Dungeons & Dragons Online

How do I turn a ‘fetch’ quest into something more?

The characters in my game recently accepted a contract from the Temple of Tyr in the city, as payment for receiving 2 greater restoration spells (they had some sucky saving throws against a ghost).

The quest is fairly simple in nature: go to an ancient, abandoned temple of Tyr, venture inside and either retrieve a relic that may be there, or put to rest the rumours of its' existence. In this world it is only known that there is an abandoned temple, the actual nature of the relic is unkown.

My question is this: How do I make this quest into something bigger than just itself? The party is starting to reach a level where I want them to feel like they are impacting the world, and journeying beyond just having fetch or kill quests, which is most of what they've been doing until now. I have a few ideas which I will share, but I wanted to know if any of you had any ideas (especially as I am still not sure if I want the relic to be real and there, real and missing, or was never real).

Another important aspect of this quest is that this abandoned temple is part of a larger town that was abandoned at the same time. It had a population of nearly 1,000, but was left suddenly, centuries ago, for reasons that are also lost to time. I would obviously like this to factor in as well, but I'm struggling to think of why it was abandoned, and also why nobody remembers why it was abandoned. A fair amount of my problems stem from the fact that I made a lot of this up on the fly, so I'm now having to try and work reasons in backwards, which I'm sure many of you have had to do at some point or another!

  1. The party enters the temple, finds that the relic was real, but that it has since been stolen.
    This was admittedly my first thought. The abandoned temple is near another city that a character comes from, and I was aiming to tie the theft to that city's thieves guild that he has had run-ins with in the past.
  2. The party enters the temple, finds that the relic was not real, but does find the reason for the town being abandoned. This is one that I was toying with as a way to start building in a wider world for the players. I was envisioning that the town now served as a possible base for some form of cult, who were also the reason for the town being abandoned all those years ago.
  3. The party enters the temple, finds the relic still there and then….? Part of me wants this to be as simple as it sounds for the players, but I don't think that would be as engaging. Maybe my imagination is lacking, but I don't think this would be as fun for the players if they just went there and all was as it should be. Maybe I could tie the relic into a reason for why the town was abandoned, but I'm struggling to think of what that would be, and also why it was left, unlooted for centuries.
Read more:  Long-time player, wanting to try DMing. Feeling unprepared behind the screen. Lots of questions.

Sorry for the whole wall of text, but I hope that some of you might be able to help me out here! I'm also wondering a bit as to how to populate the dungeon and surrounding area. What kind of things might live in an abandoned/ruined settlement, and what might their relationship be to the relic if it was there? This is absolutely a secondary concern I think, and I'm definitely happy to sort this one out, but I thought I'd throw it out there in case anyone felt like taking a crack at that one too.

Thank you so much for any advice you can offer!

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