In DnD, the Dungeon Master’s goal is to guide players through the world and create a rich story to enhance everyone’s experience. That being said, it can be hard on the DM to always be in the driver’s seat. To help you out, we’ve got a list of 25 DnD side quest ideas for you to try out during your next campaign.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
1. Bridge Puzzles
Bridge puzzles are meant to give players something to think about and solve on their way to another location. It’s less of a side quest and more of an event, we’ll admit. Of course, depending on the puzzle, it can lead to a whole new quest line for your party.
The first thing the DM will need to decide is what type of puzzle they are going to throw at their players. Is it a classic bridge troll demanding payment, or something more complex, like a magic bridge that requires a special ritual or pattern in order to cross safely?
2. Transformed Spirit
This specific side quest is one we used recently and ended up having a lot of fun with.
The premise is this — the party comes across a strange object and discovers that it’s actually an entity that was sealed or transformed. In exchange for freeing the being from their seal/transformation, the party will be granted crucial knowledge they seek or perhaps promised an item of great power.
How the being was sealed, the method to unseal them, and what exactly they can offer as compensation is all up to the DM to decide.
3. Haunted Mansion
Ghosts are a little less scary in Dungeons and Dragons, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t excellent plot devices.
DMs can introduce their players to an old, abandoned mansion. Perhaps they’re seeking refuge from stormy weather or are in need of a hideout while they’re on the run. Either way, the old building will hold more to it than meets the eye. Plenty of secrets are waiting to be uncovered, and restless spirits are hiding in the shadows as unseen friends and foes.
Haunted mansions are an easy way to whip up some mystery and intrigue. Not to mention they’re also an opportunity to introduce players to richer world building.
4. Grocery List
Fetch quests are a common quest type in any RPG. While they aren’t used often in DnD, that doesn’t mean they don’t make for a good side quest.
The next time your party needs someone to complete a tricky spell for them, create a list of items they’ll need to gather as payment. The items could be a literal grocery list, or they could be something a bit more tricky. The DM can even involve riddles and prophecies to make things more fun.
However you incorporate a fetch quest, it gives the players a clear goal to work on while also allowing them the freedom to choose exactly how they gather those items.
Removing curses is another classic quest objective in Dungeons and Dragons. Beings of all power levels tend to find themselves afflicted from time to time, and only a party of intrepid PCs can seem to free them from their otherwise horrid fate.
The type of curse is of course up to the DM, but common curses include those of corruption, sleep, decay, and transformation.
How the party undoes the curse can also be decided by the DM, but sometimes it’s more entertaining to sit back and watch players try to come up with their own solutions. They may take a traditional route, or they could get creative and come up with an entirely new way to solve the problem.
6. Runaway Princess
Saving the damsel in distress is definitely a cliché at this point. But what happens if she doesn’t want to be saved? This DnD side quest idea is based on the premise that a young woman has gone missing and someone wants her to be “rescued.”
As the session progresses, it will become increasingly obvious that this woman isn’t as helpless as she seems. Flipping the overused narrative on its head, the party will need to figure out how to proceed when it’s finally clear that this princess doesn’t need saving.
7. Mystical Flower Gathering
In a similar vein to the Grocery List side quest idea, sending a party of DnD players after legendary items can be a way to occupy them a bit longer.
Flowers in particular are good items to set as quest goals. They have a lot of symbolism and are usually hard to purchase at any old shop. Mystic or magic flowers will usually need to be freshly picked if they’re going to be used in rituals and the like. This usually means sending the party to remote areas of the world they wouldn’t normally explore.
8. Riddle Me This
Love them or hate them, riddles are a very common part of DnD. And one of the beings most closely associated with riddles is the mighty Sphinx, which also happens to exist in DnD.
While these powerful creatures are incredibly rare, they are also usually very powerful and Lawful in nature. A party of adventurers can potentially make a deal with them, or at the very least survive a conversation without nearly bleeding out.
Solving a Sphinx’s riddle could just be a blip in the midst of a bigger quest, or it could be entirely its own thing.
9. Mirror Mirror
Mirrors are a fantastic symbol to add to your DnD game. They can represent so much and are already associated very closely with magic and fantasy.
DMs wanting something fresh and new to put their players through can send them on a little side quest through a mirror world. Everything is more or less the same, but somehow different, too. Is the party in the mirror by choice, or did they fall into a nefarious trap? Either way, the script is quite literally flipped.
10. Fairy Tales
Fairy tales are a fantastic source of inspiration for your next DnD side quest. They’re already perfectly packaged short stories that match very well with DnD mechanics. They also give DMs plenty of room to personalize and tweak to keep the flow of the game.
For example, as the party is traveling to their next big adventure, they may come across a town filled with fear. This fear could be caused by the disappearance of the village children as they follow an enchanting melody. Or it could be due to the large wolf stalking the nearby woods and gobbling up little old ladies.
Folklore and fairy tales are naturally filled with strange creatures and magical items which make them the perfect examples to draw DnD side quest inspiration from.
11. Freaky Friday
This side quest idea can get somewhat tricky depending on how you do it. The idea is that characters have been body swapped for a session. They’ll need to spend some time figuring out how to get back to their regular bodies, either through a ritual or even by defeating a demon.
The DM gets to decide the logistics of how the body swapping will actually work. This can mean swapping character sheets as players take over the body of another player’s character, or it can mean having players do their best to roleplay another character being in their usual character’s body.
However you do it, hilarity will usually ensue.
12. Among Us
Getting to play mind games with your players is definitely one of the perks of being a DM. So next time you’re looking to play one, we suggest sewing some discord and turning the players against each other.
For this side quest idea, select a single player to act as an imposter. Through your desired set up, notify the group that one among them has been replaced with a doppleganger. It’s up to them to find out who it is and how to reunite with their missing comrade.
If you want to be really cruel, you can also get your party to believe there is an imposter without actually picking one. Let them tear themselves apart searching for an enemy that isn’t even there.
13. Cursed Objects
Most players in DnD are going to clamor for the chance to get some magic items. DMs who really want to bring something new to the table can use that desire to their advantage. Let your players obtain some new magic items through regular gameplay, or perhaps through a single event.
The catch (and there’s always a catch) is that these items are a Monkey’s Paw situation. They are indeed magic, but they cannot be used without a price. Whether by curses or design, giving players magic items that twist their desires against them is a great opportunity to introduce horribly fantastical objects into your game.
It’s said that nothing brings people together like a wedding or a funeral. So why not send your party on a side quest involving an opulent wedding between two warring factions? Of course, a wedding side quest doesn’t have to be anything too grandiose. It’s just a chance to stir up some drama and get up to some shenanigans in a formal setting.
Whether the DM decides to have the characters involved with the wedding party or send them in to disrupt it, involving a wedding in your sessions is sure to add some new flavor.
Festivals, parties, carnivals, fairs, or anything else that has a lot of NPCs and a lot of activities going on is going to make for an interesting little side quest. They’re also a great opportunity to explore homebrew mechanics and whimsical prizes.
DMs who enjoy handing out strange magic items that don’t have a lot of combat power are especially going to enjoy setting up a festival for their players. Characters can explore this festival as part of their side quest and gain new items without risking life and limb.
The items granted by a festival or carnival aren’t going to be anything great like a +1 magic sword, but they could be something your players will use creatively later on in ways you’d never expect.
16. Groundhog Day
Time loops can be a fun way to spice up a side quest in Dungeons and Dragons, but the DM will need to understand how they want it to work before the session begins.
In theory, a time loop can be an interesting and new way to engage with players and expose them to new kinds of puzzles. Information gathering will also be different from the usual “ask the NPC,” because NPCs won’t usually know what’s going on and will repeat the same conversations over and over.
The best way to create a time loop is to have players enact a day for the first time and take notes on major events that happen throughout the day. DMs can refer to those notes and add more minor details that could change throughout the day due to a butterfly effect.
17. Dream Hunters
The material plane isn’t the only plane of existence in Dungeons and Dragons. There are plenty with all sorts of different creatures to encounter in each. Incorporating a new realm into a quest can give DMs a lot of freedom to explore new plots and have characters face new enemies.
An enemy that only appears in the party’s dreams, for instance, is definitely worth exploring. Players will need to figure out how to fight in a whole new way while protecting their physical bodies and solving the mystery of why they’re being targeted to boot.
18. Local Competitions
Most characters in Dungeons and Dragons aren’t going to be world renowned, at least not until you’ve been playing for a good long while. That being said, players who are a little more showy or want to create living legends will jump at the opportunity to increase their in-game fame.
That’s where competitions and tournaments come in.
DMs can set up fun mechanics or just stick to one on one combat to give the players a taste of something different while also spreading the party’s name throughout the realm. Impressive shows of strength in front of a large crowd of spectators is just the thing to get bards spreading tales that just might become an opportunity later on for everyone.
19. Obligatory Beach Episode
Want to give your players a change of scenery? That’s what this DnD side quest idea is all about!
Beach episodes are a common trope in fiction that give everyone a chance to decompress. Sessions focusing on the beach are going to be pretty role-play heavy, but will hopefully give players the chance to relax and goof off for a bit. These sessions are nice if the DM’s life is hectic outside the game or if there has been a particularly heavy session recently.
Whip up some local mythos and let characters explore a new region, meet new friends, and generally just enjoy themselves. This of course works best for groups that enjoy improvisation and roleplay, but it can also work for players who like combat.
20. Magic Interference
This next DnD quest idea is great for parties with at least a couple of spellcasters.
Wizards, sorcerers, bards, and even warlocks are known for being less than handy with a blade. Sure, they can do some damage, but if you take away their magic, it’s a real problem. Which is why that’s exactly what you’re going to do.
Sever your players’ spellcasting abilities and let them puzzle out the cause and how to get their magic back. This fun little quest will really have them thinking outside the box. It will also make them less likely to jump into dangerous situations head first…probably.
21. New Kid on the Block
Nothing tugs on a player’s heartstrings like having a plucky kid around to guard and guide. Lost children make for an excellent way to emotionally connect with players and make them care that much more about the campaign.
Child NPCs can also make for a great way to create collaborative world building as player characters teach their new ward about the world around them. Perhaps they even hone their abilities by passing them down to a new generation of adventurers.
Whether the party’s youngest member sticks around for just one session or becomes a long-running NPC, playing through the eyes of a child is going to create a compelling hook for everyone at the table.
22. Masquerade Madness
We can’t say this side quest idea hasn’t been done before, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. Have your party receive invitations from a local nobleman to a masquerade party. The purpose of the party can be anything or everything, that’s not really the part that matters here. The exciting bit is what happens at the party.
Guests of the party are provided with masks representative of another creature or animal. Once the party is in full swing, an evil entity will swoop in and transform the party goers into the very creatures their masks represent.
While players may be used to taking down bad guys as elves and tieflings, they’re probably going to have a harder time doing it as a dog or lizard.
23. Honey, I Shrunk the Party
Whether through divine retribution or some other magical mishap, a fun DnD side quest idea for your next session is shrinking things down.
Have your players figure out how to navigate the world as pixie-sized humanoids and undo the effects placed on them before it’s too late. They say size doesn’t matter, but the fighters in your group may find combat just a tad more difficult when their sword is roughly the size of a sewing needle. Spellcasters might also lose their oomph if their fireballs are barely the size of a ping-pong ball!
24. Copy Cats
Take imposter syndrome to a whole new level by introducing a group of off-brand NPCs to parallel your players’ characters.
DMs can be subtle about it or go down a blatant evil twin route where everyone in the party is suddenly faced with a worse version of themselves. It could be a misunderstanding brought about by pure coincidence, or perhaps it’s all part of an insidious plot.
The point is to find out how players react when another group of adventurer’s start stealing their thunder. At the end of the day, there’s only one way to find out.
Everyone likes a good murder mystery. Whodunnits are perfect little one-shot sessions for Dungeons and Dragons. They’re also a great option for Dungeon Masters wanting to explore their creative side with convoluted plotlines they don’t normally get to break out.
Perhaps a mysterious benefactor winds up dead after offering a vital clue to your campaign’s overarching mystery. Or maybe the whole thing is a theatrical production gone wrong. There are a million ways to twist a strange death to your advantage and keep your players highly entertained.
Just…try to be prepared for when things inevitably go off the rails.
Join the High Ground!
That’s all for our list of 25 new DnD side quest ideas to breathe new life into your next session! Do you have any memorable quests you’d like to share with fellow players? Drop them in the comments below! Game Masters and players wanting something a little different can check out our list of the games most like Dungeons and Dragons here.
Until next time, happy gaming!