Saturday, April 09, 2011

H is for Hobbit

With the April A to Z Challenge in full swing, I find myself with less time for some of the posting that I would otherwise be doing. High on my list of things to blog about was The Hobbit reread (last seen on March 18th). I haven't been reading this every night with my boys, but enough time has passed that I'm still several chapters ahead of my posts.

Well, H is for Hobbit (the reread).

On The Doorstep
When last we left Bilbo and his dwarven companions, they were setting out from Laketown as heroes of legend. They were entering the final stage of their quest to find a way to dispose of an invulnerable dragon and reclaim the lost treasure of the King Under the Mountain. Of course, it would help if they actually had a plan beyond "we'll figure it out when we get there". Sounds like most RPG adventuring parties that I know...

Anyway, in this chapter we we finally get to see Thorin and Company flailing about without a clue of how to really accomplish their ultimate goal. They do manage to find what they would come to call "the front doorstep", the grassy ledge adjacent to the magical secret door that was hinted at on their maps. But   it was Bilbo who "made the dwarves begin the dangerous search." And after they found it, they spent an indeterminate number of days (perhaps weeks?) just waiting for something to happen after attempts to crack the magical barrier with mining gear proved futile. Once again, it was hobbit luck that provided the reminder of the words of Elrond concerning the magic lock at the very last moment. And of all his companions, Bilbo was the the only one to have the wits to remember to try Thorin's key before the lock disappeared again.

This is a very small chapter and only one critical event happens in it (the opening of the door), but it continues to remind me of old school D&D in action. The party is geared up for the big quest and after lots of searching about the countryside they have finally located the entrance to the dragon's lair. Of course, they have to solve a single puzzle before they can gain admittance (through this entrance - the Front Gate is considered to be a BAD idea). I remember many sessions as a player and GM where puzzles took a long time to solve. I don't use puzzles much these days because I guess I'm not old-school enough to wait out player inaction. Like Tolkien, I'm much more likely to say "screw it, time passes and the final clue is revealed you morons."


Trey said...

That is the trouble with puzzles in game--suffering through the player's arguing it out.

Nicole said...

Nice post. When I came to your blog, I automatically started thinking about that movie "The Hobbit" that is supposed to be coming out. They seemed to have some development problems and challenges with getting the production up and running so I'm not sure if it's going to be released this year.

The Madlab Post

retrorpg said...

gotta keep the action going eventually to have a heroic tale ;)

I have to admit, I use very few puzzles, but when I do, I try to make them engaging, not simple some challenge.

Risus Monkey said...

@Trey & retrorpg: Most of my negative memories of puzzles in games come from being a player. The arguing and indecision really put a damper on things. As a GM, the only puzzles that I've used in the last few years weren't true puzzles at all. They only appeared that way in that they presented a problem. I'll typically accept any solution that seems interesting and creative.

@Nicole: I believe that most of the problem related to The Hobbit movie involved navigating the legal rights between various studios. People (like Del Torro) bailed because stuff was taking too long. It's my understanding that the project is on solid footing now.