Need a plot hook for your desert-based D&D or other TTRPG campaign?
Here are 20 desert plot hooks for either your entire game or for short story arcs. Feel free to use them in your game!
If you do use one of these plot hooks, leave a comment below or tag me on Twitter @RolePlayRespite.
- A group of robed individuals have been seen delivering crates to an ancient ruin deep in the desert. Most who investigate don’t return. But, those who have heard strange, mechanical noises coming from within.
- Relations with a local Thrikeen or other non-humanoid tribe have inexplicably soured. Now, they attacked any caravans who travel the usual routes.
- A giant, ruined sailing ship is discovered in the dunes. The only reason anyone knows of it is because a panicked individual ran to the city claiming they were attacked by something that came from the ship.
- Ankhegs (or another desert predator) have been attacking more and more. What’s more concerning is the large number of ankheg corpses showing up with increasing frequency.
- A large sandstorm recently raged for seven days straight. Afterwards, a large tomb was unearthed. All expeditions sent so far have yet to return.
- The guardian brass dragon of the surrounding area hasn’t been seen for weeks. Bandits, undead, and other dangerous entities are becoming more aggressive. No one knows where the dragon went, but they were last seen flying south.
- Huge gemstone pillars are appearing seemingly at random across the desert. Magical scholar claim the crystals resonate with magical energy but they don’t know how they’re forming so quickly.
- Abnormal sand storms are appearing at random. Last week, a nearby town was blanketed. A few of the survivors escaped claiming the sands came to life and attacked their homes.
- Tensions rise between two settlements; one of humanoids and the other of jackalweres or other lycanthropes. On the humanoid side, they claim the lycanthropes are attacking their trade caravans. On the other side, the lycan thropes claim the humanoids are raiding their town.
- The sads are slowly solidifying into stone. It didn’t seem like a major issue over the last few weeks, even making some trade routes more easily navigable. It only became a concern when the spontaneous petrifications started.
- The desert’s fauna is becoming increasingly aggressive. Giant scorpions,snakes, and lizards go out of their way to attack merchant caravans and assault towns across the desert. Several witnesses claim seeing a hooded figure commanding the beasts.
- Each year, the monarch must bathe one of their children in the grand river to show the Water Guardian their kingdom will continue after their death. But, the heir disappears shortly before the annual ceremony.
- Entire towns are sinking into the sands overnight. The few sruvivors claim hearing a deep, resonating laughter echo on the winds before their homes sank.
- The Day of Red Sun prophesized a great destruction. It went forgotten for millenia until an esoterics scholar rediscovered it deep in the Royal Library, and it’s happening soon. The early signs are already happening; fiery being emerging from the sands, crops scorching without flame, and the rare spontaneous combustion of flora, fauna, and people.
- The tomb of an ancient, benevolent king opens. The king’s mummy awakens but he’s distraught as his resurrection foretells the coming of his powerful, evil brother whose tomb has been lost to the ages.
- A large force of fire giants march on the desert kingdom. They claim a great creation of theirs was stolen and they threaten to drag the desert into the Plane of Fire unless they retrieve what’s they’ve come for.
- The Protecor Sun Stone always ensured the desert kingdom would survive. But, when it inexplicably shatters one day, a second sun appears in the sky and the day become hotter and hotter. Plants, animals, people, and structures begin bursting into flames as time drags on.
- A sandstorm reveals the ruins of a massive, ancient library beneath the sands. The winding and labyrinthine halls promise knowledge and treasures…but the library isn’t completely abandoned.
- Sculptures made of sand that resemble people, both living and dead, start appearing in various towns across the kingdom. It’s eeire at first, but when they start moving do things become frightening.
- The giant stone guardians across the desert stood for generations and regarded as the kingdom’s protectors…until they started moving on their own.