I usually run people based adventures. People making requests, people having needs, people interfering and messing things up. For a game oneshot some time ago I wanted something different. A dungeon. Someone had requested Changeling: The Dreaming for our meetup (twas long ago afore the rona), so I thought about doing a dungeon crawl in Changeling 20. Of course, doing combat is painful under the WoD system, you really only want to it once per session max. My conclusion was that I want a puzzle dungeon. This is what we did.
The Tinkers’ Tower was well known in the land, appearing here and there and offering their business. Until one day, about 20 years ago, it disappeared. Now it has reappeared in that closed-down amusement park. The local monarch has assembled a team of adventurous changelings to find their parent’s crown which was given to the tower as collateral. Each of you is looking for some item or other in the tower.
OK, basic motivations and how the group comes together all done. I will not go over every event. After all I made several parts of the based on the items the players had requested. I want to discuss the principles I used in designing the tower as well as the general outline:
- Each room contains one interesting or useful item.
- There is no living soul left at the place.
- For most of the skills and knowledges (char sheet), include a place where they might be used.
- Include some things that can be done with Changeling magic.
- For all problems, include at least one key in another place that can be used Point-and-Click style, when skills or magic fail.
We started right at the gates of the amusement park. One player opted to make their own character, the for the other three I built theirs to order. They first encountered a giant chimerarical snake from mechancial parts. They opted to approach it politely and after an Etiquette check, they learned that there is “Small Hunter” stalking the place.
The Hunter is a small mechanical T-Rex the tinkers build for a mostly human customer (probably a sorcerer), used as a hunting dog. I introduced it as potential endboss, that waited at the top of the tower. I decided that it hat 10% chance of investigating when the PCs made loud noises in the tower. It didn’t happen.
Of course the Hunter was also the reason that the tower disappeared. Upon demonstration to the client, the Hunter killed most of the people present. The clients body as well as the bodies of most of the tinker is still present. The Boggans housekeeper was not been found, I decided later. Mostly as a potential open end, in case there is a continuation.
- A tailor’s shop. Several rolls of textiles, a sewing a machine. A manniquin with a pumpkin head that wore a very beautiful ball dress. The investigating Pooka just had to try it on without checking it in any way, and was promptly turned into a Sidhe. (“But Sidhe abilities are totally useless in a dungeon!”) They didn’t manage to overcome the Cinderella dress’ magic. It would come off after the adventure on its own.
- A room with banged in door and mostly broken chess pieces of various sizes. Looking through it, might have gotten them an undamaged black rook, about knee high, that would have been a good boy on an Animal Ken check and some resuscitation via Glamour. Looking at the heap and recognizing it didn’t contain the items they had come for, they left it alone.
- An office. The desk, shelves and pretty much everything in it was barring the door. The characters manged to get through. On the far end one of the tinkers was apparently dead. They didn’t investigate the body, no one knowing much Medicine. They were very much interested in the documents that were all over the place, deducing there should be an inventory for the things they wanted. They got quite a few hints on fabulous Academics check. The dead could have provided an experimental magic glove they used to shift all the furniture in front of the door.
- Most of the dead were in a small theater like hall. They were apparently attacked. One had taken a trident from a weapons wrack, including various items and used it freeze himself, the trident and weapons rack in ice. The apparent intent from his posture was that he wanted to ice something else, but it apparently backfired. The trident was what our Merman looked for, so they got to work with magic. I would have expected to use some fire to melt the ice, but they rather just teleported the trident out and let the ice melt on its own. We haven’t found out whether the frozen witness could have been resuscitated.
- One of the searched items was in a library. A salamander chimera acting as librarian informed the PCs that books could only be taken out with a writ by the towers owner. I would have expected them to come back later, having forged a writ the owners magic pen, which was located in his private bedroom / study. Instead they just ignored the obnoxious chimera at first and tried to walk out with the book. Good thing it was the Troll, because that did hurt. Then they grilled the salamander and found that he could take out books for himself. He thus got taken out with the book.
- The central elevator platform in the tower was held by a giant metal hand with a ring with a big ruby on a finger. Towards the end of our session, after they had a proper tea party with a porcellaine doll, having used that elevator all the time, they finally realized the giant ring was in the fact the crown the queen sent them for.
In the end, they went to the top of the tower and did beat the Hunter, mainly becasue the picked up the icy trident before. In the end, they did use the magic pen to draw a flag and planting it, the highest ranking PC unleashing Souvereign to claim the tower for queen and country, which I never had expected.
Things that didn’t work:
- I couldn’t properly convey that the raspy voice speaking over the intercom was the dead customers ghost who would have liked a burial.
- I totally forgot that Changelings, too, would like a bathroom from time to time. But that’s a problem of dungeons everywhere I guess.
- I should have put in places where the Changelings could have engaged in their Reveries. A new rule in C20 to regain glamour based on kith.
In the end, I found the game a surprisingly good fit for this kind of adventure. The dreaming reality allowed me to just throw stuff in without much regard for background consistency. I don’t think I ever used quite so many varied skills in a WoD scenario, too. Changeling magic proved very colorful allowed for some creative applications.
Compared to 2nd edition, Changeling 20 has quite a few improvements, including more flexible rules for age, more foregiving rules for Banality, and a more narrative approach to many Kith abilities. Also the Unleashing of Arts also proved nice in the end.