A while ago, I made a plan to show my best friends what Dungeons and Dragons is. All of them only knew about it from TV shows such as Big Bang Theory or Stranger Things, so it was my duty to play a light adventure with them. My goal was to have a good balance of creative decision making, some roleplaying and a pinch of combat.
To make it easier to get into the theme, the central story element was something every single one of us loved: And that’s cake! I created a whole game mechanic around the baking process to have a way of rating the cake and measuring success for the group.
My friends all had a good time and although none of them have expressed interest to play another round so far, at least they know what I am talking about now. But this was not the end for the saccharine adventure I created.
The One-Shot is a very open adventure, that gives players a lot of freedom to decide what they want to do and each initiative they take on has a direct effect on the result. That is why I ran the same adventure (with some minor changes regarding encounters) with my regular D&D groups.
The different paths the players took were all so different, although all of them had the same quest to bake a cake. While my beginner’s group created a simple apple pie, the chaotic group somehow managed to create a trippy cake with “magical” shrooms and alcohol.
So, I thought to share the outcome of my third run with you guys in form of some adventure notes! Also, the whole One-Shot including the baking mechanics is available for you to read below. If you want to add it to a running campaign or simply have fun with some random pre-generated characters, feel free to run the adventure and share your own adventure notes with me and the community!
The small town Zuckerhut has a long tradition of bakery. Tasteful pies, beautifully crafted cupcakes and cakes of every kind are the heart of the community. In the city the Marquis enjoys the reputation of having the loftiest tastebuds regarding cake and if he says your cake is good, your baking skills will be promoted throughout the lands.
For this reason, the annual cake baking competition is the biggest festivity in Zuckerhut. Apart from a cash price the winner can also benefit from an exclusive contract to deliver cake to the Marquis’ mansion until the next competition.
If you are playing this adventure as a stand-alone, the PCs are owners of a local bakery that has been struggling for a while now, because of two dwarves next door. This year’s competition could help your bakery to survive and also show those dwarves who is the better baker in the street!
The Cake Baking Mechanic
The main quest of this one-shot is to bake a cake. It is up to the players what kind of cake they would like to make. Since the PCs are straight out of ingredients, they need to collect them themselves. As a basis they will need five standard ingredients, that can be found throughout the city. On top of that they can add two special ingredients to give their cake flavour. Use apples and cinnamon for example and you will get a classical apple pie, use chocolate and coffee and you get a totally different result.
To receive an ingredient the players must always make a skill check, this determines the quality of the resources they get. To get eggs one player must show off their animal handling skills resulting in a different quality depending on the roll. You get 4* eggs for a 20+ roll or only 2* for a 13-17 roll. The DM takes down these notes secretly for the final scoring.
To enhance the score the group can take on a mini-quest to find the Geschmacksknopse in the nearby forest which gives a boost of 16* (which is a lot and usually balances for bad rolls, if you want the competition to be a little harder, you can adapt this score).
Finally, after all the ingredients are collected each party member must choose an action to help in the baking process and the DM determined the skill the PC must roll to do that. Looking at the generated characters for this adventure, Beth the Barbarian might roll an athletics checks since she wants to whisk the batter for a fluffy cake. This skill check also results in a star scoring, so if Beth rolled a 12 + 5 she will have earned 2* for the cakes end result.
For the final scoring you just add all * and compare the result to the quality of the competitors. The highest score wins the competition.
If you want to run this adventure as part of your campaign you might need to adjust the encounters and scoring system a bit, especially if your PCs are well over Level 2.
If you are running this adventure with a newbie group (which works quite well 😀 ) or just as a break for your usual campaign, let your players decide who plays which character:
- Beth, muscled mixer (Half-Orc, Barbarian Level 2)
- Fatima, keeper of recipes (Gnome, Knowledge Cleric Level 2)
- Mallora, sugar artist (Tiefling, Rogue Level 2)
- Matilde, bakery manager (Elf, Bard Level2)
If you play with first time players, I suggest creating the character sheets for them, but if you play with experienced players, simply tell them to prepare a character for that class by themselves. Especially the casters, will be thankful that they could choose their spells. On top of that, they will be already familiarised with the features of the class by the time you start playing.
Also, you will need the Monster Manual with the stats for the Scarecrow (p. XXX), Bear (p. XXX), Fairy Dragon (p. XXX) and Ogre (p. XXX)
You can also use my overview for your GM-Notes to track the ingredient quality, quick NPC reference and HP tracker.
Start with a little introduction about Zuckerhut and the cake competition which was planned for next week. The four friends had a bit of a bake-off last night (and there might have been booze too) and the bakery is wrecked: Egg shells and powdered sugar everywhere, bowls with unusable batter in the sink halfway soaked and a charred cake in the oven (thankfully someone turned that off last night before something worse happened).
Start with a constitution check to determine wo wakes up first in this mess:
- Beth has slept with a bowl with unfinished batter in her arms.
- Mallora has lots of sticky frosting in her hair and on her cheek
- Matilde fell asleep on the recent business numbers (which are not looking good) and the results of last nights brainstorm which states the five main ingredients (flour, sugar, eggs, butter, baking powder) and two question marks
- Fatima at least made it to her room and has a huge tome in her bed which has a bookmark to a local legend about the Geschmacksknospe, which will bloom this year according to her calculations.
After some time, Timothy a local newspaper boy knocks on the door to buy his daily lunch dessert from his favourite bakery and tells the group that the town is in uproar because the Marquis has re-scheduled the competition to this day and everyone is running around like crazy to get all the ingredients ready for this evening.
The group is also able to find some gold in the bakery for their purchases, just not too much. They will have to work hard for those ingredients 😉
If you are playing this adventure in your own campaign simply have the group meet Timothy on the town square and have him tell the group about the competition.
The Rivaling Bakeries
Every time I played this adventure the players have always asked about their competition quite early in the game. Be prepared for some sabotage, they will think on that! This is the list of the bakeries that have to be taken seriously, as they will have the three best cakes in the town.
Jenn and Berry
Two dwarves next door that offer trendy Icecakes that are quite popular. These two are not a traditional bakery and make use of clever kitchen gadgets – something that the traditionalist baking community of Zuckerhut is not fond of, but the customers love the new trendy treat.
An elderly human woman who just bakes the best apple pie in town. Everyone in town loves her and it is not unusual for her to be seen handing out cake to children and adults alike
Six gnomes run this bakery which focuses more on style rather than taste. They have the fanciest looking cakes in town although their heavy use of fondant is up for debate.
The Hunt for Ingredients
Before the group can start looking for ingredients, they should decide on the two mystery ingredients to give the DM some time to think of an appropriate location and skill check to get that resource. For the five main ingredients I got you covered! However, some groups might get creative and not use these opportunities. In this case go with the flow and have one of them do a shill check and continue writing down the score they get.
The local grocery store has a huge line in front of the building and the longer the group waits in there, all the good flour will be slowly sold out. A persuasion/deception check or other creative thinking might help the group cut the line to get some top-shelf flour.
The grocery store is straight out of butter, but the PCs can buy some milk here to create butter at a later stage with an athletics check.
The local Alchemist was just as surprised as the players are when he heard of the rescheduled competition. In fact, he was working on a better mixture of the baking powder, but it exploded in his face. With a nature (chemistry) check the players can help him create great baking powder or just standard quality powder, depending on their rolls of course.
Jenn and Berry have tons of sugar in their small shed, but the good stuff is inside their safe. With a successful sleigh of hand check the players can get sugar from them. Or they ask Tracy nicely. It’s up to them.
Paul, the local farmer is the usual egg supplier, but he is afraid to go into the chicken pen, since he has the feeling that something was watching him the last days when he was in there. He is a notorious scaredy cat.
In this case, not going near the door is a wise choice since the scarecrow has become animated when lightning struck it in a storm last week. When the group approaches the first encounter of the adventure starts. After the encounter the group can get the eggs with an animal handling check.
Try to create similar task for the other two ingredients the group decides to get. As inspiration I have some examples from my last sessions for you.
Alcohol (Rum, Advocaat, etc.)
Alcohol may be obtained by winning a drinking competition at the local bar “The golden Spoon”: Simple constitution check or have multiple checks against three random NPCs, the one with the highest rolls out of five wins the quality boose. The PCs might get drunk here and have disadvantage on skill checks.
Go to an orchard and roll a survival check.
Mini-Quest: The Geschmacksknospe
In Fatima’s book the PCs find a legend about two siblings whose parent’s bakery business was starting to fail. To save their parent’s business they go out into the local forest where they start looking for high quality berries for blueberry pies. They cross the river and set out for their quest. While they take a break and start munching on the pastries they took with them, a colourful creatures from the forest comes to them, attracted by the smell of baked goods. The children share their cake and their story with it. As thanks the creature awards them with a mystical flower that is said to bring out the flavour of any dish. The children return home and give the flower to their parents who make the cake of the decade.
First of all the players have to make a survival check to see, if they are on the path the book describes. If they fail you might add an encounter like a bear or simply decrease the time they have until the competition starts. Afterwards they come to a clearing and have to offer some kind of pastry, so that the local Fairy Dragon Gustav appears.
Gustav is a very polite fellow and tells the party that a rather rude person trampled into the grove and took the flower without asking. He would describe him as fairly big and he had a bad breath. If the party offers to help getting the flower back, Gustav will lead them to the grove and agree to give it for free, if they come back to him and share part of the cake they are making.
A successful survival checks in the grove will tell the party that a huge humanoid was here, in fact an ogre has stolen the flower. The tracks are quite easy to follow, so the party will soon find an ogre leaning against an up-rooted tree trunk talking to himself about Olgo giving the pretty flower to the missus. Players can of course try to convince Olgo to trade the flower with a high persuasion check, but if they are not careful Olgo just might like to have both the flower and the tradable good. The players can also try to steal the flower from Olgo’s stash.
If a fight breaks out, things might get bad quickly, but if the party has a lot of luck and shows skill, you can also add Olga (another Ogre with slightly diminished HP) to the fight. In my past games this lead to the players simply grabbing the flower and bolting off with it. If you get the feeling that the players won’t be able to handle it by themselves Gustav might also lend a helping hand, so that the PCs can escape.
The Best Cake in Zuckerhut
When the players have gathers all the ingredients they wanted it’s time to start the group baking check. Let each player decide how they want to contribute and let them roll on a suited skill. In the end add all the * the players have gained from the ingredients, the Geschmacksknospe and the group check. If their cake has a higher quality than 38*, they will win the competion. Check out the table for the other ranks.
The Competition will be held in the town square and every cake will be brought there to be displayed. Your players might want to sabotage a cake and if they are successful simply deduct some * from their quality rating.
Feel free to add some festival games to the competition if you have the feeling that your players still have the time and motivation to continue playing.
In the end the Marquis will announce the winner of the competition and award the cash price along with the certificate Best Cake in Zuckerhut.
Play in Style
I love taking notes of my D&D sessions by drawing scribbles and I also love designing shirts for sessions. Have a look at them and if you like one, you can get it while also supporting me 🙂