There are two content types on Quests DB that are similar to one another and may cause confusion: Hooks vs. Encounters. Some of them may seem interchangeable and you might wonder why they aren’t just combined into a single category. This article explains why and describes how we distinguish them.
Hooks, or Plot Hooks, are generally short, descriptive introductions to a scenario. They consist of the party, a location, and something dramatic or interesting. They can create a mix of fun combat encounters, roleplaying moments, tie into a larger questline, and much more.
An example of a simple hook is: The party stumbles upon two groups, already engaged in combat, and they aren’t immediately noticed.
This simple hook provides a variety of options for the players to take into consideration. For instance, they could choose to engage the two groups in combat or they could interupt the battle and broker peace between them. They could also let one group win and then attack the weakened victors or follow them quietly after the battle is over to see where they go.
Encounters, by contrast, are more simplistic and combat oriented. They often take place during travel, while exploring dangerous areas, or at night when the players are sleeping. They are generally inserted into existing plots but don’t necessarily have any meaning or purpose behind them. Encounters are often added simply because combat is fun and exciting.
Let’s convert the hook above into an encounter: The party stumbles upon two groups already engaged in combat. As the last human falls, the victorious and bloodthirsty orcs turn on the party, ready for another battle!
The hook is no longer a hook because an outcome has already been decided. The next step is almost certaintly initiative rolls and a battle. However, it is possible, that crafty players could convince the orcs to stop or flee, but generally encounters are assumed to result in combat.