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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Library Lovers Contest Winner
     
    Duke of URL's Avatar

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    Default It's Almost That Time of Year...

    Feb 2 approaches. Yes, Groundhog Day.

    Of course, everyone and their brother has done a rip-off of the movie Groundhog Day, but I don't know if I've ever seen a true adaptation of the idea to an RPG adventure.

    So, let's start with the basic parameters:

    • Some form of D&D, preferably 3.5, though the puzzles should be generic enough for easy translation to any fantasy RPG system
    • The party is "trapped" in the same day repeatedly until they achieve the "success" conditions
    • While in the loop, they "wake up" at sunrise (6 AM), and the "day" ends at midnight, regardless of what actions they take. They then "wake up" at sunrise again, unless they've broken the loop.
    • All effects from the previous day are negated at the start of the next day -- this is a "total reset", as in all creatures and objects return to the way they were at the very start of the first day.
    • The PCs, and only the PCs (exception: a possible "BBEG"), retain knowledge of what happened the previous times through the loop.
    • Except as anticipated, prevented, and/or changed by the PCs, all events occur at the same time each day.
    • Through trial and error (as well as thinking it through), the PCs need to figure out what the success criteria are, and figure out how to achieve it in the 18 hours available to them.
    • The PCs gain no experience from each iteration through the loop, but if they manage to break it, they gain a fixed XP award that will be derived from what's reasonable for overcoming the challenges posed (preferably, 1 level's worth of experience).


    So, what I'm looking to do is throw this open to the playground for ideas on the general structure of this giant puzzle, and perhaps some of the sub-puzzles within it. Things such as intended character level will need to be decided as well.

    Any takers?


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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    A few possibilities I just thought of...

    1) For an Evil party, prevent every one of the n people who are going to die's deaths. Some sort of an attempt to force them to make penance. (N = whatever you want, based on ECL and optimizing)
    2) As a trap in a dungeon or similar, the victory conditions don't exist. They have to break the loop in some way... for that, you'd have to use a more general way to break the loop, like getting out of an area with no path out of it.
    (Solutions: teleport, planeshift, toss your portable hole in a bag of holding and get sent to the astral plane)
    3) How about a typical adventure? Find MacGuffins #1 through #3, use them to get to a BBEG, kill, loot, escape the dungeon (beware of traps!). In one day. Feel free to be Gygaxian, assuming dead people revive at the start of the next day. Of course, that'll make the casters run on one day's spells, too, and that's always good.
    Thelas

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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Library Lovers Contest Winner
     
    Duke of URL's Avatar

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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    Quote Originally Posted by Thelas View Post
    A few possibilities I just thought of...

    1) For an Evil party, prevent every one of the n people who are going to die's deaths. Some sort of an attempt to force them to make penance. (N = whatever you want, based on ECL and optimizing)
    2) As a trap in a dungeon or similar, the victory conditions don't exist. They have to break the loop in some way... for that, you'd have to use a more general way to break the loop, like getting out of an area with no path out of it.
    (Solutions: teleport, planeshift, toss your portable hole in a bag of holding and get sent to the astral plane)
    3) How about a typical adventure? Find MacGuffins #1 through #3, use them to get to a BBEG, kill, loot, escape the dungeon (beware of traps!). In one day. Feel free to be Gygaxian, assuming dead people revive at the start of the next day. Of course, that'll make the casters run on one day's spells, too, and that's always good.
    #1 and #3 I like. #2 seems to easy to just luck your way out of. And yes, making casters (and anyone else with daily-limited abilities) run on a budget is part of the idea.

    The "penance for an evil party" angle is really nice, though. Have a checklist of "good" deeds they have to achieve in order to break free. Of course, don't tell them that -- they'd need to figure it out. It's not exactly a long-term solution for evil-doers -- after all, they're only doing the good deeds to benefit themselves, but the BBGG at the end can explain to them that this was but a warning, and gives them a chance to repent their wicked ways.

    Pretty good start, I think.

    One of the "tip offs" for the PCs might be noticing that one person (the BBGG in some form of disguise) also seems to notice the loop.

    So... a list of "good deeds" to accomplish is the first step. One place to start might be the list of "heavenly virtues": Chastity, Charity, Diligence, Humility, Kindness, Patience, and Temperance.
    Last edited by Duke of URL; 2010-01-07 at 02:03 PM.


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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    The video game Ephemeral Fantasia might give some hints. I didn't care much for it, but that's the premise of the game. The main character is on an island, ruled by a BBEG, and caught in a time loop. He eventually frees others (makes them PCs, so to speak) and together they try to break the loop.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    Idea the next, for the Evil party method:
    Let's say that the escape is a portal or something.
    Of course, going through the portal would be selfish.
    They have to either, depending on how it seems to entirely be, get everyone else through the portal first, get the one or two people who know of it through the portal first, or just go back to sleep (proving that even they know their penance deserves to continue.)
    If it is #3, make them do one more day before freeing them. Just feels right.
    Thelas

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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke of URL View Post

    • Through trial and error (as well as thinking it through), the PCs need to figure out what the success criteria are, and figure out how to achieve it in the 18 hours available to them.
    I can see this as easily the hardest part of the challenge, depending on how generous the hints are.

    Will they need to fight their way to an ancient library, and research their condition there? Will outsiders start showing up near the loop point and drop cryptic hints? Or will it be simple trial and error?

    Be very careful about unavoidable combat encounters; fighting the same battle more than once could get boring. So include possibilities for diplomatic or stealthy solutions.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Library Lovers Contest Winner
     
    Duke of URL's Avatar

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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    Quote Originally Posted by Glimbur View Post
    I can see this as easily the hardest part of the challenge, depending on how generous the hints are.

    Will they need to fight their way to an ancient library, and research their condition there? Will outsiders start showing up near the loop point and drop cryptic hints? Or will it be simple trial and error?
    Yeah, from the "following the railroad tracks" standpoint of any tightly scripted scenario, the hard bit is letting the players have to freedom to discover things on their own while steering them back to the plot as necessary.

    Fortunately, there is one good railroading device that is tied into the plot -- the daily "reset". The PCs can't simply ignore the plot, as they're trapped within it.

    One option, especially in the case where they're being specifically tested/punished as in the "redemption" concept, is that they don't have to discover what has happened without any clues -- they could be told before the loop begins that they are being punished for their transgressions and that to free themselves of the punsihment, they must learn the virtues of yada, yada, yada...

    They'd still have to figure out what that means, of course, but at least they'd have a place to start looking. Our friendly BBGG might let them know from time to time if they're on the right track or not, possibly through the occasional anonymous note left where the PCs are likely to go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glimbur View Post
    Be very careful about unavoidable combat encounters; fighting the same battle more than once could get boring. So include possibilities for diplomatic or stealthy solutions.
    I agree -- "filler" encounters (I use the term filler loosely here, as they should be more or less intended as obstacles to overcome, but not necessarily by force) should be able to be bypassed with little use of resources once they're discovered to be red herrings.


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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    One option that occurs to me that could let your players know whether or not they're on the right track, specifically for the "Evil characters paying penance" schtick is this: Have the time that the day resets be later the more good deeds they do. If they do nothing, the day resets at midnight. If thye do a few good deeds, 1 A.M. If they're almost there, 5 A.M. When they finally manage to push the reset to 6 A.M., they've escaped.

  9. - Top - End - #9
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    Bakkan's idea is a good one. Gives the PCs a way to measure how well they are doing.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: It's Almost That Time of Year...

    I have done this twice during my years of DMing. It is great fun. Word to the wise: start early and plan for a long game session, because the players won't want to stop if you do this right.

    Interesting themes to explore during this type of game (I call it a Nightmare Scenario, because the players kept dying and repeatedly "waking up" at the beginning of the day again, but didn't truly awaken until they solved the scenario):

    Everything is not the same in each iteration of the dreamworld: a BBEG "nightmare beast" is present in their dream and may occupy the body of a different encountered NPC in each iteration. Additionally, it may dominate or possess multiple NPCs as its minions and act through them, and it will choose different targets in different iterations of the dream. At first, players won't know why they're being attacked. In later iterations, they won't know who they can trust. As they learn more, they won't know which person they meet is the enemy.

    A "trick" BBEg works well in this situation. By "trick" I mean a monster whose CR makes it much too difficult for the players to overcome, but which has a weakness or relies heavily on a single special attack. If the players can discover and exploit the weakness or find a defense against the attack, the monster becomes beatable. You can have them encounter this monster and be slain by it repeatedly, waking up each time; the only way they can escape this nightmare scenario is to gain an understanding of what they face and find some means of overcoming it.

    Possible scenarios include:
    A cult is conducting a ritual to summon some reality-destroying demon at midnight. When they summon it, the world ends, but the players, caught in some eddy in time, are thrown back in time by a day and have a chance to prevent the ritual from being completed. Of course, the first time the recursion occurs, the players are miles away and have no clue what is happening.

    Players are attending a wedding or some other social event, and one of the guests is a disguised recurring villain. The villain uses powerful magic to invade their dreams and taunt them with a nightmare of living out the day of the wedding over and over again, with people, places and events slowly growing more bizarre and disturbing. His goal is to drive them mad and break their minds; to escape, they must find him in the dreamscape, unmask him, and defeat him.
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