50 Fantasy Story Ideas for Your Next Quest

Doug Landsborough
March 1, 2024

We write fantasy stories to craft incredible worlds, send interesting characters on exciting quests, bring magic to life, and pull our readers out of their reality and into our amazing one. There’s just something special about this genre that, if you’re anything like me, you can’t get enough of.

But coming up with a fantasy story of your own can be tough. The same epic elements that make it so much fun to read can almost feel daunting to brainstorm and write.

Don’t worry, I think every fantasy author has been there at some point.

Or maybe you know some elements of the tale you want to tell, but your imagination just needs a little kick to get the carriage moving.

Or you just want to write for fun and are looking for some prompts.

Whatever brought you here, get ready to assemble the party and go on an adventure. I have 50 different fantasy story ideas to get you casting spells with those words of yours. These prompts are divided across these five different categories:

  • Worldbuilding
  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Twists
  • Magic

Why? Because you can feasibly start any story with just a seed of any of those five elements of a story. Once you get your imagination going, you just grow that seed into something enthralling.

So let’s fuel that creativity of yours.

Prompts Using Fantasy Worlds

When we talk about fantasy worldbuilding, a lot of people think of geography: dark caves, towering mountains, and monster-ridden seas.

But when you’re creating your worldbuilding bible, you’ll see that worldbuilding also includes culture, religion, history, language, arts, cities, myths and legends, and so much more. We’re drawing from all aspects of worldbuilding for these prompts.

A sky of islands - A world where civilizations thrive on islands magically suspended in the sky, connected by bridges of vines and where travel is primarily through airships or creatures capable of flight. How do these folks treat the ground? Can they see it? Is it sacred or forbidden?

An underwater kingdom - Explore the darkest depths where underwater cities glow in the abyss of the sea, protected by magical barriers that keep the water at bay. Think about the politics between different species who call the ocean home.

Forest of eternal night -  A dense, ancient forest where night never lifts, illuminated only by bioluminescent plants and creatures. Only a small group of outsiders can move in and out of the forest unharmed, but they are magically sworn to secrecy about its contents. 

Desert of mirages - A vast desert with a magical field causing travelers to see illusions of horrible creatures and ancient ruins. Oasis cities are hidden by these mirages, and they are far more advanced than the civilizations around the desert.

Ruins of the mountain giants -  High in the mountains are cities carved into cliffsides and peaks by giants of old. These giants lived in harmony with smaller species, but something caused their extinction. The ruins still hold their advanced knowledge of stonecraft and mountain magic.

Crystal caverns - Miles of underground caverns filled with giant, luminous crystals that possess unique magical properties. These crystals are used for fueling war machines and conjuring magic, so they are constantly fought over by powerful nations.

The library of the gods - A city built around a library said to contain all knowledge ever recorded. The library is a labyrinth of endless rooms and books, protected by ancient magic and puzzles that guard the most powerful secrets.

Wandering cities - Cities built on the backs of colossal creatures that roam the land and seas. The cities move with their hosts, leading to ever-changing alliances, trade routes, and conflicts with stationary nations.

Realm of four seasons - A world divided into four distinct regions, each locked in a permanent season. The cultures, economies, and magics of each region are shaped by their eternal spring, summer, autumn, or winter. What happens on the borders of these regions?

The shattered moon - Fragments of the moon fell to the world long ago, bringing with them a unique form of magic and creating landscapes filled with strange, moon-touched phenomena and creatures.

Character Fantasy Writing Prompts

You can’t have a good story without great characters. That’s why many authors start their plotting or brainstorming by coming up with one or two key characters and build the story around their traits, backstories, and individual arcs.

You might think some of the prompts below are tropes—and, to a degree, many of them are. Tropes are great prompts, though, because they give you something familiar to start with. Then you add your own flair and twists to them until they’re unique to your book.

See if any of these fantasy character ideas spark a story idea for you. It’s worth keeping in mind that these can be protagonists, antagonists, or secondary characters, whichever works best for your adventure.

The reluctant heir - A young royal who has escaped the palace to avoid their destiny as its ruler, only to find themselves caught up in an adventure that teaches them the true meaning of leadership and courage… or reinforces that they aren’t meant for the high life.

The cursed wanderer - A character who has been cursed with immortality and eternal youth, wandering the world in search of a cure or a purpose. They witness the rise and fall of empires and the evolution of societies while watching anyone they make a connection with fade away.

The fallen god - An ancient deity who lost their powers and followers. They now live among mortals to discover what led to their downfall and seek a way to regain their divinity and worshippers.

The last of their kind - The last surviving member of a unique race or species, struggling with loneliness and the fear of their heritage dying with them. Perhaps this character is being hunted by those who seek their extinction.

The retired thief - Though they think their days of crime are behind them, a master thief who specializes in stealing magical items and secrets is pursued by someone from their past. They use a rare ability to manipulate shadows for stealth and combat to stay alive, but they can never stay in one place for too long.

The prodigal elementalist - In a world where mages can only control a single element, a child is found who can tap into all forms of elemental magic. Their power makes them a target for various factions seeking to use their abilities for their own ends.

The beast speaker - Someone with the innate ability to communicate with animals and mythical creatures, using their talents to mediate between the natural and human worlds or, if they’re feeling saucy, to command a powerful army of beasts.

The haunted assassin - Seeking redemption for their past deeds, a skilled assassin embarks on a journey to dismantle the very organization that trained them.

The time-torn traveler - After they inadvertently gain the ability to travel through time, this character becomes entangled in historical events and must navigate the complexities of past and future to find a way back to their own time—or decide if they want to return at all.

Alchemical outcast - An alchemist's innovative but controversial experiments led to their exile. They now seek a place to continue their work, which could either revolutionize the world or destroy it.

Plot-Based Fantasy Story Ideas

While we need fantastic characters, sometimes it takes an epic quest to get us in the fantasy writing mood (and, to be clear, writing fantasy is an epic quest itself).

So treat these prompts like the job board in an obscure small town or missives from the local adventurer’s guild. Use them to inspire your main plot or even an exciting side quest.

Fragmented relic - A powerful artifact has been shattered into pieces and scattered across the world. Our heroes must retrieve the fragments before a malevolent force does, or else pretty bad stuff is gonna happen. 

Eclipse ritual - A rare celestial event grants extraordinary power to whoever completes a forbidden ritual. Various factions race against time and each other to perform the ritual, with the protagonists caught in the middle—but are they seeking to stop the ritual or complete it themselves?

The sleeping titan - An ancient titan, a being of immense power, lies dormant beneath the earth. Its awakening is prophesied to either bring salvation or destruction. The characters are thrust into a quest to either awaken or eternally seal the titan.

Forbidden magic - A character discovers they possess a form of magic long thought extinct or forbidden. This revelation draws the attention of powerful entities who either want to control the mage or destroy them.

The vanishing - People across the land are disappearing without a trace, leading to widespread panic. Our heroes must uncover the mystery behind these vanishings and deal with the fallout of a Thanos-style snap.

The ascension games - The throne of a powerful kingdom is up for grabs, with the condition that contenders must pass a series of deadly tests and competitions. The protagonists could be unwilling participants, protectors of a rightful heir, or schemers aiming for the throne themselves.

War in the shadows - A covert war is being waged by nasty organizations with magic and espionage. The main characters, initially ignorant of this war, are pulled into a mess of intrigue, betrayal, and politics.

Spreading madness - A magical plague is causing widespread madness, threatening to collapse societies. Our heroes must find the source and cure, navigating a world where friends and foes alike can turn unpredictably dangerous.

The time rift - When a rift in time causes past and future to collide, anachronisms and futuristic threats collide in the present day. The protagonists must close the rift, dealing with the moral dilemma of erasing those from the future or past who wish to stay.

The World Tree’s woe - The World Tree, the source of all magic in the land, is dying. Your ragtag adventurers embark on a quest to rejuvenate it, facing trials that represent the elemental forces of nature, only to discover the true cause is linked to the imbalance between nature and civilization's expansion.

Using Twists to Inspire Fantasy Stories

Sometimes the best tales begin by thinking about how you’re going to surprise your readers. You think “X happens, but then Y sends it all in a different direction.”

Twists are great things to think about early on, even if they aren’t jaw-dropping plot twists. You can simply take a trope or well-known archetype and add your own twist to make it fresh and interesting.

Check out some of the twists below and see if you jive with them. Or, better yet, see if they inspire some of your own!

The helpful betrayal - A trusted ally of the protagonists is revealed to be a spy for the baddies, but their betrayal is part of a deeper, more noble strategy to protect the protagonists from an even greater threat.

Pulling a Zuko - The main antagonist discovers the error of their ways after a significant event or revelation, deciding to join forces with the protagonists to combat a common enemy.

Lost heritage - Our hero discovers they are descended from a line of ancient beings or royalty, radically changing their role in the story and their perception of themselves.

False prophecy - It’s revealed that the prophecy driving the party is actually false, manufactured by a group seeking to manipulate events for their own gain. How do our heroes react?

The mirror world - Whether through a spell, an ancient portal, or a wild night they can’t remember, the party finds themselves in a parallel world where roles are reversed and allies are enemies.

Sacrificial magic - A classic, so think about how you can twist this twist even further: the magic thought to be the solution to the main conflict requires a great personal sacrifice from the protagonist, like their memories, powers, or even their life.

The second chosen one - Another character is revealed to be also chosen by prophecy, creating tension or camaraderie as they either compete with or complement the original hero’s efforts.

The true villain - The perceived antagonist is only a pawn or distraction, and the true villain behind the scenes is someone the heroes trusted or overlooked.

Time loop - The events of the story are part of a time loop, and the protagonists need to break the cycle to prevent an eternal recurrence of a cataclysmic event. Think about how past cycles can come into play in their efforts.

The real bad guys - In a classic (yet easy to refresh) Ender’s Game-style twist, what if the heroes were really the bad guys in their story but didn’t know it? 

Magic-Fueled Fantasy Story Prompts

Finally, we get to my favorite part of fantasy: magic.

You might think of a really cool magic system and build your story around that. Where does it come from? What’s the source of its power? Is it a threat to the world?

Or maybe the magic system in your novel just inspires a single scene or two.

If you’re writing fantasy, I suggest bookmarking this link to save our ultimate guide to creating a magic system. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that your magic system should serve a purpose. When you read the prompts below, think about how the magic will influence the plot and characters of your story.

Ask why your magic is the way you’ve made it. What purpose does it serve?

Here are some ideas to get you going. Use the magic below to think of stories to bring them to life.

Runecraft - Spells invoked through ancient runes, each with their own specific power. People can combine runes in complex patterns for more powerful effects, but misalignments can have disastrous consequences.

Dreamwalking - Certain folks possess the ability to enter and manipulate the dreams of others. Dreamwalkers use this power to uncover secrets, influence decisions, or even assassinate enemies in their sleep.

One with nature - Magic is drawn from harmony with the natural world. Spellcasters must form bonds with elements, animals, or entire ecosystems to gain abilities that reflect their relationships with these natural forces.

Echo magic - Magic that manipulates sound and silence. Users can amplify, mute, or distort sounds to create illusions, communicate secretly, or weaponize sound waves.

Chronomancy - The ability to manipulate time, allowing for limited time travel, acceleration, deceleration, or freezing. This power should be heavily regulated due to its potential to disrupt the fabric of reality.

Soul forging - The creation and manipulation of sentient constructs by binding a fragment of the mage's soul into objects or elements, giving life to inanimate matter.

Spatial manipulation - Spellcasters can manipulate the mystical essence that permeates all things to cast illusions, teleport, or even create pocket dimensions. But such magic runs the risk of thinning the barriers between space, time, and other dimensions.

Blood magic - Classically a powerful but taboo form of magic that draws on the life force contained in blood. It can heal, curse, or empower, but always requires a sacrifice. Explore the ethical dilemmas behind manipulating something so important to human life.

Pact magic - Magic derived from bargains with celestial, infernal, or extra-dimensional beings, granting the user cosmic based on the nature of the creature they made a deal with. However, these pacts come with strict conditions and the cost is usually much greater than the power you gain.

Arcane dissonance - A form of magic that disrupts or nullifies other magics. Practitioners can protect against magical attacks, break enchantments, or create zones where magic cannot function. This magic would make spellcasters invaluable in conflicts and to the extremely wealthy.

Write Your Fantasy Story

You just read through 50 different prompts to get your fantasy author brain going. If you haven’t been inspired to come up with some quest, character, magic system, setting, or anything else that can turn into a story, it might be time to make one of those pact magic bargains.

If you are inspired, though, you need a place to keep all those epic ideas of yours. That’s where Dabble comes in (and I’m going to tell you how to get it for free).

Organize your story lines—side quests included—with the Plot Grid. Create character profiles as detailed as you want, diving into their traits and backstories. Keep all your research in one place with customizable folders and notes (I like to keep a “Random Thoughts” note handy so I can make one click and jot things down while I’m writing). Build your fantasy worlds like a pro, including all the details you need to justify spending countless hours on creating this fictional place.

You can do all that and more with Dabble, plus all your work is backed up automatically, no matter the device, so you don’t risk losing your hard work to the aether.

And that free part I mentioned? All you have to do is click here to try Dabble out for two weeks, all features included. And you don’t even need to put in credit card info, so you won’t get charged if you don’t love it.

But after going on hundreds of thousands of words worth of adventures with Dabble, I doubt that will be the case.

P.S. If you’re looking for an extra helping hand, I made you a fantasy Dabble template you can access here.

Doug Landsborough

Doug Landsborough can’t get enough of writing. Whether freelancing as an editor, blog writer, or ghostwriter, Doug is a big fan of the power of words. In his spare time, he writes about monsters, angels, and demons under the name D. William Landsborough. When not obsessing about sympathetic villains and wondrous magic, Doug enjoys board games, horror movies, and spending time with his wife, Sarah.