As the party nears [town name here], they notice screaming in the distance. Getting closer, they realize it is screams of joy and not terror. The party begins to see signs for a carnival of sorts, and if followed they will in fact reach a carnival. Most of the town appears to be there, minus the town guard who is ensuring the town is safe from thieves. They are on high alert after a recent bout of thievery, primarily of hats.
As the party wanders about the carnival they’ll see several stalls, including but not limited to:
- Dee’s Hot Nuts: sold by Dee Lowlash, a foraging halfling that has turned her ability to find nut varietals into a business of boiled peanuts, walnuts, and more
- Peryton Legs: sold by a gigantic half-orc
- Ring Toss: managed by a tiefling, the rings very clearly are unable to fit around the posts
- Anything else you can dream up
Meandering about, the party will bump into an abnormally tall gnome in a trench coat wearing a fedora to appear normal. Bumping into him, they’ll hear a secondary voice grunt from the middle of the gnome’s trenchcoat torso. If the party peeks in, they will see that the six-foot-tall gnome is actually two gnomes stacked on top of each other. Classic.
It’s a Biggun
The top gnome introduces himself as Cal Ossal and the bottom gnome introduces himself as Brob Dingdagian. Cal and Brob reveal that sure enough, they were attempting to appear taller than they really were. The ruse was intended to get them onto the Consitution Churner, a roller coaster at the edge of the carnival.
Inspecting the coaster, the party will notice a towering but shoddily constructed mine cart ride with perilous drops, breakneck turns, and several covered areas that look like they would lop the head off of someone too tall. Cal explains that they’ve been thinking about this ride their entire lives and they absolutely must ride it. They beg and beg the party to go along with the plot until the party finally gives in or leaves.
Standing Too Tall
If the party agrees to help Cal and Brob, they will head on over to the ride. As with any good coaster, there is a “you must be this tall to ride” sign, with a weird footnote of “the taller the better” written underneath.
The party can help Brob and Cal in a few different ways, either by bribing, persuading, or using magic to make them look less conspicuous. However it happens, Cal and Brob will be ecstatic about making it through. Where things start to go a bit south is further into the line when they realize whoever is on the bottom won’t get to see the ride. The two will bicker and squabble. If the party does not intervene they will be thrown out of the line and proceed to beat each other up.
If the party does manage to keep them calm enough to get to the ride, everyone will hop in. It’s a measly 1cp to get on the ride itself, so all should be able to cough up enough copper.
Once on the ride, they will need to make six Consitution-saving throws as the DM describes the ride itself, each getting consecutively higher in DC: 4, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16. If they fail the Consitution save, they will begin to vomit from the ride. There’s no negative effect or consequence, they just puke. Cal and Brob are elated (even though one cannot see) and scream with glee as the ride continues, even more excited if they hear the party vomit.
As the ride nears the final tunnel, Cal and Brob scream one more time, saying that it’s the greatest day of their lives. Exiting the final tunnel, the party’s passive perception will note that Cal’s hat is gone. At the exit gate, Cal begins to hyperventilate, noting that the hat was 200gp and he needed to return it that day as he didn’t have that kind of money to burn. He was purely renting it, fully expecting to give it back. Bereaved, Cal hops off the shoulders of Brob or vice versa, causing onlookers to faint as they think a man has been chopped in twain.
The party sees additional townsfolk beginning to touch their own heads as they get off the ride, noting they have also lost their hats.
Mad As A Hatter
The townsfolk, along with Cal and Brob will beg the party to assist them in finding the missing hats. They’re horrified that their once peaceful town has come under some menace who is thieving hats away from them.
Interviewing a few ride-goers will reveal they all remember their hats being on prior to the final tunnel of the ride. At this point the party has a few different options:
- They can pay to go on the ride again and attempt to disembark inside the tunnel (high Acrobatics check)
- They can pay the ride worker to stop them directly inside the final tunnel
- They can determine any other way of getting into the tunnel itself
However they go about it, the party should determine they need to get into the tunnel and see what’s going on. They are welcome to bring Cal and Brob along, but they won’t be much help.
Once inside the tunnel, they will see a dark figure collecting additional hats, carrying them in his arms, though he’s got too many to properly carry and they continue dropping out. If they call out after the figure, it will run away, escaping through a door on the side of the tunnel.
If the party pursues the figure, they will have to get through a locked door in order to get to an additional tunnel beyond. It appears that whatever the figure is has been living beneath the city for a while and had a makeshift door prepared for the ride when it was erected.
Hats For Rats
Chasing the figure down the halls and into tunnels, the party will dive beneath the city and into the sewer system (insert modular sewer system here). After some zigging and zagging (DM discretion), they will arrive at a broader wall where they heard a large metal door slam shut.
Knocking on the door won’t do much, but will cause some yelling from the other side, warning the party to go away as nothing good will come from barging in. “Leave us alone, we’re not hurting anyone,” a chorus of high-pitched, squeaky voices will say.
The party can decide to leave for Brob, Cal, and the town guard to deal with the situation, but if they choose to bust in, they will be met by a clan of ratfolk. They hiss at the intruders and one approaches as the rest huddle around a large pile of hats. Several of them can be seen chomping on a hat or two.
Heading toward the party is a particularly gnarly-looking ratfolk male, which also appears to be the one they were chasing through the sewers. He appears to be the leader of the group and explains they intend to hurt no one. They are simply stealing hats to eat. They previously attempted to live with the townfolk, but due to their grotesque features, the townsfolk exiled them to the sewers.
If Brob and Cal are with the party, they will back the story up, but still be furious about the hats.
At this point, the party has some options of how to proceed.
- Defeat the ratfolk in their lair and return all of the hats to the townsfolk
- If the party goes this route, the ratfolk will begin fighting, but will also furiously swap between hats, each one triggering different effects that make them more powerful.
- Returning the hats will warrant a 200gp reward from the townsfolk, roughly 1gp for each hat returned
- Determine some sort of peace treaty between the ratfolk and the townsfolk, allowing the ratfolk to return to society
- The ratfolk will demand a weekly supply of hats or shoes to eat.
- In this case, the party will be rewarded with a Helm of Comprehend Languages and Read Magic
- Side with the ratfolk, but convince them to give Cal his hat back.
- They will have to think of something clever to barter away
- No reward other than lifelong gratitude from Cal and Brob, which, I mean, friendship was the real reward along.
Whatever the party decides to do, the townsfolk will generally react positively as long as they don’t learn that the ratfolk exist AND the party didn’t do anything about the hats.