“Unavoidable” adventure hooks

I have a theory that the reason some of my games work well, and some take a while to get off the ground, is all to do with how easily the players can sit around in a safe area. I think there’s a bit of an instinct to go shopping, even if you never start with any money? So I’ve been putting together a short list of adventure starting locations that are fundamentally “unavoidable” i.e. any safety must be found and fought for.

  1. Poling a raft down a jungle river at dusk
  2. Awaken in the middle of a megadungeon, optionally beneath a pile of corpses
  3. Enjoying a drink in the tavern when a pillar of fire descends from the skies, flattening most of the town
  4. That mountain just exploded, and demons are pouring out of it
  5. Captured and forced to fight in the goblin coliseum
  6. Failed to get into heaven, not sinful enough fo hell, so reincarnated in purgatorial middle-earth
  7. Religious ceremony, can only leave the dungeon once at least one of you has died

Any others come to mind?


This would make a fun list to roll on! The purgatory hook sounds really fun; are there any conditions for the characters to escape?

  1. Captured on a pirate’s ship.
  2. About to participate in a high-stakes heist.
  3. Trapped in a collapsed mineshaft, where knockers/goblins encroach on the characters in the dark.
  4. An Indiana Jones-esque cold open; on the path to an ancient temple stalked by rival adventurers.
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  1. Wash up on the shore of some new land after being shipwrecked.
  2. Traveling through the middle of some gods-forsaken desert as a caravan guard or passenger.
  3. Stuck in a prison cell as another prisoner’s head splits open and starts sprouting a bunch of tentacles, like that dog in The Thing.
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15: Starting mid-combat
16: “The gate closes behind you as you enter”

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I’ve created a Dice Democracy subcategory for this kind of topics.

Kudos to you all for giving me the inspiration for a whole new topic category!

  1. Crack out of a sealed sticky pod, cables unplugging, opaque fluids slopping to the floor. Your carefully dirtied possession are stacked up nearby
  2. Falling from the sky, half of you have rudimentary parachutes
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  1. You’re pallbearers in a funeral procession mourning a loved one or important public figure. The casket bursts open and a zombie crawls out.
  2. Relaxing on the beach when large green coconuts start washing up on shore. First one, then five, then dozens. Then they start to hatch.
  3. Watching a play. The actors draw real swords and start hacking each other apart, then the survivors turn on the audience.

Its a classic and a bit basic, but its what I always fall back on:

  1. You’re out of money, the rent is due and you don’t have any food.