View Full Version : Adventure hooks

2007-10-16, 07:53 PM
I'm trying to start creating adventures to host pbp games, but I'm having trouble managing one thing so far:

I have the adventure, but I don't know how to give the characters a reason to actually go on it. What are some common or useful ways to get characters into an adventure? The easiest one, although it seems rather weak, is that they are good and somebody with a good alignment would do something about it. Except many adventures aren't like that, and I don't want to force alignment, and avoid railroading. So what are some good hooks for pulling them in?

2007-10-16, 07:55 PM

Can you give backstory on the adventure?

Generic Hooks:
Revenge: BBEG is looking to settle a score with the PCs. Can the PCs track down the BBEG Before he completes his ultimate weapon?
Gold: All PCs love gold. Give the BBEG A horde of the stuff.

2007-10-16, 08:06 PM
Dude, some goblins look different than us and have like, stuff and some junk. Let's go murder them and take their crap, then return for a king's ransom because everyone hates sapient creatures with skin colors that aren't ours. Furthermore---- *lobotomy from the NAACP* --- Al Sharpton should be president.


2007-10-16, 08:12 PM
Hrm, I am looking for more generic hooks for multiple adventures.

Including even like 1st level, so no BBEG necessarily.

Gold seems a little weak. It wouldn't work for some personalities, and it could even leave the party against each other if that is the only motive.

Personal ties can work, except then you need to request background, which only works for a first adventure also

(I'm trying to set up a sort of system of adventures. A large world, then many individual adventures, where the old players could have precedence on playing their old characters, or if they don't want to, somebody else can pick it up, eventually reaching a pool of characters. That makes possible to use recurring enemies and having rewards mean something, because they'll be useable.)

2007-10-16, 09:16 PM
Bad Stuff (TM) happening all around them. Start with some broad threat facing their home/town/kingdom, then reveal it to be more than it looks by letting events unfold around them. Let major NPC's get killed, particularly if it would throw the region into chaos. Set up previously unknown enemies nearby so that the PCs are in the best position to intervene. You might also have an NPC ask for favors at this point.

If they're stubborn, you can have whatever opponents they're facing raze the settlement. Either they can intervene or they're stuck and have got to do something. Even if they don't go in the direction you were planning, it gives you another shot at a hook. Cranking up the weirdness might work as well. "You're not going to stop to help the halfling village from marauding orcs? That's cool, that's cool..." ::later::
"hissssss... You sssseeee, to defend oursssselvessss from the invadersssss, we invoked magicssss beyond our ken to transssssform into sssserpentsssss."

Keep in mind that with PbP, you can afford to be lazy in planning your campaign. In my game, I've got the general plot arc in my head and details planned out roughly two posts in advance. You might get away with creating the second and third hooks on the fly if you've just set them up a little.

2007-10-16, 09:35 PM
Threaten the PCs with political violence that is really hard to justify opposing(like elderly going on riots, its just not right to beat them down) or SOMETHING if they stay where they and make the adventure the safer and less morally ambiguous choice.

2007-10-16, 09:56 PM
The general rule for one-offs is to have the villain do something that threatens the public that the PCs defeat. Then they look for the cause of this event and go through the rest of the adventure.

2007-10-16, 10:28 PM
The Big List of RPG Plots (http://www.io.com/~sjohn/plots.htm)

Just about every great adventure fits somewhere on this list. Have at it, one of my favourite GMing resources.

2007-10-16, 11:58 PM
They could all start off in one specific town, but if different places/situations; for example, one PC could be in jail, another could live in the town, while another is just stopping by. A disaster could occur, or something that forces the PC's, despite background differences, to band together. I personally enjoy a quarentine in the immediate area, thus forcing the PC's to eventually interact with each other. If you have good players, they will take the hint.

You could also...dare I say it...start your campaign...IN AN INN!:smallfurious:

2007-10-17, 12:04 AM
Have the players choose their reasons for being on the adventure. Before the game, tell them the basic start point of the adventure, and have them choose why.

For instance, in the Star Wars d20: SAGA edition game I'm starting, I told each player to come up with a brief backround, and a reason why they would be in a detention cell in a small imperial remenate frigate in the outer rim 3 months after the events on return of the jedi.

2007-10-17, 12:08 AM
You could also...dare I say it...start your campaign...IN AN INN!:smallfurious:

We prefer the term 'tavern.'

If your campaign might have a CR 20+ Kraken in it, doing battle with seven galleons, 140 1st-level fighter archers, 35 2nd-level archers, seven various 10th-level NPCs, a king who's actually a 18th-level wizard, and his adviser, a 15th-or-so-level-bard, and six 15th-level PCs, then something's wrong. :smalleek:

2007-10-17, 12:31 AM
Well, the king of the nation they are in in my campaign world is a 15th level or so Paladin, but no armies involved....yet.

2007-10-17, 12:32 AM
Well, the king of the nation they are in in my campaign world is a 15th level or so Paladin, but no armies involved....yet.

Ugh, paladins make horrible leaders. Leading a country requires a certain amount of...moral flexibility that a paladin cannot master no matter how loose you are with their code. God forbid they ever get a copy of The Prince.

2007-10-17, 12:33 AM
Second for TheOOB's suggestion. There really is no such thing as a universal plot hook. Either tell them what you want them to do and have them figure out how they're hooked in, or tell them what the main hook is and demand characters who will be motivated by it.

2007-10-17, 12:35 AM
It's an easy thing to tell your players to make characters who are good friends and will help eachother, that way motivating one will make the rest likely to follow.

2007-10-17, 12:42 AM
Once you have BBEGs it gets easier to single out the characters as the adventurers.

I'm basically loose with Paladin codes to the point of good and lawful. Good over lawful on top of that: If you have to break the law to be good, the good is more important and you can without losing powers. Basically, unless you are knowingly consorting with evildoers without good reason, that doesn't apply (if you are keeping them down to stop them from hurting others, or if you are channeling their evil into destroying other evil, etc, its alright.). This isn't really on topic any more though.

Thanks for the help peoples.

2007-10-17, 12:49 AM
What you probably want to do, initially, is a sort of semi-railroad. You want the Bad Things That Are Happening to affect everyone -- the PCs included, in some way. Look into their backstories. Do the PCs have family? Because families exist to die tragically for the sake of a plot hook. Maybe the Bad Things That Are Happening have resulted in the loss of some of the party's money, or the money they were promised as a reward for Solving Problem X. Or maybe the Bad Things That Are Happening involve large numbers of Fodder-Baddies (TM) running amok in the city, killing anything that gets in their way -- PCs included.

In a broader sense, though, the easiest way to motivate your PCs is to appeal to their pride. Face them off against a series of small victories to build them up -- and then hit them with an encounter scripted to end in humiliating defeat. Or have them finish up their job of Solving Problem X, only to find that the Guild of Parallel NPC Adventurers has taken all the credit for it. Or the Mayor gives the PCs their payment, but remarks, grumblingly, that the Guild of Parallel NPC Adventurers could've done it so much better. Have someone slander their names while they're not looking, to such an extent that suddenly everyone in the city is slinging insults and spouting hatred at them.

PCs will do almost anything for enough money and XP. But kick them in the pride, and there's no "almost" about it.

2007-10-17, 11:10 AM
How about, A Case Of Mistaken Identity (tm):

the PCs are happily pootling along the road/carousing in atavern/whatever, when one of them is attacked by an assassin, who was in fact sent to kill someone who looks remarkably like the PC in question. It's an instant in, because there isnt a PC alive that wouldnt try and get revenge.

2007-10-17, 11:13 AM
Throw the players into a no choice situation.

In one of the games I am running here, the players were directly placed into a sieged city and asked to care for a group of citizens that didn't have time to leave the town before the kobold forces surrounded the city. No choice situation there.

Starting a campaign in a tavern where a fight breaks out is always a good start {{read good start as cliche}}.

Azerian Kelimon
2007-10-17, 11:30 AM
Place the PC's in a lose-lose or lose-diiiiiiiim chance of victory situation, and make it so that the focus is not combat, but morals, ethics, personality, or whathaveyou. And then, when everything seems bleak, make the cavalry arrive and have the PC's enter the fray and save the day.