The Shackled City
FLOOD FESTIVAL EVENTS
As winter draws near the citizens of Cauldron begin shoring up their homes and businesses in preparation for the flood season. Since the town is essentially built inside a large bowl, the rainy seasons of winter can be particularly dangerous. The mouth of the dormant volcano catches the falling rain with great efficiency and the gutters and alleyways of Cauldron quickly become filled with turbulent rivers that more often than not overflow into the streets as they drain down the inner surface of the volcano and into the central lake. This rainfall can quickly overcome the lake’s drainage into the Underdark and nearby rivers. As a result, the water level slowly creeps up, flooding the lower buildings and forcing the inhabitants to flee to higher ground. Since the buildings along the lakeshore tend to be poorly constructed and their inhabitants poor, sick and destitute, the damage done by these yearly floods can be devastating.
(Side note: as the city’s sewage flows into the center lake, the surrounding shoreline is often overcome by a pungent odor. The local clerics regularly cleanse the water, but are usually not able to keep up. However, during the flood festival the clerics make cleansing the waters a priority. This in combination with the large amounts of fresh rain water flowing into the lake make the waters fresh, clean and clear. The fact that the central lake is more or less the city sewer is why the nobles and wealthy live as near to the edge of the city walls as possible, while the poor live on the lake’s shore.)
After a particularly wet winter several decades ago, when the central lake’s waters reached Ash Avenue and completely submerged many of the lower buildings, the town’s leaders decided to do something about the recurring problem. Representative of the churches of Sarenrae, Pharasma, and Gorum got together under the urging of the then-high-priestess of the church of Iomedae, pooled their resources, and created several wands of control water to combat the next flood season. That winter, clerics from these four temples patrolled the lower streets of Cauldron and fought back the flood using the wands. The citizens were grateful for the aid, and assisted with sandbagging and shoring of buildings where they could; even with the magic wands, the floodwaters could still do significant damage.
So successful were these measures that, after that flood season ended, the city of cauldron erupted into a massive festival. In the years to follow, this grew into a tradition, the Flood Festival, beginning earlier each year until it started before the first rains fell. Over time, the need for the wands diminished and the festival grew more gaudy and extravagant. Over the past decade, the winters have been mild, and it is doubtful that the lake would have flooded even if its waters weren’t held back by magic.
To Flood Festival is a loose collection of massive parties in the streets and taverns of Cauldron, something akin to Mari Gras in New Orleans. Along with the revelry are parades, street performers as well as various games and contests. Below are some of the more popular contests and their rules.
Drink Down the Flood
This contest symbolizes Cauldron’s more prodigious drinkers pitching in to lessen the flood damage by drinking away the excess liquids in town – it just so happens that the contest focuses on the consumption of the alcoholic liquids. Any contestant can register on the first day of the Flood Festival at any of the local taverns by entering their name on the grand roster of contestants (kept posted on a board in front of the Tipped Tankard Tavern) and paying the entry fee of 1 gp. There are only 64 slots open for the contestants, so large groups often hold mini-competitions of their own earlier in the year to select “champions”.
Rules: Contestants take part in one drinking bout per day for the next six days. The character makes a series of Constitution checks while his opponent does the same, one after the other. The first check is DC 5; each additional check increases the DC by 1. Once a contestant fails the check they pass out, fall down, vomit on themselves, or some other such embarrassing misfortune occurs, and the other contestant wins the bout. If both contestants fail their check, the bout is declared a draw and both contestants are out of the running.
The winner of the contest receives a trophy (a gold drinking mug) and on the seventh and final day of the festival, the winner is invited to one last bout – a drinking contest with Lord Vhalantru himself. Lord Vhalantru’s capacity for holding his liquor is legendary in Cauldron, and there’s a standing reward of 500 gp to anyone who manage to out-drink him. To date, no one has collected. This final bout is always held at a tavern of the contest winner’s choice, and traditionally gathers a large crowd.
Crater Lake Monster Hunt
Bluecrater Academy holds this annual event. At sunrise, students from the university set hundreds and hundreds of tiny boats afloat on the surface of Crater Lake. During the morning hours, anyone who wants a shot at catching the monster pays a 1 gp entry fee for a wooden chit. Hundreds of contestants join the hunt each year.
By noon, the surface of the lake is clogged with boats. Each of these boats is identical, but one of them has a contingent illusion placed upon it – once it is grabbed and the wooden chit is fitted to its deck, a major image of a vast tentacled monster springs up from around the boat to flail about dramatically before crashing back into the surrounding lake. The person who fitted the chit into the boat is then immediately affected by a faerie fire spell and wins the hunt.
Each contestant makes a DC 10 swim check each round, success indicates the contestant can swim to a boat and fit their chit to the boat. Roll 1d20, if you roll a 19 – 20, roll again as if you are confirming a critical hit. On another roll of 19-20 you have found the correct boat and win. If you fail the swim check by more 5 or more, you begin to drown, but fret not, there are a number of experienced life guards swimming in the lake to assist contestants if needed.
10 race increments, skill or ability check for each one. The contestant with the highest total score is the winner. Each contestant makes checks normally for a number of increments equal to his Con -5 and after that takes a cumulative -1 to each check each increment. Possession of the Endurance feat increases the number of increments with normal checks by 4. Possession of the Run feat gives a +2 to each dash check. Contestants get a +2 or -2 to any movement checks for each 10’ of movement they get above or below 30’. Each 20 points separating contestants represents an increment’s distance between them.
Increment 1: Dash (Strength check). Add Initiative bonus as well.
Increment 2: 20’ Rope climb. There are 5 knotted ropes available to climb, so the 5 best performers in increment 1 make a normal check, and each group of 5 after them gets a cumulative -2 to their check. But this climb check is made to gauge speed, not to beat a DC.
Increment 3: Running jump across a 15’ gap (Acrobatics DC 15). Failure means the contestant falls into a waist-high pit of grease. He takes a -10 on the increment, and all future Strength, acrobatics, and Climb checks suffer -4 due to the slipperiness of the grease, until it gets washed off in the swimming increments.
Increment 4: Jump down from 10’ ledge (Acrobatics DC 15). Failure causes 1d6 damage, prone and -10 increment.
Increment 5: Dash balancing across icy ground (Acrobatics DC 15; the ground was magically frozen by the priests of Gorrum). Failure indicates a fall, and the contestant subtracts 10 from their score.
Increments 6-7: Swim across a long pool. 2 Swim checks.
Increment 8: Climb a rough 10’ rock wall and drop down the other side (DC 15). Each failure subtracts 10 from the contestant’s final score, and he cannot advance until he beats the DC. His successful check gets added to his final score
Increment 9: Jump low hurdles (DC 10). Failure causes 1d3 non-lethal damage. Failure by more than 5 means the contestant subtracts 10 points for the increment.
Increment 10: Dash (Strength check).
Tug of War
Rules: 4 people to a side. The rope is suspended over a 4’ ditch full of mud. Each team starts out 10 feet from the pit. For each round of the contest, the teams will make opposed Strength checks, but by a variant system. Each team adds all their Strength scores together, subtracts 40, and then divides by 2. Then for each round, each team rolls the resulting number of d6. Any 5 or 6 counts as a success. If the result is a tie, the teams don’t move. If one team scores more successes, the other team is pulled 1 foot toward the pit for each point in the margin of success. Once one team has pulled the other team 11 feet, the first member of the losing team falls in, and the team’s total Strength score gets recalculated. Another team member falls in for every additional 3 feet of movement. The game is over when either all team members have fallen into the pit, or the remaining team members let go of the rope.
This event celebrates the daring feat of Surabar’s halfling friend Findas Fullbelly, who was launched from a catapult into the window of Surabar’s tower to deliver a desperately needed scroll. The halflings are thrown at a target floating in the lake. The target is AC 10, and floats 20’ out to start (4 range increments, -12 to hit for anyone without Far Shot, for whom it is -4). If multiple contestants make it, the target gets moved back 5’, and this repeats until only one contestant remains.
Obsidian Avenue Race
Contestants race the length of Obsidian Avenue, beginning and ending at the Temple of Gorrum. The street is lined with cheering crowds braving the weather. The race consists of 20 increments; for each increment, the contestants make a Strength check, adding +2 for every speed increment over 30’ and +2 for the Run feat. Eventually the runners tire; they are fine for a number of increments equal to their Con score (doubled if they have the Endurance feat), but after that they must beat a Fortitude check for each increment with the DC equal to the number of increments run so far. Failing the check means the contestant has to stop for a rest for a moment and scores no points for that increment; their Con status then resets.
We will assume that a preliminary round has eliminated all but an elite group of bowmen. The contestants fire from under a tarpaulin, but the targets are exposed to the weather. (If you want to be fancy, you can have wizards from Bluecrater Academy on hand to set up transparent walls of force around the targets so the crowd can watch from up close.) For the championship round, each contestant will fire 5 arrows at a a target 100’ away. If there’s a tie, the targets are moved back 100’ and the remaining contestants fire another 5 arrows. Repeat until a winner is declared.
For each target, score as:
AC 10: Outer ring, 1 point
AC 15: Middle ring, 3 points
AC 20: Inner ring, 5 points
AC 25: Bullseye, 10 points
Critical hit: Bullseye, split arrow, and impress crowd
Barg’s Name-the-Meat Contest
Barg’s Meat on a Stick is tucked away behind one of Maavu’s warehouses on Magma Avenue and for this event he sets out a big long table on the street with a walled-off cooking area behind it from which several mouth-watering smells of grilling meat waft. He will accept as many as 6 competitors for the contest, which will have 4 rounds. During each round, he will give each contestant a sample of a different meat, and ask them to identify its source. Right answers score 5 points. If there is a tie at the end of 4 rounds, Barg will give the last contestants an extra challenge; if all pass it, he calls it a tie and rewards them all. Giving a right answer requires passing a Wisdom check, to which can be added ranks in Knowledge (nature) or Profession (cook).