I just ran my group through the Labyrinth of Vecna in 3FOE last night. I'm posting this because I read a thread where Erik Mona posted that mazes didn't work in D&D, which caused me to think about why this is the case. I agree that they are problematic, and this is one possible solution for those DMs out there looking for a way to make this encounter more fun.
When my group opened the Vecna door, they were each teleported into random individual spots in the maze. I drew the maze out on the battlemat and numbered each axis, rolling a d24 and a d30 to determine where they landed (that’s right, 2 dice proving their worth in a world that shuns them!). Of course, this had to be fudged a little to accommodate walls and such. I had the map on the table in front of me and all of my players sitting about 6 feet away, unable to see the maze. I also split up the bad guys into patrols, since they knew about the teleport trap. They had no idea where intruders would be popping up, so they spread out.
I described the choices in direction that each PC had, and they were able to visualize it for the most part, but it was disorienting. That's exactly what I was going for. I wanted them to be off their game. They didn't know where they were and they had no one to watch their back! It created a sense of urgency and danger. I think this is lost when the entire group just hacks their way through a maze as it is being drawn.
As fate would have it, the samurai and the ranger/rogue found each other within 2 rounds. The bard was trapped in a 5x10 room with no apparent doors. She found the secret door after a few rounds and was only 15 feet away from the cleric, who was already locked in combat. The NPC fighter (who was played by a visiting friend) found himself staring at a pair of kenku right off the bat. The patrols kept finding him, even though I was rolling randomly for their movements. He barely moved the entire time and had a pile of dead kenku all around him when it was over. I think the group enjoyed this encounter; it certainly made for a nice change of pace for me.
I can see where other DMs may have a problem if the place where they play is not set up to handle the logistics described above. Otherwise, I think the basic idea could be transplanted effectively.
The most common shtick I see is the guy who rolls dice when it's not his turn (or through out his turn), stops when he gets a good number, and then tries to use that result.
Yeah, I hate this. I was playing in a group recently where we had a guy that would do this. I started keeping track of his rolls over a few sessions. Not just his attack rolls (he was a fighter type), but all of his rolls: init, spot, search, knowledge. He never got anything less than a 16. Of course, his lowest stat on any of his characters was usually a 13.
Where is the fun if failure is not a possibility? Why even roll the dice?
My first 3.0 character was a half-orc barbarian named Krunk. Krunk liked to smash things and yell out, "Krunk Smash!". We infiltrated an evil stronghold and were headed up to the second floor, Krunk leading the party. The first thing he sees in the hall is a desk with some scribe sitting behind it, flanked by a couple of gaurds. The scribe asked what Krunk was doing there. Krunk asked for help from his friends. They told him, "Negotiate with them." Krunk looked back at the man behind the desk, pulled out his greatsword and yelled, "KRUNK NEGOTIATE!!!" as he split the desk in half!
The Companions of the Whisper just started 3FoE last session. I ended with them being trapped in the battle temple of Hextor and Theldrick taunting them from the balcony. Muhahaha!
We play every Thursday night, so we only usually get in about 2-3 hours a week. Whispering Cairn took them about 8 sessions to get through. They did Cry Wolf in 2 sessions. I'm guessing that we will be in the Mistmarsh by the time the final adventure sees print.
It was my first semester of college and I had found a group that played in the student union at my college. We spent the first hour making my character and (for most of the time) buying equipment. I apologized to everyone for holding up the game, but they were happy to have a new player. They had played once prior to me joining and it had been a rough session. Things could only get better, right?
We get to our first encounter, a rope bridge across a swiftly-flowing river. Now, we all knew there had to be an ambush here somewhere. We approached cautiously, weapons drawn. Once we were all on the bridge, the goblins moved in on us. The two bushes on either end of the bridge were apparently extra-dimensional gates, because about ten goblins rushed out of each of them. Twenty goblins were more than a match for a party of 1st-2nd level PCs. Instead of robbing us (which would be the only reason that I could see justifying the cost of the portal gates that they must have installed in the shrubbery), they pushed us off the bridge.
The DM told us that we were forced to take off our armor and drop all of our equipment, or we would drown. I’m glad I spent all that time buying that stuff. So, we washed up in this town where we wandered around for a bit and my thief stole a steak knife from a cart in the market (thus becoming the only party member with a weapon). The town seemed pleasant enough until the marauding dark army came riding in, killing everyone in sight. We bravely…ran away, much to the DM’s confusion. He asked us why we weren’t defending the town. That was the last time that I played in his game.