While your party is out on the road, they see an odd sight: a merchant slowly rolling an enormous, boulder-sized kenku. When the man notices your party, he stops his peculiar pastime, catches his breath for a second, and rushes over to you.
“Do any of you happen to be a doctor? Cleric? Paladin?” he asks eagerly. “My traveling partner back there is very sick,” he comments, gesturing to the gargantuan kenku who is currently lying on his back, kicking his little talon feet in the air, and groaning a low “Gwwaaaah.”
“You know people never eat the most responsibly when they’re out on the road,“ the merchant says, “I expect he snacked on a few things that he wasn’t supposed to and, now, he’s suffering from a horrible bellyache. I was trying to roll him to the nearest city for medical attention, but I don’t think that it’s the best given his fragile digestive state. Please. I implore you. Will you help us?”
Provided the party agrees, the merchant hollers back, “Don’t worry, Jingles! We have some expert doctors (turning and winking at the party) here, and they’re going to fix you up in no time!”
Before racing over, the merchant digs around in his satchel and removes a couple of scrolls of “Disguise Self.” He insists that, for the purposes of keeping his comrade calm, your party members use a couple of these to change their appearances to clerics, surgeons dressed in white, plague doctors, whatever—just something in the medical field.
While your party unfurls their scrolls and activates their transformations, the merchant introduces himself as the scroll-salesman Bradford Milton. Since his cargo is so valuable, he employs the help of his kenku bodyguard, Mr. Jingles, to protect him as he travels between locations on business trips.
Since Mr. Jingles is a kenku, he is unable to talk and can only reproduce sounds that he’s heard before. Therefore, during this surgery, he will occasionally holler things like “fire sale!” and “blue light special on spell scrolls!”
Bradford is confident that the stomachache is from something(s) that Mr. Jingles has eaten and, therefore, suggests that the party uses “Mage Hand” to reach down into the kenku’s gullet to extract the offending objects. If the players do not have Mage Hand already, Bradford will offer them up spell scrolls to use free-of-charge for the purposes of the surgery.
This is when the game begins.
Mr. Jingle’s has swallowed 3 items. In order to be able to extract them properly, the party must first guess what it is that their mage hand is searching for.
Therefore, it becomes a game of “20 Questions” with a kenku. The players can ask a series of yes/no questions to determine what it is that the colossal crow has swallowed. Mr. Jingles will respond with an affirmative “Squawk!” or a negative “Gwaaah…”
Once the party feels they know what it is they’re looking for, they can activate mage hand and send it down Jingles’s throat. At this stage, the player conducting the “surgery” will need to roll a dexterity or sleight-of-hand check (DC=15).
If the player fails the DC, then they will have to roll a constitution saving throw. If that saving throw also fails, then they receive an electrical shock dealing 1d8 lightning damage. After this happens the first time, Bradford will chime in and apologize, having forgotten that, whilst traveling, Jingles wears a special charm as protection to electrically shock those who deal him harm. If the party tries to find/remove this charm, they will realize that it’s impossible; Mr. Jingles rolls around uncooperatively because he is in so much pain and that (coupled with his incredible amount of feather, flesh, and armor) makes the charm impossible to locate.
Here are some suggested objects. Some of them are themed on the original Operation game, but others are just random objects that likely exist in your DnD universe. Pick 3 that best suits you/your party/your environment:
- A ring of skeleton keys
- A metal bucket (“is it water on the knee!?”)
- A small toy rocking horse (“a charlie horse, it’s true!”)
- A broken locket shaped like a heart (“broken heart”)
- A small sculpture of [DnD god of your choosing]
- A fishing net
- A dwarven mug
- An enchanted snow globe
- A potted cactus
- A copy of [some piece of literature that your party would be familiar with]
If you want to prevent your party from trying Mage Hand again and again after multiple failed attempts, you can do a few things:
- Give them advantage: one party member (not the “surgeon”) can try to distract Jingles with whatever kenkus might like: maybe sing to him soothingly, give his belly a gentle rub, etc.
- Have the stubborn object…um…pass. After a couple failed attempts, maybe Jingles burps a bit, eyes widening, and Bradford says something to him like, “Oh no, buddy…has it already moved down out of your stomach?” Then, to the party: “yeah, best leave that object alone at this point…”
After you have helped remove the objects from Mr. Jingles’s stomach, his personality changes immediately. He ca-caws happily and gives you and Bradford a big hearty hug of gratitude.
As far as rewards go for this mini-game, you as the DM can choose a couple of routes (perhaps depending on how well/how many items the party successfully extracted):
- Bradford Milton can give the party a special discount on any of the scrolls he has for sale in his satchel.
- Mr. Jingles could ruffle through his feathers and remove his Plumage of Doomage Pendant, handing it to his surgeon savior. This pendant activates whenever an adversary performs a melee attack on the wearer. The charge of the pedant decreases with prolonged use, however. For the first few days, it will deal 1d8 lightning damage to the target provided that they failed their constitution saving throw. After that, it will deal 1d6. Then, it will settle on 1d4 indefinitely.
- Alternatively, if you decide on some interesting enchanted objects for the contents of Jingles’s stomach, the party could help themselves to any of these things (though it might be good to hose them down a bit first…).