As the party travels, they come across a lovely vineyard, which folks cheering in the distance. Following the cheers, the party sees a giant ogre stomping something vigorously, while people of all races and backgrounds applaud.
A Female Half-Orc moves through the crowd, giving out small snifters of wine for those who have gathered and motions to the party to see if they’d like one as well. If the party takes the wine, they are treated to a wonderful bouquet of flavors, rich with earthy notes and the slightest taste of feet.
Someone with a strong History check, or if a party member has deep history in the area will realize that this is a famous wine, made from a recipe that is hundreds of years old and is, in fact, squashed using bare feet. The wine is called Underbusillini, and the vintage they are tasting comes from 40 years ago.
The crowd cheers again as the ogre, which the party can now see is squashing grapes to squeeze the juices out, starts at it again, this time more enthusiastically as if he is running in place. He is sporting short shorts and a nice shirt, with a nametag that says “The Bus.” If the party talks to members of the crowd, they will find all walks of life, but most folks have come to witness the spectacle of the Underbussillini being made.
With the current grapes nearly completely squashed, the crowd begins to chant, “Bus, Bus, Bus, Bus, Bus, Bus…” to which the Ogre puts his hand up to his ear as if to say “louder peasants!” The crowd abides and gets louder as another Half-orc brings out more grapes and throws them under “the Bus.”
Suddenly, “The Bus” yelps and grabs the back of his leg. The crowd gasps as he begins writhing on the ground in pain. Some in the crowd think it’s part of the act (after all, his large body is still processing the grapes), but the worried demeanor of the staff make it clear something is wrong.
A Half-Orc named Guz pops up and says, “thanks for attending folks, but that will be our show for today! There’s plenty of Underbussilini in the store, so please head in there.” (Guz is in Wild Sheep Chase, in case anyone was curious. We like to think he left the wizard’s tower and started a vineyard)
The crowd disperses as “The Bus” continues to groan.
The Wheels On The Bus
Background: The Bus has been the primary grape stomper for the past ten years and is tired of doing it. The wear and tear are beginning to wreak havoc on his body and he’s worried that if he doesn’t get out of the squashing game soon, he won’t be able to enjoy his life.
He’s always wanted to travel, but is stuck here helping the Half-Orcs. The job pays well, but he doesn’t have to confidence to resign. The Bus (real name Sebastian) has considered a few ways the party could help. He daydreams of leaving the vineyards and tells the party his best ideas:
- Build a squashing machine of some sort, though getting the distinct foot flavor would be difficult
- Trade places and squash the grapes themselves while he makes a clean getaway
- Fake his death, replacing him with several bays of hale strung together with fabric
- Find an apprentice for him that takes on some of the work as he phases himself out
- Work on a new recipe that doesn’t require any squashing at all
- Some other creative plan your party comes up with
Whatever the party decides, The Bus will work with them to make sure it is a success. He is overly agreeable because he just wants out.
A side quest within all of the above can be a request from one of the Half-Orc owners to assist with a recent pest problem in the vineyards. A pack of roaming Almiraj are sneaking into the fields at night and picking off the best grapes. The party is asked to assist with the vermin and secure the fields. This is a fairly straightforward combat, but you could intensify it a bit by bringing in a Giant Almiraj.
Especially if your party has several wine connoisseurs, it could be fun to have the vineyard be a hub that the party can stay at or come back to. Consider making the Half-Orcs business folks that need some work done for them from time to time. Some potential side quests outside of the above:
- Escort mission for barrels being delivered
- Special fertilizer fetch quest from the Manticores that live a few hexes over
- Defending grape-pickers from Swarms of Wasps
- Defeat a rival vineyard and help take over their land
- Anything else you can come up with!