Dungeons & Dragons Online

A Wish for a Hunt: The White Stag

Maybe your characters screwed up the plot and pine for a Wish to undo that. Maybe one of them died, and the player is trying to make the replacement work, but wishes they had their old one back. Maybe you’ve got a very, very nasty fight coming up and they aren’t fully prepared. Maybe you just want the players to have a Wish in their back pocket.

Give them the chance to earn it.

While they’re traveling, they hear fey horns blowing and the wild barking of hounds. Or perhaps they see rich pavilions and fluttering banners in a meadow. Or perhaps in a tavern, they hear wild tales about the moon-bright night two weeks from now.

If you’re using extraplanar travelers as the hunters, the party comes across a gathering of fey and genasi, all riding on magical steeds. They are aloof and proud. One will deign to say something like “the White Stag of legend will return to the Prime Material in this place. It is a trickster of sport and mischief, and it wants nothing more than the joy of the chase. If anyone is successful in catching it, they may have a wish. If they do violence in catching it, even to… mud-stained rivals,” with a look at the party, “it will be gone for another millenia.”

If you’re using nobles, eligible nobles will be gathered in a field for an outdoor dance. They are dressed in white, wearing a crown with mock antlers. They will say that their ancestors were riding, and saw a white stag here, with an aura of peace about it. It led them across the land on a wild hunt. Their ancestor was a little child at the time, but so determined to catch it that he ended up lost and exhausted. The stag came up to the crying child and put its head under their hand, and the child’s wish to be home and happy immediately sent them back to their parents. They now celebrate the day of the stag’s appearance with a singles dance in the meadows.

If you’re using tavern tales, they tell the party that the stag once showed up. They’ll say it’s a creature that loves to play with hunters, but hates violence. Hunters come by every year to visit the spot for luck, but it hasn’t been seen in a thousand years…

How to play the White Stag:

The white stag is a legendary beast. It is a fey being, unless you want it to be a celestial, but good at heart. It is visiting the Prime Material purely to see if anyone wants to play. While mischievous, it strictly obeys the rules of its game. A dwarf with 25 move speed and a wizard/monk with Haste have an equal chance of catching it. It will play around both of them. However, it hates violence. An actual attack against another hunter, or itself, will cause it to leave.

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While the stag might not actually be hindered by a Sleet Storm or Entangle, it will pretend to be. It will drop its speed to half. If the players roll poorly to keep up, it will briefly go play with their competition before returning to them.

If the players genuinely are trying to catch the Stag, it will be interested in them. If they work well as a team, or are obviously in the spirit of the game, it might even start to give them better chances.

If stopped by a hurtful spell or weapon, it will vanish and end the encounter.

The Stag knows when it’s leading the players into danger, and does not find joy in harming its hunters. A player that slips trying to take a shortcut over a cliff will find themselves under Featherfall, and one that falls into a thornbush might find the damage reduced by half as they struggle out.

The Stag is a Medium size creature, but can briefly carry another Medium rider, although it will try to toss them off. It is small-boned, pure white, with silvery horns and starry, shining eyes. It deliberately steps hard so that it leaves hoofprints, although typically it leaves no tracks.

The DM may set its saves based on player spell DC. It has advantage against being charmed, one use of legendary resistance, and can reroll one failure, unless the PCs have only one spell slot to cast a nonviolent spell. While it can’t see invisible creatures (or perhaps it limits itself to pretending it can’t,) it will behave as if it knows there is one nearby when it gets within 10 feet. It can turn on a dime, jump 25 feet, swim at its movespeed, and climb cliffs like a goat. Its move speed is the fastest’s characters’ plus ten feet. This is true even if they cast haste — unless they manage to trick the stag into thinking the spell is gone, or cast it very subtly.

The Stag knows about Command and Suggestion, but it’s a playful creature that takes risks. It will make casters work to get within 30/60 feet while seeing it, but it’ll give them chances as the hunt goes on.

Phase One: The appearance.

The Stag isn’t shy. It will run right through the gathering of hunters. If there’s nobles, it will trot up to stand in formation as they start to line up for the dance. If anyone reaches for them, it will rear up, give a happy bounce, and leap away, turning to look over their shoulder. Some of the nobles will rush to their horses to chase.

If the players don’t immediately pursue, it will taunt them briefly. It might even dart up behind them, steal a hat or glove, and run.

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Phase Two: The hunt begins.

You might play the rival hunters as inconveniences who want to mess up the party's rolls. They won't attack, because the Stag would end the hunt.

Play the stag as any wild animal. It’s testing how hard it needs to play. Can you immediately run 100 feet in a turn? Or are you going to fall far behind? Let the rival hunters get separated from the party. The party needs to roll Survival for tracking the beast.

Doing well: “You hear a rustle in the bushes as you follow the tracks. Since you’re getting a clear idea of what to look for, you quickly realize the creature has doubled back on its own trail to watch you…"

Doing poorly: “Oh, wow. Roll survival again (or Nature) to see if we’re getting lost.” If they’re lost, they might have trouble setting up ways to think ahead and trap the Stag with the terrain. If they’re not, give them some hints about what natural barriers might be around. “As you look around, trying to pick up any tracks, you see the Stag watching you. It lowers its head, gives it a curious shake, and prances away slowly.”

Doing very badly isn’t a loss, because the Stag just thinks they will need special attention. It will come closer than it would otherwise risk.

Phase Three:

Go wild. Whatever they can think of, now’s the time. Make them roll Dexterity to show their parkour as they chase. Do they want to climb over a dropoff, or go around? Did they see that dropoff, or are they rolling saves? Want to climb that tree to see if you can see it? Athletics, roll. Stealth to try to sneak up on it? Yes, roll. Fling the halfling on its back? YES. ROLL. Perception because the party has lost it, and can’t think of anything else, but are wondering if it’s sneaking up on them? It is, roll.

On a nat 1 fall, the Stag will appear from the brush, and bounce a circle around the person before darting off again. It might also give someone a playful headbutt from behind just when they're giving up, or snort air down the back of their neck when they've failed a perception check.

If they want to cast Command or Suggestion, make them work for it. Deception to try to make the stag think they aren’t casting a spell? Sleight of hand to cast it without bringing their hand in sight? Performance to distract it? Persuasion to get it to wait, for just a moment? Yes, roll.

If the players have been trying everything but the dice are terrible, then on DM’s discretion, the stag has let itself get boxed in. The players can still catch it but need to position themselves with teamwork to trap it.

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GOTCHA!

The Stag considers itself “caught” if it is hemmed in so that it might hurt them in trying to escape, if someone jumps on its back and grabs on, if it is magically restrained, or if someone keeps a hand on it for about three seconds.

If the players stop it by a spell that holds it, it might give them a gentle headbutt of protest once it’s free, but will still agree they won. If they lure it into coming close by a performance, before someone hidden grabs it and passes an Athletics check to hang on, it will also agree. If they pretend to be hurt, then grab it when it checks on them, the Stag will snort and stamp its feet… but agree.

Capturing the Stag gives the person who catches it a single use of Wish. They may choose to wait to use this, but the player can invoke it at any time.

Consolation Prizes:

Stag’s Blessing: A player acted to harm the Stag, but the others didn’t want this outcome. For their attempt to play along, the Stag will reward them. Advantage on Survival and Nature for the next week, or they find a Goodberry atop their pack every morning while they are in the region.

Blessed Meet: The Stag escaped, but had a ton of fun. The stag reappears to cast Revivify or a Restoration spell once, when the party has no options. Alternately, it will jump out of nowhere, tank one critical hit, and disappear again forever.

Things that Aren’t Wish, but the Stag might still decide to hand out:

Misty Meeting: The Stag grants a single use of Misty Step. The player may invoke this at any time, but the use is gone after casting.

Misty Wandering: The Stag grants a single use of Wind Walk. The party may together use this, but it only works once.

…or DM choice.

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