Tactics? Don’t talk about … tactics? You kidding me? Tactics? I just hope we can play a game! Another game!
Defy Danger isn’t about chess, miniatures wargaming, or any other quiet, carefully planned gaming format. But like those kinds of games, tactical decision making enters into the equation to provide pressure with hard choices, and thus contributes to terror. Tactical games offer a stream of many many decisions. When done as the be-all end-all of a game or when used at leisure, this is boring, frustrating, and tedious.
We challenge you to instead use tactical elements in your games as another tool in your tool box, though maybe it’s one that you haven’t sharpened in awhile. If you’re starting with a base design of tactical elements, add in large-scale puzzle-solving, timers, roleplaying, and anything else that pulls the attention of the players and distracts their computational right-hemisphere with problem solving from their creative left-hemisphere. Likewise, an open-ended riddle or roleplaying scene takes on an entirely new dimension of challenge and stress by overlaying that part of game design with a problem that is more bounded and procedural, forcing the participants to think in multiple different modes at the same time.
DEFY DANGER SPOTLIGHT
A magnificent hybrid board game / RPG has emerged in recent years that smashes apart tradition and expectations in favor of innovative, immersive, storytelling gameplay. I’m speaking of course of Kingdom Death: Monster. KDM took the world by storm a few years ago in its first Kickstarter release. The price tag for the game was daunting, especially considering that it was coming from a relative unknown designer in the hobby gaming world. We here at Defy Danger can fully attest to its amazing gameplay experience.
Now, KDM is back out on the street for a revitalized Kickstarter run. If you can afford it, you would be a fool not to treat yourself to a copy of this landmark piece of quality game design.
PUZZLE – Cess Pond
by C. Steven Ross
This month’s puzzle is inspired by the strange, nightmare-world of Kingdom Death, our Defy Danger Spotlight. We are also taking a step back from the long descriptions of the last few months and presenting a puzzle that is much more quick and succinct. We want to show, here, that adding a puzzle challenge to your game can be simple, and still provides a satisfying experience. Don’t get worked up about making an elaborate, completely original puzzle that will stump the experts.
Start small. Small puzzles can trip up anybody. They serve to break up the momentum, switch the groups’ focus at the moment, and challenge their memory to recall facts later. Its a challenge that immediately forces players to change their pattern of thinking, and allows a broader range of player wits to shine at the table.
The Cess Pond at the base of the Inverted Mountain is filled with an eternal rain of filth and death that runs off the inverted slope above. It is a place of impressive and improbable life flourishing under the torrential rains of fecal-storms.
While traveling through the fetid swamps, the Survivors come across a large expanse of yellow mucus clover. The vegetation expands all around the Survivors. If they wish to continue to hunt their quarry, they must find a way to safely travel through here.
Easy Intelligence Check: Survivors will recall that the yellow mucus clover grows in a variety of subspecies, the majority of which are harmful to the touch. The subspecies can be identified by counting the number of leaves.
Moderate Intelligence Check: The clover is a plant-fungus hybrid which infests animal tissue with its spores.
Easy Wisdom Check: A close examination of the clover reveals that the subspecies are growing in distinct patches. Their numbers of leaves are all different: 2, 3, 4, and 6.
A Survivor traveling through any patch of mucus clover can feel the plants crushed and ground beneath their feet, like an overripe fruit long gone to rot. A slimy residue sticks to the bottom of their footwear.
Extremely Hard Constitution or Wisdom Skill Check, or after one day of travel: During the journey, you attempt to clean yourself, but inadvertently get some of the slimy yellow mucus onto bare skin. The afflicted body part (Game Master’s choice) becomes fertilized with yellow mucus spores.
If you walked through an area of clover with 2, 4, or 6 leaves; the afflicted body part is wracked with pain. Bone disintegrates from the invading fungal tendrils and the body part is effortlessly separated from you.
If you only walked through an area of clover with 3 leaves, the disgusting yellow slime can be scraped off with no ill effect.
SOLUTION: The path through clover with only three leaves is safe. The answer is a simple exercise in observing which number is different than the pattern of the others, in this case the only odd number in a grouping of even numbers.
EXPERT CHALLENGE: Change the number pattern to be based off of prime numbers (2, 3, 4, and 5). The clover with four leaves, the only composite number, is safe.
MASTER CHALLENGE: After separating from the body, the infected appendage is animated as a fungal abomination and attacks the Survivors while they sleep. Touch from this monster causes an additional incidence of infection.
by Anthony “Deuce” Franchini
- Bathing in the Slug Slime of the Fountain of Gol will heal all wounds.
- The Orchard of Forgotten Souls can be nursed back to life by drinking from the Chalice of Dead Leaves and vomiting upon the desiccated ground.
- The tongue of Immil the Black can be unknotted by finding the center of the Maze of the Anti-Djinn.
A new Champion has emerged! Jay Elmore has expanded upon the mysterious history of the Lich featured in last month’s puzzle.
SCULPTURE 5: An undead, emaciated woman kneels before an idol of the goddess of love and healing. The goddess’ arms are spread wide and she gazes down at the woman.
Further Examination: The hands of the goddess have shallow depressions in the palms.
The truth here is that the lich sought to eradicate threats to her eternal dominion, so she captured and crucified the goddess, draining and collecting her divinity to gain even more power.
by C. Steven Ross
This month, we gave you a small, gross taste of the world of Kingdom Death. It’s now up to you to describe a horrid plant, fungus, or parasite waiting for the Survivors as they traverse the Cess Pond.
The winner will have their hazard implemented into our yearly DDE gaming weekend in April, where we will be playtesting a Dungeon World RPG variant we call Kingdom Death: Dungeon. The winner will also be contacted by our team and sent a Defy Danger skull sticker so that they can #putaskullonit anywhere.