Hello everyone! Welcome to my first written “Plot Hooks” article. I have previously done a few videos using this concept, where I take a simple plot hook and show how you can expand it out to fit your game. You can see my previous videos, The Terror of Valindale and Stalker in the Woods by clicking these links.
For today, our prompt will be as follows:
Recently, a group of researchers went into the nearby mountains to hunt for a long lost ruin. None have returned in over a month nor has any word come in from them, and the families are looking for someone to go find them
This is an extremely basic premise. We have a team of researchers or archaeologist who have gone missing in search of a long lost ruin of some sort. It could be that their families have gotten together and put out a call for help, or the institution they work for or the guild they work for ect.
Essentially, this basic premise can expand out to a variety of different scenarios. Firstly, the group could simply have been attacked by bandits or monsters en route to the Ruin and their bodies are laying out in the woods or on the path. This is perfect for a one shot, where the party has to track the group on their path, find the bodies, and then perhaps exact vengeance on the people who slew them. Then of course return to the hiring party with the bad news.
You could however get more in depth. Perhaps they researchers made it to the ruin. It could be that the ruin is infested with monsters, yet again, for a classic basic dungeon crawl. The researchers could even have been kept alive and trapped, being used for entertainment. Basically think 1001 Arabian Nights, only with Kobolds and Scientists instead of cute Arabian Girls and Caliphs.
Another option of course is that the ruin is just a tomb. The researchers have died trying to get through the guards and traps, and the party needs to go in, make sure all the researchers are alive or dead, and possibly loot the tomb.
My preferred option however is that the ruin is, in fact, a prison for SOMETHING. A prime example of this setup is the adventure “Breaker of Chains” by Chris Bissette. You can check it out at the link there, and I will be reviewing it in the future. Essentially, there is a ruin the party comes across that is actually a prison for a nasty Chain Demon, and after the party plumbs the depths of the Ruin, they accidentally release the being who is understandably pissed off. Mind you this particular adventure is designed to be lethal.
Now for me, if I was going to use this basic premise here is what I would do. The ruin is the prison of an ancient and malicious trickster spirit. Trapped in a gem deep in the ruin, it cannot do anything save for subtly effect the minds of those who enter the ruin. The researchers entered and were drawn to the room, however the primary defensive measure, a massive sleep spell, knocked them all out and put them into a slow sleeping death.
As the party enters the ruin they would hear a strange scratching noise in their mind. The farther they went in, the worse it should get. Have some monsters in there having taken up residence, things with no intellect (undead, and the like). There should also be constructs that are inactive and appear to be statues.
Once the party reaches the main chamber deep in the ruin, they should see a Crystal sitting on a pedestal like so:
I would then have them make Wisdom saves / Will saves, and anyone who fails are knocked out, asleep. Those who succeed however must now make a Charisma save. This should be extremely high, DC 20ish. Those who succeed on this are fine, but those who fail feel a compulsion to touch the crystal.
And touching the Crystal frees the Spirit, who then reactivates the Ruins defenses as it flees. However, the instant the Crystal is touched everyone in the room is knocked out for about 10 minutes. After that, everyone including the sleeping researchers wakes up, and now the party must fight their way through all the constructs and guardians who are now active.
From here on out, every so often, I would have the spirit take humanoid form and interact with the party, sending them on dangerous wild goose chases. It would follow behind them invisible, watching to see what happens. And any time the party casters uses detect magic they would detect the spirit who would then run away via dimension door / teleport. Eventually I would let em catch the creature (repeat interactions with this mysterious being would allow insight checks, ect)
Thats how I would use this simple plot hook to create an entire adventure. How about you? What ideas do you have for such a premise? Please leave a comment below, or let me know on twitter!