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The Chowdown: A No-Rules, No-Regrets Cooking Competition

edited July 2017 in Campaigns

The Chowdown

Hello everyone! My name is Ulthax. Based on the time I personally have available, I've found myself wishing that there were some shorter campaigns available, ones that would be easy to complete in the space of 3-4 hours, or less. This is the first entry in that group, and I'll create more as time allows.

Campaign Information
Encounters: 3
Difficulty: Easy for players, Difficult for the GM
The Map: Link Here
TTS Mod: [Link to be added when Tabletop stops being a jerk]
GM Spreadsheet Link: Link Here (I recommend downloading a copy to edit)

Campaign Overview
Yesterday, I did a mock character creation where I started randomly by saying, "So our characters will be entering a cooking competition where absolutely everything goes!" The group liked the idea so much that I decided to turn it into a full campaign. This campaign includes three separate cooking "rounds," which can be modified on the fly in order to shorten the campaign- if at any time you need to cut things short, you can simply have the judges declare the player's team to be the losers of the current round.

This is a rather difficult campaign for the GM to run, as they need to be ready to play a whole host of NPCs with different personalities, as well as manage several combat encounters that each have a small twist on the normal way to play URealms. Feel free to do whatever you need to in order to make it easier on yourself, and don't feel bad if you can't work in every character. The first "round" is also easily the hardest RP-wise, so don't let that discourage you.

On a similar vein, the combats should not be similar to normal combats. Reward creative uses of spells, role-play actions, and just any general creativeness from your players.To keep things simple, the NPCs will mostly either use actual skills or a role-play action that doesn't change, however if your players are only doing a few things, see if you can help them come up with some other fun ideas for what their characters can do. Remind them that they don't need to stick to the skills, and can essentially try to do anything they want.

A special thanks to Meganzoor for drawing the map, and CS1 who both commissioned and then shared the map for use. I feel bad that I only actually used bits and pieces of such a beautifully done map, but it was necessary due to the static nature of the campaign.

Character Creation Setup
Pretty much anything goes, with a few exceptions and suggestions. The players cannot play Elf in any way- if they get the Ancient attribute, redraw it. The party cannot have Mercenary companions, as the competition is strictly limited to four participants. If they get a Mercenary companion or a card that grants them one, redraw either a random companion instead or a new card to replace the one giving the companion. All players should have access to the Sea Chef class, and at least one player must play it, becoming the Head Chef of the group (more than one can play Sea Chef, but only one is the head chef). The party should also aim to have either at least one skilled Fire mage or plenty of Fire abilities, otherwise they may run into some difficulty when attempting to keep the grill lit in the second encounter.

I highly recommend skipping the gold roll entirely: it speeds up character creation, and the players don't really need to be that strong in order to succeed. I've done it both times that I've run the campaign, and balance has felt rather nice. Also, feel free to offer connoisseur to the head chef to replace their cornerstone.

I recommend reading this information to your players before starting character creation, as this is far from a normal campaign, and it will give them a good idea of how to build their characters.

You've entered The Chowdown, a prestigious cooking competition know well across the land. Set in the Elven kingdom of Barnalas, members from all of the Elven families set aside their differences for this one occasion every year, where they watch what they consider to be the lesser races compete for the favor of a panel of esteemed judges. The top eight groups are chosen from an extensive screening session, and this year you and your four friends were chosen as one of the contenders. This competition has absolutely no rules and is known to be rather violent, with the teams using every possible advantage made available to them in order to win.

Round 1
The first round takes place in the main hall, specifically in the four individual corners. The theme of this challenge is spacial issues, as the two teams must work around each other to prepare an appetizer or small snack. Before the round begins, give the head chef the challenge, and a quick role-play session to determine what the team is going to make. If you ever feel like the role-play is slowing down or has taken too long, simply start the round, with one of the judges yelling to begin.

I recommend using the bottom-left corner, but any of the four will do fine. Just make it clear that the Elves have no respect for the actual workspaces, and so the players and NPCs will have to maneuver around the furniture left in the middle of the rooms. At one end of the room, place a tile or draw a small piece that you will use as the ingredients table, and at the other use a tile or drawing to denote their cooking stations. In the three sections that you don't use, put in sets of eight random tiles to represent the six other teams at the competition. Make sure this includes the tiles for the second and third rounds, and that you bring them to their necessary locations as the competition progresses.

Combat in general will go a bit differently than normal. Because timing is important, every time a player uses a Move or Action, one of the NPCs will respond with a move or action of their own. This can get confusing, so if you're a newer GM, feel free to just give the NPCs unlimited anytime actions and use them to block the players whenever possible. Combat also does not go until one team is unconscious, though that will end combat as the team will be disqualified. After the third round of combat, time is called and the teams must serve the judges their dishes- this can be adjusted based on how things go, but I've found that three rounds is a pretty good number for this specific combat, as any more and it can start to feel like it drags on a bit.

The group is up against a rather unusual bunch- two Black Boars and two Keens.

Octavius is a Black Boar Sea Chef with a particular penchant for fish yogurt. He's the head chef of the group, and as soon as the round begins, he will bellow at the rest of his team that he needs as much fish as they can get their hands on. If the players manage to interrupt the NPCs who are going for fish, he will get incredibly angry and do anything possible to get the fish. Otherwise, he will simply stay at the cooking station and generally not participate in combat.

Stamina: 300
Anytimes: 5 (Use only if bothered while cooking, or in an all-out attempt to retrieve the fish)
Deathroll: 1
Basic Attack: 10 with his fists (If the fish is somehow dropped on the ground or otherwise destroyed, he will attempt to use all remaining anytimes to simply basic attack whoever dropped the fish, whether foe or ally)
hotsoup (General goto action if he's abandoned cooking, or if the players taunt him in any way)
mysterymeat (General goto action while cooking, fire spell aimed at the food and ice spell aimed at the players)
getinmepot (Use if a player gets too close while he's cooking)

Jimbo is the other Black Boar, and Octavius considers him to be his right-hand man. Any time Octavius does an action, Jimbo will immediately use an Anytime action to back up whatever Octavius is doing. Jimbo will start combat by jumping up on the table (or a similar piece of furniture) and using High Noon to spit at all of the players. He's not very intelligent, but he's incredibly loyal, and if Octavius is ever attacked he will focus everything for the rest of combat on that player.

Stamina: 300
Anytimes:  5 
(Use whenever Octavius uses an action, and to jump on the table at the start of combat)
Deathroll: 1
Basic Attack: 20 with acidicsaliva
highnoon (Use to open combat)
twinshot (General goto action- needs one player to be in melee range, as he hits one for 10 and spits on another for 20)

Jaimie and James
Jaimie and James are the two Keen helpers of the Black Boars. They are siblings, and they each have lifelink, so they share a stamina and anytime pool. They are mainly defensive and mostly will just run back and forth grabbing ingredients, staying out of the player's way and using their entire turn to move. If Octavius and Jimbo are both knocked out before the end of combat, they will simply make a break for the door, attempting to flee before either of the porcs wake up.

Stamina: 100
Anytimes:  4
(Use mainly to dodge attacks)
Deathroll: 1
Basic Attack: 5 with a small rock or similar RP weapon (Generally shouldn't be used)
speedoflight (Use to dodge if Ninja Twins fails)
steal (Use on an unaware player)
jetsneaks (Use whenever moving)

Once three rounds of combat have ended, allow for an RP section where the players will meet the judges of the competition. In general, this can be any set of three Elven characters from the URealms canon, but you should avoid having multiple members of the same family. For example, you could use Trandon Barringster, Gwyneth Sunsword and Reesi Gandolin, or Ghana Ens Sin, Orvan Weiss, and Borris Cobbler. Choose a trio that you feel comfortable RPing- you won't need to do much, but they will need to be introduced to the player characters and will have a short discussion after each round where they decide which team to eliminate. If you get there, they will also present the winning team their reward, which will be discussed after Round 3.

 Today when I ran the campaign, I included Reno Gilgully, and I had an absolute blast RPing his carefree, love-and-justice-focused demeanor. My players all got a good laugh out of it as well, from when I had him ask for "justice burgers" before the grilling competition, to when he ended up using his spoon to draw small hearts in the melted ice cream of his dessert.

Round 2
The second round moves outdoors, for the grilling competition. I recommend using the bottom and central part of the map, as shown below, but you can also use the similar area at the top of the map. Whichever you don't use, move eight random tiles from the last encounter there (make sure to include the tiles for the final encounter), as that's where the rest of the competitors will be. This combat lasts five rounds before the judges call time. Set up a tile near where each group starts, and make it clear that the tile represents their grilling area, and that if it's ever put out at the end of the round, the food will be ruined due to undercooked meat. This shouldn't be a hard gimmick for the players to manage, and so if there is a round where they fail to light it, simply take note of it and move on without saying something, only for the judges to reveal that their food was undercooked and that they have lost the competition.

4x Kobold Hydromancer
As if this were scripted or something, the party will be up against a group of four Kobold Hydromancers. Use the same tile with slightly different shades if possible, and if they ever need to be introduced, simply have them call themselves Red, Blue, Green and Yellow. If any of the Kobolds die, the other three will use all of their actions and anytimes to focus down the player who killed them. The Kobolds have their own grill, but they won't defend it too much- in fact, they won't try to cook anything at all. Their entire strategy is just to focus on making sure that the players will offer up undercooked meat, and then they will last-minute throw together a salad or something similar.

Remember to roll two dice for each ability!

Stamina: 125
Anytimes:  8 shared 
(Use mainly to dodge attacks and use Bladeturn)
Deathroll: 1
Basic Attack: 3 with their fists (Generally shouldn't be used)
hydropump (General goto action. Use it to try and put out the fire)
bladeturn (One Hydromancer should cast this as an anytime at the start of the round)
prismaticfrostarmor (Each color Hydromancer should use this at the start of combat to become immune to a different element: Red = Fire, Blue = Ice, Green = Earth, Yellow = Light)

Once three to four rounds have passed, have the judges call the time limit, and bring them back out to discuss the food. If your campaign is running low on time, just say that the judges enjoyed the Kobold's dish more, thank the players for coming, and give them a bit of time to RP handling the loss. Otherwise, unless they let the fire go out, tell them that they won and give them a short RP section before moving on to the final round.

Final Round
The final round takes place in the throne room, and this is an encounter based around poison. Not because the players will lose, but because the entire campaign becomes non-canon if the judges eat poison food and die. This obviously doesn't matter for a fan game, but it's still something you can use to put some pressure on your players. To set up, just bring the three tiles from the other Round 2, as well as the Player's tiles into the throne room pictured below.

This is another round where the players will share their ingredients with the other team, and the table is located all the way on the left, right in the doorway (around six tiles in from the left). Use a tile or drawing, similar to the first round, to mark this table. The workstations for both teams should be on the other side of the room, near the thrones. This is another round that should go three or four rounds based on rolls and how quickly your players are able to do things, and the goal is to create a dessert. When asked about the ingredients table, 

The other team only has three members, as one of them died in the second round. You are encouraged to work this into the RP if you can, however it might be difficult if the party would rather talk among themselves than talk to the other team.

Gerald is a Dvergr Dvergr and the head chef for the opposing team. He will spend most of his time cooking and yelling for ingredients, which his two assistants will bring. Gerald is incredibly determined that nothing will stop him from making his food, and in general his attacks will only succeed on average or high rolls, as he is distracted by his work. If the players swarm him, use fuelthecrew to enlarge himself and start using cleave until he's left alone again.

Stamina: 150
Anytimes:  3 
(Use to dodge attacks or cleave)
Deathroll: 1 (Ignore first failed death roll)
Basic Attack: 10 with deathsedge
fuelthecrew (Use if surrounded)
cleave (Use if surrounded)
seabones (Use to start the combat)

Bumbley (K4 to his friends) is a Dwarven Warrior. He will fight the party valiantly for control over the ingredients, setting up a Blockade directly in front of the table and then throwing ingredients to Janette to carry back to Gerald. He's not the smartest, so there's always a chance that he could accidentally poison some of the ingredients he gives his own team as well.

Stamina: 200
Anytimes:  3 
(Use mainly to dodge attacks or throw poison)
Deathroll: 1
Basic Attack: 20 with greatsword
charge (Use to get to the ingredients in one turn)
lethalpoison (Unlimited, general goto action. Use to poison any ingredients the players want to use)
blockade (Use as a pseudo-RP action to block off the ingredients. Can use twice, for each of the first two turns)
secondwind (If his stamina is low or if they get past him, use all three to poison anything possible)

Janette is a Dwelf, and will spend her time moving ingredients back and forth between the two other dwarves. She is not entirely there in the head, so if she rolls a 1 before the start of round 4, act like everything is still perfectly normal, but near the end of the third round cast pestilence directly over the ingredients, and start using up any remaining anytimes to deathflame in the general direction of the two dishes.

Stamina: 100
Anytimes: 3 
(Try to save them in case she goes crazy)
Deathroll: 1
Basic Attack: 10 with a small shortsword (Generally shouldn't be used)
deathflameex (General goto action, just throw it in the general direction of the player)
fogofmaddeningex (Use on turn 1 to give Bumbley double damage, doesn't effect the food)
pestilence (Use at the start of round 4 if she goes crazy)

After enough rounds have passed that the players have had a good chance to put together a dish, have the judges come out and taste their food. If you managed to poison the players' food enough, you can have one of the judges double over and either die, or nearly die, sending the Elven crowd into an outrage that makes them want the players hung. Otherwise, if they've made it this far, give them the victory, and award them the reward: One Legendary spell scroll chosen from a collection of three, each.

I hope you enjoyed reading, and will enjoy playing it as well. Let me know if you have any feedback, it'll be really useful and I'll potentially come back and re-balance this entire campaign if it turns out to be far too easy. I plan on doing more of these shorter campaigns, as it makes it easier to fit GM'ing them into my busy schedule.

I ran this campaign this morning with a great group of four, and it was over in just under four hours. Due to how things worked I've also switched around some numbers here and there and changed the second encounter to feel more natural. I plan on running this again sometime in the next few days, so more stuff will potentially be changed. Also, let me know if there's any typos, I might have made some mistakes in places.

6/16 Note: I just ran the campaign for a second time, and it went just as fantastically as the last. We had a few technical difficulties which made it run a bit longer, so it went about five and a half hours in total, which is something I was pretty okay with, as all the guys told me they really enjoyed it. I ended up cutting down a few combats as they rolled well near the end, so we ended up only having three rounds of combat per encounter, but it was absolutely plenty due to the amount of anytime they had. It gave me a good picture of the fact that the number of rounds per encounter is a fluid thing that the GM should feel free to change on the fly, even midway through the encounter. If it ever makes sense for a round to end, just end it.

This campaign falls under the CC BY 4.0 License and can be used and edited freely as long as you provide credit!
Thanks again to Meganzoor for the incredible map, and CS1 for commissioning and sharing the map.


  • My three dogs and I are excited for this competition!
  • I played this campaign with Ult as the GM, was a really fun and enjoyable time!
  • @Warden Thanks again for playing! I was just glad that it went well the first time through.
  • Bonus points for cannibalism

    In all seriousness though, this was a amazingly fun relatively short campaign. We were only limited by our creativity with using our spells and abilities to create food. We even had ricebending happen once.
    I would play this campaign again, and again I feel, because there are just so many possibilities.

    Nice job Ult! 
  • Personally I don't like having characters from the actual URealms show turn up in my campaigns because it messes with cannon so for my campaign I may adjust that. But that's the only slightly negative thing I have to say about it. This campaign looks amazing, sounds incredibly unique, feels like it would be super fun to play and is surely something I'll be putting on the list for my players to play, thanks for sharing! Also make sure you take some time to feel proud of your accomplishment, it's really good and you should feel good about it :D
  • @Timedagger100 To be fair, it's very easy to simply change the names of Octavius, Bumbley, and the judges, but I get what you're saying. I found it fun to work in canon characters while I was creating the campaign, and I think they ended up fitting rather nicely- after all, what is a cooking competition without the original Sea Chef himself?

    I get where you're coming from. Personally, I know it's fun for players when they realize that the unnamed NPCs are actually canon characters- for example, when I ran the game, I rolled a 4 on the charge roll for Bumbley. After a short second of thinking, I stated that he knows exactly what to do in this scenario, and let him charge successfully, following it with, "After all, he is known to his friends as K4." Got a few laughs and a small gasp out of that.

    Both are definitely valid options, though, and something I'll keep in mind when making future campaigns. Thanks for the kind words as well, let me know how the campaign goes when you run it!
  • The campaign is a blast, probably the best campaign I have ever played with the best character I have ever played as well would absolutely recommend, its very easy if you want to try to Gm.
  • Hey! just wanna poke my head in and say that playing this campaign was a blast!

    it's personally really fun to not having to go full min/max when playing a campaign. I also feel the campaign did not drag out and just kept going, it is the perfect length for a fun cooking competition!

    Ulthax also did a really good job as the GM  :)

  • Just finished running this campaign with some friends! Really creative, really silly, and overall had a blast. I also ended up making myself a basic map just to make my life easier, I'll add it to this post at some point in case anyone is interested in using it!

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