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Chimera's Lair: A Word Game


Written & Designed By William F. Bultas

Required Equipment: A few sheets of paper, pen or pencil, standard 52 card deck, dictionary (the greater in breadth the better), & stop watch or other suitable timer.

Instructions: This simple word game is suitable for solo or group play for ages 10 & above. It is probably played best with 6 or fewer players. You may print out, copy, & distribute these rules. If you wish to publish them, please contact the author for permission. Other works by this author may be found at http://www.Puzz.com. Webmasters: please link to either of these pages to increase exposure of this game.

The Story: Each generation, in the Kingdom of Verbosa, the bravest & brightest hero in the land is allowed a most special privilege: the hand of the Princess (or Prince) of Verbosa in marriage. Because the list of eligible suitors was so long one year, the good King Fairplay devised a challenge that the heroes would have to attempt, & which only one would survive. A labyrinth was constructed beneath the castle dungeon, & the passages & rooms within were filled with terrible puzzles, monsters & traps, some of which were magical in nature, & all of which were deadly for those who could not solve, defeat, or avoid them. But most horrifying of all was a fearsome beast, known as a Chimera, that was rumored to dwell within the corridors of the labyrinth. Because the Chimera was the Court Wizard's pride & joy, it was also said that the monster was enchanted so that it could not die. At the end of the gauntlet was an impenetrable door with a special lock that required the insertion of 3 magical keys for it to be opened. The keys were hidden within the catacombs. The hero who made it through the door to the safety of the land above ground would attain fame & fortune, & be the future ruler of the kingdom.

Playing The Game: Each player takes on the role of a heroic suitor who has entered the labyrinth in hopes of becoming the future ruler of the Kingdom. Before beginning the game, it should be randomly determined (by rolling a die, seeing who can draw the highest card, etc.) in what order each individual will take his or her turn. During each player's turn, he or she will draw 1 card (which represents a puzzle, monster, trap, or key) from the deck, & immediately turn it face up. The player now has 1 minute to make a word using at least half of the letters in the suit AND the number or face of the card. Using one of the words, or a plural of one of the words in the suit or face value is not allowed. Example: If I draw the six of hearts, I must make a word using at least half of the letters S I X H E A R T. Note that the suit is never plural (heart, not hearts, & spade, not spades). Answers that would not be acceptable are HEART & HEARTS, as the first answer is one of the original words, while the latter answer is a plural form of an original word. Acceptable answers would be HEAR, HEAT, & SHIRT. The letters in the original 2 words may only be used once for each time that they appear in the original words. The player uses scratch paper until he or she has decided on an answer, & then writes the answer on a sheet of paper that lists the final answers given by each player for that game. Each answer previously given may not be used by any player for the rest of the game. A dictionary is then checked to see if the answer is acceptable. It may not be a contraction, or a word that is required to be capitalized.

If the answer given is incorrect, the player loses a number of Life Points equal to the number of letters in the 2 original words (8 for SIX & HEART). Each player begins with 50 life points, & if they are reduced to 0 or below, that player is out of the game. The dictionary & notes on scratch paper may not be viewed by players except when an answer is being checked before the next player's turn, or after a player has drawn a card & is trying to come up with an answer, respectively. After Life Points are deducted for an incorrect answer, the card is placed at the bottom of the deck, & it becomes the next player's turn. If a correct answer is given, the card is removed from the deck & placed in a discard pile, unless the card is an ace. Then it becomes the next player's turn.

The aces of hearts, clubs, & diamonds are each keys. Players who answer correctly for key cards may keep them. If any player acquires all 3 keys, that player wins. If a player runs out of Life Points (dies), all of his or her keys are shuffled back into the deck. The ace of spades is the Chimera. Although a player may avoid losing Life Points from the Chimera by answering correctly, this card is always placed at the bottom of the deck after each turn that it is drawn (remember, the Chimera is immortal). Play continues until 1 player obtains all of the keys & wins, or all of the players die, & the Chimera has a very filling meal.

Variations: If you find that Chimera's Lair is too difficult or too easy, or if you just want to try something a little different, here are some suggestions. If the game is too easy, you might try requiring that OVER half of the letters in the 2 words be used, or at least 2/3 of the letters, or even 3/4. Another possibility is requiring that the keys of vanquished players be placed at the bottom of the deck, instead of shuffled back into the deck, &/or shuffling the Chimera (ace of spades) back into the deck after it is drawn instead of placing it at the bottom. Cards (other then aces) may be placed at the bottom or shuffled back into the deck, even if they are answered correctly. You may also make certain words off limits for all games. If the game is too difficult, you might lower the required number of letters to be used in making the answer to 1/3 or more of the number of letters in the 2 original words. Another option is allowing answers to be reused from turn to turn. Finally, cards (other than aces) could be removed from the deck even if answered incorrectly. Enjoy!


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