Thursday, May 11, 2017

Statues

A poster on the Old School Gamers group on Facebook asked a simple question tonight:
Today's random word is statues. How have you used statues and golems in your campaign?

It sounded like a great topic for a blog post, as they really are one of my favorite tools in my gm's toolbox. Statue creatures are pretty common in FRPGs. Some common ones include: caryatid column, gargoyle, and living statue. But this isn't where they shine.

Statues are a tangible thing that links the past to the present. They are the physical representation of the dark god that cultists worship in the darkness. Statues are the effigy to heroes long past, and kings of yore. They are the divine's likeness in a town square. Yes, statues are many things.

Statues can play many roles in a FRPG game. They can be quest givers, like in Clash of the Titans. They can be quest enders: "destroy the statue of Orcus, and the undead will stop walking the night." Statues can be warnings. You know you've entered a medusa's lair when you see statues of heroes, all with surprised looks. Statues can even be rewards. Try giving the party a statue of them, in the hometown. Remind them of it when they walk by, and you will see many sly smiles.

My two favorite roles for statues are information and puzzles. Statues are born for these tasks. For example, when a GM wants to expound on the past of the campaign world, it is easy to add a Hall of Kings, with statues from every king, and their accomplishments listed on a plaque. A well known puzzle that could be used is the Eight Queens Chess Puzzle.

Here are 3 scenarios that I have or will use involving statues in Mord Mar:

  1. Minotaur Statue: The party comes across a statue of a minotaur on a pedestal. It is made of obsidian, and holds a double-bladed battle axe. As soon as a party member touches the statue, it comes to life and attacks the party member. If the party member dies, it returns to the pedestal, unmoving until another person touches it. If the party defeats it, the minotaur respawns in 24 hours, stronger, and hunts the person that touched the statue. The party must find a way to defeat it without destroying it. Examples may include: leaving it in a portable hole, locking it in a room that it cannot escape from, or appeasing it in some other way (with a GM's clues.)
  2. A statue stands in each corner of a room. They can be turned 360 degrees, but not moved. For the secret to be revealed, none of them can look at a wall or each other.
  3. Deep in a cavern below the old city, the party finds a statue of Auror Oaktooth (high god of Mord Mar). It is badly defaced, but still recognizable. If the party restores the statue, and surrounding room to temple quality, Auror will give a great boon to them. 
Statues are one of the most versatile tools available to a Game Master. Don't just look at them as monsters to overcome, terrain to battle around, or treasure to be traded for gold. They can be so much more.

3 comments:

  1. Great puzzles there! My favorite statue move is to describe a statue of a great warrior holding a sword up high as if about to strike, and then put a locked chest at his feet, underneath the sword. You should hear the amount of 10'-pole poking and prodding and impossible contortionist angles a rogue player will describe he's doing when telling the DM how he will try and lockpick that chest.

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  2. Sean Robert MeaneyOctober 14, 2017 at 5:20 PM

    So throw a cloth over them so they neither look at each other or a wall?

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    1. Sure, that would be a fine solution. As long as the adventurers had the cloth.

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