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Side quests needed


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


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I have a game where my players are relic hunters:

Human Monk 1 maneuver master
Human Fighter 1 2hw fighter
Human Alchemist 1
Dwarf Cleric 1 Abadar domains Earth, Nobility
Human Rogue 1 knife master

Think of your favorite RPG console/online games; I'm looking for suggestions for side quests off the main plot like you'd have in those games. To prove how incredibly old I am here's my example: In original Diablo you come to a small village and your main quest is to delve the dungeon and slay bosses. As you ask around for info the blacksmith tells you of a magical metal he knows is found in small quantities in the dungeon and promises an item crafted of it if you go and retrieve it. The quest takes a very short detour off the main quest line and there's a minor reward in it for you.

So the main plot is that the characters are in town during a spring festival. They're here to gather info on an old ruin south of town and then return any relics back to the guild. The theme of the game is a Dark Fairy Tale with lots of evil fey, humanoids, witches/hags, and lycanthropes of all kinds.

Now, as the party arrives in town its the spring festival hosted by an Abadaran priory. Monks are wandering the town, there's lots of vendors and performers, and the monks are handing out free beer. However, darkness looms over the festivities as there have been random hardships lately; veggie and small crop blights due to freak weather or insect infestations, animals savaged and left to rot in the pasture, and other unpleasantness.

One side quest I kind of had in mind was this: you come upon an old woman handing out free apples from a cart. She offers you one with a broken toothed smile spread across ancient yellow lips. 1) take apple, 2) refuse and move on.

If they choose 1 then next they come upon the main square where they meet an old woodcutter selling artistic carvings to drum up cash. He's looking to hire adventurers to go after his daughter; she went missing during the last full moon, a month ago tonight. The PC's also witness a rowdy bunch of punks, 4 in all, being cruel to a woman selling meat pies.

The side quest is to go after the daughter. Her name is Shara. She was teased mercilessly by said rowdies and vowed revenge. A witch in the woods helped grant her wish; Shara is now an adept 1 and a wererat. She's aided by a team of mites who I've re-configured with rat empathy instead of vermin empathy.

She's the one handing out the apples and she's lairing in the sewer of the town. She intends on starting a plague of lycanthropy using the apples and she has something special planned for the other wicked teen bullies; 3 are going to get "teased" by the mites while the pretty-boy of the group is to be delivered to the mistress so she can steal his beauty.

The party if they take the quest will stumble on clues leading them into the sewer. From there they need to deal with mites, giant rats, some minor traps, and save the bullies. Other clues suggest Shara's taken the 4th to a grove of wild apple trees just a ways from her father's cottage where they find a faerie ring and the "mistress". After dealing with Shara and the mistress they find 2 lockets on her; one has a picture of Shara inside while the other is the boy. Wearing them in the light of the full moon in the faerie ring undoes the curse and 2 return to normal...quest complete.

Is that too long? Your suggestions for others?

Shadow Lodge

Not to long, but I would just make sure that there is a clear way for them to know how to break the curse.

As for others.......

maybe some of the wells in town have dried up and the party can find the solution in the ruins in the south (but is still something they have to work for, like a side room with a particulary tough monster)

Finding a missing piece of a parchment that explains or expands on a part of the festival, but in a way that changes the meaning very negatively; so the party has to decide if they want to keep the true meaning to themselves or let the truth be known.


Does the side room that cures the wells have goatmen? If so you're speakin my language Sphen!

Seriously though I like it. I also thought about a quest kind of like the Diablo 1 example above. There's a poor noble visiting for the festival - no money but she's still got a name and a rep. She hears of the party going to the dungeon and asks them to retrieve an honor sword or something; some heirloom she's been led to believe is lost among the ruins. She can't give them anything of value, but may be able to provide a boon or something later on.

On a lighter side, what about an ingredient run (always a fun 1st level diversion). The pc's visit an tavern for breakfast just in time for the cook to realize he has no "x mushrooms, y spice and z root!" The PC's are hired to go into the woods and locate them - either they get a book, or use their skills, or get a guide (level 1 expert) to help locate the ingredients and of course there's some wicked sprite who's overprotective of his prescious foxglove or whatever.

As to the finding the clues in the Shara adventure; the clues I had planned were 1) shara's lamenting her stolen beauty when the PC's arrive, 2) the bully kids gave her the nickname Mooncrazed for her penchant of sleeping in the apple grove in the light of the moon, and 3) the mites are taunting the kids with threats like "the mistress'll make a trinket of your pretty face to adorn her dress... and you'll never get it back!" This tells them what to look for. As to what to do w/the necklaces once they get them there will be a cryptic rite book for them to thumb through once they deal with the BBEG. Is this enough?

Shadow Lodge

I'd say so. If they free the kid, great; if they can't figure it out, maybe they'll keep the locket for something in the future.

One thing to be wary of, though, is making sure to not throw to much at once. One trick I learned from Rise of the Runelords is that dungeons can easily be revisited. After clearing the dungeon, they might get another mission in the same dungeon and return to find that a whole new section has opened up leading them ever deeper.

Also, one of my favorite ploys as DM is the slow build sidequest. The party finds an egg or puzzle box that they carry for many sessions before the use of the item finally becomes clear. I had a party carrying around one of the afore-mentioned eggs for an entire campaign and they never figured out what they were supposed to do with it. Kind of anti-climatic, I know, but it was fun to see them devote so much time to figure it out.


I hear you on the puzzle box thing but that just wouldn't work w/my group. We meet inconsistently once a month, sometimes once every 2 mo's. They just don't obsess over the game or the details like I, the trusty GM do :)

Ex: last campaign I gave them 1) a journal of the ghoul-lady BBEG's, 2) no less than 3 NPC's feeding them different facts about her, 3) subtle clues like a rare mineral only found at the edge of her ancestral estate and such, and 4) a corpseflower only known to grow on the swampy border of her family estate (which they had for 3 game sessions); after all this the NPC cleric comes right to them in their last adventure and actually tells them "Maybe we should go KILL the ghoul lady at her ancestral estate where all this bad stuff seems to be coming from!" and they STILL looked at me like I grew a second head. "WHO is Lady Gothmorgue again?" It felt like I was coming down with a tumor.

Anyway, long story boring...I don't think my players are the puzzle-box-til-the-end-of-the-campaign types.

I like the expanding dungeon though. This first ruin started as a throw away with like 9 "rooms"; when they announced they wanted to be relic hunters and expressed real interest in dungeoneering instead of wilderness exploration I re-tooled the game and added areas, making the dungeon basically 3 outdoor "shrines" venerating ancient nobles. Going off the advice from another thread I expanded this dungeon once again to include a 4th hilltop shrine, a few rooms in the hillside, and then forested bogs running all around the periphery and into the middle of the outer shrines.

After all these expansions the players haven't even gotten there and I've got roughly 25 encounter areas! I've divided these up into zones, with a pair of BBEG's striving to control the whole thing. But who knows; maybe the nobles built in lower halls accessed only through the library in the heart of the hilside. Maybe after returning the honor blade of Ozrun to it's rightful heir she tells them how she came to know of its presence in the ruins and how the tome handed down through the ages in her family suggests something of these lower halls and how access to them was restricted to certain festivals when a specific chant was intoned. Now they have to find out what the chant is, practice it, and pass a knowledge: religion AND Performance skill challenge to open the door...

All good ideas. I hope there's more folks out there with more ideas!


I had one other question: how often should I pepper in these side quests? It's obviously been a long time since I played a computer RPG and I have been a very old-school GM til now; you got on a quest, you finished it, period.

So should I present multiple potential hooks at once? Should I just dangle one, see if they bite, and then call it quits? What?

Shadow Lodge

I'd give them a choice of no more than 3 at once. It lets them have control of what they're doing without making you have to do so much prep that you have no time for anything else.

And since you guys meet so irregularly, it'll give you plenty of material for later on as well. Especially since lower levels of a dungeon can be populated however you wish.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Mark Hoover wrote:
So should I present multiple potential hooks at once? Should I just dangle one, see if they bite, and then call it quits? What?

I like to drop multiple hooks at the same time. Whichever the party finds more interesting is how the adventure heads.

For example:
The party stops at a monastery of Calistria known for its flavorful mead, ornate wasps, and unique whip fighting style. At the dinner table, they overhear tidbits of conversation. Each hook leads in a different direction, but return to monastery for resolution in case the party may want to finish another quest.

Kidnapped Queens - The monasteries beehives have been stolen. Small footprints belonging to mites lead into the woods. They lead to a small sized cave. The party must squeeze into the tunnels, making for unique combats. They uncover the mites trying to breed larger wasps using a relic of Lamashtu. They discover the mites have been unsuccessful because they do not have the whole relic. Clues lead to the rest of the relic in a hidden chamber of a well known dungeon.

Stolen Recipe - One of the monks has decided to leave the monastery and stolen the mead recipe. He wants to setup his own business in competition. The party must track him down to return the recipe. They find parts of a distiller purported to be owned by Cayden Cailean before he ascended to godhood. The rest of the parts are scattered around town.

The Tentacle Debacle - The monks wish to make more of their unique whips. A small party of novice monks has not returned from what should have been an easy assignment. The monks know the location of an assassin vine that the monks had been harvesting to make their whips. The harvesting has ensured the creature stays stunted. Recently a dryad has taken up residence nearby and had helped the vine feed on them. The monks want the bodies returned along with the assassin vine. Staking the assassin vine to the ground is a relic of Erastil used to bind creatures. Carvings on the relic indicate it is part of a matching set.


@ TLB: going off your example I present the setup

Your party arrives in Erdanstadt on the morning of the spring festival. As you wander the town several diversions catch your attention:

Marionnet Mayhem - a mysterious hooded puppeteer seeks out the party to help him locate his missing marionnets who he claims just simply walked off. The truth is a mischevious gnome has animated the things and is using them to heist the gold from local shopkeeps.

After returning the puppets the performer asks them to stay and puts on a show of the Boy who wished to learn to be afraid. Turns out the hooded man is actually the boy under a curse and he needs some brave adventurers to lift it.

Woodcarver's Woes - an old man sits amid a pile of shavings and hawks his wares: carved wooden figurines and statuary. He needs some strong lads to head back to his cottage and fetch him more wood. The party obliges and arriving at the man's cote finds the door hanging adjar and the place a shambles. A set of tracks leads to a nearby grove of apple trees picked bare of their fruit and the party encounters some fey and magical beasts.

Returning with the wood and their tale the man breaks down and confesses he's unloading every last piece he can make at the fair in order to hire a ranger to track down his daughter shara who disappeared a month before. Further adventure ensues...

Lady's Lament - a stately older woman begs around the market square with a faithful young servant at her side; neither seems like theives or vagrants. They are set upon by a gang of ruffians. After stopping the initial fight the PCs discover (remember; the cleric has Nobility as a domain) that the woman is the last of a line of fallen nobles

Having a meal with Lady Ozrun you realize that all she has left is her honor and her name. However, she is sure that there is a set of documents in the magistrate's office revealing a relic of the family, the Honor Sword of Ozrun was interred in a well known dungeon south of town. She was trying to gather enough coin to bribe the magistrate but perhaps the party could obtain the stolen papers another way.

Of course, after they get the papers and have proof of the blade, she'll want that too. More adventure...

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Mark Hoover wrote:

Marionnet Mayhem - a mysterious hooded puppeteer seeks out the party to help him locate his missing marionnets who he claims just simply walked off. The truth is a mischevious gnome has animated the things and is using them to heist the gold from local shopkeeps.

After returning the puppets the performer asks them to stay and puts on a show of the Boy who wished to learn to be afraid. Turns out the hooded man is actually the boy under a curse and he needs some brave adventurers to lift it.

I like this one. Going to use it to set up an adventure.


Not the fallen noble one though? I thought that one was kind of cool. The woodcutter one FEELS cool, but then involves a lot of investigation that I don't think my players would be into. Might not go anywhere.

What about pacing though. I don't want to derail one whole game night on a side plot, especially when I only get like 10 of them a year.


Alright so side quest: perfect place for a 5 room dungeon

Eaxample - marionnete mayhem

Room 1: Entrance & Guardian
After meeting the puppeteer, accepting the challenge of collecting the animated toys w/out destroying them the first challenge is to get on their trail. The first "room" then is searching for clues, getting after the constructs, and encountering one in a nearby alley.

Room 2: Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge
Now that they've collected one they make their way into the square where several vendors look upset. Here in the crowd however their quarry easily eludes them. They'll have to speak w/some of the vendors to piece together that they toys came through here, stole from them, and then fled into the cover of a nearby park. They can also solve this through minor divinations or other skills (Knowledge Nature or Perception for example might reveal an oddly circling murder of crows over the park).

Room 3: Trick or Setback
Trailing the gang into the park the PC's are then faced with several small annoyances as part of a larger chase scene; the gnome is fleeing toward a nearby stable and using these tricks or minor encounters with animated dolls to cover his escape. If the PC's beat him to the stables they gain a round of surprise; if they arrive at the same time room 4 goes off as normal; if the gnome gets there ahead of the PC's he opens up the stables for an extra challenge in room 4.

Room 4: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict
Final fight w/the gnome. This occurs in or around the stables and if the villain won the chase then round 1 of this encounter he begins releasing the horses and ponies therin for added distraction.

Room 5: Reward, Revelation or Plot Twist
Upon defeating the gnome and having recovered all of the marionnets the party returns to the puppeteer whereupon they find out that he is actually under a curse and has further need of their assistance. For their service however he tells them of a "friend" he made in the woods who can help them in their next adventure...

What do you think?


Shameless bump


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In 3.5 there used to be these pamphlets that had these side quests.

My favorite that I adapted was CL ~12 series of encounters.

1. The PCs hear about people going unexplained people being missing around town.

2. Players investigate and they eventually find that its around this local tavern called the "Bloodly Goat Tavern"

3. Investigating further they found that the ownership of the tavern changed about 3 months ago...consequently near the time people were started to go missing.

4. The tavern is owned by a Vampire that "milks" humans of their blood once they are completely intoxicated. This is normally not an issue, but sometimes they die and are feed to his "partner".

5. When the PC confront the tavern owner he goes underground where he meets up with his "partner", a Red Dragon who has a taste for human flesh currently shaped changed to look like a human caster.

6. If the dragon feels threatened he shape changes back into his normal form collapsing the floors above him and making a hole large enough for him to fly out.

7. If the player purse the dragon leads them to his lair with his mate.


I know red dragons are big but one THAT big, with shape changing? Wouldn't there be somebody, somewhere, that knew something? Oh well, chalk it up to suspension of disbelief.

So how does everyone present side quests? Do you do it organically, dangling hooks? Do you do it like a video game and give the PCs a trigger event that then presents them with the quest?

Me personally I'm thinking of going mechanically with notecards. I'll have a synopsis on the card and present it at the time of the trigger; if they accept it then they know in general what they're getting into.


Mark Hoover wrote:
Me personally I'm thinking of going mechanically with notecards. I'll have a synopsis on the card and present it at the time of the trigger; if they accept it then they know in general what they're getting into.

Why in Iomedae's name would you let the players know what they're getting into? Haha. You have to appeal to their

1. Egos
2. Greed
3. Sense of Adventure

...and that's when you make them realize they've got the attention of a red dragon.

No, I know what you're asking. :) I want to avoid the "click here, read this" sort of mentality in MMO's and in a roundtable discussion, remind them that "this guy mentioned THIS to you" and "don't forget you're supposed to return that thing to this one town", and let the players create their own path.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Check out KromeDragon Games on Paizo's site. I have 3 side treks that could be fun. I have two more coming very soon.

KromeDragon Games

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