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What are some good side quests?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Toby Johnson, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. Toby Johnson

    Toby Johnson Minstrel

    In one of my latest books I want a list of side quests so that, if the story just gets a bit bland and boring: such as walking though a forest, I can add in something to break it up.
    The story is set in Medieval fantasy and my characters in the group are and elf, a dwarf, a wizard, and a human.
    The story takes place in all types of terrain and biomes.
    Can any of you please give me some ideas of side quests I can send them on,
    Thank you.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

    Well, there's always the good old gathering quest. Someone is sick and/or dying, and the local healer is unable to gather medicinal ingredients himself.

    You can also set up a cult or bandit infestation. Usually works best with an old abandoned ruin or something of that sort. The adventurers may happen upon it or intentionally seek it out to investigate strange activity in the area.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  3. Toby Johnson

    Toby Johnson Minstrel

    thanks a lot great ideas! see you in chat later?
  4. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    You could try having a bargain between people is one way. In order for your main characters to get what they need them must perform a task for someone else. Having a MC become ill or injured, a natural disaster occurring, a mistake made by someone causing something bad to happen which the MCs must fix.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  5. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

    Got the random encounters, as Lynea said. Bandits and beasties. Stopping at a tavern to take care of a rodent problem. Ambush! Ambushing the Ambush. Finding someone's pet giant rat. Or killing it and making them loathe the group. End up on a country estate for a few days to rest a while and let the estate owner try to kill them. Or some other manner of blissful area not what it seems. Hanging out with a bear morpher and eating well all while keeping away from the Evil Horde™. Going on an archeological dig with other adventurers with names like Laura, Sydney, Drake, Indie and such.

    Ending up at a carnival and participating in competitions. The dwarf winding up as a muse for a painting like one of those Drow girls. Someone gets involved in fighting as a Champion for someone and their ideals or saving them from all sorts of problems. Someone stole from a dragon and they must investigate it and find the stolen treasure and have their hearts stolen by said dragon. End up at the county faire and get caught up in a biggest pumpkin grown scandal involving magical cheating. Learn to ride sandworms to get across the deadly desert. Fighting armored devil penguins. Taking shelter with the bear riding vikings.

    Rumbles in the jungles. Getting side tracked in the advanced jungle nation cities. Fighting and/or joining the local lizard folk clans. Meeting the Amazons. Running from dinosaurs one found on a plateau. Eating dinosaurs after the running is done. Fighting in an arena after getting caught and enslaved. And so on and on.
    S.T. Ockenner and Lynea like this.
  6. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    They have random encounter generators for D&D and games like that. Or encounter tables or whatever.

    But generally speaking, you don’t want random nonsense happening in your story. If there’s a stretch of nothing happening, you should just fast forward to the next plot point.

    And if you want a small event to break-up the plot, it should contribute to the bigger story. Like how the “side quests” in the Hobbit resulted in Bilbo getting his sword, the ring and the respect of his comrades while also meeting the guy who ultimately killed the main villain.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  7. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    I think you're approaching this wrong. You are not writing a video game, you are writing a book. There is no such thing as a "side quest" for the reader to choose to go do for awhile before getting back to the main plot. Sometimes there are B plots or C plots, or other things that might be going on, but the characters need to be working on the plot (or themselves) in some way, otherwise you're going to end up with a 500,000 word novel no one is going to want to read.

    You do not need to give us the details of every moment of their journey through the forest. You can just say "They spent 3 days traveling the forest road. The Rich Snooty character wasn't very happy having to camp, but the druid thought it was pretty cool." Say they do run into some random person who needs some herbs for her sick grandma, but she twisted her ankle, can you please pick ten (10) Glimmerroot for me? I will give you 2 gp and 100 XP. Okay, but what does that tell us about your characters if they do it? What does it tell you about the world? Why would your reader care? Most of the time, side quests are busy work -- kill this many worgs, deliver this item, escort that NPC -- and people don't want to do busy work. Reading should not be busy work. You need to do things like these in video games because you need to level up your herb gathering skills or your proficiency with your sword or level grind for the next boss. No one likes to do that, do not force your readers to do that, too, or they're just going to walk away.

    There's nothing wrong with hitting "fast forward" or having a jump cut or a "1 week later....". Everything in your book should have a purpose, it needs to be there to appreciate the plot and the characters. You can skip any side quest in a video game and it does not prevent you from understanding or completing the main quest. They have no place in a book.
  8. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    I agree with ChasejxyzChasejxyz and WooHooManWooHooMan that you should be careful with including random side-quests in your story. If you want to fill out your story, add a minor-plot. For instance, main plot is that the party needs to save the world. But a side plot can be that the dwarf and elf need to learn how to work together. Or perhaps the wizard is running away from something at home and it's catching up with him. Or all the human secretly wants is to gather fame to get his childhood lover to fall in love with him again.

    Of course, you can have side-quests that tie into the main plot. For instance, you want to show the power of the dark lord. Have him send a band of thugs to ambush the party in the forest, deep in friendly teritory where they think they are safe. Or you need to gather herbs to cure the plague which is caused by the cult to help their god of pestilence return. These can appear random when taken in isolation. But they build the world and set the scene for something later on. Or it can show some character trait or skill the heros need to learn. Say they can only defeat the evil overlord when they work together in perfect unision. You can have a random encounter early on where they need to work together but they fail to do so with some consequences. This creates room for character growth and it increases the tension because the reader has seen them fail.

    The thing with all these is that none of them are just random. They all have a purpose in that they show you something about the world and the story. The reader just doesn't know it at the time.

    As a side note, I find the description of the group as "an elf, a dwarf, a wizard, and a human" interesting. 3 of those are a species and one is a profession. :)
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  9. Snowpoint

    Snowpoint Sage

    So Brandon Sanderson, on his YT channel, was sharing thoughts about writing a screenplay Vs. a novel. The interesting thing he found was the need to make scenes multitask.
    Example: 1 scene is a training montage, 2nd is a heist where we steal important THING!, 3rd scene the antagonist shoots the MC in the foot.
    Now imagine a scene that is a training montage about stealing the important THING!, but the antagonist shows up and shoots the MC in the foot.
    The scene is now multitasking, explaining skills/powers, advancing the plot, while being in conflict with an antagonist.

    So, you can have side-quests in a book. Just consider how the events can advance and reinforce themes the main plot was already doing.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  10. Don Coyote

    Don Coyote Scribe

    Did you just assume the wizard's identity?

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