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Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon

(reissue)
Series: Tunnels and Trolls #2
Alternate Title: Deathtrap Equaliser (British title)
Platform: Adobe Acrobat
Contained In: Naked Doom and Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon (Collection)
Translated Into: L'Harmonisateur de pièges (French)
Adapted Into: Deathtrap Equalizer (Digital Gamebook)
Author: St. Andre, Ken
Illustrators: Talbot, James (cover)
Danforth, Elizabeth (Liz) T. (interior)
Release Dates: 1977 (original)
March, 1981 (reissue)
February 21, 2008 (eBook)
castiglione's Thoughts: Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon (or DED as it's sometimes called) was the second solitaire adventure published for Tunnels & Trolls.

The background of the adventure is as follows: one steps into a magical mirror which teleports you to a location where you then go through a "mini adventure". You have the option of going through a short series of trips... or attempting to go through each and every "mini adventure;" the first option is the safest but the second option is the most rewarding in terms of character advancement.

In Ken St. Andre's own words in the preface to the later Naked Doom, this adventure was a bit of a Monte Haul, i.e. a piece of cake. He had meant for it to be deadly but in many of the "mini adventures," you could basically do very little and end up being more powerful at little risk to life and limb. This was one of the largest failings of this adventure - once you realized which choices were the best to make, one could conceivably run a character through it without much risk of him being killed; this tended to destroy any prospect of replaying this adventure more than a few times. However, to be fair, the art and science of solitaire adventure design was still in its infancy but one can't help but compare this adventure unfavorably with the earlier Buffalo Castle, which was ultimately more replayable and which seemed to strike a nice balance between risk and reward.

There was one "mini adventure" which resulted in a sexual liaison between one's character and an NPC, so DED probably deserves mention as being the first solitaire adventure in history where your character could get laid and probably opened Pandora's Box in that future T & T solitaire adventures had sexual liaisons aplenty for one's characters.

Besides the shortcomings in DED's design, I, personally, had other reasons for not enjoying it very much. These reasons are completely subjective on my part. One of the aspects I enjoy about solitaire adventures is exploration. I guess I am a dungeon crawler at heart. This is probably why my favorite adventures, to this day are Buffalo Castle, Labyrinth and Sword for Hire - these adventures all had dungeons which could be mapped and because of their structure, proved to be much more replayable than other more "innovative" solitaire adventure designs. The fact that one could teleport from one location to another in DED spoiled any sense of exploration I might have gotten.

However, despite my critiques of DED, it is worth playing mainly for some of the creative risks that were taken in designing it. Buffalo Castle, although it is one of my favorites, is pretty much an archetypical dungeon crawl. DED attempted to do something new and different. The format for DED was revisited in Beyond the Silvered Pane, which probably did a better job in balancing risk and reward. However, by the time that solitaire was written, other authors/designers had already "mapped out" many of the possible dead ends in solitaire adventure design.

More reviews by castiglione

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ed Jolley for the original cover scan.
Users Who Own This Item: AlHazred (reissue), castiglione, dave2002a, Ed, firefoxpdm, Harvey (fanzine ed.), katzcollection (reissue), kinderstef, le maudit, marnaudo, nerelax, rebeltech2, Sir Olli (small reissue & large reissue), TWolf
Users Who Want This Item: NEMO (orig.&reissue), twar

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