The Daedalus Factor
The Despotic Queen of Shiant has decreed that a competition will take place in the month of Oconerry. She will have built a labyrinth through which the contenders must pass in order to win the ultimate prize: her hand in marriage.
Anyone familiar with Greek myth and legend will know that Daedalus (father of Icarus) was the architect who designed and built the Cretan Labyrinth for Minos. He and his son were locked in the labyrinth after their work was complete, and escaped by making wings from wax and feathers.
The Despotic Queen of Shiant has decreed that a competition will take place in the month of Oconerry. She will have built a labyrinth through which the contenders must pass in order to win the ultimate prize: her hand in marriage. She needs a maze so cryptic and impossible to solve that she can be sure of her prospective husband's abilities. So she has drafted in the best architects in the land to design it for her: namely the PCs.
You give the PCs a budget, a copy of the Monstrous Compendium/Manual or other such bestiary plus a list of prices for stone, wood and materials, and they can set to work designing their own dungeon. If they think the prices are too high, they could open up their own quarry (at the protest of the locals) or barter with merchants (lots of scope for roleplaying) and in order to acquire the relevant beasties and monsters they would have to go on long expeditions to very exotic and dangerous locations.
When the work is completed, the PCs are incarcerated in their own dungeon by the evil Queen (who is loth to pay up) and they must escape (needless to say all the codes the PCs set have been changed, all the traps changed in subtle ways so they are hard to disarm).
I like this idea because it will give the PCs food for their imagination, an idea of how hard it is to be a dungeon-designing GM and last but not least a shock.
It also involves the GM in very little work compared with the usual hours of preparation.
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? Responses (12)-13
... some of the creatures needed may be intelligent, and most are not for sale in some lousy shop. This provides numerous side-adventures. Also, after they are dropped into that mess, all the monsters they defeated are informed AND possibly given minor magical items/equipment to nullify the chance to defeat them the same way again!
This is really an unfair scenario... I like it!
A variant trick I've only just considered. It's a 'Turn your GM's creations against himself' version of this plot.
A GM is usually extremely glad when a PC willingly says he'll write a world and GM a game. It gives him a chance to be a player for a change. So he'll be more than happy to give the PC access to old worlds he'd created to give him some example material to model the new world on.
The PC takes the GM's world (preferably one no-one's adventured in before) and develops it (obviously worlds evolve, even if you leave them on a shelf), writing an adventure based in this world. See how much his old work the GM remembers when he becomes a player inside a world he created. Strangely, he's revered by a number of bizarre cults and sects who believe him to be the avatar of the Creator, and want to put him through a number of interesting rituals...
If they survive, one might end up becoming the next King. 5/5
As well as a good way of letting the players see what GMing is like (and hopefully being good fun), if one of the players really likes it and gets in to it, it could be a good way of encouraging him to have a go at GMing some time.
Yes. Yes. Yes. This is a bucketload of fun, and only gets better when the PCs go for the really exotic ideas: 'So, Mr. Black Emperor Dragon, would you sit here just for one day? We'll send a lot of tasty morsels your way.'
Certainly, the players will not remember all the nastiness they put there to hamber the suitors :D
The queen may have plan several uses for her shiny new 'death test': It would be a convenient place to 'dump' all sorts of unwanted people, secure treasures she doesn't need much, or hold secret mettings or ceremonies. After all, she will know its secrets; they will hold little danger for her.
While the labyrinth is being constructed, the PCs may also be approached by shady characters seeking information about it, or otherwise trying to compromise the queen's scheme. They may be legitimate, or they may be agents of the queen 'testing' their integrity. The information they gather may come back to haunt the PCs, or this may be a way to gain a powerful patron (or enemy!).
Ah, novel idea based on the classical minoan civilization (one of the Greek civilizations).
Short and concise in the manner of the olden days. Like with all ephemeralstability plots this one has a myriad options for intrigue. Suitors come defeat the 'big nasties' as well as 'rivals'. The PCs will be put in either or both categories by the enterprising young heroes come for the Princess' hands.
The Monsters could be roleplayed really cool by a skilled GM. Baritone voice of two minotaurs locked in battle: 'YOOOUUUU! YOOOOU DID THIS!'. Heh, they would probably drop all their differences just to kill-those-bastards!
When the PCs escape the maze they would undoubtedly be wanted for murder. Who killed all those suitors anyhow? Why did these evil characters hazzle the Princess' suitors so? Some of them undoubtedly had powerful kin.
Bad times in store for the PCs.
5/5 for this great submission.
I like this idea - a decent reason for a dungeon to exist. And loads of fun all around.
The only weak part is the assumption the PC's are master builders. :)
In a word or three: I love this. It's fun, as simple or complex as you need it to be, and the twist at the end is nasty. However, I must agree with valadaar that relying on the PCs to be master architects is a pitfall. My current group is a wizard, a druid and a rogue (NPC) -- no real fodder for the plot hook to work.
It's possible for the party to answer an advertisement for the job, and then bluff their way into winning the contract. It's also possible that it could be a case of mistaken identity (the master builders weren't in court at the appointed hour, and the nervous butler ushers the PCs into the audience without asking too many questions). Or what about another contest, of sorts -- to choose the architects for the maze?
In short, I love the premise but would really like to see some more plot hooks to help bring this into an ongoing game.
Oh, now that is nasty! Good sub eph!
val has pointed out the only flaw, which Dossta has then solved. Nothing left for me to add.
If I was to be required to build a massive maze, I have extremely complex ideas which would be hard to solve even for me.