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[necro][game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#1
Old-school dungeon crawl scenarios frequently contain mechanisms and architectural features that seem to serve no imaginable practical purpose, unless one presumes they were deliberately designed to mess with adventurers' minds. From fountains of acid, to strangely situated pit traps, to Goldbergian contraptions that kill anyone who enters the room in entertainingly baroque ways, it sometimes seems like every dungeon is a malevolent underworld labyrinth with a personal grudge against the PCs.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with playing it that way, but sometimes it can be more fun to take these inexplicable features and try to imagine what their original purpose might have been - that is, to justify them as something other than purpose-built adventurer-shredding devices. In fact, I thought we might make a game of it.

It works like this:

I'll start us out by describing a dungeon feature whose only obvious purpose is to screw with nosy adventurers.

You reply with an explanation for what that feature is really for, in as little or as much detail as you wish. Explanations like "it's a trap" or "it's a puzzle designed to test one's devotion to a long-dead religion" are discouraged on the grounds that they're hugely over-used, but feel free to go for one of those if you think you've come up with a novel twist.

You then post your own inexplicable dungeon feature to keep the game going. Your description should be brief, no more than one or two sentences, in order to avoid pinning too many details down and needlessly restricting the range of possible explanations.

For example, if I posed the following:

0. A chamber in which the entire ceiling is a powerful magnet, strong enough to yank an armoured man off his feet and leave him pinned to the roof.

... you might respond:

  • It's a security checkpoint for the armoury of magical weapons that lies beyond. The presence of the magnet means that weapons can only be safely brought in and out of the armoury using special weighted cases, making it very difficult to steal or substitute items.
  • It's a laboratory formerly used for experiments involving dangerous creatures from the Elemental Plane of Earth. The powerful magnetic field wholly paralyses all but the mightiest earth elementals, allowing them to be studied at one's leisure.
  • It's the old King's gaming room. During his reign, a game of strategy involving man-sized stone pieces on a multi-level board had become fashionable among the nobility. Though most such games required large work crews to move the pieces around, the King's magnetic chamber - in conjunction with massive metal bars driven into the core of each piece - allows the pieces to be manipulated by a single man. Many of the pieces still lay scattered about the room, in various states of disrepair.
You'd then post an inexplicable dungeon feature of your own to keep the game going.

Here's one to start us off:

1. A lever that, when pulled, opens a trap door leading to a pit filled with flesh-eating monsters. The trap door is positioned about where you'd have to be standing in order to pull the lever.

(Oh, and don't feel that you have to restrict yourself to the most recent feature. If you come up with an entertaining explanation for an already-explained feature, post it anyway.)
 
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Starry Daze

Member
Validated User
#2
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

Here's one to start us off:

1. A lever that, when pulled, opens a trap door leading to a pit filled with flesh-eating monsters. The trap door is positioned about where you'd have to be standing in order to pull the lever.

(Oh, and don't feel that you have to restrict yourself to the most recent feature. If you come up with an entertaining explanation for an already-explained feature, post it anyway.)
Great game. This is a feeding chute for the menagerie. Special wheeled carts with a protrusion that would trip the lever as they are pushed onto the trap door were loaded with meat. The cart wheels locked into small depressions set into the panel, so that when the door was tripped open the cart would stay attached. The door would then close back up and the cart could be wheeled back for more food.

A pedestal mounted in the center of the room. The pedestal is weighted such that removing an object from the pedestal causes the section of ceiling directly above it to come loose and smash down on the pedestal, crushing it.
 

vinush

RPG Vigilante
Validated User
#3
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

The owner of the dungeon was a playful child like man who enjoyed water slides and assorted other whimsical fripperies. The pit once contained very rare and beautiful sea dwelling creatures who have been warped by years of being ignored and the background magical residue in the area. The lever opened the access to the now ruined slide.

2. A large circular room that as soon as a player steps on a flagstone three paces into the room becomes sealed and fills with gushing, ice cold water.

THE \/ince
 

vinush

RPG Vigilante
Validated User
#4
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

The pedestal drop was a game similar to Russian roulette, a test of skill, nerve and speed which could guarantee freedom for survivors who took the chance.
 

Law Orc

Concerned Citizen
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#5
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

2. A large circular room that as soon as a player steps on a flagstone three paces into the room becomes sealed and fills with gushing, ice cold water.
Automated cleaning apparatus for the Duke's pet Brine Troll.

Okay, how about a modern classic? The lever that, when pulled, fills the lower level of the mines with magma.
 

Whitewings

New member
Banned
#6
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

Okay, how about a modern classic? The lever that, when pulled, fills the lower level of the mines with magma.
The magma is a last-ditch protection for the unique ores found on the mines' lowest levels. The magma flooding won't hurt them, but will make it impractical for enemies to use the mine without conquering and pacifying the entire area first.

4 (since there were two 2 entries). A beautiful fountain whose "waters" are powerfully corrosive.
 

AWOL Joe

Ferret & Aviation Fan
Validated User
#7
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

A pedestal mounted in the center of the room. The pedestal is weighted such that removing an object from the pedestal causes the section of ceiling directly above it to come loose and smash down on the pedestal, crushing it.
A pulverizer for alchemical materials. Originally it was designed to wait until a certain weight of material was placed on the pedestal, give a warning chime, and after allowing time for the loader to get clear, smash whatever was on the pedestal to dust. However, time has resulted in many of its intricate mechanisms to malfunction: the chime and delay timer no longer work, and once the weight limit is reached, the trip no longer works properly, but will be activated once the weight on the pedestal drops. In addition, the rope used to haul the pulverizer back up to the ceiling is missing.

A large circular room that as soon as a player steps on a flagstone three paces into the room becomes sealed and fills with gushing, ice cold water.
The dungeon was once inhabited by selkies. This room is an airlock between the air-breathing and submarine parts of the dungeon, and the residents would transform the moment the cold water touched their skin.

Okay, how about a modern classic? The lever that, when pulled, fills the lower level of the mines with magma.
Ask any Dwarf Fortress player for a plausible answer. :D
 

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#8
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

The dungeon was once inhabited by selkies. This room is an airlock between the air-breathing and submarine parts of the dungeon, and the residents would transform the moment the cold water touched their skin.
Nice one - the notion of the flooding room as an airlock for a semi-aquatic dungeon had never occurred to me before. I imagine that there would be other chambers in the dungeon that work in the opposite direction (i.e., sealing themselves and draining the water), which would present a similar peril to water-breathing adventurers. :D
 

nexus

Registered User
Validated User
#9
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

4 (since there were two 2 entries). A beautiful fountain whose "waters" are powerfully corrosive.
Trash disposal/Sanitation? The fluids in the fountain would quickly reduce any detritus or organic waste emptied into a thin odorless slag that would be carried away.
 
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The Storyteller

Devil's Advocate
Validated User
#10
Re: [game] Why do we even HAVE that lever?

4 (since there were two 2 entries). A beautiful fountain whose "waters" are powerfully corrosive.
The area was once home to a race of Earthen creatures that consumed minerals for sustenance. These mountains have plentiful mineral resources in them, but one of the most plentiful was Magnesium. The strong acid in the fountain was actually quite a relief for the creatures, who used it to soothe their alien stomach's after a long day of consuming basic material.

#5 - A locked room (complete with a trap on the door) contains three chests of ornate gold, silver, and bronze. One contains poisonous snakes (inexplicable kept alive), opening another summons a massive skeleton, and the third launches a spray of poisoned darts. None of the chests have any valuable treasure in them whatsoever.
 
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