Good old Camp Inawindyslay*. Summer fun, a large ample lake with its own dock, an archery range, private trails and cabins for all of the kids. I should have been an idyllic summer for all involved. The hero’s got set in and waited for the kids to arrive.
They met the kids one by one, and got to know them. Then onto a day of wholesome activities. Then dinnertime cane. The power went out. They centralized the kids in the mess hall. Then they sent out their beefiest PCs to check the area, leaving the kids with two campers to supervise them.
The realized that the boats were destroyed. The battery was gone from the car and the kids were still dropping one-by-one. Pieces of them were missing, hands, hearts, minds, eyes. And it was done with surprising precision. Someone was building something with their parts. The councilors all came back to the mess hall.
Kids were still dropping like flies. They discovered other doors in the mess hall and patched them up. Kids were still dying. All but two were gone when they made for the front gates to try walking out. A fight with the killer (and the player who had betrayed them) earlier, and they had walked out the front gates.
And they were back, at the first day of camp. The kids are about to arrive, Isn’t that exciting? They had to work on finding what they had missed. The world reset five times. Eventually, they found the tunnels hidden under the map (the ones on the clearly marked abandoned cabin) and found the parts o of the spell that they needed to end the deal and banish the killer. They looked like this.
Now, as you’ll notice each one has letters, numbers and symbols on them. They also had access to a simple Sylvan dictionary. So, how do you solve this one? Well, its a bit tricky, but this was a bigger group, so I felt free to give a more complex puzzle.
1. Examine the letters. You’ll find that you have a set of letters that you can use to make words. Eliminate any words in Sylvan that do not have these letter in them. (you must make it clear to players that each letter can be used more than once – this isn’t a direct substitution puzzle)
2. Notice the numbers on the boxes. These can be used to identify two possible words that you can find in numeric order.
3. Notice the amount of larger symbols on each piece of paper (for example endless has 1 skull, 2 tridents, 2 skulls, 1 number box on one side of the word, and 1 trident, 2 skulls and 3 number boxes for a total of 12)
4. Remember the order in which you found these slips of paper. Sum up the number of symbols on each one.
5. Count down the list. Stopping where each number works and continuing the count again when you head to the next number.
6. Figure out the phrase that you can make with those words. There are only so many combinations.
It took them almost a full hour in game, but they stayed very engaged with it because of all of the possibilities that the papers presented. Plus, it was the last thing to do in the end game to defeat the BBEG and get out. Feel free to use this with your own players. Drop a comment to let me know how it goes.
From there, it was just a walk to the ranger’s station, and the creation of touching and personal epilogues for each PC and they had won. Happiness achieved for all.
*This is a one shot that I ran last summer. As the weather gets warmer I was reminded of it…and maybe inspired to do some more. Though I don’t know if I will have time with both the Race and my regular parties campaign.