Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ian Livingston on Tricks & Traps

Inspired by a post by Jim at Carjacked Serpahim I began thinking about tricks and traps.  Note Jim's article is not specifically about tricks and traps, but the lesson gleaned from his post is a great one!  Anyway I half remembered an article in an old Fighting Fantasy magazine.  It is a simple but good one and was originally presented in Warlock Magazine #4 (oh for the heady days when the term Warlock had nothing to do with Charlie Sheen or his brain.) WINNING!

Even hardy adventurers often have a difficult time overcoming all the monsters they encounter on their quests. But I am sure that many have suffered wounds caused not by monsters, but by the devious traps that are set inside the Gamebooks. How many have bad memories of the portcullis levers in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, or the deadly devices riddled throughout Deathtrap Dungeon? Traps are the perfect obstacles to thwart even the toughest adventurers, since overcoming them often requires brain instead of brawn. Traps can be simple – for instance, if you walk through a left-hand door, something unpleasant is going to happen to you, but if you walk through the right-hand door, you will benefit somehow. Or traps can be complex, requiring more thought than simply choosing one of two options. Visual clues in an illustration of a trap can be spotted. Simple mathematical puzzles can be applied to tricks to make them more challenging, as in the Statue Room in Deathtrap Dungeon. There is obviously plenty of scope for tricks and traps. Traps can be applied to doors, floors, tunnels, rooms, stairs and passageways, and feature arrows, daggers, spears, teleporters, chutes, rolling boulders or iron balls, gas, acid, fire, poison – the possibilities are endless. As an example, a common trap is a stone which falls down from the ceiling when triggered by the opening of a door. Another example is the floor of a room which pivots at its centre and deposits the unfortunate adventurer down into lower rooms/pits/ cellars. Wounds may be received as a result of the fall and, even worse, escape may not be possible if the adventurer does not already possess a pole or some rope.

Tricks can be presented in the form of riddles, rhymes, illusions, animated objects, dialogue, unseen messengers, puzzles and anagrams in or on scrolls, walls, etchings, paintings, carvings, doors, pillars, idols, fountains, ashes, ceilings, floors, chests, chalk, etc. A passageway appears to come to an end at a doorway. The adventurer may be given the options of trying to open the door or walking back down the passageway. The door is in fact an illusion which has been placed over a pit. If the adventurer tries to open the door, he or she will fall down the pit and lose STAMINA points. However, the adventurer might have found a ring of illusion-detection
earlier in the adventure, and will be given a chance to see the illusion should he or she opt to open the door. Another example might be that the adventurer walks into a room where there is a lantern. The door slams shut behind the adventurer and a genie emerges from the
lantern. The genie asks the adventurer a riddle which, if answered correctly, will benefit the adventurer, but will cause injury, if answered incorrectly.
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