I said I’d wrap up Mazes and Monsters today, but there’s just TOO MUCH GOOD MATERIAL in this movie. Every word falls from these kids’ mouths like gold coins from the mouth of the girl in that one fairy tale. The fairly tale with the frogs, maybe? I believe Tom Hanks is the frog in this analogy. The point of the analogy, in case you’ve forgotten it, is that it will take me two weeks to finish extracting game material from Mazes and Monsters.
I should have learned by now that when it comes to blogging Mazes and Monsters, I should always double my initial estimates. I originally thought this would be a 6-post series. It looks now like it will be at least 16 posts, and maybe something like 20,000 words. And I’m only scratching the surface of what could be done! Mazes and Monsters is a game so different from other RPGs of its time that a company could devote a whole product line to it. It really merits expansions, modules, a line of paper minis, and a Saturday morning cartoon with Vin Diesel as the voice of Tom Hanks. And vice versa!
I’ll do one more week of recap, and then maybe a week or two where we can grapple with some unresolved rules questions, like “What exactly is the combat system?” My hope is to make available a PDF of the complete game system by Christmas!
Now on to the recap:
Last time, we followed Tom Hanks on his murderous rampage through Manhattan. This time, his friends have figured out that Hanks’ map bearing the legend “The Two Towers” isn’t a Tolkien reference: it refers to WTC. That means we get a cringe-inducing chase through the Twin Towers, that goes on forever. Seriously, I think Hanks and his friends visit every floor. It’s like that interminable part of Final Fantasy VII inside the Shinra building, except more boring and uncomfortable.
Tom Hanks’ friends finally corner him on the roof just as he is about to jump off.
JJ: Pardieux, what are you doing?
Hanks: I’m going to join the Great Hall!
Blondie: (with infinite guile) You can’t! It’s a trap!
Hanks: I have spells! I’m going to fly!
JJ: You don’t have enough points! I am the maze controller, and i have absolute authority in this game.
POINTS! Confirmation that Mazes and Monsters uses a spell point system. Could Gary Gygax’s DMG reference to alternate game systems, with their cumbersome spell-point mechanics, have been targeted at Mazes and Monsters?
Sadly, since we’ve mostly seen Iglacia the fighter’s character sheet, we don’t have any idea what the scale is for spell points. We saw Tom Hank’s character sheet, but it was a childish chickenscratch scrawl. So we’ll have to guess.
Based solely on the fact that Iglacia had 181 Hit Points at level 9, let’s say that Spell Points are in the ballpark of 20 points per level. So at level 9, Pardieux the Holy Man can’t cast Fly. Of course, he may have already used up some of his Points: on that failed spell against the thugs, for instance. (What was that spell? It seemed to involve flower petals. Maybe it was a Wizard of Oz-inspired sleep spell.)
Why do Holy Men get 20 points per level, and not, say, 10? Maybe spells cost around 10 points per level, and the design intent is that spellcasters can cast 2 spells of the highest level during an adventure, or multiple lesser spells. Maybe less-powerful casters get less points.
Characters find magical Spells, Tricks, and Powers during maze exploration. These spells can be used over and over again – they are not used up. The characters, however, have a limited capacity to cast these spells represented by Spell Points.
Holy Men gain 20 Spell Points per level. Frenetics gain 10 per level. Fighters don’t gain Spell Points and thus cannot use Spells, Tricks, or Powers.
When characters cast a spell, the spell’s cost is deducted from their Spell Point total. Spell Points regenerate to their maximum value only after characters leave the maze forever. (There may be other items and features, like magical springs or bitter roots, that restore spell points as well. This is up to the discretion of the Maze Controller.
With this info, we can start slotting in spells. We’ve seen Fly; we’ve theorized Sleep; and earlier, Tom Hanks failed at casting a Raise Dead spell.
Sleep: Level 9. Cost: 90 SP. A single subject must make a RONA check or fall unconscious. (The points are spent whether or not the subject is affected.) This is a favored spell of Holy Men and others who prefer to resolve combats without bloodshed.
Fly: Level 10. Cost: 100 SP. The caster, or another character of his choice, is able to fly for the next hour.
A flying character who takes off from a sufficiently high point (at least 1300 feet off the ground) who flies straight up for the entire hour can reach Heaven.
Raise Dead: Restores a dead person to life. It only works for a short period after the person’s death; after that, you need to fly to Heaven to find them.
Next week, Tom Hank’s magnificent monologue, in which he delivers a performance on par with Skeletor’s monologue from “Masters of the Universe!”