5 Travel Related Hooks for GMs

Here are five adventure hooks for travelling adventures for this month’s Blogger’s Carnival.

1. Shipwrecked

This one works in just about any game system whether low fantasy or high tech.

The vessel carrying the party sinks / runs aground / crashes or generally gets destroyed leaving the party stranded on a unknown island or planet. The players must work out how to survive this strange and hostile environment as well as devise an escape route.

This scenario is a great 1st level, introductory adventure because it can dive straight into the action. It also works well for high level parties. Well crafted scenarios can be a serious struggle for characters who have come to rely on a networks of spies, the internet, servants or any of the other trappings of civilisation.

2. Snowed In

The party becomes trapped in a remote inn due to weather or other forces completely outside of their control prevent them from travelling further. Confined to the half-dozen rooms of the inn with a limited number of NPCs for company, the situation will seem safe until someone turns up dead. Now there is a killer around and it is up to the party to find them.

These adventures can go two ways. Either it is a straight-forward murder and the killer is one of the NPCs or the killer is something supernatural that may be working through one of the NPCs. When it is an ordinary murder, the game turns into a classic whodunit as the party interviews the NPCs and follows up clues. Murder on the Orient Express is the classic example of this scenario. Supernatural involvement will shift the genre of the game towards horror and a more combat orientated adventure. John Carpenter’s The Thing is one of many easy to rip-off plots for this situation.

3. Strangers in a Strange Land

The party are travelling through a far off land and find themselves unknowing pawns in local politics. Seeing a damsel in distress, they leap in to rescue her only to find she was a runaway bride being recaptured by the powerful warlord she is due to marry. Having inadvertently offended one warlord, another warlord offers advice in resolving the dispute. Of course, that advice may not be in the parties best interest and they soon themselves in a web of conspiracy they simply don’t understand.

4. The Unexpected Symbol

Travelling in a remote part of the world, a perfectly ordinary heraldic, religious or corporate symbols suddenly gains new meaning. It is a sign that the wearer is a prophet, a god, a devil or a signal that the end of times is coming. Ancient stone carvings of the symbol in a part of the world that should never of encountered it before convince the party that this is a mystery worth investigation.

Depending on what the symbol means to the natives, the party could exploit the situation and declare themselves gods (watch The Man Who Would Be King for a great example of this). Or maybe they need to solve the mystery to escape being sacrificed. The possibilities are endless and it can easily lead into straight forward dungeon crawls or complex political games.

5. The Mary Celeste

Sometimes parties just stumble over adventures. The discovery of a village, completely abandoned but with food on the table and warm ashes in the hearth is enough to distract any adventurer from their journey. This theme has numerous permutations. Rather than a village, it might be another ship or the village could be totally destroyed and the inn the party expected to stay in is just a smoking hole in the ground.

This scenario can go anywhere the GM wants it to. The important thing is to start with a strange mystery, preferably a spooky one with supernatural overtones to get the party on edge.

The Accidental Adventurer

Travel between adventures does not need to be a dull series of random encounters or simply glossed over in a single sentence by the GM. Travel presents all sorts of opportunities for the smart GM to pull the party into unexpected danger.

This month’s Blogger’s Carnvial is being hosted by The Gamer Traveller.

3 comments

  1. I despise Shipwrecking. Sadly, too many GM’s I have played with use the hook so my characters all now have some innate hatred of water/ships/boats. Maybe if one of craft actually made it to the destination, I would not internalize it as much. I’ve had characters who would swim rather than getting on so much as a row boat.
    .-= Mark´s last blog ..Gaming at 10,000 feet =-.

    1. Shipwrecking, like any idea, can be overused.

      It can also be done badly if the GM forces the situation onto the characters. This tends to be more of a problem with higher level characters who have a variety of options that might allow them to prevent the shipwreck. As an introductory adventure it is great because you can shipwreck the characters in the scene setting paragraph before the players even get to open their mouths.

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