I have a confession to make. I let work get on top of me again this week, and around midday yesterday I realised it was Tuesday and that I had no idea what to write for Stat Boost.
18 hours later – at 6am, i.e. as I’m writing this – I still have no idea what to write. Luckily, there are some awesome people around who are willing to step up to the plate at the last minute.
On this occasion, that person is Matt Sanders of Dwarves in a Trenchcoat. He’s released some really awesome things on DriveThruRPG – I included his ‘Bags of Flavour: Bottles’ in April’s Best Of post – and recently he’s taken to posting short adventure hooks on Twitter every day. I reached out to him at some point yesterday afternoon (I honestly can’t remember how late I left it) asking if he’d be willing to write a random table of hooks for today’s post, and he came through in spectacular style.
I was expecting tweet-length hooks, which would have been great. Instead, with a little more room than 140 characters to play with, he went to town. I’m going to stop talking now, and just give you the post.
12 Adventure Hooks by Dwarves in a Trenchcoat
- A scribe’s son went missing during the weekly market. Later in the day, a small trail of scrunched up balls of paper is found by guards at the town edge. It leads off into the forest. The scribe unfurls a few, and finds they are from a book of children’s stories he knows well. Alarmingly, there are only fifty or so pages after this, so his son may soon stop being able to leave a trail.
- At the market, a swarthy man with an unplaceable accent is plying unusual wares. He has a huge selection of glass jars, each containing a miniaturised creature of some sort. Some lie sleeping, others thrash against the glass in rage. Still others cast spells or scream and shout. When an ear is placed close enough, their voices and words can be heard. Many feel they are unjustly imprisoned.
- A paladin with dented armour and a ragged pennant arrives astride a horse that is barely more than a bag of bones under its faded livery. He spins a tale of a dark temple, occupied by cultists of a dire-bear-worshipping cult who seek to spread great forests across the surface of the world. He plans to return to smite them once and for all as soon as he is fed and watered.
- A young man is extorting great sums of money from bereaved families to put them back in touch with their families. As well as the money, he requires the body be exhumed and that he be given the skull. Local clerics are fearful of this seemingly philanthropic necromancer and what his real agenda may be.
- The goblin tribes in the hills usually keep to themselves, but recently have been fighting each other for reasons no one was able to discern. Huntsmen report that their forces are massing in the hills for a huge battle that looks like to have town square in the middle of the battlefield. The mayor calls a meeting at which a diviner reveals she can feel the presence of two aboleths who are controlling the goblins. The cave systems of the hills must be searched and these evil monsters found before town is engulfed in their conflict.
- A recent spike in muggings has got the nobles’ tongues aflutter with talk of chopping people’s hands off for all sorts of petty crimes. The watch have proven unable to catch the gang responsible, and insist that it is a group of children operating out of the slums. In the marketplace, you see a theft take place. The thief is barefoot, and you notice them slink off to a tavern on the side of the square, The Handsome Halfling.
- A travelling bard is playing at the tavern. He sits atop a large wooden box as he plays. As his song builds up, the front of the box flops down with a loud smack and reveals a small group of gnomes holding instruments. Although not perfectly in time or tune, they join in with the song. Two of them walk around holding their hats out to collect donations.
- A dwarven bowyer wishes to produce a batch of crossbows which will be his finest work before he retires and passes the business to his son, who has recently come of age. He wants to use elven wood from one of their deepest and oldest groves of sacred trees. They have refused to sell it to him. Now he is discreetly looking for someone to acquire it for him. In exchange they would get one of his crossbows once they’re finished.
- A warehouse in the docks that was housing goods imported from a distant desert kingdom collapses into a giant hole, revealing a network of tunnels underneath it. It seems ankheg stowed away in some of the goods and have been burrowing underneath town. Tens of their foul egg clusters litter the ruins of the warehouse, and the dried up bodies of the men who once worked there are found in the rubble.
- A huge black wolf arrives at the gates of town. Just as the guards are levelling their crossbows at it, it speaks – “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”. It goes on to tell of its master, an aging wizard who lives in a tower nearby. He has fallen ill and many of his magical clockwork machines have gone wild. The worg has been unable to treat him and has come to town seeking help controlling the malevolent machines and bringing treatment to his master.
- Despite it being the middle of summer, an unseasonal cold spell descends on the local area. Lizardfolk start fleeing the nearby swamp, their bodies showing up on the roads, and many people report attempts to steal food or have found lizardfolk sleeping in their barns. A small group shows up at the gates, asking for help. They believe this cold weather is the work of an oni who wishes to raid their ancestral temples.
- For many years, poaching in the woods around town belonging to the De Rothsford family has been tolerated. Recently, mangled bodies – sometimes spread over quite a radius – have been showing up. People were initially fearful of coming forward because of the guilt of poaching, but now hysteria has gripped the many families that depend on it for their livelihood. When people go to the De Rothsford estate to ask for help, they discover the house in a squalid state, with great pawprints through many of the rooms and dark bloodstains on the floor. In the dining room, the portrait of the youngest son, Jabob, has been raked with sharp claws.
I’m incredibly grateful to Matt for putting this post together for me, and for doing it so quickly – he really saved my ass on this, frankly. If you liked these – and I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t – I appreciate it if you took the time to check out Dwarves in a Trenchcoat on DriveThruRPG. Matt’s PDFs are really well written, useful products that you can drop into practically any game. Plus they’re beautifully presented and super cheap to boot.