Tuesday, October 4, 2016

MK Review: Cloud Kingdom Games Supplement Books

 MK Review: Cloud Kingdom Games Supplement Books


This week I am addressing a side of the RPG table that generally gets missed. We all know how to build a character who can dispatch multiple enemies in a single round, never misses their target, and can throw powerful blasts of magic leaving piles of ashes where foes once stood. However, the battle of the brawn is not the only fight before you in any good campaign. All too often does the other side of challenging the players get overlooked. People spend hours prepping beasts, building nemesis villains and trying to figure out just how they are going to keep their players on their toes without laying them on their backs with a TPK (total party kill).

This review must and will go a bit different than you are used to. Much like my review of Fluxx (find it here) there are many variations in this series and each review would sound quite similar, so one review to view them all! I will also let you know right now, I give no spoilers. These are books of riddles, tricks and traps! I leave the surprises and brain teasing for you!

When was the last time you set a puzzle in front of your party? When did you last have them picking their brains and desperately combing over the riddle written on the wall of the room they are currently locked in? Some of the best adventures, dungeons and quests I have faced in my years at the Tabletop had more or less and even amount of challenges that required no weapons. More a challenge of wits.

One of the foremost memories of this would be when our party decided to take on the "Riddle of the Gods" in my friends home-brew world. There were almost twenty different lines in the riddle. We had to research each part of the riddle individually to assure we were properly translating the instructions that would give us the "Gifts of the Gods". After working our way through it (in the end paying an entire group of scholars to double check our work and complete the translation for us), we set out to collect the items mentioned in the riddle. We then had to go to the correct location and preform what turned out to be a ritual to the gods. Each major God handed down a gift that represented their beliefs.

Sure in between all that we were traveling through the "Undead Forest" cutting a path to the keep my character had acquired (right in the middle of the forest, of course). There was battle, there was plenty of spilled blood and levels drained away by long dead creatures. But that was the side quest. We were purposefully tracking down a quest that required no fight. Only the use of our intelligence, wisdom and ability to apply the two.

I know, first you have to come up with the puzzle, or find a riddle that isn't so old and commonly known that they are answering it before you finish reading it aloud. This is never an easy task. Not unless you happen to have access to a wealth of pre-written puzzles, riddles and other brain racking options for an entire dungeons worth of content. Or two. Or more!

Lucky for you the good folks at Cloud Kingdom Games have already compiled many great options for you to use. This goes beyond the obvious "Riddle of the Sphinx" that most elementary kids can answer due to its popularity. Try Riddle Rooms #1, containing twenty puzzle or riddle filled rooms written without system specific rules in order to easily adapt into whatever situation and system you wish to drop them.

Need something a little more like a full module to keep the theme going throughout the entire campaign? How about "The Shadowman's Twisted Treasure"? If that isn't enough, follow that up with the Shadowman's return in "The Shadowman's Tricks and Traps". You get 30 riddles in the first book alone! Combine that with the tricks and traps and you will have more than enough content to fuel your quest of mental agility.

There are many different books in their library, and all of them are perfectly suited to be an easy booster to your Arsenal of weapons to throw mental challenges at your players! Don't need the fluff, but like the idea of a collection of riddles on hand? They have something for you there too! "The Riddle Treasury" gives you 150 riddles with answers. Talk about a serious source book! I highly suggest using these cleverly written play on words, use of double meanings, and the occasional misdirection to help to throw your players off the scent and force them think their way through the situation for once!

If you are having issues with that one player who just charges everything with their giant axe, remove all living targets. If you are afraid you can't challenge your players without using the same tricks and nullifying their effectiveness, it is time to play the mental game. Cloud Kingdom Games has all the content you need to achieve new heights without dropping a ton of high-powered loot after they take out your assassination crew.

Well written, and built for system neutrality in most cases, these books are an amazing addition to any RPG source book collection. I confidently drop a four star rating on these babies. Find them in the MKTabletop.com RPG Book selection!

Until next time ...Game On!