Where Is My Alligator?
The PCs have come to Lola's Comfy Kitchen on Karaoke Night for a night of hot food, cold drinks, and electrifying entertainment. Upon your arrival, you are greeted by the owner, Mr. Pamplona and asked to look for the Kitchen's patron alligator, Kuya Buwaya.
You interrogate the employees and guests of the Kitchen for information on the missing gator. Once you have gathered enough information, you embark on your search to find Kuya, extricate him from whatever trouble he is in, and bring him home.
The Gateway to the Zone
You are all relatively new arrivals in the Kirinal Concordance Zone and you have finished your business in Gold Arrow Station, the “Gateway to the Zone.” You walk towards the golden red sunset as you make your way down to the River District. You merge into the laughing cosmopolitan crowds and cross-dimensional visitors in search of a good meal.
As you get close to the water you are attracted to the smell of fried fish and the high pitched squeal of hex crystals as the magitech sound system is tuned for the upcoming singers. You have finally made it to Lola’s Kitchen and the famous Karaoke Night!
You are skilled individuals new to the Zone, but with a few adventures under your belt. Your party may have been together for a few weeks or you may just be meeting, but you've all come for Karaoke Night.
Some of you are here to watch, others to join in, and some just to see the famous alligator, Kuya Buwaya. Kuya sleeps under the porch and can transform into a gigantic version of himself to swim with the Kitchen on his back, or sometimes to fight off other monsters.
Kuya Buwaya is Missing!
Welcome to the Kitchen! You seem like the kind of intrepid adventurers that we need in a time of crisis like this! Our patron alligator, Kuya Buwaya, has been missing for three days now! Our River Cruise is coming up tomorrow, and without Kuya to transport us, we'll have to give out refunds! Please help us, Lola Carly would be ever so grateful!
Mr. Pamplona is offering a reward of 200 gp/bilog per adventurer, a hat of vermin, a belt of stoneskin, and a favor from his grandmother, the eponymous Lola Carly. He only knows that Kuya has been missing for longer than usual. Kuya's been known to wander off for a day or two at times, but never for this long. He invites the party to question the employees and guests of the Kitchen about the missing gator.
The party has an hour to talk to employees and guests before Karaoke Night begins. Once the singing has begun everyone will be too busy or distracted to answer questions correctly. The answers that the party gets during this part of the adventure will affect their chances of finding Kuya and can give them bonuses during the final encounter.
Gathering Gator Facts
Questioning the Staff and Guests
The party can question the staff to discover different clues to find out why Kuya Buwaya left and where he went to. Additionally, everyone talks incessantly about Lola Carly, but she isn't in the Kitchen. When asked they change the subject and if pressed directly, they stop the conversation and leave to finish setting up for Karaoke Night.
This section uses the "Resolving Interactions" chapter of the DMG. Unless otherwise stated, everyone in the Kitchen starts out with an indifferent attitude. They will answer one or two questions before going back to work.
One player can make a DC 17 skill check to change an NPC's attitude to friendly. (Only one attempt per NPC.) The NPC will give the party more information and/or something that can help them. Any result of 7 or below shifts their attitude to hostile and the NPC stops talking and goes back to work.
If three NPC's become hostile, the party is ejected from the Kitchen!
Any staff member questioned can answer any of these questions.
The NPC's attitude immediately switches to hostile. Make an Insight or Perception check. 20+ You see almost imperceptible tendrils in the NPC's hair. 15+ You notice something slick and discolored on the back of their neck. 10+ You see their expression change suddenly and their eyes glaze over as they turn away and go back to work.
Barkeep Archie Araneta
The flamboyant bartender Archie Araneta works behind the bar prepping ingredients. Unseen hands wipe the bartop clean and move bottles and glasses around at Archie's commands. They look the party over with an arched eyebrow and a smile as their invisible helpers continue to work.
Archie speaks to the character with the highest Charisma score, "Why hello gorgeous! How can I be of service?"
Skill check modifiers: Don't buy a drink: -1. Buy a drink +1. Flirt back +3.
The magitech mechanic Guano is setting up the stage with hex crystal microphones and amplifying sound crystals. The grease-stained goblin's face is covered in piercings and he wears a hat covered with metal decoration. He answers questions with an uninterested grunt, "I'm just trying to finish setting up so I can get back to my fishing!"
A DC 12 Perception or Investigation check reveals his piercings and hat decorations are actually fishing lures. His tools are handmade, probably by Guano himself.
Skill check modifiers: Approached by a human, dwarf, or elf: -1. Comments about plumbing: -2. Approached by a goblin, gnome, or soulforged: +1. Comments about his lures or tools +2 (cumulative).
Xalbadora the Server
The pretty gnome maiden, Xalbadora "Xallita" Magos directs the dining room staff during the lull before Karaoke Night begins. She carries a tray of food in one hand and tankards of beer in the other. When the party approaches she expertly flicks a lock of hair back into place and greets them with a huge smile. "Hey y'all, what can I get for you tonight?"
Xallita enjoys some friendly flirting and gives as good as she gets. She misses her days as a student wizard and will chat up any arcanist that she encounters. Ask any wizards and artificers in the group to make an Arcana or Insight check. DC 10 they notice that her crystal necklace is an arcane focus. DC 15+ they recognize her as a classmate who left school.
Xallita's social check modifiers: Stupid pick up line: -1. Good pick up line: +1. Wizard or artificer talks to her: +1. Mentioning WPU: +3.
A friendly Xallita shares that the Kitchen has felt "off" the past few days. She has noticed that the Kitchen's protective wards aren't quite right and the staff has been acting funny. Finally, she wipes her brow, which is now streaming with sweat. "You have to find Kuya and Lola! Please, before it's too late!"
Suddenly her face snaps back to a flirty smile and she seems distracted again. "It's been fun talkin' to y'all, but I gotta get back to work! Bye hon'!"
As she leaves, she drops a bottle with a note on it. "If you get this, know that I'm helping as much as I can. Please save Lola and Kuya!" It's a Potion of Resistance (Acid) with 3 doses in it.
On the patio you see a dark figure drinking from a hollowed out pineapple with an umbrella in it. He wears shadows like a cloak and looking at him too long makes your eyes water. You feel like he's actually hundreds of feet, if not miles, tall and appears to be mortal sized through some trick of forced perspective.
As the party approaches, red eyes glow at them from underneath his hood. "I have been waiting for you. This prison, my beloved home is under assault and I have seen that only you can help."
He draws in a massive breath. "But I remain myself. I cannot give what has not been earned. My knowledge must be claimed in Karaoke Kombat!"
Go with your players here. Are they singers and role players? Do you have a karaoke set up and some time? Go HAM. If your players aren't interested, run it as a simple skill challenge.
Mr. Shadow is an excellent singer, specializing in soulful ballads to take advantage of his seismically deep voice. He loves songs like: "Do Be Cruel", "Wound", "Always Gonna Give You Up", and "Ol' Gator River."
"Defeating" him in Karaoke Kombat is a Performance skill challenge. Whereupon he will answer the players' questions. He knows everything that the DM knows. (Yes. He knows that too.) Mr. Shadow is actually more interested in a good showing and will reward results as follows:
- Under 7: Ejects the party from the Kitchen and they all take 1d6 psychic damage. They meet Bunso Tuko immediately afterwards.
- 8-12: "A valiant effort!" Answers one question and then ignores them.
- 13-18: Excellent singing! Answers two questions and gives them a common magic item.
- 19-24: A battle for the ages! Well done! Answers three questions and gives them an uncommon magic item.
- 25+: I have met my equal! Answers all questions and gives them a rare magic item.
Leaving the Kitchen
Bunso Tuko is a spirit of the Kitchen, specifically he is the spirit of the thatched roof. He knows that something is wrong in the Kitchen, and he has been anxiously waiting for someone to help save his Kuya. He knows that Lola Carly and Kuya are in trouble and he knows that alien invaders have gotten into the Kitchen. He wants to get any potential helpers out before the parasites can take them over too.
Bunso comes to the party if they've been ejected from the Kitchen, when the party has finished questioning, or after the Karaoke Kombat. He is also a trigger that the GM can pull if they need to move to the next part of the session.
A turquoise gecko with orange spots and immense eyes crawls down from the thatched roof and begins speaking to you.
"I am the spirit of the thatching in the roof and I know that my friends are in trouble! They are fighting to save Kuya and Lola, but they're going to lose soon!" He begins to concentrate and a soap bubble begins to form next to him, becoming large enough to hold all of you.
"Great heroes we need to leave! I can feel Kuya getting weaker! Lola gave me this bubble so we can get to them. We need to leave now!"
Your Friendly Kaiju Alligator
You float quickly in the bubble and find yourself miles up the river in the Kirinal Wastes. You are at the edge of a debris field hidden from the River by hills and the half-dead shrubbery of the Wastes. A great ruined skyship that resembles a spider lays broken and rent into pieces.
The bloated corpses of beings resembling an unnatural mix of spider and moray eel lie torn on the ground. Their war beasts lie scattered and dead around them as well.
You see the immense form of Kuya Buwaya, hidden by hills and half-dead shrubbery. The great gator, as large as the hills around him, lies motionless, his belly bloated and his eyes are red and watery. He groans as if sensing your arrival and opens his mouth wide and clear blue light flares from Kuya's eyes and mouth. You look down into his maw. You see the fleshy reality of his teeth and tongue. You perceive the unreality of the spirit realm and the power of the river within him.
Bunso exclaims, "Quickly! You must go inside and destroy the parasites! They feed on his power! They are becoming him!"
Bunso Tuko will go into the alligator with the party but cannot fight. He has minor magic abilities and stays ethereal as much as possible. He has the stats of a baku minus the attack action.
Enter the Alligator
As you enter Kuya Buwaya's mouth, reality settles and you find youself wading through a cave of still knee-deep water filled with lily pads. Pale blue light dimly lights the area and you see Kuya's gullet leading to a glowing green chamber at the back. The murky water ripples with strange shapes that sense your presence and start swimming towards you.
The mouth is 20'wide X 50' long. The water is difficult terrain, normal terrain for those with a swim speed.
The real threats are a deinonychus charmed by a neogi hiding in the back behind a stone "epiglottis" on the ceiling 20' up. Behind three-quarters cover. (+5 to AC & Dex saving throws). The dinosaur serves unwillingly and will leave if the charm is broken.
You are in the alligator's stomach. You can walk around the edge of a pool of blue-green acid filled with wreckage and the physical and supernatural contents of Kuya's belly. Directly across the pool you see a stairway, carved from bone leading up to chamber beating with red light. At the same time you see movement rippling the walls and the liquid. You are not alone in here.
The stomach is an oval 60' long, 40' wide, and 20' tall. A pool of acid fills the center leaving a 10' wide path around the edges. It is 15' deep in the center and 5' deep at the edges. Anything falling in the acid takes 2d6 acid damage per round. The liquid acts as difficult terrain.
Two carrion crawlers (also immune to acid), swim in the acidic pool and attack anything in the pool with them or near the shore. While in the pool they have half cover on the edge and up to full cover as they go deeper. If they paralyze any foes, they can also use their action to drag prey into the acid pool with them.
Three gazers float near the ceiling. They hide and wait to pepper the party with eye rays. If they fire their telekinetic ray these gazers can use it to pull their victims into the acid pool on a failed save.
The Heart of the River
You enter a great open chamber enclosed by the living ribs of Kuya Buwaya. The avatar of his heart beats weakly in the center of the chamber and you see the broken form of the neogi master on top, clawing its way in with cancerous legs. In your minds you feel screeching angry words, "The River Spirt will be mine and the River will be too! I claim this world and its riches for the Neogi Masters! Attack!"
In addition, the master can summon up to 3 swarms of neogi spawn. The spawn use "swarm of rot grub" stats.
Neogi Heart Master
The neogi master should be dead, but it still clings to life by draining energy from Kuya's heart. It is latched into the heart with its claws and it takes a DC 20 Strength or Athletics check to remove it. It dies at the end of its round if it can't get back to the heart.
As a result of it's connection to the heart, it has the following legendary and lair actions.
The master can take 2 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The master regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
- Attack them now!: Order a follower to move their full movement and attack.
- Infestation of Spawn!: Cause a swarm of neogi spawn to erupt from the walls, floor, or ceiling and hit anything within 30' of the eruption. He can summon 3 swarms in this way.
- Use spellcasting.
On initiative count 20, the master can use a lair action to do one of the following.
- Use any unused Legendary Actions.
- Heart Attack: The master claws and bites at the alligator's heart, making him shake with pain. Everyone except the master must make a DC 13 Athletics or Acrobatics check or be knocked prone.
If the party fails, Kuya Buwaya dies and his corpse becomes the base for neogi invaders. Lola Carly emerges from her hiding place inside of Bunso Tuko and asks any surviving party members to assist her in taking back the Kitchen.
If the party kills the neogi master Bunso Tuko begins to shine with light and opens his mouth. Somehow, Lola Carly emerges from her hiding place inside of him. The soap bubble forms around everyone again as the restored Kuya Buwaya roars back to life around them.
As they emerge from the alligator's mouth Lola Carly says to them. "You have my eternal gratitude and Kuya Buwaya's too! We are happy to owe each of you a favor." The bubble lands on Kuya's back and you all ride triumphantly back to Lola's Comfy Kitchen as the sun rises.
As you arrive at the Kitchen, you see a fire burning. Within it are the keening and wailing forms of the puppeteer parasites turning into ash. "Thank goodness you've arrived!", says Mr. Pamplona, "We don't have to give out any refunds!"
I had the honor of running this one-shot for World Anvil's "Play May" event!
This one-shot adventure was designed to be played with the 5E D&D ruleset. It's meant for a group of 4-6 3rd level characters, but can be easily adapted for higher level characters or other RPG systems. It takes place in Gold Arrow Station and along the Gold Arrow River. It's meant to be an introduction to my world and the Kirinal Concordance Zone.
Plot Synopsis for the GM
- The party arrives at Lola's Kitchen for Karaoke Night.
- They are given a mission to find Kuya Buwaya, their alligator who has gone missing.
- As they question staff and guests, they discover Kuya left to investigate a faling star three nights ago and weird wreckage has been coming down the river. They should also realize that Lola Carly is also missing and that there's something wrong with everyone they're questioning.
- Bunso Tuko reveals himself to the party and says they must leave immediately. They realize that everyone is being controlled by otherworldly parasites, but they're fighting it.
- They arrive at Kuya Buwaya and they can go into him through his mouth to kill the infesting hatchlings and the surviving neogi.
- If they kill the neogi, Lola Carly is able to heal Kuya. They ride him back to the Kitchen where the puppeteers are also ejected through the wards. If they fail, Kuya dies and his body becomes the base for the neogi in the Zone. Lola is greatly weakened and has to figure out how to retake the Kitchen.
Players may use their own character or pick a pregenerated character. Their character sheets are at the bottom of their articles.