Mazes and Monsters retro-clone 5: It’s a Trap!

This entry is part 5 of 34 in the series Mazes and Monsters

the cleverest of all sprites

the cleverest of all sprites

Last week’s game session over, we see JJ and Blondie hangin’ out together, painting some miniatures. You know. Like you do, as bros.

Here we see JJ with his magifying glass. It was probably part of, like, a Sherlock Holmes costume (JJ’s schtick is that he loves costumes). Who knows, maybe the magnifying glass will come in handy again if he ever gets a job as Construction Producer on “Handyman Superstar Challenge”.

So apparently Mazes and Monsters minis are made out of paper? or cardboard? Anyway, they’re flimsy — providing nothing like the honest, slightly-toxic solidity of the lead miniature that D&D was using at the same time. Mazes and Monster’s publisher (whoever it was) just never had the money TSR did to produce licensed gamepieces. Luckily, the Mazes and Monsters minis are always conveniently facing the camera, so it looks like they’re not quite as ramshackle as they are.

check out these sweet Clinton minis!

check out these sweet Clinton minis! I can't wait to use them in my next Mazes and Monsters session.

Use of Miniatures

Mazes and Monsters is best played with miniatures, used to mark player position in the maze and on the Psychodrama Condition Track. Our company sells a very good set of miniatures, all on one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. Other good miniatures may be obtained from coloring books and books of paper dolls.

Something else to note: JJ is painting his “frenetic sprite” mini, the same one he has been using in the previous gameplay scenes. That means he didn’t get together with Blondie to paint paper minis, he got together with Blondie to TOUCH UP paper minis.

It is great fun to paint your minis — you may wish to invite friends over so you can paint together. (This way, only one person needs to buy paints.) Also, sometimes you will feel that your mini is starting to look a little dingy. Minis occasionally need a little touchup.

After the mini-painting scene, we get JJ brooding to his bird about how his mom doesn’t appreciate him. (That’s JJ’s Big Problem, by the way: his Mom Doesn’t Appreciate Him.) JJ considers suicide. Then he decides to go to the local caves for some reason? Maybe to commit suicide there? (Or maybe just to Be Alone? Sometimes a kid like JJ who has no earthly possibility of Being Together with someone needs some time to Be Alone.) This is one of the big Mazes and Monsters fakeouts: we know from the opening scene that SOME troubled teen will get tragically lost in a cave, but which one?

suicide hat

Was Suicide Hats a band from this era?

JJ enters the mines, wearing his best suicide hat and carrying an electric lantern. Then, for some reason, he takes out from his backpack a CRAZY ELABORATE TORCH. He really prepared for his suicide: a bizarre hat and two bizarre light sources! I would have just gone in, say, a flashlight/newsboy hat combination, but that’s where we all have lessons to learn from previous generations.

JJ looks around the caverns, and there end his plans for self-destruction, self-immolation, self-gratification, or self-hattification. He is struck with the same kind of inspiration that led Gygax to write AD&D, or maybe the F.A.T.A.L. guys to write F.A.T.A.L. He conceives the idea that will take Gaming to the next Level. There, look in his eyes! Or his left eye, that’s the only one you can see in this shot. That look is called Inspiration.

More on this later. Let’s attend the next Mazes and Monsters session! I’m sure we can find some more interesting rules tid-bits.

Yay, bloodthirsty undead!

That candle doubles as a microphone.

Back in the candle-lit Mazes and Monstersatorium, Blondie is holding court among his spellbound minions. He intones, “You blindly stumble face to face with a dozen bloodthirsty undead.” The players cheer! and reach for their character sheets. (Normally players would reach for their dice, but, you know, NO DICE.)


Undead: A kind of undead monster.

But Blondie is not done setting up this dazzling encounter. He continues, “However, between you and the undead is a deep pit, where at the very bottom you can see just a faint glimmering. It could be the legendary treasure of the Generai… or it could be a trap.”

There follows this memorable exchange, which is a masterpiece of rules exposition effortlessly provided in dialogue:

JJ: Frelik jumps into the pit to gather the treasure. How much does Frelik get?
Blondie (with a stricken expression that bespeaks infinite tragedy, and not sounding much like Admiral Ackbar at all): It’s… a trap.
Girl: (Already in Stage 1 of grieving) No.
Blondie: The pit is filled with sharp gem-encrusted spikes! Frelik, the frenetic of Glostermir is impaled… and dies!

the cleverest of all sprites

In Memoriam


Beware traps! If your player triggers a trap, NO MATTER HOW HIGH LEVEL THEY ARE, they will be instantly killed! There is no recourse to a trap. That is just the nature of traps!

Girl: Pardieux, save him, use your power to raise the dead!
Tom: (winner of countless Academy Awards and Golden Globes) Well, I can’t, I don’t have enough points to raise the dead!

Using spells, charms, tricks, or powers requires POINTS. If you don’t have enough points, you can’t cast the spell, even if you have somehow obtained it.

This is what people look like when they are mad about lack of sonar use.

Girl: JJ, that was really stupid, jumping into the pit without using your sonar first!


Sonar: Detects traps.

Blondie: Cheer up, JJ, you can start again as a new character.
Girl: Oh, it’ll take him forever to gather power.

Character death

If your beloved Mazes and Monsters character dies, you cannot simply start a new character at the same level. You must start as a level 1 character. This is because all power – spells, tricks, powers, charms, and magic items – must be gathered by the player, won as treasure in various mazes. In the deadly world of Mazes and Monsters, having a high-level character is a major accomplishment. Treasure your character! And if he dies, DESPAIR!

Blondie: Well, I didn’t kill him!
JJ: Did so!
Blondie: YOU weren’t paying attention!


Players, pay attention! When there is a potential trap, the Maze Controller must warn you: “This COULD be a trap!” But when you receive such a warning, is it revealing a trap… or masking a treasure?

Finally, JJ reveals the brilliant idea he has been nursing since his well-lit journey in the caves.

JJ: I’d like to propose a new game. Kind of an… evolution of mazes and monsters. But we’d be playing at a more… sophisticated level.
Blondie: “But we’re not finished with this game yet!
Girl: Yes, but it’s not the same without Frelik.

And that’s how we all ended up playing…

Evolved Mazes & Monsters

Next time, we’ll see EM&M in action! Here’s a preview:

Shall ye LARP? Aye!

Series Navigation<< Mazes and Monsters retro-clone 4: love and character sheetsMazes and Monsters retro-clone 6: Live Action Maze Exploration >>


9 Responses to “Mazes and Monsters retro-clone 5: It’s a Trap!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Fifth picture from the top- That’s his RIGHT eye.

  2. Claire Claire says:

    My understanding of D&D, when I was a kid, was always that if your character in a long-running game died, you had to start again with a level 1 character. Is that an old-school D&D thing, or have people always made a new leveled-up character? It would be super annoying for two 9th-level guys to play with a level-one frenetic sprite, I guess! Just like babysitting.

  3. paul says:

    Yeah, I think the idea in D&D is you start a new character – or take over one of your henchmen. Every character has a train of semi-NPC henchmen and hirelings of lesser level who follow along to hold torches, carry treasure, and get killed.

  4. […] We've come a long way in our exploration of the Mazes and Monsters rules. The old rules. The old, boring, sit-around-the-table rules. But now it's time for the next stage of the game: Evolved Mazes & Monsters […]

  5. Gandalara says:

    You have a great blog. Let me say again that I believe in mazes and monsters only the DM rolls and I think this would be really cool at least in some sessions. It removes the mechanic feel to the game and makes it more like a fantasy.

  6. […] the caves? They were featured, ominously, in the first shot of the film, and then Jay Jay was going to commit suicide there, but didn't, and then the players LARPED there without incident. It seems that something is finally happening […]

  7. […] mazes and monsters 5: It’s a Trap! « Blog of Holding says: August 16, 2010 at 5:07 pm […]

  8. […] 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 […]

  9. Kerkerwicht says:

    In the Unead/-Pitscene in the novel is some more interesseting information about the game (and maybe some more differneces to the movie).

    First of all we get some information about the combatsystem and how long combat lasts. ” Now Daniel had called up a bunch of the undead, and there was a fierce battle. This was going to go on all the night (…). Getting rid of the undead took ages if they were the ones who weren’t afraid of light.”

    And we can see, that Players in the Novel DO rolling dice.
    “Kate was rolling great numbers tonight; he (Jay Jay) wished they were in Las Vegas. She was sending the undead back where they came from at a fast rate”.

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