As the party nears a town wall, they hear a low rumble of thunder. The sky itself is bright blue, not a cloud in the sky. Peaking around the wall, they see a gnome barbarian sitting against the stone, a cloud hanging over him with the tiniest of storms dropping rain onto his blue hat and scraggly white beard. Townsfolk give him a wide berth as mud forms around where he sits. He appears to be a combo of frustrated, sad, and angry.
If the party approaches him, he will grunt and attempt to swat them away, causing a tiny zap of lightning to emerge from the clouds, hitting him on the edge of his mustache. The gnome grunts again, and yells “The gods be damned!”
Pressing further, or given freely, the gnome introduces himself as Gus T. Torrents. He forlornly explains that a few weeks ago this cursed cloud formed over his head while he was working on his latest symphony.
“Despite my gruff exterior, I am the town’s top composer. This cloud seems to be deadset on ruining my life.”
Another thunder crack causes the rain to fall harder, blurring his face almost completely. He spits water out of his mouth as he continues to explain.
“I can’t compose, because no paper will stay dry in this crow-begotten rain. Why does this always happen to me?!”
Gus explains further about his misfortunes:
- The last symphony he composed burned up when a traveling band of magicians began practicing in the meadow where he typically writes
- His dog ran away from home after a party of adventurers accidentally smashed in his front door, confusing him for an evil dwarf that had stolen a chalice or some such thing
- He can’t tie his shoes anymore because his fingers are so pruny
“I was miserable before, but now I’m the most miserable I’ve ever been. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to try and cheer me up would you?”
I’m Blue Da-boo-dee
From Gus’ request, the party may decide they can try to cheer him up and make the cloud disperse. He notes a few of his favorite things:
- Watching people trip over a rock outside of his home
- Going to parties hosted by the local celebrities
- Making paper machete molds of his dog Broccoli
If the party opts to help with these things, they will also need to make some considerations of how to keep things dry.
Going to parties: Surprise! One is happening later that day with Gordon Darkfoot, a halfling bard known for his poetry. If they head to the party, Gordon will become extremely distraught from Gus’ cloud getting water all over his hardwood floors and yell at Gus and the party to get out before they sink the place. If Gus gets too close to book cases, he’s likely to drench the tomes of poetry Gordon keeps in the house, enraging him and making Gus even more sad.
Paper machete: The party would first have to find the dog through Investigation checks inside Gus’ home, as well as Nature or Survival checks just outside of town to spot his tracks. Gus’ dog is sniffing around an old sugar mine where some dwarves are harvesting sugar from the ground. If Gus arrives at the site, the sugar will begin to melt and the dwarves will become violent with Gus and the party.
If you do recover his dog, Gus will be elated and tell Broccoli to “stay.” He will then work on wrapping Broccoli in some paper machete material, but can’t get it to stick due to the insane amount of water that continues to drench Gus and Broccoli. This deeply saddens Gus, who will cry more.
Gardening: The garden area is sizable, but all the plants look heavily overwatered. They also notice an area of dirt that doesn’t seem to have any relation to the garden and appears to have been dug up recently. If the party attempts to help Gus with gardening, they will have to keep him away from his vegetables, or else the water will completely inundate the beds and drown the plants. Gus will be adamant that he wants to assist, and gets super sad if the party doesn’t allow him to get close or he gets to close and floods the garden.
That one rock: This is the only thing that Gus’ rain cloud won’t screw up, as long as he doesn’t get near the rock. If he stays hidden inside or behind the short wall of his property, he will cackle every time someone stumbles over the rock, neutralizing his mood. That is until a pair of half-orcs trips over the stone and can very clearly see the tiny lightning bolts from the cloud. The half-orcs will attempt to beat Gus up, which makes him sad, lowering his mood again.
At this point the party will likely be frustrated with Gus and want to leave him as nothing seems to be helping. If they opt to leave, they will need a Persuasion or Intimidation check of 18+ to prevent Gus from tagging along.
If Gus ends up tagging along, he will always follow the party, hoping anything they do will rid him of the cloud, but constantly saying Debbie Downer-ish things as the party goes about their business. Due to the wetness of his boots, Gus will also squish along with the party, forcing them to roll with disadvantage on all Stealth checks.
Outside of the high Intimidation or Persuasion checks, once they leave the city there is no other way to get rid of Gus unless he dies.
If still in the city, there is one last option.
If the party decides to take a closer look at the cloud with an Insight check or Arcana check of 18 or higher, they can determine the true cause of the cloud. They may also get bits of this from Gus himself as they are going through the events above, depending on the generosity of the DM.
One evening, Gus was working on his symphony “Chillin’ With My Gnomies.” As he played his hurdy-gurdy to work through the harmonies, he heard a deep voice groan, a strong wind blow his door open, and a deep voice hummed (“to the music!” swears Gus). The next thing he knew, the cloud was above his head drenching him and his sheets of music.
Gus notes the subtitle of his symphony was “can you dig it,” which will either trigger a thought for him or for the party, depending on whether they’ve explored the garden area much.
He will note that he hadn’t thought of it until that moment, but he didn’t recognize that big pile of dirt in his garden until that day because he’d been so focused on his music. In fact, it was the same day that the cloud began to form over his head when it first appeared.
Digging through the dirt will reveal that at some point in time, someone in the town placed the bones of a Storm Giant in Gus’ garden (how he didn’t realize is a huge mystery). If the party properly buries, cremates, or respectfully disposes of the bones, the cloud above Gus’ head will dissipate, and poof out of existence with one final crack of thunder and lightning. Turns out, the ghost of the Storm Giant had taken form above Gus’ head, hoping he could get someone to take notice and find his remains.
Gus will be elated and begin to cry, overwhelmed with joy and appreciation for the party assisting him.
As payment, he offers them a first look at the symphony he’s been putting together, but asks the party to sing along as they hear parts they enjoy. Regardless of the performance, Gus will extend tickets to the entire party for its first showing, scheduled for [whenever is convenient or impossible].
He will also pass off his hurdy-gurdy, which is extremely damp, and a soggy bag of coins containing some rusty ball bearings and 50 gp.