Adventure Hook: Another Starting Tavern?

Today’s hook has been played a few times and it’s certainly a spin on a old trope for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons.

By Mark-Alexander Cross

Number of Players: 3-6  Level: 1-3  Goal: Inducing shock!

Ah the tavern, the most generic and traditional starting base in the whole of Dungeons & Dragons! You have quests, drinks, wenches and bar fights at your disposal for those early experience points but this has been done a million times before so let’s turn it on its head.

Read this aloud to your players, changing names and locations at your discretion:

“You are the famous fishing tavern ‘Ye Olde Plot ‘n’ Hook’ and the drinks are flowing, the chatter of patrons is buzzing and the bard’s music is in full swing!

Your group is sitting in a table of the corner, so please describe yourselves and how much are you drinking?’”

After introductions and if the drinks are plenty, make a constitution save DC 15 for all players and then switch it up!

“A man approaches your table and he is looking very troubled.

‘Greetings strangers,’ says the man nervously, ‘my name is Jalmire and I am in desperate need for a group of adventurers.’”

Remember the constitution save from a moment ago? Reveal to your players this in a single sentence, “It wasn’t for the alcohol!” and proceed to describe an outside scene of the tavern as it blows up! Seriously destroy the tavern, with everyone in it and blow them sky-fucking-high! The players who made the save will wake up in 4 hours time in a nearby temple with 1 hit point and those who failed were killed, only to be brought back by the temple clerics.

What is next after that!?

I have used this hook personally a few times and for experienced players too because the looks on their faces is priceless. Now the story can go in multiple directions and I shall give you a few examples of where I have taken this adventure hook:

  1. Debt: The city tries to uphold its good reputation by paying a mass sum to heal the wounded and bring back what dead they can. When the city council learns of your party of adventurers, a shady council offical forces you into jobs to make the money back.
  2. Revenge: Get right to the point and hunt down who or whatever did this! In my game it was the tavern owner destroying his own place for an insurance payout to clear a debt with a gangster, who acted as the main villain for the next story arc.
  3. Holy Cause: Your players are actually saved and brought back by the will of the gods! A holy mission then begins as the characters become chosen warriors of destiny and delve deep into the world of satanic cults and demons.

This hook is about taking the players by surprise and out of their comfort zone. It is true that the start does holds the players hands a bit but we have found this to be a very fun and different adventure.

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