Sunday, May 04, 2008


Baldur's Gate 2 is a game based on role playing games, indeed using the same underlying system of dungeon and dragons. Along with it, it inherits inane traps.

Traps are part and parcel of designing a dungeon- ways to stop and kill adventurers wondering about. Sometimes they are packed full of them. These often don't make sense. Some do a pitiful amount of damage and are randomly scattered about- often they are unavoidable unless you disarm them, thus making the dungeon inaccessible to the people who are actually using the bloody thing. Also, when traps just irritate the players, they're really not worth it. They should challenge the players.

I prefer traps as part of a puzzle. They need to make sense in terms of the adventure, and they need to be avoided. In the case of my recent adventure, there was a few traps set up, but these were hastily erected by a party only some time ahead of my characters. They were somewhat ramshackle, and fairly easy detected. The inital trap had nothing to do with a puzzle, but provided a solution to the next one, which I thought rather neat. In this case traps made sense, as the party in advance had no intention of returning the way they came.

It is difficult to come up with puzzles in roleplaying. They need to make sense in terms of the universe they inherit, they need to be solvable by the players within a certain time period, and the penalties for utter failure cannot be to halt the game. A bizzare riddle doesn't make much sense most of the time- a passphrase only friends of the villain knew would make far more sense- why give others the chance to proceed? Also, if the players can't solve a puzzle, then the game stops being fun, so it can't be too hard. Along with this, it would be ideal to have something a bit original- the old spelling a word on the floor puzzle is neat, and often makes sense, but is a little done to death thanks to Indiana Jones.

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At 5:01 pm, Blogger Nicholas said...

Puzzles can make sense in something like WFRP if you go with 'the place is actually designed as a prison/vault/early warning system that I never bother using', or if there's a labyrinth some idiot designed years ago that's so dangerous the owner can't be bothered to clear up, but enters the back of his base (the players can't go in the front because they would just die from the army there. This is more of a problem in D&D, where players are more likely to just go hit the army...)


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