Newsletter #8 – Tactics

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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.



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.

Kingdom Death Monster – Kickstarter 1.5

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.

4 thoughts on “Newsletter #8 – Tactics

    The Killer GM said:
    December 14, 2016 at 5:53 am

    In the Cess Pond, no plant is quite so insidious, or deadly, as the Devil’s Delight. A mushroom said to have been cultivated in the Burning Hells, patches of it litter the Cess Pond. If left alone, they are quite harmless, with intricate colors and veining on their caps. Petty nobles who make their fiefs on the fringe use it as decoration (and security, to be elaborated on below)

    The mushrooms exude a pleasing aroma, and are quite delicious when eaten, raw or cooked. The aroma is so appealing, so appetizing, even those who have sat a full meal can find themselves compelled consume this tasty fungus. This is the trap! The Devil’s Delight thrives in the dark moist of a creature’s innards, it’s spores graced with an unnatural hardiness against the constitution of man or beast. It harbors itself in the creature, and begins to weave it’s insidious tendrils. It may take days or even a couple weeks for the fungus to spread throughout it’s host. The host shows no ill signs, save a continued craving for Devil’s Delight. Once the spores have completely infested the host, the 2nd stage begins.

    The host falls ill, his body rejecting all nourishment, save mushrooms of any sort and water. Unless the subjected is cleansed at this point, he will be doomed. The illness takes days to progress, the host begins to see visions (The spores playing tricks on his mind) and his body becomes flush with fever and excess blood, the latter of which the host will start to weep and spit. At long last, when the body has been all but subsumed, the host will seek a spot on the ground, planting himself in the soil. It is then the newly matured Devil’s Delight erupts from the failing flesh of the host, who dies wracked with pain. All that remains is a stand of Devil’s Delight in the vague shape of the host, slicked with blood and covered in the last tatters of flesh. The remaining vital organs trapped in the gruesome sculpture are used to sustain the colony, and it begins to exude it’s delicious aroma, ready to begin the cycle anew…

    Liked by 1 person

    PROCLAMATION – Dawn of a New Age « DEFY DANGER said:
    December 26, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    […] about our message: push the boundaries of tabletop gaming. With that in mind, a reminder to submit a Comment for last month’s Design Challenge and tell us about something totally […]


    Anthony Franchini said:
    December 30, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    rapidly Dynamic Ossium Ousting Microorganism (rDOOM)
    This unicellular organism can be found in high numbers within the swamps from which the cess pond overflows. Within hours of the latest storm, rDOOM blooms throughout, creating dangerous conditions for any and all higher forms of life. A single gulp of water or uncovered wound permits rDOOM to enter the body and take hold. The organism replicates fast, doubling itself every five minutes once in the bloodstream. It is drawn to the humanoid bones. Once rDOOM has reached its niche, it induces rapid bone growth, ripping the surrounding neuronal sheath, wracking the body with severe and debilitating pain. While survival is possible, the resulting internal damage correlates to infertility in female humanoids. Males suffer seemingly less long term effects, but are significantly less likely to survive primary infection. In its final stages, the victim literally is ripped open by its own bone growth, its bodily fluids spilling out with millions of new spawned rDOOM. It is the practice of local tribal shamans to wrap up the bodies of still living victims and burn them alive to prevent the spread of disease and the tribes devastation.


    RUMORS – January 2017 « DEFY DANGER said:
    January 10, 2017 at 1:18 am

    […] Next Week – the Kingdom Death Design Challenge winner will be […]


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