Friday Night Dungeons and Dragons: The Race To The Wizards Tower
Ladies and Gentlemen and Gelatinous Cubes, we are about ready to kick off the fourth annual running of “The Rice To the Wizards Tower”! You all know the rules, no fighting, well, that is until the end, race as fast can to get to the wizards tower, figure out the clues, and the first one to the top gets prizes greater than you imagine. Note, for legal purposes, prizes might be a one way all expense paid trip into the mouth of a great old one, so don’t imagine that. Join with me as I flesh out this crazy idea for a Dungeons and Dragons quick little game.
This is something different, normally I pitch campaigns, this time I want to do something different. This would be three one shots that all come together at the end. I would put together three groups of two players, maybe three players, and take them through the opening part of the race. Let them get to the tower, but when you can see the tower, that is when you end the session. Then you get all three of the groups together and let them fight over and all the way up into the tower.
The trick for running this will be timing. It’s pretty unlikely that all the groups would arrive at the tower at the exact same time. In fact, I think in the one shots you’ll have to be keeping track of timed elements to figure out who makes it to the tower first. Of course, getting up the tower won’t be easy, and you can do things to delay the first group more than the other groups. Then that last session, you have the groups arrive at different times, tell people to start at different times. So if one group was fast, they get there and get an hour to get as far into the tower as they can. Or maybe half an hour, then the other groups show up. Of course, now that the first group has cleared the tower to a point that makes it really fast for the other groups to catch up with them. Now it’s a question of, will any of them survive to the top. Will they work together or will it all fall apart?
So that first session, what would be the plan for that? I think that it should be about finding where the Wizard’s Tower is. create a general map of the lands, and create some points of interest, different ones for each group that they have to get through. One should be focused on combat, give them a number of small missions and then a clue for where the tower is. The next one could be about puzzles and riddles, again getting a clue for where the tower is when they complete it. Another could fall more into skill challenges, and you guessed it another clue. I think that three things would be solid for a one shot, you want them to do enough and lose some hit points, spend some resources, but not have so much to do that you’d need two or three sessions leading into it. The wizard’s tower is magical, so it can get hidden anywhere, so the whole race, I think, makes sense to take place in a day or at most two, so that the players are a bit resource poor leading into the final session.
Then that last session, we’re going to be staggering when people arrive to the table, like I said. The fastest group will do the job of clearing part of the tower. And then it can be a free for all as players and groups try to make it to the top of the tower. I would make this session as crazy as possible. Make nuts puzzles with high checks for things like dexterity and strength. Give really open ended challenges and just see what the players decide to do to solve them. Let PvP happen if the players want it to happen. Or they can work together. Because when they find the top of the tower, there will be a giant monster for them all to fight or get devoured by. I’m thinking like how it’s a monster in the vault in Borderlands that you need to fight. Let them spend resources and just have a blast with it. Who knows, maybe no one will make it to the top.
Now, I think this could be a good game to run. However, this is a very challenging game to run. You need more buy in from the people playing in the game. In a normal campaign, you can pivot a little as you realize what the players are really looking for in the game. But with this, it’s going to be harder, the game is almost on rails, though stuff like picking which spot to checkout first is going to be up to the players. If they fight the other groups, that’s going to be up to the players. But this would be more coordinating. How I’d probably do it is that I’d run the first session on the way to the tower over a single week and then that weekend, Saturday afternoon, I’d plan to meet up at a local FLGS that has food and drinks and make an afternoon and into an evening out of it.
Timing everything up as well is going to be interesting as well. I think that getting 30 minutes off of another groups time makes sense, so if one group is really late, they start an hour later than the others in terms of making it to the tower. Now, you could have everyone arrive at the same time, but it’d be kind of fun to have the groups show up to that last session at a staggered times to kind of create more of the feel of what happened in the game. Again, that makes it a bit trickier as you are trying to coordinate times.
Would You Run This Game?
Even for me, this game is a hard sell to run or play in. I like the concept a lot, but of all the people I have ran D&D for locally, I don’t know that I have enough to pull off a game like this. I’d really like to do it with nine people, three groups of three, and I could maybe make that work, but getting schedules to work together, that’d just be tricky. Even for six players, three groups of two, that is tricky. And I thought about this maybe at a con setting, but to commit to two sessions of a single game is a lot for a lot of players who really want to just get to trying as many things as possible.
How about you, would you run a game like this? Would you play in a game like this?