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TOPIC: My Feedback for Puzzle Runs

My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #1

Hello, this year I played Dancing Stones on normal and Moongate on hardcore. Here's my feedback:

Coach for both: the coaches were all excellent for us. The coaches quickly handled the tokens of the experienced players well and got the newer players on track right away. The other experienced players I was with were also great, lending out tokens to the newer players as needed. There were no conflicts over class cards either. The process felt very smooth this year.

Trainers: our trainers were also both excellent. They got the newer players setup either sliding or memorizing and then quickly checked our treasure tokens. They had answers to any questions and were just generally helpful. In particular, I'll call out Don for being a fun trainer and doing a great job.

Dancing w/ Stones (normal):
Room 1. Our Bast (Thursday afternoon) was great. Very funny, personable and always stayed in character. I love having NPC DMs and hope that it's something that can continue. We blanked on the puzzle, even with the rogue clue. I got focused on how many/which type of weapons they were holding and 12 minute ran out on us. Found out the answer later. I feel a little silly for not getting it, but that concept just never occurred to anyone.

Room 2. The Scrael seemed fine and we were able to smash through them without any serious issues thanks to a lot of damage from our Wizard. I thought they looked great too. Different enough from spiders to emphasize their alien nature.

Room 3 (or maybe it was 4): The alchemy lab. This was a frustrating puzzle as many people spent time trying to dig through the papers all over the walls, but that text was so plentiful and dense that it didn't seem helpful at all. We tried a couple of time through trial and error to match things up, but our intuition about what would likely pair with what was seriously flawed. We noticed the things like a ball's bounciness, the coldness of a potion, the scent of a bag... but didn't have a good idea about how to match those features to the correct ingredients. If the info was meant to be found in the papers, then I'd say there was just too much of it to realistically dig through.

Room 4 (or maybe 3?): The forge. For me this was easily the worst room in both dungeons. I know people didn't like the scent room, but I found the forge far more frustrating. We quickly broke out the correct symbols for the 4 and 3 quantity runes. That was straight-forward. With the remaining runes, we recognized some that were associated with classes from room 1 and made some educated guesses for the blower. We were wrong and everyone took 6 damage. 6 damage to everyone on Normal is frankly absurd. We had a Wizard with 16 hit points who was already a little wounded from the earlier puzzle misses. Some parties will have both him and the 15 hit point Elf Wizard as well. We healed the Wizard a bit and considered trying again, but we didn't have a 100% solution and knew that another miss + the push damage would kill the Wizard, not to mention leaving everyone else down 18 hit points for the room.

I'll separate this for emphasis: the "mistake in the puzzle" and the "push" damage should **never** be the same. When they're the same, it makes the strategically correct decision for the room to do nothing and not even attempt the puzzle. That's obviously no fun. The fun thing is to work through the puzzle as best you can and see if you can get it in the 12 minutes provided. By causing the mistake damage to be so high, you ruin the puzzle. Please, please make "mistake in the puzzle" damage limited to a single character, even if you have to increase the amount. Then the party can choose who takes it, use less healing to bring them up, etc... This could have easily been done by putting a button on the blower to start it and making only the button pusher take damage. You want to setup a room so that the strategic way and the fun way to get past are one in the same. I would have loved to work through this puzzle further, but doing so would have likely killed several party members, so instead we just sat there having a crappy time.

Room 5. The path puzzle: I love a good logic puzzle and this one was fun to work through. We worked backwards from the end and our initial guess for which way to go was correct, so we knocked it out fast. We were already near the end when the rogue clue came out and sealed our final choices. Fun puzzle for me and nice to get a win after failing all the others.

Room 6. Dracus: Wow. That dracus head was awesome. Serious kudos on that prop, we were blown away by it. He did some serious damage, but we were able to fend him off, and after our Bard learned that he was drawn by our fires, we used an Extinguish Normal Fires scroll to put them out. That combined with our damage managed to drive him off. I love combats that can be affected in unusual ways like this. A great room all around.

Room 7. Pillar lights: I thought this was neat puzzle too. We got a leader to stand in the center and help coordinate which pillars to hit at which times. We eventually got all to flash green together except 2 that were 1 behind. That meant we could bump them forward on the last rotation to bring everything into synch, except our 12 minutes ran out before they could all hit green together. So, we just missed, but I still thought it was well done.

Moongate Maze (hardcore):
Room 1. Felurian: Probably my favorite room in both dungeons. The two NPCs were awesome, the room looked great. I enjoyed both working the puzzle tree and getting to role-play with Felurian. Combining the puzzle and role-play was just excellent and I would love to see more rooms like this in the future.

Room 2. Tree dude: A fine combat room. He looked very cool and was fun to interact with. We had a lot of fire damage in the group though and we stomped him very quickly.

Room 3. Fairy statue: I thought this was a cool puzzle room. We quickly deduced the order of the runes off the wall, but our first pushes didn't succeed. It was then we remembered that the DM had warned us to coordinate with the statue when we first came in. Then we got to put together some teamwork to time the pushes correctly in the right order. We made it through, but were close on time. I do worry other groups may have gotten to the correct solution a little more slowly and failed just because it was time consuming to wait on the statue.

Room 4. Scent room: I am absolutely horrible at identifying scents. So, I was no help at all. Luckily some others in the group were better at it and were able to match up the correct ones. We did get a bit lucky on ones we were not sure of and managed the correct order the first time through. I can see this being a very frustrating room for those with noses like mine though. I'm hoping the penalty damage wasn't too bad for each failed attempt...

Room 5. Golem: our fairy betrayed us just like the drow guide did the previous year. We simply have to stop trusting these NPC guides! This was another fun fight with a tough opponent. He smacked us around a decent bit, but the large 20 spot on him allowed us to get in some good damage. Plus, another Extinguish Normal Fires scroll caused some damage. In addition, we learned that you could throw water from the nearby fountain and do damage by landing it on the 17. Once again, I liked having alternate things to do in combat besides just sliding weapons. Please keep adding these options.

Quick sidenote: my friend was the Rogue and noted that out of both puzzle dungeons, 3 of the 4 monsters were immune to sneak attack. Maybe don't use the same immunities so much across multiple encounters?

Room 6: Dark room with flower light: It took us a couple of tries to work this out, but I was happy to see we weren't all horribly punished with each mistake so we could figure out what we had done wrong. I saw others say this room was difficult for everyone to participate, but we did it by putting 9 people next to runes and then having the flower guy come by to show us our colors and have us memorize them (plus he did one on his own). Then as we worked through the lines of the puzzle, we could yell out: "Who has green/blue, but no clear?". So, we all got to take part.

Room 7: Another great use of an NPC in the dungeon. The fairy was a lot of fun to watch dance and to talk to as we worked through the puzzle. I think we would have gotten stuck here if we didn't have someone who knew to hit the bowls for music. I was too obsessed with matching the dots to quantities of flowers rather than playing music, but as we got off on time, he pushed us back to the music bowls. Then it was just a matter of coordinating our little song and listening to the fairy ooh and aww over our lovely music.

Treasure: Everyone working the treasure stations at the end were great. We quickly got tokens and pins, and I liked that we could spread out to the other stations to turn in treasure tokens if we wanted so that the line moved faster. Also, thanks for the picture station as it was great to get a group shot.

Overall:
Good - NPCs were great, combats were well designed with alternate tactics, the props and room designs were awesome, many of the puzzles were fun to work through.

Bad - puzzles that damage the whole party for each mistake, especially on "normal" mode. Excessive information to sort through.

Great - Don the training coach obviously.

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My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #2

You were not supposed to take fail damage in the blacksmith's forge puzzle. You should have only taken push damage for 6 pts on normal. Your DM was incorrect.

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My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #3

I only did Moongate maze, but my feedback for that run would be similar.

Room 1 - props to the naked (well, nearly naked) fairy queen. My girlfriend thought she must have been freezing, but gave her credit for being able to sit there like that in front of 10 strangers every 12 minutes.

We got the solution really quickly on room 3 also, but I didn't realize there was a timing issue with the statue, maybe we got lucky???

I went to organizing on room 4, my nose is like yours. I had to figure out which one the rose was though. It took us a several tries to get past rain and I had to refresh the scent on my wand more than once.

Room 5, we lost this fight. We couldn't make up our mind between doing normal damage or trying to hit that small 17 spot with water. My girlfriend was the elf wizard, and she didn't like that the construct was immune to most magic. She said it left her feeling like all her spells were useless over the course of the run. She maybe used 1 in the 1st fight. Is that a correct assessment, or should something like acid arrow have been usable?

Room 6, I did not like. We solved it, but we didn't divide and conquer like your group did. We let a few people with the light try to tackle the puzzle and the rest of us stayed out of their way. Not fun and I still don't know what the solution to that puzzle was.

Room 7, we fixated on the number of dots vs. the number of flowers and over complicated step one of this puzzle. The NPC helped get us on the right path by petulantly removing extra flowers from the bowl. It was in character and helpful at the same time. Somehow we got lucky enough that someone noticed the odd musical notes we created attempting the first part of the solution. I think the feedback on this one is pretty obvious, your mechanical puzzles need to be "bullet proof". The ceramic plates inside a noise making device that has to be slapped were problematic. I don't think we made things any worse, but there were several cracked clean down the middle by the time we did a run Saturday night.

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Last edit: by Eric Martin.

My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #4

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I didn't see a photo area

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My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #5

jon wrote: I didn't see a photo area


Upon finishing the dungeon and approaching the epilogue area/getting the treasure tokens and pins as appropriate, we had to leave by following a hallway. On the right hand side near a corner one had to turn to end up back in the Stadium hallways, there was an archway with signs by it for groups to use to identify which dungeon they'd just completed.

I suppose one could overlook it as part of the decor while walking out and chatting with the group about what they just saw/did, but it was definitely there.

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My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #6

Forar wrote:

jon wrote: I didn't see a photo area


Upon finishing the dungeon and approaching the epilogue area/getting the treasure tokens and pins as appropriate, we had to leave by following a hallway. On the right hand side near a corner one had to turn to end up back in the Stadium hallways, there was an archway with signs by it for groups to use to identify which dungeon they'd just completed.

I suppose one could overlook it as part of the decor while walking out and chatting with the group about what they just saw/did, but it was definitely there.


Yup - I totally saw that and thought: "Hey, Standing Stones, cool!" It did not cross my mind that this was a photo point.

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My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #7

Scot Martin wrote: I'll separate this for emphasis: the "mistake in the puzzle" and the "push" damage should **never** be the same. When they're the same, it makes the strategically correct decision for the room to do nothing and not even attempt the puzzle. That's obviously no fun. The fun thing is to work through the puzzle as best you can and see if you can get it in the 12 minutes provided. By causing the mistake damage to be so high, you ruin the puzzle. Please, please make "mistake in the puzzle" damage limited to a single character, even if you have to increase the amount. Then the party can choose who takes it, use less healing to bring them up, etc... This could have easily been done by putting a button on the blower to start it and making only the button pusher take damage. You want to setup a room so that the strategic way and the fun way to get past are one in the same. I would have loved to work through this puzzle further, but doing so would have likely killed several party members, so instead we just sat there having a crappy time.

+100 on this. For nightmare our damage was 15 points for everyone. Take push once or keep trying the puzzle? Push. Does ignore a puzzle sound fun?

Eric Martin wrote: Room 1 - props to the naked (well, nearly naked) fairy queen. My girlfriend thought she must have been freezing, but gave her credit for being able to sit there like that in front of 10 strangers every 12 minutes.

As part of the build we inserted a heating pad in the throne seat. She shouldn't have been too uncomfortable. Well, due to the temperature.

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Last edit: by Lodestone (KH).

My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #8

haplo wrote: You were not supposed to take fail damage in the blacksmith's forge puzzle. You should have only taken push damage for 6 pts on normal. Your DM was incorrect.


That's really disappointing. Oh well, DMs are just people and they will make mistakes from time to time.

Eric Martin wrote: We got the solution really quickly on room 3 also, but I didn't realize there was a timing issue with the statue, maybe we got lucky???


We originally pushed the stones up in the order of the light sequence on the wall and got a failure. We then went around the table, with order memorized, and only pushed up each stone once the statue was both lit and facing our direction. A couple of times the next stone would be 1 or 2 over counter-clockwise from the last stone, so we'd have to wait for the statue to circle clockwise to get to it.

If you were on normal, the statue could have just been an extra requirement for hardcore mode.

Lodestone wrote: +100 on this. For nightmare our damage was 15 points for everyone. Take push once or keep trying the puzzle? Push. Does ignore a puzzle sound fun?


Exactly. Even on hardcore or nightmare, having "mistake" and "push" damage the same doesn't make sense. It just encourages people to skip the puzzle. If there is some reason everyone needed to take damage, then the mistake damage should be around 1/3rd of the push damage at most.

-Scot

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Last edit: by Scot Martin.

My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #9

Eric Martin wrote: I think the feedback on this one is pretty obvious, your mechanical puzzles need to be "bullet proof". The ceramic plates inside a noise making device that has to be slapped were problematic. I don't think we made things any worse, but there were several cracked clean down the middle by the time we did a run Saturday night.

Incidentally, the fact that the NPC had to tell us how to 'hit' the plates (I ran Saturday morning) was a dead giveaway for me how to solve the puzzle. As soon as she said that, I looked down at the plate in front of me and thought "So, if we have to hit them, then how do we know when? ...oh, must be these dots, since there's nothing else here" and immediately knew the answer to the second half.

I hadn't even realized there were flowers in the room at this point.

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My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #10

haplo wrote: You were not supposed to take fail damage in the blacksmith's forge puzzle. You should have only taken push damage for 6 pts on normal. Your DM was incorrect.


If that's true, then all the DMs read the adventure wrong. Which is unlikely.

And speaking as one of the DMs for that room, it could be argued either way from the way it was written. I checked and rechecked the room write-up several times the first day, and then confirmed with an AC that damage was for each failed attempt AND push damage, and did as I was instructed. I didn't agree with it, but that is what we were instructed to do. We continued to tweak the difficulty as best we could from Thursday through to Saturday, but there just wasn't much that could be done since the puzzle was flawed and not well written up.

Speaking as both a DM and a player, that puzzle was pretty garbage and poorly designed. Which is a shame since it had such a cool atmosphere and effects. I'm with y'all on how bad the forge puzzle was.
Avatar Image by Graven, 2015. Thanks, Graven!

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My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #11

This is kinda odd. I was one of the GM's for room 3 on puzzle side (right before forge room) and while the issues we had in that room were of a different nature, the "mistake" damage was distinctly different than the push damage. A "wrong order" was 1/3/5 (Respectively) damage to the whole party, where as push was 6/9/16, with a limit of 8 on non-lethal/normal. So in that room, there was a distinct difference. Outside of the difficulty of the room on the first day without the additional clues, I thought the damage was mostly appropriate for room 3. Huge ramp-up into room 4, from what I'm hearing.
Something interesting just happened.

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My Feedback for Puzzle Runs 2 years 11 months ago #12

The damage was one thing.

The other was the likelihood of any given party getting the answer correct.

Thursday morning's DM had one party solve it. I took over for the night and had three solve it.

That's a grand total of four solves out of all the runs for Thursday.

That trend continued for my time as DM on Saturday, with I think maybe three groups getting it out of my morning shift, and all of them at the last possible minute. And this was after adding starting rune, helper hints, and saying a percentage of runes in the correct position as "overall efficiency".

It's not so much the damage that is the problem on that puzzle, I promise you. The puzzle itself is poorly designed to make it near statistically unlikely to solve. Even if it were only push damage, the frustration would continue to be there for the vast majority of players who encountered it. The damage was just kicking them while they're down.
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