The summer festival is in full swing! Fresh flower garlands are strung from building to building and the narrow cobblestone streets are packed with visitors. The air is humid and heady with the aroma of spices and treats. Children don whimsical costumes and play in the streets, but one little girl cries for help among the jovial chaos. This week’s encounter is entitled My Brother’s Keeper, in which the characters are asked to fulfill a strange request from an even stranger being.
Editor's Note: Where's Baldur's Gate? The Road to Baldur's Gate series isn't over yet! It'll be back next week to continue the journey. In the meantime, take a look at a new standalone encounter by Uncaged developer Ashley Warren!
This encounter can be set in your favorite city from your favorite setting. Locales like Waterdeep, Neverwinter, or even your favorite Ravenloft domain work well for this short story—the town of Vallaki in Barovia is perfectly suited to this encounter in a Curse of Strahd campaign. Designed for characters of 1st–3rd level, this is a low-stakes encounter with a fun twist.
A young girl named Chava needs help finding her brother, whom she claims is “sleeping.” She asks the characters to accompany her to an abandoned toyshop, where broken toys roam around in search of their maker. Chava’s brother happens to be a dormant clay golem—and Chava herself is not what she seems.
The Maker’s District in the city square is filled with artisanal shops of all kinds: luthiers, ceramicists, haberdashers, milliners, and more carry on the old traditions of their families, bringing beautiful creations to life. During the summer festival, they open their doors to let in the pleasant weather and invite visitors to peruse their wares.
One such shop, though, is boarded and abandoned. A faded wooden sign that reads “Sophie’s Toy Shop” swings mournfully in the balmy breeze, but the revelers in the square pay little mind to this relic of a bygone era, enraptured by jesters performing magical tricks to the delight of children.
Any characters with a passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 10 or higher hears the voice of a little girl calling for help: “Please, mister! My brother is asleep and I can’t wake him up!”
The little girl is 8 years old and wears a faded red dress with a large bow; her brown hair is slightly mussed, curly strands pulled loose from her braid. A DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check perceives that the dress she wears is made of thick velvet and is not quite a “summertime” ensemble. However, she doesn’t display discomfort at wearing such an outfit in hot weather.
Upon spotting the characters, she waves and beckons them over to her, and introduces herself as Chava.
“You look like smart folk! Will you help me wake up my brother, Sasha? He has been taking a nap for a long time and I want him to come out and play!”
Chava herself is a flesh golem in the form of a little girl. Her scars are hidden beneath her clothes and hair and are hard to detect, but a DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) notes how Chava walks with a peculiar, shuffling stride. She is one of the many creations once developed in the toy shop and has been designed to not travel more than 10 feet away from it. (The fact that she is made of flesh and not artisanal materials suggests a more gruesome story that you develop in subsequent encounters, if you wish.) If the characters attempt to lure her away from the shop, she becomes confused and requests to stay near the door to wait for her brother. If asked about her parents, Chava remarks that her mother, Sophie, has been gone for a while, but she is sure she will return any day now!
If the characters agree to help Chava, she opens the door to the shop and invites them inside, but places a finger to her lips. “The others are still sleeping, too.”
Once the characters enter the shop, read or paraphrase the following:
You step into a musty artisan’s shop. Sunlight emanates through the front windows, illuminating the particles of dust in the air. A workbench in the middle of the front room is covered with rusted tools and the disassembled pieces of several toys. Other toys lay scattered around the shop, slumped over and covered in grime.
The shop contains two rooms; the front room that faces the street is the main workspace and storefront, and a back room serves as storage. A DC 12 Intelligence (Investigation) finds several sets of tools in the shop, including artisan’s tools, tinker’s tools, and woodcarver’s tools. On the workbench is a small wooden wolf and in-progress carvings of a little girl, a sparrow, and a snake. A small closet beside the workbench contains cleaning supplies, aprons, scrap materials, and a broom of animated attack that surprises the characters as it springs from the closet. A character with a passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 15 or higher hears the broom rattling in the closet in the instant before it attacks, and isn’t surprised. Chava squeaks and cowers during the fight.
Alerted by the sound of the broom, A modron tridrone emerges from the back room after one round of combat. It looks first at the characters, and then to Chava. The construct speaks to Chava in Modron, clucking its tongue at her, and Chava responds in the same language; characters who know Modron can interpret the following conversation:
“You can’t just bring anyone in here!” says the tridrone. “What if you left and Sophie returned?”
“It’s okay!” Chava responds. “They are nice. They are here to help wake up Sasha!”
The tridone scowls mechanically and says, “Well, make sure they stay quiet, or they’ll wake the others, too.”
Characters who don’t understand Modron hear this transpire as an exchange of odd clicking sounds and animated expressions from both conversationalists.
Chava continues to the back room and asks the characters to follow. Although this room is smaller, it’s packed full of the toymaker’s creations, most of which are dolls, puppets, and modrons, all of which are inanimate. Slumped against the back wall is a large creature made of clay; a character that makes a successful DC 13 Intelligence (History) check identifies it as a clay golem. Chava approaches the golem and pokes its arm; her finger leaves an indentation.
“Sasha! We have visitors!” She frowns. “See? He won’t wake up!”
The characters can inquire for more information. Chava is an unreliable source of information but relays what she knows the best that she can.
- Sasha has been asleep for “too long.” Chava struggles to remember exactly how long; she can only describe it as “too long,” or “way, WAY too long.”
- She can’t find his toy, a little wooden wolf. “He loves his wolfie!” She wants to find it because she thinks he’ll be excited to wake up and play with it.
Wolfie is Sasha’s source of command; those who possess it can control Sasha by making simple verbal commands. The characters can help Chava find the toy by searching the shop. She remembers last seeing it when her mother, Sophie, was repairing it after Sasha dropped it and a leg broke off. A character who makes a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) finds Wolfie on the workbench in the front underneath a pile of sawdust. All of Wolfie’s legs are intact.
When Wolfie is brought within ten feet of Sasha, the golem awakens. Unlike Chava, who is designed to look very human-like, Sasha is a classic clay golem and a Large construct; and his head grazes the ceiling of the toy shop when they stand to his full height.
Chava delightedly booms, “Sasha! You’re awake! Let’s go watch the magicians.”
She asks the characters for Wolfie. If they don’t relinquish it, she grows very sad. “But it’s his favorite. Sophie made it just for him!” She takes a long beat and pulls another felt doll from her pocket, and says “I guess I can give him mine.” A character that succeeds on a DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check notes many physical similarities between the felt doll and Chava. The doll is the magical source of Chava’s power; when she hands it over, she gives a sudden baleful wail and goes “dormant,” since she has relinquished control over her form. Returning the doll to her awakens her, but she has been “reset” to her default state of consciousness, and doesn’t recognize the characters and reintroduces herself.
If the characters hand over Wolfie to either Chava or Sasha, Chava leads her “brother” to the front room, and together they watch the festivities from the shop window.
Characters who have knowledge of golems may be perplexed or concerned about these two creatures. Who made them, and why? Are they dangerous or in danger of others? Chava and Sasha, however, are less interested in these existential questions and more enamored with the jesters performing in the city square, not unlike the other children in the streets simply enjoying a summer day.
If the characters succeeded in waking Sasha, Chava is pleased to have the company of her brother. She invites the characters to come back and visit whenever they like. And if the characters happen to see Chava’s mother, Sophie: “Will you please ask her to come home?”
Did you like this encounter? If you want to read more adventures, take a look at the other encounters in the Encounter of the Week series!
Ashley Warren is a contributing writer for D&D Beyond, Wizards of the Coast, Adventurers League, Kobold Press, Onyx Path Publishing, and more. She is the director of the RPG Writer Workshop, the producer of the Uncaged anthology, and the creator of numerous bestselling titles on DMs Guild. Ashley is a member of the Guild Adepts and a cast member on Tales from the Mists, the gothic horror show on the official Dungeons & Dragons Twitch channel. Learn more at www.ashleywarrenwrites.com or connect with her on Twitter, @ashleynhwarren.