When we last heard from the Hero Kids, they had just rescued their families from a ship full of ghost pirates. They befriended one of the human pirates, conquered the ghost captain, and returned home safely. Their next quest would take them to a mysterious cave where each twist and turn could hide untold danger: the Maze of the Minotaur.
More Heroes Than Kids
This session was a bit different. We did our entire adventure as a longer-than-normal one-shot adventure and had some of our adventuring party come and go during the evening. Most importantly, we had two extra players with us: my parents; we’ll call them Grandma and Grandpa (probably not their real names). They were in town visiting and wanted to see what it was like to be Hero Kids.
Ghoti, Pincess, and Mom selected their usual characters, the Warlock, Hunter, and Healer. Bubba also picked the same character he did last time, the male Warrior, but didn’t actually play at all.
Grandma and Grandpa were given a quick rundown of the rules and handed a pile of character sheets to peruse so they could choose the character they wanted to go into the adventure with. They made their selections somewhat quickly. Grandma liked the look of the female warrior. I think the axe-wielding character resonated with her Viking heritage. Grandpa ended up selecting the same character that Bubba played with on the kids’ first adventure, the knight, because he liked the idea of that character’s ability to take damage on behalf of other players.
A Quest to Prove Their Strength
After rescuing their families from the ghost pirates, the Hero Kids resumed their hero training. Part of their training included a trip to the mysterious Minotaur’s cave. Their trainer told them they needed to go explore the inside of the cave, find where the Minotaur hides its stash of gold, and bring back a piece of treasure. He also told them to be wary of the Minotaur that wanders the labyrinthine caverns. More than once, he told them, “there’s no shame in running from a Minotaur.” (But, given the number of people playing, they probably didn’t need to fear it too much.) With their instructions, the kids started into the darkness of the Maze of the Minotaur.
How the Labyrinth Works
The interesting thing about this adventure is that it can be completely random. Instead of a series of set encounters and maps, it has a deck of assorted map sections and a list of potential encounters. Obviously, some of the encounters have to eventually take place, like finding the Minotaur’s hoard, but, if played completely randomly, there’s no telling what can happen. As the Hero Kids move into a new, unexplored section of the cave, a new map piece is picked—one that will align with the rest of the map-so-far—and a dice roll determines what does or doesn’t occur in the new area. While playing, I took a few liberties to make sure things kept moving along with our very unpredictable adventuring party by the end, but we started by following the rules, I promise.
Splitting the Party
The “kids” (let’s be honest: 3 adults and 2 kids is a bit of a stretch to call “kids” without quotes) entered the dark cave. Ghoti used his fire hands as torches to illuminate their path as they ventured in. They immediately came to a forked path where they needed to choose whether to go right or left (we’ll also call them east and west). Ghoti said he wanted to go to the right. At this, Pincess looked me right in the eye with the mischief only available to a little sister and said, “I wanna go left.” Since splitting the party is always a completely great idea and can’t possibly go awry, I ran with it and said that sounded great. The grownups, however, tried to talk the kids into sticking together in this strange new environment, but it clearly wasn’t going to happen. So, they had to decide which kid they were going to travel with. Mom said she’d go with Ghoti, hoping to convince him to join back up with the rest of the group. Grandpa made it clear that he’d go where ever Grandma went, and Grandma wanted to make sure no Hero Kid was left behind, so they went with Pincess.
Ghoti and Mom went eastward. As they approached, they saw a glowing, blue stream passing through the cavern. They went up to investigate. Mom is usually pretty knowledgeable about nature and magic, but she
rolled terribly was unable to identify what was going on with the water. So, I just said that Ghoti suddenly reached in and slurped up a handful of water (to Mom’s initial dismay—judging by her face as I said it). They learned from this (admittedly railroaded) impulse that the water was safe and would heal wounds, essentially functioning as a way to refill healing potions for wounded adventurers.
Meanwhile, Pincess, Grandma, and Grandpa were heading west into another part of the cave where they also came across a cavern with another mysterious blue glow. Instead of a stream of water, there were luminous mushrooms all around the room. Investigation revealed that these mushrooms were safe to eat and also had healing properties, in addition to glowing very brightly even after having been picked. Pincess decided to fill up her bag so much that she actually had to lean while the walked, but it shone like a fine, blue lantern.
After these discoveries, the adults still tried to convince the kids to travel together, but Ghoti and Pincess weren’t having it. Ghoti took a look into the cavern section to the south. There, they found several rats in a room that went nowhere. (Despite the actual layout of the room I pulled out of the pile, I decided the exit to the west was actually a wall, so the room was a dead end.) He charged in to get the drop on them. Mom didn’t want to help because she thought it would encourage him to stick with the group if she left. So, Mom went back to join the others. At this, Grandpa didn’t want to leave Ghoti on his own, so he started to head in that direction in case Ghoti needed some assistance. It turned out that Ghoti
rolled surprisingly well trashed the rats in the room without breaking a sweat, further fueling his desire to single-handedly take on anything in the cave. He was leaving the room while Mom and Grandpa were switching places and was considering where to go next. Before Ghoti could tell everyone he was planning on going further east from the room with the stream (because I knew he would), he heard a noise from that direction—one that sounded like the gruff snorts of some sort of half-bull creature. The Minotaur was likely in that part of the cave. Luckily, it seemed like it hadn’t noticed them yet.
They collectively agreed that regrouping at the mushrooms was probably a good idea. They all gathered around the mushrooms and… well… gathered mushrooms in their satchels. Pincess said she had collected so much that she had to walk lopsided to carry it all.
At this point, Mom
had to leave to go to an appointment, but it was likely she’d be back before we were done suddenly had to pee and rushed out of the cave, leaving Grandma, Grandpa, Pincess, and Ghoti to find the treasure without being stomped by the Minotaur. Pincess wanted to use the mushrooms she picked to make a highly potent mushroom soup, but she didn’t have a pot to cook it in. She convinced Grandpa to give her the pot he was wearing as a helmet (at the cost of one fewer die for his defense rolls) so she’d be able to make soup. The group went south from where they were to see if the gold was somewhere they could find before they were trapped. Their bags of glowing mushrooms shone in the dark, illuminating a small hallway that continued farther south. All over the walls and floor of this hallway were large holes. The group approached the closest one cautiously. A giant snake came out of the hole and attacked them. Several other snakes came out of other holes around the room. Most of the party moved in to fight.
Pincess decided this was the right time to go make her soup. So, she ran off alone to the stream of water that the others found so she could fill the pot. She intended to ask Ghoti to use his fire hands to cook the soup once she had enough water. It took her several turns to run to the stream and fill the pot.
Meanwhile, Ghoti, Grandma, and Grandpa were engaged with the snakes. Grandma smacked several of the snakes around while Ghoti used his fire powers to help fight them off, killing them or sending them fearful back into their holes. Grandpa got the chance to use his ability to take damage on behalf of others a few times, but had to fall back to avoid being knocked out. The final snake tried to strike him while he moved back, but he
rolled super well stabbed it with his sword so hard he pinned it to the wall while Ghoti rushed in with his fire power to burn it to a crisp.
After the snakes had fallen or retreated, Ghoti said he was going to head back to help Pincess with her soup since it was going to be ready to cook soon. Grandma and Grandpa opted to further the mission and continue to the south. There, they found a short path and led to a dead end. In the distance, Grandpa noticed a section of the ground that looked out of place. They slowly approached it and heard quiet scratching and clawing from under the ground as they grew closer. Bearing in mind they were there to find the Minotaur’s hoard not trigger traps, they turned back.
The Plot (and the Broth) Thickens
As Grandma and Grandpa were turning back, Pincess had just finished filling her pot with water and was on her way to meet Ghoti near the entrance to the cave. As she was leaving that part of the cavern, she heard something behind her. The Minotaur had wandered into the same area and spotted her! She ran toward the others, and the others started to run toward her. It was quicker than she was, so it ran across the stream and closed more of the distance between them each turn. Once it got within her hair’s range, Pincess knocked the Minotaur to the ground to slow it down so everyone could regroup or escape. Coincidentally, Mom nonchalantly wandered into the
house cave after her appointment using some nearby wilderness lavatory to find herself in the middle of an assembling party of panicked adventurers. Ghoti tried to roll a fireball at the incoming Minotaur, but the spell fizzled before it reached its target.
The kids now had a decision to make. They were sent into the cave to retrieve gold, not fight a Minotaur, but they hadn’t found the gold yet. Ghoti didn’t want to back down from the towering enemy, and they hadn’t quite achieved their goal, so the party agreed to stand and fight. Mom wanted to surround the Minotaur or at least get the kids between it and the healing stream so it couldn’t regain its health as they fought, but the rest of the group didn’t seem keen on trying to get around it. The Minotaur rushed into the group with its powerful axe and hit several of them pretty hard.
A Gentlemen’s Duel and the Price of Hubris
Ghoti got a (completely nuts) idea. He went up to the Minotaur and challenged it to unarmed single combat. The others would stay back and let just the two of them fight: no weapons, just their raw physical strength. The Minotaur stared the little warlock down, growled, swung its axe, and planted it right into the cave wall. It put up its hands and prepared to pummel this child into oblivion. Ghoti, channeling his chaotic neutral tendencies, went right up to it and blasted it with a fireball, and ran away, getting a free hit on the now very angry beast.
The Minotaur roared angrily and pulled the axe out of the cave wall. With it came large chunks of rock. With those came the scorpions. They skittered out of the hole, making the same scratching and clawing noises Grandma and Grandpa heard in the obvious trap they had discovered elsewhere, and came after the party. The party backed into a narrow section of cavern near the entrance to better control the number of enemies they had to deal with. The approaching scorpions ended up blocking the hallway so the Minotaur was unable to reach them. With the stronger kids up front, and the ranged kids in the back, they were able to fend off the incoming arthropods while the angry Minotaur was left fuming behind them all. During this part of the battle, Pincess
had to go to bed because it was way too late in the evening had an epiphany about where to find the perfect ingredients for her soup and hastily left the cave.
Once a few scorpions were down, the Minotaur spotted a path through the chaos to get at Ghoti and made its move. In its wrath, it charged through everyone, ending up completely surrounded, and landed a hard hit on Ghoti. As the group kept the Minotaur surrounded and finished the scorpions, everyone was growing weak. Grandma tried to make a deal with the Minotaur but it was no longer interested in deals with these invaders even if it was surrounded; it wanted blood. The kids soon felled the beast, but still hadn’t found any gold. They decided to go back to the area with the mushrooms to heal and recover.
With everyone at full health, they resumed their search. Grandpa, Grandma, Mom, and Ghoti went north from the mush room (I’ve been avoiding that joke this whole post because it’s awful) into room with another mysterious glow. But this time, the glow was yellow instead of blue. They had finally found the Minotaur’s hoard! Gold glinted in the light from their bags. They had at last found what they came for.
They each found something they would be able to bring back to their trainer and returned more triumphant than they expected to be. Not only had they completed their training, but they had defeated a Minotaur.