Real World Adventure Hooks for D&D — Locke & Key on Netflix

Top 10 5E D&D Homebrew Magic Items for Exploration by a Factor of Three
Join the Fight for Freedom at the Planar Zoo!

Hello adventures and adventurer planners of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. At Nerdarchy cleave to the concept that whether you are a player looking to make a backstory or a Dungeon Master developing an adventure hook you can get inspiration from anywhere. I am always looking at whatever I am doing to see how it can inform or inspire the games I run and the material I create. If you are familiar enough with Nerdarchist Ted, you are probably aware of my go to game. If not you can check it out here. Recently I have been bingeing the Locke & Key show on Netflix. I am not going to spoil the show so worry not. All you need to know for this post, which is in the trailer, is there is a house and it has keys that are magic. This is a simple enough concept to run with.

In our digital book Trip to the Planar Zoo adventurers can find and use magical keys to navigate a very special exhibit within a one of a kind menagerie. [Art by Nelson Vieira]

Key to a great D&D adventure hook

For those who have not seen the show I am not going to tell you about the keys to avoid spoilers, but I will say I am incredibly inspired to alter my Haunted Mansion game with a series of magical keys allowing characters to do fun and interesting things.

I have a number of ready made scenarios I can play but looking at this idea of magical keys how could these be used in a game of D&D?

We know from the opening scene the magical keys are not limited to a specific location, but if you wanted to run the haunted house game the keys could be magically tied to the location, giving you a lot of liberty as to what they can do, without the concern they are too powerful and will wreck your game later.

They could be less powerful and have the ability to work outside the location where the keys are found. Lastly the keys could be somewhere in between. They could be very powerful at a specific location but their powers are lessened when removed from those grounds.

This gives you the best of both worlds and if you want to be really sneaky create another location that activates the full powers of the keys. Inquisitive players might be curious about why these locations are linked? Does it mean there are more locations like this? Are there more keys to find? This could be a powerful subplot or linked directly to your main plot if you are creative about how everything ties together.

What could the keys do? In the show they had some cool abilities, so any of those could easily work depending on the premise of the adventure hook and power limit you want to set for the keys.

Barring powers in the show, I have a few ideas for sure. Generically they could function like other magic items. Are they a magical focus or something that functions like a wand? They could have charges and allow certain spell usage, but it would not require any components.

Keys function is to unlock something so perhaps in addition to whatever powers they actually have, they might also unlock certain rooms within the house.

I possess a fondness for cool looking ancient keys. My D&D in a Castle garb included a Keymaster’s Jacket, and I am delighted by magic in general. So after watching all of season 1 I feel I have to put some pen to paper as they say and begin planning this idea out in further depth by making specific keys and how they all function.

As a nice takeaway remember as you are walking through a store or watching a show or movie, inspiration for our favorite tabletop game can literally come from anywhere. So keep those eyes and ears open.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay nerdy!

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Follow Ted Adams:
The nerd is strong in this one. I received my bachelors degree in communication with a specialization in Radio/TV/Film. I have been a table op role player for about 20 years 17 of which with the current group. I have played several itterations of D&D, Mutants and Masterminds 2nd and 3rd editions, Star wars RPG, Shadowrun and World of Darkness. I am an avid fan of books and follow a few authors reading all they write. Favorite author is Jim Butcher I have been an on/off larper for around 15 years even doing a stretch of running my own for a while. I have played a number of Miniature games including Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy, Heroscape, Mage Knight, Dreamblade and D&D Miniatures. I have practiced with the art of the German long sword with an ARMA group for over 7 years studying the German long sword, sword and buckler, dagger, axe and polearm. By no strecth of the imagination am I an expert but good enough to last longer than the average person if the Zombie apocalypse ever happens. I am an avid fan of board games and dice games with my current favorite being Quarrios.

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