While your player characters are out exploring the countryside, have them stumble upon a village. Walking into the village, they will notice things are clearly not okay: houses are structured and zoned in bizarre ways, there are roads/bridges running at odd, inconvenient angles, etc. Even the townsfolk appear to be following some bizarre dress code that forces them to all dress in a specific color.
If you ask one of the townspeople about all the strangeness, she will explain that their mayor has suffered from dreadful insomnia for the past year. As a result, his head has been incredibly foggy, and in his perpetually groggy state, he has signed off on and implemented some awful programs, policies, and projects.
Fortunately, his term as mayor is just about up, and it’s unlikely that he will be re-elected given the mess he has made of the village. The townsperson will confess that she’s relieved but also a little sad; the mayor, prior to his out-of-control sleep deprivation, used to be a beloved and respected leader, winning re-election after re-election for the better part of a decade.
The Doctor is In
Just then, a cart pulled by two large black horses will come rolling up the paved road. The side of the cart is covered in draped fabrics of deep purples, blues, and blacks, studded with small silver stars and moons. The side of the cart, written in large silver letters, reads: “Dr. Drow Z. ’s Patented 5-Step Solution for Soul-Restoring Slumber.”
The cart will come to a halt, and from within the curtained area, a drow woman will appear, looking stern and official.
She will introduce herself as the renown sleep doctor Zzzephira, who has made it her life’s work to share her skills from the deepest depths of the Underdark with the sleepless sufferers of the world above. Although she is a drow, her professionalism as a medical doctor is clear, and there isn’t a hint of malevolence in her nature. That being said, she is not very warm either; she is a serious scientist who clearly wants to set to work.
She will see your party and ask to be escorted to the mayor’s residence, lamenting that she is having the hardest time navigating the confusing and senseless road layout of the village.
If your party agrees to help her, you can wind your way together to the mayor’s abode, which is connected to the main Town Hall in the center of the village.
Once there, the mayor will appear in the doorway of the Town Hall building. He is dressed optimistically in his pajamas with a tie loosely slung around his neck to look a bit more businesslike. He should have dark bags under his eyes and shuffle his feet when he walks. The doctor will introduce herself to him and inform him that she has all the necessary equipment and can start the procedure that very evening. The mayor will be overjoyed to hear this news, expressing how much he has felt like such a disappointment to his electorate. He will tell the doctor that he has a bed already set up in the courtyard around back since, apparently, the procedure requires ample space.
She will tell him “good, good” and then ask if her medical assistants have arrived yet. The mayor will look confused and say no. Zzzephira, frustrated with this news, will complain that they are likely running late from another job, and that she won’t be able to begin the procedure on her own without some extra helping hands.
At this point, she will turn to your party and ask you for this second favor. If your party agrees to help her with the sleep procedure, she will instruct you all to go and get some rest now and meet her back here at the Town Hall building around 9 PM.
Leave the Rest to Us
When your party arrives at the Town Hall, they will be directed to the courtyard around back. The mayor will be sitting at the edge of his bed which is sitting out in the middle of the lawn. He is sipping a mug of hot tea that has been specially prepared by the doctor. After he finishes chugging the draught, he will hand over the empty cup to Zzzephira and lie down in bed.
Zzzephira will approach you all with a nod of approval and a serious countenance. She will walk you through the 5-step sleep solution and ask for volunteers to assist with the various tasks:
- The first step is administering a special “sleepy time” tea made of carefully selected herbal ingredients, steeped for the perfect amount of time, and heated to the ideal temperature for fast absorption by the body. Zzzephira has already completed this task upon your arrival.
- The second step is “counting sheep.” She will direct you to a herd of some 10 sheep. These sheep share the same level of seriousness as Zzzephira and are clearly well-trained. Two player characters will be needed for this task: one standing on one side of the courtyard and one standing on the opposite side (the mayor’s bed stationed between them). The first player character will then hurl the sheep up through the air and overtop the mayor to be counted as it arcs over him; the second player character will need to catch the sheep gracefully and set it down. Have your players roll strength or dexterity checks to determine the success of this acrobatic display. Thankfully, the sheep are professionals. They will not cry out unless something goes horribly wrong or they’re accidentally thrown too far, up and over the fence, or fall too short and land on the desperately dozing mayor. When a sheep is set down properly after a successful arc and catch, it will stealthily scamper around the yard and return to the throwing player character to start the cycle anew.
- The third step is producing “nature sounds.” Zzzephira will provide the character with a funnel-like device that they will need to put up to their lips and make the sound of peaceful whispering winds, softly crashing ocean waves, or soothing birdsong. You can have this as a performance check or, perhaps more comically, rate your player’s actual ability to produce nature-noises, with only their mouth, on the spot. Of course, they can help their chances through cantrips like “Gust” or “Shape Water” (providing they have some water to manipulate, such as the fountain in the sample map above).
- The fourth step is aromatherapy. The player who completes this task will need to light little containers of incense to burn at various places around the mayor’s bed. Have them roll a nature check and, if the roll is poor, have them unsafely light the lantern, causing it to tip or send embers flying. The flames can then spread and start a fire in the city garden, demanding fast (yet quiet) action from your party to quell the flames and restore order.
- The fifth step will, once again, be completed by the good doctor herself and involve various massage techniques as well as enchanting hums and lullabies to lull the patient to sleep.
Provided that this procedure goes well, you as the DM can determine if the mayor never falls asleep at all (failed result), falls into a fitful sleep (okay result), or falls into a deep sleep, complete with a serene smile across his face (best result).
Note: If the checks are going too smoothly, feel free to add other conflicts that the party might need to take care of: an annoying rooster that thinks it’s morning, rowdy kids just outside the courtyard wall, the mayor starting to roll off the side of his bed, etc.
Zzzephira will gesture you to follow her stealthily back inside the Town Hall building and away from the sleeping patient. She will thank you for your help, insisting that she would gladly hire all of you (or “most” of you if, say, one party member really whiffed on their rolls earlier) as her sleep assistants if the whole “adventuring” thing doesn’t work out for the party.
She will also inform you that this procedure will need to be done nightly for about a week to truly build a pattern of good sleeping. Thankfully, while the party was off taking their naps earlier, she had received word that her assistants would be arriving into town early in the afternoon.
As a reward, she will grant you a sleep-related artifact: a small token with a sheep carved into it. The sheep will be numbered with a “5.” The holder of the token can trigger any one of the following effects as many times as they please. However, once an effect is used, the number on the sheep token will drop by 1. Once the token drops to 0, the token will crumble apart and emit a tragic cry of “baaaa!” that slowly fades to silence.
Here are the chosen effects:
- “Dream Catcher”-If the holder is having a nightmare or some psychic episode/illusion, the token can dispel it.
- “Wakey Wakey”- If the holder is put involuntarily to sleep by a spell, the token can instantly wake them up.
- “Dreamwalk with Me” – If the holder is experiencing an unusual or vivid dream, the token can summon the consciousness of another player character to that dream (provided that said player character is also asleep or unconscious).
- “Sheepkin” – If the holder meets a sheep, goat, ram, etc., the token can trigger a “talk to animals” spell for the token holder.