Newsletter #6 – Bull By The Horns

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DEFY DANGER wants you to embrace passion. At its heart, tabletop gaming is an emotional and personal connection. Though we couch our activities in myriad, byzantine rulesets, we play face-to-face games so that we can share an experience with other living, feeling human beings.

In that same vein, your game designs should always follow your passion. Write about what gets you amped up and excited. Explore the possibilities of whatever topic you are obsessing over. People often ask, “What new campaign should I start? Would anyone be interested in this kind of game?” F that noise. Grab the bull by the horns and show the world just how amazing your ideas are and just how passionate you are about them.



This month is chock full of amazing, new dungeon crawl style adventure for Dungeon World! The Dungeon Oracle Dr. Davy Jones has belted out a fever-dream creation full of bizarre, arcane formulae and horrific, nightmare monsters – The Maze of the Elder Brain!

Check it out!


Whispers of an ancient, nameless cult swirl like a cold fog from the underbelly of a once-grand city. Shapeless cloaked figures huddle in the rain, passing missives marked by diagrams of strange constellations. One symbol appears with disturbing frequency—a labyrinthine brain.

Only the brave or the mad dare try to discover more, but you are one such person. You had only just begun to pierce the veil of this enigmatic cult when you became the target of its designs.

You don’t remember how you got here, but now you awaken in an otherworldly maze-like prison. You perceive that at every moment you are being observed by an unseen presence of vast intellect. If you do not escape the maze soon, your mind will surely be shattered.

PUZZLE – Three Gems

by Sean O’Connor

You enter a room and see a solid, seamless, platinum cube hanging suspended from the ceiling. The floor of this room is littered with red rubies, green emeralds, and blue sapphires – all with the exact same cut.


One face of the platinum cube contains an ornate carving of two interlocked triangles, the 3 outermost corners each set with a gem. The colors of the gem are as follows:

  • Top Left, Red
  • Top Right, Blue
  • Bottom, Green

The center of the design contains a razor-edged set of adamantium doors, opening and closing at a blinding pace. A black iron handle can be seen through the gap of the doors.

If a dungeoneer attempts to reach through the adamantium doors and pull the handle while the puzzle is unsolved, the razor blades cut off their hand immediately. The dungeoneer must immediately DEFY DANGER with Dexterity.
On a 10+, the dungeoneer pulls back their hand in time before is it cut.
On a 7-9, the dungeoneer takes 13 damage.
On a 6 or lower, the hand is severed.

On the floor of the room is a small black iron rod, about 18″ long, ending in three gem-capped tips about 2″ in diameter. The gems on the rod are a red ruby, blue sapphire, and green emerald.

The rod has intense transmutation spells laid upon it.

The back of the rod is inscribed with the same shape and design as the face of the cube as well as the following refrain.

“Prisons of Emerald, Leaf and Thorn.
Graves of Sapphire, Water and Flood.
All will be revealed to Ruby, Rust and Blood.”

Touching a colored gem on the face of the cube with one of the tips of the rod causes the walls of the room to ripple and the color of the touched gem to change.

Ruby Rod Tip:

  • Turns one diamond on the cube into a sapphire
  • Turns one emerald on the cube into a diamond

Emerald Rod Tip:

  • Turns one sapphire on the cube into an emerald
  • Turns one ruby on the cube into a diamond

Sapphire Rod Tip (affects all):

  • Turns all sapphires on the cube into diamonds
  • Turns all diamonds on the cube into rubies
  • Turns all rubies on the cube into sapphires
  • Turns all emeralds on the cube into sapphires

Dungeoneers may test the effects of the rod by touching it to the gems littering the floor. Explain that whenever the sapphire is used, all gems lying on the floor are also affected.

If the dungeoneers turn all of the gems on the face of the cube into either all sapphires or all emeralds, a trap is triggered.

All emeralds: The walls and floor of the room immediately erupt with rapidly growing thorny vines that grab and strangle the dungeoneers. Each must DEFY DANGER to avoid harm.
All sapphires: The room instantaneously fills with a rush of water, holds for a few moments, and then empties out. The dungeoneers are drowned unless they DEFY DANGER with Constitution.

If all gems are turned into rubies, the adamantiunm razor doors cease moving and remain open, allowing the dungeoneers to safely pull the handle. Doing so immediately causes the cube to crack, rust, and fall apart, revealing a cache of magic items inside.

EXPERT CHALLENGE: The adamantium doors always cut off the hand of a dungeoneer attempting to reach in before the puzzle is solved. In addition, the blades are coated in Baatezu blood which inhibit healing. The affected dungeoneer must DEFY DANGER with Constitution or bleed out and die.

MASTER CHALLENGE: The floor is devoid of any sacrificial test gems. Dungeoneers must solve this puzzle by interacting with it and enduring the resultant failures.


by Anthony “Deuce” Franchini
  • The Tome of Thorns contains a coded Rune of Might within.  Untangling the cold-iron vines growing through and solving the code will grant the strength of thirteen stone giants to the resolute mortal.
  • The Genomancers of Prometheus have need of an off-worlder to help solve the murder of one of their own.
  • Rot Maiden and her awakened, hive-minded telepathic Venus Man-Traps protect the last golden dragon egg in the Cave of Cankers.


A new champion approaches!

The designs submitted last month made this a very hard decision and an imposibly close call. After deep contemplation, Andrew S. Pascoe has been awarded the title of Design Challenge Winner!

What won us over was, in his description of a god-slayer bolt-action nailgun, was the scale of change – and thus the level of player agency – this item brings forth into a campaign world. Some highlights:

*10+ If you volleyed at the deity whom the holy symbol belonged to, or an avatar, that deity and every being that worships it is consumed in nether fire, and their ashes are absorbed into the nearest star. No future deity can ever claim this god’s portfolio again.

*6- The crusader, and everyone sharing the crusader’s first name, is annihilated instantly and the universe forgets they exist. There is no chance for a Last Breath.


by C. Steven Ross

In the last Newsletter, we talked at length on how to design a campaign-long map-based puzzle, referencing a spacefaring setting. In one or two sentences, describe an intergalactic Terror World – a nightmare interstellar civilization that threatens to spread death and misery to 100 trillion lives.

One thought on “Newsletter #6 – Bull By The Horns

    Andrew S. Pascoe said:
    November 12, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Masterminds, the first race to exceed the power of the warp drive by discovering nigh-instantaneous travel across the universe. To satisfy their massive power needs, and to keep the galaxy from uniting against them, they have forced the solar systems into a series of games against each other in which the loser’s sun is extracted and cheaters go nova.


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