Top 10 Dungeons and Dragons Plot Hooks

Here’s some great D&D plot hooks and story ideas I have put together. Enjoy! They’re suitable for any fantasy tabletop RPG campaign.

DND Plot Hook 1 – The New Guard Same as the Old Guard

In this adventure, players are approached by a member of the town guard of Winterhaven. “I need you to deliver a message to my superior at the castle. He’s-well, he’s disappeared, and I’m taking over the job. I found this note on his desk. I hate to think of it as a suicide note, but perhaps that’s what it is. The note says, ‘I can’t live with the shame. Goodbye.’ The man’s name was Gustav. I know he was having problems with money and the guild, but why leave a note like that? You’re to go to the castle and deliver the message. You’ll need to say that you know Gustav and you’re surprised to see him commit suicide. Can you help us out? If we can get some answers, it might help clear up this mystery.” The players are asked to deliver a message, a hoax perhaps. They then have a chance to do some investigation and find out it is, indeed, a hoax. They’ll have to find out who is behind the hoax, and possibly rectify the situation.

DM NOTES: This adventure is a classic delivery quest with a twist! Instead of delivering the message, the players must discover who the hoaxer is and “expose” the truth. To do this, they will need to interview various townspeople, speak with Gustav’s superior at the guard house, and use their skills to find out the truth. The players will receive XP for solving the mystery and exposing the hoaxer. Additionally, if they talk to the guardsman who gave them the message, they will be given some follow-up work on other short mystery adventures. The guardsman’s name is Duncan (he’s a good sort of fellow looking for some good adventurers; he’s a 1st-level fighter with 1st-level henchmen).

DND Plot Hook 2 – The Queen’s Necromancers

A group of players approaches a strange altar in a forest clearing. A woman in a long cloak and hood is standing over the altar and chanting. The woman sees the party and begins to back away, saying, “No, I won’t. It’s wrong. I won’t!” She drops the wand she was holding, and the players rush to secure her. An old steel dagger falls from her belt and clatters to the ground. The woman appears to be normal; she won’t explain what’s going on.

She only says, “I must leave now. I won’t come back.” The players find a note on the altar that reads “Kill Them All!” The dagger is a magic weapon. If the party enters the clearing, they will be attacked by zombies. On the altar they will find a small, hollow silver skull. It is an evil item that turns the touch of a finger into a death touch as the spell. If a player touches it, they will be cursed with Death Touch no matter who they touch. This wears off in two hours.

DM NOTES: This scenario is designed to work with players of up to 14th level. It is also a great opportunity to introduce some new characters. The evil item on the altar is a cursed silver skull. It will turn anyone who touches it into a death priest. (A death priest is a 13th-level cleric with the power to kill with a touch.) The party must try to discover who is behind this and why the skull is there.

If they return it, they may encounter problems, because the skull may have been placed there to put them in the middle of a battle between the queen and her enemies. The actual truth is that the skull was placed there by a group of necromancers who want to stir up trouble with the queen. They hope to use the skull to create or resurrect evil creatures, and they are willing to use the players to get their way. The players will receive XP for discovering the truth and returning the skull to the queen.

DND Plot Hook 3 – The Missing Merchant

A man named Belurn is standing in front of an inn in Winterhaven. He is weeping. He tells the party, “My brother, Arlon, was a merchant. He was carrying goods from the south, and he was going to sell them here. I haven’t heard from him in days. He should have been here by now. I sent him a letter. Why hasn’t he responded?”

The players are asked to find out what happened to Arlon. They meet Arlon’s ship on the docks. The crew is all dead, and the ship is damaged. If they look inside the hold, they will find that Arlon’s goods have been destroyed by a dragon’s fire. They will also find Rastlin’s body, a dead silver dragon, in the hold. Arlon’s body is nearby. His finger is missing.

DM NOTES: The ship and its crew are placed there as a lure to get the party involved. The note was placed there to make them feel that they have to do something. The body is a fake. The real Arlon was taken prisoner by the treasure-hungry dragon, and his finger was removed from his corpse. The party will need to track down the dragon and rescue Arlon. If they do this, they will be rewarded with a small fortune in gold and gems by the grateful Arlon.

DND Plot Hook 4 – The Abandoned Mines

A group of dwarven miners is standing outside the entrance to the mines. They are gathered around an old man named Goram, who is a cleric. He is praying over one of the miners, who is dying. When he finishes, he says, “This is no good. We don’t have a cleric in our group who can help him. We need a cleric of some sort. We’ll have to leave him here, or he’ll surely die. What’re we going to do?”

If the party offers to help, Goram says, “We are looking for a place to mine. We were told about some abandoned mines nearby. We were told the mines were safe. We were attacked by a group of goblins. We killed a few, but we lost a lot of our men. We don’t have a cleric, and the miners are dying. We need a cleric.” If a player asks about the people who told them about the mines, he is told that they’re undead, and they live in the mines!

DM NOTES: The party is sent to explore the mines. They will be attacked by a small group of goblins and some undead. If they win, they will discover an old crypt. The crypt is sealed. They will need to find a way to open it. Inside they will find the bodies of the miners who died centuries ago. They were killed by the undead. When they open the crypt, they are attacked by the undead miners. They will also find the skeletal remains of a cleric. If the party defeats the undead, they will receive XP for the encounter. If they take the skull of the cleric, they will be cursed with the death touch.

DND Plot Hook 5 – The Ghost Ship

A ship comes into port. It is flying a black flag. It moors at the docks and a man named Naveen comes ashore. He informs the party, “I’m here to trade. I was told there was a large market for my goods here.” He is carrying armloads of old books and scrolls. He is also carrying a large crystal ball. Naveen is a rather odd-looking fellow. He is a 2nd-level rogue. He has some strange items with him.

He says, “My crystal ball tells me that you are honest traders. I’m in need of some information. I have a crew of dead men who need to get from here to a port in the south. I had a ship, but it was seized by the town guard. They thought it was a pirate ship. I need to get back to the south to get my men. I was told there was a safe place in the town where I could store my goods. Will you help me?”

If the party agrees to help him, Naveen takes the party to see the ship. It’s a medium-sized ship. The figurehead is the head of a dragon. It has no name or flag. The crew is a collection of skeletons and zombies. The zombies are all armed with swords. The skeleton are armed with arrows and short bows. The players are attacked. Naveen flees.

DM NOTES: The party can fight the zombies, sell the ship to a dwarf, or try to sail it. If they sail it, they will be attacked by a group of pirates. If they defeat them, they will be free to take the ship. The crew will follow the party needlessly. If the party escapes from the pirates, they will need to return to the pirates’ lair and defeat the captain. If they do this, they will be rewarded with a share of the treasure and the captain’s ship.

DND Plot Hook 6 – The Ghostly Message

The party meets a young boy named Alric. Alric asks them to help him find his older brother, Kenrick. He says, “My older brother, Kenrick, went to the south to pursue his fortune. Six weeks ago, he sent me a message. He is in trouble. He told me he would be back in a week. It’s been six weeks. I have to know if my brother is alive. Can you help me?” The party agrees to help the boy. Alric leads them to Kenrick’s house. Kenrick’s house is haunted. If the party enters the house, they will be attacked by a ghost named Dravin. Dravin is a knight, who was killed by a dragon. He will fight the party and try to kill them. If he is defeated, he will disappear. Alric will say, “I can’t thank you enough. Now I can go back to my parents. I will be a soldier someday, just like my brother was. I’ll be a great warrior.”

DM NOTES: If the party defeated Dravin, they can search the house. They will find a letter from Kenrick telling Alric that he is going to be a pirate and that he is leaving in a week. They will also find Kenrick’s gear and a map of the south, with a red X marked on it. If the party returns to the boy, he will give them information about the dragon that killed his brother. If the party decides to go to the dragon’s lair, they will be attacked by a group of assassins. The dragon will fly overhead and watch the party. The dragon will not attack until the party enters its lair.

DND Plot Hook 7 – The Hunkering Ghost

A man named Egor is standing outside of a cottage. He is crying. If the party talks to him, he says, “I’m sorry. I meant no harm. I just wanted to show him that I loved him. Why is he so angry with me? I just wanted to show him how much I cared for him.” If the party talks to him for a long time, he will tell them that he was with his love, who was killed by a mage named Vorlox. If the party asks him more questions, he will tell them, “Vorlox was a mage. He terrorized our town. He killed my love, and he destroyed half of the town. I was the only survivor. I went to his lair. It’s located in the mountains. I searched for him, but he was nowhere to be found. I want to avenge my love’s death. I don’t want to be in this world without her. I want to be with her. I don’t care if I die. I’ll just be with her then.”

DM NOTES: Egor can’t leave the cottage. He’s scared to enter the cottage. If the party goes inside and finds Vorlox, they will find Egor’s body. If they kill Vorlox, the body will disappear. Egor’s ghost will appear and thank the party for avenging his death. He will tell them to go to the east. They will find a small village whose buildings have been destroyed. Hidden there is a large treasure. If the party returns to Egor, he will tell them that Vorlox’s lair is in the mountains. They will find even more treasure in the mountain – as well as Vorlox’s henchment – and wife.

DND Plot Hook 8 – The Family Fiend

The party is asked to help a village. They are told that a demon has been attacking the village and killing many of the villagers. If the party asks for more information, they will be told that the demon has been attacking for six years. The demon is invisible. Its victims are always found dead. The demon does not have a name. The villagers have been plagued by this demon for six years, and they have never seen him. He is a fiend, who has been killing the villagers to gain power. He is invisible, so he cannot be seen. Many adventurers have gone to fight him, but they have never returned. The party decides to go and fight the fiend.

DM NOTES: The fiend is invisible. The players must find a way to see invisible creatures. Once they see the demon with no name, they will realize he’s not as powerful as he proclaims. Until that time, the invisible demon pretends to be a powerful fiend. Once the demon is discovered, he will run away. He will flee to a cave that is located in the hills. He will fight the party until he is near death. Once he’s wounded, he will become invisible and run away. The demon expects to rest for a few days and heal. The party can follow him or destroy his lair. The demon will return to the village and continue his killing. The party’s only clue is a shriveled finger. He won’t tell the party his name. The party must find out his name. The villagers will be happy once the fiend is destroyed.

DND Plot Hook 9 – The Haunted Castle

The party is traveling. In the distance, they see an old castle. The castle is in ruins. There is a small village nearby. If the party asks the villagers about the castle, they will be told that only ghosts live in the castle. If the party enters the castle, they will find that the castle is actually occupied by a group of mercenaries. If the party enters the castle, they will be attacked.

DM NOTES: The castle is filled with mercenaries. The leader is a man named Lord Thael. He is a level 2 warrior. He has 30 men-at-arms who serve as his bodyguards. Lord Thael is a bandit. He raids nearby villages and takes the villagers’ gold and food. He keeps the village safe from monsters. Thael is a smart man. He puts on a show to make the villagers think that he is a good man. The players must figure out how to get the villagers and the mercenaries to work together. They must convince Thael to leave the villagers alone. They must find a way for the villagers and the mercenaries to live together in peace one way or another.

DND Plot Hook 10 – The Deadly Dictator

A bandit group is terrorizing a city. The leader is carrying out a quest for a god named Orcus. If the party goes to the city and asks about Orcus, they will be told that the leader of the bandit group is worshipping the god of undeath. Orcus is not a bad god. The player will be told that the leader is a greedy and brutal dictator. Orcus is not happy with the leader. The players must stop the bandit activity.

DM NOTES: The bandit leader is a halfling named Valerin, a cleric of Orcus. Valerin has set up a tax in the city. All the money is going directly to the temple of Orcus. The town is riddled with disease and death. Valerin is a cruel dictator. He is looking for a treasure. The treasure is located in a cave that is located in the hills. He has hired a local guide to take him to the cave. The treasure is the remains of an ancient vampire. Valerin will try to take the treasure. If the players decide to help Valerin get to the treasure, he will show gratitude. If the players try to stop him, he will try to kill them. Orcus will be pleased with the players if they stop the bandits and destroy the vampire. Orcus will be unhappy with the players if they help Valerin get the treasure.

BONUS DND Plot Hook – #11 – The Secret of the Beggar

The party meets a poor man named Alfons. Alfons is sitting on the ground. He asks the party for food. If the party talks to him, he will say, “My name is Alfons. I’m so hungry. I haven’t eaten in three days. The local merchants won’t loan me any food. If you could help me, I’ll tell you a secret. I will give you the secret for free if you feed me.”

DM NOTES: The players can find out that Alfons is a beggar. If the party feeds him, he will tell them about a hidden treasure. The treasure is hidden beneath the city. In order to get to it, the party will have to turn off the water to the city. The players will have to disable the water pumps. Once the city is flooded, the party must find a way into the sewers. The sewers lead to a treasure that is located in the sewers. The treasure is in a large wooden chest. The party can steal the treasure and return it to Alfons. He will tell them the secret. Or, they can drown in the sewers and be dead forever.

See you next time.

Dungeon Master for Life,
Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow

LitRPG Author Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, gamer, RPG game developer, and publisher of several online communities. In other words, an old school webmaster. He also developed and runs LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators powered by GPT-3 AI. Here at LitRPG Reads, he publishes articles about LitRPG books, tabletop RPG books, and all sorts of DND content that's free to use in your personal tabletop campaign - i.e. non-commercial use. Enjoy your stay and reach out on Twitter or Discord if you want to make contact.

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