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The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 53: The Power of Chaos

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

So we're definitely killing the human for putting our bowls in this thing, right?
It's like that, but if the bowl tray were upside down and spinning, and the cats were catching every stray morsel with their tails . . .

Welcome back. As you probably just read, the group ended the previous day facing an enigmatic portal in a dead wizard's study. Now that alone would have been a cause for pause for most of us. But not the Delicious Cupcakes; they just yelled Geronimo and hopped in.

Inside was a pocket dimension completely devoid of magic. No magical, supernatural, or spell like abilities, or gear would work. There they found a series of dastardly puzzles, each more clever than the last. The puzzles were designed to test various faucets of intelligence, on the assumption that zealots (all zealots, not just the religious brands) tended to have brains of mush. The first tested pattern matching. The second tested the testee's (no, I did not say testis; get your mind out of the gutter) ability to synthesize a rule. The third puzzle tested their ability to extrapolate. And the fourth tested their understanding of consequence.

{DM's Note: These puzzles were actually lifted from a story I wrote on consequences several years back. Fortunately none of them had ever read it.}

Now, if the antics of my players have been any indication I'd fully expected the group to attack this set of puzzles in the form of the above image. Instead they went a different route, because the one defining characteristic of the Delicious Cupcakes is Chaos. Chaos can not be predicted.

They sailed through the first puzzle, as I'd expected. When it came to the second puzzle they completely missed that the blocks I'd had Christian 3D print were of different weights. Instead they treated this puzzle as pattern matching and moved on, without ever realizing that the symbols were the numbers 1-10.

{DM's Note: Obviously this was my fault. Instead of simply giving the symbols of the cubes needed on the 'throne' I should have set some mathematical puzzles on the walls for them to solve. Should I decide to rewrite that story I'll have to add that in.}

And pattern matching worked in the third room as well. Again they sailed through the puzzle without even knowing why. I could but roll my eyes.

In the last room they had trouble, mainly do to their failure (and mine) in the first room. Zornesk actually mapped out the entire maze on the ceiling, despite my making it as tedious as possible. I supposed I should have had the maze change itself on a regular basis. Eventually he made it into the upper room. On the announcement of "Buttons" the gnome flew up, ignoring the maze entirely. I supposed I should have disabled flight for this as well . . .

Now, in order to try and avoid any shenaniganry I'd set the puzzles to require that the entire membership be in the upper room in order to use those buttons. They never had more than 2 people there. In the end I had to invent resistance in the buttons; a resistance that lowered with each additional person.

But before that clicked they decided to backtrack to the first room. Alex finally noted the difference in weights of the blocks, and Clint quickly hit upon synthesizing the idea that the symbols were numbers and they tracked back into the 4th room. Now they could see that the buttons were labeled 1 and 2, and they also discovered that that extra symbol meant gravity.

Unfortunately that detour completely ruined the test. The idea was to push the consequence back a ways so it wasn't in short term memory. But since they'd just been in that room that paradigm was ruined.

And despite that Clint was still going to launch the ball down the chute, locking them in.

His character got so far as to actually have the pedestal pointed down the chute before Zornesk stopped him. And as the kobold explained the consequences of said action the gnome (who'd been quite good for some time) pushed the button. The ball rolled all the way to the first room, alighted on the 'pedestal' and landed on the 'throne'. The door closed locking them in. For some reason everyone was glaring at the gnome. I can't figure that out.

Fortunately the gnome was saved from an impromptu assassination by the appearance of an hologram of Mirrodin, appearing directly behind them. It announced its displeasure in their failure to learn the lesson he'd attempted to teach them so many months before. He went on to say that, had he any choice, he wouldn't let them have the axe blade. But he had no choice as he was about to be dead. He could only hope that this illustration was enough to teach them to consider more than the immediate consequences of their actions. He then disappeared and they found themselves back at the start with the blade.

They accomplished in one day what I'd been certain would take three. Not because they solved the puzzles, per say, but due to blind bumbling luck.

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