• Justin Handlin

Create Great Adventure Hooks

Listen to Episode 31 Now:



An adventure hook is a powerful tool used in Dungeons and Dragons to drive the players into an adventure, gather their party, or anything else set out like a fishing line to "hook" the players into the story. Today we share guidelines for creating great adventure hooks your player's won't want to miss out on.


Grab the PC’s Attention

A great hook can make a character stop in their tracks and address it

  • PC’s are abruptly interrupted by a noble and asked to be his guard.

  • PC’s hear a shout in the distance “THIEF!”

Weak hooks may not stand out and thus get easily missed by the PC’s or they may not care.


Clearly establish why the PC’s care

Offer something to compel the PC’s to pursue the hook

  • Currency reward is most common

  • Unique service or access

Relate the problem to the PC’s

  • The PC’s were all raised in an orphanage, and it was attacked

  • Merchants aren’t coming to town due to ambush by bandits. Food and other shortages

Offer a solution to a problem they have

  • A close friend or mentor was murdered or has gone missing

  • You see a man with a large battered cloak with hawk images on it. Piece of cloth with a similar image on it was found at a crime scene.


Create a Call to Action

If PC’s don’t take the bait on the hook, they may need a bit of a push

  • There have been threats on a noble’s life that requested the guarding is on fire.

  • More and more people are being robbed, now the PC’s find their own articles missing.

A call to action maybe a result of inaction

  • The noble who wanted to hire them goes missing.

  • The thief is now leaving behind victims wounded or worse.


Mix and Match Different Types of Hooks

The old, you’re in a Tavern and are approached buy a weird looking person…gets old.

  • The PC’s are called upon by someone.

  • Someone or something goes missing.

  • Small village or town is attacked.

  • PC’s stumble upon a corpse.


Give the PC’s choices when possible

Players strongly dislike being forced into a situation that they have no control over.

  • If you must do this, do it sparingly

While players won’t take all your hooks, it’s good to have 2-3 set up.

  • This gives them multiple choices and still gives you a bit of control as to where the adventure may go.

  • You can reuse those hooks later that don’t get picked up

Unearthed Tips and Tricks: New and reusable D&D content for you to bring with you on your next adventure.


Character Concept: Let’s make a Deal!

Prefers to get things done via equivalent exchange. This character believes that anyone can be persuaded if the price is right. A few examples;

May offer a group of lizardman metal weapons and armor for some assistance dealing with some unsavory characters. This benefits the lizardman for they aren't proficient at forging, and allows the character to spend little resources, as metal weapons are easy to come by.

Additionally, the character may often try to end encounters via offering something they want without having to fight.

Likely has some unsavory characters after them for maybe not making good on his end of a deal.


Monster Variant: Strangling Blight

Origin: Vine Blight

Features: Strangle: When this creature has a target grappled, it can use an action to wrap vines around its targets throat in an attempt to suffocate its target. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or it begins suffocating. If the target breaks the grapple it ends this effect.


Encounter Concept: Home Alone

The party is entrusted with a simple task: Go into a temple, or mansion, or other large building and retrieve one item- a relic, an idol, a valuable document, etc. The building is supposed to be empty or abandoned- piece of cake, right?

Well, unknown to the party, the building isn’t empty- it has one sole inhabitant: a clever guard who knows the building and its layout perfectly. Not only that, but the guard knows that the party is coming, and has taken the time to fill the building to the brim with booby traps!

The traps can take any form that would be appropriate for the locale- spiked pits, pressure plates, and dart launchers for a jungle temple, or rigged doors, trip wires, and caltrops for an urban mansion- and all the while, as the party falls victim to these cleverly-constructed hidden traps, the guard pops their head in to taunt and ridicule them (often leading them directly into further traps)!


Magic Item: Summoner’s Horn

Wondrous, Uncommon

The horn appears to be encased in a purple and black crystal tied to a black hide necklace. This item allows you to cast find familiar to summon a special pseudodragon familiar. This ability cannot be used again until the next dawn. You can only ever have one familiar at a time. The creature obeys your commands as best as it can. It takes its turn on your initiative, though it doesn’t attack unless you command it to. On your turn you can verbally command the creature where to move(no action required by you). You can use your bonus action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, dodge, or Help action.

Dungeon Master has the statblock for the pseudodragon.


Dungeon Master Tip: Description Brevity

Do your best to avoid describing every detail when the characters enter a new room or meet an npc. Players’ eyes will end up glazing over after 3 or 4 sentences of description.

By keeping the description under 3 sentences, you allow them to react and ask for specific details. (which can be added on the spot). Over describing in detail can make everything seem important and lead to wasting time on things that aren’t relevant.

Keep in mind this doesn’t mean just focus on just the important stuff. Players will quickly start to focus on that. Practice and Find your table’s balance.


Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick! You can avoid dickitude by..

Immerse your Character

Give your character’s motivations for getting involved in the action and caring about what’s at stake.

Use campaign setting knowledge to create meaningful relationships between your character and various people, places and organizations in the world.

Successfully resolving a conflict that threatens the people or things you care about is more satisfying than saving a random NPC.


If you have any feedback, unearthed tips and tricks or topics you would like us to discuss, please send them to us. You can email them to us at critacademy@gmail.com or find us on twitter and facebook @critacademy.


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Keep your blades sharp and spells prepared heroes!


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