This will be my first time publishing adventure hooks. These are introductions to previous adventures (all homebrew) that I’ve been GM for, or played in. Feel free to use any of them as a starting place for a hook for your story. Develop it further and please let me know where it goes! I’d love to hear how different other groups experiences with the stories go, as well as where the GM takes them.
Adventure Hook #1: The Rat Plague
One day, in town, players and NPCs notice rats in the streets. It doesn’t seem too out of place. It’s a large city, or it’s by a river or waterway, perhaps it’s a poor place with little disease control, whatever floats your boat to make the rats seem inconspicuous. Until that is, a person is discovered dead, their body apparently eaten and mutilated by a swarm of small creatures, like rats.
The people begin to show some concern for the growing pest problem, and the town guard are seen rounding up, chasing off, and outright killing the vermin. They don’t seem to be dwindling however, and the party is approached by an old cloaked man. The man claims he knows what is causing the rats, and he knows the party is better suited for the job.
The man is a deity, or demi-deity at least, which the players won’t learn until later in the campaign. You can choose to have this be the deity of a player for more inclusion, or a deity that none of the players worship, to keep it distant from the players own backgrounds. He is old and wise, often appearing squirrelly and not really answering any questions the party might have. He doesn’t lie though, (likely a LG deity), and successful Insight checks reveal he is truthful and powerful beyond his appearance.
A short time after the old man tells the players they should be the ones to investigate, and after he disappears, there is a great tremor in the city, and a foul green fog is seen over a block of homes. Moments later, twisted humanoid ratfolk spew from the homes and begin attacking citizens. After the ratfolk are killed, the area of town is quarantined, and the mayor sends word to local lords asking for aid.
As players investigate, they should learn that this is happening everywhere. Green clouds poison and transform ordinary people into mindless ratfolk. For what purpose though? By whose command and power? Can they be saved, or must they be so overtly purged?
Possible Explanations Include But Are Not Limited to:
-A rival deity is trying to make the first look bad, and is tormenting mortals to do so.
-A novice alchemist made a horrible mistake while experimenting on the rats, he might’ve died, or been transformed himself but survived the initial attacks.
-An evil druid has learned greater magics and is using her command of vermin to hold the town/world/someone ransom.
-The plague explosion was actually a bomb fired from a specialized trebuchet designed by the most clever sinister orcs/dwarves/whathaveyou, from over a mile away. Now that the first test is complete, surely they will send someone to investigate the effects, and if they learn of it’s success, will produce more.
-An intelligent wererat has made a small hold in the sewers and has been bringing rats in, and preparing the cloud attack. There are no clues that point to him, and rats and plague will continue to occur in town until someone takes a chance to explore the sewers.
Adventure Hook #2: The Permafrost Forge
The legend of the permafrost forge is known to only a few barbarians in the north, and well-read smiths. It is said to be a legendary artefact with the power to forge weapons and armor made from trueice, an element that hasn’t been seen in over a thousand years.
The magical metal never dulls, rusts, or loses it’s shape or appearance. It cannot be altered by magical means. It appears as an icicle hanging from a roof, clear, transparent, ever so slightly blue and white. Everyone claims it’s just a myth though.
Everyone except a keen barbarian who seemed to be the only person to take notice of a hiking group that didn’t return from an expedition into the eastern mountains, where the stories claim is the great fortress that houses the permafrost forge. The expedition was over three months ago, but he still tells people about it, because he believes there is something to it.
“They were not amateurs. These were seasoned, strong men and women that I had heard of. They would not have been claimed by the elements, and only the greatest of tragic accidents, or joyous discoveries would have kept them in the mountains for so long.”
At the foot of the mountain range to the north, there is a pleasant wintry village. Tourists, hunters, barbarians all are welcome and come through the village to trade, rest, and prepare to head into the mountains. There is a well-traveled path for several miles up into the mountains, but hikers are warned not to travel too far north, or west for fear of the savage barbarians who live there. Hikers are also warned from traveling too far East, for the winds between the peaks grow too strong, and wild storms are frequent. “The elements there are unkind to us.”-May say a seasoned barbarian. Many of those in-tune with nature who travel near the area can detect a disturbance, a corruption, in the natural elemental energy there.
What the party doesn’t know is that the fortress that houses the forge of legend is across a long wooden bridge, shrouded in constant snow, and protected by two large elementals. The fortress itself is atop a sheer cliff, with an old frozen lift which showcases the ingenuity of the native people of the fortress.
The Yeti who inhabit the fortress and who work the forge, are mostly peaceful, but were spurred to war with the elementals of the region after one of the barbarian shaman enslaved one of the elemental leaders. Now, the elementals seek a way into the fort for the shaman and his tribe, while warding all those who do not carry “the master’s totem”, which is a yeti paw, cut off at the wrist, on a short stick, adorned with carvings, bone, and other symbolic trinkets.
The Yeti are still alive in the fortress, all in the lower royal chamber, where a sinister elemental resides, keeping all around him frozen solid. The Yeti are the only ones strong enough, and with enough natural connection to be able to make use of the permafrost forge.
Players must navigate the frozen mountain range, locate the barbarian tribe to gain information about a way past the elementals guarding the bridge. Perhaps the shaman and barbarian king will ask the players to go (thinking they are saving the lives of their own). Perhaps the players will slaughter the barbarians, take the totem, and raid the elemental within the fortress on their own. Perhaps they will find a way across the bridge regardless of the sentinels, and seek their own answers within the icy halls of the fort.
Adventure Hook #3: Exotic Dealings
A bodacious halfling woman named Maeeni Sharpeye is an exotic art dealer. She travels from place to place in a covered wagon full of her goods, and her bodyguard. Camping outside of town, the players come across her tent, and her collection of rare art, ranging from paintings to sculptures and religious relics. Anything that catches her eye, she insists upon owning. She wants to be the richest businesswoman in existence, and will do whatever it takes to achieve her goal.
Unless any of the players are art experts, they will be awed by the collection, as well as the exorbitant price tag on everything. Maeeni will honestly answer that there are pieces worth more than her entire collection. There is a man, she will tell the group, named Edouard Violl, who owns a private island, called Violl’s Garden.
Most people have heard of Edouard Violl, and know very little other than he is a powerful, rich, and elusive individual. Violl’s Garden is his private island whereupon is his grand mansion, surrounding gardens, and his own collection of everything from the world. Maeeni has heard that he writes and paints and would do anything to obtain a Violl Original.
She may offer to pay the party for bringing her a piece of Violl’s original collection, offering to pay 100,000 gold. If doubted, she’ll hop off the trunk she’s sitting on, toss the blanket covering it aside, and produce a key. Both her and the bodyguard use their keys on the chest, and inside is a massive pile of gold and gems.
From here the adventure can go a number of ways. The party can try to get invited to a dinner party, they could try to sneak onto the island, or they could be mysteriously teleported there and must now navigate a Willy Wonka style wonky mansion.
Adventure Hook #4: The Sunken Sanctum
A legend of the Summer Elves of Ther’Nagell, The Sunken Sanctum is a primal temple to those who lived in the jungles before even the elves. Recently, a group of adventurers and archeologists believe to have discovered where the temple might have been.
They were forced out of the jungle by a storm, and may have lost their place, but they’re looking to hire some adventurers to help them in case they manage to uncover an entrance.
The jungles of Nagellia are thick and wet, being on a coast, they are often waterlogged and are very humid. Old stories suggested that the temple had sunken into the earth after some tectonic event. The party locates a sinkhole, and going into it, they fall to what they believe to be the top of the temple.
The temple appears similar to that of a stereotypical Aztec or Mayan temple. Past the edges of the top, there are slits that are the top of the four doorways that lead to stairs that take one lower into the temple. The remainder of the temple appears to be buried, and players will need to enter.
At the central chamber at the base of the main stairs, is a large engraved circular floor panel with four engravings for disks. In each direction from the chamber, is a different door, with a circular depiction of an animal. One door is cracked and broken, offering a way through.
You may write what you like for the four wings of the temple, plus the lower chamber, which opens as the center disk slides aside to reveal a downwards spiral staircase. The feel for the hook is tribal jungle so a set of animals might be: serpent, boar, owl, jaguar.
Each wing could be inspired by the animal theme, serpent involving traps with dexterity and constitution saves, poison, serpent enemies, dexterity based challenges and puzzles, and a hydra at the end, wearing the disk on a chain around it’s writhing necks.
BONUS: This was a temple of animalistic sacrifice, so when I ran this adventure the jaguar boss had a necklace that could be used to return someone to life. Within the lower chambers, was a special sacrificial room with an engraving that hinted that one of the players would have to sacrifice themselves.