover a map to an ancient idol that grants a single wish. Only problem is, the map is written in Primordial runes.
- A world-renowned bard sends a message to the PCs that she wants to play a gig at their fortress. The day of the show, she discovers all her instruments have been magically silenced.
- All the dragons in the land are devolving into dinosaurs! Their treasure hoards are now up for grabs, but a stampeding herd of tyrannosaurs also threatens the outlying towns.
- A famous actor named Marco the Million-Faced Man performs a one-man show in town. After the performance, Marco, actually a doppelganger, kidnaps and impersonates a PC and tries to steal the party’s magic items.
- While the PCs are staying in a small-town inn, a man suddenly breaks out in red boils and dies. Medicine checks reveal that everyone has contracted the Crimson Plague, including the PCs. They have only 3 days to create or discovery a cure.
- The Cloud Whales of ancient myth have unexpectedly returned, pulling the Chariot of Infinite Riches across the sky. They are peaceful, but are unintentionally causing havoc as gold coins fall from their chariot and rain from the sky. There must be a way to reason with them, but they’re all the way up in the air!
- All of the water in the land is draining away into the Elemental Plane of Water. A charismatic noble starts a rumor that a wizard or druid PC is the cause of the disaster, but does she have an ulterior motive?
- Late one night, a star falls to a mountaintop just outside town. As the nights pass, more and more stars plummet to the earth, and people fear that the fire elementals emerging from the fallen stars are just the vanguard of a much deadlier force.
- An infamous lich visits the PCs unannounced and says he’s very sorry and wants to make up for his evil deeds, and promises them incredible magic if they help him.
- A group of dragon turtles has blockaded a port that the PCs desperately need to use. They speak politely, but their voices are mysteriously muted whenever they try to discuss why they have formed the blockade.
- The PCs find a set of armor of invulnerability, but once a PC attunes to it, the armor takes on a life of its own and goes on a rampage—with the character still inside it!
- An assassin is sent to kill the PCs, but he is killed by another assassin right in front of them. Before the counter-assassin can be questioned, she’s killed by another assassin, who in turn is killed by…
- The PCs return victorious from a quest to discover they have a fan club in town. They’re plucky, but quickly become trouble when they appear without warning in the midst of the PCs’ next dungeon crawl.
- A PC awakens without an appetite, and can’t keep down food or drink. Over the next week, the character loses their sense of touch, then speech, then finally sight and hearing. They seem to be metamorphosing into something else.
We shared 20 of our favorite plot hooks, and we’d love you to share some of yours! Post them in the comments or tweet them to @geekandsundry with the hashtag #criticalhook!
Featured Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast