High Concept Adventure Ideas

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“High Concept” ideas are creative premises, interesting “What if?” scenarios. They will put your players into fantastical and unusual situations. You can use them as a starting point for your adventure - pick a High Concept idea, and see which interesting problems/goals it can generate, or just combine it with one of the goals.

  1. Being shrunk to a tiny size, maybe put into a person’s/creature’s body. (Honey I shrunk the Kids, Ant Man, Anatomy Park).
  2. Switching bodies (Freaky Friday).
  3. Time Travel. Time loop (Groundhog Day).
  4. Adventure taking place in a dream, illusion, virtual reality, computer game, a TV show (Inception, Ready Player One, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Matrix, Jumanji).
  5. Deal with the Devil.
  6. Animals/creatures gain sentience/intelligence.
  7. Open portal to another world, a parallel dimension, an alternate timeline (Mist, Stargate, Another Earth).
  8. A baby monster. An alien/dragon egg. A boy and his robot.
  9. Body Snatchers, Brain Slugs - parasites that control your mind.
  10. Shapeshifter - person/monster that can assume any form.
  11. Evil Twins of the Heroes.
  12. Hive mind. Creatures telepathically united into one consciousness. Assimilating other creatures.
  13. Traditionally evil guys are good and vice versa (Shrek, Descendants, Megamind, Suicide Squad).
  14. Memory wiping, altering, transplanting (Morty’s Mind-Blowers, Memento.)
  15. Possession / Mind Control (RoboCop, Captain America: Civil War.)
  16. A mysterious magic force has created a zone where the laws of physics and magic have been warped (Annihilation, Stalker)
  17. Befriend a creature (ET, How to Train your Dragon, Ratatouille, Astro Kid, Pokemon).
  18. Post-apocalypse, aftermath of a disaster (Fallout, The Day After Tomorrow, Resident Evil).
  19. Artificial Intelligence, sentient construct (Terminator, Wall-E, Avengers:The Age of Ultron).
  20. An accident causes captive dinosaurs/monsters/demons/zombies escape (Jurassic Park).
  21. Love Potion. Succubus.
  22. Don’t go below the speed limit - if you stop moving a person dies or a bomb explodes (Speed, Crank, The X-Files “Drive” episode).
  23. A plague/disease/epidemic with unusual effects (fear of open spaces, rage, horniness, loss of one of the senses, wild magic / people to lose magic). It can be transmitted by magic, when infected casters target other casters with a spell.
  24. Dangerous/violent plants.
  25. An inanimate object comes to life.
  26. Raising undead to return a loved one back to life.
  27. You become God to race of tiny creatures.
  28. Change age - turn into kids or old people.
  29. Covert stealthy alien invasion.
  30. A person turned into an animal.
  31. A threat you forget about once you stop looking at it.
  32. Infohazards.
  33. Common animals are being turned savage (and giant) by a rogue magical effect (maybe an evil druid), and the party has to contain the destruction that they cause while trying to find a solution.
  34. Magic is fading / going wild and unpredictable.
  35. Superman goes genocidal. Defeat a being of incredible power, without it finding out that you’re after it.
  36. An ancient civilization is long gone, only a single robot/golem/computer/weapon is still functioning.
  37. Heroes are isolated in a confined environment with a monster.(Alien)
  38. A location is occupied by enemies/monsters/terrorists, heroes are the only ones who escaped from being taken hostage. (Die Hard in a village, on a ship, on a zeppelin, on a train, in a magic school, in a King’s castle).
  39. A powerful monster begins killing people in the area (Tremors: Jaws in a desert).
  40. Set in a world where the evil overlord has won.
  41. The evil adventuring party.
  42. Deadly game show / competition.
  43. A location (small town, building, ship) is suddenly trapped underneath an impenetrable dome.
  44. Someone from our world is stuck in fantasy.
  45. A dangerous child (has faulty psychic powers, prophesied to be a devil, youngling of a dangerous monster)
  46. Two huge powers (monsters, giants, powerful mages, armies) fight each other, causing a lot of collateral damage.
  47. A large number of cursed or dangerous magical items have been sold or distributed to an unsuspecting populace (Friday the 13th series, Warehouse 13)
  48. First Contact with a sentient race (Arrival, Alien Nation, Contact, District 9, Star Trek, V series)
  49. Magic is fading / going wild and unpredictable.
  50. Space ship crashing in middle ages.
  51. Magic items (or maybe just some magic items) become secretly sentient and drive around their owners while they are asleep.
  52. An ancient evil is very slowly rising out of the ground and waking up. People need to hurry to figure out how to make it go away or else assemble a team strong enough to kill it when it awakes.
  53. The entire population of a town seemingly disappeared but in fact dug underground secret caves and is reverting to animal tendencies.
  54. The party comes across a mysterious artifact, it melds with/into the first party member to touch it, granting them incredible powers but also changes their consciousness.
  55. A long lost civilization is rising back up from the sea.
  56. The local ruler may have been replaced by a doppelganger, but nobody wants to risk their neck to find out for sure.
  57. Act as an experimental subject for a crazy scientist/wizard.
  58. Creatures from video games, stories, paintings, come to life.
  59. Spell/artifact/curse that prevents the whole town from being able to lie.
  60. Space ship / UFO crashing in middle ages.
  61. Duplication powers, making clones.
  62. Ancient/Lost Civilization. Atlantis.
  63. Gigantic Monster (Godzilla, Cloverfield, King Kong, Kaiju).
  64. Superheroes/Supervillains.
  65. Ghosts, haunted house/village. Restless spirits that need to be placated.
  66. Zombies.
  67. Vampires.
  68. Ninjas.
  69. Secret society/cult.
  70. Underground civilization.
  71. Underwater adventure. Merefolk.
  72. Adventure set in a world where the forces of good won a little too well. Where the people in charge are all Lawful Good and have no tolerance for anything else. Tyranny of the traditionally good creatures like celestials, paladins, etc. The slightest misstep can cause a person to be ‘disappeared’.

Good sources for story ideas

Ways to make the ideas more original:

  • Combine multiple ideas.
    Legolas with the personality of Spider Man, John Snow with the personality of Jack Sparrow. Hogwarts + Xavier College for Superheroes. Jurassic Park + Honey I Shrunk The Kids = Anatomy Park.
  • Change the genre.
    From Sci Fi to Fantasy or from Horror to Comedy. Fantasy Futurama episode, serious Gravity Falls episode, lighthearted Game of Thrones.
  • Reverse one of the important aspects of the idea
    Tell the story from the perspective of the antagonist, where evil guys are good and vice versa. Switch the character’s gender or an important personality trait. Female Tony Stark, evil Hermione, cheerful Batman.
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