Monday, February 28, 2011

When Labyrinths Go Wrong (Part 2)

PART 2 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last week I detailed the creation and exploitation of a supposedly challenging labyrinth for the in-development game Elven Fire. When we last saw our band of dragon-marauders, they had just finished robbing cradles and interrupting battling practice. Those poor, young dragons.

Time for round two! This time, welcoming a suggestion to let an experienced GM test out the written labyrinth, I handed the power over to the old batling (who had designed most of the game, anyway). I happily took my place in the marching order as one of the heroes.

The next challenge was the Food storage area, where the dragons kept their live snacks. The contents of the room included three separate pens of creatures: lions, elephants, and bears (oh my!) and two attendants, armed with something like a pitchfork and a large axe. Written into the plan was the idea that if the attendants saw the battle going south, they would unlock the nearest paddock and give the heroes more to deal with. It was a fun plan in theory. With the new aforementioned "recruits" added to our already large group of characters, there wasn't enough space in the room to fit everything as planned, so the new GM had to condense all those animals to one paddock. (We just assumed the various carnivores were all friends.) Sure enough, it only took the first round before the attendants decided they were outclassed and lifted the lock on the cage door. Aha, here comes the stampede of wild beasts! No, one of the attacking party stepped into the doorway, blocking any stampede and only having to attack and defend against the single animal in the doorway. The other characters happen to notice that the paddock is actually a low wall (otherwise how could they see the animals inside?) and the team lines up along the wall for potshots at the corralled animals. Might as well have put blindfolds on the poor creatures and offered them cigarettes. I suppose they did get one last meal, though. My son dropped a giant imaginary snake (illusion) on top of them, and they did manage to at least kill that as they were being slaughtered like fish in a barrel. Anyone need any healing? Yeah right, they made steaks out of the lions and moved on.

They chose to go to the Dragon Baths next. It was set up as a kind of Roman Bath for dragons, complete with priestesses to serve them as they enjoyed the hot spring rising from the Water Dungeons far below (into which no one had yet unsuspectingly fallen). There was also a water drain (another opportunity to throw someone into the Water Dungeons) and the two priestesses had mental powers. The mental powers kind of fizzled, and the 9-hex dragon of 70 strength (our players run about 10-20 strength on average) got turned into a dragonskin handbag with a couple of super-lucky, massively powerful rolls of the dice. (If I recall correctly, the second hit on the dragon did more damage than the dragon had strength to start with!) But hey, it was a pretty room!

Finally, we come to the Dragon Cella, the centerpiece of the Temple of the Dragons. Remember pictures of ancient Greek temples, where there was a statue of the god standing 50 feet tall and looking ready to step on you? This is that place. Other than the big dragon statue, there was only a girl in an orange tunic chained to the feet of the statue. This statue, however, was special. Not only could it turn into a live dragon (did anyone not see that one coming?), but this dragon, being the special, magical dragon that it is, could alter its type in a single turn. Most dragons in this game are one type or another and cannot change what type they are. Red dragons breathe fire, blue dragons breathe ice, brown dragons spit boulders, and other dragons do things even more insidious like spitting acid or lightning bolts, or breathing ammonia gas or shadows. This one can be whichever it wants, given a turn to change. Since the dragon doesn't wake up until the kid is freed, the party stood around the kid and planned first. Then, it all happened pretty fast. Snatch the kid, throw her on the lizard-taur's flying carpet (the "little" one) and send her zooming down the hall to be protected by some of the crew that wouldn't fit in the Cella, namely the young dragons and Ringwart the goblin slave (We've started calling him Target, after his ability to get hit against the odds). Then, everyone else takes on the Statue Dragon. These guys do a lot of fire power, and they did enough the first round to make the dragon hesitate. You don't hesitate in this game, it doesn't go well for you. So, in like two turns, there's dragon-rock pieces strewn around the temple floor and the principal warriors are heading for the dragon treasury at the back of the Cella. They open the treasure chests, grab the booty, and head back down to the nursery for "free" dragon eggs.

At this point I, the writer of this abysmal failure of a challenge, have pretty much given up hope of anything challenging happening. So I missed the conversation where the horse-lizard argued that half the eggs had hatched and been carried off away from the nursery. So, instead of a dozen hatched young dragons and two golems to fight, all we found were the two clay dolls and some expensive eggs. You know, I never did get my share of those dragon egg sales!

Despite my feelings of failure, they all claim to have had a very good time, and come away with good memories (And some extra fire-power and treasure!). Back to the drawing board.

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