Adventure hooks are those little clues that DMs drop here and there to attract characters to particular adventure areas, usually the ones the DM has invested considerable time and energy into detailing. They can take many forms (more on that below), but what’s important is that they tantalize the players enough to whet their appetites for more. Adventure hooks are the carrots that get players to pull the cart of the campaign along a path of the DM’s choosing.
Some DMs are blessed with players who go wherever the DM suggests they go, in accord with an implicit player/DM compact and a great deal of trust that the DM won’t steer them down the broad, straight path to Hell. Other players constantly tug in their own direction, oblivious to the DM’s desires. They might be actively trying to throw the DM off balance or just being contrary.
In this series of articles I’ll be bringing elements from Diablo 3 to you for use in your tabletop game. Although the material is mostly D&D-centric, I’ll speak as generally as possible and avoid specific mechanical speech when at all possible. I do hope you enjoy!
My first efforts as a DM were with published D&D adventures: D1–3, Descent Into the Depths of the Earth, Shrine of the Kuo-Toa, and Vault of the Drow. We bombed through the series in two marathon sessions.
Those adventures produced great moments and great memories. I still shudder, however, when I think about some of my rookie DM mistakes.
Most of my errors came from a lack of preparation. I made the mistake of believing that because I had page after page of professionally produced adventure material, my work was already done. I’d read the adventures beforehand, but not in great detail. I had the gist of it and assumed the rest would flow naturally from quick checks on the fine points during play.
Meatspray. That is the nickname my fighter earned within the first hour of playtesting D&D Next. Granted, as a player I naturally lean toward exploiting the rules—ever play Street Fighter 2 and get pinned in the corner by Ken or Ryu and then subsequently kicked over and over again into oblivion? Yeah, I am that guy. I opened the playtest rules, picked the biggest and baddest weapon, and looked up all the tactics that I could use to maximize my damage. Then I got down to business killing some monsters. Judging by my character’s nickname, I was successful. From this you should glean two things: one, this game moves blazingly fast because I had a reputation within an hour, and two, the fighter is definitely not underpowered. Ask the minotaur he nearly took down in one blow at level 1. (The natural 20 had a little to do with that as well, so he can’t take all the credit.)
My experience with the D&D Next playtest process over the past few months has been nothing short of amazing. My players and I have really come out of our shells, so to speak. Characters are developing more than ever, emergent storytelling is at the forefront of our games, and—most importantly—referencing game materials and rules has become marginal. The flow of D&D Next so far has been immensely smooth. Now let me give you a little background here.
Half of my group and I have been playing D&D off and on for the majority of our lives, and the other half of our group was either new to the game or only lightly experienced with the game. After our last 4E game fell apart, we tried a lot of systems—some homebrew, some retro clones—and while those were great, we still really missed D&D. One of the things other systems did was teach my players that they weren’t bound to power cards and mechanical breakdowns of every minutia that went on in the game world.