Dumb not Evil

Not every problem in the world has to be rooted in some diabolical plot of world domination. It can be fun to have the cause of the region’s woes to not be tied to the necromancer, but to Ed the carpenter. It is easy to forget that some of the most frustrating things we deal with daily are caused by negligence, accidents, and bad decision making. Here are a few ideas to root your next quest in.

Bad Decisions

There is nothing special about a miner doing his job, but when one decides to just dig through the stone door he found, that’s when things get interesting. Having some regular person make the decision to ‘just have a peak’ within pandora’s box allows you to drop whatever monster you want to use practically anywhere. 

There are a lot of reasonable reasons why they wouldn’t think twice about looking also. The warning could have been in a different language. They could be trying to fix a thing, that once fixed, releases a monster from its prison. They might not believe the lore surrounding the hill. One simple ‘oops’ could be the root of the entire campaign.


Upkeep is important. Infrastructure needs repairs, spells need to be renewed, and paintings need to be restored when exposed to the elements. If these tasks are not done things wear out and break. So, if an evil god is sealed in a forgotten tomb, it is only a matter of time before he spoons his way out. This allows you turn turn any cataclysm into a time bomb.

There are many reasons why maintenance can be neglected. A kingdom could have a few lean tax years which cause them to ignore much needed infrastructure work. The wizard that was tasked with revitalizing the runes died suddenly, and he didn’t have any students trained in the task. Maybe something was built on the cheap and one rather vicious storm is all that’s needed to break it.

Benefits of Dumb over Evil

These kinds of quests allow you to easily drop a desired problem into your story without too much backstory required. You don’t have to worry with the ‘motive’ of the problem in the same way that you would with a villainous NPC. So if the players take you off guard and take the story in a completely different direction, you can easily create a quick quest in seconds at the table.

EX: ‘You head to Oceanport!? Oh, uh, okay. While making your way there, a smithy explodes and you see a fire elemental flee into the nearby forest catching the dry grasses on fire. An angry blacksmith can be heard inside yell, ‘Jim I told you to check the elemental furnace!!’