Plots in a Pinch

Sometimes, you need a compelling hook and challenge for a session or one shot. But you don’t want a one-dimensional adventure. You want something with bite.

Use these 3 charts to create a unique adventure based around the kind of challenge you want the players to have.

Examples: If you want a combat-focused challenge where the players need to use their intelligence and the challenge has a magical property, you can choose Combat from the primary challenge chart, Clever/Intelligent from the secondary challenge chart, and Magic from the tertiary challenge chart. This gives you: Players must find a way to overcome a powerful warlord that cannot be killed by normal means who can constantly disguise theirself (themself? Themselve? Unsure).

If you wanted an adventure around a deity with a dash of survival and some more deity drama, you could pick Deity Drama, Survival, Deity Drama, which would be: Players learn the secret of a missing god that can thrive in circumstances and they have the faithful trying to deny it.

This provides a quick plot, but the why is up to the DM.

Contributors from the Gollicking:

u/RexiconJesse, u/Mimir-ion, & u/Fortuan


Primary challenge:

Combat A powerful warlord
Clever/Intelligent A grandmaster of a strategy game
Magic An intellect dissolving cloud
Environmental A shortage of necessary resources
Society/City A powerful and dangerous political change is occurring
Survival An inhospitable area
Social An affluent socialite with dirt on important people
Beyond Your Station A tyrannical ruler
Beyond Your Control An elemental power
Beyond Your Understanding The spawn of an extradimensional deity
War An army of mercenaries
Religion A false bishop
Political A Spymaster
Flora A Tree of Life
Sentience An intelligent, brain-eating group of people
Dragon Ancient Dragon
Deity Drama A missing god
Undead A rogue Reaper
Prophecy A “The End is Nigh” Oracle
Family Drama A close loved one of a PC
Visions from a Dream A dream has shown a PC what will happen
Non-Combat A constantly watched law enforcement official
Backstory An important person in a PCs backstory



Secondary challenge:

Combat That
Clever/Intelligent That cannot be killed/resolved by normal means
Magic That nullifies magic or reflects spells back at the caster
Environmental That is in an environment hostile to the characters
Society/City That wants fewer prisoners
Survival That can thrive in circumstances and environments no one else can
Social That has something that can shift the balance of power
Beyond Your Station That is the key to toppling an empire
Beyond Your Control That can never be completely stopped
Beyond Your Understanding That has gained power from an experience beyond the veil of space and time
War That will get what it seeks one way or another
Religion That seizes faithful souls
Political That makes people disappear
Flora That regrows endlessly
Sentience That expands a network of thralls
Dragon That rules under threat of sheer power
Deity Drama That lost control of their domain
Undead That wants a less chaotic world
Prophecy That faith will see succeed
Family Drama That has influential ties to a PCs family
Visions from a Dream That shows terrible events happening simultaneously in different locations
Non-Combat That has a dedicated group of people at their beck and call
Backstory That is tied directly to a key event in a PCs backstory


Tertiary challenge: 

Combat Has unmatched equipment or resources
Clever/Intelligent Cannot be solved/defeated by intellect alone
Magic Can constantly disguise or hide itself
Environmental Is changing the environment to better suit its needs
Society/City During a local election
Survival The weather is inhospitable
Social Is surrounded by nosy people
Beyond Your Station No one in authority believes you
Beyond Your Control Is on a short timetable you cannot slow
Beyond Your Understanding Is pulling another dimension into an unstable union with this one
War Is regenerating its ranks quicker than they can be destroyed
Religion Is seen as a messiah by a multitude of people
Political Has spies everywhere
Flora Has nature on its side.
Sentience Hides behind the veil of society
Dragon Owns the royal hierarchy and government in place
Deity Drama Has the faithful trying to deny it
Undead Sends kills to Purgatory
Prophecy The McGuffin needed to succeed is unknown
Family Drama Is guilt tripping a PC to do what they want done
Visions from a Dream PC(s) lose something every time they deviate from the vision
Non-Combat Challenges a character to a test of skill
Backstory Drastically changes a character’s understanding about something from their past

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6 thoughts on “Plots in a Pinch

Add yours

  1. If you want to randomize it, use an electronic dice roller to roll 2d23 for each table.

    These ideas look great, and I look forward to using them!


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