Last week, I posted about a formula I devised at the New York Comic Con to play an improv randomly generated dungeon crawl.
At the time, I had no idea how successful the experience would be. As it turns out, things went quite well indeed. Read on for the “storified” highlights of this two hour game.
Puzzling it Out
In one room I rolled “puzzle” on my trusty chart. The map showed two pools, one silver coloured and one gold. So I devised the following “simple” puzzle. The players had to take a container made of silver to transfer water from the silver pool to the gold pool OR take a gold container to do the reverse. Doing either popped a secret latch in the wall and uncovered the treasure.
I let the players experiment for about 10 minutes, answering questions, helping them learn about skill checks to obtain hints and figure things out. They eventually caught on but no one had a silver or golden container.
Rogue: Hey wait (throws treasure token from a previous encounter my way), I have this magnificent silver liquor flask. I pour out the content and use it.
Chatty: What was in the flask?
Rogue (smiling evilly) Fine Dwarven spirits…
Obligatory Level 1 Generic Critter Fight
Later in the game, the characters were hard at work fighting kobolds. The PCs were in deep trouble; everyone was bloodied as the Kobold Sligner was spreading chaos and mayhem.
Drow Ranger: I swear to god, if I get hit by another shit pot, I’m going to turn that guy into a pair of boots.
Chatty: That’s a great use of the Nature skill by the way.
At that point, another player asked to join the game, I gave him the cleric, explained that Groo (the Goblin bookie that gave the quest) was worried that his investment wasn’t being properly attended to…
… And that the cleric was “insurance”
Party: HEALING PLEASE!
The cleric’s timely arrival saved the day… as were the treasure tokens traded for healing potions.
The last scene we played was, by far, the best of the whole convention for me. You see, when I was prepping the game, I really wanted to showcase both elements of the game’s name. When I told Wizards of the Coast’s community manager Michael Robles about my plans, he lent me his Red Dragon mini (sorry Mike, I still have it, I’ll bring it at Gen Con). When the party entered the room bearing a huge circular rune, I rolled “monster” and decided to go for broke and plopped the Dragon mini on the table.
Chatty: As you enter, you see an elephant-sized Dragon covered in spiked and blood-red scales. It looks quizzically at you, sniffs around and says. “Good, treasure and lunch all at the same time!”
Chatty: Okay guys, this is not a scene where you can win a fight. This thing is big and powerful, you’ll have to deal with it by interaction. One of you needs to take the lead in either negotiating or bullying the dragon in not killing you all.
Dwarf Slayer: I’ll do it! I’ll intimidate the dragon!
Chatty: Anyone opposed to that?
Party: Nope, all good.
(As they were saying that, all the players were placing their minis behind the dwarf, it was hilarious to watch).
Chatty: All right, before you start roleplaying your dwarf”s attempt at intimidating, everyone else can chose any of their skills and try to help you out. Everyone gets to describe what they’re doing. You’ll get a +2 for each helping PC that succeeds and a -1 for each failure. Are you cool with that?
Dwarf: Hell yeah!
The paladin pleaded with the dragon that everyone knew that dwarven meat was foul tasting and out of fashion. (Diplomacy, failed)
Dragon: Ha! If it wasn’t for your armour and the artificially sweetened taste of goodiness, I’d be munching on you right now Paladin, stand aside.
Drow Ranger: I want to sneak behind the dragon, and knock an arrow while standing right behind its head. I stand ready to whisper some kind of Batman-ly threat in its ear. (Success)
Chatty: This is very cool! If this ever degenerate into a fight, you’ll be first to attack.
And so on. In the end, the dwarf had to roll a in the mid 10s to succeed. The player played his swaggering and blustering dwarf beautifully, earning himself some generous bonuses. As he picked the d20, everybody was sitting up straight, eager to see the results.
The dice rolled… and rolled….
… And settled on a 3. (Fail!)
The players looked expectantly at me.
I made a pained expression.
Chatty: The dragon scoffs… and in a lightning quick strike, bites the dwarf’s heads off.
(Pause for effect)
Chatty: The dwarf ‘s soon to be lifeless body remains standing up… blood spurting from it’s mangled torso.
Chatty: The dragon, chewing contently, looks expectantly at the rest of you. What do you do?
Everybody else: WE RUN!
I looked at the stunned player who was, up until a few seconds ago, playing a dwarven Slayer.
Player: That… that… was the MOST AWESOME D&D GAME EVER!
I don’t think I need to add much more to that. Many weeks later, I still share this player’s enthusiasm for that session.
That’s why, to this day, in spite of all the other fun games I’ve discovered these last 2 years, I will always remain a fan of D&D… whatever incarnation or name it takes. I plan to keep teaching it to players, old and young for as long as my inner flame remains. I’m convinced that this is the BEST way to grow our community.
Dear game designers and publishers, keep innovating and bringing out new games and material, because that’s how you keep my inner flame alive.
As for the formula? It works like a charm. Feel free to borrow it and have fun with it. I’d love to hear about the experiences you had with it.
Thanks for reading.