Gloomy and Gothic Story Hooks

Endless tomes tell tales of brooding beings locked in wretched crypts, of things we are not meant to know dwelling beyond the skies, of shocking creatures that terrify as they stun, of punishment for grievous sin and decedent folly.  These stories of old have fueled events to come for generations.  History has a habit of repeating, especially the negative…

Author’s Note: What?  Something non-crunch related???  That hasn’t happened in a long time, I know.  I prefer the mechanical bits, myself.  That said, I wanted to do something a little different.  I’ve made backgrounds, NPCs, monsters, class options, a race and then some with a gothic theme… why not stuff on the campaign itself?  Plus, this example is literally about literature.  So, here are some hooks inspired by various stories.  I’ll post something else later in the week, I promise.

Frankenstein –

  • A hulking monster have been seen stalking the country side.  This has coincided with the disappearances of multiple artisans and crafters around nearby villages.  Rumor has it that the creature might be hiding in an old farmstead and windmill owned by a crazed alchemist.  Rumors dwell that the alchemist sends his monster to kill all culture, life and arts in the area; to reinforce a drab and depressing atmosphere.  In truth, the monster has lived in solitude.  The alchemist was killed in a vicious fight.  All alone, the monster wanted friends and a means of making his dismal world a little more beautiful.
  • Graverobbing has been getting out of hand as of late.  Attempts to catch the thieves have left guards either horribly wounded or murdered… with worst of all, limbs missing!

The Cask of Amontillado –

  • An often lucky nobleman begins to suspect one of his good friends of trickery, but can’t prove it.  Recently at lavish gatherings, the two have always found themselves in lonely and secluded areas after many drinks.
  • A seemingly friendly and beloved noble has a terrible secret, but he’s more than admitting to speak about his guilt.  Anyone who asks will learn that somewhere in a sprawling catacombs is the tattered remains of a tortured and chained up body.  However, he will refuse to admit any of this to just anyone.  Chances are, you’ll have to get the nobleman drunk as a “friend” to get a peep out.

The Raven –

  • For countless generations, an ill omen has haunted a once powerful and noble family due to an ancient curse.  The omen takes the shape of a large bird, who seeks to torment the last of family, a young man inheriting a large estate.  Since he is the last of his bloodline, he seeks all the help he can get to defend himself against the dark spirit that has caused most of his family to go mad and die.
  • A lone old man seeks to speak with his deceased wife, but the ritual to bring her to him goes wrong.  Instead, he is corrupted by a shadowy spirit, bending him as a warlock under its power.  This mysterious raven-like entity babbles in short phrases.

Dracula –

  • A wealthy nobleman is the last of his family line.  He’s known for wild parties and is blamed for disappearances.  The townsfolk have long considered him to be an outdated burden upon the town.  They fear something about him is more sinister than he lets on.  They see shadowy figures taking off in the night, coming from the castle.  Worse yet, many hear screams not too long after the creatures flee from belfries, windows and dormers on the top of castle towers.
  • A foreign diplomat has become obsessed with one of the locals.  Initially, she wasn’t interested, but lately she has become obsessed…  And strangely enough, she looks to be devoid of blood.  The diplomat has come under investigation as a prime suspect.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

  • A Dandy is horrified by a corrupted portrait of himself and seeks to get rid of it any way possibly.  Upon being transferred to another owner, the dandy is found dead a couple days later.  Stranger yet, the portrait has changed to represent its current residence.
  • A wretched man in town endures countless amounts of torture, violence and other horrible happenings.  However, he seems immune.  Those who want to know his secret notes that he sneaks into his cellar, sometimes heard crying in anguish over something.  Perhaps he’s not as invincible as he has let on.

Masque of the Red Death

  • A Royal Ball is being held as a plague ravages the nearby countryside.  However, those inside the castle walls seem fine.  In light of the chaos, one of the court physicians was sent out to aid in the outbreak.  Upon returning, he seems different.  In truth, the physician died and a necromancer used dark magic to reshape himself to pose as him instead.  The necromancer’s plan is to spread the plague into the kingdom, as the houses and royalty attend the ball.
  • Death is seeking out a noble house, after they cheated the reaper.  Plague swept over the lands, but through a manipulation of magical pacts and tricking the physical embodiment of death itself, it’s out for revenge.  Well aware of this, the house seeks out protection… while keeping information minimal.


  • A mad warlock in service to djinns has taken over a far away kingdom, turning them away from their traditional religion in effort to enslave them under the power of these spirits.  The usurping ruler seeks ultimate power at the hands of their elemental masters.  It’s likely they’ll only gain damnation.
  • The Caliph has become mad with decedent obsessions and a desire to ascend to a higher power.  Nobles and clergy fear that fiendish influence has corrupted him.  This fear is very much fact.  Worse, they fear this information will spark massive unrest among the public.  However, there is some hope that he can be rescued and order brought back to a collapsing rulership.


Author: Doctor Necrotic

Hobbyist, amateur writer/screenwriter, wannabe-philosopher, music fan, history lover, cinemaphile, gamer, reviewer, and more. I'm a 30 year old hodgepodge of jobs and interests. My current projects on WordPress creating a wide variety of content for various tabletop roleplaying games, even showcasing published content here as well. When I have the time, I also create editorials and reviews spanning various bits of popular culture. I hope you take a moment to check my content out and maybe tell me what you think.

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