Come one, come all, ye hardy adventurers, to the annual Galeshire Derby! Fun, excitement, and food to be had for all - and grand prizes for the winners! (or, at least, for survivors).
The land around Galeshire is normally quite rocky, with the strong winds that give the town its name blowing away soil in tremendous seasonal dust storms. This is great for the people of Stormholt further south, who receive a fresh layer of nutrient-rich farmland every season, but less good for the people of Galeshire, who must rely on the presence of large burrowing creatures to re-till the rocky land.
Fortunately for the people of Galeshire, large burrowing creatures are in abundance. Unfortunately for the people of Galeshire, those creatures are in fact savage, ravenous bulettes. The Galeshire Derby evolved out of the the need to keep the citizens of Galeshire fed and safe.
Contestants (usually adventurers) go out past the magical wards that repel monsters from Galeshire and retrieve a bulette. Adventurers are awarded based on the size and vitality of their captured monstrosity.
The bulettes are then arranged at the start of a track that winds its way around Galeshire and is formed from carefully crafted gaps in the city's wards. Riders are brave, foolhardy, or both, and always too confident in the strength of their armor.
At the start of the race, the bulettes are release from their bonds and woken from their stupor. "Winning" the race require crossing the finish line first AND churning up the most earth, which favors the larger and more more aggressive bulettes; but points are lost every time a rider loses control of his mount and for every building or person damaged or killed, which does not favor those bulettes. Riders earn no more points if they die, but style will always earn points. Grom Millersson was the talk of the town after a spectacular come-from-behind posthumous win when the style points earned from his prolonged death outweighed the fact that he died a quarter mile from the finish line.
Once the race is over, the wards are turned back on, and the bulettes flee into the open fields. The city celebrates with a night of feasting, and then the hard work of planting begins in the morning.
RULES FOR BULETTE RACING
At the start of the race, have every racer roll initiative. The race consists of ten "segments". At the beginning of a racer's turn, their mount automatically moves forward one segment. The bulettes start partially sunken into the earth, and in this position earn their rider one point per segment traveled this way.
On their turn, the rider may make any action they think might help them control their mount. Normally, this consists of a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check, a DC 17 Wisdom (Animal Handling) check, or a DC 20 Charisma (Intimidation) check. Riders can supplement or replace these checks with appropriate abilities, as you see fit.
The Galeshire halfling communities provide bags halfling musk (no one asks where it comes from or what it is, and the halfling communities refuse to answer) at the end of long poles for use in maneuvering the bulettes. Using the halfling musk gives a rider advantage on Wisdom (Animal Handling) checks made to direct the bulettes.
On a successful check, the rider convinces the bulette to move forward an additional segment. Succeeding by 3 or more means the rider has maneuvered the bulette halfway into the earth, tilling more than they normally would. The extra disturbance earns their rider 1 extra point for this segment.
Succeeding the check by 5 or more means the rider also travels this segment in style, whether by having the bulette make more graceful motions, controlling the bulette with one hand, or with some other flourish.
Each bulette can only double-move twice during the race, although riders can earn extra points for tilling and style as often as they can make the checks.
If a rider fails their check, or chooses not to make any action on their turn, roll a d20, using the result to determine what happens.
20: The bulette charges forward, chasing after the halfling scent. The rider must succeed a DC 15 Dexterity or Strength saving throw, moving forward one additional segment on a success. On a failure, they are thrown from their mount and have one turn before the bulette attacks them.
17-19: The bulette leaps out of the ground to better chase down the halflings in front of it. The rider must succeed a DC 15 Strength or Dexterity saving throw. On a failed saving throw, they do not earn a point for the next segment their mount moves.
13-16: The bulette dives further underground to sneak up on the halflings in front of it. The rider must succeed a DC 15 Strength or Dexterity saving throw. On a success, they earn two additional points on the next segment they travel, for style and for extra tilling. On a failure, they are scraped off their mount and have one turn before the bulette attacks them.
8-12: The bulette snaps at the halfling dangling just above its eyes. The rider must succeed a DC 15 Strength or Dexterity saving throw. On a success, the rider takes 5 points of piercing damage. On a failed saving throw, the rider takes 7 (1d6 + 4) piercing damage and they lose their bag of halfling musk.
5-7: The bulette burrows deep into the earth to sneak up on the halflings in front of it. The rider must succeed a DC 15 Strength or Dexterity saving throw. On a success, they take 5 points of bludgeoning damage and are able to pull their mount closer to the surface, earning an extra point for the next segment they travel for extra tilling. On a failed saving throw, the rider takes 7 (1d6 + 4) points of bludgeoning damage and immediately begin suffocating as they are plunged into the earth.
They also earn an extra point for the next segment they travel, but they must succeed a DC 15 Strength or Dexterity saving throw at the start of each of their turns to pull themselves out of the earth, taking 11 (2d6 + 4) points of bludgeoning damage and continuing to suffocate if they fail.
3-4: The bulette rolls around to get this annoying weight off its back. Have the bulette roll a Strength (Athletics) check, contested by the rider's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics). On a successful save, the rider takes 8 (1d6 + 5) points of bludgeoning damage, and does not move forward one segment at the start of their next turn. On a failed save, the rider takes 11 (2d6 + 4) points of bludgeoning damage and is immediately attacked by the bulette. Roll initiative for the bulette and have it act on the next round.
2: The bulette attacks another nearby bulette (50% chance) or rider (50% chance). Both riders must succeed DC 15 Strength or Dexterity saving throws. taking 5 points of bludgeoning damage and maintaining their control on a success. Compare any failed checks with the aggressor and target to see who or what is attacked.
1: The bulette immediately attacks its rider. Roll initiative for the bulette; it acts on the next round. The bulette can try to shake its rider by making a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the rider's Strength (Athletics) check or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. While the rider is still mounted, they have advantage on attack rolls against the bulette, and the bulette has disadvantage on attack rolls against the bulette.
Dismounted riders can attempt to reassert control over their bulette by making another check as described above. Riders actively being attacked by their bulettes have disadvantage on this check.
Dismounted riders can also attempt to finish the race, despite the depredations of their mounts. A character using an action to Dash will cause the bulette to travel one segment, although the rider receives no points for
this segment. Any segment in which the bulette uses its Deadly Leap ability earns its rider a point.
The first rider to pass the tenth segment (meaning, reach "segment 11") earns an additional 5 points. The second-place rider earns an additional 3 points, and the third-place rider earns 1 additional point.
The rider with the highest overall score wins, earning a week of celebrations and recognition in Galeshire. The town leaders offer one of two rewards: significant discounts or credit at major merchants in Galeshire, or a lump sum worth slightly less. In either case, the winner is awarded a large pewter trophy and is the talk of the town for a long while.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!