This year’s Dungeons & Dragons main adventure route, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, is (according to its designers) a wicked and whimsical adventure through the fantastic plane known as Feywild. It seems appropriate, then, that the adventure begins with a carnival, which, depending on how you feel about the clowns and the fried dough, is as whimsical an event as we can conjure up on the mortal plane.
But what is a fair without carnival games? Witch features a series of in-between activities that Dungeon Masters can present to their players before the adventure begins in earnest. “Carnival games help to familiarize new players with the rules of D&D and how rolling dice can affect results,” said Chris Perkins, game design architect for D&D, in a recent interview with IGN. “The games also provide fun role-play opportunities, allowing players to adjust to their new roles before facing the more serious challenges of the adventure.”
Players who choose to play can win prizes like Witchlight Wine, a stuffed pixie plush or wizard hand puppet, a candy-filled unicorn horn replica, and even a pixie dust pack that temporarily grants them the ability to to fly. We recently took a look at the rules for two of these carnival games, which are the classic fair (e) fee, along with additional information from Perkins on how player actions can affect the carnival in general.
“The actions and antics of the characters can affect the overall mood of the carnival,” he says, “which the DM tracks with the help of the Mood Tracker on the Witchlight Carnival poster map. As the mood of the carnival improves carnival, the characters have an easier time getting what they need. If the mood gets too sour, the staff becomes a little more difficult to deal with and the characters will miss out on being crowned the Monarch of Witch Light of the night “.
Almiraj Ring Toss is a magical version of the grandfather of all carnival games. Rather than having to place rings around stationary poles, players’ focus is now on this statue of what might be D & D’s cutest beast, the Almiraj, as he teleports around a table. It is one of six carnival games included in the adventure, each with the goal of challenging the skill of a specific character. Ring Toss is geared towards dexterity, while others focus on things like strength, intelligence, etc. Perkins assures us that they are not designed to be particularly dangerous for players (at least not as written), saying that the pie eating contest – which I assume requires a series of Constitution saves – deals “custard damage.”
While real-life carnivals may feature pig racing (if you’re lucky), Witchlight offers a slimmer alternative: giant snails. They appear to be a new monster stat block included with the adventure and are described as “unusually fast”. However, unlike pig racing, Witchlight snail racing is not simply a spectator sport: players can choose to spend ride tickets (because even in a whimsical fantasy realm, all carnival games still need tickets) to become snail riders.
Concept art for D&D: The Wild Beyond the Witchlight