Maze Rats: Some complaints, now quelled

I’ve had some criticisms of the game Maze Rats. It’s a game I love so dearly (pick it up here), which means I have opinions about it. I wanted my opinion to matter to the game so much that I went so far as to make my own hack of the game for Hot Springs Island. But after opening the original booklet again after so long, man does it feel good to get back to the source material. I now have a different perspective than when I started and finished my last Maze Rats campaign over a year ago. Some things are still there, but they don’t really bug me as much now.

It is still not super easy to hit someone. But neither do people have a ton of Health either. This way, the heavy hits FEEL heavy. Now it makes me think of Dark Souls: you’re often dodging (and rolling and rolling and rolling), but it only takes one or two nasty hits before “YOU DIED” shows up on the screen in hellfire script. People aren’t “whiffing” in my games anymore, they’re getting battered on the armor and FEELING just how close that last hit was. It shook the entire ground, for Pete’s sake.

I also complained about shields before. With each shield being able to shatter and soak up any amount of damage, you want a lot of them as a player, as many as you can fit. As a GM, there’s really no reason to make shields expensive in any way, its just a plate of wood or metal. The game even prices shields at only 10gp. For perspective, that’s half the price of a dagger. They cheap.

BUT now in my game they’re also Bulky. That’s right, I’ve started adding the “Bulky” terminology from Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland. Instead of having a backpack that “can carry as much as a backpack could reasonably fit,” you can carry up to three Bulky items. All other small trinket items just don’t count. If you’re carrying four or more Bulky items, you straight-up cannot move. Bulky items are anything heavy, large, or takes two hands to hold. Notable Bulky items include:

  • Shields
  • Heavy Weapons
  • Heavy Armor
  • Ranged Weapons

The number three was chosen for a reason. First, everything comes in threes, making it easy to remember. Second, the most you could start with is a shield, heavy weapon, and ranged weapon, thus putting you at max. That makes sense. You shouldn’t have to make choices about inventory during character creation.

Now, no one is running around carrying a ton of shields because they’re BIG and UNWIELDY, just like in real life. And ranged weapons have an additional drawback. And taking heavy armor is more of a choice. And shields are brought back into the realm of sanity. Everybody wins.

Do yourself a favor and run some Maze Rats.

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