Heroes’/Antagonist’s Goals

(see more prompts in Prompts App)

Stories are fundamentally about problem solving. The problems usually come from the mix of two sources:

  1. The Heroes strive to achieve a goal, and struggle to overcome challenges and obstacles on their path (often created by the Villain).
  2. Villain wants something, and players are trying to disrupt their evil plan.

Whatever goal the Heroes have - the Villain will have the opposite one (and vice versa). You can start from the either side. Give the goal to the Players (“Obtain a valuable item”), and the Villain will want the opposite (“Obtain the item first”). Give the goal to the Villain (“Perform an Evil Ritual”) and the players will want the opposite (“Stop the Evil Ritual”). The only difference is the motivation, Heroes want things for noble reasons, Villains want them for evil ones. If you’ll be using the goal for the villain - just put an evil spin on it.

List of goals you can use for either Heroes or Villains:

Obtain McGuffin/Information.

Players and antagonist compete for the same item (be the first to the pirate treasure.)
Players are trying to prevent antagonist from getting an item (Prevent a villain from getting a powerful dark artifact.)
Get the pirate treasure, the lost crystal of Atlantis, your stolen belongings.
Obtain a treasure map, secret codes, powerful spell, find Villain’s only weakness.

Win a competition / prevent the other side from winning.

Win the race around the world. Win a mock-war between adventuring parties. Win a Quidditch game.

Seize power.

Evil Vizier wants to replace the king and players need to prevent that.
Evil King is in charge and players need to overthrow him.
The King has died and both sides want to be the next King.

Kill a Person.

Heroes: Kill the villain, a vampire/werewolf/basilisk, all the baddies in the area. Stop a serial killer.
Villain: Kill the heroes, kill people to drink their blood or to satisfy violent urges.

Kill a Creature.

Heroes: Kill a monster.
Villain: Kill an innocent creature.

Destroy an Item.

Destroy a doomsday device, the ring of power, a piece of blackmail.

Destroy a Target.

An enemy base, a castle, a ship, close a portal.

Protect a Person.

Save the person being targeted for an assassination. Save the family being harassed by criminals.

Protect a Creature.

Save the endangered creature from the hunter.

Guard an Item.

Someone is planning to steal the priceless diamonds during the party, stop them.

Kidnap a Person.

Heroes: Capture an enemy general to gain strategic information.
Antagonist: Abduct a person for ransom or sacrificial ritual.

Rescue a Person.

Heroes: Rescue hostages, save the kidnapped princess.
Recover a soldier behind enemy lines during a war.
Break someone out of jail, or liberate a prisoner en route to prison.

Steal an Item/Information/Creature.

Rob a train/zeppelin/caravan with the treasure.
Intercept a valuable message passed to the enemy.

Invade a Location.

Overtake a city, a castle, ship. Plan for an attack on the evil citadel.
Compete for control of the territory.
You have conquered a kingdom, defeat the remaining groups running guerrilla warfare against you.

Defend a Location.

Prepare the city to repel the enemies/monsters.
Your town/building/ship has been captured and overtaken by enemies, survive under siege, and liberate it.

Escort a Person/Creature.

Deliver a prisoner to jail.
Escort a bratty princess to the boarding school.
Escort a caravan with the treasure.

Deliver an Item/Information.

Transport valuable treasure.
Deliver a valuable intel to the central command before the enemy strikes.
Deliver the ring of power to Mount Doom.

Track down, chase and capture a Person.

Capture the criminal/runaway. Bounty-hunters.
Find a missing person.
Find out what happened to the lost expedition.
Find the only wizard who knows how to lift a curse.

Track down, chase and capture a Creature.

Capture a zombie to prove they exist.
Capture a unique creature for research.


Escape the pursuit of the law.
Help a wrongly convicted to escape.
Escape an ambush. Hide a person from danger.
A massive assassins guild is trying to kill you, stay alive until dawn.
Break out of prison.

Resolve conflict.

Broker peace between warring nations, families, factions of nobles, King and Queen, fighting giants.

Cause conflict.

Start a war, pit people/factions against each other.

Investigate a Mystery.

Solve a murder or a theft.
Uncover a mysterious plot and understand who is behind it. Supernatural mystery. Understand what is causing the strange/weird events. Understand what happened in the abandoned/deserted city.
Find out someone’s dark secret, expose a corrupt official, find evidence to convict someone.

Uncover a conspiracy.

Find a spy/mole, prevent a convert mission from taking place.

Commit a stealthy Heist and don’t get caught.

A covert crime, a ninja mission, a terrorist act.
Enter and leave a heavily-guarded building without getting noticed.

Frame someone for a crime.

A business competitor, a nation.

Infiltrate and Spy.

Go undercover in the criminal gang.
Blend in with the nobles to poison the King.


Enforce the law, collect debts, force a person to do something they don’t want.

Clear the name.

Prove your or someone else’s innocence.
Convince the angry mob that the woman they’re planning to execute is not a witch.

Perform a task.

Complete a ritual/experiment, build a weapon, open portal, resurrect/summon/awaken something.

Sabotage a task.

Prevent a ritual from taking place, prevent weapon from being built, prevent a terrorist act.

Diplomacy, Influence, and Negotiations.

Compete for the lady’s heart, compete to convince the King to take a different course of action.
Bribe/manipulate/intimidate a corrupt official into doing what you want.
Try to close a business deal or prevent it from being closed.
Play cupid. Make two quarreling people fall in love with each other. Find a lonely person/creature a girlfriend.

Persuade groups of people.

Brainwash and manipulate groups of people into doing your bidding, liberate brainwashed people.
Free the town from the mind control spell.
Convince enemy soldiers to defect to your side.
Free a person from the influence of a sinister cult.

Run and improve a society/group/organization.

Run a kingdom, village, sports team, team of agents, organization, business.
Raise morale, lower the crime, stop witch hunts, deal with corruption.

Explore a dangerous location. Survive/avoid environmental dangers, overcome environmental obstacles.

Think of the place itself as the “villain”, it is a monster without HP that “wants” to hurt players or drain their resources, and has certain powers to accomplish that. Traps, cave-ins, lava eruptions, rock-slides, avalanche, collapsing buildings, impenetrable mist, wild animals, dangerous/poisonous flora, falling into a pit, getting lost, etc. Climb a mountain, get through a swamp, quick sand,thin ice, wild magic area. Open an ancient gate. Retrieve an item from the bottom of the lake.

Survive wilderness or a hazardous environment and find a way back home.

Get stranded in the desert, an island, an alien land, becalmed or in a storm.
Help other people survive a natural disaster (storm, earthquake, flood, meteor), a war zone.

Scavenger hunt. Collect several items from scattered locations.

Potion ingredients for a witch, parts of an engine that were scattered during crash landing.

Win a war.

Lead an army against enemy general, against rival mob boss or a cowboy gang.

Defeat a horde or a swarm, clear out an infestation.

Rats in the basement, wolves in the forest, Zombies, Aliens.
Could be impossible to kill them one by one, and must be done with a ritual, destroying the mothership, smashing the necromancer’s amulet, lifting an ancient curse, placating the restless spirits, activating the ancient defense mechanisms.

Incite rebellion/mutiny.

Put down rebellion/mutiny.

Prepare an ambush, set up traps to make the location impossible to pass.

Train a novice, keep a noble person safe while they go on adventure.

Act as an experimental subject for a crazy scientist/wizard.

Creating multiple adventures from the same goal

Here’s the list of ways to create dozens of unique adventure ideas based on the same goal:

Switch players/antagonist sides.

Players try to get away with a crime instead of investigating it.

Reverse the goal.

Smuggle/Plant an item instead of stealing it.
Close the portal instead of opening it.
Banish the creature instead of summoning it.

Use a different target - person, creature, item, information, location/base.

Destroy an item instead of killing a person.
Abduct a person instead of stealing the treasure.
Protect a secret instead of the location.
Chase a lost pet instead of the criminal.

Change “do it for yourself” to “help other people”.

Don’t get murdered - prevent a murder.
Steal an item - create a distraction while someone else steals it.
Get away with the crime - help someone else to get away with the crime.

Add restrictions/complications.

Make it stealthy (commit a heist instead of robbery).
Avoid violence (capture a person alive instead of killing them).
Achieve the goal by social means (ruin the person’s reputation instead of killing them).
Do it before the rivals do it first.
See the list of complications for more ideas.

Combine multiple goals.

Deliver an item while on the run from the law.
Sabotage a ritual to rescue a person.
Infiltrate a group to steal an item.
Solve a mystery to be able to find a lost person.

Add different subgoals, put different challenges/obstacles in the way.

Get through the dangerous location instead of an elaborate security system.
Obtain information about the villain’s weakness instead of the only weapon that can kill them.
Convince a witness to talk instead of following the trail of footsteps.
The object is difficult to deliver because it’s being hunted by bandits, or because the terrain is dangerous and inhospitable, or because it’s large and fragile, or because it’s a criminal trying to escape, or because it’s cattle you need to keep alive, or because it’s a bratty princess who doesn’t want to go to school.
See the List of Challenges and List of Villain’s Moves for more ideas.

Use different concrete details - High Concept Premise, Settings, NPCs, McGuffins, etc.

Steal the Elixir of Youth from the unicorn instead of stealing the Aztec gold from the Spanish Galleon.
Steal an item from a dream instead of casino.
Escort a dragon instead of a prisoner.
Escape from Jurassic Park instead of the prison.
Fight a self righteous paladin instead of the bandit gang leader.

Use different motivations.

Kill a person out of revenge instead of for money.
Resurrect your loved one instead of summoning a demon.
Compete for the heart of the lady instead of the treasure.

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