8.20.2014

Hyperparticle Rydberg Pulse Puzzle

DooM Video Game was groundbreaking on many levels, but one of its most enduring legacies is its use of Puzzles and, related to that, Secrets. Few first-person shooters since then have committed to the same design philosophy, much to their detriment. Puzzles provide a welcome contrast to the unending slaughter, testing the players' abilities to analyze or deduce the solution under the stress of simultaneous combat. So, too, does DooM RPG stand above its peers in its exaltation of puzzles.

DooM RPG takes the clues, hints, and implications of its source material and strives to recreate or enhance it to be true to the spirit and intent of the original. A common pitfall made again and again during the design process has been sticking too close to the unnecessary details of DooM Video Game, being too literal, and not seeing the big picture. Puzzles are no exception.

Video game design in the early 1990's forced DooM to present puzzles in an abstract way. The true dream of the author had to be constrained by existing technology and computing capabilities. Thankfully, this is one of the areas where DooM RPG can excel past those previous limitations, if only we have the drive and imagination to do so.

When you see a switch in the DooM Video Game, what does that really represent? A mere button to press? A lever to pull? How droll. No, the switch is actually a shorthand in the narrative for a maddening riddle puzzle involving prime numbers and coordinates for demonic gateways, or a timed mosaic puzzle to rewire and reroute power to where it is needed or where it is not. When we stand at the gaming table, we are able to take that shorthand narrative and expound that into an interesting challenge, rooted in the game fiction, to test and stress the players' abilities to think creatively. The DooM Video Game also presented many puzzles as hidden doors, identifiable by only a slight shift in the wall texture. The original intent here is to challenge the players' abilities of perception. Can they spot the slightly distorted door among the uncountable surfaces in a map? In DooM RPG, we instead challenge the players' abilities to interpret the meanings of clearly marked clues and leverage the story narrative to their advantage.

Puzzles serve to reward intelligent players via Secrets. DooM RPG is a punishing game that offers impossible challenges which cannot be defeated by simply rolling well on dice. When players solve certain puzzles, Secret chambers full of weapons and other boons are revealed to them. This is a well-earned reward and the means for players to directly affect their odds of survival.

I've been spewing out some hot air from atop a soap box for a little while now. Time to show what I mean through an actual example, a piece of game design that you can take right now and slip into any game mechanics system supporting an appropriate narrative theme. The example below, and all follow-up articles relating to Puzzles, will be deriving inspiration chiefly from the Fourthcore Alphabet; P is for Puzzles, S is for Secrets, and X is for X Marks the Spot.

HYPERPARTICLE RYDBERG PULSE PUZZLE

FEATURES OF THE AREA

  • You enter a five-sided room with shining, polished steel walls and a dark ceiling.
  • To your left is a blackened and sealed circular hatch in the center of the wall; the only means out of this room besides crawling back from where you came. The hatch has a small, reinforced violet glass aperture about 1 inch around in its center.
  • A glass pedestal on a mechanized platform rises up in the center of the room when you step in, a small opening in the floor pulling away to reveal its formerly concealed location. The platform rises to be flush with the floor, and the pedestal is 3 feet tall.
  • On top of the pedestal sits a crystal clear, multi-facted Martian Tzo Crystal the size of your fist, held in delicate brass tines. The brilliant gemstone shape resembles a humanoid face with curled horned and an open mouth, screaming in terror. The crystal catches the room lights in odd angles, creating a mesmerizing display. Bits of ruddy Martian soil cling to its corners.
  • What look to be two gun barrels protrude from the center of the two walls directly opposite of the hatch, each featuring a line of five small, green lights. A small monitor and keyboard are embedded in the walls as well.


UPON CLOSER INSPECTION

  • The Martian Tzo Crystal is known for its strange transformative properties, affecting the quantum membrane of reality. It is held fast to the pedestal and cannot be removed without damaging it.
  • The two gun barrels are, in fact, hyperparticle Rydberg pulse emitters. When the correct two particle types are discharged from the emitters and combined in the crystal, the hatch will safely unlock. However, an incorrect particle collision will transmogrify the crystal into antimatter, resulting in a cataclysmic explosion that kills all Marines in this room and opens this section of the station into the cold, airless Martian atmosphere.
  • The consoles adjacent to the emitters are able to manipulate the type of particle discharged by each emitter: Muon (Blue), Gluon (Green), Lepton (Red), Photon (flashing White), Neutrino (Yellow),Tau Particle (Orange), Z Boson (solid White), and Dark Matter (no light). When an emitter's particle type is changed, its lights change to match the related colors noted in parentheses. Both emitters are aimed directly at the Martian Tzo Crystal and can be fired simultaneously from the consoles.


PUZZLE SOLUTION
Marines must manipulate the hyperparticle Rydberg pulse emitters so that one laser displays red, a lepton, and the other displays blue, a muon. Firing the red and blue particles at the Martian Tzo Crystal then produces a combined purple beam that strikes the violet aperture in the hatch, releasing it and revealing a Secret chamber.


Editing by Andy Kotch

8.19.2014

Manifesto - go fuck yourself!

DooM RPG is a fast-paced, tactical roleplaying game that evokes the spirit of its 1993-era video game forbearer. DooM is visceral, brutal, and unforgiving. It presents complicated challenges on a fundamental level, testing the abilities of the players themselves in their capacity to act quickly, work for the betterment of a team, and execute intricate solutions to defeat both puzzles and more traditional enemies all while under extreme pressure. This game utilizes a wide array of tools to achieve its goals, integrating both traditional RPG dynamics hand-in-hand with player-versus-player, deathmatch style play.

DooM RPG is not a big, inclusive tent. DooM isn't here to be popular or to please any crowds. DooM doesn’t give a shit about your character’s emotional growth, lovingly crafted backstory, or even their fucking name. Instead, DooM exists to test you. This game explored how you, a real person, struggle with difficult mental challenges, what sacrifices you are willing to make for a greater goal, and how much risk you are willing to undertake in the pursuit of tantalizing rewards. It is some testosterone-filled macho bullshit.

DooM RPG serves as a low entry-threshold creative outlet, providing the basic framework from which every player at the table players can hang their fiendish designs, either as puzzles or as solutions to existing problems. With this, DooM goes far beyond what its digital competitors or older tabletop incarnations can offer with one simple fact; the entity creating your battleground is a living, thinking person that can easily create new and engaging challenges without the limits of processing power, network connectivity, or development time. During Deathmatch, DooM players are not competing against some anonymous nobody from across the globe, but are instead staring in the face of their enemy from across the table.

9.12.2013

E5M5: MARIO WORLD


When a couple of plumbing dungeoneers from Brooklyn take some special mushrooms, all sorts of wacky hijinks follow! But after fireballs, bottomless pits, giant snapping turtles, and huge piranha plants? Musta been a bad trip.

8.26.2013

GENCON 2013 CHAMPIONS INTERVIEW

BEHOLD!

An interview with some of the winners and dangerous competitors of the GenCon 2013 Tournament of Champions, wherein we discuss the tournament, what makes Fourthcore Team Deathmatch so great, winning strategies, and contemplate the future of FTDM.


8.20.2013

GENCON 2013 RECAP: PART 1

The GenCon 2013 Dungeons & Dragons Fourthcore Team Deathmatch Tournament of Champions has come and gone with blood, pain, and tears. An event lauded by many, but mastered by so very few, it represents the ultimate embodiment of brutality. For truly, can there be no greater quarry than thy fellow man? No, there is none.

Tournament Basic Info

Benoit's amazing terrain graciously donated to the cause:


Morning Entry Round
Moose Hockey Maple Syrup, Eh? vs. Team Walk-Ons
At this point in time, the returning champions are on the ropes and losing, visible via the clear cups used to track deaths. Victory went to MHMSE? with a brutal 12-7 score while at the other end of the room the Badass Dungeon Crushers mopped the floor with The Stalkers 14-10

Such a nice, beautiful setup of Benoit's Vault of the Spider Queen terrain. We used the shining gold pipe cleaner ring to denote which dungeoneer carried Lolth's Egg, while the player held a lilac-colored plastic Easter egg. Glass beads were dropped in cups to record number of deaths, while traditional colored pipe cleaners were wrapped around the minis to denote which team they belonged to.
A shot of Marc Talbot (MHMSE?) standing proudly in front of the FTDM banner, anxiously squaring off against the Badass Dungeon Crushers on E1M9 - Run!

Defeated teams from the Entry Rounds were given the privilege of playtesting FTDM's newest map, E5M4: Carbon Freeze while the semifinals raged on behind them.

MHMSE? vs. BDC in an intense struggle during the morning semifinals on Run!, Jon Green presiding.
Arguably the most difficult challenge to them all, this would prove to be the closest anyone has ever come to defeating MHMSE? with a narrow defeat of BDC at 13-14.

The poster size tournament ladder is filled in with the names of the defeated and the victorious.

After a short 45 minute break, we are back in high gear with the afternoon matches. The entry round at this table had a total of three teams vying for dominance - Stormhawks v. Eh Team v. Order of the Radiant Sun, in a heavily populated, chaos-filled, target-rich environment.
Three teams enter, only one team leaves; as the Eh Team crushes their enemies and dominates the field.

The epic three-team battle continues as twelve dungeoneers duke it out against each other simultaneously.

Red Bulls were given freely, but only to those who would roll their dice faster.
At the other end of the room, Big Jim's Sons are unceremoniously splattered by Don't Make This Weird.
I lieu of pictures, video was taken of the afternoon semi-finals round, to be revealed later in the week. Don't Make This Weird capitalizes on their mastery of forced movement to shut down the Eh Team with a remarkable victory of 10-3.

The fighting stays mostly confined to the bottom two floors, Don't Make This Weird trying to force the tide of battle there to capitalize on their forced movement and prone-ing capabilities.

"See this guy I'm pointing to? Dead."
The use of tiers for this terrain is perfect and expresses the core concept beautifully.

The end scene of the entire tournament. If we could only see the true carnage, dungeoneers knee deep in the dead. MHMSE? clinches victory for a second year in a row with a solid 21-16 score. Congratulations!!!

The tournament ladder is updated with finality, Moose Hockey Maple Syrup, Eh? once again taking the championship and establishing a dynasty of triumph.

"We're #1, two years running."
Immediately beforehand, no shit, a rousing rendition of O Canada is sung by the members of MHMSE?, both in English and in French. You can expect to see that video as well.

Marc and Derek, stalwart defenders of Canada's honor honour.

Team Moose Hockey Maple Syrup, Eh?
Victorious.

A post-game pic of Marc the next morning, running some D&D Next and proudly showing off his medal.

Be sure to check out Andy Kotch's personal picture roll, mostly of the final match between Don't Make This Weird and Moose Hockey Maple Syrup, Eh? found at imgur.com/a/0WuVE