“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” –Opening lines of Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat.
As the party strolls down the city street through a light, but relentless, drizzle, they stumble across a sobbing child, curled up in a ball, trying to stay dry under an awning. An investigation check will reveal that, although the child is soaked through from the rain, he is dressed in nice clothes and likely not homeless. The kid has a runny nose that’s dripping down his chin which he wipes continuously with his sleeves; his eyes are red from crying.
The party can attempt to calm the child down and cheer him up some (fun little illusions, showing him toys/plushies, crouching down to his level, etc.). If he trusts them and opens up, the party can obtain directions toward his home. Alternatively, if there is a city guard/watchman nearby, the party can pawn off the lost child on them. Either way, if the party does accompany the child back to his home, the mom flings open the front door as they approach, screams “thank the gods, you’re safe!”, and pulls her son into a warm embrace.
The boy calms down completely at this point and tells his mother, “I just wanted to play hide-and-seek with the kitty, but he never came to find me. I’m so cold, mom.”
Hearing this, the mother nods knowingly and solemnly says to herself, “I knew it wouldn’t be long before that tabaxi came for my own child.”
If your party presses her, she will explain how, over the past few months, a strange tabaxi harlequin of sorts has been visiting children during rainy days when their parents are away or otherwise occupied. Under the guise of fun games and silly entertainments, the tabaxi distracts the children while he plunders family homes, stealing heirlooms, and causing frustrating amounts of property damage.
“See for yourself,” she says, as she gestures to your party to peek inside her home.
The place is in total disarray: papers strewn everywhere, broken dishes on the floor, cabinets left open, furniture broken into splintered pieces, painted multicolored tabaxi paw prints all over the walls.
At this point, your party hears a scream in the distance. The mother gasps and says, “Oh no…that sounds like it came from the Horton place!” and points to a blue-roofed house down the street.
Your party can bolt into action and respond to this new cry for help.
Game #1: The Floor is Lava
Arriving at the Horton home, the party notices that the front door is wide open with a man standing aghast in the doorframe, staring inside.
He won’t pull his eyes away as you approach, but simply mutter under his breath, “please save my son.”
Once inside the doorframe of the house, the party sees a small 5-year old boy dangling from a sconce on the far wall, clinging for dear life. The floor of the living space, however, appears to be completely submerged under rolling waves of lava. Investigating the “lava” reveals that it is simply an elaborate illusion. However, if your party touches the lava, the effect is so convincing that it will deal 1d4 psychic damage.
Your party needs to rescue the child before the sconce breaks free from the wall and he plummets into the “lava.” A player might decide to leap from one piece of floating furniture to the next, requiring a DC 15 acrobatics check. If the player is large or wearing heavy plate armor, they will also need to roll a dexterity saving throw, as a piece of furniture may break apart beneath the force of their jump.
Once the child is rescued and returned to his father, the illusion will lift and the lava will vanish, revealing the floor beneath it. Scratched into the wooden planks by either sharp claws or a small blade, is a message:
“I lava’d our game, but now I must run. It’s time for the Lous to have some good fun!”
The father gasps right away after reading this, explaining how the Lou family is out of town for the next few days; they left their little girl, Cindy, at home to be watched by their grandmother.
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Game #2: Tic-Tac-Toe
Arriving at the Lou’s, the party finds the door wide open and nothing but darkness inside.
Entering the home, they find nothing except for the grandmother lying in a chair; an investigation check will reveal that she is, in fact, just asleep and oblivious to what’s going on.
Suddenly, a metallic clatter is heard coming up through the floorboards beneath them. Looking around, the party sees a door leading into a basement.
The door is stuck and requires a bit of force to open. Once it is forcefully pulled open, a little girl comes falling into the party. She is ghastly pale and frightened. In her right hand, she is holding a piece of chalk tightly and, with it, she points unsteadily down into the darkness of the basement.
If the players choose to stealthily sneak down into the basement, they can avoid an attack of opportunity. If they cause too much noise, then, from the darkness, a jar of pickled vegetables will come flying at them, dealing 1d4 bludgeoning damage (or shattering loudly and scattering glass on the stairs).
Once the party reaches the landing, they will notice (provided they have darkvision or other means of light) a pretty standard looking basement, with various crates, chests, and draped furniture pieces pushed up against the walls. What is unusual, however, is what’s drawn in the center of the room: on the floor, etched in chalk, is an almost-complete game of Tic-Tac-Toe that’s written inside a large demonic summoning circle. Upon seeing this, there will be a tremendous amount of sniggering (provided combat wasn’t triggered earlier with the pickling jar projectile) and 3-4 imps will appear from behind various pieces of furniture.
Note: if your party took the chalk from the little girl at the top of the stairs, then they can investigate the tic-tac-toe board/summoning circle and notice how the game can be won with another well-placed “X”. Doing so will immediately cause the imps to burn away in bright purple flame and end the encounter. Otherwise, the party needs to defeat the imps the old-fashioned way.
After the battle is won, the players return upstairs and find both the Hortons (father and son) and Lous (grandma and daughter) waiting nervously for them. Cindy’s color has come back to her cheeks, and she apologizes, saying that she “just wanted to play tic-tac-toe and make doodles like the kitty instructed.” Finally, the girl says that she’s worried about her friend, Samantha Iam, whom the cat said he was planning to visit next. The adults exchange worried looks and point the party in the direction of the Iam family manor.
Game #3: Red Light, Green Light
Samantha’s house is quite large by comparison to the other two with a lovely garden and fun-shaped topiaries out front. As they approach the complex, the party notices a number of soldiers, maids, and other servants petrified in mid-run poses.
As they approach the manor house by walking through a paved garden area, the party sees the infamous tabaxi (dressed in his favorite slacks-y) spring out from some shrubs 40-50 feet in front of them. Beside him, he drags a petrified statue of Samantha and positions it like a piece of lawn art.
He notices your party immediately, regardless of how stealthily your party approaches, and smiles in anticipation of what’s to come.
Playing the Tabaxi: Provided that it doesn’t irritate your party too much (or you, for that matter), it would be great if the tabaxi always speaks in a playful, rhymey way. At this point, he says something like:
“This house was too big. I’m still not done thieving. You’ve got here too soon, and stopped me from leaving. So now we will play, rather than fight. One of my favorites called Red Light, Green Light.”
At this point, the tabaxi will launch an illuminated red orb into the air. Whenever the orb is red, the party will need to attack the tabaxi with ranged attacks. Doing movement of any kind while the orb is red will result in a beam firing from said orb, petrifying the target character (consider giving them a high DC Dexterity saving throw to dodge, but it would be nice if the rules of the game were honored). At the start of each of the tabaxi’s turns, the glowing orb above his head will change (red to green, or green to red). Movement is only permitted when the orb is green.
If the tabaxi ever gets surrounded, have him misty step to the other side of the map, thereby allowing for more red light/green light playing. As a whole, the tabaxi’s build can be your choice, but a bard seems the most appropriate for such a magical, mischievous creature.
Defeating the tabaxi will cause him to instantly burn away into purple flames (just like the imps from earlier). At this point, the rainy weather lets up, and all petrified characters will return to normal.
As a reward, a red box will appear where the tabaxi was last left standing. This box is called The Red Box of Fun.
- It can be opened once a day as an action
- When opened, two blue-haired imps will spring forth called “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” (see stat block above for imps)
- They will listen to the instructions of whoever opens the box and try to complete the request regardless of personal ethics, danger to self-preservation, etc.
- The catch: The instructions must be said in rhyme or else the imps will not understand the request