An important part of starting any adventure or quest is giving a reason to even go. The motivation behind the adventure. Something to get the party hooked.
This greatly depends upon the people you are trying to motivate. Are they seeking treasures to increase their wealth, glory and renown or maybe it’s something personal.
Knowing the characters and what motivates them will help hook them in without railroading them towards a goal you want them to.
Let’s look at the background stories I have developed for a future adventure. Cole has become lost after attempting to steal an artifact. Now I could easily just state that the group knew him and has personal intrest in bringing him home to his now orphaned children. Perhaps a member of the group was orphaned as well and doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else. Maybe the children or a family member pooled together a reward for finding their father/family member.
Let’s say the group are complete strangers and they each need motivation and a reason to come together. With this and not knowing my future members I will develop a blanket hook and then cater it to the group as I find out what they would motivate them to search for Cole.
Our current blanket hook
We will start with the idea that the group is all in Arkala, our fictional city. Cole is now missing and Bhomin, our villain, is devising another plan to get the artifact.
Bhomin will create some chaos to ensure the town is not ready for his next attempt. The dream I gave Hartwell about the oncoming dust storm will be just that. A dust storm comes in bringing all the outlying areas of farmers and smaller villages to seek refuge in the Arkala. This will create a need to pool resources for the refugees.
This gives a few options for where our group comes from. Are they a refugee? A guard in the city? Maybe a student at the University?
When the city’s resources are spread thin Bhomin will stage an attack on the town, this can bring a group together by making them survive together.
Where to go from here
Now that we brought the party together with an event its about how to get them to want to pursue our villain and continue the story. This gives us options based on the events of the attack. Did the group succeed in preventing the attack and thwart Bhomin in his attempt to get the artifact. Then maybe now Bhomin plans for another attack or if money is a motivation maybe Bhomin’s identity is hidden and he offers the group riches to acquire the artifact. Maybe the group, through investigations finds out what is happening and works to prevent it from happening again.
Now on the other hand say they fail, and Bhomin is able to retrieve the artifact. Motivation could be saving the world or retrieving it for the groups own nefarious reasons. The options are endless and when it comes to this its about being flexible and working with the group you have.
Let’s say they still don’t care enough to stop him and go off doing something else. What would happen if Bhomin succeeded in awakening Y’thcal is it really that bad?
Having an idea of all the possible outcomes or even just coming up with them on the fly is a way to making an excellent story and a fun experience for the players as well as the DM. Trying to force a specific path generally means a blah story.