Alright, you think you’re so smart. I can hear your little voice right now, “My traps are so clever, uwu. All the obstacles in my dungeon are artisanal and bespoke and at least one more adjective.” Well, you know what? You don’t know shit. Traps, puzzles, and obstacles are better when they’re dumb.
And before you start, let me deal with your first objection. It doesn’t matter that I’ve had a gummy and 1d7 vodka and seven-ups. I’m telling you to steal the Slopstacle Course from Double Dare to use in your next game. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
I appreciate you sticking with me this far. Those that dropped out are losers. You and I are winners, friend. Thing is, you might not know what Double Dare was. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Double Dare was a game show that ran from 198X to 199X. If you don’t remember it, that’s fine. Thousands of children died making it, so it was probably covered up.
Anyway, Double Dare was a trivia show that featured kids answering general knowledge questions and navigating physical challenges. The physical challenges usually entailed wringing a sponge into a cup glued onto your teammate’s helmet. Both these elements are boring and don’t matter. What we care about was the grand finale of every episode: the obstacle course. Here is how my RPG-addled mind remembers it.
I don’t want to be mean, but this obstacle sucks. It’s just basically a 10’ x 10’ above-ground pool where the water is dyed dark by food coloring. There’s even a little inflatable boat to make it easier for 10 year old’s to traverse. All you have to do is get across.
Let’s level this up. You’ve got dark water that’s 5 feet deep. You’re piling this fetid pond high with electric eels, piranhas, giant leeches. Just toss whatever horrible monster in there. We’re gonna keep the little boat for this encounter. However, it’s a rickety wooden raft that takes great care and attention to balance on.
Trust me, while this is firmly in the D tier of children’s game show encounters, our version will blow the mind’s of adventurers.
Bats in the Belfry
First off, I’m mad. This is some old-timey expression. I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, but Lucy and Ricky used to tell each other this in the 1920s. I want bats in my Belfrey, so shut up, the past.
Alright, now that the black and white TV perverts have been scared off, let’s discuss this obstacle.
I watched this with the sound off, so I don’t 100% know, but the best I can figure, there’s three buckets with three ropes hanging down. Two of the buckets have slime in them.
Granted this looks dumb as hell on TV, but we’ve got our imaginagtions to help this round this out. First off, instead of game show slime, this is acid. You pull down the wrong rope, acid falls on your head and damages you. You pull the right rope, and the key to the next room falls down. It’s that simple.
Oh, real quick, I’m sorry about ‘Bats in the Belfry.’ I watched it again and there were rubber bats next to the buckets, so it makes a little more sense than I first said.
OK, so there’s a giant paper mache foot. The kids have to dig in between the toes and find a flag to beat this challenge. There’s all sorts of blue gak in between the toes. For some reason there’s also a few ferns stuck in there. Whatever floats your boat, am I right?
Pay attention, OK? We’re not changing a god-danged thing. Except for that there’s bats from the previous belfry to worry about.
Sorry, it appears, through no fault of my own, I lied about not changing anything.
But yeah, let’s put some giant vampire bats in the previous room that you disturb by pulling ropes. They fly in here and really give the party the business. You’ve got somebody digging around in some mossy statue’s toes for the key to the next room.
Sorry again. Turns out I changed two things in the previous scenario- on account of the giant foot went from paper mache to stone.
Spoiler alert: this obstacle both sucks and is dumb. A kid runs on a big wheel until it’s time to stop.
Make your players run on a big wheel to make the next door open. They’ll probably overthink it. If they do, consider it a complement. They think you’re capable of much better than this obstacle. Hopefully you have some personal cache built up with them before this, because they might just quit here. I, personally, wouldn’t blame them, but they’re your friends I guess.
(You doing alright? Good.)
This is hard for me. As I was trying to mention earlier, old-timey stuff just makes me so mad. I’m shaking with rage as I type up the obstacle.
I’m going to be honest. I got so mad I couldn’t watch the playback for this one. There’s like three foot switches that cause colored liquids to fall down. One of them has the key for the next room.
It’s just Bats in the Belfry.
Oh, also a Soda Jerk is an old-timey way of saying pervert.
Maybe you make one filled with acid, the other lava, and the last one is… um… grease or gravy. Greasy gravy.
A comically oversized nose is filled with bright green slime. There’s also a flag in there that sends you to the next obstacle.
Again, this is very similar to Toe Jam, but we’re reaching into some gross stuff for another key. To up the ante here, we’re going to make this a humongous rat’s nose. It’ll bite ya if upset it too much. This is a weird rat too, so it likes a hand up its nose, but don’t take advantage of the situation.
Editor’s Note: Woiks is pronounced like an old cartoon New York cab driver would say it. Yes, I’m mad.
Last but not least, we have The Woiks. You just gotta crawl under a plush cylinder.
I understand your confusion. But all we have here is a conveyor belt topped with a large cylinder. The cylinder sits so close to the conveyor belt that anything passing underneath would surely be flattened.
Ha, I’ve fooled you. The cylinder ought to kill you. Although, I did let slip the cylinder was plush a second ago, so you’re probably just gonna slide under it. Hmm. Nevertheless.
Via magic, make it so your players don’t know this cylinder is soft. Due to the acid and or lava of the previous traps, they’ll laugh with delight and appreciation after they surrender their bodies to a cylinder they think will kill them.
Double Dare usually ended by this point so you have a couple options here.
- Send ‘em to Space Camp!
- Put your favorite monster here as the boss. Make it talk with a British voice. It’s a dang mastermind of crime.
You know how in shows that don’t know anything about TTRPGs or D&D or nothing are always like, “Brian is level 91nd Dungeon Master?” This is how you get that. If your players are still your friends after this, I anoint you a level 92rd Dungeon Master. Congrats.