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Iron DM 2010: All Submissions and Judgments

ajanders

Explorer
Ingredients

Elf Ballerina
Underwater Path
Crowded Carriage
Shameless Promotion
Clever Bunny
The Dark God's Dirty Dishes

Submission

Game information

This adventure is written for modern games with elements of supernatural horror, such as Call of Cthulhu, d20 Modern Shadow Hunters, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The adventure is heavily investigation oriented.
The mechanical conventions here are D20 Call of Cthulhu.


Prologue

Backstory
Qussuq is not a kindly god. He slumbers fitfully in a muddy slough of filth, corruption, and dissolution dreaming of his joys: the destruction of innocence and the degradation of beauty. While he slumbers his priests sustain him with sacrifices of beautiful art and of artists.

Sacrifices to Qussuq may be slain in any manner, but must always be human and always be dirty: covered in dirt, dust, or ordure. Qussuq only accepts the sacrifice of artists: dancers, painters, writers, etc: the more skilled the better. He is especially pleased if the artists are beautiful themselves, as well as capable of creating beauty with their art.

Michael Corsi is one of Qussuq's most faithful followers. In his work as an event promoter, he meets many artistic performers. Some he sacrifices to Qussuq. Others he represents and finds bookings for, but manipulates the terms of the contract to cheat them. Many of these artists, unable to make a living creating art, take up other careers.

Michael Corsi is a skilled lawyer, accountant, and liar, otherwise average looks and fitness. He has a great deal of money and lives with shameless flashiness.
Michael Corsi is also blessed by Qussuq for his faithful service. He is supernaturally smooth-tongued. (magical +10 to Bluff, Innuendo, and Diplomacy checks)
He is also "hidden by dirt". His face is always obscured on cameras by dust or dirt, his signature blots, his fingerprints smudge. He gains a +10 Hide against cameras, though not against people. Anyone trying to gather physical forensic evidence against him takes a penalty of -10 on whatever skill they're using.

Hooks
*The murder on Hoover Dam attracts the attention of the Nevada and Arizona state police, The Bureau of Reclamation Police, the FBI, and Homeland Security. Once Stephanie Marten is identified, the Las Vegas Metro Police department, Nevada Gaming Commission, Nevada Gaming Control Board, and private security at The Palms become interested, either officially or unofficially. Characters with connections to any of these organizations might be asked to investigate.

*Stephanie Marten was a friendly popular girl known among the high-rollers of Las Vegas. One or a syndicate of those people might hire characters with investigative skills to investigate.

*A confusing murder on Hoover Dam is meat and drink to reporters and conspiracy theorists, all of whom might want to come investigate.

*Characters on vacation who toured Hoover Dam the day Stephanie Marted died will be interviewed by federal law enforcement, and if they have difficulties with the law in their past, may need to investigate to clear their names.


Act 1: Murder in Hoover Dam

Michael Corsi, looking for new acts to sign, came to Las Vegas and stayed at the Palm Hotel. While there, he spent a good deal of time at the Playboy club and chatted up one of the Bunnies: Stephanie Marten. When he discovered she was a dancer, he decided to make her a sacrifice. He talked her into going on a date with him to play tourist and see Hoover Dam. While touring the Dam, Corsi and Marten slipped away from the group for some private time. Corsi strangled Marten, stole her purse and pocket contents, and rejoined the tour, confident in his magical powers to protect him.

Notes
*Marten's body is found in the depths of the dam, below the inspection galleries and below the waterline of the dam. Her face was smeared with a mixture of water condensing on the inside of the dam wall and concrete dust.
*Marten's pockets were emptied and her purse was taken. She was identified from her fingerprints. The fingerprint technician had a terrible time getting them, and will explain that to anyone who asks about it.
*The whole rest of the CSI team is tearing their hair out trying to get clean prints, fiber samples, or particles.
*The security cameras in the visitors center were dusty all morning: someone asked the janitor to clean them. He did, but badly, leaving big streaks on all the lenses in the afternoon. Marten can be identified by her clothing and hair and anyone watching the tape can tell someone male was with her, but they can't get a good read on the person's face.
*The mud on the face is a strong indicator of a sacrifice to Qussuq, especially when coupled with a physically attractive victim. This requires a DC 15 Knowledge: Occult check.

Investigation
*Characters can ask around the Playboy club to see if a man was paying attention to Stephanie. Since she was a Bunny, this generates a lot of leads to investigate, but her co-workers will say she'd found someone she was going on a date with. They don't remember the name, but they think he was at the hotel. A talk with the concierge provides the name of the one person at the hotel recently interested in Hoover Dam: Michael Corsi.

*Characters may also search Stephanie Marten's house (legally or not). She lives alone and has a very clever precaution to keep herself safe: she calls her answering machine before she leaves to say where she's going, who she's going with, and when she'll be back. Her message states she's going with Michael Corsi to see Hoover Dam, then back to his room at the Palms: 1512.

Characters arriving at room 1512 will find Corsi checked out and called a taxi for the airport. In his wastebasket is a set of printouts from the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto. A performance of the ballet "A Folk Tale" by August Bournonville is highlighted, as are the dancers portraying the character Birthe and Hilda. A smudge can be decoded to be the word Elf.
Talking to the taxi driver will get the airline he left on and the time of his departing flight. He's going to Toronto, Canada.


Act II: Toronto
Characters follow Corsi to Toronto, Canada, with some very limited means of dealing with him. If they are government agents, they have no standing to arrest Corsi themselves. If they don't have any official standing, physically stopping Corsi will be illegal. Harrassing Corsi will only get them reported to the police, who will be inclined to believe Corsi.

The best thing the characters can do is get to the Four Seasons Centre and find tickets for the ballet.
The ballet "A Folk Tale" is in three acts. In act one, Birthe is portrayed as a human noblewoman and Hilda is portrayed as an elf. Characters watching Corsi will see him get up and leave during the intermission between acts 2 and 3. They may decide to follow him, in an attempt to stop him from getting to the dancer playing Hilda.
Characters that stay through Act 3 will find that in the finale, Berthe is revealed to be a changeling: an elven replacement for a human child. Hilda is revealed to be the human childe Berthe switched with. At the end of the night, the dancer playing Hilda takes her bows and goes home. Corsi intercepts the dancer playing Berthe and talks her into going for a drink down in the Toronto Path Tunnels.
Characters may try to follow him, but Corsi will use his persuasive skills to divert them with police officers, claiming "those people have been following me all night". That will give him enough time to get onto the subway, lose the characters in the crowded carriages, and then get off at Union Subway Station.

Corsi will then lure the ballerina into a janitor's closet in one of the bars by Maple Leaf Square, strangle her, and smear her face with mud made from water in the sink and dirt from the janitor's trash can. He will then depart. It will be nearly impossible to stop him without physically confronting him....which will result in both sides being arrested. Corsi will get himself talked out first and depart.

Investigation:
*Michael Corsi got the ballet tickets in his name. Speaking with the ticket office will find Corsi asked for directions from a hotel. Going to that hotel will give them a chance to talk to the bell captain, who put him on a shuttle to the airport. Given the gate and time, there's only one place he can go: Newark International Airport.

If they also talk to the maids, they can search his room before they clean it. There's a print from a model's Blog talking about a photo shoot in the temporary WTC station.

Act III: New York City
Thanks to the model's blog, the PC's know when and where Corsi is going to strike. And now they have the ability to do something about it. PC's with official standing can get extra police protection for the model at her shoot...but that won't catch Corsi. PC's with or without official standing can contact the investigation task force at Hoover Dam and pass the work that a person of interest to them is in the New York-New Jersey area. That can generate an APB in New York and New Jersey.
The only thing left to do is try and catch Corsi as he tries to enter the WTC station on his usual pattern: underground, near water. That means riding the PATH trains.
If the PC's do this long enough, they will see Corsi getting on the crowded PATH trains. They will have to fight their way from car to car, subduing the civilians Corsi will get to try and stop them.
Hopefully the PC's will get Corsi subdued before the train arrives at the WTC station.
If not, Corsi will stagger out of the train and beg for help from anyone listening. If the PC's got police protection for the shoot, the cops will come and arrest him. Otherwise, there's going to be a short and winnable fight with a few models and a photographer.




Ingredients
1. Shameless Promotion: Matthew Corsi is an event promoter who routinely lies, steals and murders. The model's blog is also full of information about her work and shoots, and is a piece of shameless promotion of her career.
2. Elf Ballerina: the character Berthe from the ballet "A Folk Tale".
3. A clever bunny: Stephanie Marten, the Playboy bunny with a good precaution to keep herself from disappearing.
4. Crowded Carriage: the subway cars Corsi uses to elude the PC's in Toronto. The subway car on the PATH train where the final showdown occurs with Corsi.
5. Underwater Path: the murder scenes: at Hoover Dam, the corridor in the dam and under the waterline, the Path tunnels in Toronto near Lake Ontario, and the PATH car under the Hudson river where the final showdown occurs.
6. Dark God's Dirty Dishes: the murder victims are attractive women ("dishes") smeared with mud (Dirtied) and sacrificed to a dark evil god.
 

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InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
Judgment, Round 1, Match 7: Allenchan vs. ajanders

First, a little truth: my non-gaming wife had a hand in choosing these ingredients. I took her suggestions and twisted them, slightly, but she wanted to see what happens when you throw a ballerina and a bunny into the mix. The judgment is still all mine, though.

Allenchan’s A Gala for Geyron vs. ajanders’ adventure

First, the ingredients:

Elf Ballerina: The use of A Folk Tale here is well done. Given that Birthe is the changeling and Hilda is the human—but in a story that might not be known to the PCs to begin with—makes for a very clever use. Although, wouldn’t such details tend to be included in the synopsis in the program? (Heck, I’d just wait until I was in the middle of the adventure to ask that, and watch the GM squirm!) Allenchan uses, literally, an elf ballerina, who must be a dancer and happens to be an elf. Solidly done, but ajanders shows the better use by using an actual ballet.

Underwater Path: The underwater path in A Gala for Geyron is an obstacle to be overcome, that cold, slimy, submerged, claustrophobic tunnel. Once again, a very solid use. In ajanders’ adventure, the underwater path is a theme for the murders throughout the adventure, presenting us with three: under the water line at Hoover Dam, in the PATH tunnels under Toronto, and under the Hudson River on the PATH train to the WTC stop. Technically, Toronto’s PATH isn’t underwater, but the PATH under the Hudson definitely is. For making it a theme throughout the adventure, ajanders gets the advantage.

Crowded Carriage: The use of the subways for the crowded carriage is strong. In Toronto, the use is again weaker, but trying to catch Michael Corsi in the crowded PATH train under the Hudson makes for good drama. Similarly, Allenchan does a good job. I like the carriage full of combatants, and there’s never enough carriage chases in D&D anyway. In this case, Allenchan also describes the combatants in the carriage, some stats for the carriage, and describes the tempo of the climax. For these additional playability notes, Allenchan shows the better use.

Shameless Promotion: Both adventures have a villain who uses connections to society to create a trap for victims. However, Michael Corsi’s “hidden by dirt” ability, although quite useful throughout the adventure to keep the pacing, doesn’t show quite the charisma and magnetism of Vincenzio Macchiata. The model’s blog isn’t mentioned in enough detail this time to counter the whole Gala. Allenchan gets the advantage here.

Clever Bunny: My wife just wanted to say that she was disappointed by the utter lack of rabbits in the adventures (although she would have accepted a hare). However, I didn’t figure that would happen anyway. Stephanie Marten is the Clever Bunny in ajanders’ adventure. She’s a Playboy Bunny, but we meet her as a victim… not particularly clever. There’s the answering machine trick, but I’d hope for something more, you know? She’s still dead. Annissa Ravenna is a little bit less of a “bunny” (although still a socialite) but is more clever, and could be useful as an NPC follower for the PCs. I prefer Allenchan’s use here.

The Dark God’s Dirty Dishes: I wanted to see how this would be interpreted. I wondered if we’d just get the Kitchenware of Vecna, but thankfully, we got a bunch of different ideas. There’s Macchiata’s dishing out of secrets. There’s Geyron’s dish-puddles. There’s the debauchery at the gala. There’s Michael Corsi’s victims. All very strong. Allenchan’s multiple uses are very good. Ultimately, though, ajanders makes the ingredient a running theme throughout the adventure. I prefer this use, because it is tightly integrated.

Honestly, a generally well done and executed synthesis of the ingredients on both sides. As a note regarding what I like, integrating the ingredients with the adventure’s theme is very strong and quite welcome. Also, although having multiple instances of the same ingredient shows ingenuity, in truth only the most tightly interwoven ingredient will matter. The exception to this would be an ingredient that builds on the previous instance of the ingredient, tying the whole package together.

Playability:

Allenchan does an excellent job establishing the action. It starts with the party, moves on to the basement, then out to the carriage. You get a good sense of how everything is supposed to move in the adventure. In ajanders’ adventure, there is also a good flow, with the action beginning at Hoover Dam, moving through Toronto and ending in New York. The difference, as I see it, between the two adventures, is that ajanders spends more time discussing what the PCs can learn when. This helps pull them along to the final climax. In A Gala for Geyron, the PCs don’t have much that they need to learn or do—just kind of be there at the party until the devil arrives. Allenchan is edged out by ajanders here.

Originality:

Both adventures do decently here. We’ve seen decadent party murderers and serial-killing cultists before, so the new ground broken is little, but both adventures score very well on execution. Although I may be familiar with such elements, I felt comfortable with using them, in the particular ways they are used. I like them both.

General Feel:

They both had good, but different feels. A Gala for Geyron is more action oriented. The other adventure (ajanders, giving a name, even a bad one, might help here) is more creepy horror story. In this case, it is mainly the writing that demonstrates the difference. Here are passages from both adventures:

From Allenchan:
Almost all nobility within Cheliax worships Asmodeus, or at least pays lip service to the Lord of Hell. Though as a result, they are all under the thumb of House Thrune, current lords of Cheliax. Not all sit by idly, and a few brave souls seek out other diabolical pacts in hopes of gaining power, prestige, and freedom from the oppressive yolk of House Thrune.
Lord Vincenzio Macchiata is one such person. A man well known for throwing lavish, night-long parties, he has hidden his occult affairs with Geyron – archdevil of snakes, lies, and deceit. His devotions continue while the nobility flocked to his estate in blind arrogance, and all their petty gossip fueled the lord of the estate's uncanny rise in prominence.

Meanwhile, the prima ballerina of Egorian's infamous Opera-turned-burlesque show, “Le Lapin Malin” has gone missing, and the proprietor is offering a handsome reward for any leads to the young woman's location.

The stage is clearly set. There is no question about what is going on. Yet the general worship of Asmodeus, Macchiata’s rise to power, and the missing ballerina are slightly decoupled.

From ajanders:
Qussuq is not a kindly god. He slumbers fitfully in a muddy slough of filth, corruption, and dissolution dreaming of his joys: the destruction of innocence and the degradation of beauty. While he slumbers his priests sustain him with sacrifices of beautiful art and of artists.
Sacrifices to Qussuq may be slain in any manner, but must always be human and always be dirty: covered in dirt, dust, or ordure. Qussuq only accepts the sacrifice of artists: dancers, painters, writers, etc: the more skilled the better. He is especially pleased if the artists are beautiful themselves, as well as capable of creating beauty with their art.

Michael Corsi is one of Qussuq's most faithful followers. In his work as an event promoter, he meets many artistic performers. Some he sacrifices to Qussuq. Others he represents and finds bookings for, but manipulates the terms of the contract to cheat them. Many of these artists, unable to make a living creating art, take up other careers.

Here, we also understand what is happening. But we also have a flow of how and why. By learning about Qussuq, we learn about Corsi. We understand why he destroys art and artists before we learn that he does.

In conclusion, this was a hard matchup. Both used the ingredients well, and I didn’t feel that either adventure had any obvious flaws. Well done for both. In the end, the match goes to ajanders for the added attention to the feel of the adventure and evocative prose. However, Allenchan did an excellent job, and was fierce andworthy competition. Congratulations to both contestants.

ajanders advances.
 
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InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
And, a very special matchup for Wik and howandwhy99.

The ingredients for Round 1, Match 8 are:

Honorable Man
Heavenly Station
Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
Winter of our Discontent
Bugbear of Small Minds

and...


[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B59QOvMNFo"]YouTube - Iron Chef Beer Challenge[/ame]​
 

Wik

First Post
"Let us call thee devil..."

“O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil.” - Shakespeare, "Othello"

The town of Yorik has fallen upon some hard times. The crops barely grow, and fluctuations in the trade roads mean there are fewer buyers. And after a particularly bad winter, displeasure with the current government runs high. The lord mayor, a mule-headed and perpetually sour man, has decided to mount a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the populace – he’s going to throw a party.

Unfortunately, he didn’t pay enough attention to his caterers, and now the party is getting a little out of hand...

General

Let us call thee devil is a D&D encounter / mini-adventure for characters of any level. It presumes the fourth edition rules, but can really be used for any edition. Unless the characters choose to escalate things (not recommended) it is an entirely combat-less series of encounters. Furthermore, it lacks a true “plot”, instead consisting of a series of interconnected encounters that the PCs can approach as they best see fit. It is a very light-hearted adventure, and could make a very fun drinking game.

Rules for turning this adventure into a drinking game are not provided, but it suggested everyone has to take a shot each time the GM blinks. This will greatly improve the play experience.

The Heavenly Station

The town of Yorik was once little more than a simple riverside village. It became noteworthy three hundred years ago as the birthplace of Saint Richard, a relatively minor entry in the expansive roll of Saints in a predominant Lawful Good religion. Saint Richard was known for keeping his word in all things, his honesty, and his innately good soul – and the fact that he was born in a tavern.

And of course, that tavern still stands, three hundred years after Richard was born. In fact, it has become the site of a local miracle of sorts – every year on the anniversary of Richard’s birth, the tavern is supposedly visited by angels. These angels are seldom seen, but enthusiastic patrons always point towards flickering candles or frosted windowpanes as the work of unseen cherubs. And there always seems to be a gentle mist collected in the rafters on these so-called angelic visitations. Numerous owners, in the hope of cashing in on its small claim to fame, have changed the name to “The Heavenly Station”.

The Heavenly Station has been owned by a very religious family known as the Harts. This family is so devoted to Saint Richard that the eldest son of every generation bears the Saint’s name. Some even say that the Saint is reborn in the form of the Hart’s current patriarch, Richard Hart (the third in his lineage to bear the name). The Harts have run their tavern much as they imagine their beloved Saint would – honestly, and with a good deal of restraint.

Such is their stern oversight that there has been a strict “no drunks” policy in the bar for years – which tends to be a poor rule for a tavern.

Party at Yorik - and everyone's invited!

Things have not been going well in Yorik as of late. The current mayor, a man ironically referred to as “The Summer Son of Yorik” (ironically named because of his icy disposition, and his always sour frown) has become the focus of much of the town’s ire. While the mayor is not to blame for the failing crops or the particular hard winter (that is now just coming to an end), they do blame him for the decline in trade to the town – possibly due to his wintry manners.

When faced with such pleasure, the lord mayor has decided to do what most politicians would do in a similar situation: create a diversion. And the upcoming celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of Saint Richard’s birth is the perfect opportunity for this. The Lord Mayor has spread criers far and wide, announcing the particular celebrations Yorik has to offer.

Of course, Richard Hart was overjoyed to see more patrons honour the birth of Saint Richard (and, as a by-product, increase his dwindling patronage), and he gave his word that his tavern would be the site of the festivities – what better place, after all, than the birthplace of the saint in question? But the Lord Mayor (hallowed be his name) knew of Richard Hart’s straight-laced ways, and so needed a new caterer – someone who could create a bit of a party and would stick out in the minds of the public. The Lord Mayor searched high and low, mostly low, until he came across the perfect oddball – the brewer Feruzz.

The Guzzling Gobbo

Feruzz is a bugbear who runs a brewery. Because, as everyone knows, bugbears love booze... almost as much as they love their eyebrows. Feruzz is a brewer whose experimentations in distillery cost his tribe many bugbear lives, and even more bugbear eyebrows, when his poorly constructed stills exploded. As such, he was exiled from his tribe, along with a contingent of particularly stupid goblins.

Feruzz made his way in the human world by selling his patented “brain shrinker brew” – a particularly strong form of beer that is known to cause episodes of blindness, alcohol-induced stupidity, grateful sobbing, and “spontaneous short-term religious conversion”. Always the showman, Feruzz has styled himself as a “Civilized” bugbear wearing the height of fashion (he always wears a shiny blue shirt as well as a black suit). He runs a brewery called “The Guzzling Gobbo” on the outskirts of town that is staffed by many small-minded goblins. Feruzz refers to himself as “Feruzz the Bugbeer” – like most goblinoids (and tired adventure writers), he thinks puns are funny.

Feruzz was approached by The Lord Mayor (the Sainted Son of Yorik) to provide alcohol for this little shindig. And Feruzz’s brain shrinker brew is destined to be a big success. Feruzz hasn’t been getting much clientele lately (something to do with people not trusting a bugbear lacking eyebrows), so he’s decided – out of the kindness of his black goblin heart – to provide the beer as the “official” drink of the party. And his goblin lackeys will be the official servers of this lovely concoction.

The Twist

Now, there’s a twist to all of this. Every year on the anniversary of Saint Richard’s birth, angels do visit the site. But they don’t do it out of honour for this great human saint.

Nope. They come to play dodgeball.

In fact, the beloved Saint was destined for sainthood only because he was hit in the head by a stray bolt from a Cherub’s bow. Turns out the captain of the “Lucky Arrows” was aiming for a field goal and missed. Turned out well for Saint Richard, though.

Those on the mortal realm are unable to witness the angelic frolics, only occasionally catching the barest hint of an angel’s presence as the winged rascals flit about on some angelic plane. This angelic plane is usually beyond human perception – rational minds do not allow the existence of angels, and are immune to the angelic effects. Irrational minds, however (such as, say, a newborn child... or a tavern patron wearing the medieval equivalent of a lampshade on his head) are fair game.

Most years, the stoic and devout Richard Hart limits the drinking at his establishment, which curtails angelic sightings (or at least keeps them to a minimum). But this year, everyone will be drinking heavily – and are thus able to be hit by angelic slings and arrows... to hilarious effect.

The PCs in all of this

So, what do the PCs do? The answer is simple: whatever the hell you want them to do.

This encounter works well if the PCs are just hanging out, pursuing their own interests in the adventure. They could be convinced one of the major characters are hiding something. They could try to get into a fight with angels (probably not a good idea). Or they could try to figure out the rules of the game, and maybe get involved (this could be difficult – the game’s rules seem to be a combination of cricket, rugby, and calvinball).

If your group requires a bit more guidance, they could be trying to get information for another quest and simply have to endure the madness around them. Or they could be hired as “security” for the event in question. Or perhaps they’re entertainers.

In short, this is an open-ended encounter, designed as a base for “winging it” and having a little bit of random, good ol’ fashioned, nonsensical fun.

The Heavenly Station

The Heavenly Station is a large tavern, built around an open hall with numerous tables. It has many balconies overlooking the main hall, and the walls are lined with religious insignia. It has also been dressed up with goblin-crafted decorations, though what these decorations are supposed to depict is hard to gather – the goblin craftsmen are not very good with scissors, and used far too much glitter and dried macaroni for good taste.

The drunker patrons get, the more “heavenly” this tavern becomes – stained glass windows begin to animate, the tables become clouds, and the sounds of puking tavern patrons is replaced with the sound of a harp. Playing Mozart or something.

The Tavern is very busy, with more than a hundred townsfolk doing their best to forget the awful winter and usher in a new spring. Goblin waiters, garishly costumed, rush around serving drinks and generally being a nuisance. The Lord Mayor wanders around and does his best to ingratiate himself with his constituents, inevitably insulting people with backhand compliments. Feruzz, meanwhile, does his best to speak of his great alcoholic concoctions, and bullies goblins around him into doing a better job serving (“the beatings will continue until morale improves!”). And Richard Hart, honour-bound by his original promise to host this party, wrings his hands and watches as immorality reigns.

The Angelic Host

There are two teams of Angels. The so-called “Lucky Arrows” have held the title for several millennia, and are confident they will win again this year. This all cherub team comes equipped with little golden bows that shoot adorable little arrows. If such arrows hit a human being who hasn’t been drinking much, nothing happens (as the person is unaware of the angel’s presence). But if the angel’s arrow hits an irrational person, crazy things start happening with that person’s emotions - he falls instantly in love, he becomes overjoyed, or he bursts into laughter.

The opposing team aren’t nearly as well named as the Lucky Arrows. The Springfield Slingers are also an all-cherub team, but equipped with slings instead of arrows. When a sling stone hits a person, though, he isn’t overcome with a generally positive emotion... nope. He just becomes very, very accident prone.

The angels on both sides flit about the house, shooting at one another and trying to move an angelic “ball” from one end of the house to the other. They are completely uncaring about the people around them, though are perfectly aware that there are people in the tavern. They will, in fact, use particularly large individuals as cover from incoming arrows and stones.

Neither arrows nor stones do any damage to a humanoid at all. If a humanoid actually tries to attack an angel (which will be hard – one has to be completely soused to actually see an angel for more than a few seconds at a time), the angels will focus their attacks on that individual, using “angel powers” to stun that poor soul into submission before resuming play.

A particularly drunk individual will be hit at least once during the party, if not more than once. Whenever the action of the encounter is flagging, or you are short on ideas, just roll a die and roll with it:

1. Patron is hit by an arrow, and breaks into bouts of laughter followed by “I love you, man” for several minutes.
2. Patron is hit by a stone, and falls in the most comedic manner possible – most likely taking a goblin or two down with him.
3. Patron is hit by an arrow, and tries to dance with the nearest member of the opposite sex. This person is, of course, in full view of the patron’s husband/wife. And is also, most likely, more attractive than said husband/wife. A very angry fight involving curse words and a rolling pin is 75% likely.
4. Patron is hit by a stone, and anything he touches breaks – flagons of beer, his belt, doors, and windows. Any time something breaks, Richard Hart will shout out “Won’t somebody think of the children!?”
5. Patron is hit by an arrow, and becomes jubilant. He is able to see the angels, and starts to chase a particular angel around the room, trying to “grab that little bugger!”
6. Patron is hit by a stone, and is surrounded by an aura of poor luck – anything bad (that is generally non harmful) that can happen, will happen.

Playing the Encounter Out

The PCs will probably have a goal throughout this night-long party. The goal of the GM is to make sure the party gets in the way of the PCs, while also allowing PCs to participate if they see fit. Feel free to ad lib NPC conversations and events, while also incorporating long-standing NPCs as needed. The GM should also focus on the three major NPCs, and their motivations.

Feruzz is at the party for one reason: advertising. Along with his moronic goblins (who should, of course, be played for laughs), he is doing his best to drum up business for his company. He will try to give PCs free “concoctions” for them to carry on their travels. However, remember he is still a bugbear, and will engage in all manner of under-handed schemes to get ahead. When people start seeing angels, Feruzz gets concerned – his kind naturally fear angels. He is quick to point out that his beer is not what’s causing this effect, even though it quickly becomes obvious that it is.

The Lord Mayor (the Hero of Yorik) is doing his best to sway public opinion back in his favour. If the PCs seem to be appreciated by the crowds, he will attach himself to them. If they are in poor standing, he will ridicule them. He does his best to suggest the beer (which is much appreciated by the public) was his doing – without mentioning Feruzz, as the Mayor does not trust the Bugbear (he might even try to get the PCs to chase the brewmaster out of town). He does his best to avoid Richard’s prattling on. When people start sighting the angels, the Lord Mayor does his best to drum up publicity of the event, proclaiming that even the heavens approve of his party.

Richard Hart is disapproving of the excesses in the tavern, and does his best to keep his tavern standing. He is honour bound to keep his end of the bargain, but is trying to find a way to chase out all of the drunker patrons. He could even approach the PCs for this task. He particularly distrusts “that goblin swine” and would prefer it if Feruzz would just disappear. To achieve this end, Richard does his best to chase down the Mayor in the hopes of arranging a deal.When people start sighting angels, Richard’s attitude changes – and he just might be tempted to start drinking heavily so he can have a sight of them himself. When he realizes that the angels are engaged in Tomfoolery worse than the drunkards around him, he just might suffer a spontaneous religious conversion. Or an aneurysm.

[sblock=ingredients list]
Beer: Obviously, the Brain Shinking Brew. Which is brewed by the Bugbear of Small Minds, opposes the Honourable Man, is served in the heavenly station (and coincidentally allows the sight of a different form of Heavenly Station), and opens participants up to The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune. It is also used as the "winter of our discontent".

Bugbear of Small Minds: First, he's a bug bear. He's also a bugBEER. he creates a particularly potent brew (which can lead to some small minded-ness, natch), and he has an army of particularly stupid and small-minded goblins.

Winter of Our Discontent: The party is essentially there to end built up discontent - ending the "winter of our discontent". Also, the Lord Mayor himself, with his perpetually grumpy manner, could be "winter of discontent" personified. Finally, crazy angels are going to make things pretty happy, won't they?

Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: Our angels are armed with slings and arrows, and when they hit, crazy things happen. This whole encounter is a mixture of crazy and random things.

Honourable Man: Richard Hart is a very honourable man. So is Saint Richard, who is at the cause of all this. Of course, an honourable man has no place in a particulary frenzied party - and poor Richard is unravelling at the seams.

Heavenly Station: Yeah, it's the name of the bar. It's also the angels who come around and mess with the place ("Station" in this case being the fact that the angels come to the same place every year).

Video Clues: there are a few in this text. I'll leave all of them for y'all to pick out.
[/sblock]
 
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howandwhy99

Adventurer
For Love Or Lust
A D&D Adventure for a 4th-5th level party of adventurers. (Aspects include: a human village, seasons, humans, goblinoids, fey, and deities.)

During a visit to the quaint hamlet of Devonshire, a well known lover's retreat, all within become playthings of Gods and Monsters as the machinations of Heaven and Hell grind out a new balance heedless of the discord upon mortals' little lives. Time has frozen for Devonshire, but not for the people within. Their lives are more fiery than ever as passions great and small seize townsfolk in a frenzy of action, but the unnatural winter snows grow deeper as food supplies are foolishly gorged upon. Who will restore order to the hamlet and peace to the valley? What of the rumors of goblinoids marching this way? And what are the Gods intentions for causing such strife?

Background

Grack and Gargle have been two busy little imps. A month ago during harvest time the town drunkard, Toby Horwendill, was run out of town by teetotalers and angry husbands. A lecher and a lush, his actions were used as a bugbear to scare children and youths against drink and unprincipled behavior. Drunk, and guided unknowingly by the devils, he wandered out of the farming valley, into a nearby forest, and came upon a gathering of brew gnomes and their large supply of beer. A drinking contest was held with Toby the loser. For his comeuppance Toby was cursed by the gnomes to become his unwanted title, a bugbear, whenever he became intoxicated for the next year.

Looking to amuse themselves even further, Grack and Gargle charmed a real bugbear, Rograr, and stole him from his clan. Taking this creature into the forest they found the brew gnomes again who were hosting a party for their hero, Rednose the Merrymaker, and his pixie companion Amora the Lovefinder. These two guests were not just any guests, however. Each held a heavenly position in service to the Gods. Rednose held his magic slings which unerringly hit any target causing them to find their true love in drink and merriment for ever. Amora's pixie bow and arrows worked similarly, but her targets find their true love in another person.

Through the devils' tricks the party goers mistook Rograr as Toby transformed into a bugbear. Being good sports they took up another drinking contest with the promise to remove the curse if Toby won. But this time the imps fooled them, the bugbear was immune to the effects of drink. When the stations of the heroes were revealed, the devils let loose Rograr killing everyone, but one gnome who absconded with the pixie's bow and some arrows. Taking up the slings, the brewpots, and the rest of the arrows the trio headed off to Devonshire to for more frivolity. Unbeknown to the imps, however, Mother Nature and Father Time saw the fates of their two servants. Taking the guises of Queen Titania and King Oberon they descended to the fairy wood and convened a contest to see who could be granted worthy of assuming the two empty heavenly stations. Time and nature were stopped. All within the forest and were caught up in a period outside of normal time. Nature, also halted, turned to winter and snows have begun falling. This would be but a odd occurrence, if not for a couple of problems. The God's desire an impartial judge to oversee the contest and the fairy have none among them. And the contest's theme is a Chef Challenge!! with the main ingredient of beer. With the brew gnomes dead and their supplies stolen winter may be endless.

Hooks:

The PCs are caught up in time while visiting or retreating within Devonshire. They may be resting at the beerhall as the hamlet is a station on a well known shipping route. They may be wintering here for Devonshire's peace and comfort. Or they may be here on a lover's retreat when time stops and winter comes. They could also potentially be called to the Contest of in the Fairy wood.

Possible Challenges:

1. The hamlet of Devonshire is in chaos. The beerhall is full of townsfolk cursed to drink and sing without rest. The Temperance League is scavenging for lost members also accursed. Winter snows are causing others to hide and hoard in their homes. Food and drink are diminishing quickly. The Guard are having trouble mustering for a rumored attack.

1a. In the hands of the imps and bugbear the weapons of the Gods are perverted. The two imps have turned the bugbear invisible and the gnome's vials of beer he slings curse those hit with intemperance towards any object first encountered, normally the beer itself. The devils are sticking people with arrows who are in married causing them to fall in love with the first person they see, someone not their spouse.

1b. Time begins to repeat itself as each person wakes in the place they arose the day before. They remember the previous day, but the same day begins again. As the snow piles up, actions take longer and the cold keeps the heated conflicts indoors.

1c. At dusk each day, unless stopped the bugbears burn the crops of the valley and attack the town seeking their lost clan member. Potentially, a Bugbear-form Toby is given or found by them and taken away. In this state he is safe until the booze wears off. But then he will be interrogated and roughed up for information.

2. The town Mayor and Magistrate Marcan Horwendill is confounded. A pillar of the community, now he faces a wife who declares love for his ignoble brother, Toby Horwendill (the cursed drunkard). She has been stuck with an arrow of lovefinding, but through a fortunate side effect knows where her true love lies. Marcan keeps her restrained the best he can, tormented by waking up each peculiar day next to the woman he loves, but who does not love him.

2a. Toby is slung with a vial of the gnomes beer by the bugbear and if he has drink becomes one himself. If found as a bugbear after the bugbear clan attacks, any potential Guard left hand him over out of fear.

2b. If Marcan can be consoled, he potentially can judge the contest in the woods over who shall become the next Merrymaker and Loverfinder of the Gods. He is pure of heart, but demoralized by the loss of his love.

2c. The town calls on the Mayor to bring order to the town. While he is preoccupied locking his wife in their home, those who are not cursed are panicked and will charge his it - the only stone building in Devonshire. They seek their honorable leader and safety as well.

3. The fairies of the forest are looking for beer to hold the contest as well as a judge. While it is not desired, they will send emissaries to the hamlet to purchase one and petition the other. However, beer is in high demand as well as other forms of drink. And honorable behavior is nowhere to be found. Food is also loath to be parted with given the demands of winter seemingly having come early.

3a. In the forest, all sorts of fairies are gathered and building cooking ovens and stockpiling chef supplies as they ignore the snow piling up around. Once beer, any other cooking ingredients a contestant wishes to use, and a judge are gathered the contest begins. The first position up to win is that of Merrymaker and the chef who creates the most savory, intoxicating meal with the inclusion of beer in the dish will win the station. The position of Lovefinder is more difficult. The meal must not only be intoxicating, but a dish made for two.

3b. When both contests have been completed time and nature are restored as Oberon and Titania leave the forest hall. Retrieving the slings and arrows of their new stations becomes the next challenge however. They newly appointed rank holders will know the location of their own tools, but not who uses them currently.

3c. With the aid of these weapons in the right hands, order can be restored in Devonshire. The clan of bugbears attacking can also potentially be dealt with in a similar manner by causing love and merriment to break their ranks.

Conclusions

Depending on what course the PCs take a vast array of story lines are possible. They could simply seek to leave the cursed area, they could be struck by arrows and beer vials themselves, or they could immerse themselves in each potential conflict. Multiple events are likely to occur as covered under the challenges above. Other decisions made and events created by the PCs are up to the discretion of individual DMs. The restoration of Time and Nature are of primary importance. Other potential goals include: the retrieval of the magical slings and arrows. The attacking bugbears upon the down. The charmed bugbear and the two imps who instigated this scene. The reuniting of Marcan and his wife by removing her curse and possibly their reconciliation with Toby. The restoration of Toby to human form, possibly even sobering him up for good. And lastly, the drinking of beer and getting into fights in the beerhall.

Ingredients:

1.) Honorable Man: Marcan, the magistrate whose honor is true, but who is in crisis for fear of losing it and his wife. He is also an Honor, or judge, for the town and the cooking contest.
2.) Heavenly Station: The positions of Merrymaker and Lovefinder can be won by PCs and used to restore order to the hamlet.
3.) Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: The Slings of Merrymaking unerringly cause targets to find their true love in drink and merriment. The Arrows of Lovefinding unerringly cause targets to find True Love. In the imps and bugbear's hands, they cause outrageous actions, while tentatively giving their targets what they desire.
4.) Winter of Our Discontent: The winter caused by the stopping of time and nature, which grows worse until new a new Merrymaker and Loverfinder are found. During the period everyone is discontented, the townsfolk, the mayor, his wife, her lover and his brother, the bugbear clan, the fairies, and the Gods themselves. Except, of course, the devils.
5.) Bugbear of Small Minds: Rograr, charmed by the small-minded imps. As well as Toby who is a bugbear both literally and figuratively to the small minds of the intemperate in Devonshire.
6.) Beer!!! or Iron Chef Beer Challenge?: Beer fills the ravenous appetites of those struck by the sling as well as what is in the vials slung. Beer is also the desperately needed main ingredient of the cooking contest, which must be in each course of the meal contestants make.
 

InVinoVeritas

Adventurer
Judgment, Round 1, Match 8: Wik vs. howandwhy99

Well, this one was a doozy. Two entries, heavy on the humor, worthy of The Bard (or, more likely, just A Bard). Wik went with the full-on comedy angle, while howandwhy99 could be played straight… but why bother?

Wik’s “Let us call thee devil…” vs. howandwhy99’s For Love or Lust


First, the ingredients:


Honorable Man: Wik gives us Richard Hart, proprietor, and the legend of St. Richard. Both quite honorable people, and victims of legend and the oddest game of dodgeball ever. From howandwhy99, we have the magistrate Marcan. Marcan’s position within the community and his wife’s affliction make him a very sympathetic character, while Richard Hart is put upon in a humorous way. Both are good uses, but Marcan garners more sympathy, so advantage to howandwhy99.

Heavenly Station: One of those phrases that can have multiple meanings, howandwhy99 turns it into exalted positions, and Wik makes it a place where angels meet. Both uses are quite appropriate, and integral to the action. I must say, though, that the sheer insanity of how Wik runs the affairs of angels is inspired—advantage to Wik.

Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: In both cases, we have slings, we have arrows, and they cause outrageous actions. Lots of good and bad luck abound. The Merrymaker and Loverfinder’s tools are interesting, but I have to say that Wik’s use of angels that don’t really care about the people is more original, so this goes to Wik.

Winter of Our Discontent: It’s in the background for Wik, but it is in the foreground for howandwhy99. The discontent for Wik leads to the events of the piece, while the winter is near and the discontent far for howandwhy99. The advantage is for howandwhy99, mainly because more action is driven by it.

Bugbear of Small Minds: Ah, Feruzz vs. Toby vs. Rograr. I felt that Toby and Rograr were better uses of this ingredient, because the “small minds” aspect was clear in many ways: how they were controlled, how weakness in mental fortitude compounds the situation. Feruzz has his small-minded goblins and lots of beer, but he’s just a bit too clever.

BEEEEER!!!: I like the multiple ways that this ingredient got used. In Wik’s case, we have the Chairman make an appearance as Feruzz, the event requiring lots of beer, the wisps of steam. In howandwhy99’s case, we have a full Iron Chef challenge, requiring lots of beer. Excellent use by both contestants, and really, this is not what decides the round, so I’ll just say that both sides did a great job with a nonstandard ingredient.

Overall:

Playability, originality, and ingredient use all sort of blend on this one.

In Wik’s case, we have a situation, not a standard plotted adventure. Anything or nothing may happen, yet it is through the sheer insane humor of the piece that it becomes playable. The PCs might not have anything in particular to do or accomplish, but as a piece for everyone to simply blow off some steam, this activity gives that chance.

In howandwhy99’s case, we have another situation that becomes a plotted adventure. The PCs would be trapped in a very surreal, difficult situation. A neverending winter, everyone becoming increasingly bound to their wants, while the way out is far from clear. Because of the plot and the need to exit the situation, we end up needing more direction for the story. With a scratch beneath the surface, the questions start piling up: if no brew gnomes mean no beer, then what are those cursed by the Merrymaker’s slings drinking? I find myself lost in the details—not enraptured as much as confused. It’s a pity, because Grack and Gargle are a particularly interesting, enthralling pair of characters. They just happen not to be ingredients. In a different story, Grack and Gargle would definitely shine, and they are an excellent driver of action.

A plotless adventure never seemed, to me, to be the better way to construct a situation that players would enjoy. However, Wik has managed to accomplish just that through clever writing, a freeform happenstance, and interesting details that can dovetail later into direction. I guess sometimes, we do not need direction. What a lesson to learn!

Wik wins this round.
 
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Radiating Gnome

Adventurer
Round 2, Match 1
Sunday, June 19, 8:00 a.m. EST
ender wiggin vs. Iron Sky
Judge: Radiating Gnome


Centaur Hunter
Ancestral Grotto
Secretive Matron
Torc of Fortune
Polygamy
Bone Needle
 

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Alpha Centauri
Note: Designed with 4e in mind, replace skill challenge with its logical equivalent to port it to another fantasy system

Brief Synopsis
The party helps the Chief Hunter of a centaur Herd to win a Challenge for the right to keep his Herd.

Backstory
The Herds of the Eastern Wyld have roamed the forest for centuries, their nomadic society held together by the Circle of Matrons, a group of female elders that officiate disputes within and between the Herds. While it keeps large-scale violence to a minimum, the judgments of the Circle can occasionally be exploited by particularly ambitious centaurs to increase their wealth and power at the expense of the others.

The Chief Hunter of each herd is the “alpha male” of the herd, the Herd's tattoo of wedlock placed upon his arm upon his ascension to Chief Hunter. The Chief Hunters are responsible for leading every hunt and ensuring that every member of the Herd is fed and clothed.

The Circle forbids the sons of the Chief Hunter to become Chief Hunter themselves, so new Chief Hunters are selected via the Trial of Challenge. While this usually happens upon the sudden or impending death of a previous Chief Hunter, on occasion a particularly ambitious Chief will attempt to Challenge a rival in an attempt to take the other's Herd.

Equus, Chief Hunter of the Herd of Briars faces one such challenge from the cunning, rapacious Eurytion, Chief Hunter of the Herds of Mournhill, Narrows, and Capwallow.

Equus, Chief Hunter of the Herd of Briars

Equus is massive and strong, among the largest of Centaurs in all of the Eastern Wyld, but he is also gentle, just, and kind. He has only been the Chief Hunter of his Herd for a year, but already the members herd love him despite his relative lack of skill at the hunt itself. His hunts provide enough to keep everyone mostly fed and he eats no more or less than anyone else.

The Herd of Briars is among the poorest of the Herds, their wealth much diminished since Equus 'grandfather' Chiron – a renowned warrior whose wealth and phenomenal good luck was legendary – took his fortune to the grave with him rather than let Equus 'father,' Pholus have it. Pholus was a cowardly, vile-tongued centaur who secured his succession after Chiron via manipulation of the Circle of Matrons and the Herd suffered much under his reign.

Their misfortune continues, for though Equus is everything that Pholus was not – strong, courageous, kind – there are no mares yet pregnant in all the Herd. While no one speaks of it openly, rumors of his infertility are whispered throughout the Eastern Wyld. Some rumors say it was a dying curse of the petty and vengeful Pholus, others say it is merely bad luck. For Eurytion it was the spark of a plan.

Eurytion, Chief Hunter of the Herds of Mournhill, Narrows, and Capwallow

Dark stories follow Eurytion throughout the Eastern Wyld. They say his cunning is matched only by his cruelty. His ambition needs no rumor, for any who see him can see his hunger for power in bearing, word, and action. Not long after the Trial of Challenge made him Chief Hunter of the Mournhill Herd, he challenged also for the smaller Herd of Narrows after the previous Chief Hunter suddenly became gravely ill.

Years later, he similarly swallowed up the small Herd of Capwallow. Now his eyes are set on the Herd of Briars. He has requested a Trial of Challenge from the Circle of Matrons, his strident claims of Equus infertility and the “poverty” of the Herd of Briars convincing the Circle to hold a Trial.

The Circle of Matrons
When the Chief Hunter of a Herd is replaced, the Matriarch of the Herd is also replaced, the old Matriarch sent to the Circle of Matrons at the Barrow of Songs. The Matrons there record the history of the Herds and inter the Chief Hunters, Matriarchs, and Champions of the Herds in the natural tunnels and carved Sepulchres beneath he Barrow. The eldest five of the Matrons are responsible for adjudicating the Trials.

While they are supposedly impartial – open support of one Herd or another by a Matron being punishable by death – the Matrons all were born and raised in one Herd or another before they came to the Barrow of Songs. Old habits and preferences die hard. Deianeira, Matron of Foals, was the Matriarch of the Herd of Briars in the time of Equus' 'grandfather' Chiron and has watched the decline of her herd since with much sorrow. She sees only ill in the future of the Herd of Briars if Eurytion becomes Chief Hunter and is willing to risk her life to stop it.

Hooks
1) The party is hunting in the woods and meets up with centaurs of the Briar Herd, are invited to see the Trial, and are noticed by Deianeira.
2) Deianeira has called up old favors from friends in the lands around the Eastern Wyld. A trusted friend, employer, or the like requests, hires, or orders the party to head to the Barrow of Song.
3) The party is traveling through the Eastern Wyld and is sent an anonymous summons (via animal messenger or similar means) to come to the Barrow of Song.

Bullet Point Adventure Summary
0) Hooks
1) The Barrow of Songs
2) Into the Sepulchre of Chiron
3) Hunting the Sacred Aurochs
4) The Trial of Might

1. The Barrow of Songs
The party arrives at the Barrow of Songs in the heart of the Eastern Wyld to find hundreds of centaurs encamped all around it.

Their tents are made of leather-tied animal furs painted with tribal designs and patterns. The centaurs themselves have a wild, almost feral look to them, the males wearing strange silver necklaces and iron bracelets, their skin and fur painted with wild patterns. The females wear fur tops that barely cover their more-humanoid features, their hair worn in long braids with flowering vines or silver or copper necklaces woven into them. Each of the females has a distinctive tattoo on the upper arm. Some a thorny vine, others a jagged black hill.

They are clearly divided into two camps, the tension high as the males glare at each other and strut. You can almost taste the tension.

A young female centaur meets the party at the edge of camp.

I was told to look for someone like you. Come quickly, we must talk in private.

She leads the party through deep, tangled woods to a sheltered grove, a small clearing in the midst of a close press of willow trees.

Thank you for coming. I apologize for the secrecy, but the one who summoned you here risks much just having me talk with you. I am Hylonome of the Briar Herd and we need your help. Our Chief Hunter Equus is undergoing a Trial of Challenge and the one for whom I speak is afraid that he will not survive the Challenge without your help.”

She promises them an appropriate amount of money, the friendship of the Briar Herd, and the blessings of her benefactor. When the party agrees to help:

Equus is a decent hunter and a good leader, but our Herd has had difficult times lately and another Chief Hunter named Eurytion is trying to take his place. The Trial of Challenge requires a majority of the five Matrons to vote one way or the other and if Eurytion wins, Equus will be deposed. The Trial of Wisdom is already complete and, though we don't know for sure whom the Matron of Wisdom will select, Eurytion has the tongue of a serpent and talked circles around Equus during the Trial.

The Trial of Wedlock just finishing, this way.”

She leads them through the camp.

Equus probably has this one; all the mares of the Herd love him and everyone's heard the rumors of Eurytion's depravities, even if he sounds like a saint when he talks.”

She leads them to a large mossy, tree-topped hill with a cave wide and deep enough that the hill almost seems to make a crescent. The cave has dozens of stalactites and stalagmites, but by they are carved with jagged edges and etched with twisting patterns.

This is the Barrow of Songs. They say that since the First Circle, every newly-arriving matron has carved a single small piece from the back of the small cave that was once here. Now see how deep it is and you see the depth history of our people. Sometime less grave you should come so you can hear our history in song as well.”

In the cave are five ancient female centaurs, long braids of white hair reaching their backs and inter-woven with black flowers and strings of black pearls. Robes of white cloth run from their shoulders and across their broad backs, ending in jagged pearl-tipped pinions that nearly reach the ground. Dozens of charms, pendants, and amulets dangle from the robes by thin silver chains and vines with clustered blooms of tiny black flowers web between the chains.

Hundreds of centaurs crowd around the Barrow, murmuring and occasionally shouting at whatever is being said in the cave. A centaur, easily 8 feet tall, stands on one side with massive arms crossed, a massive bow on his back, a quiver of long gray-feathered arrows at his side, a troubled expression creases his brow and his long tail twitches against his brown flanks. “Equus,” Hylonome says, nodding towards him.

Another centaur, slight and black haired, paces the mouth of the cave, eyes and teeth gleaming, wearing fine silken clothing traced with strands of cloth-of-silver that was probably tailored for him at a human city. “Eurytion,” Hylonome growls. “They say that those in his herds who cross him are exiled, then hunted down in the night after they depart. There is nothing he won't do to get what he wants.”

Though you can't hear what's going on from here, several females come forward, presumably to testify for Eurytion. You can see the fear in their eyes, the way they flinch when he moves towards them, the tremble in their legs and voices.

Hylonome speaks as the Trial wraps up and a group younger female centaurs in robes like the matron's but far plainer trot out and begin singing the story of an ancient Hunt, a tale spanning hundreds of miles, dozens of years, of ferocious battles with mighty beasts and steel-eyed hunters running down prey and foe alike.

Next is the Trial of the Hunt. Equus tries, but with his size, the animals hear him coming from a hundred feet away. Eurytion is a master hunter. Let's hope Equus finds a bear – since he can kill them single-handed – otherwise, Eurytion will have this one. There will be some discussion, then the two of them will set out to hunt. Win or lose, the Hunt gives us some time. Come, we will talk with the one who sent for you.”

2. Into the Sepulcher of Chiron
The party is led away from the site of the trial back to the sheltered grove. A few minutes after they arrive, Hylonome motions towards the thick veil of willow branches that surrounds the glade. There is movement beyond the branches, but aside from the rough shape of a centaur, few details can be made out about the figure on the other side.

Good, you've come. There isn't much time, so I'll tell you quickly why you are here. The Brair Herd will suffer greatly under Eurytion and he won't stop at just the Briar herd. More will fall into his grasp. He needs to be stopped, or at least checked, here. He has the Trial of Wisdom and most likely the Hunt. Equus has Wedlock. Two remain. The Trial of Wealth and the Trial of Foals.

Eurytion has the wealth of three herds and a hundred illicit dealings and he flaunts it. Briar once had wealth; some fought for, some earned, most simply found through seemingly random luck by Chiron, Equus' 'grandfather.' There are dozens of stories about Chiron's remarkable luck and the incredible treasures he found, but those are stories for another time, just know that Briar needs it for Equus to win the Trial of Wealth.

Unfortunately, Chiron took the wealth to his tomb, as was his right. His exact last words to his newly-selected and much-hated successor Pholus were “only he who wears this torc owns the wealth of Chiron and it cannot be removed while the wearer lives. Come claim it from me in the afterlife if you dare.” Pholus was a coward and never dared.

There are no entrances to the Halls of the Ancestors that a centaur could enter except the main entrance at the back of the Cave of Trials. There is, however, a smaller tunnel at the back of the Barrow of Songs. It will be tight, but if you squeeze tight, you can use it to make your way inside. Find the Sepulcher of Chiron and do whatever it takes to get Chiron's spirit to give you the torc. If Equus arrives tomorrow at the Trial of Wealth, he will permanently and irrevocably hold claim to the wealth of Chiron, for the torc cannot be removed once placed.

Once you have completed this, give the torc to Hylonome in secret, I will meet you again afterward.”

With that, the figure beyond the willow veil departs. Hylonome leads the party to the back of the Barrow of Songs to a tiny hidden tunnel, barely big enough for someone to squeeze through on their belly. She wishes them luck.

Once through the tiny crawl-way, the party finds themselves in a catacomb of tunnels.

Like the cave, the tunnels are covered with hundreds of stalagmites and stalactites, carved into bizarre shapes and traced with the jagged lines of complex patterns.

The party faces a skill challenge to find their way to Chiron's sepulcher without getting lost, rousing and angering the spirits of the dead centaurs buried there, or causing a collapse of the part-natural, part-carved, poorly made, and heavily decorated tunnels. On a failure, they end up fighting hostile spirits, split up by a cave in, lost, or any combination of the three. When they eventually succeed, they find the sepulcher.

The sepulcher seems at first to be a small natural cave, a narrow stretch of rock reaching out into a pool of deep green water. In the middle of the pool, the stretch of stone widens into an island, heaped with treasures of copper and silver and jade, gilded goblets and gilded strings of gems,exotic weapons and statues of polished bronze and marble. In the center sit four pillars of ivory, a web of silver wire holding the skeleton of a centaur between them.

Around the skeleton's neck is a band of pure gold that seems too small to have been taken off in life, as though it were forged around the wearer's neck. As you approach, the pool ripples and an ephemeral green form swirls into existence around the bones.


In the Sepulcher, they face the Spirit of Chiron. The party then has another (very difficult) skill challenge to convince Chiron to give up the torc. Not only is he suspicious of the fact that they aren't centaurs and are seeking his treasure, but as a spirit he is bound to the treasure and his vengeful dying oath has left a vengeful undying ghost. On a success, he gives up the torc and his spirit is laid to rest. On a failure, the party must defeat him to gain it, a task made more difficult by Chiron being able to use the torc's magical powers (mechanically to reroll a failed roll each round).

When they leave the Halls of the Ancestors, Hylonome is there waiting for them. “Great, you have it! That is welcome news. The Trial of the Hunt is over and Eurytion brought back a giant elk. Equus had only a small deer. I'll let Matron D... I mean, head to the glade, you will be hear the rest there.”

3) Hunting the Sacred Aurochs
Deianeira appears behind the veil of willows as before.

I could not have dreamed you would do so well so quickly. We now have a chance, but there still is another issue, that of Equus... issue. The gods seem to have cursed him with infertility and I can think of only one cure that might be potent enough to help us in the time we have.

After the Trial of Wealth, there is the Trial of Foals. This will require a ritual cast upon every mare of the Herd of Briars to determine if she is pregnant and who the sire is. The ritual is lengthy and it will take almost a week to examine them all. Hopefully that will be enough time.

There is a creature considered sacred by the centaurs, the Golden Aurochs that live near the Heartmont a day's travel from here in the center of the Eastern Wyld. To other centaurs this would be heresy, but I know that the Golden Aurochs were only made sacrosanct to prevent them from being hunted to extinction. Even now, when it is death for a centaur to be found hunting them, some still dare. Our laws do not persecute the ignorance of outsiders to the same degree, though if you were caught hunting one it would mean exile from the Eastern Wyld on pain of death.

You must find one, kill it, and return with the baculum, the bone found inside the member of a Golden Bull. Return quickly, for I can perform rituals with it – sewing sleeping blankets and re-inking the Wedlock-bonds of Equus and Briar Herd's mare's tattoos – to induce potent fertility. With luck – and perhaps the torc will help with that as well, some say its magic is what allowed Chiron to accumulate much of his wealth – Equus can become a father before the rituals of examination are complete. Go now and return quickly. Meet with Hylonome again when you return.”

The party now faces a skill challenge to find and hunt a Golden Bull; first they must reach the rocky Heartmont, avoiding centaur hunters and Herds that would exile them for hunting sacred grounds, then track the Golden Aurochs and find a bull. At some point they are also attacked by centaurs sent by Eurytion to hunt them down on just the suspicion that they were involved in procuring the torc.

The Golden Bull dwarfs the cows around it, its fur gleaming like real gold as it stands atop the hill. It is obvious even from a distance that a normal man wouldn't even come up to the beast's shoulder. Its long, bowed horns shine in the sunlight, ending in razor-sharp tips. When the beast notices you, it instantly charges, the ground shaking beneath its hooves as it thunders towards you.

They must then kill a mighty Golden Bull, successfully harvest what they need from it, and return to the Barrow of Song without getting caught.

When they return, Hylonome meets them and takes the bone, telling them that now they have only to wait for the end of the Trial of Foals to determine the result of the Challenge. Later that day, Equus, now wearing his torc(assuming the party suceeded in getting it) and having learned what they did for him via Hylonome, thanks them profusely and invites them to join him in their camp as his companions. He treats them as members of the Herd and asks them accompany him on the daily hunts to procure food for the Herd.

You join in the hunt, struggling to keep up with the fast-moving, remarkably quiet centaurs. Painted with gray mud and paint, your adrenaline pounds with the rush of the hunt, the thrum of bow-strings, the thud of spears finding their mark, the centaurs moving through the darkening woods around like massive gray wolves...

He thanks them again the next evening, a new blanket under his arm, his tattoo freshly darkened as he heads off to “sleep” the next night.

4) The Trial of Might
There are two possible outcomes at this point that will lead to the same final confrontation:

Each of the Matrons stands, announces their name and position(Ex: "I am Deianeira the Matron of Foals"), and their verdict on who won the Trial they govern. Equus wins the Trial of Herds. Eurytion wins the Trials of Wisdom and Hunts. Equus must win both trials the party is involved in to succeed.

If the party did not succeed at getting either the torc or the Bull baculum, for whatever reason, then Equus loses the Challenge.

If the party succeeded at both, then Equus succeeds, his wealth sufficient and the effect of the Golden Bull strong enough and the luck of the torc potent enough that in the last day of the Trial of Foals the rituals reveal several mares pregnant with his offspring.

If Eurytion loses, he will demand a Trial of Might – a fight to the death to resolve a Challenge. It is a risk he avoided initially due to Equus size and strength, but now has no choice if he wants to claim the Herd of Brairs, avoid humiliation, and get revenge on Equus for somehow foiling his plans.

If Equus loses, he has no desire to fight as he has a gentle nature and a deep respect for the Matron's decisions. Hylonome is sent by Deianeira to ask the party to convince Equus to demand a Trial of Might. He will reluctantly do so with significant description of what life will be like for the Herd of Briars under Eurytion.

The Trial of Might itself involves combat between two Hunts, each with the Chief Hunter and a group of Companions (the number of Companions being conveniently equal to the number of players in the party). They face each other before the Barrow of Songs.

Eurytion has Equus poisoned shorty before the Trial – and poisons the food of the party as well, though they may make appropriate checks to detect it. Anyone poisoned is weakened during the fight, though for Equus this is partially offset by the magic of the torc of Fortune if he has it. Eurytion and his companions fight dirty, using poisoned weapons, nets, magic, and anything else they can think of to defeat the party.

If Equus is killed before Eurytion, the fight is over and Eurytion has won. Hylonome will suggest that the party leave immediately or risk being hunted down by Eurytion. That night Hylonome is exiled from the Herd. If they flee, they find Hylonome's body riddled with poisoned arrows as they depart and are ambushed by Eurytion's centaurs repeatedly. After that, Eurytion will likely become a recurring villain, seeking revenge from time to time, words of his expanding power in the Herds reaching the party's ears.

If Eurytion is killed before Equus, Equus retains the Briar Herd and he and Deianeira the Matron will be a lifelong friends and allies of the party. The Herds of Mournhill, Barrows, and Capwallow are then open for new Trials of Challenge, but that's for another adventure...

Ingredients:
Centaur Hunter – Equus, the Chief Hunter of the Briar Herd. Eurytion, the Chief Hunter of three Herds. Eurytion also hunts other centaurs – exiles from his Herds and, metaphorically, the Chief Hunters of other Herds to claim their Herds.
Ancestral Grotto – The Barrow of Song, meeting place of the Circle of Matrons and buried ancestors
Secretive Matron – The Matron of Foals, Deianeira, 'grandmother' of Equus, who brings the party in to help Equus. She must remain secretive, for she could be killed if caught helping Equus via the party.
Torc of Fortune – The torc of Chiron, Equu's ancestor, that allows Equus to claim Chiron's fortune. Also, its magic is largely how Chiron gained his fortune and helps with Equus fertility.
Polygamy – All members of each Herd are wed to the Chief Hunter, their wedding bond marked by tattoos.
Bone Needle – A needle made from the baculum of the Golden Bull, used to sew fertility-enhancing blankets and to ink fertility-enhancing magics into Equus and the Herd mare's tattoos, thus to help them... uh... 'bone' more productively.
 

Pbartender

First Post
Round 2, Match 2
Sanzuo vs. MatthewJHanson
Judge: Pbartender

Ingredients:
a girl with pigtails
the happiest place on earth
half-eaten lunch
snoop
a snake, a snake!
Matt the Insstigater

Submissions are due June 22nd, 6:20 am CST.
 
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