We last left off with Tom Hanks and his friends in the middle of a new, LARP-enhanced version of Mazes and Monsters. They just encountered a skeleton, so we should finally get a chance to see how they’ll handle combat so we can find out how that mechanic works, and… oh. Oh. They’re not going to fight the skeleton. They’re going to talk to each other. Roleplay.
Girl: Perhaps there is a clue hidden in the skull!
Hanks: (in a squeaky, panicked voice) Beware of the sacrilege!
Girl: Glacia the fighter is not afraid.
As Glacia the fighter approaches the skeleton, it is suddenly pulled up, out of the shot; presumably by a system of ropes and pulleys rigged up by Jay Jay, who, in addition to free run of the Theater Department and Anatomy Skeleton Department, apparently has the key to the Ropes and Pulleys Department. Either things are invisible when they are on the ceiling, or the characters can only see things in-frame, or Jay Jay’s system of ropes and pulleys pulls the skeleton down the tunnel and around the bend, because the skeleton, mouth flashlight and all, is now gone.
Showing bizarre and amazing lumination-location memory, Blondie says, “Look! where the light was pointing!”
The adventurers gather around the foam-rubber wall. Apparently, there’s something written on here, although the viewer can’t see it.
Hanks: Who among us can read this strange writing?
Blondie: I can. They’re ancient writings of my people, i learned them as a child. They say… “eat of the bitter herb.”
My question here is, in what language are these writings? Are they English, and Hanks, for some reason, is pretending that he can’t read them? Or is Blondie pretending to know what they say, taking control of the narrative in an indie-RPG way? Or are they, in fact, ancient writings of Blondie’s people? Perhaps WASPS have a secret language?
The girl now asks, “Will the herb give us wisdom or threaten us?”
Whenever you want, you can ask the Maze Controller a question. if he answers it, it will ruin the adventure and you win.
Blondie waves away her question, perhaps because he already knows that “eat of the bitter herb” is a reference to Exodus 12:8, “with bitter herbs they shall eat it,” and that the fiendish monster Ack-Oga is going to invite them to a Passover seder.
Blondie: (ignoring the girl) First we’ll find the herb.
Hanks: Let us go the way the skeleton came.
Are you crazy? Out-of-shot? There’s no cameras there! Blondie has a better idea:
Blondie: Why don’t we split up and each look for the herb.
Hanks: (whose next statement is absolutely correct) No no no. I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Blondie: (who appears to have a case of genre blindness that spans all genres) What’s the matter, scared?
The taunt carries the day, and the group does, in fact, split up, in the unsafe, unmapped cave. There follows what feels like about half an hour of various people wandering around in front of various rock walls, before Jay Jay decides it is time to spice things up with a Wanderin Monster roll.Jay Jay rolls 2d12. He takes a quick look at the result – not enough time to consult a wandering monster chart, barely enough time to total the result – and yells, “A monster! … A Gorbill!”
Hmm, interesting. If Jay Jay can parse the wandering-monster roll without looking anything up, he must have internalized the Wandering Monster table. The most likely reason for that is that the game only comes with one wandering monster table, so that, for instance, a roll of 15 always means “Gorbill”. Furthermore, since the roll was made with 2d12, we have an upper limit for the total number of monsters in the game: 23 (the range of 2-24).
At regular intervals, the Maze Controller should roll to see if the characters encounter Wandering Monsters.
2-12: No encounter
16: Mystical Skeleton
17: Mutated People
18: Evil Wizard
19: Hostile Normal Men
20: Hostile Sprites
21: Hostile Holy Men
22: Hostile Frenetics
Note that some monsters – the fiendish Ack Oga, for instance – are not listed on the Wandering Monster table. That is because these monsters are “boss monsters”, never encountered by chance but only when guarding the central treasure of a Maze.
The above table is tentative, obviously – I’ll amend it as we discover more monsters.
So, the players are fighting a wandering monster! That can mean only one thing – we finally get to see the Mazes and Monsters combat mechanic in action! This is going to be great, guys!
No… my mistake. No combat mechanic. We’ve finally reach the part of the movie where Tom Hanks irrevocably loses his sanity. Maybe he’s not emotionally ready to create his own scenarios and fantasies, maybe he rolled too low on his RONA check, but for whatever reason, he flips out… and he’ll never be the same again.
As Tom hears Jay Jay’s voice, he actually SEES A GORBILL.Tom Hanks’s madness, while a tragedy for him and his family, is our good fortune, because we actually get to see what a Gorbill looks like. Pretty scary! A kind of lizardy man, with glowing eyes.
Gorbill: A kind of lizardy man, with glowing eyes.
Hanks, panicked, yells, “Marsha!! Neville! AAAAHH HELP ME HELP ME AHHHH!!” which is weird because his friends are named Katie and Daniel, and Katie’s character is named Glacia. I have no idea who Marsha and Neville are. Unless…
Tom swings his sword at the Gorvill! I guess your spells failed you, eh, Holy Man? When Katie and Daniel run to Tom Hanks’s help, they find him with his sword drawn.
A holy man worships the twin gods Marsha and Neville.
Girl: Robbie, are you ok?
Hanks: It’s alright! ‘Tis alright now, I have slain the Gorvill. (gestures at nothing)
Way to kill-steal, Hanks! The least you could have done was wait till your friends got there before you slew your hallucination, so they could each get a third of the XP.
Also, HOW DARE YOU say that the Gorbill is slain? That’s the Maze Controller’s job! He’s the only one with dice! If players can slay monsters willy-nilly with the power of their imagination, then the Maze Controller is dethroned as the god of his universe, and all is in chaos!The game wraps up for the evening. Everyone congratulates Jay Jay on running a great game. Hanks, though, is a little distraught that he had to kill the Gorbill with his sword. “I’m a holy man. I never kill unless I cannot overcome the monster with reason or spells. I’ve got these to compensate for my lack of warlike skills!” When he says “these,” he fingers a leather pouch that I had assumed were part of his Friar Tuck costume.
Jay Jay tells everyone that he had planned to make some papier mache monsters, but had run out of time. Katie insists that the lack of monsters was just what made the game so great! She intones, “The most frightening monsters are the ones that exist in our minds.” There is a long, awkward silence, the kind that usually follows a character baldly stating the premise of the movie. That’s a faux pas, Katie, and it makes everyone uncomfortable!
Spells and powers are little physical objects that you can put in a pouch. They can be found as part of a treasure. If you lose your spell pouch, you will have to spend more time gathering power!