Mr. Jingles: Clown of Adventure - Complete

TOOLS:  Bivius Solo RPG, Bivius Companion, Bivius Tunnels & Dragons


As mentioned in one of my other solo adventures, I recently went on vacation and was going to try to do some simple solo play during that time. This adventure is the result of that “simple” game. I expected this to be a short one, at the most two-post story. It looks like will actually be three, but that’s okay. The main thing is that we are all having fun.

The system I am using for this adventure is the Bivius system created by Riccardo Fregi. This is a simple system that reduces everything down to a random either-or decision. At its core you use any device that will give you one of two results. I am using a six-sided dice and my two results are “even” or “odd”. All decisions and outcomes are based on the following table:

Even (2,4,6) = Option A = Yes = High Threat 
Odd  (1,3,5) = Option B = No  = Low Threat 

Whenever there is a question, decision, event, discovery, etc., you ask a yes/no question or create a choice between options A/B and roll the die. I’ll explain threats later.

For the actual adventure I am using the One-Page Dungeon called “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens!” by Alex and Chris Stoesz. To prepare I used the GIMP graphics editor to create a black “Fog of War” layer to cover the page. (Any graphics program with layers will work.) Then I added enough transparency to the layer so I could just make out the information below. Using the eraser command I cleared away the “Fog of War” from the intro and key points around the page so I could find important items (i.e. beginning of each rumor, names of NPC, the start of each encounter, starting location on the map, etc.) Finally, I removed the transparency and was left with this:

While I tried to skim the sheet and only look at what was absolutely necessary, it was inevitable that I would see some of the map and learn some things that I shouldn’t know. In the end, it wasn’t a big deal as the known information gave me some direction to go with the story and there was no way I would remember every detail or location I saw. Now, as I play through the story I will erase the fog from the necessary text and map locations in order to progress.

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Mindy squeals and throws up her hands as a masked thief dressed in prison stripes runs off with her ridiculously large purse. The thief barely gets twenty feet before he is whacked with a rubber chicken wielded by a man wearing a rainbow afro wig and matching oversized jumper. The colorfully clothed man retrieves Mindy’s purse from the fallen felon as a tiny police car pulls up and ten policemen pile out. 

Hundreds of spectators laugh and cheer at the clown show, just one of the many acts of Professor Underwood’s Exalted Circus. Several clown cops toss the purse snatcher into the car as another climbs in and drives off. The remaining cops run after the car, followed by Mindy and Mr. Jingles who is twirling his rubber chicken and waving at the crowd.

Following the show, Mr. Jingles mingles about outside the big top, entertaining the children of Huevo with magic tricks and by squirting them with water-filled flower. While the colorful clown does enjoy entertaining the tots, he is also looking for adventure. It is because of this that he happens to notice [Option A: policeman  Option B: townsfolk /Result: A] the local sheriff talking to Professor Underwood, circus owner and RingMaster. Without dropping a juggling scarf, Mr. Jingles slowly shuffles over to where he can hear the conversation.

[How many rumors are overheard: (1d6+1)=3  -  I uncover three random rumors.]

“I know you are going to be around a few more days, Mr. Underwood,” the sherrif says. “So I wanted to give you a heads up about some rumors floatin’ around town. Crazy at it sounds, some folk claim to have seen a big half-horse/half-chicken creature in the fields just south of town.”

“Really?” questions Underwood. “That sounds a bit far-fetched, even for a circus man such as myself. Has there been any proof?”

“Not of the horse-chicken, but Odecoileus has claimed to have shot a rather odd-looking deer this past fall. Supposedly has it mounted on her wall.”

“Sounds interesting. I might want to see that.”

“Well, if that’s your wish. Old Ode is a hermit and her hut is located just beyond the old abandoned church south of town. You can’t miss it . . . the church I mean . . . it’s shaped like a giant chicken.”

“A Horse-Chicken monster. Chicken shaped church. I see a theme here,” Underwood says. “Did the hermit’s deer look like a chicken, as well?”

“Don’t know,” answers the sheriff. “Never seen it. But you might have something there with your chicken theory. Old Man Tamiasciurus claimed he was attacked by a bunch of squirrels, except they were chirping and pecking at him like chickens. Never paid him any mind, though. He’s a bit crazy if you know what I mean.” He twirls his finger in a circle next to his head in the universal gesture for “crazy”. “You know what my theory is? I think everyone is just spooked by the old abandoned church and must think it is haunted or something.”

Mr. Jingles has heard enough. He quickly wraps up his juggling act for the kiddies and then heads off for the circus performers’ trailers. There is a mystery in the town of Huevo and if there is one thing that Jingles can’t pass up is a good mystery. The woods outside of this town is infested, or at least people think it is infested, with strange chicken creatures. Needing help, Mr. Jingles thinks about who is the best person to provide back-up. His first thought is Angelina, the trapeze artist. While he relishes the thought of spending time with the attractive aerialist, these creatures might pose a real physical threat and he can’t expose Angelina to that danger. Nick Peril, the Daredevil is a good choice, but Jingles really needs someone who knows animals.

[Does Jingles choose A) Francois, the lion tamer, or B) Banjo the chimp? A: Francois]

Mr. Jingles bangs on the door to Francois’ trailer. The Frenchman opens the door, still dressed in his lion tamer’s outfit, whip hanging from his belt.

“Ah, Monsieur Jingles. Ça va?”

“I am fine, Francois. I need a little help and I thought you just might be the lion tamer to assist me in a very important matter.”

“I see. So a cat has gotten your tongue?”

“Very funny. No. It appears this town has got a chicken problem.”

“Chicken problem?”

“The people of this town are being visited by monsters with chicken-like features. I have heard tales of a half-horse/half-chicken creature. Squirrels that peck and chirp. And a deer that . . . that . . . well, I don’t know but it probably has chicken feathers or something.”

“And how does this involve moi?”

“I’m interested in finding these chicken creatures,” the clown explains. “And I need someone skilled in working with animals. So, are you game?”

“You know me too well, Monsieur. When do we get started?”


Jingles The Clown
High Stats: Bludgeon Attack , Distraction 
Low Stats: Kickboxing (shoes), Deduction, scrounging
Equipment: Rubber Chicken, Big Shoes, Squirting flower, Rainbow Wig

Francois the Lion Tamer
High Stats: Whip-craft, animal-handling
Low Stats: zoology, cuisine, athletics
Equipment: Whip 
[Does Francois use a pistol? No]

[The first thing I am going to do is see if Mr. Jingles thinks about learning more about the situation before heading off into the woods. I’m going to treat this as a skill check using Mr. Jingles Deduction skill. All checks, whether intellectual or combative, are treated as a threat challenge. For a challenge create two options, A and B. One option describes what happens if your character wins. The other describes what happens if they fail or the opponent wins.

Each option has a high or low threat level. The character's option is based on the skill being used. The opponent is usually chosen randomly by a roll of the dice.  If the threats are equal, high v. high or low v. low, whichever option wins two out of three rolls is victorious. If the threats are unequal, high v. low, the high option only needs to win one roll while the low option needs to win two.

Q: Does Jingles decide to question some of the townsfolk first? 
Based on Deduction (Low) skill.
What is the threat level? Roll: Low  Test Between Equals. Must win two rounds.
Option A: Jingles goes into town and talks to the locals.
Option B: Jingles heads off into the woods with only the information he currently has.]

Round 1: [Roll: Option B] “Right now,” Jingles answers in response to Francois’ question about when they were going to get started. “I heard the sheriff mention some locals who live outside of town. We can check on them and possibly run into some of the chickens ourselves.

Round 2: [Roll: Option B, Jingles Deduction Skill drops a level for losing the challenge. Since it was a Low stat, it is now unusable] “Sounds like a solid plan,” Francois agrees. 

Clown and Lion Tamer walk off together, heading for the road that leads out of town.

[Do the pair run into any townsfolk on the way out of the circus? No.]

Mr. Jingles and Francois walk a ways down the road until they meet up with another road branching in from the north.

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[Do the pair wander from the road? Yes.]

“You know, Francois,” Jingles says. “All these creatures can avoid the road and prefer to stay hidden in the woods. I think we need to be adventurous and travel off the beaten path.”

“I think you are correct as always, Monsieur Jingles.”

[Do they head of the path A) to the right, or B) to the left? Right]

Not too far off the main road, the ground becomes a bit damp and mushy. Soon the duo finds themselves traveling among large ponds of water.

“It appears we are entering a swamp,” Francois suggests.

“I think you are correct,” Mr. Jingles agrees.  “Keep your eyes open. This is exactly the type of place I would expect to see some form of monster.”

Ten minutes later they are deep within the swamp, wading through ankle-deep water. Suddenly, Mr. Jingles spots some odd critters resting on the lily pads. They are green in color and have muscular legs made for jumping, similar to toads, except that they are covered in feathers and have beaks where their mouths should be.

“Watch your step, Francois!” Jingles warns. “Look! Those toads are covered in feathers and have vicious beaks.”

“Queele horreur! Choads!”

Their home being disturbed, the choads jump at Jingles and Francois.”

[In a threat check involving a party of characters, choose one character’s skill to be representative of the entire group.
Threat Level Roll: High  Threat will be against Francois’ Whip Skill (high)
Option A: Francois whips the choads and Jingles steps on them.
Option B: The choads overcome the heroes.]

Round 1: [Option B] Several choads leap upon the two and peck wildly with their beaks. Jingles swats at the creatures, but there are more than he fend off. Francois has his whip out, but can’t seem to strike any of the demonic critters.

Round 2: [Option A] However, the Lion Tamer does not panic. He has faced off against ferocious jungle cats. Compared to those majestic creatures, these choads are but a mere nuisance. Taking careful aim, Francois cracks his whip at them and sends several back into the swampy waters. Once he gets in a rhythm, he sends several toward Mr. Jingles who stomps on them with his oversized shoes.

Round 3: [Option B] Unfortunately, the victory is short lived as several more choads join in the battle and attack Francois from behind. [Francois’ whip skill is reduced to Low level.]

[Per Bivius Tunnels & Dragons rules, in a party situation if one member of the party fails another can continue the threat challenge using one of their skills. Mr. Jingles will use his bludgeon skill with his rubber chicken.  High threat vs. High threat
Option A: Jingles fights off the choads with the rubber chicken
Option B: The choads overcome Mr. Jingles.]

Round 1: [Option B] Seeing that his shoes aren’t accomplishing much, Mr. Jingles pulls out his rubber chicken. His main goal is to bat away the attacking chicken/toads with the rubbery prop, but in the back of his mind he hopes the critters might think it’s a real chicken and think twice about attacking the man who did this to one of their kin. Unfortunately, none of the demonic amphibians are dissuaded from attacking.

Round 2: [Option B, really have unfriendly dice] Try as they might, clown and lion tamer are unable to fend of the attack of hoards of choads. The two are eventually overcome, beaten unconscious by the feathered toads and drug off to their nests.

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When Mr. Jingles and Francois regain consciousness they find themselves each perched on a pile of choad eggs. Around them are several choads keeping watch.

“It appears, Monsieur Jingles, that we are these creatures incubators,” Francois speculates.

“I’m afraid you are correct,” the clown agrees. “And by the looks of those toads . . . uh, choads, we’re not going anywhere until these eggs hatch.”

“Ah, you forget! I am a master animal trainer.”

Jingles looks over at the other man with incredulity. “You train lions.”

“Yes,” Francois agrees. “But my talents don’t end with just felines. I have been known to command many a creature. Watch as I demonstrate.”

[Francois will attempt to converse with the choads using his animal handling skill (high stat)
Threat roll: High (Of course, now the die rolls even!)
Option A: Francois convinces the choads to let them go.
Option B: The choads keep them their prisoner.]

Round 1: [Option B] “Hello my friendly choads,” Francois begins. “You have made a big mistake. We are not one of you. We cannot sit here and hatch your eggs.”

The choads seem to pay no attention.

Round 2: [Option B] “Ribbit, ribbit!” The lion tamer starts to croak, hoping that will get their attention. The choads do not respond.

“Cluck, cluck, cluck.” Next, he tries the chicken language, also to no avail.

“Croak-a-doodle-doo!” As a last resort he tries combining the two.

“Give it up,” Jingles finally tells the lion tamer.  “You can tame lions, but you don’t seem to have any influence over chicken-toads.”

“Forgive me, I have failed you,” Francois laments. “You put your faith in my skills and I have let you down.”

“Don’t fret, Francois,” Jingles assures Francois. “We are not toast yet. Give me some time to think.”

The two sit there warming the eggs for the next couple of hours until Mr. Jingles has an idea. 

[Jingles will use his distraction (high) skill to try to give them a chance to escape.
Threat level = Low, the stronger option only needs to win one out of two rounds.
Option A (High) = Jingles is able to distract the choads, allowing them the opportunity to escape.
Option B (Low) = The choads are not distracted.]

Round 1: [Option B] The clown stands and all the watching choads suddenly come to attention, ready to pounce. Mr. Jingles raises his enormous clown shoe over the nest. “Come any closer, choads, and I will stomp on your eggs. I mean it!”

The ring of choads closes in.

Round 2: [Option A] As the toad-chicken creatures move in, Jingles pulls his leg back and kicks at the nest, sending the eggs flying. Fearful for their young, the choads turn their attention from Jingles and Francois and hop towards the scattered eggs.

“Run!” Jingles yells as he and the lion tamer take off into the swamp.

The choads do not give chase, too intent on retrieving the eggs kicked by the clown, and the two circus performers escape to safety.

“Ça craignait!” exclaims Francois.

“You said it!” Agrees Mr. Jingles.  “And what really sucks is that we don’t have any weapons. We have to go back for your whip and my rubber chicken before we can go any further.”

Jingles and Francois make a wide arc to the east to avoid the nest of the choads and carefully make their way back to the place where they first saw the creatures.

[Are there any choads around? Roll: No.]

The place is quiet and devoid of chicken-toads. Lying in the mud are Mr. Jingles’ rubber chicken and Francois’ whip. Quietly the two emerge from their hiding place and retrieve their belongings. Once they are back in the bushes and are sure they are safe, the clown pulls back his sleeve to reveal a wristwatch that features a ridiculously large face, about twice the width of his arm.

“We only have a couple more hours until daybreak,” he tells the lion tamer. “We need to get some sleep before the Sunday matinee. Should we head back for now and try again tomorrow afternoon?”

“Oui,” Francois agrees. “I need to make sure my pets are well fed before the performance, or I may start to look like a tasty meal to them.”

In agreement, the pair make their way to the road and head back toward the circus.

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[Do they meet up with wandering monsters? Roll: Yes]

As the two step out into the road, they find their way blocked by a strange-looking creature. It appears to be a man-like creature with green skin that stands about seven feet tall. He is bare-chested with muscular abs and pecs. Two pointed ears flank his bald head and short tusks poke out from his lower lip. The oddest thing about him, however, are his legs and arms. His thick legs are covered in feathers and end in chicken claws and instead of arms, he has two large chicken wings. Somehow, the chicken-orc holds a club in one of his wings.

“This doesn’t look good,” Mr. Jingles says.

“Bwaark!” the creature squawks. “Who trespasses in the Forest of Alectryon?”

“Pardon us,” says Jingles. “We were not aware that this forest was home to . . . was it Alectryon you said?”

“Enough!” barks the chicken orc. “You may live providing you make an acceptable offering to Alectryon.”

“Yes, we would be happy to oblige. What kind of offering do you require?”

“I will accept no less than two pounds of corn.”

“Hmmm. It appears we are a bit low on corn at the moment,” Mr. Jingles explains, taking a few steps closer. “But perhaps this will suffice?”

[Jingles attempts to squirt water in the chicken-orc’s eyes using his trick lapel flower. I’ll consider this using his Distraction (high) skill.
Threat level: Low
Option A (highr): Jingles squirts the chicken-orc in the eye.
Option B (low): The chicken-orc avoids the stream and attacks.]

Round 1: [Option B]  Jingles sends a stream of water flying from his lapel flower, but his aim is off, hitting his opponent in the mouth.

Round 2: [Option B] The monster wipes his lips with one wing as he raises his club with the other and prepares to pulverize the intruders. 

[Party fights back using Francois’ Whip skill (Low);
Threat level: Low
Option A: Chicken-orc wins
Option B: Party wins.]

Round 1: [Option B] Francois is quick with his whip and strikes his opponent square in the chest. The chicken-orc rear back from the sting.

Round 2: [Option A] But he is waylayed for but a moment. While the monster really wants to pummel the lion tamer, Jingles is closer, so he swings at the clown, hitting him squarely in the arm.

Round 3: [Option A] Mr. Jingles clutches his wounded arm with his good hand as the chicken-orc towers over him, raising his club for a killing blow.

[Jingles will counter with his kickboxing skill (Low). I will use the same threat level (Low).
[Option A] Jingles knocks down the chicken-orc.
[Option B] Jingles is beaten silly.]

Round 1: [Option A] The monster swings his club in a large arc as the clown whips out with his oversized shoe, striking his opponent in the shin.

Round 2: [Option A] The chicken-orc cries out in pain and falls to one knee.

“Run!” Mr. Jingles cries out. Before the creature can regain his footing, Jingles and Francois disappear down the road, making a beeline for the safety of the circus tents.

Once Mr. Jingles and Francois’ respective acts were complete the clown and lion tamer meet behind the Big Top.

“We barely have five hours before the evening show,” Jingles says, checking his oversized watch. “No time to walk. I’ll find us some transportation while you gather the supplies we spoke of.  Meet back here in ten minutes.”

The two hurry off in separate directions. Francois heads off to the animal tents in search of a sack of corn.

[Does Francois find any corn? Roll: No]

The lion tamer looks around the sacks of feed. He finds oats for the horses and hay and peanuts for the elephants. He knows his own cats eat raw meat. What he cannot find is any corn. Suddenly, he has another idea and heads off toward the mess tent.

Francois remembers that Chuck, the cook, served corn last night for dinner. Perhaps Chuck has some that he can spare. Reaching the small tent set up for eating, he heads to the food truck parked just outside which serves as the kitchen. (Everyone refers to it as “Chuck’s Wagon.”)

“Bonjour, Monsieur Chuck,” Francois greets the man who is currently preparing the evening meal. “I was hoping I could trouble you for a sack of corn.”

[Does the cook have any corn? Roll: No]

Chuck, a large man with a bald head and a five o’clock shadow is dressed in his white, food-stained apron. He frowns as he addresses the lion tamer. “I’m sorry, Francois. I’m plumb out and haven’t had time to restock my pantry.”

“Zut alors!” I guess Mr. Jingles and myself will have to make due.”

“What are you and Jingles up to that you need corn?”

“Ah! We are hunting giant chicken monsters!”

Chuck, a puzzled expression on his face, watches the strange man head off toward the Big Top.

Moments later, Mr. Jingles pulls up to the prearranged meeting spot driving the tiny clown car that is used in the cops and robbers act. He exits and Francois relays the bad news about the corn.

“Well, we don’t have time to drive to the store,” Jingles says, “So I guess we'll just have to try to avoid that Chicken-Man-Creature thing.”

[Do they run into any locals before leaving the circus grounds?  Roll: Yes
Local chosen at random from the list of “Local Yokels”]

The duo climbs into the car and head off in the direction of the forest. Standing alongside the road just at the edge of the treeline stands a man in a white lab coat. [He holds 1.Bridle 2.Lasso 3.Carrot 4.Sack of grain 5. Nothing  Roll: 5] Mr. Jingles honks the tiny horn as he pulls up beside the man.

“Need a ride?”

“No,” the stranger says, startled at the sudden appearance of a car being driven by a rainbow-haired clown and moustached man in full lion tamer regalia. “No, I’m fine. You’re not going in there, are you?”

“As a matter of fact, we are. Hey, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about those chicken-things roaming the woods, do you?”

“Unfortunately, I might be to blame . . . at least for some of them.”

Mr. Jingles’ eyes widen. “Tell me more.”

[When I encountered this NPC I only revealed enough of his story to begin the conversation with Jingles. However, as I revealed more, I realized his motivations were much different than I anticipated. This was fine, but would mean that I would have to rewrite some of the dialog. Another option would be to follow Bivius’ suggestions regarding published adventures. Using the descriptions in the pre-written adventure you create two options. Options A is the encounter as it is written. Option B is something else. This is what I chose to do.

Option A: Follow the Adventure as written.
Option B: Alter this character’s story.

The result of the roll (which I will withhold for now)  inspired the following.]

“My name is Benjamin and I am a biologist. I heard the rumors of the chicken creatures in these woods and came to Huevo to investigate. While roaming through the woods I didn’t see any of the beings . . . “

“Lucky you,” Mr. Jingles exclaims under his breath, thinking back on the encounters of the previous day.

“. . . but I did come across a rather large chicken feather. I took it back to my lab and ran several experiments. During the course of my trials I was successful in crossing DNA extracted from the feather with the DNA of a horse, creating a Chicken-Horse. I don’t know if it was just the horse’s nature or the result of the alteration, but the thing was wild, kicked down the stable door and took off into the woods. I really must get the creature back. Having a living cross specimen will greatly advance my studies.”

Benjamin’s eyes suddenly widen with an idea. “Hey! Would you two consider trying to capture it and bring it back to me? I would be most grateful.”

“Well, we don’t have a lot of time,” the clown explains, “And we were really hoping to put and end to this chicken infestation, or at least figure out what’s going on. Tell you what, if we come across your horse and it doesn’t put up too much of a fight, we’ll do our best to bring it back.”

“I guess that’s all I can ask for,” Benjamin agrees and wishes them luck as they drive off.

[The clown car can be treated as a gadget with its own stats. I will set one high and one low stat. The High stat will be Maneuverability, as it can zig and zag pretty easily. The low stat will be speed, as it’s a small prop car and not built to go fast.

Clown Car
High: Maneuverability (low)
Low: Speed]

“So, what is the plan,” Francois asks.

“I overheard the sheriff speak of two locals who each encountered these strange beasts: Odecoileus and Tamiasciurus.”

“These folks have some strange names. And I’s is impressed, Monsieur Jingles, that you remember such complex names.”

“I call it my ‘Clowny Sense.’ Anyway, I would like to speak with them. I have no idea where to find Tami, but the sheriff mentioned that Ode lives beyond the chicken church. So that's where we should go.”

Mr. Jingles continues down the dirt road that runs through the forest, keeping watch for the Chicken-Orc they encountered the previous day.

[Do they meet up with the Chicken-Orc? Roll: Yes.  He is accompanied by (d4+1) 3 Choblins.]

At the point in the road where another branch intersects with it from the east, the Chicken-Orc stands in the middle of the road blocking the way. This time, however, he is not alone. With him are three smaller green-skinned humanoids, also with chicken wings and legs covered in feathers.

“How I wish we had that sack of corn right about now,” says Jingles.

“I tried,” explains Francois.

“I know. It’s not your fault. My best hope is to swerve back and forth and try to avoid them.”

[Jingles will use the car’s maneuverability (high) stat. Threat level to avoid the chicken gang: High
Option A: Jingles avoids the gang
Option B: Chicken gang stops the car]

Round 1: [Option B] Mr. Jingles steers the car toward the edge of the road hoping to simply drive around the creatures. However, the beasts can easily deduce his intentions and move over to block the way.

Round 2: [Option B] Jingles steers the car to the other side of the road, but it’s no use as the Chicken-Orc and Choblins simply move over, as well. [Car Maneuverability drops to low]

“I guess you will just have to run them down,” suggests Francois.

“I don’t know. This car doesn’t have a lot of ‘oomph’,” Jingles concedes.

“What other choice do we have?”

“Since you put it that way . . .”  And the clown floors it, aiming the tiny car for one of the smaller, yet still imposing, creatures.

[He will use the speed stat (low) against a high threat [how come I always roll even when it’s a negative result for me?  Huh?
Option A: Jingles runs down the choblin
Option B: the choblin stops the car]

Round 1: [Option A] The car gains barely five more miles per hour as “Speed Demon” Jingles grits his teeth, anticipating the impact.

Round 2: [Option A] The miniature car drives full force into the unmoving choblin, send the foul creature into the air. It lets out a loud squawk as feathers fly all around. 

“We did it!” Francois cheers.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” explains Jingles, ignoring his own pun as he looks in the rearview mirror. “The big one is coming after us.”

Hot on their tail, the giant Chicken-Orc runs after them, clucking furiously. He rapidly closes the distance but, in its haste, foolishly attempts to fly by flapping its wings. Despite having some of the features of a chicken, it certainly doesn’t have the aerodynamics of a chicken (which is already poor to begin with). It barely gets off the ground before pitching face-first into the road and tumbling forward. The clown car pulls away as the downed creature can do nothing but shake it’s tail feathers and squawks in protest.

[Okay, it’s at this point that I realize I majorly misread a key item on the map, namely the location of the town of Huevo in relation to the rest of the map. Looking back, it wasn’t a simple fix to edit the story to correct a few directions. So I decided to change the map and move the town to where I thought it originally was, as well as some other locations in order to agree with their original juxtaposition. Therefore, if you ever download this one-page dungeon to play in your own campaigns, note that my images will differ from the published map.]

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Further down the road, past the trail that leads to the swamp, they come across an old worn and faded signpost that points down a small trail to the east that leads deeper into the woods. The sign reads “Church of Alectryon”. Thankful for the marker, Jingles steers the car down the narrow trail.

[Do they encounter any monsters once they enter the woods? Roll: Yes
I roll to randomly choose one of the  “forest” encounters.]

No sooner do they leave the main road when (3d6) five squirrels jump from the trees and pounce on the car. Only they are not quite squirrels. They are critters that have the body of squirrels, but the heads of chickens. Startled by the attack, Jingles jerks the steering wheel to the side but quickly straightens out the car. The critters bite and scratch at the windows and roof trying to gain entrance.

“Oh mon Dieu!” exclaims Francois. “These must be the chicken-squirrels you told me about!”

“Yes,” agrees Jingles. “The ones that attacked Tami. Maybe I can shake them.”

[Jingles uses the car’s maneuverability (low) against the squirrels’ threat (low)
Option A: Jingles can swerve enough to shake the squirrels off.
Option B: He can’t.]

There is nothing for the squirrels to dig their claws in, so Jingles thinks if he swerves the car a bit they should slide right off.

Round1: [Option A] As he quickly moves the steering wheel left and right, the clown’s efforts are rewarded as two chicken-squirrels slide across the windshield and are flung off into the bushes. 

Round 2: [Option A] The remaining squirrels hang on to the wipers and spaces around the doors. They menacingly show their teeth as they attack the glass. Without warning, Jingles slams on the brakes and the car comes to a sudden stop. The squirrels’ momentum sends them sliding down the hood of the car, their little feet scampering to get a hold. All three land in the road ahead of the car and Mr. Jingles pushes the gas pedal to the floor. The car lurches forward and bounces up and down as it rolls over the little critters, their squeals loud enough to be heard over the purr of the engine.

[Image: M7V16E5e43wXAXtzpcxn8hjVwrAI5nqC81FSox1S...BLCA=w2400]

Several hundred feet down further down the path a large structure appears amongst the trees. The wooden building is worn and weathered, the paint having peeled away ages ago. Most of the windows are broken and several planks have fallen here and there, leaving gaping holes in the walls. What is most notable, however, is that instead of nice plumb walls and hard angles on the corners, the sides of the building bow outward, curving both at the bottom and top, roughly forming the shape of a football. Protruding out about midway along out of the side of the oblong building is an add-on, or “wing”. One can assume there is a similar add-on on the opposite side of the building. The roof of the strange building has two additional constructions, one on each end. The end closest to the approaching car sports a spire-shaped like a chicken’s head. Through the “eyes”, Mr. Jingles can see a large bell hanging from a wooden crossbeam. Opposite the unique bell tower on the far end of the building are several wooden planks sticking up out of the roof in a semi-circular fan shape. These planks appear to serve no other purpose than to give the appearance of a giant chicken’s tail feathers. Anyone looking at it would have to admit it did look like a giant wooden chicken.

“What an ugly building!” Francois exclaims.

“I’m assuming that is the Chicken Church,” says Mr. Jingles.

“What else would it be? Should we stop?”

“We’ve already run into too many surprises. I’d rather talk to the hermit first and find out what she knows about this place.”

As they drive past, Francois tries to get a look inside through the broken windows. The lion tamer does indeed see a dark shape moving inside, but he is unable to make out any details.

[Do they have any more encounters before reaching the hermit shack? No.]

The small car reaches the end of the trail and stops. Jingles and Francois exit the vehicle and look around. To the north they can just make out a run-down shack through the trees.

[Image: eyxrh5V9horntwYv4r0S2vZ9KDzeBEU-9blOEIf5...Vo4w=w2400]

“That must be Ode’s place,” Jingles surmises as they walk off in the direction of the shack. The clown’s suspicions are confirmed once they see a large chicken head sporting a multipoint rack of antlers mounted on the front door. “I would suspect that’s what remains of the chicken deer she shot.”

Walking up to the door, Jingles tells Francois to let him do the talking. He raps sharply on the door and awaits an answer.  Several long moments pass and Francois starts to peek through the window as the door suddenly opens revealing a four-foot-tall husky woman. She is dressed in dirty jeans and a flannel shirt. Her frazzled hair is shoulder length and greying. The most notable thing about her, however, is that she holds a double-barreled shotgun, it’s muzzle angled up and pointing right at Mr. Jingles bright red nose. Francois reaches for his whip but the clown waves him off.

“Hello, ma’am. Would you happen to be Odocoileus?”

Ode narrows her gaze and surveys the colorful duo standing outside her front door. “And who’s askin’?”

“My name is Mr. Jingles,” he says, extending a hand, an action that causes Ode to tighten her grip on the gun and move it a bit closer to the clown. Mr. Jingles, heeding the threat, retracts the hand. “And this is my associate, Francois. We are performers in Professor Underwood’s Exalted Circus which is currently on engagement in the town of Huevo. Right now, however, we are investigating the strange chicken sightings outside of town. We heard you bagged a chicken-deer and we would like to hear your story.” He nods toward the head mounted on the door.

Ode’s eyes dart from Jingles to Francois. “You two don’t look like investigators.”

“No, ma’am. I’m a clown and he’s a lion tamer,” he says as if that made everything much more clear.

Ode thought for a moment, then lowered the shotgun. “Come inside,” she offers, “And no funny business!”

Jingles shrugs and he and Francois follow the little lady inside.

The main living area of the cabin is sparsely furnished. There is a round table with a couple of chairs, a dusty fabric-covered couch, a couple of end tables and a bookshelf. On the end tables are a pair of oil lamps and an old battery-powered radio that looks like it’s been around since the mid-80s. The bookshelf contains all types of books, fiction and non, ranging from the classics all the way up to recent new releases.

“Have a seat,” Ode offers.

“Thank you, but we won’t be long,” Jingles explains. “I saw the head mounted to your door. Some catch.”

“Yep. Big ole buck sportin’ feathers and chicken wings. It was the first affected deer I’d seen.”

“You say that as though you had seen other chicken creatures,” Francois chimes in.

“Of course! Surely you saw some on your way out here. They’re all over. Started appearing about a year ago. First the frogs and toads. Then the smaller critters like squirrels and chipmunks. Even seen a few birds such as crows and bluejays with chicken feathers mixed in with their own.”

“We ran into a gang of sorts,” Jingles explains. “A tall, muscular man, green skin and tusks with chicken legs and wings. He was accompanied by three smaller chicken-men.”

Ode first looks at Jingles with a puzzled expression which gives way to a sudden look of understanding. “Ah, so that’s what happened to them.”

“Who?” asks Francois.

“The Orcus Gang. Big Jim Orcus and his crew, the Goblinski Brothers. They broke out of the penitentiary a couple of months ago. I heard on the radio that they were thought to be heading this way. Never saw ‘em myself and they were never caught. Must’ve hid here in these woods and caught whatever the animals caught.”

“Do you have any idea what might be causing this?” the clown inquires.

“Can’t say that I do fer sure, but if I had to guess I would say it has something to do with that church. When I was a kid it was built by a cult that worshipped the Chicken God Alectryon. I think it has something to do with Greek mythology. Anyway, the cult’s been gone for over twenty years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they performed some rite or ceremony that put a curse on the place that turns living creatures into chickens.”

“Do you know anything about the church and what we might find there?” asks Jingles.

“I think I saw something moving inside,” Francois adds.

[Does Ode know anything about the creature in the church? No.]

“Can’t help you there,” Ode says. “I avoid the place myself. Have heard some rooster crowing come from the place, but whatever’s making it sounds bigger than any rooster I’ve seen.”

Mr. Jingles feels it’s about time to wrap things up. “Thank you for your time, Odocoileus. You’ve been very helpful but we really need to be going. However, if you’re interested in some fine entertainment, I would invite you to come to town and see the circus tonight as our guest.”

Old Ode sees the odd couple to the door and watches as they head off in the direction of the trail and their car.

“Well my lion taming friend, there’s only one thing left to do.”

Mr. Jingles, the clown star of Professor Underwood’s Exalted Circus, and his current sidekick, Francois the Lion Tamer sit inside the tiny clown car they borrowed for this evening’s excursion into the wood. Despite the fact that the little blue buggy can fit easily into a compact parking stall, its interior is quite roomy, able to fit about 20 clowns, give or take a joker.

“Check out the church?” Francois asks his colorful cohort.

“You guessed it.”

“It wasn’t really that hard a guess, monsieur.”

As they drove the short distance to the dilapidated building, Mr. Jingles recounted what they just learned from the hermit.

“The way I understand it, all these monstrosities were once normal woodland critters . . . “

“Or persons,” Francois interjected, thinking about the Orcus Gang.

“Or people,” Jingles agrees. “Then all of a sudden some mysterious force starts turning them into chickens. But not everyone. Odocoileus has lived in the woods this entire time, yet she’s still an ornery old woman.”

“Mon Dieu! What can it be? Do you think it has something to do with the church?”

“It might. Ode did say she avoided it. But I’m not sure. Some ancient curse sounds a bit far-fetched. I like to think there’s some scientific explanation behind all this.”

“But what do you know? You are just a clown.”

“You got me there, Francois. You got me there.”

[Is there anything outside the church when they arrive? Roll: No]

Jingles stops the car fifty feet from the church and he and Francois exit. Putting a gloved finger up to his wide red-painted lips, Jingles indicates to Francois that he wants the lion tamer to quietly follow him. The two creep up to the closest window and carefully peek inside.

The inside of the church was every bit of a shambles at the outside. Pews lay scattered, broken and decaying. Tables are toppled. Any artwork that used to hang on the walls has rotted away, leaving only empty frames. From their angle, they can’t see the altar area, but near the back of the church is a large pile of leaves and twigs roughly resembling a nest. Sitting in the middle of the nest is what appears to be a giant chicken with an extremely long neck. However, two more of the beasts can be seen roaming around the open room and it is obvious from their long legs that they are not giant chickens, but some type of ostrich/chicken cross-breed.

[The original adventure assumes you are playing in a fantasy setting and actually describes these creatures as Chicken Harpies. In converting this to a more contemporary setting I’ve already altered orcs and goblins into human chickens. I thought trying to explain yet another missing human (in this case three females) might be stretching it a bit, so I just went for a large odd bird instead.

Do Jingles and Francois A) try to scare off the birds, or B) try to capture the birds?  Roll: A]

“We need to get in there and search for some cause of all this and possibly a solution,” Mr. Jingles explains. He thinks for a moment, then has an idea. “Francois, I’ll bet the frame holding up the bell is very rotted. A few swift kicks and it will come tumbling down. I want you to sneak in the front and climb up into the tower. When you are set, I will try to get the creatures to follow me outside. Once we are out, you kick the support and send the bell crashing down, blocking the entrance so they can’t get back in.”

“Sounds dangerous. Do you think it will work?”

“I have no idea. Do you have a better plan?”

“Maybe the birds are friendly?”

“If any of the other chicken creatures we have seen are any indication, I wouldn’t count on it.”

Francois gives in and walks around the church, making sure to keep his head down so as not to be visible through the windows. He reaches the double front doors that lead into the vestibule beneath the bell tower and carefully peeks in.

[Francois will use his athletics skill (low) to quietly creep up the stairs. Threat level is High.
Option A (low): Francois makes it up into the bell tower.
Option B (high): The bird stops him.]

The lion tamer’s timing couldn’t be worse. The moment he pokes his head around the corner, one of the giant birds is looking right in his direction and sees him. There is no doubt in Francois’ mind that he has been seen, as the bird raises his head up, ruffles its feathers, and begins to charge.

Round 1: [Option A] Francois decides to go for it. He sprints into the room, heading for the staircase. The chicken-ostrich just misses pecking him with its beak as he leaps for the stairs and begins his descent.

Round 2: [Option A] He is not safe yet, however, as the giant bird begins to ascend after him. All Francois can do at this point is continue up. He takes the steps two at a time, hearing several crack as he puts his weight on them. He hopes they are sturdy enough to support him, as a fall from this height would be very painful. Fortunately for him, the boards hold. Unfortunately for the chicken-ostrich, Francois did weaken several to the point that they could no longer support the heavy bird. About halfway up, the stairs give way and the deformed creature plummets to the floor. The thankful Francois makes it to the top and catches his breath. He sticks his arm out of one of the eye-windows and gives a thumbs-up signal. Seeing the signal, Mr. Jingles heads around the far side of the church hoping to find another entrance. 

[Is there a door? Roll: Yes]

He sees a single door hanging loosely on its hinges. The clown creeps inside and finds himself in a small room. The door that separates this room from the altar has long since fallen down. Peeking through the door he sees that the two remaining creatures have turned their attention to the back of the church where their comrade had recently hit the floor.

[Does Mr. Jingles notice anything else in the room before proceeding with the plan? Roll: Yes]

Now that the bird that was sitting in the nest is on her feet, Mr. Jingles can see that there is a large egg laying in the nest. Obviously, she was keeping it warm when he first saw her.

[Jingles’ current plan is to simply run through the church, hoping the chicken-ostriches will chase him out of the building.  However, with this new information, he can change his plan if he makes a successful Deduction Skill (high) check against a low threat.

Option A (high): Jingles changes his plan, resulting in an evacuation of the beasts.
Option B: (low): Jingles proceeds with the original plan and must pass another challenge to succeed.]

Round 1: [Option B] “Well, here goes nothing,” Jingles thinks to himself as he exits the room and prepares to make a sprint through the birds and out the front door.

Round 2: [Option A] Whispering to himself, he counts down. “One . . . two . . . hold on!” Suddenly, the clown has a thought. Maybe he can do this another way that is not as dangerous.

Instead of running down the aisle, Mr. Jingles takes birds’ distraction as an opportunity to crouch down behind the remains of the pews and make his way to the side aisle that leads to the nest. Being careful to move quietly, he creeps us to where the giant egg is resting and picks it up.

Standing in the middle of the aisle, Mr. Jingles holds up the egg and shouts, “Hey, chickens! I got something you might be interested in. 

The three chicken-ostriches turn to face him. Seeing the egg, they begin squawking in agitation.

“You want it? Here you go!” With that, he pulls the egg back as though it is a bowling ball and rolls it down the aisles at the creatures. The egg rolls between their legs and out the front door. The birds waste no time and chase after their pre-born chick.

“Now!” Mr. Jingles calls out once the last bird is out the front door. The clown hears Francois grunt a couple of times, followed by some cracking, then a loud cacophony as the bell crashes down the tower and slams into the floor in a cloud of dust and splinters.

Francois’ head pokes down from up in the tower. “We got ‘em, oui?”

“Oui, we did. Now let’s see what we can find out.”

Mr. Jingles walks down the aisle to the altar while Francois climbs down the remains of the stairs and bell. When Jingles arrives at the altar he finds a book bound with dry, cracking leather. Laying next to the book is a wooden staff topped with an ornament shaped like the head of a chicken. The items’ presence surprises the clown as he thought everything would have been looted from the building by now, but he doesn’t think too hard about it.

[Does the book claim that the staff A) creates the chicken creatures, or B) controls the chicken creatures?  Roll: A]

Francois joins Mr. Jingles behind the altar as the clown carefully opens the book, being careful not to destroy the brittle pages. It appears to be a book of lore and hymns associated with the Chicken God Alectryon. (One of the hymns is preserved here.) It tells the original story of Alectryon from Greek Mythology), but adds additional information which the book claims has been lost to history and only recently (at the time of its writing) rediscovered. According to it, the soldier was able to break the curse put upon him by Ares and return from his chicken form back into a human. To avenge himself, Alectryon used the Chicken-Headed staff to change all the animals of the earth into a chicken army under his command. He marched his army to Mount Olympus and waged war with the gods. The battle raged on for many days until Zeus put an end to all the foolishness by elevating Alectryon to the status of a god. 

“C’est incroyable!” Francois exclaims, reading over the clown’s shoulder. “Do you think this is the same staff Alectryon used to turn animals into chickens?”

“Nah, it can’t be!” Jingles says, “But then again, if it’s really a magical staff created by a god . . . “
“Do you think the staff is causing all this?”

“There’s one way to find out. Francois, it’s up to us to destroy the staff! If it truly is the cause, then maybe destroying it will reverse the curse.”

Picking up the staff, Mr. Jingles leads Francois out the back door. They take a quick look toward the front door of the church and [Are the chicken-ostriches there? Yes] see the chicken-ostriches diligently trying to find a way around the bell and back into the church. Thankfully, the birds are not paying any attention to Jingles and Francois as they walk to the far side of the car. Francois starts gathering some medium-sized rocks and arranges them in a circle while Jingles rummages through the tiny car’s glove compartment for a lighter. (He knows Raspy always keeps one in there.) Mr. Jingles snaps the staff in half over his knee, then breaks each half in two once again. He arranges the pieces in the middle of the stone circle and starts a fire with the lighter. While they keep an eye on the chicken-ostriches to make sure they are not attracted by the smoke the fire burns. In about fifteen minutes, nothing is left of the staff except a pile of ash.

[Have the chicken-ostriches given up by now? Yes]

By this time, the birds have given up trying to get back into the church and have taken their egg and left to find another nesting place. This is unfortunate as now Jingles and Francois have no way to tell if their efforts had any effect. The clown once again pulls back his sleeve to expose his oversized watch and check the time.

“Standing here tells us nothing, but we still have a bit of time to drive around and see if there are any chicken creatures left.”

“Perhaps we can find that biologist’s chicken-horse.”

“Or just ‘horse,’ if it worked.”

Back in the car, they drive back to the main road, but instead of turning north, they travel south. After a couple of hundred feet the trees clear to the east revealing a vast meadow. Grazing in the middle of the meadow is a large white horse covered in feathers with two large wings sprouting from its sides.

“Mon Dieu! A pegasus!” Francois exclaims.

“I believe that is the chicken-horse,” Mr. Jingles corrects the lion tamer. “Check to see if there is any rope in the trunk.”

[Image: E5beyfUArxFL-a6eJzkQ599jcvFDeaU7rlTSia3j...r10g=w2400]

Francois exists the vehicle and quietly opens the trunk. He spots a length of rope and begins to pull it out hand-over-hand, letting it pile up on the ground. Mr. Jingles also gets out of the car and watches this new chicken creature. It has its rear to them and so far has not noticed their arrival.

“How’s that rope coming?” Jingles whispers.

“Working on it,” Francois answers, still pulling out rope. The pile is up to his waist and there is no end in sight.

[Does Jingles see anything else in the meadow? (There are other encounters associated with the meadow) Roll: No.]

Mr. Jingles scans the rest of the meadow to see if there are any other critters around. He spots none but is still a bit disappointed at the sight of the chicken-horse. If it’s still part chicken, that might mean destroying the staff did nothing. Or, there simply hasn’t been enough time for the effects of the staff to wear off. Either way, the best course of action would be to bring the animal back to Benjamin for him to study.

“Francois, where is that . . .” Jingles stops in mid-sentence when he turns to see Francois still pulling rope from the trunk despite standing next to the pile that is now taller than the roof of the car. “What in the name of P. T. Barnum is going on back there?”

“It won’t end.”

“Here, let me take care of that.” Jingles walks over and starts rummaging around in the trunk. “Ah, there they are,” he says as he pulls out a pair of scissors that are about ten times the size of a normal. He uses both hands to cut the rope in two and tosses the shears back in the trunk.

Tying a noose in one end of the rope, Mr. Jingles explains his plan. “I want you to use your animal handling knowledge to distract and keep the horse calm while I sneak up behind and toss this noose around its neck.”

“Oui monsieur! You can count on me.”

[The task will be based on Francois’ Animal-Handling Skill (high) against a high threat
Option A: Francois is able to control the animal and Jingles can lasso it.
Option B: The horse is unable to be captured.]

Francois slowly heads out into the meadow in the direction of the chicken-horse while Jingles walks a little further down the road before circling around and coming in from behind. While he is actually a lion tamer, Francois trusts that his methods for handling large cats will also work with this horse. Still, he can’t help but wonder if Maddi, the bare-back rider/acrobat, wouldn’t have been better suited for this task.

Round 1: [Option B] “Horsey, horsey, horsey,” Francois calls out. “Hello, Mr. horse. I am here to be your friend.” He wishes he had an apple or sugar cube to offer the beast, but all he holds in his hand is his lion tamer’s whip.

The chicken-horse looks up from the grass he is grazing upon to stare at the approaching man. When he does, Francois can clearly see that a large wattle has grown out of the horse’s neck.

“That’s a good horse. You are a pretty animal,” he lies, as he slowly reaches out to stroke its nose.

The horse, however, sees the whip and suddenly rears up with a crowing-neigh, front legs kicking and wings flapping.

Round 2: [Option B] Francois leaps out of the way of the flailing hoof but is still clipped in the shoulder and sent to the ground. 

“Francois!” Jingles calls out.  “Are you okay!” 

“Oui! Quick. Lasso ‘im!”

[The encounter continues with another challenge. Jingles will use his Bludgeon Attack (high). Since the horse won both previous rounds I will keep the threat at high.
Option A: Jingles can subdue the beast.
Option B: The beast is not subdued.]

Round 1: [Option A] The clown, fearing that his friend is about to be trampled, drops the end of the rope, pulls out his rubber chicken, and runs to put himself between the beast and Francois. The horse’s agitation grows at the sight of the motley clown and he lets out a loud snort. Jingles swings and smacks the horse across its nose with the rubber weapon.

Round 2: [Option B] This only enrages the horse more. Mr. Jingles, considering the chicken-horse’s size and strength, feels his best course of action is to run. He takes off toward the road, hoping that at the very least he can draw the beast away from Francois. 

Round 3: [Option A] Mr. Jingles’ clown speed (it’s a thing) kicks in and he is able to stay ahead of the horse all the way to the road. Upon reaching the car, he dives in the open driver’s side door and shuts it behind him. He quickly reaches over and closes the passenger side door as well. The horse rams the car, causing it to rock up on two wheels. The car sits back down on all fours and the horse rears up and slams its hooves down on the hood. It takes a step back and eyes the clown through the windshield, looking for a way to get inside.  

Meanwhile, while the chicken-horse is distracted with Mr. Jingles, Francois is able to get back to his feet. Despite an extremely sore shoulder, he picks up the dropped noose and follows after the horse. Sneaking up on the animal, who is still focused on the clown in the car, Francois tosses the noose over its head and pulls it tight. The horse spooks and takes off down the road. Francois wisely drops the rope and lets the horse go, but quickly runs to the rest of the pile and wraps some of the slack rope around the car’s rear bumper.  When the horse reaches the end the rope draws taught and the car, with Mr. Jingles still inside, lurches. The horse continues to pull the vehicle for another ten feet before stopping. 

Mr. Jingles exits and the two stand side-by-side watching the roped chicken-horse calm down and begin grazing at a tuft of grass growing alongside the road. 

“It looks like we’ve caught ourselves a chicken-horse,” says Mr. Jingles, patting Francois on the back.

Measuring out a reasonable length of rope, Francoise ties it securely to the bumper and heaves the rest back in the trunk. Then the two slowly drive off toward town leading the chicken-horse behind them tethered by the rope.

As they reach the signpost pointing the way to the church they see Odecoileus just leaving the trail turning up the road to town. They pull up alongside her and Francois rolls down the window.

“You heading to the circus?” Mr. Jingles calls out.

“Yep. Thought it might be fun.”

“Hop in. We’ll give you a ride.”

Looking down the rope at the trailing chicken-horse, Ode pokes a thumb in its direction. “Looks like you two have been busy.”

“That horse is just the half of it,” Francois explains.

“We’ll tell you the story on the way,” Jingles offers as Francois opens his door and steps out to let the hermit climb into the back seat.”

The continue and as they near the fork in the road where they earlier encountered the Orcus Gang they are met with no resistance. Instead, they can see a couple of the chicken-men peeking out from hiding places amongst the trees. Mr. Jingles can only assume that either they had given up on trying to stop them based on their previous encounters, or the gang is intimidated by the fact that they had captured the chicken-horse and were thinking twice about attack such formidable foes. Either way, the car makes it safely through.

Jingles and Francois have just enough time to deliver the horse to Benjamin the Biologist, providing they can find him. If not, they would just take the creature back to the circus in the hopes that it can be tamed and incorporated into the act. As for the curse, tonight is the last performance of Professor Underwood’s Exalted Circus in Huevo. After the show, the tents will be packed up and the troop will be off to their next engagement. Mr. Jingles may never know if he and Francois were successful in either reversing the curse or stopping it from spreading. Jingles, wasn’t too concerned, however, about Huevo’s future. They survived just fine before the circus came to town. They would survive after it left. At least Mr. Jingles the clown had himself another grand adventure, and that’s what matters to him.


It’s the middle of the night. The final circus performance ended hours ago and the circus workers have already started breaking down the tents and packing up the equipment with the hopes of leaving as early as possible the next morning. Un-noticed by any of them is a tanker truck that drives past on its way toward the woods outside of town.

The tanker with the logo for the “Cluck ‘N Chuck Chicken Processing Plant” on its side continues into the woods for several hundred yards and stops near the edge of the swamp. The driver side door opens and a thin man wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap climbs out of the cab. Following behind him is a beagle, gleefully wagging its tail. The man walks to the rear of the tank and unravels a hose that is hanging from the truck. One end is attached to a bib on the tank. The other end the man tosses into the swamp water. He turns the valve on the spigot, releasing the tank’s contents into the water.  He lights up a cigarette while he waits.

The beagle runs around and chases fireflies, stopping only briefly to take a drink from the swamp.

“Frisco, stop that,” the man scolds. “That water’s nasty.”

Frisco jumps at his master’s voice, yips, and goes back to chasing fireflies.

After about ten minutes the job is done. The man flicks the butt of his second cigarette into the swamp water and rolls up the hose.. After climbing back up into the cab he calls his pet. “Frisco! C’mon. It’s time to go.”

The beagle runs to the cab and leaps up onto the man’s lap to get to the passenger’s seat. The man closes the door and starts the engine, oblivious to the single chicken feather that is slowly drifting down just outside the vehicle . . . a feather that fell off of Fisco’s wagging tail.

With this short side adventure/experiment now complete, I can reveal some of the behind-the-scenes decisions that I made and give you my impressions of the Bivius system.

As briefly mentioned during the story, the one-page adventure that I used, “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” by Alex and Chris Stoesz, is written for a fantasy setting. I decided to use this adventure even though my story was based in modern-day because finding a contemporary one-page adventure is a bit challenging. I felt I could easily change the fantasy elements into more modern counterparts. This led to some fun names (Big Jim Orcus [Orc] and the Goblinski [Goblin] brothers) and descriptions (Ode’s image was influenced by the fact that hermit was supposed to be a dwarf).

One such metamorphosis was the original character Benhen the Wizard. He is the man Jingles and Francois meet on the edge of the forest, Benjamin the Biologist. While interacting with Benjamin, I ran into a possible pitfall of working with a published adventure and my “reveal as to go” system. That is there is always the danger you will at some point reveal information that conflicts or breaks continuity with a previous event or description. When this happens, the solo roleplayer has a few options: treat it as a twist in the story (if possible), re-write earlier events (difficult if they are way back in the past), change the information to fit the current story, or just ignore it completely.

In the case of Benjamin, I originally revealed just enough of his description to learn that he wanted the PC’s to capture the chicken-horse and bring it back. Great. That’s when I decided to make him a biologist and the chicken-horse an experiment that might hold the solution to reversing the chicken plague. I wrote the conversation with Benjamin and got to a point where I felt I needed a little more information to move forward, so I revealed more of Benjamin’s story.

That’s when I learned the real truth!

The Wizard in the original adventure was actually attempting to send the adventurers to their doom, hoping the horse would kill them. The reason was that he wanted to keep them from finding out that he poisoned the waters in the stream and anything that drank of it turned into a chicken. It was all part of the wizard’s ultimate goal to rule the region. This new information really derailed the direction I had planned on taking this NPC and his mission and, to a certain extent, the entire adventure.

At this point, I hadn’t progressed too far and could revise the encounter to fit with this new information. However, the Bivius rules already had a mechanic for dealing with pre-written adventures: treat what is written as Option A and something different as Option B. Since I already had another option I felt this was a good time to use this rule. In the posted story I didn’t reveal the result of the roll, but now it should be obvious that the result was “Option B” and I continued with my own ideas for Benjamin’s honesty and motivation. However, I liked the idea that poisoned water was causing the mutations so I let that inform the events of the Epilogue.

My Thoughts on Bivius:

I ran across Bivius while perusing the various solo rpg resources on Sophia Brandt’s blog Die Heart.  This solo engine was developed by Riccardo Fregi as a simple alternative to more complex solo engines, such as Mythic. At first, I wasn’t very impressed with the system as I felt it was too simplistic. Everything was resolved with a random determination of only two options: Yes or No, A or B, High or Low. It seemed there was nothing to account for varying degrees of likelihood or difficulty. A small farmboy could potentially kill a fire-breathing dragon with one or two rolls of the die. Or conversely, your character could just as easily meet his or her doom at the hands of a single goblin.

Then I read Fregi’s solo playthrough of a Pirate Adventure using Bivius. That helped me better understand and appreciate how the system worked. 

The most important take away for me was that Bivius is primarily intended to direct the narrative and not necessarily manage the finer details. It can indicate how difficult a task is, or how well or poorly your character is doing, but it’s up to you and your imagination to come up with specific details to explain why a challenge is as difficult as it is or how a challenge goes good or bad for your character. While technically you can pair Bivius with another RPG system (like you would use Mythic along with D&D), the system was designed to be all-inclusive, especially if you utilize the Tunnels & Dragons supplement.

Another important thing I realized is that success or failure doesn’t necessarily mean the death of a character or monster. For instance, the farmboy winning a challenge against the dragon might mean he was successful in stealing the beast’s treasure undetected. Or, knowing he’s a potential snack, the boy’s challenge might be to escape and winning the challenge means he gets away. In the case of the lone goblin, losing the challenge may not mean you are killed, but were simply unable to kill the goblin and he is able to get away and alert his friends. The key is to come up with success or failure options that are appropriate for the situation.

Now that I have actually run an adventure with Bivius I consider it a nice little system. I still wouldn’t use it for a big epic. However, for a quick story, especially one with low stakes (such as a clown investigating chicken mutants), it works just fine. I can see myself using it in the future to tell side stories or backstories involving characters from my epic adventures. For example, I can use it to tell the story of how Kelseen and Tozhug the Urook met, or why Bhartram Rosemight is distrustful of Harper Wyghtwing. Additionally, I feel Bivius pairs well with the One-Page Adventure format and will probably do more of those in the future as a break from my longer tales.

Looking forward, I’ll be continuing up my Kage Gordain campaign soon. Look for that to be continued in December. As always, thanks for reading and any feedback is welcomed.

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