Five Days until next Game Session plus traps and puzzles

Next weekend I will be running my next face to face game session. I have read over the game notes and the adventure module. I have just decided that the main trap/puzzle that the players have to solve I don’t like.

Lots of these old D&D modules have magical traps and puzzles in them which seemed fine when I was 14years old but now when I look at them I just don’t like them. Dare I say they are a bit silly? So I need to come up with my own replacement puzzle (in this case it performs as a lock to get deeper into a magicians tomb) that I feel comfortable with and gives a more serious tone to the adventure.

For this I think I want to construct something based around an astrolabe. I thought I was on a winner and being original until I did a Google images search and the top results were all for the Game of Thrones astrolabe. I read the books a few years ago and the idea must have stuck. What I did discover was that an astrolabe was not actually what I was looking for. What I was imagining was actually an Orrery.

An Orrery

Now, an Orrery is a great basis for a puzzle and seeing as the dead dude in the story was actually an alchemist the creation of a magical orrery is entirely consistant with the story and the world.

I am intentionally not giving my players any permenant magical items at the moment just scrolls, potions and single use items. One reason being that in a previous campaign I played in the game became completely overshadowed by the magic items the characters carried. To some extent it became that we were playing the equipment list not the characters. The other reason is that single use items force the characters to make choices. The item is used now or later but it cannot be used both ways. The only items that have are healing, the most powerful of which is a scroll of life giving, a single use bring a dead character back option. I like that one because it gives me the option of killing a character and knowing that it wil not be final.

Anyway back to the Alchemist’s tomb. I cannot tell you the actually trap/puzzle I intend to use as I am sure my players read the blog. What I have said here is not a spoiler for them as they have already know to expect something and its size and positioning will tell them exctly what it is when they see it.

Going right back to the beginning I have noticed now that in every D&D module I have converted over to Rolemaster I have removed either traps I think are immature or monsters that I simply cannot believe could have evolved or anyone would have created. The very first of which was the Gelatinous Cube. In the first game I ran for my players when they came upon a trap their first reaction was that “Oh this is a D&D adventure it wil be filled with silly traps.” It also brought out anecdotes about dungeons that had been ‘abandoned for centuries’ with corridors filled with locked doors behind which were two hobgoblins. How did they get there? Who fed them for the past 200 years? What were they waiting for? Needless to say I very quickly scanned through the adventure for any such room or other silly traps and I didn’t find any, thankfully.

Assuming we all started roleplaying with D&D back in the 70s and 80s we must have been much more accepting then or is it that I am now much more intolerant?

2 Replies to “Five Days until next Game Session plus traps and puzzles”

  1. Much more intolerant! No, really I think that as original players have gotten older, so too, their requirement for “realism” or at the least, logical consistency. Those old dungeon crawls with arbitrary traps, different monsters locked in each room were gaming great memories, but it would be hard now to be entertained by it. I do think you could take 10-12 yo’s and run them through a dungeon crawl and they would be just as captivated now as we were then as new players.

    As a fan of subverting tropes, I like the concept of lulling players into a assumed formula and then up-ending it all to keep them on their toes. RPG version of “Cabin in the Woods”.

    1. I have to walk a line with my players as we only get to play two or three times a year. Anything too complicated and they do not retain the clues or cannot connect the dots between what different NPCs told them from one session to the next. Too simple a game and it is not massively engaging.

      When I was a player I used to keep a journal from the point of view of my character(s)* that I shared with the GM and players in the week before the game session. This served as a refresher for both the GM and all of us as to what we beleived was going on. No player has offered to take on that duty in my game or any alternative. It is not a massive issue as my game is very much low adventure as the previous game was an epic/save the world game and I wanted to offer something different this time.

      The background to the game is that the town the players are in is occupied territory by a Nazi-esque force, they are being used by the garrison commander to complete a task (involving a mysterious disease and the burned ruins of a desecrated temple) so appear to be working with the bad guys but the characters are aware that there is a resistance and have had a couple of encounters with them. It isn’t too subtle and it is largely obvious who the good guys and who the bad guys are. There is a lot of scope for twists with collaborators and spies/spying between the opposing forces.

      All of that fits in a grittier reality rather than strange magical puzzles and gelatinous cubes!

      *One character died so I continued from the point of view of the second character.

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