Hooks for New Campaign



I watched a Runehammer video where Ferngully mentioned having four hooks because his brain works in north-south-east-west or something like that. There was the goblin menace hook and the nunnery working on a vampire vaccine. I think it was his OSE game. I’m not sure what episode it was.
I don’t know if that matters.
My question is–how many hooks do most of you GM’s out there usually start a campaign with?
I know I watched a video by Professor DM on a similar topic.
My group is my kids and dad and they just want a railroady-type game. Should I provide 2-4 hooks or just put them at the entrance of a dungeon?
I guess I’m curious what other people do when starting a new campaign.


I’ll be honest: I don’t have to have a “hook” when I start a campaign; frequently, I just have a couple of “truths,” established features of the world with which the PCs are to interact, similar to “Six Things Your Character Knows” in ICRPG Master Edition (p. 31). To be even more honest, I don’t usually have six; I always have at least three, though, specifically: 1) Is the “world” at war or relative peace? 2) Are most people very poor or relatively comfortable? and 3) Is magic particularly common or particularly rare?

Additionally, I might include one or two other optional but important established features in my game world, like an immediate (or looming) threat (like a villain or a natural disaster) and/or a new discovery (like a resource, ancient magic, or new technology, which is sometimes just a rumor). These are not mandatory, but they can be fun to throw in if I have a theme or idea brewing.

With these pieces in place I don’t need to know much more about my campaign world and can proceed to my more important worldbuilding problem: the style and nature of the nearest population center in the starting location for the first session of the campaign. With that Session 1 location well sketched out and a solid scenario planned for that first night, the truths I’ve established about the world will inform the first night of game play, and with the interaction and input of the players, the direction of the campaign will take shape organically. Then the ball will be back in my court to plan a good follow-up for Session 2 that takes the game in the right direction following their lead.

With your specific situation, one which I can appreciate as a father who started his daughter with ICRPG when she was nine and who regularly GMs for kids and teenagers, I would just suggest you keep things simple, plan an interesting starting location, and have just one or two different “missions” in your pocket to put in front of your players. If your kids are like mine, they are hanging out with Dad to play “Dungeons & Dragons,” so it doesn’t need to be an underground dungeon or specifically a “dragon,” but at some point that first night your players will need a scary place to explore and a scary monster to either vanquish or escape from. Give them a chance to be heroes on the small scale—or give them no choice but to be heroes if they want to survive!—and then let them show you what kind of heroes they want to be. Take it from there. Good luck. HTH…