Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dungeoneering with Dad

Yesterday the whole Rients family went to the Rader farm near Bloomington, Illinois. This is one of those places that in the fall opens up to the general public to sell them pumpkins and take folks on hay rack rides and such.

My dad and I were the only ones who wanted to test our mettle against the 5 acre corn maze. We had a great time of it, too. For scale, look at the photo above and imagine the base of the A's in FAMILY FARM at about 10 or 15 feet across. Most of the passages were just wide enough that two people going in different directions could squeeze by each other.

As you go in you're handed a map with the goal of finding all 10 checkpoints before you exit. While I am terrible at navigating by landmarks or even finding which way is east, you can bet your ass I know how to use a dungeon map! By checkpoint number 4 or so I was giving directions out to folks who were lost.

Although the lighting was good and no monsters tried to eat us, there was one major hazard: mud. The rain around here has been pretty heavy in the last week and there were a lot of passages with standing water and squishy mud. At one point I got stuck. Had I not been wearing boots my socks would have gotten plenty wet while I was extricating myself. One big lesson I took away from the expedition is that if you are always watching your footing it's awfully hard to pay attention to anything else. We had to come to a full stop on dry land to consult the map. Running away from ogres would have almost certainly involved falling face first in the mud and getting completely lost too. I can almost imagine someone in platemail with a pack full of gear drowning in a puddle of muddy water.

Another big thing the corn maze suggested: pacing out the length of passages in a dungeon really would take a heckuva long time. Add in trying to steer clear of monsters and the standard 120'/turn movement rate really seems to make sense.

It would be interesting to attempt the same maze at night, with a light source that simulates a torch or lantern. That would be cool.


  1. Jeff is *never* off the clock in his quest to bring us more game-relevant goodness. Glad you and that mighty army the clan Rients ("They're both well.") had fun in the corn.

    wv: gizer - cockney foreman on ancient Egyptian monumental works

  2. Holy crap, that's the maze? I thought I was looking at an ornate welcome mat or something!

  3. Oh man, could you rent that out for a LARP? That would be so fun.

  4. The Joe4:10 AM

    At night, with a "bullseye lantern" (flashlight), and random critters that happen to graze on said vegetation... Of such things, horror films are made.

    When do we leave?

    wv: gyrisp - one of those twisty potato chips you get at the bottom of the bag

  5. That sure looks like fun!

  6. "Holy crap, that's the maze? I thought I was looking at an ornate welcome mat or something!


    Sounds like a fun time. The orchard we take our kids to used to do a corn maze, but have slacked off the last couple years (bummer).

  7. About an hour's drive outside the Twin Cities is the Severs Corn Maze, which is humongous! This year's theme is a pirate ship!

  8. Cool corn maze!

    The mud was something I really took notice of when we took the family to a maze last year.

    That and my experience in a real live mine have given me some very interesting perspectives on dungeon delving.

  9. There's an amusement park over here called Alton Towers, and for the past few years at Halloween they've been doing special events, one of which was a zombie incursion, with actors in full make up, all in their hedge maze and surrounding buildings. Neat.

  10. Oh, it turns out I misremembered and it's a corn field maze too.

  11. Kelvin, they do something similar to what you described in the first post here in Twin Cities. Every Sept/Oct they hold "Valley Scare" at the Valley Fair theme park in Shakopee (coincidentally, also about an hour's drive from the Cities).