This month, I wanted to write about tactics and their place in our style of games. And we will cover that idea soon, don’t you worry. However, I feel compelled to address Defy Danger’s attitudes and stances on exclusivity.
We have a publicly stated goal of making games in our genre of terror. Along with this, we recognize that this is not a “big tent” stance. We’re not making games to make money or necessarily appeal to a big audience. We’re boutique, a niche. But I want to clarify and stress that in every way possible; Defy Danger wants to embrace all people, in every variety, with open and loving arms. Our one and only condition is and always has been a passion for high-energy, high-risk / high-reward tabletop gaming.
DEFY DANGER SPOTLIGHT
Horror. One of the manifestations of the more general terror; tense, suspenseful horror has a place within our games. Right now, horror is being done in new and terrifying ways in tandem with excellent design in Bluebeard’s Bride!
PUZZLE – Do Unto Others
by Matthew Surber
This puzzle is designed to test your players’ abilities to discern truth and motivation, and then respond accordingly. It can be used as a stand-alone room hiding a valuable treasure cache, a ritualistic chamber to convey blessings, a lock to open a chamber elsewhere in the dungeon, or any combination of other purposes.
DESCRIPTION: You find yourselves in a hexagonal-shaped room with floors and ceiling of smooth black marble. In the center of the room are seven cast bronze arms, all extending out from a single, multi-jointed stone shoulder like a twisted weed growing out of the ground. Each bronze arm holds a distinct object in its outstretched hand:
- a property deed
- a sword
- a lock of long, black hair
- a goblet of water
- a pair of gold coins
- a torch
- a glittering gem
Arranged around the room are four detailed carved stone sculptures, each depicting the same elderly woman in different scenes.
Each mosaic depicts one or more figures in a scene with multiple meanings. In order for the puzzle to be solved, dungeoneers must place the object most desired by the subjects of the mosaic. Specific objects and their rationalle are listed below, though Dungeon Masters should award a successful outcome to any dungeoneer who puts noteworthy thought and logic into their choice of object-to-statue.
SCULPTURE 1: A frail male figure, almost nude except for a scrap of loincloth, so emaciated that his ribs and bones are visible. He lies on the ground next to an empty bowl, his left hand clutching his shrunken belly, his right hand raised up, and his face full of anguish. Above him, an elderly woman stands with her heel pressed into the side of the man’s head.
Further Examination: An astute dungeoneer will notice a carved slit at the man’s throat.
Solution: The Sword. The truth here is that the man wishes to die. Giving him death will aid the dungeoneers.
SCULPTURE 2: A woman stands between a well-armed figure and a small child. The child is shackled and dressed in rags. The woman is dressed in fine garments. The third figure carries weapons attached to his belt and is dressed in a crisp uniform. The woman’s face is twisted in rage and she is raising a hand to the warrior.
Further Examination: An astute dungeoneer will notice the stone used in the statue of the child has been carved to reveal red and blue marks like bruises across the child’s face.
Solution: The Gold Coins. The truth here is that the warrior is honorable and is trying to save the child. The woman is willing to hand over her property for a fair price.
SCULPTURE 3: An elderly woman leans over a table with her hands laying palms up on the surface. To her right is an open book and a quill. To her left, a picture of a young man.
Further Examination: There is text carved into the book. The words “scry” and “love” can be discerned.
Solution: The Lock of Hair. The truth here is that the woman is an archmage trying to scry for her lost love and needs a piece of his body, the lock of hair, to do so.
SCULPTURE 4: Three robed figures kneel before a throne, upon which sits an elderly woman adorned with exquisite jewelry. She holds a broken skull in her hands.
Further Examination: A stone eye of the woman is removable, leaving a socket in the statue.
Solution: The Gem. The truth here is that the elderly woman is worshipped by her acolytes and is ascending into lichdom. Fitting the woman’s eye with a gem of power would complete the ritual.
CONSEQUENCES: The puzzle is designed to engender roleplaying and thoughtful discussion within the description of the narrative. If players offer an incorrect object to a statue, they should suffer creative consequences that relate to the object offered. The following are a few examples to act as guidelines in creating your own unique punishments for failure:
- The lingering man wishes death. If a dungeoneer gives him the goblet of water, the offending dungeoneer is cursed with unending, gnawing hunger that must be sated at all times. During times of intense focus, such as combat, this proves to be a deadly distraction.
- Arming the slaveholder would make her capable of attacking the warrior and the party, animating as a vengeful golem.
- The elderly woman at the table already has the books she needs and would be infuriated to have it suggested otherwise. Giving her another book will arose her wrath and launch a flurry of spells at the party.
EXPERT CHALLENGE: The statue puzzles can only be solved by placing the indicated objects. No weaseling out of the correct answer.
MASTER CHALLENGE: The penalty for failure is death.
by Anthony “Deuce” Franchini
- All the fruits in the verdant Garden of Kawon are poisoned. However, drinking from the Waterfall of Hextor’s Blood will heal all wounds.
- Karvax the Troglo-Ghoul fears the Warped Cudgel of Flames. Brandish it with confidence and he will obey one command.
- Filling the Fountain of Blades with saltwater grants a prophetic vision showing the triple-headed serpent-blooded Minotaurs’ weaknesses.
Once again, Andrew Pascoe comes onto the scene ready to rip off our heads and shit down our necks. This dude is on fire! Who among you has the power to stand up to this tyrant and wrest the crown away from his hands?
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.
by C. Steven Ross
This month’s Puzzle described above depicts four key scenes in the life of a powerful woman-become-lich, with the exact details of the life of this archmage left to speculation and conjecture. For this month’s Design Challenge, name our lich and describe to us a fifth statue depicting a pivotal moment in her terrifying unlife.