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In 2013 our plans call for us to add an additional adventure to the event. There will be two consecutive adventure modules, and each module will have two variations of either a combat or puzzle orientation. The first module called “Lycans Afoot” tasks the party to travel through a dark forest in search of a tower, while the second module called “Golembane” challenges the party to reach the top of tower.

TOPIC: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts

Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #73

Alan56 wrote: The "rule" is basic game theory and human psychology. You will be punished for making a mistake. Frequently the entire group will be punished. Therefore, people will tend to be more cautious.

I have a number of responses to this, depending on my current hat.

My game theory answer: this is but one aspect. You also have to factor in the guaranteed push damage if you do not solve the puzzle in time. Game theory says that possible damage is better than certain damage.

My fan o' True Dungeon answer: adding a little more risk to the dungeons keeps things interesting. I like that the risk/reward of the puzzles changes a bit over time. Keeps things from getting predictable.

My role playing answer: you're an adventurer! If you wanted the safe, contemplative life, you should have been an innkeeper.

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Last edit: by Matt Sheehe. Reason: spelling

Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #74

Neil wrote: As far as the first puzzle goes, I actually REALLY liked the idea of the puzzle. The frustration came in that we didn't push the button right away like others and then, mathematically speaking, it was impossible to finish the puzzle due to the time penalty imposed by waiting for the balls. If the sound effect took 1/2 the time, I think I'd have no issue with it.

I can't say for certain (I didn't peek behind the scenes on the Golembane side after my shifts), but there was probably a logistical reason for the length of the sound effect: someone backstage making that effect work. I seriously doubt there was one person per hole in the wall (particularly given the volunteer shortage this year), so some poor blue hand (maybe two, at most) was running around like mad on the other side of the walls. The length of the effect gave them time to grab the next ball (sorry: power cell) and get in place.

I'm very curious, though. I don't remember there being too much to interact with in that room other than the table, switch, and button. What was everyone doing while they weren't pushing the button? I feel like the recorded message at the beginning made it pretty clear that you were going to have to get some power cells delivered to you. 10 holes in the wall + 10 players made it pretty clear the mechanism of the delivery, so all that was left was figuring out how to start the process. I'd call it a pretty reasonable guess that a button labeled "Activate" is the way to go there.

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Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #75

Matt Sheehe wrote:

Alan56 wrote: The "rule" is basic game theory and human psychology. You will be punished for making a mistake. Frequently the entire group will be punished. Therefore, people will tend to be more cautious.

I have a number of responses to this, depending on the context.

My game theory answer: this is but one aspect. You also have to factor in the guaranteed push damage if you do not solve the puzzle in time. Game theory says that possible damage is better than certain damage.

My True Dungeon answer: adding a little more risk to the dungeons keeps things interesting. I like that the risk/reward of the puzzles changes a bit over time. Keeps things from getting predictable.

My role playing answer: you're an adventurer! If you wanted the safe, contemplative life, you should have been a innkeeper.


With all due respect, standing alone, I think your answers are fine. Changing up the risk/reward for puzzles is great, who doesn't like variety?

The problem I have with your answers though are they ignore the premise of this thread: The last puzzle wasn't more difficult because it was a tricky puzzle, with craftily worded clues or glowing symbols only seen when you arrange the stones in an archway. It was a puzzle that had multiple 'right' answers and without sufficient context clues to efficiently narrow it down. That mixed with the fact that for a lot of groups who are all jazzed up to be in the last room alive, it only really allows one or two people to contribute less chaos ensues.

My real life answer to all of this: My group collectively paid just under $500 to participate in TD (all 10 slots), and had a great time, but felt this final puzzle was not well thought out. In the end, it left us with a bad taste in our mouths, just like last year where we got TPK'd by Smaug, which is fine, but had no wrap-up, just got booted out of the dungeon, with no closure to our adventure. I'm fine being beaten, but would rather it be because we failed at a puzzle instead of guessed wrong

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Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #76

Matt Sheehe wrote: I'm very curious, though. I don't remember there being too much to interact with in that room other than the table, switch, and button. What was everyone doing while they weren't pushing the button? I feel like the recorded message at the beginning made it pretty clear that you were going to have to get some power cells delivered to you. 10 holes in the wall + 10 players made it pretty clear the mechanism of the delivery, so all that was left was figuring out how to start the process. I'd call it a pretty reasonable guess that a button labeled "Activate" is the way to go there.


Were you in there with the convention hall lights on, I think it'd be more clear that the holes are the only thing to interact with. Our experience was that it was pretty dark and we didn't want to miss anything, and like others have said, you don't touch anything unless you know you should or you'll likely take damage. Maybe it was more obvious than it looked, but if we're roleplaying, how often is it typically a good idea to walk into a room and push a big red button? :D

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Last edit: by Neil. Reason: broke the quote

Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #77

Matt Sheehe wrote: I'm very curious, though. I don't remember there being too much to interact with in that room other than the table, switch, and button. What was everyone doing while they weren't pushing the button?

For our group, the sparseness threw us for a few minutes. There was some "We're clearly missing something here." We identified the holes immediately, but spent some time poking at those: listening, smelling, feeling for drafts. And, of course, those 12 minutes always go by far faster than you think they are. Clearly we made a mistake in delaying, but it's frustrating to be forced into a time limit by something entirely out of your control. Or put another way: if a group fails to push the button for too long, the group has already lost. There is no chance to recover. It's like the last grindingly dull half-hour of a game of Risk.

Conversely for the river crossing puzzle, we also had a very slow start. But we were able to recover and scrambled our group across at the last minute. It was awesome when we succeeded because it was entirely within our control. And if we had failed, it would have been entirely on our heads because we could have worked even faster.

If the long time was the result of the implementation, I'm very sympathetic. And while the delay was frustrating, otherwise it was a great first room puzzle.

Matt Sheehe wrote: My game theory answer: this is but one aspect. You also have to factor in the guaranteed push damage if you do not solve the puzzle in time. Game theory says that possible damage is better than certain damage.

In some years there have been rooms where our group took more damage from mistakes than push, where we would have faired better if we had literally done nothing. I hope it makes my personal wariness understandable.

Matt Sheehe wrote: My fan o' True Dungeon answer: adding a little more risk to the dungeons keeps things interesting.

For the final puzzle Golembane room, I don't see it as risk. Or at least not the risk I enjoy: the risk of penalty for poor play. Some level of brute forcing was required, which turned it into roulette. For some players their success was down to chance; I don't enjoy that in a puzzle.

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Last edit: by Alan. Reason: Formatting tweak

Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #78

Matt Sheehe wrote:

I'm very curious, though. I don't remember there being too much to interact with in that room other than the table, switch, and button. What was everyone doing while they weren't pushing the button? I feel like the recorded message at the beginning made it pretty clear that you were going to have to get some power cells delivered to you. 10 holes in the wall + 10 players made it pretty clear the mechanism of the delivery, so all that was left was figuring out how to start the process. I'd call it a pretty reasonable guess that a button labeled "Activate" is the way to go there.


When my group went into this room, I immediately noticed the holes. I asked the DM if they were magical (used Detect Magic): "Nope". I asked "Do they smell funny?": "Nope". "Do I see anything down the holes?": "Nope". "Do I hear anything coming from the holes?": "Nope". I was baffled as they appeared to be very important to me, but after using an ability and being told "No" after so many leading questions, why would I waste more time on them?

The big challenge I have with TD is that there is a high amount of wasted potential every year because the DMs are inconsistent, and do not add much of anything to the experience other than rolling dice or distributing damage. I've done the event for the past 5 years, your mileage may vary but that has been mine.

I'd suggest that the DMs have some canned responses available for expected player questions. There are obvious things that they can expect the players to ask about, and why not have something prepared? If he told me, "You smell sulfur from one, and mist or rain from another," I probably would have correlated that to the symbols on the table. Or being told "You hear rumblings and machinery from down the holes", would have been a great tip off.

Isn't that the experience we are trying to get out of TD? I'm not expecting a million branching paths predicted but certainly more than we have been getting.

And don't get me started on how that last puzzle went. My group did NOT fail this year's run. I more feel that TD failed us in how it is inconsistent and the "actors" don't behave the same or even correctly. Our black robed figure in the training room offered nothing, even after our bard asked if he knew of any rumors. And why couldn't the genie (who we freed) offer us some helpful advice for the final room. Would have been the PERFECT opportunity.

Don't take this as my just hating on TD. Just giving my input on the questions that this thread has been having.

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Last edit: by Erik Wilson.

Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #79

While the last puzzle had a large number of possible answers, there were clues leading up to that room. There was a clue from an NPC that was way to helpful, and the audio in the room before the last room had a very vague clue in the countdown. As the Rogue in our group, I took the clue from the box and it told us in a bit of a riddle that the first and last switches were on. All of this combined with the clue in the room either solved it outright (in the case of the NPC) or eliminated at least half the possibilities (in the case of the Rogue clue).

Even without the hints, the bar of green lights helped you eliminate other possible wrong answers as well. With it being the last room, getting too many clues makes it anti-climactic. We solved it in 3 tries on Thursday, and then I heard the NPC's clue on Friday and laughed heartily. On later attempts, we let people that were experiencing it the first time work on it until the clock got low.... they solved it anyway, within 3 to 4 attempts. If it hadn't been for the green light bar, it would have been a bit of a bear for them.

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Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #80

ian ferguson wrote: With it being the last room, getting too many clues makes it anti-climactic.

I agree. My first run, we got the 3-2-1-1-1-1-1 clue from the NPC, and it made the final room certainly anti-climatic. But I don't think the puzzle was necessarily bad, and in the final room a puzzle with multiple potential solutions isn't unreasonable, as you don't have to worry about saving your hit points for the rest of the adventure. Since you get full XP just for making it to the last room, you don't even have to worry too much about a few characters dying.

It was still not a great experience though. Perhaps if it felt more intense, such as with loud rumbling sounds, flashing "explosion" lights, maybe even fog machine "smoke", intense music, or other prompts.

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Last edit: by Garrison.

Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #81

Garrison wrote: But I don't think the puzzle was necessarily bad, and in the final room a puzzle with multiple potential solutions isn't unreasonable, as you don't have to worry about saving your hit points for the rest of the adventure. Since you get full XP just for making it to the last room, you don't even have to worry too much about a few characters dying.


There's a big difference between how you perceive the value of getting to the last room and how people who are new to True Dungeon perceive it. I saw a couple of people who hadn't played True Dungeon before and who didn't care about the XP disappointed because we all died in the last room.

On Lycanbane, with that final puzzle room, we couldn't figure out the clues and had to brute-force the chalices. It was nearly pulling teeth in the beginning to get people to risk instant death in order to get past the puzzle. We eventually got past it with about four deaths (lucky guessing), but I heard from a friend who was playing True Dungeon for the first time that his group failed because they were unwilling to take the risk.

That puzzle also had the downside of only allowing a single person to participate effectively, similar to Golembane. I personally think that the most interesting puzzle this year was the first one of Golembane. I would have liked a modified version of it as a final puzzle, one which made it clearer on how to begin.

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Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #82

Jim Auwaerter wrote:

Garrison wrote: But I don't think the puzzle was necessarily bad, and in the final room a puzzle with multiple potential solutions isn't unreasonable, as you don't have to worry about saving your hit points for the rest of the adventure. Since you get full XP just for making it to the last room, you don't even have to worry too much about a few characters dying.


There's a big difference between how you perceive the value of getting to the last room and how people who are new to True Dungeon perceive it. I saw a couple of people who hadn't played True Dungeon before and who didn't care about the XP disappointed because we all died in the last room.

Oh, I did not perceive the last room the way I described. I felt pretty disappointed at the room at the time, despite it being the 10th or so time I'd run a dungeon. I was just trying to guess the thought process that went behind the dungeon design. Although in retrospect it "made sense" from an internal game perspective, I still agree it wasn't a good choice for creating a pleasant gaming experience.

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Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #83

. I saw a couple of people who hadn't played True Dungeon before and who didn't care about the XP disappointed because we all died in the last room.

As a coach I always encourage these type of folks to run non-leathal.
For some folks death just ruins the entire experience so non-leathal was invented.
Sweet a combat room, we won't take damage!

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Re: Golembane - First Puzzle and Final Puzzle thoughts 6 years 2 weeks ago #84

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valetutto wrote: . I saw a couple of people who hadn't played True Dungeon before and who didn't care about the XP disappointed because we all died in the last room.

As a coach I always encourage these type of folks to run non-leathal.
For some folks death just ruins the entire experience so non-leathal was invented.


Would non lethal help in a situation like that. I mean as I understand it the monster stats are the same as normal you just get the res in the next room benefit which wouldn't happen if it was the last room.
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