Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Creating a 5E Mini-Game: The Dwarven Keg Battle

Two summers ago I started DM'ing for a group that included a father and his two children down at our local hobby shop. I never expected it to go past a session or two, but to my surprise it became my most prominent group and the one I'd put the most work into. As with any group that gets together with any frequency, inside jokes and long-running tropes begin to develop that are unique to the party at the table. One such trope has been with the party since very early in our game(which has gained the party name "Collateral Damage" for the superhero levels of destruction that seem to befall the townships they are attempting to protect). That one is the renowned and prestigious sport known as hacky sack. Seriously.

I don't exactly remember the impetus for its origination or why. But the players would often have their characters take a moment to hack. A mini-game for its own sake. Eventually the players were lobbying townsfolk to get on board with the newly created sport and to create rec leagues to promote its play. From Red Larch's "Better Red than Dead" team and the Waterdeep Wyverns, every community was represented. It became a plot all of its own.

What this taught me is that the party enjoyed mini-games and their relevance to the world they were playing in. For our upcoming game, the party is going to be honored guests at the Day of the Stonewife, a celebration of the plentiful stone which provides shelter and protection, and to the nutrients of the rock which when eroded provides food. The celebration is one of eating, drinking and plenty of games and feats of strength which are thought to entertain the Stonewife.

One of the events I want to include is a keg battle (an idea I took from the Adventurer's Almanac). The idea is that it is a rugby style game where teams of three face off against each other to try to be the first to gain 3 points. A point is scored when the keg is brought over the goal line over a 45' x 110' field. Here are some of the mechanics/rules I am thinking about implementing:
  • The keg can only be rolled backwards, and not towards the possessing side’s goal. A character carrying the keg can attempt to move forward.
  • A strength athletics check is needed to move with the keg. The number dictates how fast the character can carry the keg down the field.
    • DC 12: 1/3 movement
    • DC 15: ½ movement
    • DC 20: Full movement!
  • The keg can be stolen by attempting an opposed strength athletics check versus the creature carrying the keg. If the attacker succeeds, they gain possession of the keg.
  • A player can attempt to force a creature to drop the keg by making an attack. If the attack hits the creature’s AC, the creature with the keg must make a DC 15 strength (athletics) check to attempt to retain control of the keg. If they fail the keg is dropped and rolls 10 ft. in a random direction.
  • The keg can be rolled or passed. To do so, the player can simply make a ranged attack to judge accuracy. The AC will equal 13 plus 1 for each 5 ft. the barrel must travel. If the AC is not met, the barrel travels half the distance intended and is not possessed by the receiver. If a natural 1 is rolled, the barrel rolls twice the intended distance past the target.
  • If the keg rolls out of bounds, the team that last touched the keg loses possession and it is regained by the other team and the game is reset from that point in the middle of the field.
  • Keg too heavy? It has been pre-tapped and a character with a mug or wishing to drink straight from the keg can spend their turn drinking the beer within to help lighten the load (every time this is attempted it will give future attempts at carrying the keg a +1 to their strength athletics checks to move with the keg). Caution…spilling will result in a foul!
  • Fouls: Players may not physically tackle or obstruct creatures who do not have possession of the keg. Other fouls include deliberately casting magic or cheating to gain an advantage. Doing so will result in the removal of the offending creature until the next point is scored.
Thoughts or feedback? Additional ideas that could make this fun? Better yet, what should the reward be for the winning team?


  1. This sort of article is fascinating and enjoyable to peruse. I cherish perusing and I am continually hunting down useful data like this. oceans of game

    1. Thanks for the kind words! These types of mini-games are great to drop into intense campaigns since it lightens the mood, and it provides something different that the players haven't experienced before. I like keeping them on their toes. ;-)


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