Newsletter #2

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Quality control is the beating heart of the Defy Danger experience. As a multi-day tabletop gaming event, Defy Danger is often compared to the typical game conventions like GenCon, Origins, or a variety of more local events. The true difference here is that Defy Danger bucks against the standard, defies expectations, and re-invents this kind of event by strict quality control.

The typical gaming convention model is the ‘big tent’. Every effort is made to accommodate as many people as possible. It’s a business model and designed to generate maximum profits or maximum attendance. If your goal is simply to be surrounded by a mob of humanity, this works great. That’s not really what we are interested in.

Defy Danger seeks to provide a limited group of gamers with the best gaming possible. The organizers on each event carefully curate the list of attendees to only those people who can bring high energy, a willingness to engage the game each and every session, a positive attitude, and an overabundance of creativity. No scrubs. No wallflowers. No duds. No assholes. No bitter grognards. By weeding out people who do not share our tastes, we are able to play games with tables full of people who enhance our gaming experience.

Similarly, the games offered at a Defy Danger event are purposefully limited. Each game must embody the ideal of terror – a mixture of fear, excitement, apprehension, panic, and awe. Canned adventures put out by the big name companies in an effort to please crowds are simply not allowed. We would rather close the doors and go home than waste our time and be bored with a mediocre experience.

That statement speaks to a greater ideal that Defy Danger embodies. It is not enough simply to have a passing interest in the same hobby. That does not make us brothers and sisters; that does not make us friends. We all must go above and beyond and be the best gamers possible. The game master doesn’t owe any player anything. We all must contribute to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. And you know what, not everyone who plays tabletop games has the kind of passion and dedication to do that. Defy Danger is unrepentant in saying that those kinds of people can stay home, we’ll take the elite few who can stand up to these expectations.

Do you have questions for the Defy Danger Council? Please email us here and we will answer them in future Proclamations.


This month, we’d like to shine a spotlight on a great new product that just came out – The Lich’s Vault!
Epic adventures deserve epic rewards. This 19-page PDF contains 100 unique treasure cards for use with the Dungeon World RPG. The Khopesh of Extinction allows its wielder to wipe entire races from existence. The Sands of Time Reverse can undo a single fatal mistake. The Jade Devil Mask summons diabolical traps. In the spirit of Dungeon World, each of these treasures is designed to propel the narrative forward. They work great in one-shot adventures; they work great in ongoing campaigns.
Each treasure features one of 20 original illustrations by artist Brandon Reinert.


Every trap has two parts to it: bait & hammer. The bait of every trap is the delicious prize that tantalizes players into action. It is the incentive by which players bring your traps’ unfortunate series of events down upon their own character’s heads. The hammer, in contrast, is the pain that is brought when the trap is triggered. A trap with no means of detriment or harm is simply a giveaway, while a trap with no potential reward or benefit is simply an uninteresting punishment.

This month’s Puzzle delves into this idea and breaks the fourth wall. One of the hallmarks of a great puzzle is forcing the players to think laterally. This month, we go that route by bringing the puzzle itself into real-life and the actions of the real people at your gaming table with a series of practical challenges. All example game mechanics effects are listed for Dungeons & Dragons (5E). Put in the Comments below what game system you would prefer to use instead and what examples mechanics you would use.

1. Stickers on Cans

Host the night’s game at your place, where you will be well-prepared ahead of time, or bring canned drinks for everyone. Earlier that day, subtly mark the bottom of a few of the cans with stickers and try to keep that out of view for awhile. Some stickers will indicate a harmful condition, while others indicate a benefit. When a player knocks back a can to take a drink, keep an eye on what sticker is now shown on the bottom of the can. When players drink from a marked can, their in-game characters receive a predetermined curse or boon.

A cursed drink forces a the character to make a DC 13 Constitution Saving Throw, dealing 10 poison damage on a failed save.

EXPERT LEVEL CHALLENGE: A failed save deals 25 poison damage.
MASTER LEVEL CHALLENGE: A failed save kills the character outright.

However, drinking from a beneficial beverage can heal a character of all hit point damage, grant advantage on attack rolls for 10 minutes, or replenish up to three expended spells.

2. The Box That Was Broken

Before anyone shows up for your game session, warn your players that “Those who avoid the common path will be spared, while those who seek an alternative will be rewarded“.

Carefully slide a folded note under the flap on the top of a box of snacks (Cheez-itz or what have you). The note should read “Rat takes the cheese – you are polymorphed!” When the top of the box is opened, have that player read it. Their character must make DC 13 Constitution Saving Throw. Failing the save changes the character for the next 10 minutes into a Tiny rodent of their choice. (See Rat, PHB p. 309, for additional statistics)

EXPERT LEVEL CHALLENGE: A failed save lasts the rest of the session.
MASTER LEVEL CHALLENGE: A failed save results in a permanent transformation.

You must also, however, carefully slide a folded note under the flap on the bottom of the box of snacks. The note should read “The spectral hand steals that which is guarded!” When the top of the box is opened, have that player read it. For the rest of the game session, their character’s left hand and arm can become ethereal at will, allowing them to grab and manipulate objects through solid material. The player may also choose to make anything grabbed in such a way ethereal as well.

3. Find Familiar

Before the game starts or players arrive, place three small notes inside the collar of a nearby pet, each of which reads “Loyalty – Bonded For Life to the One True Master“. The first player to read such a note is treated as if their character cast the spell Find Familiar (PHB p. 240).

The next player to read such a note summons a pack of 2d4 Wolves (MM p.311) in the closest unoccupied space to their character. The wolves are hostile and immediately attack.


Rumors are a great way to spur imagination. They must always portray evocative images, yet be vague enough in application to fit into any game. Rumors are never completely reliable, often tempting adventurers into dangerous situations by promising lies and half-truths.
  • Sacrificing a loved one upon the dreaded Doomstone (see Design Challenge below) will bar the Hellfire Sphinx from this plane.
  • Solving the Transdimensional Demonic Hypercube will unlock the Seventh Seal of the Vault of Torment.
  • The Sunsteel Blade is imprisoned within a secret chamber below the Keep of Despair.


The winner of last month’s design contest goes out to Anthony ‘Deuce’ Franchini‘s description of the Amulet of the Serpent-Lord. This was a tough one, with KillerGM‘s description clearly superior in verisimilitude, the winner pulled ahead due to his grand vision and large-scale scope of the artifact’s power.
This month’s challenge:
What mind-blowing, over-the-top gonzo horrors does the Doomstone inflict upon your hapless world?
Are you Dungeon Master enough to show these punks how it’s done?
Leave a narrative description in the Comments below, adding any supporting game mechanics (from any roleplaying game of your choice) to emphasize and reinforce your design. The most innovative, shocking, or thought-provoking entry will be featured next month as a paragon of game design.

One thought on “Newsletter #2

    deucedm said:
    July 5, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    The DOOMSTONE is no measily pebble, no bland boulder, or gem attracting all the worse creatures to it. The DOOMSTONE is in fact a comet, a future apocalypse, transversing the sky with an ever decaying orbit. Soon, it will enter the atmosphere, igniting it afire and burning this world and all its inhabitants. How do we know this? Many seers and scholars have augured to understand the future and the DOOMSTONEs role in it. With its orbit bringing it into view to the naked eye every 66 days, the Council of Celestial Centurians believes that we only have 9 cycles left before the gravity of our planet draws the DOOMSTONE to its final destination.

    What affects will it have? No one knows. Divinations and celestial calculations all disagree. One who has been very vocal on the matter, Taryn Dutil, Astronomer Supreme, suggests that the fluctuating density of the DOOMSTONE means it is in fact a complex organism, perhaps demonic in origin, not ice and stone. There is also the odd nature of the comet’s tail, which changes in size independent of its orbit near the sun. What odd properties are responsible for it? Is it some innate property of its composition or is someone working behind the scenes to stop it? Some dark force at work summoning it? We may only find out the answer to that question when its already too late!

    Notes on use: Here, the DOOMSTONE is designed for use as a neutral plot device, quest destination/locale (think the movie Armaggedon), campaign/adventure front, or patron (for 13th age or D&D). However,

    Liked by 1 person

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