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D&D 5E RotFM fishing competition

ad_hoc

(he/they)
I want to have a fun fishing competition with a prize of a magic item. The story is that the town is starving and they want to encourage people to fish so they're offering up a precious item.

I don't want this to take a lot of table time. I'd like dice to resolve it (unless the players do something unexpected with their abilities). I want there to be a chance of failure where a local fisher wins instead, though with the odds weighted towards the PCs. I'd like only 1 PC to win.

What kind of resolution mechanic(s) would you use for this?

Thanks
 

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MarkB

Legend
I'd suggest:

  • Survival to determine the best place to fish.
  • Animal Handling to attract a fish
  • Athletics to reel it in.
With the players encouraged to come up with creative uses of spells or class features to provide Advantage on the check. I.e. using Thornwhip instead of a fishing rod.

Rather than being pass/fail, the quality of your catch is derived from the average of your three checks.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
I'd suggest:

  • Survival to determine the best place to fish.
  • Animal Handling to attract a fish
  • Athletics to reel it in.
With the players encouraged to come up with creative uses of spells or class features to provide Advantage on the check. I.e. using Thornwhip instead of a fishing rod.

Rather than being pass/fail, the quality of your catch is derived from the average of your three checks.

Yeah, definitely not pass/fail.

3 checks is a good amount, I don't want to do more than that. And doing something special for advantage is a good way to resolve that.

How do you feel about:

Intelligence (Nature)
Wisdom (Survival)
Strength (Athletics)

This way 3 different abilities are used.

I'm going to encourage each PC to try on their own. They can Help someone else if they want to to give advantage but then they don't get to fish on their own.

Now the question is what target number are they going for? There are 4 players so it needs to be high enough that it is an accomplishment for one of them to get it and not just very likely given 4 sets of rolls.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
When I did a Harvest Tournament in my campaign, I had a few competitions, such as Axe Throwing, Archery, Caber Toss, and Tilting.

Each competing character first got three rounds of Practice. They rolled an appropriate Skill or Ability Check, and then were rewarded dice:

Practice Results
20+ ... d12
15 - 19 ... d10
10 - 14 ... d8
5 - 10 ... d6
1 - 4 ... d4

There were three rounds to each competition. The competing characters again made a Skill or Ability Check, then got to add in any Practice Dice they wanted to. Whoever had the highest results for that round won.

Round Order
1. Roll Skill or Ability Check
2. Add Practice Dice (optional)
3. Tally points!

I designed a handful of NPC's who were competing. I gave them their own Practice Dice to differentiate them.

So for example, competing in the Archery Tournament might be:

Clumsy Clarence (+1 Archery)
Practice Dice: 1d4 1d4 1d6

Pretty Good Pauline (+3 Archery)
Practice Dice: 1d6 1d8 1d10

Bullseye Betty (+5 Archery)
Practice Dice: 1d10 1d10 1d10

I let all the NPC's go before the characters so that they could decide how many practice dice to add in.

Oh, I also had side bets going on, so players could bet on who they thought would win!

For a fishing tournament I would organize it this way:

Before the Tournament, characters have a chance to prepare. They can do so through a few ways: purchasing or crafting equipment, scouting out fishing spots, researching local fish, etc. I'd allow them to make Ability or Skill Checks to earn one Favor Die each, which gets added to a group pool of Favor Dice.

So let's say the Druid communes with nature to learn about what fish are in the lake and makes a Wisdom (Nature) check, rolling a total of 15 and earning a d10. The Fighter goes to the fishing supply shop and scouts out really good poles, making an Intelligence (Investigation) check and rolling an 4, earning the group a d4. The Cleric prays to their god for favor, makes a Charisma (Religion) check and rolls a total of 20, getting the group a d12. The Rogue tries to sabotage the fishing boats of the competition, rolls a Dexterity (Thieves' Tools) check and gets a 10, earning the group a d6.

The group's Dice Pool is d4, d6, d10, d12

On the day of the tournament, have everyone describe what they are doing in order to catch fish. Maybe they are trying to use their Strength to fling out really far. Maybe they are being really smart about where to cast. Maybe they are just reaching in with their big hands and trying to grab a fish.

Roll for all the competing NPC's, then allow each character to roll an appropriate Skill or Ability Check.

Have each NPC set up with one Favor Die that they roll in, describing each of their unique fishing poles, boats, skills, or magic. Then invite the characters to do the same.

Most likely they will confer and decide whoever rolled the highest ability check will use all the dice! Say "Oh man, I didn't think about that! Great idea!"

There you go! There's a chance for an NPC to win, but a greater chance for one character to win. Everyone gets some fun scenes of preparing for the tournament and competing.
 

MarkB

Legend
I'm not up to the maths right now, but I'd work from the assumption that they'll have an average of at least +2 to the checks, and be able to find a way to gain advantage on at least one check. Work out what the average result would be for that set of checks, and make that the DC to beat for them to outperform the NPC competitors.

That way, at least one PC needs to get above-average results in order to win, but if they all find good ways to improve their chances there's a good chance of there being multiple PCs on the podium.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
When I did a Harvest Tournament in my campaign, I had a few competitions, such as Axe Throwing, Archery, Caber Toss, and Tilting.

Each competing character first got three rounds of Practice. They rolled an appropriate Skill or Ability Check, and then were rewarded dice:

Practice Results
20+ ... d12
15 - 19 ... d10
10 - 14 ... d8
5 - 10 ... d6
1 - 4 ... d4

There were three rounds to each competition. The competing characters again made a Skill or Ability Check, then got to add in any Practice Dice they wanted to. Whoever had the highest results for that round won.

Round Order
1. Roll Skill or Ability Check
2. Add Practice Dice (optional)
3. Tally points!

I designed a handful of NPC's who were competing. I gave them their own Practice Dice to differentiate them.

So for example, competing in the Archery Tournament might be:

Clumsy Clarence (+1 Archery)
Practice Dice: 1d4 1d4 1d6

Pretty Good Pauline (+3 Archery)
Practice Dice: 1d6 1d8 1d10

Bullseye Betty (+5 Archery)
Practice Dice: 1d10 1d10 1d10

I let all the NPC's go before the characters so that they could decide how many practice dice to add in.

Oh, I also had side bets going on, so players could bet on who they thought would win!

For a fishing tournament I would organize it this way:

Before the Tournament, characters have a chance to prepare. They can do so through a few ways: purchasing or crafting equipment, scouting out fishing spots, researching local fish, etc. I'd allow them to make Ability or Skill Checks to earn one Favor Die each, which gets added to a group pool of Favor Dice.

So let's say the Druid communes with nature to learn about what fish are in the lake and makes a Wisdom (Nature) check, rolling a total of 15 and earning a d10. The Fighter goes to the fishing supply shop and scouts out really good poles, making an Intelligence (Investigation) check and rolling an 4, earning the group a d4. The Cleric prays to their god for favor, makes a Charisma (Religion) check and rolls a total of 20, getting the group a d12. The Rogue tries to sabotage the fishing boats of the competition, rolls a Dexterity (Thieves' Tools) check and gets a 10, earning the group a d6.

The group's Dice Pool is d4, d6, d10, d12

On the day of the tournament, have everyone describe what they are doing in order to catch fish. Maybe they are trying to use their Strength to fling out really far. Maybe they are being really smart about where to cast. Maybe they are just reaching in with their big hands and trying to grab a fish.

Roll for all the competing NPC's, then allow each character to roll an appropriate Skill or Ability Check.

Have each NPC set up with one Favor Die that they roll in, describing each of their unique fishing poles, boats, skills, or magic. Then invite the characters to do the same.

Most likely they will confer and decide whoever rolled the highest ability check will use all the dice! Say "Oh man, I didn't think about that! Great idea!"

There you go! There's a chance for an NPC to win, but a greater chance for one character to win. Everyone gets some fun scenes of preparing for the tournament and competing.

Thanks.

That's a bit more complicated than I was thinking.

I think I'm going to have a static DC for the players to roll against rather than having NPCs roll. This avoids me having to do work as well as to risk the NPC rolling high and having players disappointed if they also roll high but not high enough.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
I'm going to encourage each PC to try on their own. They can Help someone else if they want to to give advantage but then they don't get to fish on their own.
This is only a significant deterrent if the prize is something that doesn't benefit the entire party and that anyone in the party could use. Otherwise, the Help action has a better chance of producing a high average score than two individual sets of rolls.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
This is only a significant deterrent if the prize is something that doesn't benefit the entire party and that anyone in the party could use. Otherwise, the Help action has a better chance of producing a high average score than two individual sets of rolls.

My thinking is that if a player can get their own advantage on some of their rolls then being helped for the remaining 1 or 2 won't be good enough.

That said I think to make it simple I'm just going to disallow helping and have everyone do their own rolls.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
I'm not up to the maths right now, but I'd work from the assumption that they'll have an average of at least +2 to the checks, and be able to find a way to gain advantage on at least one check. Work out what the average result would be for that set of checks, and make that the DC to beat for them to outperform the NPC competitors.

That way, at least one PC needs to get above-average results in order to win, but if they all find good ways to improve their chances there's a good chance of there being multiple PCs on the podium.

That math is 41. If all 4 players had that average then their chance of success is 94% (I think). I'm thinking 90% success rate is probably about right.

I think it is likely that some players will have +8 and advantage on 2 or all 3 checks.

+8 and adv on all checks is an average of 50. If the DC was 50 and all players were remarkable at the task they still would have a 6% chance of failure which is too much for being so great.

I think 45 might be a good middle ground? That's the average of +7 and Adv on 2 checks.

I think I'm going to impose a limit of 1 use of each ability for the entire competition. So 1 Guidance, 1 Enhance Ability, etc.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
With regard to the same character, maybe one skill can check to "help" to set up an other skill, granting advantage to the main check. This allows two related skills to synergize.



A contest can be literally a "contest" mechanically, where the highest result wins.



Possibly, for complex factors, the DC applies. Those failing the check get weeded out. Repeat checks, until only one character remains standing.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
FWIW, there is an Icewind Dale fishing competition, with mechanics, in the AL Epic The Great Knucklehead rally, which is available on DMsGuild.

Thanks but it is just a straight up game of chance.

Draw cards, if your card matches the suit of the trump card you continue to the next round. Continue until 1 person left.
 

pukunui

Legend
You could go the downtime route and have the DC be a random 2d10+5 for each check to represent the result of the NPC competition.

(I refer you to the pit fighting and gambling downtime activities specifically.)
 

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