Monday, June 26, 2017

Return to the Labyrinth

I've been wanting to create a one-shot adventure that I can begin to run at conventions. I've been to five conventions so far, and I'm ready to take a step towards developing something that will provide a fun experience. The ideal would be a very approachable game that focuses more on storytelling and puzzle solutions over combat. Something with memorable characters and plenty of opportunity for exploration and creativity. While thinking about the recipe for the adventure I would want to write, I began to think how fun The Labyrinth would be as an adventure setting.


First of all, Jareth the Goblin King just seems like a great villain for a tabletop rpg. I like the role he plays in the movie of popping up once in a while to taunt the protagonist. When things aren't challenging enough, he can show up and throw unnecessary obstacles in the way and just generally be seen as cheating the players out of their victories. This resentment of the villain makes it all the more satisfying at the end if they are able to defeat him and prevent him from accomplishing his goals.

One of the questions that I have up in the air right now is whether the players should be playing some of the memorable characters from the movie, or if they should be playing "Mundies" (just picked up reading Fables again) from the ordinary world who are brought back into the world of the Labyrinth. As fun as it might be to play as Hoggle or Ludo, playing an outsider would be more fitting to the feel of the movie and make more sense as to why they aren't more familiar with the world.

My initial idea for the hook is that Jareth has grown tired of being the Goblin King. He never really wanted the job to begin with, as his thoughts are often drawn to the glam rock career that could have been. Not only has the role gotten in the way of his career goals, but the goblins have just grown out of control. Their bad behavior has been running rampant throughout the realm and the labyrinth itself is starting to fall into disrepair. Jareth is ready to make an exit, so he returns to an old plan: retrieve Toby Williams and dump this responsibility on him.

Toby is no longer a baby, and our story begins on his 13th birthday. The players are all schoolmates of Toby's and have been invited to the extravagance and grandiosity of Toby's snobby rich parents. Before resentment can set in too much, however, one of Toby's gifts is a crystal ball from the original movie. During some shenanigans at the party, the crystal cracks open summoning an army of the goblins into the house to kidnap Toby. The goblins are confused as there are far too many children for them to choose from and they aren't really too sure which one is Toby, so they elect to nab all the children present and take them back to the Labyrinth.

The game begins with the children all stuck in the dark oubilette where they have been left to be forgotten. Toby is not present as they begin, having been brought to the castle for his coronation. I think this would be a great place to introduce that little worm from the movie to serve as an information giver for what is happening and help steer them towards their quest to rescue Toby.


There are a bunch of characters that are must-haves for a Labyrinth themed adventure, so lets talk about what their stories should be 13 years after the first movie. Feel free to comment or leave messages to provide me with your thoughts!

Hoggle

My guess is Jareth was probably still pretty sore with Hoggle and the assistance he provided Sarah. Hoggle has been relieved of his cushy groundskeeper job and been stuck down in the Oubilette as a warden. He misses the outdoors and dreams of better times when he was a faerie exterminator extraordinaire. Maybe he is a little jaded about friendship...after all he sacrificed a lot for Sarah and she doesn't make time to visit? Jareth warned him that Sarah's friendship was false, and now being stuck down in the Oubilette is starting to mess with his head as he feels neglected. He isn't super excited to be looking after a bunch of humans after his experience the last time one showed up.

I think Hoggle needs some vulnerability that the players can exploit or a problem he needs solving that they could offer to take care of in exchange for getting free from the Oubilette. Maybe Hoggle has fallen in love, but his self-esteem has seen better days. The players can lend assistance either doing a makeover on Hoggle, acting as his intermediaries, delivering a letter, etc. What do you think? What are some ways our heroes might get on Hoggle's good side?

Ludo

The giant hairy beast with the power to summon rocks is definitely going to be an expected NPC. But what is he doing 13 years after his adventure with Sarah? He has no allegiance to Jareth and is an enemy of the goblins. It seems likely he's either in hiding in the Bog of Eternal Stench or is a captive of the goblins potentially being held at the city. Perhaps if the players are able to rescue him he could be a useful ally.

Or maybe he's trying to clean up the Junk City and redevelop it with his rock summoning powers. I kind of like the idea of Ludo just bulldozing his way through a bunch of trash in his free time. Maybe whatever task the party ends up doing on Hoggle's behalf ends with them visiting this location. The Junk City could be the home of some kind of resistance to Jareth's rule over the Labyrinth. Could be populated with some of the other minor characters that appeared in the movie and perhaps some new ones.

Sir Didymus

Sir Didymus would definitely return to where his bridge was and rebuild it so he could continue to carry out his sacred oath to let none pass without his permission. When the party reaches him, he will be a bit more discerning about who he grants permission to, however. Sir Didymus respects people who embody valor, strength, and intelligence. He will have developed a series of tests that will satisfy him that the players are worthy to cross his bridge.

Other Characters
I am already convinced that the Fireys need to make an appearance. I think they may have been the creepiest part of the movie for me as a kid. Popping out their eyes and kicking around their heads, they could be truly formidable combatants that just want to have a bit of fun with the players by removing their appendages. They remind me of fire resistant trolls which should be truly terrifying to a low level party.



I would like to see the big goblin robot at the end, Humongous, make an appearance as well. I think he'd make a great final boss encounter.


Final Thoughts
What do you think has happened to the characters of the Labyrinth 13 years after the movie? What do you think would make an interesting Labyrinth themed game? Thoughts on the game system that should be used?

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