Writing Prompts and Plot Hooks: Halloween

Halloween is nearly upon us! Gather your friends around your table and get ready to spook them senseless with these scary plot hooks! Add your own creative spin on things and see where your party takes them.

Look for inspiration in a hook of narration that we sprung up from the creative make-up of our collective cup of plot. Take any of the below and let us know if you can fare any story to share.

Permission to Dream

With a shaky hand, the bartender moves the ale to you, swishing some of the drink onto your hands. “Sorry ‘bout that. I haven’t been able to sleep, but none of us have.” He motions to the room full of patrons who all have tired eyes, resting their chins into their palms, longingly staring off into the distance. “People are saying that every time someone tries to sleep, just before they can nod off, something whispers to them asking for a price to allow them to dream.” The bartender rubs their eyes and leans in to whisper, “Last night, I swear something told me that I didn’t have their permission to dream unless I gave them my sons teeth.” He tries to place his hand on yours, desperation coming to his eyes. “It’s a curse, right? A demon?”

The Empty Lich Gate

“She died only yesterday, so we brought her to the lychgate to rest. It was so cold out and I wanted to keep her warm, but the rain kept coming down. It felt like the storm itself kept me from her. Now she’s gone, and her body too. Where could she have gone? Why would someone snatch a body like that? Can you help find them?”

Crowds of Shades

As you walk through the crowded marketplace, the lamp posts flicker and dance, casting shadows across the stone buildings nearby. Crowds of people bargain and talk over their purchases and sales of various goods as you watch their shadows move and mimic them, but they suddenly stop moving, as though you interrupted their conversation. The people continue to move as usual, but the shadows move away, leaving their light sources. You follow the shadows and it is as though they are afraid of you. You chase them through the alleyways of the marketplace, where vendors selling their goods begin to trickle off, and you soon find that you’ve left the main market area. It’s an alleyway and the stone walls seem to stretch into a shadow at the end. As the shades enter the end of the alleyway, the shadow begins to grow, as though it wants to approach you, eating up the light of the alleyway, and the stone walls around you. The lampposts behind you extinguish and the shadows begin to move faster towards you. As the shadows race towards you, a figure emerges out of the blackness, like oil erupting out of a gas, it’s claws gripping the stones. A voice echoes from within it, “It will eat you too.” It beckons as a claw points past you. Behind you is the crowd from the marketplace. They’re all holding torches and staring at you with eyes ablaze with determination. What do you do? 

Island of Rotted Roots

“It wasn’t there last night” she says, sifting her feet in the sand as the water waves into the beach. She scratches her arms and you can see sores covering her forearm to up into her sleeves. Noticing your curious eye, she pulls her sleeve down and points to the island, “It’s coming from that, y’know? That constant humming sound? It sounds like a waterfall, but sometimes like a drum beat.” Looking to where she points, there is a sole body of brush and stone. Broken walls stretch upwards from a small island, resting in the lonely waters ahead of you. Waves of water push around it, like a shadow pushing around a pillar. There’s a small copse of trees nestled in the middle of – what appears like – the castle ruins. As you stare into the middle of the island you begin to hear a gentle humming, like a lullaby. “Is that a song..?” She asks.. Through a grin. 

The Haruspex’s Terminal Telling

He digs into the dead bird with his bare fingers, writhing around the innards with one, and pulling out some with another. He pushes his tongue out and bites it as he is reaching further within in, muttering to himself, “Careful… c’mon. C’mon.” Bright red gore fall onto the shallow bowl as he lifts it into the air, letting the innards fall out, like dice onto a game board. Watching intently as he holds the dead bird still in the air, he looks to you. “It’s good that you paid me to reveal your future, as the bird is speaking to me about the dark armored one seeking you. They have armor made of flesh, and a sword made of bone.” He stares further into the blood, “Something else.. Something..” His face contorts as though seeing something odd. An armored fist bursts through the blood, lunging towards his face, and gripping it tightly. You hear his bones suddenly snap and contort as he gasps for life. The armor is pulsating with bulbous veins, and open sores bleed onto the table before you. What do you do?

Curse of the Cloths

“They wanted to speak with you, sir” The guard says while kneeling. Before you, the sitting King dismisses the guard. Attempting to adjust his seat in the throne, you see now that the King is restricted by strands of cloth, stretching from different corners of the room, attaching to the corners of his throne. “Thank you for coming. I understand you’ll help look into the recent curse on our clothing.” He looks to his servants standing nearby, each holding different sets of attire while also wearing various dresses and noble gowns. “The pride of our countr-” he coughs and continues, “Our country needs the market to survive, so I hope you trust this Cloth King to pay you well to-” he coughs again, but as he does you see his face droop. He pauses, staring off, still. “You must- must- help-” his jaw drops further as you see the cloth strands on his throne begin to twist and tighten. He begins to scream and the strands of cloth animate, including the carpet that you’re standing on! What do you do?

Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Francis Bacon, 1953

We’d love to hear from you! Post in the comments how you see your party reacting to these. Once you’ve run them, let us know how it played out.

*Header image used is “Isle of the Dead” by Arnold Bocklin.

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