Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

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jackattack
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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by jackattack » Sun Feb 14, 2016 6:50 pm

If the clocks are all ticking, stopping (or smashing) the clocks damages the golem, or causes the sand in the hourglass to fall slower (perhaps reducing the golem's movement, say 5 feet per 5 clocks smashed or stopped).

If the clocks aren't ticking, starting the clocks (full round to wind each one up) causes the sand in the hourglass to fall faster. Starting a clock (which might include a skill check?) reduces the time it takes the sand to run out by 1 round. The golem moves to attack the last person who started a clock (or anyone currently trying to start a clock), so if the players spread out along the wall and take turns starting clocks, they might have the golem running in circles. The golem has to turn the hourglass over before it runs out -- once the hourglass runs out every X rounds, the golem is stuck turning the glass over and over and over again forever (or until the clocks wind down again).
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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by Squatting Monkey » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:15 pm

xombified wrote:OK, so I have this idea with an iron golem and a sand timer, but I need help making the encounter interesting on a Dwarven Forge layout.

I'm sure someone here is going to reply with an easy and obvious idea...and I'm going to say "doh!", but I am truly stuck on this, so any help is welcome.

Keep in mind, this encounter is for 3 level 1 players (rogue, wizard, ranger) who are in the 11-12yr old range. They are really enjoying the dungeon so far (it is mostly riddles and traps with some small fights) but the next session is one I've been struggling with.

I have a rectangular room (14 squares x 6 squares) with a sand timer on a pedestal.
Image
(the image is just to show the basic room shape. ignore the other exits and markup)

The party enters from the south wall, near the east side of the 14 squares long wall. I plan on describing the room something like this:

the long wall in front of you (north wall) is covered in clocks of various size and design. All are set at different times and they are all ticking and tocking and chiming in a chaotic cacophany. the noise is annoying and distracting. (might play a sound effect)

you see a pedestal in the far right corner with a large sand timer sitting on top. the sand is all drained to the bottom.

to your left there is a mechanical golem guarding a door on the west wall


(and this is where I'm stuck - how can they interact with him in an interesting 3d manner. i don't want them to fight it - it is too strong)

one idea I have is:
the guardian is blocking the doorway out. he cannot be defeated and will continuously knock back the party if they engage. If they flip the sand timer (i have a real life timer to use) he will (do something - turn left and walk straight ahead x steps for example) but when the timer runs out he will return directly to block the door again.

I want them to figure out they need to use the timer interactively with the room/golem to get past, but I'm struggling with making it a thing that can work in a turn-based, board gamey way to make it shine with dwarven forge.

as you can see I'm stuck on the idea of time...it could be represented in "moves" instead of realtime. i can add statues or columns, more pedestals, tiles on the floor - I'm open to anything - but I'd like to keep the time/clock theme.


any ideas?
Have a brass floor tile in the room (or made out of the same material as the Gollum). The Golomb has to stand on this tile in order to open the door the players will not be heavy enough to activate it. The trick is that every time the Golla moves he moves in preordained pattern maybe like at knight in the game of chess, The players need a way to determine whether he moves left or right when executing the "L" (maybe they discover that they can lift his left or right arm up and that determines the way he turns). Figure out a pattern that in X amount of turns will land him on the target square. The time may allow him to make X moves).

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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by LordDust » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:30 pm

Playing off of an earlier idea, you can involve the clocks by using them as the golem's controls. There can be a set combination that orders the golem to open the heavy iron door. They need to set the clocks, then turn over the timer to run the command sequence. It follows the orders so long as the timer is flowing, then returns to stand in front of the door when it is done.

Some sequences can result in the golem shoving the party out of the room back where they came, moving things that are in the room (or trying to move things that aren't there anymore), etc. You can clue to the sequence using any bit of poetry or literature you like or even something you made up. You can also print out the clue for them to actually hold onto while solving it. If you're really ambitious you can get some fancy paper and even age the edges (there are a number of fairly simple methods listed online).

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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by kitenerd » Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:56 am

Another idea occurred to me as i was looking back through all the stuff here.

Perhaps each of the clocks is powered by some type of small semi animate mechanism. Each time a clock is stopped, the party needs to fight the small "golem" that springs from within. These golems are inconsequential (but anything can roll a 20). There are a lot of clocks so this could be an entertaining "smash the bug" fest for your young players.

There is also the possibility that the large golem becomes more and more agitated as the small golems get killed (maternal instinct?). Giving the large golem very slow movement and making the little ones very fast creates the strategic problem of which clock to disable to stay one step away from the now enraged golem.

This is going to be a really cool and memorable encounter no matter how you run it!
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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by kitenerd » Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:45 am

Just a note to say:

I LOVE threads like this!

Just illustrates how many ways there are to GM and helps us all see different ways to run a challenge or encounter.

Keep the great ideas flowing!
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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by Mydienon » Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:30 am

How do the clocks function? Are they wound up, and if so, who or what winds them? Magic? The golem?

You left an earlier clue that the golem is malfunctioning. As a player, I'd assume some or all of what the golem does is not correct. Then it really depends on what function the golem is "programmed" to perform. As a player, I'd be focusing on finding out that function, and would hope that the riddle provides an indirect clue to that function.

If the golem is supposed to guard the exit, then I'd expect some malfunction I need to exploit--something that allows the PCs to get past the golem (without having to defeat it in combat). If the golem is supposed to perform a necessary job, like opening the door, winding the clocks, or turning the hourglass, then I'd expect some malfunction I need to fix--so that, by fixing it, the PCs can get through the door.

I'd also look for ways to figure out how everything in the room functions together. If the golem can be approached, perhaps tie its legs together or tie it to the door, the hourglass, or a clock, to see how that affects what happens in the room. I'd try pouring oil on the path where the golem walks, or break through the floor or put some other obstacle in its way. I'd perhaps try changing the times on a clock, or knocking one off the wall, or stopping the pendulums, or burning a clock. Depending what happens, I'd use that information to try to either facilitate the room's operation or facilitate the malfunction (whichever will allow the PCs to escape).

"Time Runs Out" would not be enough of a clue to tell me the PCs must run out of the room.

As a GM, one other thing I'd consider in designing the room is who built it, when, and why. It seems too complex and expensive to just be a security system. Instead of focusing on the riddle, maybe focus on the story of the room -- what caused the golem to malfunction, when did it start malfunctioning, and how has that malfunction affected the inhabitants of the dungeon? Perhaps answering those questions will help you figure out the riddle and other clues you need the PCs to find.

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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by xombified » Sun Feb 14, 2016 8:33 am

how about this idea:

I drop the clue: "Time Runs Out" (perhaps carved on the pedestal)

I start the timer when they enter the room. while the timer is going, I slow time so they can only move 1 square/turn. On its turn, the golem moves 1, looks left/right and if he sees someone straight ahead he moves to them, strikes. end his turn. when the sandtimer runs out, realtime movement returns for one turn. then the slow timer starts again.

the only way to escape is for them to unlock the door first and then each player must "run" through the exit door during real-time. if they try to walk through they reappear at the entrance door.

i can perhaps allow an alternate escape if they do something like break the hourglass or disable the golem or something unexpectedly creative - like they set all the wall clocks to point toward the exit door.

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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by xombified » Sat Feb 13, 2016 6:45 pm

some interesting ideas to chew on here. Thanks guys. (keep em coming). the wall of clocks are intended to be just an indicator that "time" should be part of the solution.

I hear you on the "multiple ways to exit" strategy. The dungeon has has many puzzles and traps and they've figured them all out so far. The one room I thought was pretty obvious took them forever to figure out, while another I thought would be tougher they saw right through. :-) you always have to be ready for anything.

One of my previous ideas for this room was something like: the golem starts somewhere else in the room, but every step the players takes, the golem takes one too - in such a way that he ends up blocking the door by the time they reach it...i was thinking I might have to setup pillars in way to force orthoganal movement for this to work, every flip of the hourglass could pause him one step - but that would seem pretty obvious solution I think. I could have more than one golem - or animated statue instead...

hmm. opening the door to enter the room could mechanically flip the sand timer "on". I like the idea of making it so they can't take it...

also like the heart idea...I did drop a clue suggesting the golem he may be malfunctioning...so he could stay in place turning left but never moving forward (thereby blocking the exit). Replacing his mechanical 'heart' could get him out of the way. I did want a sense of danger or urgency, though. Saves vs the noise and/or the inability to hear each other are also great ideas.

I could disallow verbal communications to add some stress, then perhaps have items in the room they need to collect, cooperate to arrange, then place into the golem in order to repair it before the sand timer runs out. However, then I'd need to lock them in this room...so how to reset the timer if they fail? and maybe each time they fail, one of them gets stuck to the tile they are on...or gets frozen in time. that would add stress.

What about something with time winding backward, forcing them to move back on their path. Ex. they try to reach the door, the golem tries to reach them. The sand runs out, they both move back to where they started. but what's the solution? they each have to stand on a specific tile in order to avoid the wind-back?

I feel there is a really great "mechanical" puzzle in here somewhere...I just can't seem to find it :-)

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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by jchunick » Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:40 pm

jackattack wrote:Every time the sand has almost run out, the golem walks over to turn the glass, then goes back to the door. As long as the sand flows, the golem remains active. You'll have to decide if the glass can be broken, rendering the golem inert. Turning the hourglass on its side might also stop the golem.

If the golem has to walk far enough, maybe the players can run past him. They may have to contend with the golem's reach and AOOs to do so (if 5E has reach and AOOs).

If the glass is close to the door, the players need to engage the golem long enough for the last of the sand to run out (X rounds) and the golem to stop moving.

Perhaps the hourglass is a distraction, and the golem's beating heart is hidden among the clocks on the wall. Stop the right clock and the golem is defeated; stop the wrong clock(s) and the golem attacks.

Or maybe the goal is to restore the golem's heart; put the heart back in the golem's chest and the golem will open the heavy iron door it is guarding (which only it can do).
There are a lot of great ideas in this. Nice one!
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Re: Need help with a D&D 5th DF encounter

Post by jackattack » Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:34 pm

Every time the sand has almost run out, the golem walks over to turn the glass, then goes back to the door. As long as the sand flows, the golem remains active. You'll have to decide if the glass can be broken, rendering the golem inert. Turning the hourglass on its side might also stop the golem.

If the golem has to walk far enough, maybe the players can run past him. They may have to contend with the golem's reach and AOOs to do so (if 5E has reach and AOOs).

If the glass is close to the door, the players need to engage the golem long enough for the last of the sand to run out (X rounds) and the golem to stop moving.

Perhaps the hourglass is a distraction, and the golem's beating heart is hidden among the clocks on the wall. Stop the right clock and the golem is defeated; stop the wrong clock(s) and the golem attacks.

Or maybe the goal is to restore the golem's heart; put the heart back in the golem's chest and the golem will open the heavy iron door it is guarding (which only it can do). If the golem is active, they might have to make an attack or maneuver against the golem to insert the heart. If the golem is inactive until the heart is restored, the players have to decide if they want to risk the golem attacking when it wakes up.
Last edited by jackattack on Sat Feb 13, 2016 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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