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DM Thoughts- A Questing we shall go.

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Hey guys.
Once again, It's Lake here with DM thoughts. Apologies that it's been a while since I posted last. Real life kinda got in the way
Today, I'm going to go through how I build quests and quest hooks.

Step 1: Basic Quest Concepts
Every quest ultimately comes down to a simple idea, like fighting something or going somewhere. This can come from a lot of different things, from a basic idea to a show, game, or movie. You also can also spring quests out of a previous hook or hide a hook inside a hook. For instance, in my Rookie Card campaign, the current quest came out of a simple delivery. Be creative. Quest ideas are EVERYWHERE.
Step 2: Building the Reward and Challenge concepts
Every quest needs some kind of a challenge and rewards. This includes dungeons, enemies, treasure, etc. For me, I have it in a simple sentence, like so:
Defeat a necromancer (500 Gold, Dungeon, Zombies)
You need to make sure to scale it with your players. You need to decide whether or not you want this to be of an average challenge or more difficult. Don't forget that you can always build or tweak monsters. If you want your players to battle an Owlbear at level 1, maybe make it young or already wounded.
Also set up what you want as the reward. Whether this be what the farmer pays for killing a wolf or the treasure hoard of a dragon. If you give the party magical weapons and potions as part of it, make sure you note what it is, so you and your players don't forget
Step 3: Designing Battles and Dungeons.
If you're homebrewing, you can't rely on the module for your encounters and designs. You have to build everything from scratch. I recommend looking through your DM guide and looking at the Bestiary. Most guides have a section on encounters and how to run them. A good way to build a quest is to take a monster or NPC and set the battle with them as the central hook. Word of caution is to make sure the monster fits the setting. You wouldn't find a merfolk sorcerer in an underground cavern, but you might have to battle Dueregar.
A rule of thumb I use when building a dungeon or setting is that “everything must exist for a purpose”. While it may be tempting to drop random dungeons all over the place, the people in your world wouldn't just make a dungeon for no reason. Whether it's an abandoned mineshaft or an underground headquarters for a secret society, it was made for a reason by the people who built it.
Step 4: Be Organic
This doesn't mean just apples grown without pesticide. Your quests should fit naturally and snugly into the world. If you're hunting down a thief, why not have the shopkeeper he ripped off give your player their quest? You can also use NPCs from earlier quests to give new quests and information. For instance, in the staff recovery quest I mentioned earlier the party went to a man they'd assisted before for information tracking the thieves down. They also ran into a man they'd taken down before who offered to sell out the local thieves' guild. Your world should be alive (Maybe a good post for another day.) Your quests should therefore blossom out of that world, rather than be grafted awkwardly onto it.
Step 5: Be flexible
Your players are going to mess with your quest. They just are. Make sure there's multiple ways to solve the problem, because one of your players will think of it.
Step 6: Aftermath
So the quest is over, the treasure is given and the EXP added. What now? Welll... that's where the next quest comes in. maybe they find a unique item in the treasure and have to return it to an owner or the Merchant has another job for them. Have fun with it. You never know where your quest chain could leave.

Updated 01-31-2017 at 11:38 PM by LakethePondling



  1. Isada's Avatar
    Awesome you're writing DM thoughts again--really helpful stuff!