A teenaged goatherd uses illusory magic to disguise his flock as chimera. Unfortunately, the goats all looked at one another, terrified of their newly sprouted wings/dragon heads/lion heads, and ran for the hills. Now, the goatherd needs help tracking them down…including a few that have already been adopted by an actual chimera.
The encounter can be triggered when the party is traveling between destinations in the countryside:
- The goatherd is hollering for his lost sheep, saying things like “Here, boy! Here goaty goaty goaty!” The players can ask him what’s wrong and learn about his plight.
- The party is approached by what looks like a tiny chimera. However, the dragon wings aren’t flapping, and the the dragon/lion heads look pretty static; investigating the creature reveals that everything except for the base goat is illusory magic. Then, they can notice the goat’s collar (with an address) or simply walk with the creature until they stumble upon the distressed goatherd.
- Johannes Goatenberg – A young goatherd halfling who is struggling to keep his flock safe while his master is away on business. He is generally lazy and tries to find ways to cut corners and not do his job.
A Minor’s Illusion
Once the party has made contact with Johannes Goatenberg (using one of the two “hooks” noted above), he will begin venting to the party.
“Ugh, this is so annoying,” the teenaged goatherd groans, leaning wearily on his crook, “I was just trying to work smarter, not harder. How was I supposed to know that my buddy’s illusions would backfire!?”
Johannes explained the following:
- He was getting super bored watching/protecting the goats in the field (summer job…his parents’ idea), so he wanted to find a way to cut corners and cheat the system.
- Johannes asked his tinkerer friend to create collars that cast “Minor Illusion”, making the wearers look like chimeras.
- By changing the goats’ appearances and adding two extra heads (one dragon and one lion), Johannes was hoping that they would be able to keep predators away on their own, allowing him to nap and not worry about keeping the animals safe.
- The plan had the opposite effect: the goats looked at one another, freaked out at the sight of monstrous “chimeras”, and went sprinting in opposite directions into the surrounding wilderness.
“Please,” Johannes begs, “This is my third job already this summer, and my parents are going to kill me if I lose it…can you guys be real G.O.A.T.s and help me out?”
If the party agrees, the fetch quest can begin.
Get Their Goats
For the first 3-4 missing goats, the players can roll survival/investigation checks to track them down in the surrounding forests. Consider adding fun skill challenges, like a goat that’s precariously perched on a rock in the middle of a rushing stream (and needs to get rescued without panicking it) or a goat that has stumbled down into a canyon.
One of the goats is being worshipped by a small band of kobolds, who see the creature as an authentic chimera and are trying to speak to it in draconic with no luck; meanwhile, the goat is looking incredibly confused.
After these goats are found and returned to Johannes, the final 3 can be tracked to the mouth of a cave.
Once inside the cave, the players spot the 3 animals, awkwardly huddled together, shaking in their hooves. There is a growl from the side of the cavern as a real chimera appears, dragging the bloodied carcass of some deer and dropping it in front of the terrified goats.
The goats exchange uncomfortable looks as the chimera pushes the carcass toward them, encouraging them to feed; apparently, the chimera has fallen for the goats’ illusions and has adopted them as its offspring.
To make matters worse, the collars are looking frayed and worn: the illusion spells are already beginning to fade, and it won’t be long before the winged bodies, dragon heads, and lion heads disappear completely, revealing nothing but defenseless goats.
At this point, the party must take action to rescue the livestock. They can choose to engage the real chimera in battle, slaying the beast who is very protective of its adopted “young”, or find a way to stealthily pull attention and quietly escort the goats out (this will require some high animal handling rolls, or else the goats are likely to startle and bleat, causing more of a scene).
If you manage to return all of the lost goats safely to Johannes, the teenager will be so relieved.
“Dudes, you have no idea,” he says, “I would have been fired so fast if you all hadn’t come along. Like seriously. Then, my parents would have grounded me, and I would have been really bored. You’re all lifesavers.”
As a reward, he will give the players the “Chimera Collars”, instructing them to take the objects far, far away so no one ever figures out the mess he caused. When worn, these collars will have the same effect on the players as they did on the goats: adding illusory dragon wings, a lion head, and a dragon head. It’s not exactly clear when such a bizarre item might come in handy, but it could be used to help frighten/intimidate a target (granting advantage on those ability checks) or blend in with other draconic beings (although it would probably only convince those of the very lowest intelligence).