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Saturday, November 20, 2010

LTAW #3: Dungeon Crawl

This week, I had a little extra time before the NERO Elkins Tavern Night, so, with some help from Amanda (who really helped create most of the puzzles), Sam (whom I kept in the dark), and Zach, I assembled a dungeon crawl, this week's LARP Thing a Week.

I didn't have any monsters, though they could easily be added in, so the environment had to provide the sense of danger. Traps also could have been added, but no traditional traps were used in this dungeon crawl.

We meet for Tavern Night in the theatre where I work, so we had a great space to set this up. I used different colors of spike tape to represent different barriers: green and grey repped walls, blue and purple repped ledges or drop-offs, and orange was also a ledge or drop-off but the ledge was glowing in-game.

I'll take you on a walk-through.

Your adventure begins in the Gryphon Guard Tavern. You hang out with other adventurers, swap stories, drink a few. One of the Winter clan, a hunter of undead creatures, comes in, seeking to hire some adventurers to retrieve some gems which will be used to craft an item to help him in the hunt.

If you choose to accompany him, he will lead you to a "cave" (really out the door and into another door). There, you see a ledge dropping into water below. You'll surely get hurt if you fall in, plus you'll be soaked! A couple pillars form islands in the water, but it will be a difficult jump for some in your party.

Then you remember something. There were some boards left over from the rebuilding of the tavern ((this worked for us because the tavern was "damaged" last year and needed repairs)). Where did those barbarians take them?

So, laying the boards across the pillars, you've formed a nifty bridge. Pretty simple.

It's just a quick walk across.

Now, you have to crawl to get through. ((Making low-hanging areas is essential to creating a LARP dungeon crawl. It is called a "crawl" after all. This sort of physicality is just what LARP is about. Just be aware that some player may have difficulty. Try to find ways to include them.))

After crawling through, you come to your next challenge. It looks just like the previous one, but this one is longer. It also features strange "glowing" pillars ((marked by orange tape)).

But, you forgot to bring the boards with you from the previous challenge, so you have to squeeze back through and get them.

After getting them, you start across. You have three long boards, and there are only four large gaps, so this shouldn't be too much of a trouble. Get your people out on pillars and boards, then send the first board up to bridge the final gap. But, of course, there's a twist ((there always is)). One of your companions stands on a glowing pillar. When you hand a board to him so he can place it, it sends magic up through his body to disintegrate the board (("Arcane Destroy Board")). Oops, now you only have two long boards and you have to get across without allowing any of the boards to touch the orange pillars or to touch a person who is on an orange pillar. ((Amanda and I designed this passage so that it was quite possible to do so with just two boards, because we knew at least one would get destroyed. We also included a number of smaller boards into the mix. They were essentially useless, but the adventurers brought them anyway, so they were good fodder for the destroy spells as well. We also had a back up plan. We would hide a board and the NPC she was playing would "see it" if we needed an extra. It was a challenge with the two boards. It was next to impossible with just one.))((Btw, players falling in at this stage would take 20 damage and be swept back to the first challenge. Items dropped would be lost.))

This challenge took some time, but now you make our way through passages to come across another gap to traverse. This one has pillars which are much more plentiful and can be used as stepping stones. But they're all different colors. Do they have effects associated with them?

((This is a challenge I've seen time and time again, and I use it often in dungeon environments. The paper on the floor represents pillars that can be used for safe passage, but the colors have meaning. In this case, the only color that meant anything was pink, which would drop an individual right into the water below -- take 20 damage, be swept back a goodly ways. I sometimes use the colors to help or harm by making each one a different spell. I also have used numbers. One time, I used playing cards on the pillars, each of which had an associated effect, which would change whenever someone stepped on the pillar. I thought about color blindness when I made this challenge, and lo and behold, one of the players was color blind. However, the others marked the correct path with spell packets, and he only fell in once. :) The only thing I would change is to secure the paper a bit better. I only used two small pieces of duct tape to hold each one down, and they slipped somewhat.))

Next, you come upon a web with a great big spider. The spider isn't making any threatening movements, but blocks your way around the web. Touching the web hurts you, so you're going to have to try to get your group across without touching it.

You send one person through the big hole in the bottom. He gets through, but a wall of force forms in the gap where he was. You send another through and try to put your hand in to prevent it from closing, but the magic forces your hand out. So, you're figuring out the rules now: one person can go through each hole before it closes, you'll get hurt if you touch the web, and you can see your goal tantalizingly on the other side. ((In the future, I'd allow multiple people to use each hole or have a couple people there just to keep things safe. The players felt rushed at one point and made some unsafe decisions that could have resulted in injury.))

One player on the other side investigates the table with the gong. He leans over to get a better look, unconsciously putting his hand down on the carpet that the table sits on. He's hurt ((10 elemental chaos)) and draws back his hand. Even though your party is not yet through the web, his curiosity gets the better of him and he rings the gong. You feel the earth tremble and stones start to fall from the ceiling. ((NPCs randomly threw packets into the air "5 normal" escalating to 40 by the end of the adventure. Here's where the players started to feel rushed.))

A closer inspection reveals a hidden prize. A treasure box is concealed beneath the table cloth in a compartment under the table. Removing the box dispels the Walls of Force that formed in the web, allowing your team to escape. Running back along the path, you must traverse the gauntlet while avoiding the falling rubble and maintaining your hold on the prize.
((Feel free to use any of these ideas in your own dungeon crawls, and let us know how they go. In addition, let us know your ideas or things you've seen used.))


  1. Great dungeon! Even though some of the traps use existing puzzles/games, you added some great twists and integrated them into the game very well.

    Additional props for considering the color-blind players, even if it still was a little disorienting. I don't know how many times I've had issues with modules that focused on red/green/brown color variation, as I am Red/Green Colorblind myself.

    I think I just came up with an idea for a post!

  2. Yeah. I didn't like being dropped on my head but I'm okay. Haha!