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Sometimes all you need to jolt your creative juices into motion is a simple prompt or idea you can build upon. As far as campaign ideas or quest ideas go, this article will hopefully help you with that jolt. Below you'll find 40 prompts mainly aimed at campaign stories, but by only fleshing them out a little bit they could just as easily be used for side quests or smaller story lines linking to a main one.
Each idea is supposed to give you one main concept on which to build a whole storyline that could fit in a wide variety of game systems, but also in a wide variety of methods. The first idea could be about traditional pirates, modern pirates or a different pirate concept, and conquering the seas could be in service of the devil, conquering them from the devil, or perhaps they're simply named after the devil, and so on.
If you need even more ideas, check out some of the other lists on my site, perhaps starting with the quest ideas & prompts list for 150 ideas aimed at smaller scope stories than the ones you find below.
1. You're a group of pirates in hell seeking to conquer the 6 lava seas of the devil.
2. Children are gaining magical powers and causing havoc wherever they live. They're too powerful to by dealt with like regular children, but can't be dealt with like usual magical creatures.
3. An assassin living in the shadows requires the party's protection from a powerful noble.
4. Inhabitants of a wide range of nearby town are all reporting to the capital to turn themselves in for their crimes. They range from petty crimes to serious ones, but the jail is at full capacity and the local businesses of these towns are now short staffed or abandoned.
5. Everybody with blue eyes is hunted down and taken in for what the soldiers claim to be a routine citizen check. Those people are never heard from again after.
6. During the festival of fire all existing fires end up extinguished when the main bonfire ritual is about to be lit. Attempts to create new fires all end in a few sizzles.
7. A nearby shipwreck holds an incredibly valuable cargo. The owner would be rich if they managed to get hold of their cargo again, but would also face crime charges due to negligence and endangerment of others. Locals are trying every lie in the book to make it appear as if they are the owner and somebody else was responsible for the ship sinking. So far with no luck.
8. An enchanter and tinkerer is selling toys in every village he comes across. The toys are loved by kids, but far too dangerous. Parents are trying to find this travelling mad man, but so far have had no luck.
9. The bodies of fallen soldiers need to be returned to their families, but nobody is willing to take the job. The journey is long and the bodies might attract dangerous creatures. Both the soldiers and the families deserve closure and rest however.
10. More and more inhabitants of settlements all across the land are falling prey to a pyramid scheme. The beings who run the scheme are always gone before authorities can catch up with them, but somebody has to stop them.
11. The evil archmage is seeking to change their life around for the better by repenting and using their powers for good. Not everybody is buying it, but few could stop him if they dared to try anyway.
12. Zorg, Conqueror of Worlds, is trying to save your world from being conquered by another. According to Zorg, he should be the one to conquer you, not some other being. Help him and you may be conquered by him afterwards, don't help him, and you'll probably be conquered by the others.
13. An angel has come down to fulfil their part of a contract they once made with somebody who has since become a demon. They cannot reach hell, but the contract must be fulfilled.
14. Dark, sinister creatures are gathering at a nearby ruin. They don't seem to attack or bother anybody, but their numbers are increasing to terrifying proportions.
15. All citizens received an envelope directed at them. All envelopes have the royal seal on them, but there doesn't seem to be anything in the envelopes. Or is there?
16. Inhabitants of a small town all share the same dreams in which they live lives different from those in reality. But their choices and actions are remembered nonetheless, so different roles between the two worlds can have big consequences.
17. A group of adults arrived at a village claiming they're the children who were lost 20 years ago. Some villagers are happy to see them, others aren't so trusting of their supposed children.
18. Robin Hood-like barbarians raid the rich and give to the poor. This includes the party, for better or worse.
19. The party is tasked with intercepting a caravan on its way to deliver a package that could spark a war, at least if the party's information is correct. If not, intercepting the caravan could be the spark as it'd be a clear act of distrust and hostility.
20. An unknown civilization has mined their way to the surface. Upon reaching the surface they encounter the party first and wish to learn all about the surface as well as share their knowledge of the underground with the surface. Their plans may not be the wisest when taking the surface societies in consideration.
21. The world has two moons, one white and one blue, but all art of the past indicates there has never been a time with more than 1 moon. Nobody knows where the second one came from or if it's even a real moon.
22. All followers of a god have disappeared overnight. Some see this as proof of a rapture-like event and begin devoting their life to the same god. Others see it as a weakness of this god as another will have surely destroyed it and their followers. The truth is far worse.
23. Hell is closed until further notice. All evil beings who die will be revived immediately or are lost to roam the world as a spirit if revival is impossible.
24. The chosen ones have to be stopped at all costs. The party is tasked with tracking down one of them.
25. The world knows no permanent settlements. Instead, everyone lives a nomadic lifestyle. Unfortunately this has given rise to crime networks taking advantage of these loose societies; they need to be stopped before they take over everything.
26. During the yearly Fey Festival a lucky few are chosen to venture into the Fey world after an invitation from Fey beings who enter the regular world. Unbeknown to the chosen few, they're taken into the Fey to be hunted and eaten. A lucky party is next.
27. There's a perfect village of peace and prosperity many seek to join. There's only one catch: all citizens are controlled through dark magics at the hands of the mayor. Those who visit and ask too many questions are simply given the honor of becoming a citizen for life.
28. The Festival of Memories is about to begin. Nobody remembers what they did last year, seemingly because of alcohol abuse or similar reasons, but they all claim that's the point of the festival anyway. More than just memories of the festival are lost however, but obviously nobody seems to remember.
29. A ghost ship arrives at port. The entire crew, sick of life as a ghost, is seeking help with passing onto the next world.
30. Dragons are actively seeking out all magic users to destroy them. With them gone, they'd once again be able to live or perhaps even rule without fear of being killed by angry mobs. Or so they think.
31. A series of books sold as teenage fiction contains real spells of dark magics. Some teenagers, or should I say new minions, have found out the hard way.
32. A curious king has decided to live a day as one of his subjects every once in a while. So far he's been a brewer, carpenter, farmer, and even a stable hand. Those who's place he takes get to live like a king for a day. People generally go along with it as some kind of weird game, but new laws have been put into place as a result of these one-day kings. Now that the king has chosen to be the head clergyman for a day, the now king-for-a-day clergyman has ordered the clergyman-for-a-day king to be executed on grounds of blasphemy based on his actions. The trial will be this very evening.
33. A group of ogres has taken it upon themselves to be a group of superheroes. A group of very clumsy superheroes that is. They cause more havoc than good, but they're too powerful to stop. All those who try to stop them are deemed to be villains in the eyes of the ogres, and all villains must be destroyed.
34. A travelling merchant sells "Get out of hell free" cards. After one dying man returned to proof they work, these cards have been selling like crazy and chaos now reigns.
35. The party comes across a prison without guards in sight. The prisoners that can be seen in the courtyard seem fine enough, but none of them choose to walk out despite seemingly being able to do so with ease. One of the prisoners is somebody the party knows and, as far as they know, must've been put in here without having committed a crime.
36. A group of goblins seeks the party's help to assassinate the king who's been wiping out goblins wherever he can find them regardless of whether they're innocent or not.
37. A powerful cleric is offering free resurrections to all who join his religion. Those who are resurrected seem perfectly fine, with the exception of their incredible devotion to the cleric's god. In some cases this changes everything.
38. Three mighty dragons threaten to destroy everything and everyone unless a festival is organized in one year's time. If the festival pleases their appetite, interests and curiosity, everyone will be spared.
39. The sun is blacked out and underground beings make use of this to dwell on the surface. In some regions this means chaos, in others it means renewed prosperity. For the latter bringing back the sun is no longer a vital task, perhaps quite the opposite.
40. The gods are asking for help. This caused a great deal of confusion as many followers thought the gods were all powerful and never in need for help. What could be their reason?