Dungeons and Dragons! It’s a super cool and fun game that was once regarded as the epitome of nerdom, but after a certain nerd based sitcom made nerds cool, then a certain retro 80s Netflix show made D&D a major plot device, PLUS and a few years of pop culture deciding it had better things to do than dunk on things which are fun, Dungeons and Dragons is officially “cool”.
Which is great! Because it is super cool and you should 100% take any opportunity to check it out.
So here’s a story from my time as a Dungeon Master, about the time I accidentally made the best room in the game.
Backstory: The party was trying to get from one side of an enchanted forest maze to the other. This forest was populated by monsters and traps and areas which were never what they looked like. Early in this area they picked up an crystal ball, enchanted with a personality named “The wondrous wisdomball” who would offer advice of varying quality.
At one point, the party wanders into a glade where a Triceratops lives (why is there a triceratops? Why not? It’s a magic forest.) After letting their cleric get trampled within an inch of her life, they decide to book it through some thick brush to escape where the dinosaur can’t chase. They come to a ruin, in the middle of which is the main focus of the story: a floating black orb. This was an sphere of annihilation, but the players don’t know that. They throw some rocks at it to see what it’s all about. The rocks just disappear into the sphere (annihilated even?). And at this point the fighter of the party decides…. Throw the wisdom ball at it. I’m like “uhhh okay…?” so he throws this magic companion item directly into the sphere of annihilation and low and behold, the wondrous wisdom ball is destroyed. Then he was surprised! The rest of the party was like “dude wtf” and he goes “well the wisdomball was a ball, this thing is a ball. I figured I’d just put 2 and 2 together…” So you’d think at this point the players would have figured it out, and I firmly believe they had figured it out. But this is why it’s the best room in the game: They don’t care. They’re too curious! The paladin stuck his finger in it and lost the tips! They spent at least 25 minutes in this ruin playing with the sphere of annihilation, and they even went back for the triceratops, lured it towards the ruins, and matador-style tricked it into charging into the sphere.
Moral of the story: Simplicity is often the best. I put so much work into designing the rest of this pseudo dungeon, but the room which the players had the most fun, was the room with nothing in it. They literally could have just walked past it. With absolutely no prompting from me they 1. destroyed their magic item 2. crippled themselves 3. killed the strongest enemy in the dungeon with ease.
Second moral of the story: as a DM, be extremely flexible and expect your players to either kill your boss instantly or kill themselves instantly.