While your party walks through a wooded area, they notice a footpath winding ahead of them. Following the path leads the party to a clearing with a pond or, at least, what they assumes is a pond. Although they can hear the lapping water, a thick magical fog hangs over everything, shrouding its surface. Wooden benches are placed at various intervals around the pond, indicating that they have stumbled into a public park of sorts.
The party then hears a cranking noise coming from someplace near the shoreline. Approaching this sound will reveal an elderly woman, just visible in the fog, holding a giant wrench and tightening a few bolts on a mini-cannon attached to a paddleboat.
She’s grumbling to herself, saying things like “enough is enough” and “those poor ducks.” She jumps a bit as the party approaches, wipes the condensation off her spectacles, and eyes your party up and down. “Oh my, you sure know how to startle an old woman. Have you young whippersnappers come to help reclaim the pond?” If your party confesses ignorance and asks for more information, she will happily share.
Get Your Ducks in a Row
The woman introduces herself as Gertrude Webber. She, along with many other elders from the nearby towns, have frequently visited this pond to feed the ducks. In fact, aside from Bridge night with the gals on Thursday, feeding the ducks has always been Gertrude’s favorite weekly pastime.
Unfortunately, in the interim between two of her visits, a group of goblins “captured” the pond and have commandeered the public-use swan boats. These hooligans have been causing trouble, scaring away all the ducks and making the elderly feel unsafe.
“Fortunately for us,” she says, slapping the mini-cannon mounted to her boat, “I’ve got the firepower to take down these pond pirates.”
She then opens a burlap sack. Inside are dozens of round loaves of bread. “This is all the bread that’s gone to waste because we haven’t been able to feed the ducks,” she laments, “luckily, it’s all gone stale now and will serve as effective cannonballs.”
She tosses one of the loaves to a party member who can feel how, despite looking tasty and golden, the loaf is disturbingly heavy and surprisingly solid.
Gertrude asks if your more able-bodied party members can help her by climbing up nearby trees (or at least positioning themselves on the side of a nearby hill) and shouting commands as to where she should fire. If the party agrees to help, the minigame can begin.
Note: Don’t let the party fire projectile spells themselves into the fog (unless you want to redesign the game to give them more freedom). If you want to make sure they play the game as originally intended, have Gertrude claim that some ducks are still stuck on the surface of the pond, no doubt confused by all the fog and held captive by the goblins (she can still hear their pitiful quacks). Ducks are, fortunately, immune to bread-based attacks, so firing her bread rolls is the safest way to defeat the goblins without injuring any waterfowl.
Bready, Set, Go!
This game works like the classic tabletop game Battleship. The party views the foggy pond as a 7×7 grid (you can use the above battle map and add the letters/numbers).
Gertrude says that there are 3 swan boats currently commandeered by goblins.
- One swan boat is 2 squares long, with 1 goblin aboard
- One swan boat is 3 squares long, with 2 goblins aboard
- One swan boat is 4 squares long, with 3 goblins aboard
As the DM, set where you want these swan boats to be in advance, placed either vertically or horizontally within the 7×7 grid.
When it’s the players’ turn, they can complete one of the following actions as a group:
- Command Gertrude to fire a lobbed bread cannonball at a specific square on the 7×7 grid (e.g. “Fire at A7!”). If it’s a “miss”, say that they hear the plop of water and the laughter of goblins. If it’s a “hit”, say they hear the sound of splintering wood and the cries of goblins. When a ship gets destroyed, you can tell the party that they “hear the gurgling sound of a boat sinking into the watery depths”).
- Have one party member complete a perception check with DC 15. If they succeed, they may choose either a column (e.g. “D”) OR a row (e.g. “6”) and try to detect if there is any presence of an enemy vessel somewhere in that column/row. The DM will respond with either “yes, you see the vague silhouette of a swan for a moment” or “the waters there seem still.” Do not give any more specific info than that.
When it’s the goblins’ turn, they will attack the party. You, as the DM, can decide what’s the best move(s) from the following options. The number of attacks directly correlates with the number of boats (e.g. 2 swan boats left means 2 attacks are launched). Also, before the attack begins, have the fog expand so that party members can’t fully make out where exactly the enemy shots are firing from).
- Launch a magic missile attack (1d4+1 force damage)
- Launch arrows from a light crossbow (1d6 piercing)
- Launch a small metal ball from a handcannon (1d8 piercing)
The battle will continue like this, alternating turns between Team Gertrude/Party and Team Goblin.
Once all the stolen swan boats are destroyed, the fog will clear. The party will see goblins wash up on shore, shake themselves dry, and scurry off into the forest in retreat. Ducks begin to descend from the sky and happily return home in a chorus of quackery.
Gertrude Webber is so pleased with your help that she will give you a special enchanted object. Now that she’s older, she feels like she has no use for such an accessory since she prefers to just stay on the shore.
Reaching into her satchel, Gertrude hands the party a belt called the Girdle of Gander.
Donning this item will grant the following effects to the wearer:
- An awkward “water walk” ability. Instead of walking on the surface of the water, however, the wearer sinks so that their legs are beneath the water’s surface (their body from the hips up afloat). When they exit the water, they will find that their legs are still somehow totally dry.
- The ability to wave one’s hand (as though pantomiming tossing breadcrumbs) and trigger a flock of 1d20 hungry ducks/geese to descend in a 20’ radius around the wearer. These waterfowl behave like regular waterfowl, begging you and others for food while also being incredibly noisy. They might charge at those who annoy them, but they won’t do any damage; they’re mainly used as a disorienting maneuver by the player. These birds can only be summoned if the wearer is outside and if ducks/geese could plausibly be found in the environment.