As the party walks toward [small coastal town], they suddenly find it difficult to maintain their balance. The wind has unexpectedly picked up, causing lighter characters to perform dexterity saving throws just to keep from being blown backwards. Not only that, but the wind is unpredictable and difficult to navigate, constantly altering its course and intensity.
If the party can make it up the coastal cliffside against the relentless gusting of wind, they quickly discover the cause: everyone in the town is running in circles. Some are running in big circles together, repeatedly wrapping around entire city blocks. Others are running in little circles by themselves, covering less ground but looking significantly dizzier and more nauseous.
What they all have in common, however, is that they are wearing the same bizarre footwear: tightly-laced high-top sneakers.
An easy insight check, or something similar, makes it clear that the constant and chaotic wind is being created by the circular running of these townsfolk.
If the party tries talking to one of the residents, they find that the person is surprisingly, and ironically, not winded despite the constant running. It appears as though whatever enchantments exist on the footwear are doing the majority of the work for them.
“It’s more annoying than anything,” she groans, as her shoes carry her round and round in circles. “A traveling merchant offered us these magic, wind-infused sneakers at such a steep discount that we couldn’t say no. What he didn’t tell us is that, once we started running like the wind, we would just keep running like this indefinitely.”
You can attempt to grapple or stop the townsfolk, but the DC should be high. If a smaller player tries to grab hold and fails, they will be taken along for the ride, round and round, eventually taking 1d4 fall damage when they finally release (or are thrown off). If a larger player tries to grab hold, a gust of wind will attempt push the player back 10 feet if they fail a DC 15 dexterity saving throw.
Asking more about the merchant reveals that he has already left the village and is working his way northward to the next coastal town. The townsfolk will implore you to find the merchant so that they can figure out how to put an end to this troublesome, tempestuous magic.
Note: If your party did somehow successfully wrestle off the footwear from every single townsperson, then the motivation can be “stop him before he strikes at the next town!”
Gone with the Wind
The party follows the coastline northward, still feeling the unpredictable and sometimes violent gales from the town at their backs. Looking out at sea will reveal small sailboats, struggling with the wind, desperately trying to ride out the bizarre weather and choppy waves.
Eventually, the party stumbles upon a brightly painted merchant’s wagon for a “Mr. Charlie Tonne’s Fine Footwear”. Inspecting the wagon will reveal that Charlie is nowhere to be found. However, his cart is filled with the same footwear worn by the townsfolk, lining shelf upon shelf, numbering in the hundreds. The labels on the shoes refer to them as Hurricane High-tops.
Although ill-advised, the party can choose to don these squall-starting shoes. If they do so, the footwear will take effect as soon as the player chooses to move.
- Once the player moves, they begin running in a circle and cannot stop that movement until successfully grappled. They may choose to run in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
- The circle’s radius can be between 5 feet and 20 feet, but once a number has been decided on, that radius cannot be adjusted.
- At the beginning of their turn, the player exhausts all movement to make one lap around the pre-determined circle, returning back to the starting position.
- During that movement, they may choose to overlap it with their action and swing for a melee attack, at disadvantage, on any and every creature within range that they sprint past.
- Once the have completed the circle of movement, the following happens:
- If clockwise, every creature outside the circle must make a dexterity saving throw. If failed, that creature receives 1d8 bludgeoning damage and is pulled inside the circle.
- If counterclockwise, every creature outside the circle must make a dexterity saving throw. If failed, that creature receives 1d8 bludgeoning damage and is pushed 20 feet away from the circle.
Suddenly, the party hears a cry of distress from the distance. Heading toward the source of the noise will reveal a middle-aged merchant, holding a pair of Hurricane High-Tops in his hands and swinging them (ineffectively) at two hovering harpies. The frightening winged beasts shriek and effortlessly pull the shoes out of the merchant’s hands, angrily shredding them midair with their sharp talons.
After this, the harpies will advance on the merchant, intending to attack. The party can choose to intervene and fight off the harpies. If they do so, know that the merchant will not help in the battle and, instead, begin fleeing back to his wagon as soon as the harpies are preoccupied with fighting the party.
Feel free to add additional harpies to match the desired challenge level for your party. Stat block for harpies can be found here.
Once the harpies are eliminated or frightened off, the party can capture the devious merchant and begin their interrogation.
Taking the Wind from their Sales
The merchant, as expected, is the very same Charlie Tonne who sold Hurricane Hight-tops to the unsuspecting and easily-deceived townsfolk.
Although he’s an accomplished huckster and charmer, his confidence is definitely shaken by the presence of the party and his near-death experience with harpies. Easily coerced, his will crumple before the party, confessing that his plan was to use the shoes to make the coast unbearably windy, thereby keeping his competitors’ trade ships away. What he didn’t think about, however, is that the unexpected changes in the wind would upset many of the harpies roosting on the cliffside.
Charlie is a natural manipulator and will present some sob story about how his (nonexistent) family is going hungry and that he really just needed a way to push more product and grow his business. He will apologize, claiming to change his ways and become an honest salesman from this day forward if the party releases him. The party can, of course, decide whether to escort him back to the town jail or believe that he’s a changed man and let him leave in his wagon.
If asked about removing the shoes, he will quickly admit that they are poorly constructed and that simply getting the shoes soaking wet will cause the leather to fall apart within 20 minutes. With this information, the party can return to the windswept village and use buckets of water to help release the townsfolk from their cursed footwear. Alternatively, if this seems like a tedious task for the party, you as the DM could cue a sudden torrential downpour to expedite the process.
After the townsfolk are set free, they will all sit down and welcome the feeling of not moving, massaging their now swollen and impressively muscular calves. The wind will also completely die down, save for the typical gentle breezes coming in from the ocean.
As a reward, the townsfolk can offer you gold or whatever ocean-related export the city is known for. The town can also provide safe passage, via a ship, if traveling the sea is something that could benefit the campaign. Additionally, the party can hold onto any pairs of Hurricane High-tops that they took from the Charlie Tonne’s wagon earlier in the encounter. If a player ever gets these shoes wet, however, the leather will fall apart, rendering the shoes unwearable and useless.
*If you enjoyed this encounter, check out our first short adventure with this charlatan: Bro, Those Shoes are Fire.