Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mines of Khunmar: of Minotaurs and Mazes

We’ve played a lot of my Mines of Khunmar megadungeon game since I last wrote. The spring and early summer is the busy time of work for me, because it’s when Microsoft teams are trying to finish up all their projects for the end of the financial year, which is why the blog hasn’t seen so much action lately. When we last left the party, they had cleared a substantial area at the center of level 4, the former laboratory of the mad wizard Lukas Ravenswood, fighter Karl’s grandfather. The current party consists of Karl Ravenswood, fighter; Ebag the thief, Velmar Magnus, wizard; and Leman Desall, death cleric. They are accompanied by an acquisitive man at arms named Rumsfeld. We had a short session exploring some more of the current level. Mystified by some apparently automatically resetting traps, the party spied some wererats leading an ogre prisoner through the dungeon. The ambushed the rats in a wizardly meditation chamber, where the ogre at one point swung Ebag through the air like a club. Fortunately, Ebag survived the ordeal.

I was kicking myself after this session. You see, when Magnus joined the party, he specified that he was searching for a particular artifact of ancient lore. Having a very similar artifact in my notes for the level (the Eye of Truth, a sort of true seeing gem), I handed it to Magnus straightaway as treasure then patted myself on the back for being so clever. But after the session I started feeling really stupid for giving the character his heart’s desire so fast. After all, don’t players *like* having things to aspire for? Was I ruining the game for him? Luckily, I have amazing players, and Jonathan rose to the challenge like a champion, as we’ll see.

Enter a new session. The rats had been making for a particular secret door. Also, Karl had a quest to slay the Rat King, given him by a curiously gregarious Ilithid some sessions ago, so the party decided to continue on in hopes of finding the rumored Rat King on level 3.

Beyond the door they found a series of broad, well-lit, clean, safe seeming corridors. Amazingly this didn’t send them running in fear, so they entered what was in fact a horrific dimensional pocket maze full of illusions and twisting hallways enchanted to trap the unwary for eternity (the rats have their own way of navigating through this natural barrier).

Now in my campaign, the Minotaurs as a race were confined to an extra dimensional prison by a vengeful god. The few Minotaurs not in the prison wander the planes seeking out labyrinths and magical mazes because of a legend that the key to opening their prison maze lies hidden in one. It’s just a thing I daydreamed when I was prepping the level. But when I rolled Minotaurs on the wandering monster table, I had no idea that Velmar Magnus would attempt to parlay, whipping out the Eye of Truth (which could have guided them through the maze quite easily) and offering it to them as a gift.

So to make a long story short, the party gained some Minotaur mercenaries to help them eradicate the Rat King and his minions. Magnus was named Minotaur-friend. They liberated Toe Snap their one-time goblin guide who the rats had in bonds. They fought and almost killed the Ilithid who was playing Wormtongue to the Rat King. And they liberated more stolen trade goods than they could reasonably carry back to town. The surviving Minotaurs returned to the plane of existence and used the Eye of Truth to free the Minotaur race from bondage.

Interesting side note: in my game Ilithids have the custom move “cast any spell in the game.” They are a foe to be respected.

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Blogger Jonathan said...

Definitely one of the best RP experiences to be had. It's really interesting how Dungeon World facilitates a dialogue about lore between players and GM on the gaming table, a trait that D&D only sort of embraces off the table.

May 25, 2012 at 12:02 AM


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