50 Spooky Plot Hooks – The Chattering

It’s Halloween month– I mean October! It’s my favorite season of the year AND it holds my favorite holiday. As a celebration, we made a list of 50 horror-themed, unnerving, and otherwise creepy plot hooks for everyone to enjoy this month (or all year round if you’re into that. Like I am).

The Chattering is a group of creative GMs trying to become a hivemind of RPG ideas. The following members lovingly crafted these these spoopy plot hooks:

  1. Every night cracks appear in the moon, with more appearing each night. Some are as thin as hairs, others as broad as riverbeds. Strange fey-like light leaks out of the cracks, changing any life it touches.
  2. One day, somewhere in a city, blood starts living all on its own. It started with animal’s blood disappearing after slaughter, but soon it affected humans too. Blood disappeared, seen crawling into the ground, not much later even small wounds started to ooze blood like it was trying to escape. Later, the water began turning into blood. The water in the wells turned to blood. Blood in the rain stained the cobbles on the street red. That was before the blood elementals appeared.
  3. Memories start pouring into your head, memories that are not your own. Memories that belong to people close to you. Every time you go to sleep and wake up you become a slightly different person, learning things about others that you may not wanted to. After a week the migraines start, as the memories press on, cramming your overloaded brain.
  4. Whenever the party stops traveling (camps, stays at an inn, etc.) there’s one more person with the party. The new party member always acts as if they’ve been a member of the group for some time, and everyone has memories of them. Each day, the one new party member is different, but everyone still remembers them.
  5. Each time a party member hears a word such as “help,” “rescue,” or “assistance,” their vision goes black and they see a flash of a stranger’s face. The more inebriated they are, the longer this face stays in their vision.
  6. One night, while they sleep at an inn, the players wake up when they feel something warm dripping on them. Severed pig parts are hanging from the ceiling of their room.
  7. The players are forced to traverse an area of magical darkness. Inside, they feel things squirming and touching them, they are slimy, warm, and soft. The things try to crawl inside their clothes and boots.
  8. One night while sleeping at an inn, the inn starts sinking into the ground. The players can hear the floors below them being crushed and the screams of the people in the inn.
  9. A carrier pigeon falls into the party’s camp at night, its body crawling with parasitic worms. The message it was carrying comes from the city the players are headed to. It reads: “It might already be too late. Our clerics can’t control it anymore.”
  10. After entering a new town, there are a few odd details. This town is nowhere near as populated as the number of buildings would suggest, everyone is wearing a hat or helmet and while people are friendly and wave, they do not speak to one another. When speaking to any of them, the first 6-10 responses are normal, if brief, but then become the only thing the person can say. The head wear hides the fact that the back of their skulls are gone and their brains are infested with a parasitic fungus. When discovered, the organism and its thralls attack.
  11. The most perceptive player notices things moving just outside their field of vision. The rest of the group sees nothing. Scrying reveals blurry shapes that cause the caster to go mad for 1d4 hours. So far, none appears to be hostile. For now.
  12. The party awakens one morning to the events of the previous day. The party repeats the same day, no matter what they do. (GM Note: pick an action or series of actions that will break the cycle)
  13. The players fight a creature in a dungeon. It’s a tough challenge, and it takes them multiple rounds to take it down. A few minutes later, hundreds of the same creature come charging towards the players and rush past them. The creatures are wounded and terrified, too scared to pay any attention to the PCs.
  14. The players wake up in the middle of the night, something is banging against the door and screaming like a frenzied beast. It lasts just a few seconds, and then stops. There are no traces of anything outside the room, but the door was almost torn off.
  15. The players are traveling through an unknown forest and lose their way. After wandering around for some time (1d12 hours), seemingly in circles, they notice a makeshift hut with smoke coming out of a chimney that wasn’t there before. When they inevitably enter and inspect the inside, they find an active fireplace and other signs of life but no one is there. Soon after, the players realize that the door they entered through has vanished.
  16. The players discover a town in the middle of a swamp. The children in town keep on disappearing anytime a strange light appears in the forest. Whenever the players attempt to follow it, they end up back in the town again, with everything slightly changed.
  17. One player has a dream every night featuring a specific event. Some time after they wake, the event from their dream occurs before they sleep again. Last night, the player dreamed they asked someone “Where are my friends?” and a voice replied “They’re all dead.”
  18. The players keep hearing people being murdered. Sometimes it’s someone screaming in pain from behind a corner, other times a guillotine falling down and a head rolling, other times someone being shot. There is no apparent cause for these sounds, they never find victims, but it makes it hard to distinguish it from real cries for help.
  19. When they look at their arm, the player sees something moving under their skin.
  20. All open water around the players turns a blackish green, oily, and foul-smelling.
  21. If the players stand in the same place for too long (GM decides the time frame), finger-like protrusions start appearing from floors, walls and the ground, twitching and twisting around, trying to touch them. They don’t deal damage, but they have other abilities.
  22. The sun turns into an enormous eyeball, always pointed at the players. Nobody else seems to notice.
  23. The players stumble upon a herd of cows. They notice the cows are eating each other. They don’t seem to be in pain or care at all as they slowly tear each other to pieces.
  24. The players stumble upon a procession: townsfolk busy with some ceremony. They are very friendly and welcoming. After a bit of small talk, they wave the players goodbye and resume their procession. They all walk off a cliff, without a sound or hesitation.
  25. An invisible assassin is slowly picking off targets, with the only clues to the next murder being the gusts of wind. The motives behind the murders are unknown and everyone in the village is suspected.
  26. The party can faintly hear screaming underneath the cobblestone road, and can follow it for a few minutes before it stops underneath the church.
  27. Strange sounds and moans come from a nearby swamp and livestock keeps disappearing. Suddenly one night the moon turns red and the moaning is not only louder but coming from all sides. The town’s folk scream of the “Swamp Beasts.”
  28. The party is at a grand ball for the prince, but a dead body is found and more will follow. Unbeknownst to the players, the murderer is one of their own.
  29. The younger sister of a prominent NPC is missing. When the party draws near they can hear the girl whimpering then they find her pinned beneath the strange badger-headed deer. She says help me once again, although only to realize it’s only the torso of the girl and the creature is mimicking her voice.
  30. The party rests in a small, quaint town on the road as they travel. At midnight, they are awakened by a terrified scream farther down the road. They arrive at the scene just in time to see a young person from this town clawing at the throat of another person. Beyond the scuffle is a disfigured body, and beyond that, another.
  31. Moving through the thick of the forest, the party spots a hefty tree broken in half, yet somehow floating. Upon closer inspection, cracks on the trunk’s surface belch pixie dust, keeping the tree in mid-air. The floating tree is hollowed out, and seems to have become a prison for a bunch of wounded pixies who are helplessly fluttering their wings.
  32. An NPC ally of the party comes to ask for help to “get as far from here as they can.” They appear to be going through an intense withdrawal, and are uncharacteristically anxious about being hunted down by something monstrous. If pressed, the NPC is hesitant to give any specifics about what they are running from, in an effort to protect the party from a powerful vampire that pursues them.
  33. Traveling around 100-200 ft. off the coast of an island, the party sees a 4 ft. wide hole in the bottom of the ocean floor. Sand gently falls into it, quickly disappearing into the darkness.
  34. The party arrives in a friendly town who is happy to see them. They love travelers, and invite them into their homes offering free meals and boarding. The party is then encouraged to join the town festival as guests of honor. The guests of honor sit at the table closest to the woods. From the woods emerges a dragon and the towns people bow to their master happy to provide tribute once again.
  35. After a long rest through a foggy night, the party realizes the sun isn’t coming up. The fog only partially fades, revealing that the party is trapped in a dark, ominous demiplane. After a short time, a dark entity begins stalking the PCs. If it is defeated, it respawns 1d4x10 minutes later and begins prowling again.
  36. The party is approached by a noble woman. She is distraught and near complete panic. Her child disappeared a week ago, after a burglary in which several pieces of jewelry were stolen, and since then, the house has been haunted. Upon investigating, the party finds food disappears, books and other slight objects are thrown at people in the library and sitting room, and doors mysteriously open and close. (GM Note: magic is detected, if arcane methods are employed. Her (mute) toddler son put on a ring, which happened to be a cursed ring of invisibility. He has been frantically trying to contact people, and resorts to eating people’s food and throwing things to get attention.)
  37. In a village, people become unable to come up with new ideas. Their minds become numb and slow, and it gets worse by the day. The players start to notice a similar effect on themselves after just a few hours in the area, and don’t have much time to find out what is causing it.
  38. Fire dims, without explanation. No amount of fuel seems to get it to perk back up. Not just campfires. Torches and candles can barely hold a flame, producing smokey flames no bigger than a knuckle or two. Something is in the air.
  39. The party comes across a small, mostly abandoned village far from the nearest city. Those that are left seem too poor or too old to travel away, and they will say that most of their kids moved away after a series of monstrous attacks. Those that could flee left those that remained to their fate. That was years ago. They are excited to see travelers, and they will offer them food and a place for the night in exchange for taking letters to their children when they leave the next day. However, the inhabitants are far older than they seem, and none of them plan for the party to make it to the morning.
  40. Something is off in the Afterworld, as it seems those that serve Death are no longer showing up to take their quarries away. Battlefields leave legions of ghosts, unsure about loyalty or hierarchy. A city at siege finds itself harboring thousands of souls that starved to death. Dungeons are out of the running due to victims plaguing their torturers. After some time, souls start disappearing again, though not in the way they used to.
  41. A thick bank of fog falls over the landscape, as it seems to do once in a blue moon. It lasts into the night, hands barely visible in front of your face. Once it starts clearing around what must be midnight, one finds themself amidst a ghostly sight. From within the tendrils of vapor, a shipless harbor emerges, as fuzzy as the fog, just above your heads. Soon more appears, and a small city floats by. Touching it reveals it to be real. Welcome to Elysium, a failed experiment that trapped a city between realms.
  42. With a sizzle, all things iron start to slowly dissolve in contact with air, and some unfamiliar wave of arcane nature envelops all that is. A series of moonless nights follows, and the smell of volatile life becomes ever present. A Court is coming, for an Archfey is laying claims.
  43. During a normal battle, the spilled blood from all of the party members starts moving toward a set location, coagulating, and forms a creature that begins gargling words in an unknown tongue.
  44. A giant, winged creature flies in and lands in front of the group. It holds out its hand, all five fingers extended. It lowers its arm and asks a question in a language none of the party understands. When no one answers or they give the wrong answer, the creature appears angry, holds up its hand, and lowers one of its fingers, now only holding up four. It flies away. The next day, the creature returns, this time, it starts by holding up four fingers before asking the same question in a more irritated tone. It repeats until it counts down to zero.
  45. From a well, a voice starts calling for help. It’s the voice of one of the PCs.
  46. A terrible storm rages on for days, with no sign of letting up. During the storm, entire houses disappear, completely eradicated from the ground, leaving only their foundations behind. Some say to have seen enormous shadows moving inside the storm.
  47. A flock of griffon has overrun a village. The beasts number in the hundreds, and villagers are snatched and torn to pieces as soon as they leave their houses. Their mangled corpses litter streets and roofs, they constantly hear the beasts tearing flesh and bone apart. Hearing their claws scratching the roofs and the support beams creaking and bending under their weight is nearly constant.
  48. A village used to be under constant threat from monsters until an unexpected hero saved them: a vampire. The creature is now the village leader and protector. It demands regular sacrifices, but the villagers are happy to oblige, since the number of victims is a fraction of what it was before.Well, some are happy. Those that aren’t are the first in line to become sacrifices.
  49. A thick red mold starts growing over plants, trees, and grass. Treefolk covered in it become fast and violent, dryads turn into bloodthirsty hunters. Druids seem to be infected too, and they start kidnapping people and dragging them into the forest. As the mold-covered forest begins expanding, entire villages are engulfed and demolished.
  50. An angel starts following the players, taking notes on a parchment. It refuses to communicate or interact with them in any way, only occasionally shaking its head. It disappears after a few days.

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