50 Adventure Hooks for Busy GMs
Updated: Apr 4
I've been a Forever GM/DM since 2nd Edition D&D back in the day, and while I know that any GM/DM worth their salt will have binders full of adventure hook ideas, I also have been put in the position of running impromptu games at parties, or in circumstances where I've not had access to my trove of D&D materials. In those times, it would be nice if I had some tools at my disposal to use as a GM/DM since we all carry portable computers in our pockets now. So that's why I'm here to give you a veritable TON of adventure hook ideas to use in your TTRPG games. With a little tweaking, these hooks can be applied to almost any setting of almost any game.
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Upon returning to their room at the tavern/hotel, one or more of the player characters stumbles upon a fresh corpse on the floor of their room, and the victim has no discernible wounds.
A local farm the players are passing by has several carrion birds circling overhead and a horrific stench emanating from one of the fields. When the players investigate, they find the farmer who laments the fact that all of his cattle have suddenly died and appear to have rotted at a quick pace.
The characters stumble upon a person who is in a hanging cage along the road near a city, and the person calls out to them and pleads with them to unlock the cage. (It can be handcuffs if it's a modern setting)
When the adventurers are exploring somewhere along the coast, they discover an empty ship. It needs some small repairs, and if the characters take the ship as their own, soon they discover that it's haunted by a powerful entity who emerges once the characters are out on the open sea, and the entity is accompanied by a ghostly crew.
As the adventurers are traveling along a major highway, a courier riding a horse who has obviously been ridden to exhaustion stops and hands one of the characters a letter telling them of a massive inheritance from a dead relative who has granted them the deed to a castle.
When the party returns to their stronghold/home, it's in the process of being robbed by a notorious gang of bandits.
The party is framed for a crime they didn't commit by a criminal mastermind in the area who wants the party taken down a peg or two.
The party is in attendance at a ball when assassins try to murder a well-known noble.
The players are hired to escort a caravan of merchants along a treacherous mountain pass, and there is a traitor among them who is secretly a bandit and who plans to rob the caravan at a certain point in the journey via an ambush, with the traitor's accomplices lying in wait.
A wealthy noble wants to hire the characters to bring them a powerful and valuable artifact from a newly excavated tomb.
A massive pack of Werewolves has been terrorizing a region and the players have been asked to put an end to their antics.
The characters have been asked to investigate a group of disappearances, and soon discover that a powerful secret cult is behind them.
A powerful mage has been contracted to study a magical artifact by a local ruler, but both the mage and artifact have gone missing, and the players must figure out why.
One of the players accidentally summons a demon via a magical artifact to the material plane, and now the party must figure out a way to return thedemon to its own plane or destroy it if they have to.
The players are asked to investigate a haunted mansion, but it turns out that the ghosts haunting it are just trying to relay information about their murders by the local ruler and their soldiers to anyone with the ability to listen.
A dragon has decided to make its home in the region the characters are currently living in, prompting the locals to hire the adventurers to run it out of town or kill it.
An eccentric wizard has been experimenting with magical spells that are affecting the local wildlife, but their tower is magically hidden and protected so the heroes are asked to find the wizard and ask them to stop.
The players are visiting a Dwarven friend when one of the underground chambers is breached by Duergar and the characters are enlisted to join in a war between the Duergar and the Dwarves.
The players stumble upon an empty town that looks like it's been ravaged by battle. There are no living people left in the town and soon the players discover the survivors have been captured by orcs and are being held in a cave system nearby.
A powerful necromancer has emerged in the area and has started raising an army of the undead, and the players have been hired to put a stop to them.
Travelers have been going missing through a stretch of wilderness connecting two major towns or cities and the players have been sent to investigate and discover that they fey are responsible.
A group of dangerous mercenaries have been tasked with bringing down the player character party at any cost.
A nearby graveyard has suddenly become a portal to the Shadowfell.
An enclave of powerful wizards has joined forces and have decided to try to overthrow the current kingdom and take control.
An extremely powerful lich has surfaced and now wants to conquer the region and the players must find a way to stop them.
A mind flayer has secured control over the local leaders and now seeks to subjugate the rest of the population.
The players are tasked with transporting a very valuable and magical artifact to a distant city, but it turns out that the artifact is cursed and begins to cause mayhem wherever the party travels.
A group of wood elves has uncovered an ancient temple in the forest, but there's a powerful creature guarding the ruins, preventing the elves from exploring any further.
A vampire lord and his cohort have set their sights on the town the players are currently residing in.
A group of halfling adventurers have stumbled upon a treasure map but are being pursued by some powerful enemies who want the map for themselves, and the players must either intervene or watch as the halflings are ambushed in town at a tavern.
A rogue druid has had enough with the corrupt civilization encroaching on the wilderness and has started a one-person war against the city using their druid magic and knowledge of the forest to try to cripple supply lines and ambush patrols.
An old forgotten fortress in the forest has been taken over by hobgoblins and now has become a base of operations for their raids on the nearby countryside.
A temple located within a lake is in danger of soon sinking below the waters. The players are hired to investigate the temple and sketch its layout and recover any artifacts within before the temple sinks and is lost forever.
The players find an entrance to an ancient Dwarven city that is not on any maps, and they must explore the ruins if they wish to learn its secrets and what happened to the Dwarves who once lived there.
A notorious pirate has been plaguing the coast, and the players have been hired to be part of a crew that will lure the pirate and his crew out where they can be attacked and destroyed once and for all in a battle on the high seas.
A warlock overcome with grief has been losing control of their magic and causing havoc across the land.
A rogue deity has splintered away from the pantheon and has come to the material plane to wreak havoc. The gods (or a god) enlist the characters to help find and destroy the deity, granting them powers to aid in their quest.
A war between dragons breaks out over the land, and if the players don't want to become collateral damage, they must seek a way to put an end to the destruction.
A demon invasion is imminent, and so the players are tasked with traveling to another plane of existence to find artifacts and allies that will send the demons back to their home plane.
A powerful wizard hires the party to travel with them to retrieve a potion that grants immortality, but it's guarded by ancient traps and fearsome, forgotten creatures.
The Bard in the party has been approached to become part of a Bardic university, but the tests to get in are very difficult and the competition is very fierce.
A golem created by a local artificer has gone rogue and is causing destruction and mayhem in the city.
An artificer's creations have become sentient and now want to take over the city.
The resident wizard in the party has somehow discovered a time travel spell in the future and appears to the party in the past for help (which is the present time for the party), although the wizard is an older version of the party's current wizard and won't give away too many details, so history isn't changed.
The party is captured by slavers who force the characters to fight in gladiatorial battles for the amusement of the residents of a far-off land.
The resident Warlock's patron has betrayed the Warlock and now the party must help their friend break free of the patron's influence and seek revenge.
A temple has had a sacred holy artifact stolen and the players have been tasked with retrieving it.
A druid has received a premonition of a terrible natural disaster that will befall a city and the players must find a way to convince the city to prepare for evacuation or risk being destroyed.
The players are invited to a fighting tournament which promises rich rewards but is being overseen by corrupt and deadly individuals.
The party is hired to explore uncharted territory and uncover its secrets. The players must navigate treacherous terrain and discover the mysteries of the unexplored land.
Well, there you have it - 50 adventure hooks to use for D&D or any other TTRPG that will hopefully help you out in a pinch or inspire ideas of your own. Thanks for reading, and as always - let us know what you think in the comments! - Joe