Tag Archives: Hook

The Ruins (2008)

Pretty decent trailer, right?

I just watched this last night and I want to do a couple things here since this movie directly relates to something else I want to write about(see bottom). Firstly I’d like to review the movie, secondly I’d like to talk about how it relates to D&D in particular.

I think if you watched the trailer above and your even slightly interested in horroresque type flicks the trailer may peak your interest just a little bit. It did me. It has just about everything I’m looking for in a trailer, mostly because I’m in the mood for some good dungeon delving type stuff. It has intrigue, builds tension, doesn’t let on to to much, has that creepy ass scream. Imho, its just a good trailer. Well done. I will be honest though that I was preoccupied in 2008 and this one slipped by.

The movie stars this guy that looks kind of like this guy, which I think I got some confused by.

I was hoping for Yelchin(who was in Green Room, which is another amazing horroresque movie) but Tucker did a good job all around really. He was the character the movie is based around really and everything bad that happens happens because he suggested it in the first place.

Basically the plot boils down to college kids on a trip and they head to see a Mayan temple that turns out to be more than they first think and the locals get involved and the tourist kids become trapped and a bit of chaos ensues and they need to figure some things out. Roll film. That is about as spoiler free as this can be.

As far as how good this movie is…. I’d give it an over all of not bad. Not the best survival horror movie I have seen but definitely in the not bad category. I don’t know if I will ever watch it again but I will remember it. It has a few aspects that are interesting but I will also be honest in that this really had no dungeon delving which extremely disappointed me but in the realism of the show I don’t blame them for not going in there but it sucks because……


…. this is completely a D&D movie. Completely hands down. The biggest let down for me in this movie is that they don’t explore the ruins but these guys are unprepared regular humans. They are not a D&D party of rangers, fighters, casters. This is a movie worth watching though in regard to getting an idea for a D&D session, maybe even a one shot. This would be best run in something like Dungeon World but I will say everything would be better run in a system like that.

Nice desert oasis on the top there, eh?

The people in the movie do not explore the temple or the ruins because once they actually go inside they learn what they have really encountered in the movie, the big reveal(the monster) is Devil Root. With maybe some Crawling Creeper thrown in the mix. The regular humans can’t go in there because the place is … crawling… with it and they would die like some people have before them. The locals have salted the ground around the temple to keep the devil root contained and when the kids come looking they are forced on to the temple and their fates are sealed. They need to find a way to escape but the locals, who have set up camp around them to contain them also, won’t let them get away. Kind of a kill on site kind of deal going on. The entire temple is covered in the stuff and as you can probably imagine its over grown on the inside also.

So yeah, this movie made me think of and picture an adventuring party happening across something like this in the same way -but- in the D&D version they would actually have to go into the temple and find their way through the temple and out some passage or something. There are a lot of different kinds of plant based enemies that are under utilized in D&D and theres a lot of room for building some pretty cool stuff here. Shit, throw in a Malboro as the end boss for the place. Hell, maybe for whatever reason this temple has a portal opened from the Beastlands where it has been spilling forth since. If that is the case then you could have some real fun.

What are you waiting for? Go make a movie of the mind!

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My own chicken scratch Plots

You know, I try to edit or add to most of the stuff I put up on here as most of this stuff does require good editing for grammar, spacing, formating. All that good jazz. Its usually not straight copy/paste. I do like to put some effort into what I am doing here but this little baby… This little baby is all mine and I have to say I’m going to leave it unrefined to show you what i’m working with here.

These are some old notes from an old app that I used to use to keep track of my notes. The first couple are from my days when i was looking into running Curse of Strahd, which again I was warned not to do it because Ravenloft is a hard system to run. Those are the words I was told. Thats when this whole journey started. I read the books, I decided what i was going to do and to change and this batch of my own plot ideas starts with a couple ideas straight away with Curse of Strahd. To me, this shows where things have come from and where they may go.

Raven-mob atk carriage, crazy guy(took daughter) looking for relic, bury burgomaster(strahd atks),

Raven loft add: add people in town. One points to tavern on way to castle that captures people to feed strahd, ruined human stronghold when stood against strahd. Holy symbol there. Religious following of strahd.

Plot of star wars, left behind. Party I is mayor friend. Get to know. Then power hungry rival with good face and PR moves against him to take over and it works. Now everyone sees him as a hero but party knows the truth.
[ ] Political dinner party you are alone with a rival rival claims you attack so you go to jail and he claims rivals position
[ ] Rival people discover something that devours magical essence. Dies it create something from it as a release? At owners command? …. What do they do with it?
[ ] Someone hiring someone to kill someone close to them so they can get all the attention – candyman – sweets to the sweet. – investigating then get wrapped up in it.
[ ] Some thing sucking life from locals.  A weak vampire in the cemetery
[ ] Door riddles ‘doors favorite joke: knock knock’
[ ] Traps, trap inside trap, sun beams to mirrors, triggered doors, invisi doors, swinging guilltones, invisible bridge, riddles, floor tile puzzles, music, bleeding door, falling illusory wall
[ ] Live out movie plots. Good plots? Bar scene lotr, bar scene SW, rancor pit idea,
[ ] Chased by corrupt official
[ ] Name after have people like d&d cartoon people and Simon the sorcerer, dirky the daring, etc.  And ideas like karma and jive
[ ] Guy looking to make a Walmart of stores and expand. Goods so cheap closes down other shops. Guy plans to control worlds economy then? Destroy worth of money or become world’s leader?
[ ] Rumor of a guy trying to make a cult.  Named Jesus.  Says his dad is a god.  Religious leader says Your job is to verify, infiltrate and do what must be done.  Ate they a threat? Think OK then find out got weapon. Gonna kill everyone who doesn’t believe in his father.  Double trapped
[ ] Dungeon comic sewer clean. Petty Criminals paying off debt sent to clean sewer system.  Flushed out wrong forced out of town.  Guards sent along.

[ ] During camp night see falling star that crashes down few miles away.  Get there and bug? Creatures are setting up camp. Attack? During fight scouts bringing humans back attack you. Go into rock, Bigger on inside than outside. And?
[ ] come out a portal in to a battle where both sides gang up on them?, superstitous clans. Not sure who side they on. figure maybe gods avatars. Get involved in clan feud that was caused by another party neither knew about (wizards?) it was their form of entertainment.  Two wiz leaders bet on outcome.
[ ] Solomn kane story-find weird bar,hidden cult, need to clear it out, has zombies/ghosts
[ ] Lovecraft house story. Come in guy upstairs,blood drips people go upstairs the house changes the house drains mental energy from people going crazy. Dungeon w family(cultists) remains under house(destroy to get out)
[ ] Hirelings of a dungeon master to help run a dungeon.  Run like corp, doing day to day things ala dungeon comic

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Metaphor: A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison.

What the author is trying to say in this one is that sometimes its best when things aren’t really quite what they seem. I remember being led through a forest to a hut where we were to investigate a murder. Well we got there and didn’t get to many answers but when it came time to leave, guess what? The guy who led us there was the murderer and he came back to murderer us. Just like this world, things are not so black and white. Good guys aren’t just good and bad guys aren’t just bad. There is a lot of grey area and in that grey area is the fun stuff. The areas that you can play with because in villains minds they are justified in their quests.

Surrender yourself to metaphor. I’ve written the plots in the language of (typically very physical) action-adventure genres, because that’s the basic form of roleplaying adventure – but if you’re playing on more levels than that, the list can still punch its weight. Just remember that every thing, place, and foe can really be a piece of information, person, and unhealthy attitude, as surely as a space station can be a dungeon and a magical residue can be a fingerprint.

Double up. A nice basic method is the chameleon game, where an adventure presents itself as one type of story in the “hook layer” but reveals itself as something else. Sometimes, the switch is innocent and natural – Don’t Eat the Purple Ones, for example, makes a good hook for Running the Gauntlet, and Most Peculiar, Momma is a logical lead for Pandora’s Box. Sometimes, the switch is something more sinister or deliberate, with NPCs selling the adventure as one thing when it’s really another. This can still be innocent, in its way, if the NPCs have been duped themselves, or if they’re just desperate for help and worried that nobody will be eager to tackle the real problem.

Throw yourself a curve. Your players will, anyway, so practice early. Pick two random entries from the Big List and make your adventure on those, no matter what comes up – the first one is the hook layer; the second is the meat of the adventure. If the same entry comes up both times, go with it! Two layers can have a similar structure but very different roots or details.

Double up, part two: Some very satisfying adventures weave two separate (or thematically-related) plots together. An easy way to make this work is to make one plot physical and the other plot personal. That way just one of the plots puts demand on the PCs’ location, while the other one can tag along anywhere. For example: the PCs are hired to escort a prince to a summit so he can appear before the masses and end a war (a physical and simple example of Escort Service), but on the way, they realize that the poor guy is suicidal because state obligations have ruined his love life, and must prevent his self-destruction by either fixing the problem or convincing him to shoulder the burden (a personal and metaphorical example of Ounces of Prevention).

Don’t Panic. A lot of GMs come to the Big List only once they’ve begun to panic. Don’t crucify yourself just yet! In particular, don’t fuss too much over plot, as many GMs do. All of the plots here can provide a tried-and-true, simple structure, and structure is all you need a plot for in a roleplaying game. Remember to play to the strengths of the medium – most all of which are about character, not plot. Only in an RPG can you experience a fictional character on a personal, first-hand level. Outline your adventures to make the most of that. Any plot that contains more than a basic structure is more likely to pull attention away from character, and that’s burning the bridge for firewood. All you need to do is be ready to roll with the curves and have fun hamming it up. Relax. Game.

And finally, here’s The Little List of Nearly-Universal Plot Twists That Work With Almost Any Plot Ever: The PCs must work alongside an NPC or organization they’d rather not pal around with (those who are normally rivals or villains, or just a snooty expert sent along to “help” them, etc). The victims are really villains and the villains are really victims. The PCs meet others who can help them, but won’t unless the PCs agree to help them with their own causes. The villain is somebody the PCs know personally, even respect or love (or someone they fall for, mid-story). The PCs must succeed without violence, or with special discretion. The PCs must succeed without access to powers, equipment, or other resources they’re used to having. The villain is a recurring foil. Another group comparable to the PCs has already failed to succeed, and their bodies/equipment/etc provide clues to help the PCs do better. There are innocents nearby that the PCs must keep safe while dealing with the adventure. The adventure begins suddenly and without warning or buildup; the PCs are tossed into the fire of action in scene one. The PCs must pretend to be someone else, or pretend to be themselves but with very different allegiances, values or tastes. The PCs can’t do everything and must choose: which evil to thwart? Which innocents to rescue? Which value or ideal to uphold? The PCs must make a personal sacrifice or others will suffer. The PCs aren’t asked to solve the problem, just to render aid against a backdrop of larger trouble: get in a shipment of supplies, sneak out a patient that needs medical help, or so on. One of the PCs is (or is presumed to be) a lost heir, fulfillment of a prophecy, a volcano god, or some other savior and/or patsy, which is why the PCs must do whatever the adventure is about. There is another group of PC-like characters “competing” the same adventure, possibly with very different goals for the outcome.

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Who Put That Pile of Bodies There?

A hook, borrowed.

Reaching the river just as night falls, the adventurers make camp in a somewhat secluded spot and settle in for a rest. The woods have been quiet all day long, and there are no tracks near their camp site. The river seems very low, but it could be the dry season (Nature check DC 15 to know this is not the dry season, or that this area never has river levels this noticeably low). As the night passes, the river flow becomes even slower, and shortly after midnight something floats by the camp (Perception check DC 10 to spot it, and DC 20 to realize that it is the head of an elf). If they don’t identify the object right away, they can follow it downstream and do so. However, by this time the river is barely flowing, and the head is part floating, part rolling along the bottom.

Several hours’ travel upstream, the PCs come upon a horrifying sight. The blockage in the river is caused by a huge pile of dead bodies! Several have been eaten… at least, partially.

How can anyone resist the mystery of a pile of bodies?

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. The pile of bodies has obviously been there a long time. The bodies on the bottom have been there weeks or months, while the top ones are more recent additions. Some on the lower levels have been chewed upon, or eaten entirely. The pile blocks the river almost completely, like a beaver dam. Unblocking the river is the easy part; solving the mystery is more difficult.

2. Strangely, there is very little gear or clothing with the pile of bodies. It is as if this is a dumping ground for useless bodies.

3. These bodies are the remains of an undead army that a necromancer created and lost control of. He had to destroy them, and dumped them all here. This dumping ground, by the way, is miles from his base, but there are tracks of a large creature pulling a wagon that lead back there… where the necromancer is busy trying to make more undead that he can control.

4. The bodies were placed here by a reaper (see Open Grave p.178). It has been collecting bodies from the area and depositing them here for later transport to an evil temple. The bodies are destined to become undead servitors of some kind.

5. The bodies were dropped here by undead giants (or live giants) who repelled an attack of adventurers on their home. The home location is many miles from here, and the undead giants live there in peace (perhaps with live giants as well). See the Society section of Open Grave starting on page 15 for ideas about peaceful undead communities.

6. An elven necromancer in a nearby settlement is dumping the bodies here. They are potential recruits for his army, and he wants to complete one massive ritual to animate them all as a kind of gestalt zombie. He or she wants as many bodies as possible, and has stationed a number of dangerous creatures (especially undead) near the body pile to slay anyone who investigates.
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Roll a Plot


GOAL (d6)

1 – FIND a person, place, or object

2 – GUARD a person, place, or object

3 – TRANSPORT a person or object

4 – EXPLORE or scout or spy upon a person or place

5 – ESCAPE from a person or organization

6 – ATTACK a person, place, or organization

HOOK (d6)

1 – HIRED for a reward

2 – CAPTURED and pressed into service

3 – STUMBLED onto situation

4 – FOUND an old book or map

5 – FAVOR requested by a friend

6 – DREAMED or had a vision


1 – Evil SORCERER or high priest

2 – Corrupt government OFFICIAL

3 – BANDIT chieftain or king of thieves

4 – GENERAL or war leader

5 – Supernatural ENTITY

6 – Force of NATURE (storm, plague, etc.)

ALLY (d6)

1 – RIVAL of antagonist

2 – ROGUE adventurer seeking the same goal

3 – Unworldly SCHOLAR with vital information

4 – Disgruntled SERVANT of antagonist

5 – PRIEST or shaman who speaks for the gods

6 – VICTIM of antagonist seeking revenge


1 – Old RIVAL of player also involved

2 – Spurned LOVER of player looks for revenge

3 – Money LENDER comes to collect from player

4 – Phobia or TABOO of player violated

5 – Aspiring STUDENT or apprentice pesters player

6 – Roll on Complication 2 Table instead


1 – PLOT to topple the local government

2 – PLAGUE is spreading in the vicinity

3 – Escaped SLAVE boy or wench begs refuge

4 – Local noble falls in LOVE with player

5 – INVASION or place under occupation

6 – Roll on Complication 1 Table instead


1 – Armed GUARDS or soldiers

2 – ASSASSINS or sneak thieves

3 – RAIDERS or bandits

4 – CONCEALMENT, deception, or secrecy

5 – DISTANCE or limited time

6 – Roll on Obstacle 2 Table instead


1 – Magical WARDS or guards


3 – CURSE (real or pure superstition)

4 – RIDDLE that must be solved

5 – Onrushing natural or unnatural DISASTER

6 – Roll on Obstacle 1 Table instead

TWIST (d6)

1 – Apparently mundane is actually SUPERNATURAL

2 – Apparently supernatural is actually MUNDANE

3 – BETRAYAL by ally

4 – Forced to ALLY with enemy or rival

5 – Apparent goal is a WILD GOOSE CHASE (reroll on Goal table for actual secret goal)

6 – Goal is made MOOT by events and new goal becomes survival or escape


1 – LESS wealth than anticipated

2 – WEALTH as anticipated

3 – MORE wealth than anticipated

4 – GRATITUDE of powerful or influential people


6 – Nothing but their miserable HIDES

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