View Full Version : Random Story Hooks

2009-04-28, 12:09 AM
Something that I've always liked doing with my campaigns is having the players give me a few hooks from their backstory that I can weave into the campaign. Unfortunately, only about half of my players do this all that well.

In the DMG, there's a list of random physical and personality traits; I was wondering if anyone tried generating a table of story hooks (e.g. "You are the disinherited child of a cruel lord") and rolling secretly for each character. Some results you might tell them about in secret, such as the example above, but others they might not discover until the plot brings it up. (e.g. "The villain has taken up residence in your ancestral castle")

Has anyone tried this, and if so, how did it work?

Kol Korran
2009-04-28, 02:49 AM
it takes certain kinds of players to allow the DM to insert random background bits into their character. most players don't like that. however, the second type of plot hooks you suggested (the hidden kind) is fine, as long as you do it to a player who will also enjoy it.

if you want, we might start a 1001 player-related-plot-hooks list here, but i doubt if it'll catch on. your players though might be reffered to it, and it might give them ideas.

2009-04-28, 02:52 AM
Most players really won't enjoy you randomly inserting plothooks directly into their backgrounds. A better solution if you have to do something like that is to talk to your players (possibly individually) out of game about their characters and flesh out their backgrounds together, so that you can make plothooks that draw from them without randomly attaching fluff.

2009-04-28, 02:58 AM
I could see giving a player some backstory plot-hooks if they aren't very good at it, to help give them an idea of what they might do with it, and how they pan out. Eventually, they'll get better at making their own backstory and you can stop giving them random ones. Unless that player just plain doesn't want to make a backstory, for whatever reason, or just isn't good at it and never will be, in which case you can give them random hooks for all of their characters. Still, a better long-term solution to that would be to make entire backgrounds for them, or to ask one of your players who does like making backgrounds to give him some of his extras that he doesn't have time to use.

2009-04-28, 06:17 AM
Character biography based plot hooks are a neat thing, but if you impose this on them, they will neither feel organic nor have the players that much of a connection to the plot. I wouldn't recommend doing it.

If you are feeling that your players' characters do not offer enough input to a plot, create a stimulus for the players to create more input within the game mechanics. Players who write better (not longer; quality clearly beats quantity here) backgrounds - with potential plot hooks as one of the criteria could get a real mechanical bonus in the game, like higher ability scores, bonus feats, more skill points (nobody has ever enough skill points in D&D) etc. Works wonderful and is fairer to reward a player's input and dedication to the game.