Mazes and Monsters retro-clone 4: love and character sheets

This entry is part 4 of 34 in the series Mazes and Monsters

A strange plant is growing in Tom Hanks’ heart… and its name is love. In a story repeated at so many gaming tables, the tank (Kate) is falling in love with the healer (Hanks).

Mazes and Monsters

What's that at the end of the maze? It's a heart!

I have to pause here. Mazes and Monsters has never got the recognition it deserved as one of Hanks’ most emotionally powerful love stories. Tom Hanks has been in a lot of movies – imdb lists 60, with another 15 in production – but Mazes and Monsters is one of the warmest and most romantic films he’s ever been in. I’d seriously put it in the top 3 Hanks love stories. Let’s go through some of his biggest roles:

  • Dragnet: A buddy movie; the other buddy gets the romantic subplot.
  • Big: Child in an adult body.
  • Turner & Hooch: A love story between a guy and a dog.
  • A League of Their Own: A baseball coach has a team of female players and doesn’t have a romance with any of them.
  • Sleepless in Seattle: A romantic comedy in which Hanks and the girl don’t actually spend any time in the same city.
  • Philadelphia: Antonia Banderas is presumably Hanks’ boyfriend, but they act like roommates.
  • Forrest Gump: OK, Forrest loves Jennay. So far, this is the only Hanks movie I’d put in the romantic class of Mazes and Monsters.
  • Apollo 13: Hanks spends the movie 205,500 miles away from his wife.
  • Saving Private Ryan: Hanks’ love for Private Ryan is never made explicit.
  • You’ve Got Mail: I haven’t seen this but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt: maybe, unlike in Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan actually meet and don’t JUST email each other.
  • Cast Away: Love story between a man and a volleyball.
  • The Polar Express: Love story between a Hanks and a Hanks.
  • The Da Vinci Code: The idea of anyone loving a man with that hair is clearly preposterous. Besides, *SPOILERS REDACTED* Jesus Hanks.

All I’m saying is, it’s unusual for a Hollywood leading man to be so asexual. Hanks’ heart will forever be barren and inhospitable to love, as if he left the Mazes and Monsters set with +3 bracers vs. Cupid’s arrow. Why? Could it be that he never forgot Kate? or could it be that his Mazes and Monsters obsession left him warped – a child in a man’s body (an echo of which we can see in Big)? Remember, not everyone is able to play at the Ninth Level. Perhaps Hanks was not ready for the demands Jaffe put upon him.

But that’s all in the future. Here, today, at this gaming session, Tom Hanks’ heart is very much alive. We see a montage of his eyes locking with Kate’s over the gaming table… him ducking under her umbrella… them jogging together. Sexy stuff! But for our purposes, the most important scene is the two of them working on their character sheets together.. We get screenshots!

Let’s take a look at Kate’s character sheet (Iglacia the fighter).

What can we read here? Kate’s damn hand is on the bottom of the character sheet, but we can still make out a lot.

First of all, I’m pretty sure that the previous character sheet we saw (HP 181, etc) said “Iglacia” at the top, so this must be page 2 of Iglacia’s character sheet. The top line looks like it might say “equipment”. I cannot make out the first two items. The top one MIGHT be “shield”. Or “stone”. The second is even more puzzling. Sacrament? Sarabande? Lava lamp? None of these make much sense. The rest of the equipment, though, is

Talking Sword of Logri

For reference, here’s what Kate has said about her character:

I am Iglacia the Fighter. I have great strength and courage, strong armor, many weapons, and I won the mighty Talking Sword of Logri.

Well, here’s the Talking Sword of Logri, as well as strong armor (“armor” and “helmet”), and many weapons (besides the Talking Sword, she has an axe, a mace, and an adze. What’s she doing with an adze? Even in old-school D&D, where you went into the dungeon loaded with iron rations, torches, sacks, mirrors, wolfsbane, thieves’ tools, ladders, and ten-foot poles, there was no equipment listing for an adze. But on the other hand… if you have woodworking tools, you can MAKE a ladder and a 10′ pole! Mazes and Monsters > D&D

Something else to note: None of these equipment items have D&D style plusses, not even the Talking Sword of Loghri. At 9th level, Iglacia doesn’t even have armor +1. Therefore, Mazes and Monsters must not use numerical values to measure its magical effects (or else their Maze Controller is a tightfisted jerk).

Also, there is none of the pedantic armor classifications of other RPGs. No leather, studded leather, chain, or plate. Just “armor”. And “helmet”. And possibly “shield”. You have one or you don’t.

Misc Equipment
lava lamp



Moving down the character sheet (and assuming the weapons in the top right quadrant are just doodles in the style of RPG players everywhere), what do we see: “SPELLS”? For a FIGHTER? Raise your hand if your mind is BLOWN

As I said, much of the “spells” section is obscured by Kate’s DAMN hand, but we can clearly make out “melt[s] metal” and “freeze water”.

Kate doesn’t move her hand until halfway into a fade into another shot. Here’s the best screencap I can get of the bottom of the character sheet:

It looks like Iglacia’s last two spells are “make thunderbolts” (followed by a nice picture of a thunderbolt) and “move stone” (followed by an adequate picture of a stone).

Tom Hanks specifically said that his Holy Man knew “spells” and “charms”; now we know that fighters have access to “spells”. Let’s update the rules accordingly.

Character Classes

Fighter: A fighter is able to use any weapons and the strongest of armor. A fighter may also learn Spells. A fighter’s recommended attributes are Strength and Courage.

Spells (available to Holy Men and Fighters)
Freeze Water
Make Thunderbolt
Melts Metal
Move Stone

Now, since we’ve half faded into this shot already, let’s show the montage shot of the friends playing Mazes and Monsters and having fun. Look how happy they all are!

Also, notice that all the minis are together in the plus-shaped section of the board! THEY ARE IN A SHARED FANTASY YOU GUYS! Also, Hanks seems to be writing with a pencil on the board. Initiative order maybe?

Oh, and in case you still think that the board might actually be a map of the maze, we also get a sneak peek behind the Maze Controller’s screen, and see a map of the dungeon!

(Can anyone make out any of the text on this map?)

We also get a clearer shot of page 1 of Iglacia’s character sheet, with her traits, HP, etc… or what would be page 1 in D&D. In Mazes and Monsters, this stuff is on page 2, after the equipment section.

What can we read here?

? [dexterity? throwing?]
hear through walls

From the spell list, we learned that Kate likes to draw an appropriate picture next to each item. Next to “hear through walls” is a lattice, perhaps inexpertly drawn bricks. Next to “courage” is… a red jelly bean in a glass sphere? Next to “dexterity/throwing” is a picture of a red jelly bean being thrown, which would actually work for either possibility, but tends to support “throwing”. The unreadable second attribute is next to a picture of an arrow, so perhaps it has something to do with archery or marksmanship.

Next we have some acronyms, and actual numbers, which have been in short supply in this game so far:

WT 2
HP 181 [or 131]
S. P. 10

We’ll have to figure out these numbers later, if we’re lucky enough to be provided clues by the movie. I’m assuming, though, that HP is Hit Points.

After some indecipherable scrawls (“Rod T: 15115”? “Exiles”? “15 or Ti”?) we can also see “Graven Eye of Timur”. Hmm, maybe the shot continuity has fooled us and this is Hank’s Holy Man sheet? or maybe it’s just campaign notes?

To support that theory, the rest of the character sheet is filled up with what are clearly campaign notes. “See the seventh moon of Jupiter at the time of the [abetreal] storm”? “greatstrength”? “When the storm clouds gather to the shape of a dragon and the lady”? This sounds like a kickass campaign, but as we know, the entire game takes place within mazes, so the characters will never see moons or storms. I bet these notes are clues for some sort of stone-tile-sliding puzzle.

We also get a shot of Hank’s character sheet. We can see that his handwriting is much worse, so that confirms that the last character sheet was Iglacia’s.

I really can’t make out anything here. It looks like Hanks might be the party mapper. It also looks like he dipped his character sheet in water. All I can decipher is… “Pants”? Boys! For legibility, give me a girl’s character sheet any day.

Here’s Page 2 of Hanks’ sheet:

What I can read from here is:

sleeping potion
stop motion
The Eye of Timor

Raise the Dead
instant healing
??? strange Change ???
??? ???

OK, so Holy Men have POWERS now? We have to update the class descriptions again!

Holy man: A Holy Man’s main strengths are his Spells, Charms, and Powers. He also has reasonable combat abilities, should his magic fail him. Holy Men are able to use one-handed weapons; they cannot use armor or shields.

Freeze Water: 1st level spell. Does damage to creatures made of water.
Melts Metal: 2nd level spell. Metal runs and becomes temporarily liquid. If used on a target using metal armor, the target takes damage.
Move Stone: 3rd level spell. The caster must succeed at a RONA based on the size of the stone. The RONA is 1 per 50 pounds of weight. A stone that is mortared into a wall has +10 to its RONA.
Make Thunderbolt: 4th level spell. Creates a thunderbolt in the caster’s hand. If the character makes a successful Throw, the target takes damage.
Invisibility: 5th level spell. Character becomes invisible. At the end of each turn, the character must pass a check with a RONA of 5 or the spell ends.
Sleeping Potion: 6th level spell. The character is able to prepare Sleeping Potions, which can be administered by stealth or in combat. In combat, a character must make a successful Throw. If the attack hits, the target falls asleep.
Stop Motion: 7th level spell. After casting this spell, the caster is allowed two free actions.
Graven Eye of Timor: 9th level spell. The Graven Eye of Timur allows its bearer to identify when he is Mazed or trapped in a Fantasy. This gives a +5 bonus to the RONA (Roll-Over Number for Achievement) for escaping a Maze Prison.

Instant Healing: 1st level spell. Restores 30 HP.
Raise the Dead: Brings a dead character to life with 50 HP.

OK, this has been a very fruitful love montage. We’re really filling out our rules! I will have to start collating this stuff in a PDF soon.

Next Monday: Characters die! And minis are painted! Here’s a preview.

Series Navigation<< Mazes and Monsters retro-clone 3: meet the charactersMazes and Monsters retro-clone 5: It’s a Trap! >>


14 Responses to “Mazes and Monsters retro-clone 4: love and character sheets”

  1. sniderman says:

    I am absolutely enthralled by the series you’re doing. Keep up the good work!

  2. Baf says:

    Re adze: Carpentry skills can be used offensively! Players of earlier, buggier versions of Ultima Online figured out how. The key is that when you banged together a cabinet, it was an obstacle that no one but you could disassemble — and if your skill was high enough, you could create it in a fraction of a second. So a pair of carpenters stationed at opposite ends of an alleyway could trap anyone foolish enough to venture in and then demand payment to let them out.

    But if there wasn’t a Carpentry skill listed on Kate’s character sheet, she probably isn’t using it that way. Maybe it’s loot from an encounter with some carpenters who were attempting the technique — this could even have been how she was Mazed at some point, in which case she’d naturally want to keep the adze as a symbol of the emotional lesson she learned by overcoming the cabinetry.

  3. OnlineDM says:

    I continue to express my love for this series of articles. The aside about Tom Hanks’ love affairs onscreen was awesome. Boy meets volleyball, boy loses volleyball, boy recovers and then loses girl whome he used to love but who thought he was dead, boy meets very patient artist who doesn’t mind that her package was delayed by several years…

  4. I’m loving this series. Looking forward to more!

  5. Kyle Griffin says:

    it is actually hard to master archery, it took me 2 long years to be a master of archery ,,

  6. […] and monsters 5: It’s a Trap! August 16th, 2010 by paul the cleverest of all spritesLast week's game session over, we see JJ and Blondie hangin' out together, painting some miniatures. You know. […]

  7. Gandalara says:

    It was actually the Talking sword of Lothia. I actually had this same idea back when I first saw this film and I have copies of the maps and characters as well as rules for it. It’s the way D&D ought to be played, actually. Good job!

  8. paul paul says:

    Dude, share!

  9. Gandalara says:

    Also, the game board is a piece of plexi glass over a piece of wood with hand drawn grids on the wood and the cross and the squares are painted on for decoration to look like a dungeon but the dungeon is also drawn in grease pencil or large dry erase as they go using the grid for measurement. I think the decorative squares also serve some game purpose and the border of the table is painted very nicely with tolkinesque flourishes and celtic looking designs. I actually plan on producing a larger copy of the game board it looks way cooler than vinyl mats and I have always wanted to sue larger gaming pieces–as well as the fact that i prefer handcrated game pieces. I believe an actual gamer or former gamerdesigned the game elements of the film from an actual but rare immersive style of play. It is actually spelled “Mazes of the Jennarak” on the DM’s papers.

  10. Gandalara says:

    I will post it sometime. I guess I’m weird but I long to play games like this. Beer and pretzels rpg’ing is fine for those who enjoy that and like I said it probably means I have a screw loose but I like to take it very seriously when I play.

  11. […] Tom Hanks does exactly what feel-good movies and guidance counselors have been telling us to do for decades: he believes in his dream. He makes life alterations that will change his career forever. The first thing he does is become, as The Great Hall hissed to him, celibate. This celibacy will be a life-long commitment for Hanks: long after Mazes and Monsters is done filming, Tom Hanks will continue to take decidedly non-sexy roles. […]

  12. Kerkerwicht says:

    Interessting quote from the novel about holy men:
    “Once every generation there was aholy man, who learned all his secrets from the Holy Man who had come before him. Pardieu’s mentor had been a legendary Holy Man who had vanished many years ago, but who some said would never die (…).”

    Also interesting is this quote:
    “Pardieu was not sure. Sometimes, as he made his way through this treacherous maze, he felt that his mentor had been there before, perhaps was there still, waiting for him. The great one had gone away alone.”

    A Great examle for issue-rules of paul’s M&M-Retroclone.

  13. What’s up, for all time i used to check weblog posts here in the early hours in the break of day,
    for the reason that i enjoy to gain knowledge of more and more.

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