During February I experimented a little with the format I present the hooks in. I began writing them in the second person in an effort to make them more engaging. They now also often have a question directed at the reader such as: “What do you do?” so folks can respond with how their character would handle the situation. It’s lead to some fun discussions, some of which I’ll share here.
As always, I’ll italicize the hooks I want to comment on; scroll down to read my thoughts.
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- A wizard asks you to retrieve a stolen painting. When you find the thief, they claim the painting is a prison, keeping their child captive; why the wizard would do such a thing the thief cannot say. The wizard insists it’s just very realistic. What do you do?
- A wizard’s clones have been getting a little too perfect – they have developed free will and have taken the original captive, demanding equal treatment. The wizard will reward those who sets him free, as the clones would reward whoever can broker some agreement.
- Hibernating rock elementals are blocking the mine’s tracks. The dwarves have tried moving them by force, but the lazy lumps are invulnerable and the heaviest of sleepers; not even dynamite wakes them up!
- There’s something shiny at the bottom of your health potion; why, it’s a golden ticket! You and your party have just won a tour of Coco Flamel’s mysterious Potion Factory. Her competitors would pay a fortune for her secrets, should you risk snooping around…
- ‘Sendroulette,’ a custom Sending spell that connects the caster to a random being on a random plane, is sweeping wizarding schools, but innocent pranks turn to horror when a student contacts a Great Old One, contracting its madness and spreading it across campus…
- A gang of merfolk pirates is stealing ships out of harbor, using a giant killer whale to drag vessels down into the deeps where they make their lair among the reefs. Rumor has it they’re gathering an armada, but what use could merfolk have for ships?
- A graveyard need to be exhumed to make space for a new crypt, but the locals are having none of it. “We already worked ourselves to death for these nobles,” a skeletal spokesperson argues, “so why do they have to disturb us now that we’re finally getting some rest?”
- A seemingly incorporeal voice, claiming to belong to a student of magic turned invisible by some prank, asks you to convince the prankster to undo the curse. You find the supppsed culprit in mourning: He claims his friend just died in a tragic portal accident!
- A master locksmith passes away, leaving his one skeleton key locked away inside of his magnum opus: An indestructible safe. Secretive nobles are offering ludicrous rewards to the thief that can crack it, but none could be more lucrative than the key itself…
- The mating song of the Froghemoth is said to be of unparalleled beauty, and an upstart composer is determined to put it to sheet music. Problem is: The monsters are extremely aggressive when in heat, and the deadly swamps they live in aren’t exactly hospitable.
1. My favorite proposed solution to this one came from Sunburnt Siddharta, who seems to have a foolproof methodology to deal with just about any D&D problem:
Insight check the wizard for deception. Have the party mage *detect magic* the painting. I stab whoever lied in the ankle.
— Sunburnt Siddartha (@FlakesTheDude) 28 februari 2018
I can’t imagine this ever not working.
But just in case it doesn’t, Joey Doll has a way of making the best of what seems like a bad situation:
Suggest the thief put the painting up for his/her future offspring. “That is happens to naughty children.”. Make the wizard cut you in on what should be a new,flourishing enterprise.
— Joey Doll (@Blkhearted1) 1 maart 2018
Some good parenting tips.
2. I stole this hook from an infamous filler episode of Naruto Shippuden in which the hero’s clones, tired of being used as cannon fodder, revolt and take the original hostage. It’s a pretty dumb setup, but it might raise some interesting ethical questions during actual role-play. Should perfect copies recieve equal rights to the original, or does being the original grant one special rights? It would be up to the players to make a decision here, since I don’t think there is a right answer.
3. I whipped up this one in a pinch when I had to delay my players. They were traveling by train and I felt like the journey needed some extra spice, so I had rocks fall on the tracks. They were told that it would take some time to clear up, giving them an opportunity to explore their surroundings. When they returned they discovered that the rockslide was really a lazy earth elemental, leading to a fun encounter to finish the session on a high note.
4. In the Whitehorn campaign I have been trying to get my players into Coco Flamel’s Magical Potions Factory for some time now. I’m playing the long con on this one – in session one I established that Flamel has a monopoly on potions; they’re impossibly cheap and dangerously addictive. I am experimenting with an addiction mechanic, and our rogue is already trying to kick the habit; it’s been great fun, but I feel it’s time to start drawing them towards the actual dungeon: The Factory. This rather direct Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference might be the perfect hook to draw them in. Stay tuned for this one.
5. Does anyone remember Chatroulette? It was a big hype a few years ago. On one of the tables I played at, somebody made a joke about using the Sending spell in much the same fashion, and one thing lead to another.
6. Funny story about this one – I improvised it after my players rather ruthlessly pointed out how idiotic the actual plot was. You see, I had them investigating disappearing ships in the harbor. Originally I wanted to have a clumsy Cloud Giant scoop them out to add them to his bottled ships collection, but someone helpfully pointed out that if an enormous creature went stomping around the harbor at night ,somebody would have bloody well seen it. They identified it as a red herring, so I passed it off as a drunkard’s tall tale and had to come up with something else on the fly.
Merfolk pirates were already a thing in my setting, so they helpfully came to my rescue. The ensuing encounter, where the players tried to wrestle the ship away from the giant killer whale, was a real delight. I still have to find a way to have them meet that Cloud Giant, though; I have a whole dungeon in his house planned out.
That’s it for now! Come back next month for more hooks.