Either you have finally decided to take the plunge, or been gently shoved behind the screen by your adventuring group), or you are a seasoned Dungeon Master looking for your group’s next adventure. You have many creative options as a DM in any tabletop RPG. However, Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is the king of the hill.
We have six inspiration for you, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting your career. We have your five-five DnD campaign suggestions, though!
Premise Let’s get started small. Every adventuring party has encountered a cult. Players can’t resist taking down an evil cult. As they try to track down a mysterious group that is causing locals and visitors to disappear, this quest will activate your group’s cult hunting instincts.
Setup Once your adventurers have settled down in a quiet village, on their way to the next destination, draw a picture of typical tavern-goers. There may be a few other similarly dressed figures. Roleplay This group is seated in a corner and speaks in quiet tones. The mysterious group leaves the inn after they notice the characters of the players. Your party can inquire, or they can use their passive perception to hear the locals speak of someone missing. You can get enough interest to keep even the Scooby Doo gang interested if you add another NPC claiming they saw a child in the woods.
Conflict No matter how your party chooses to tackle this quest, they will come across two things. First, a little girl or boy running away from their friends further into the forest in fear. The second is the group of perceived bad guys who are out hunting for the child in the woods, pitchforks and torch in hand. The mysterious group should be suspected by your players.
Resolution The twist is that the cult isn’t actually a cult and the kid who is scared isn’t even a child at all. Your players will discover that the whole mess started years ago when a local girl went missing. Then, a few adventurers vanished after they investigated.
As time passed, the same rumours resurfaced, this time with a new group of good-doers. The cycle continues until less merchants and more adventurers stop by the village. Now, the locals are also going missing. The would-be cultists are out to get rid of this mess. If your players decide to investigate and pursue cultists (also known as a spot murder hoboism), then they will end up shooting innocent people. Because it’s a poor village with one skilled seamstress, locals may have worn similar or identical cloaks. These people are trying to uncover the true culprit. The classic hag is the one who lures others to her lair and passes herself off as children and local townspeople to spread the rumours.
The stereotypical enemy in DnD is the hag, but your players will likely attack innocent people before they get to her. This could be a great experience for groups with players who are more likely to murder than investigate properly. It may also serve to emotionally hurt your players. The resolution usually occurs after the players have handed over their snack-rifice. Maybe you don’t want your players to eat humble haggis pie. Maybe a good, old-fashioned heist is a better fit.
For Crown and Glory
Premise Your players, whether they are heroes or mercenaries, have been noticed by an adventurer who is willing to enlist them in stealing the royal jewels. The royal crown. However, not everything is as it seems.
Setup – Players are hired to assist an aging adventurer whose party members have either died or retired in faraway places. He has been fighting a Lich for many years. The Lich’s physical phylactery is now atop the head of the last party member. This good-hearted hero is too old and too hurt to drag his bones to take the crown from a beloved king. Players can ask for more information from the old man, who will sheepishly state that he tried to reason once with the supposed fair King, but was threatened.
Conflict This is the more urgent issue. Most kings have an army to defend them from the insane coots and old adventurers.
Resolution If your players decide to explore the history of the hero-king, they’ll discover that he was once an adventurer who defeated a powerful, tyrannical wizard who sought to devastate entire nations in order to find eternal life. The battle was won by the hero king, and the people chose to make him their king. The group might try to convince the king to give the crown or they may play along and go for it under the threat that the old man would be killed if they find out who hired them. The players will discover that the hero king, who is not as kind, but a despot, after which the public’s admiration will make hate them. They were probably under some spell all along. Who knew?
But may be just a bit worse than the man who hired them. The players will discover that the old man is the former partner in adventuring and has been made a Lich. Are you still with me? Good! There’s more! He didn’t ruin his phylactery because he learned that his friend had turned into a Lich. Instead, he used it to blackmail his friend the Lich into convincing the people of the country to believe the story about the hero king. The Lich was left to decide what to do with his phylactery, which is always available for the king in order to fulfill his threat. Your party was able to help him. His survival is the most important thing.
The crown, or cherry on top, I suppose, is that the Lich can either reform or do what most Liches do, and try to kill off the party. You can choose. We have more homebrew available for those who don’t like the above.
Search and Destroy
Premise You can kill all the evil goblins (Kobolds etc.) with your standard run-of-the mill method. You might not need it.
Setup A town hires your character to rid their land of evil goblins. The townspeople will claim that goblins have taken their gold and terrorized and kidnapped locals.
Conflict Most players will follow the advice of the townspeople to demolish the goblin lair and kill the goblins in the hope that they can return the gold and the missing people. The player will discover no gold and no missing persons when they investigate the goblin lair. If they choose to question a surviving goblin the player will discover that the accused are not doing what the townies claim. They may even say that the townspeople have destroyed their farms.
Resolution The town will be grateful to players who return to their town without gold or people. There were no tears shed for the neighbors or missing gold. Your players will soon realize that they have been tricked by the town. The real problem was the townsfolk refusing to live next to such different and unsightly people. You can roleplay the townies being smug if confronted. They have a village full children and innocent people and they are certain that no consequences will be applied to them.
Your trickery will be resentful by your players. It’s possible, but they will be left questioning the true villains. We have a solid starting point for those who are looking for something more long-term.
A New Queen Raven
Premise Players will find mounting evidence that a neighboring Lordship is trying to take over their homeland. This is just the beginning of a much longer campaign. The Raven Queen will be the BBEG (big, bad evil guy), and will use anyone she can to play her game.
Setup A tavern explosion calls the party, and kicks off to a traditional tavern begin. It was. The guard commander, meanwhile, is away from the lord’s manor discussing which of his two officers will take his place when he retires. The explosion that occurred shortly after the changing guard leaves almost half the town’s guard dead or seriously injured. The explosion can be investigated by players. They will find the scorched remains and head pendant of an iron raven now fused to his chest.
Conflict: While the town is engulfed in the chaos that an exploding Tavern naturally causes, a strike force has been forming on the grounds of the manor. This mysterious new figure claims to be the Raven Queen and is attempting to take over the magnificent building. They are not trying to overthrow the Lord as the neighboring nobleman claims he has enlisted them for, but rather to recover an artifact that was long protected by the local Lord.
Solution: The party will need to find clues around town in order to discover what caused the explosion. After that, they may be able (perhaps through NPCs) to learn that the manor has been under siege. The party can then decide how to defeat the invaders. They could use force of combat or sneak into the breached keep. The party’s objectives are to defeat or fend off the invaders, preserve the artifact and save as many people as possible.
Although it may not be your usual tavern opening, your players cannot lose any points for their style. Will they be able to stop the “Raven Queen”‘s forces in time? What will this mysterious new person do with such an object of power? Is the tavern going to be rebuilt in time for quiz nights? These are the questions that you as a DM must ask.
Premise The reward for anyone who can solve the undead attack surge in the area is
Setup Players will be driven by rumours and a job board to investigate the increase in undead. They’ll discover a village that refuses to talk about the matter, but with cunning investigation, they can uncover the cause: a necromancer who lives in an old manor.
Conflict: Players will face waves of undead outside the manor. They will likely observe that the undead are well-cared for as they advance. Once inside, the PCs will find that the manor is quite barren. There are also discarded research notes and one well-dressed lady (baroness, if your players have a decent history ). The magical ice has preserved them. If your players wish, they should be able find and defeat the wizard necromancer.
Resolution Players who have read clues will be rewarded. You can also create clues in the discarded research or any other information you want to point out the necromancer as the baroness’ widower. He has searched for a sustainable way to bring back the dead, just as they were before the loss of his wife. This would save everyone the pain of losing their loved ones. He was respected by the locals and was able to gain their support. Some even donated their deceased. Their support was only strengthened by the widower’s willingness to sell everything he owned in order to fund his research. Many of us would do anything to help a loved one.
You can take the plot one step further by adding a mysterious benefactor to your plot. They could be using the widower for their own evil purposes.
This situation may be handled by your players with kindness, justice or vengeance. They may choose to blur the lines between good or evil, which could make them a memorable, sympathetic foe.
If any of these campaign ideas appeal to you, then check our article about CR to get started on setting up your next adventure for your players. We hope you enjoyed the opportunity to pit your players against these campaign ideas. If you like them, please comment below and tell us which one you will use or share with others.