Dungeons & Dragons: 23 Classic Side Quests (2024)

Table of Contents
Highlights 23 Laboratory On Lockdown Trapped With Escaped Experiments, The Party Must Lift The Lockdown Soon 22 How Do We Land This Thing? Just One Animal Handling Check Isn't Going To Cut It 21 Rise To The Throne Influencing The Future King Or Queen Of The Kingdom 20 I Object! Taking The Law Into Their Own Hands 19 Capturing A Monster A Hunt Where The Role Of Predator And Prey Can Switch In An Instant 18 Reverse Genie It's The Party's Turn To Grant Three Wishes 17 Night At A Haunted House Will They Survive What Goes Bump In The Night? 16 Finding Evidence Of A Secret Society Breadcrumb Clues Can Be Discovered Wherever The Party Goes 15 The Championship Win Or Lose, This Tournament Will Be Unforgettable 14 Monster Of The Lake Something Lurks Beneath The Depths, And Only The Party Can Stop It 13 The Flashback A Great Way To Explore Some Of Those Tragic Backstories 12 Alien Abduction A Quick Detour Into The Spelljammer Realm 11 Honey, I Shrunk The Players Can They Navigate The World At Their New Size To Reverse The Spell? 10 A Farm In Distress Protect The Farm To Earn Some Coin 9 Starting Their Own Tavern An Ongoing Business Enterprise To Create The Best Tavern Around 8 Escort Mission Get Them From A To B... What Could Go Wrong? 7 Lost Treasure A Treasure Hunt For Some Wonderful Loot 6 A Date Creating The Perfect Atmosphere For Romance 5 Peace Talks The Party Is All That Stands Between Peace And All-Out War 4 A Wizard's New Spell A Magical Spell Is Rapidly Spiralling Out Of Control References

Highlights

  • Break up your D&D campaign with fun side quests to lighten the mood and give your players a break from the main storyline.
  • Side quests can provide extra time for you to work on your main campaign's next steps while still engaging your players.
  • From laboratory lockdowns to romantic dates, these unique side quests offer a variety of challenges and experiences for your party.

When running a campaign, you always need lots of adventures for your party to enjoy. Side quests are a great way to break up the action of the main storyline. If the main campaign is getting a little intense, having a few side quests available will allow your players to take a break from the norm and have some fun without as much at stake.

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Side quests are also helpful when you need some extra time to work on the next big step of your overall narrative. Here are several fun side-quest ideas that will work great as a fun distraction for your party.

Updated on June 27, 2024, By Luke Ackroyd: You can never have enough D&D side quest ideas prepared for when you need a break from the main story. From ongoing storylines that you can keep checking in on occasionally to completely standalone D&D side quests, your players are in for a fun experience. These short adventures are a nice change of pace from your main campaign while remaining in the same world. Sometimes, these quests might lead to something useful for the party’s main storyline. Other times, they are just a silly mission to distract them.

Whether you want D&D quest ideas for combat-focused events or role-play-heavy encounters, this list of D&D quests will have something for you to try next. You can adapt each prompt to fit your campaign, adding your unique spin to the concept.

23 Laboratory On Lockdown

Trapped With Escaped Experiments, The Party Must Lift The Lockdown Soon

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In this D&D side quest idea, your players visit a fascinating laboratory full of inventions that blur the line between magic and science. Their tour guide, an enthusiastic scientist, is showing them around when suddenly alarms begin to ring. All the doors and windows are magically sealed, and the faint sound of growls and screams can be heard from afar. The lights all go out, and their tour guide makes a mad dash for the safe room.

All the laboratory experiments have made a break for it and are now stalking the corridors of this sprawling facility. The security system will not stop until the threats have gone away. The party must either trap the experiments back in their chambers or assist them in their great escape (as long as they don’t get too close). Alternatively, the party may track down the security system and just leave the laboratory in chaos. No matter their decision, the laboratory is full of surprises throughout each room, from puzzles to automated security.

22 How Do We Land This Thing?

Just One Animal Handling Check Isn't Going To Cut It

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For a fast-paced and potentially abrupt small side quest, have the players encounter an incredibly large, ferocious beast just about to take off. Perhaps the creature was half buried in the ground, slumbering, and the party’s footsteps on top of it awakened it for the first time in a while. Regardless of the circ*mstances, the party must hold on tight as the winged beast sets off into the sky.

Getting higher and higher, it becomes clear that even feather fall won’t last long enough for the drop below. The party must figure out another way to get their feet on the ground. Perhaps they can communicate with the creature or tame it? Maybe they can influence its direction towards some tall mountains or a floating city. They might opt to wait it out and see how long they can hold on before the monster lands. A quest idea like this will lead to some fun solutions from your players and will be one mode of transport they will not forget anytime soon.

21 Rise To The Throne

Influencing The Future King Or Queen Of The Kingdom

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The players meet a nervous young traveler who seems out of place despite their best efforts to blend in. Should they attempt to befriend the stranger, they soon discover that they are a royal noble who has fled their kingdom to avoid their duty as heir. This side quest is a more social encounter, as your players advise what the flustered noble should do.

This will not be the end of the quest, though. Every so often, have your players reencounter the heir. They are still traveling the realm, trying to find themselves and their purpose. From helping them out of trouble to learning about their stint as a bard, the party should hopefully become quite attached to the ruler-to-be. They may also encounter others linked to the noble, such as a guard sent out to find them or an assassin seeking to strike.

This long, slow-burn quest will fit nicely in a longer campaign, as it may lead to the heir finally taking their rightful place as king or queen of their kingdom. How the party treats and influences them with each encounter will determine what kind of ruler they will become.

20 I Object!

Taking The Law Into Their Own Hands

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While resting in a local tavern, the local guards surround the party. One of them has been accused of a terrible crime, is carted away to jail, and is now awaiting trial. They might have been framed for the crime or did indeed commit the act. Regardless, their fate is now up to the rest of the players to help them.

The party will be taking on the role of lawyers, attempting to convince a jury of local townsfolk that their friend is innocent. How will they go about this? Try to track down the real culprit? Find or falsify evidence of the suspect’s innocence? Infiltrate the jury? The player on trial will also have their part to play, trying to come across as sympathetic enough to sway the jury’s votes. To mess with the group, you could end the session right before the verdict is announced. Maybe the party will win the trial, or perhaps the next side quest will be a classic prison break!

19 Capturing A Monster

A Hunt Where The Role Of Predator And Prey Can Switch In An Instant

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More often than not, D&D side quests involve killing a monster or two along the journey, which can eventually become quite an easy feat for your mighty heroes. But what if they had to keep the monster alive and transport it somewhere? That's not quite as easy. To set what level of challenge you want your players to have, you'll need to decide what type of monster they'll be tasked with tracking down.

A wizard or researcher is keen to learn more about this particular creature and has offered to pay the party a hefty sum of gold to get the beast to their laboratory in one piece. How will the party go about restraining such a deadly creature? Will their spells last long enough for the journey? Will the monster break free near a town?

First, the party will need to plan the initial ambush and then how to transport the monster safely. This task involves a lot of risk, but your party will likely figure out a creative way to keep things under control... hopefully.

18 Reverse Genie

It's The Party's Turn To Grant Three Wishes

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The party stumbles upon a magic lamp and is confident they are about to get themselves a chance to finally use the powerful Wish spell they've heard so much about. Unfortunately, when they awaken the being inside the lamp, it is a dishonest trickster, fairy, or perhaps a terrifying demon. The party has awoken a reverse genie that swiftly curses them to grant its own three wishes instead. The devil will continue tormenting the party until they grant all three obscure desires.

Since the party doesn’t have reality-bending magic themselves, they'll have to get creative with their wish-granting abilities. For example, the fake genie might demand an entire fleet of pirate ships, so the party gets a toy maker to craft a fleet of toy pirate ships instead. You'll have fun coming up with the wishes they need to grant, and your players will have fun coming up with their own twists on how each wish can be interpreted. It's a chance for them to be the tricksters this time.

17 Night At A Haunted House

Will They Survive What Goes Bump In The Night?

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On their long journey to a far-off land, the party is caught in a horrific storm. They need to find shelter fast and just so happen to be near a large, seemingly abandoned manor. They'll only need to stay here for the night, but all is not as it seems in this spooky abode. This quest idea can work as a fun filler session to delay reaching the next significant location in the main campaign, as the group has no choice but to wait out the night in this creepy location.

A quest like this lets you have fun setting the scene and crafting a tense, unsettling atmosphere. Will the players wait near the entrance or dare venture further into the haunted house to uncover its mysteries? Perhaps a curse needs lifting or a monster is lurking in the walls. Your players must avoid splitting the party if they want to survive the night in this haunted manor.

16 Finding Evidence Of A Secret Society

Breadcrumb Clues Can Be Discovered Wherever The Party Goes

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This is a long-running side quest idea you must hint towards over time. Throughout the adventure, your players will begin to notice the same symbol hidden in subtle locations. They'll hear rumors that this symbol is linked to a secret society pulling the strings in various places across the realm. It will intrigue the players, and they'll be keen to discover where this secret society is hidden.

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You can add small quests occasionally throughout the campaign, where the players find another clue about the secret society. Perhaps they find puzzle rooms dotted around a city or hidden chests full of encrypted documents. The party must do whatever they can to gain information about the secret society whenever possible.

These little quests will give the party more information about the society and its motives before they eventually track down their headquarters. Perhaps the organization is impressed by their ability to decipher their clues and offer them one piece of advice or information that will help them with the main quest as a reward for tracking them down.

15 The Championship

Win Or Lose, This Tournament Will Be Unforgettable

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A fun campaign isn't just about racing towards that dramatic ending. There should always be time for extra activities. The party could overhear about an upcoming competition. It is the grand championship, bringing together the best of the best from all over the realm.

With a rather enticing reward for whoever comes first, your players are sure to want to participate. Not only will they have the chance to gain some valuable loot, but they will also earn a lot of respect. Being known as a world champion will likely prove helpful later in the main quest. They could even gain fans they will meet from time to time afterward.

This side quest is something you can adapt to your party. There could be a fighting arena for the barbarian to participate in. The wizard could hear about a magic tournament. The ranger could try their luck at the archery championship.

These fun D&D side quests give your players a chance to show off their particular skills but also provide them with a real challenge. They will be competing against other experts and will need to come up with new tactics to prove their abilities. It will be a tough challenge. Will they overcome this and become the crowned champion, or will they attempt to cheat their way to the top?

14 Monster Of The Lake

Something Lurks Beneath The Depths, And Only The Party Can Stop It

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This is a classic side quest to slip into any town your players visit. While staying in the town, the party will overhear some locals discussing what to do about the lack of fish. The local anglers are refusing to venture into the lake anymore. It is too dangerous. A monster has taken up residence in the lake or was perhaps awoken from a long slumber. If the party doesn't go out to the nearby lake and defeat the beast, the town will be permanently cut off from its primary food source. It is a straightforward defeat-the-monster side quest.

There are so many possibilities for what could be terrorizing the lake. A giant sea serpent could be grabbing onto fishing lines. Drowned ghosts could be dragging those who dare to swim in the water deep into the depths. A siren could be luring rowboats into a whirlpool.

No matter what monster you choose, you are in for an exciting encounter. Water combat offers a unique experience, and it will take a lot for the party to overcome this to defeat the threat. Once the group manages to do so, they can discover the creature's underwater cavern lair to see what loot it has claimed from its victims.

13 The Flashback

A Great Way To Explore Some Of Those Tragic Backstories

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A flashback quest is a wonderful opportunity to explore your players' backstories further. The party could be getting to know one another around a campfire, prompting a tale from one of the party member's past.

The session cuts to that moment in the past, and your players can act it out, determining how things really happened all that time ago. The flashback could be about the first quest someone went on. You could explore how the party met one another if you started your campaign long after that point. You could even see how a character handled studying at Strixhaven. Any moment in the past that seems intriguing can be the focus of this side quest.

For those in a high-level campaign, it is a chance to briefly experience those lower levels again without restarting completely. If you only explore the backstory of one player's character, the rest of the party could take on new roles for this story.

This type of side quest will likely not influence the main storyline all that much. It mainly acts as a way to get to know the characters a little better, showing what first ignited their personal motivations. Of course, a moment in the flashback could also be significant to the main plot. For example, it could be revealed that the main villain has met some of the party once before.

12 Alien Abduction

A Quick Detour Into The Spelljammer Realm

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If you are eager to try the Spelljammer setting but do not want to switch your campaign into space completely, this side quest will work best. To set it up, have the party begin to hear rumors about disappearances and reportings of strange lights flying through the sky. The party might hide out in the wilderness to see if they can figure out what is going on.

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But, before they can react, a spaceship flies down from the skies and kidnaps the entire party. They are locked away in the brig and are flown out into space. It is now down to the party to break out of their cells, take control of the ship, and figure out how to return home.

There are all sorts of great encounters for the party to experience in Spelljammer, such as aliens, mysterious gadgets, or a sentient spacecraft. This side quest will be quite a change of pace in the middle of an epic fantasy campaign. It is a prison escape quest with a twist that your players will undoubtedly remember, even if no one else believes them when they try to tell anyone about their adventures in space.

11 Honey, I Shrunk The Players

Can They Navigate The World At Their New Size To Reverse The Spell?

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After annoying a fairy from the Feywild, the party finds themselves suddenly being shrunk down by the creature's powerful magic. Alternatively, perhaps someone replaced their health potions with a shrinking potion, and they do not realize until it is too late.

No matter the reason, the party is now smaller than a fairy. Everything around them is gigantic, and they cannot progress with their other quests until they return to their original size. Perhaps their equipment hasn't shrunk down with them to make this even more challenging for your players. They have just themselves to figure a way out of this mess.

Exploring the world at a new tiny size will allow you to try out your own homebrew rules and encounter ideas. For example, you could create a system for using little feathers as hand gliders for the party to zoom around on. The party will be experiencing their usual world in an entirely different way. Tiny threats they used to ignore are now rather dangerous. The party will have to get creative in how they navigate their surroundings. Can they find a potion to reverse the spell before they are forever stuck in their new tiny size?

10 A Farm In Distress

Protect The Farm To Earn Some Coin

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A farm requires help. Something is destroying their crops at night and terrifying the farmers. Perhaps never-before-seen creatures from the Feywild are sneaking onto the farm at night. Maybe a rival farm is trying to sabotage its competitors. No matter the answer to this mystery, it will require the party to venture far out to the farm, stay a few days, and figure out how to help.

This simple quest likely won't impact your main campaign, but it is an excellent way to earn a little extra gold and allies. On top of that, the party, after succeeding, will likely have a new place to stay after long journeys. If you are looking for D&D low-level quest ideas, then a farm in trouble is a great choice.

9 Starting Their Own Tavern

An Ongoing Business Enterprise To Create The Best Tavern Around

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During the main adventure, the party has been gifted a run-down tavern. It works as a great home base but also begins a long-running side quest. They need to save up gold to renovate the building and hire staff, and this is a side quest that the group can get really invested in. It isn't too challenging or time-consuming; instead, it's a peaceful, fun break from their everyday adventures.

Soon enough, they'll have a tavern that will rival the famous Yawning Portal. You'll be able to make future tavern side quests, such as rival taverns causing trouble, supply issues, and mysterious customers, to form a long-running side story for your campaign.

8 Escort Mission

Get Them From A To B... What Could Go Wrong?

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The Escort Mission is a staple of video games: the party must protect an NPC from point A to point B. It is a lovely side quest to add to long journeys. There will be many obstacles that will put the NPC at risk. But, if the party overcomes these threats, they will likely have a valuable ally. Alternatively, perhaps this NPC will turn out to be the main villain later on instead for a gut-wrenching twist.

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You will want to ensure that this escort mission does not get too frustrating by ensuring the NPC is helpful, even if not in combat. Give them a fun, memorable personality, and maybe the group will want to have them stick around for the main quests.

7 Lost Treasure

A Treasure Hunt For Some Wonderful Loot

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No matter how important it is for the party to take down that dangerous dragon at the top of Icespire Peak, a treasure hunt is very tempting. From hearing a rumor in a tavern to finding an ancient map, there are plenty of ways to introduce this side quest. They must follow the clues to find their way to this mysterious treasure. It could contain plenty of gold or perhaps powerful magic items.

This quest doesn't have to be relevant to the main campaign. It can just be an excellent spin-off adventure that will also help them get resupplied for the next stage of the campaign.

6 A Date

Creating The Perfect Atmosphere For Romance

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Romance can often spring up in a long-term campaign. A PC might fall for another PC or NPC. Alternatively, the party could help an NPC find love on their own. Now it's time to arrange a romantic, candlelit date for them.

The party needs to ensure the date goes off without a hitch. They will have to prevent many hilarious complications from behind the scenes. If you are playing online, players could suggest romantic music to set the mood. This date works as a lighthearted break from more serious quest lines.

5 Peace Talks

The Party Is All That Stands Between Peace And All-Out War

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While lost on their way to their next big destination, the party finds themselves caught on a battlefield. The group gets captured by one side and taken back to their base, only for their captors to realize that they are not their enemy. From here, the group could decide not to get involved, or they could try to end the conflict. They are tasked with setting off to find the rival camp and see if they can talk this out peacefully.

With an excellent diplomatic character in the party, perhaps everything will go peacefully. Alternatively, the group might decide to sabotage one side to help the other win. Regardless of the outcome, it can be a fun side quest that could give them an entire army or two to call upon when in trouble.

4 A Wizard's New Spell

A Magical Spell Is Rapidly Spiralling Out Of Control

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A quirky wizard has not been heard from in a while, and the local villagers are worried. A side quest like this is the perfect chance to incorporate puzzles as the party attempts to navigate the wizard's confusing, elaborate tower. They discover that the wizard was trying to cast an entirely new spell, which has gone horribly wrong. Can the party help them get this haywire spell under control? Perhaps they are taught how to use this unpredictable spell's "fixed" version if they do.

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An alternative scenario could be that an apprentice wizard has cast a spell wrong and trapped their mentor. They need the party's help to solve this mess and perhaps calm down the mentor afterward. This apprentice could become a reoccurring NPC, offering new fun scenarios for the party to distract themselves with as they see the apprentice failing in other roles elsewhere.

Dungeons & Dragons: 23 Classic Side Quests (2024)

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