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.
DEFY DANGER ABROAD
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.
PUZZLE: ALL TOO REAL
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.
- 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.
DESIGN CHALLENGE: DOOMSTONE
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?