• Justin Handlin

5 Locations Where Adventure Begins (That aren't in a Tavern) in Dungeons & Dragons


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5 Locations Where Adventure Begins (That aren't in a Tavern) in Dungeons & Dragons


In a fantasy setting such as Dungeons and Dragons, most quests and hooks start from popular gathering locations. These are usually common areas such as Inns, taverns or town halls. While this is a tried and tested method, there are many other locations that can be found in most villages and cities that can help change up the opportunities for our heroic characters.


Part of the job of the Game Master is to constantly drop in adventuring hooks for the players to latch onto. While job boards and skulking cloaked figures in the corners of the tavern are nice. Sometimes we want to change it up to freshen up the game a bit. We’ve tossed together 5 Locations Where Adventure Begins (That aren't in a Tavern) in Dungeons & Dragons.


Docks

The sheer variety of boats that can travel into a dock to sell, trade, and buy goods is nearly endless. In most cases, there will always be regulars. Depending on the size of the port, the number of strange vessels docking can bring a slew of crew members to a town. The unique business of ship crews generally means that they often have the latest rumors and news from far away lands.


Beyond just rumors and news carried from overseas. The crews will likely beware of nautical events such as sinking ships with treasure, pirates, and newly discovered lands. This makes port docks and the ships that dock there absolutely wonderful locations to find new adventures. Not to mention, if the characters are seeking passage to a particular local, they might find the vessel they need. Or at the very least, one that will get them moving in the right direction.


Gates

The entryway to a city is often guarded to some extent. Depending on the risks to the community it may or may not be a lot. But in general, even small villages have some sort of militia patrolling the area or protecting an entry point or two. City Gates or similar ports of entry often have herds of people standing in long lines to enter. This is particularly true if the location is a prime spot for merchants to pass through.


This makes the point of entry into a village or city a great place to hear rumors from those waiting to enter. The chatter can easily reveal recent monster attacks, disappearing citizens, notable events between noble houses, or even special events. If you want to help bring your world to life, you can instead describe events or other oddities that may stand out to the characters waiting at the entry point. A great example of this may be several of the folks in line have red eyes with clearly burning vision. Asking around or offering simple knowledge checks could reveal to the characters that a plague or monster effect is the result.


Merchants

While most visits to a merchant by an adventurer are just to restock their supply of rations, repair equipment, or purchase additional tools they may need to scale a mountain. Merchants are often the most informed on the movement of people in the area. Good merchants often spend great amounts of time listening and inquiring about adventurers' stories. Not only does this help keep them informed on the sort of stock they should be carrying, but also offers insight into any potential dangers in the area to be wary of.


A merchant with their constant flow of adventurers likely knows who has recently left town and where they might be heading. Either from observation of purchases made, words spoken, or other signs. Sometimes merchants are even approached by weaker adventuring parties wanting to sell locations of potential new discoveries or treasures. This is a general attempt to profit on something that will have appeal to more powerful adventurers that the weaker group could not hope to conquer.


Stables

Long-distance travel for most people in a fantasy world means riding horses or carriages pulled by beasts of burden. While most Inns offer stabling for its guests, these quickly fill up. This creates an opportunity for others with land to board horses and other large beasts of burden during a person's stay in the area. Most travelers don’t want to push through large crowds and small alleyways with their horses. So, they seek out a stable.


The stable hand that meets with a constant flow of new faces is likely to be aware of stand-out details of a traveler whose steed they must tend to. This makes them a great source for identifying a particular person of interest. Stable hands like to chat amongst themselves about the variety of guests they meet, tips they receive, and more. Much like household servants, they are often overlooked or go unseen entirely. Who knows what kind of chatter they hear when nobody knows they are within earshot cleaning out a stall.


Wells

When it comes to survival, water is an absolute necessity for most creatures in a fantasy world. So it’s not uncommon for every single community to have at least a single well that everyone shares to draw their drinking, bathing, and cooking water from. The need for this resource makes the well a fantastic location for gatherings between any and all. While in most cases it’s likely homemakers and children sent to gather the daily buckets, most anyone can use the well freely.


Characters seeking to quench their thirst, or who just happen to wander by can overhear a variety of rumors or similar gossip going around the area. While this is less likely to be related to monsters, it can certainly offer the characters a glimpse into the personal challenges the residents are dealing with. Whether it's mistreatment by leadership, a thieving crew, or even results of farming turning up strange colored crops or a strange yield. Making the well a potent world-building opportunity.

Related Article: 5 Short Dungeons & Dragons Adventures You Can Bring to Your Table Tonight Volume 1!

Regardless of where you plant your adventure hooks in your stories and campaigns. There are always more exciting locations than the tavern or inn. Though, neither of these are inherently bad as stated before. They are common gathering locations and it’s expected to get the most eyes on a job that needs doing. But we hope that this will help you broaden the range of where your adventure hooks can be tossed.


Enjoy. :)


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