Thursday, May 26, 2016

They Gotta Want It


After reading Maze of the Blue Medusa, I got too excited and roped my girlfriend Jess into a one-on-one trial session. It was a good way to re-learn a lesson I thought I'd already absorbed: "I've got this sick new book that I want to force on you" rarely works, unless maybe everyone at the table is equally excited about said sick book. It takes away player agency right from the start, which is a recipe for frustration. See this review of Death Frost Doom for proof.

Jess had fun, but I could tell that she regarded most of the stuff she found with growing annoyance and impatience. I gave her very little information upfront because I love the sense of meta-plot discovery this dungeon provides, and I didn't want to ruin anything for her. But instead of fostering curiosity, I think I just made her feel like she had no objective and no reason to put her character through all the opaque strangeness and danger.

So lesson learned. Even if I think the book is the best thing I've read this year (and I do), I should always give the players a choice and some kind of hook to draw them in. These are all the reasons I can think of off the top of my head players might want to enter the maze (SPOILERS, DUH):
  • Discover the truth behind the Nyctocaust.
  • Discover the fate of the Triarchy.
  • Get the Gulper, Norah Twain, to inhale something.
  • Get some Tears of Time.
  • Use the Heart's Orrery.
  • Use the Grimspindle.
  • Awaken Tiktaalik.
  • Complete the dead wedding.
  • Use, recover, or destroy the Golden Engine.
  • Use the Orrery of Spells.
  • Use the Mappa Mundi.
  • Find, free, or kill any of the prisoners.
  • Kill or negotiate with the medusa.
  • Aid or prevent the growth of the Neonate Empire.
  • Prepare the way for the coming of the goat messiah.
  • Stop Ashen Chanterelle, Cadamosto, and Dogon.
  • Steal any of the works in the Gallery.
  • Something with Torcul Wort. He's gotta be useful or dangerous to somebody.
In the future I would just seed the campaign world with these hooks, connect them somehow to the painting, and give the players some idea of what they're getting themselves into. Besides, there's plenty in the maze that only really works with a sizable party with some history.

Oh and here, have a spreadsheet of all the NPCs in the maze listed by faction and color-coded by where you can find them.

2 comments:

  1. This is the method I'm using as well - I'm currently seeding my campaign with similar hooks, including many you came up with, and now I'm going to steal some of your others! Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is the method I'm using as well - I'm currently seeding my campaign with similar hooks, including many you came up with, and now I'm going to steal some of your others! Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete