The next round of “Incidents” will be focused on events at or during a tourney. Regardless of where jousts, festivals and tourneys stood in the public mind at various points in actual medieval history, our picture of them in the pseudo-medieval fantasy world is pretty clear. They are kind of a big deal.
I’m not going to touch the highlight of the traditional fictional tourney: the joust, because that ground has been pretty well covered in this and other editions of the game. I’m focused on the events that happen during and around the tourney celebrations. That will take us down some predictable paths – there were other contests and feats of arms held alongside the jousting. It will also take us down some weirder and wrinkly roads. I decided to start us off with something out-of-the-ordinary because…well…the artwork that Jenn put together for this is just incredibly charming.
The PCs are at a tourney, festival, fair, or holiday celebration
The PCs will get plenty of heads up about the pie-eating contest, since it is a favored event and one of the few that any person: commoner or highborn, can enter. The PCs need only register their name, with the maestro of the competition, and take their seats.
Eat to Live
Run the pie eating contest as a sort of skill challenge. Each participant makes an Endurance check for each “Round” of the contest. In a round, most participants will eat one pie. Exceeding the DC by 5 means the participant can cram in 2 pies. Exceeding the DC by 10 allows the participant to shove down a whopping 3 pies.
•Round 1: DC 11
•Round 2: DC 12
•Round 3: DC 14
•Round 4: DC 16
•Round 5: DC 18
•Round 6: DC 21
•Round 7: DC 24
•Round 8: DC 28
•Round 9: DC 35
The competition will go on until the 9th round, or until all the contestants either stop or are disqualified. The contestants can “call it” at any time if they think they have eaten enough total pies to win. Contestants who vomit are disqualified and their score does not count. If all contestants end up being disqualified, the winner is the contestant with the highest score before expectoration.
A single failure means that the participant skips the next round – they are still struggling to finish off that last pie. Two failures indicates the participant is really having some difficulty, and must skip the next two rounds. The third failure tears it; the participant vomits, and is thus disqualified.
This contest does not happen in a vacuum! Be sure to have set aside three to five NPCs who will also be participating. It is assumed there are many other participants, but rolling for 100 people isn’t much fun, and the narrative comes down to the major players in the end. The majority of people won’t be able to put away more than four pies before giving in. Only the PCs and their prime competitors have a chance of exceeding this.
The NPC contestants are more than just an Endurance bonus! Give them character, charisma, and a backstory. Whether they are villains or sad sacks the PCs should feel some way about them. Don’t give them an unreasonably high Endurance bonus either. Perhaps the reigning champ will have a heroic bonus to his roll, but other than that this should be a relatively fair contest.
This boils down to a game of die rolls which is ultimately not that exciting. The life here is in how you describe the contest, and in establishing an inter-party rivalry that can finally. Be resolved without killing all the PCs and ruining the player’s fun! Try offering a prize that all of the PCs desire as a means of establishing a rivalry between them.
Possible EXP and Rewards
Completing the contest is a noteworthy but not monumental accomplishment – granting experience equal to a single monster of the PC’s level -1. The real payoff should be the reward for winning the contest. A magic item, significant monetary amount, or a more practical reward; like ownership of Old Ma Thranduil’s prizewinning war-pony should be the temptations on the table. Not to mention the boost to reputation the PC will receive! Imagine being (INSERT CHARACTER NAME HERE) Pie-Bane! Or (INSERT CHARACTER NAME HERE) Pie-Slayer!
If you anticipate the PCs wandering into a combat encounter soon after the contest, consider saddling them with some penalties or providing some possible options. PCs who fail this challenge might be Slowed or Weakened (as a result from overeating) for their next encounter.
You might also consider letting PCs spend a Healing Surge to cancel out a failed roll in the pie eating skill challenge. Ding so makes it to easy for them to win if there is no combat after the contest, so offer this with the full knowledge that they are making a gamble on their resources, and let them feel like that’s the case as well. It should be a strategic choice. Tactical pie eating. That is now a thing.
Your players will, of course, ask: “What kind of pies are they?” This is D&D…consult the random pie chart below:
- Owlbearry (Guess what the secret ingredient is…)
- Wizard’s Pie (Possible random enchantment)