Welcome to the Waterdeep Field of Triumph! Today I will be presenting a rickshaw race for your use and enjoyment, to take place within this iconic colosseum.
Not in Waterdeep? No problem. This rickshaw race will work in any open space available to your players. Let’s get racing.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
Ricky Shaw’s Rickshaw Racing: Intro and Overview
The rickshaw race is an opportunity for players to do something a little different in a colosseum setting. It is owned and run by a human male named Ricky Shaw. More on him below.
When the players arrive, the stands are already brimming with townsfolk of all walks of life, eagerly placing bets on the Dragharns (see below) as these athletes gather and show off their race outfits. Townsfolk also admire the rows of beautiful rickshaws available for sale and enjoy food from one of the available stands.
I’m not much of a box reader, but everyone has a different style, so I’ve provided for you below a (strongly edited and pretty long) description you could use as a descriptive script, compliments of ChatGPT:
A beautiful day unfolds before you in this colosseum. The air is crisp and alive with the anticipation of the rickshaw race.
The stands surrounding the racetrack are abuzz with energy, filled to the brim with townsfolk from all walks of life. Excitement is in the air as eager spectators, their eyes gleaming with anticipation, place bets on the upcoming race. Laughter and animated conversations weave through the crowd.
Before the race begins, you notice the Dragharns, the remarkable athletes who will pull the rickshaws, gathering and showing off their race outfits. Clad in vibrant, eye-catching garments adorned with intricate designs, jewels, and flowing ribbons, the Dragharns exude both athleticism and style. You can’t help but feel the electrifying energy emanating from these competitors as they prepare to showcase their strength and agility in this unique event.
Adjacent to the racetrack, rows of beautiful rickshaws stand proudly on display. These finely crafted vehicles are adorned with elegant carvings and vibrant paintwork, among other custom touches.
As you advance into the arena, aromas of delectable food wafts through the air. Savory pies, roasted meats, freshly baked bread and sweets are available for you to purchase.
You find yourselves immersed in a day of revelry and celebration, a respite from the usual challenges you face in your adventures. The sun shines warmly overhead, casting a golden glow upon the scene.
What would you like to look at first?
For the race mechanics, I used a modified version of Ben Hvrt. It is available for a $5 donation, or can be downloaded for free if you scroll down a bit. I printed the cards and removed the ones that didn’t really work with a D20 system.
Major Conflict with a Minor Villain
I also used this opportunity to present a few nefarious NPCs to see how my players would react to them. I used my treasured Deck of Stories (Amazon link) and pulled out a few of the meaner looking folks. These NPCs spent the entire race either antagonizing my players or literally killing other race contenders.
One of these new characters stood out to my players, so he was quietly assigned a small role in a major BBEG faction and showed up at the Exotic Marketplace a few days later where he threw a fireball into a crowd. The ensuing chase and loose partnership with the Waterdhavian City Watch was fun for them.
How the Race Officiators Hide the Violence
Ricky Shaw owns Ricky Shaw’s Rickshaw Racing and keeps a close eye on the race. He does not want the townsfolk to realize how dastardly some of his participants can be, so he will hide any overt acts of violence. He not only does this to keep the crowd from panicking, but also to limit his involvement with authorities. Ricky Shaw has a tendency to embroil himself in only “sort of” legal activities to make much of his wealth and would rather not hobnob with the City Watch.
If any violence breaks out, Ricky Shaw will cast powerful illusory magic to hide the violence. Corpses will be turned into a sack of flour and carried off by several of his goons. Though non sequitur, this generally prevents people from panicking.
Winning the Race
You may choose whatever prize feels appropriate to you for the victor. I awarded my winning player two 10% off coupons for the upcoming Exotic Marketplace event as well as a modest amount of gold.
Once I write up the Exotic Marketplace event, I will update links here and on the Field of Triumph overview page for you.
Race Dragharns: A Serious Subculture
The Dragharns in my game are very serious about their sport. It may be more appropriate to call this a religion or a cult within my game, and you may want to tone down the intensity of it depending on your group’s preferences.
A Dragharn is a made up term. In my game, it’s someone who pulls a rickshaw. If your players end up with a rickshaw of their own, they will likely want a Dragharn to accompany them on their journeys. A Dragharn’s pay can be negotiated in whatever terms make sense for your players. Many would be glad to pull a rickshaw for no more pay than food, shelter, and being the exclusive Dragharn on a beautiful rickshaw. They would want to participate in local rickshaw races, shows, or other events as they party’s schedule allowed, of course.
In our game, the Dragharns take their job very seriously. When pulling a rickshaw, they will die before letting go prematurely, often navigating difficult terrain, nasty weather, or other dangerous circumstances for hours on end. They wear a one-piece jumpsuit, usually decorated by sponsors or bejeweled to match the rickshaw they are pulling. They will have a working outfit and a show outfit. They will wear the show outfit to a race or other events. The show outfit will usually include a headdress.
Below is an example of what a peacock-inspired Dragharn show outfit could look like.
Dragharns also have a secret phrase they are given by the rickshaw’s owner. They will utter this each time they begin pulling the vehicle and when it is time to stop. The player at my table who bought a rickshaw chose the phrase “Bird is the word,” so his assigned Dragharn, Cornelius, says this with reverence each time they set out on a journey together.
Cornelius’ show outfit is a velvet black one-piece jumpsuit with rhinestones scattered like stars. He also sports a deep V-neck and a silver and black headdress. When he’s not working as a Dragharn, he is lounging in my players’ tavern, enjoying his trust fund and doing basically nothing.
Named in the heat of the moment, Ricky Shaw has become a critical NPC and one of my most interesting characters in Waterdeep. I have since come up with a much better system for preparing NPCs, if you’re interested.
This NPC is the race’s officiator and a powerful sorcerer. He uses his magic to enchant his incredibly awesome and insanely expensive rickshaws for sale, and to enhance the race as a show for the audience. He also uses magic to hide any violence that happens during the race, as explained above. He is a showman before all else.
He will certainly become embroiled in a villain’s nefarious plot if given the opportunity and believes he will remain safe. Not because he is evil or destructive, but he is greedy and self-serving. I consider him a Chaotic Neutral character.
I also have a write-up for this NPC for you to take a look at here.
Rickshaws for Sale
For those of you who have players overflowing with cash and a penchant to buy anything shiny in sight, I have quite a gift for you.
In addition to the race event, a sort of medieval car lot is set up inside the colosseum with dozens of unique and interesting rickshaws for sale. These can be described in any way that you feel would be most appealing to your players. The rickshaws are enchanted with powerful illusion spells to give them a variety of interesting appearances. Some have magical lighting, as well. Ricky Shaw is a pushy salesman.
I set the price for one rickshaw at 150,000gp. They do absolutely nothing except look cool, and if not being pulled by a Dragharn, they will move at a walking pace of three miles-per-hour when the owner utters the secret phrase. They choose this phrase when purchasing the vehicle, and share it with their Dragharn.
I had a lot of fun coming up with rickshaw images in Midjourney, so check out and feel free to grab any of the images below. Not all of them would actually work. It’s AI, after all. The wheels are wonky, or there are other issues. Use them as creative inspiration.
For those of you who enjoy AI image generating—the prompt was some variation of the following:
a pulled rickshaw :: studio lighting, rainbow, lights, playful
a pulled rickshaw :: studio lighting, black and purple, spider motif
Tracking the Loan
Unless your players have enough gold to cover the cost of the rickshaw, consider allowing them to take out a loan. This ensures they will continue to have a payment commitment going forward. This helps burn through some extra gold and motivate them to make more money. In addition, if they choose to default on their payments, that’s a great opportunity for you to incorporate a new side quest or minor villain.
Loan Calculator: Here’s a robust one from calculator.net.
If you want to set up your loan payments on a calendar, check out this one. I also use it to plan out my Field of Triumph content and other events.
Faerun Calendar: This is the calendar I use. It’s a little clunky, but once you get used to it and get it setup, it works great.
The rickshaw races are a great opportunity to give players something a little different to enjoy in a colosseum setting. Everyone loves a good pit fight, but sometimes mixing it up can be a delightful experience for the people at our tables. This event not only allows players to participate in the race itself, but also to purchase an expensive and unique asset, meet a new NPC, and even gamble some of their hard earned gold away, should they choose to indulge in that pastime.
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