🎵 The song for this post is Flashlight, by Parliament. 🎵
Here's an adapted version of the document I wrote for the D&D one-shot I ran last weekend. Here's some rejected ideas for this adventure, here's a set of cities I wrote for it, and here's all my tabletop stuff, generally.
Mom's Spaghetti (Lose Yourself)
a one-shot D&D 5E adventure, originally designed for 6th-level heroes.
Passing through a town brings the attention of our party to a ritual by a local religion: trial in The Ulaikeria. Someone goes in, and they came out. Go in. Come out. Always. Until one didn't. The religious order in question needs the party to find that last person, as they can't: once you've come out of the Ulaikeria, you can never re-enter.
Our heroes learn that the person who comes out is only sometimes, truly, the person who came in. Created thousands of years ago for a long-forgotten reason, this Mirror Temple summons a reflection for every PC and pits them against it. The PCs are handed character sheets for the mirrors, and must play both characters trying to escape back to the real world. But only one of them is allowed to.
A bit of Madeline/Badeline from Celeste, a bit of Jordan Peele's Us, a bit of Saw, plus a bit of Raiden from MGS2 (I never played it, but apparently it was a switcheroo, where everyone was excited to be Solid Snake but played 80% of the game as some guy named Raiden?) the adventure encourages the PCs to confront the vulnerabilities and insecurities of their characters, play someone who's entire existence is to challenge their primary PC, and risks that the player has to make a radical playstyle adjustment for the rest of the campaign.
The adventure was intended to be played in two 2-3 hour sessions (Saturday at, say, 4:00, ends at 10:00 or 11:00 with a break in between). The breakdown of the adventure was meant look like this, with hurrying or delay as necessary:
- 0:00-0:10 Intro, getting into popcorn, initial shopping, Q&A. "Chapter 0" where PCs re-establish themselves.
- 0:10-1:00 "In-town" adventure, introduce the Gorroliths.
- 1:00-1:30 Enter the temple, reveal the mirrors, explain new mechanics.
- 1:45-? Mirror Temple Part 1, break.
The second set of the session picks up where we left off, nonstop puzzlin' + brawlin' + RPing until we wrap it up with 1 character of each PC leaves (it might not be the same one!).
The Ulaikeria: This cast member is technically a place, but functions a bit like an NPC. The Ulaikeria is a device akin to showing an iPhone with Siri to someone medieval: unfathomable in its power or mechanisms, and while it may fool some into thinking there's sentience there, it's purely mechanical. "An apple peeler for souls." As focused as GLaDOS is to science and data collection, the Ulaikeria is to purifying the souls who enter it, and returning the better one.
Shatsnay: A candidate Gorrolith who entered the Ulaikeria months ago, she's the only one who didn't emerge.
Gorroliths: Mustard-robed wearing religious order. While folks know them in Landra, they don't have a memetic structure of growth (like Catholics and the "make babies" imperative), so their numbers don't increase with population growth. It means everyone knows something about them or someone who claims to be one, but people don't often know many.
Merovech: Halfling barkeep + owner of The Chill Basilisk. Hamster-sized mutton chops, missing for a few days.
Vix: Tabaxi, leader of the Gorroliths in Landra, and guardian of the Ulaikeria, she presents the PCs the, ahem, opportunity to join the Gorroliths and figuring out what happened to Shatsnay, and felt like Merovech would be able to help, but he… didn't make it through the Ulaikeria entirely as himself.
Note that one outcome of leaving the Ulaikeria is an inability to communicate its process too precisely. Like, literally, yellow-robes are known to feel like something is blocking their throat when they try to talk about it, and having to assure the person they're speaking to "I literally can't tell you."
The "world" is one of the 6 cities of Eidamesh, which I wrote about previously. I had the players roll a d6 and the mode of the rolls determined which city we start in. When I ran it for friends, we were in Landra, the bard sanctuary.
The city itself only really matters for the first section of the adventure: we do some light city roaming, maybe some stealing or haggling, before we get put up against the Order. Throw in a few McGuffins (reference a Roc that's terrorizing the town, or a Lich in a basement, or…) to hint at what the meaty adventure is. The cities themselves have variations around:
- What starting equipment they can buy, and what it would cost.
- The kind of fetch quest/rabbit hunt they go after.
- Which NPCs are a part of the above.
After that, they're dropped into the temple.
You'll need to create character sheets for "mirrors" for each member of the party. You'll probably also want to have some backstory in place to get them together in the starting tavern in the first place, if they haven't been traveling together.
Each section and/or room will have a blockquote of sample dialogue to narrate to the players, like this
You enter a room that's circular, with 40ft radius, and inexplicably tall ceilings, chandeliers hanging at different heights.
[Bracket bold sections are anecdotes about how it went down when I ran it.]
Ojo 👀 are for extraneous notes.
0:00-0:10 Scene at The Chill Basilisk
The folks end up in a tavern. Ask what one of them ordered to drink. Then let them know that is not what they're drinking; they ordered it, but the fresh-faced kid at the bar (light peach fuzz, no older than 20) was annoyed while telling them that they ran out, that the bar owner, Merovech, has skipped work for the third day and they're running out of supplies.
Merovech (a halfling with hamster-sized mutton chops) walks in, beelining to a door at the back of the bar, but his eyes seem… lost? Like he's in a daze. Kid at the bar greets him but is ignored. Merovech walks through the back door, closes it behind him. A minute later opens the door and says to the kid "Hey… I'm gonna… need you back here for a minute." Then he looks at the PCs, the only patrons in this mostly-empty bar, and says "also, I'm not here if anyone asks."
Let the players react, then give them a Perception check DC 14. Success means they hear something like a vault door opening.
Suddenly, three humanoids in mustard-colored robes enter: a tabaxi, a halfling, and human, asking if they've seen a halfling with mutton chops walk in here. Let the PCs decide whether to assist them or not.
Whatever the outcome (the PCs might try to enter the back room, they might ask questions of the new-and-untrusted yellow-robes), it ends with Merovech emerging from the back having unleased two Flesh Golems, attacking the yellow-robes and the party. Combat ensues.
If the PC's dilly-dally, you can roll Perception and hear a scream come out the back. If you want, PCs can roll Perception for free in the battle and see the face of the young barkeep who served them in the Flesh Golem.
👀 Ojo: Why this battle, like this? This was designed as a one-shot, and combat in D&D is both some people's favorite part of the game, while also unquestionably the most time-consuming and hardest to run logistically, especially since I was doing this for 5 6th-level characters. I didn't know how long we were truly going to last (there was always the risk that our friends would get bored of D&D after so much of it a few hours in) so I wanted to make sure we got at least 1 good combat encounter before getting into the meat.
Extra: The Trial
[I didn't run this section in my play-through; I didn't initially know how long our combat round would last (surprise, longer than I thought), and it would've felt really forced to do this section anyway, based on how the PCs handled the last section. I include it here for posterity and/or if you'd like to run this over multiple sessions.]
👀 Ojo: Why this section? Giving the players a choice over which city be have our adventure in, I started with the idea "what could be a Landra-specific fun thing to do?" and thought an unorthodox court of justice would be a way to go.
It starts with manufacturing some conflict with the yellow-robed Gorroliths (one of them died in the crossfire, they "have claim" to Merovech who died, they want his body and the PCs don't want to give him). You don't need a particularly strong claim, if there's an obvious dispute with the PCs you can use a crowd gathering around the commotion.
Much like a Kindergardener hearing someone swearing and going "ahhhHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" you hear a few chants around you: "trial. trial. trial. trial! trial! trial! Trial! Trial! TRIAL! TRIAL!"
A crew assembles around you. The starter of the chant pulls a few other chanters and bystanders to their side. One pulls out a dunce cap and places it on a body. "It's the judge!" The Gorroliths get pushed into a group, someone slaps a barrister wig on them. "It's the Plaintiffs!" A few run after and put a wig on a PC "It's the defendents!"
TRIAL! TRIAL! TRIAL!
The crime is manslaughter or unleashing magical entity and property damage for non-artistic means.
Each "round" involves the party picking 3 representatives to make arguments. They can use either Persuasion, Intimidate, Deception, or History. Their opponents will make counterarguments using the same skills. Both sides pick their three independent of the other. Then the "round" happens, with all three happening in sequence against each other. Each side rolls, and depending on how they interact, one or more side may get a "shift".
Yours | Theirs -> |------------|--------------|-------------|-----------|---------| | | Persuasion | Intimidate | Deception | History | |------------|--------------|-------------|-----------|---------| | Persuasion | I | V | V | - | |------------|--------------|-------------|-----------|---------| | Intimidate | V | I | I | V | |------------|--------------|-------------|-----------|---------| | Deception | V | I | I | x | |------------|--------------|-------------|-----------|---------| | History | x | V | - | I | |------------|--------------|-------------|-----------|---------| I = Independent test. You can both get a shift or neither get a shift. DC 16. V = Versus test. Winner gets a shift. - = Definitive victory. Auto shift, no roll. x = Definitive loss. Opposing party gets shift.
First to 10 shifts wins.
This is absolutely stolen from conflict in Mouse Guard.
WIN: The players are owed by the Gorroliths. Gorroliths gift them a magical item from their vault, which contains some selection of them.
LOSE: They owe a Debt to the Gorroliths. Gorroliths take them on Shatsnay and Cordonoy test.
Either way takes them to the Ulaikeria 😎
Win Magic Vault
Players can pick 3 items.
- Ring of Free Action (no paralysis, restrained, difficult terrain not a problem).
- Ring of Animal Influence
- Ring of Water Walking
- Dust of Disappearance (4 uses)
- Headband of Intellect
If owed a debt, the Gorroliths tell them of Shatsnay, a very promising pupil who was to enter their order. The Ulaikeria has a simple rule that's never been broken: 1 enters, 1 returns. Every time. Except… Shatsnay.
Shatsnay never emerged. In the 300 year history of the Gorroliths, this has never happened. Go to the Ulaikeria and determine what happened.
If a PC asks "but can't you go?", explain that once you enter the Ulaikeria, you can't return.
1:00-1:15 Enter The Ulaikeria
The entrance is a circular dais, on its own platform in the middle of the room. As each party member steps on the dais, they start to vanish, and as they do, the remaining party members feels their memories also erasing. Paintings of them are morphing, songs of them now contain another name. Only when they step back on the dais and start vanishing themselves do their memories flood back, a demonstration of the power contained.
One by one you reappear, and find yourselves into a well, if confusingly-lit room of limestone walls and a sharply sloped ceiling, like being in a giant Toblerone bar. Bisecting the room is a large mirror reflecting you.
Except, it isn't. Your reflection isn't moving. It's staring at its feet, or more appropriately, at a platform in front of the mirror, with imprints of feet, waiting for someone to stand on it.
As each of the PCs stands on the platform, DM role-plays the initial conversation, which is a confrontation. The role-playing obviously must happen one-at-a-time, but in-game this is happening for every player at the moment they stand on the platform and face their reflection, so if they approach it one-at-a-time, that's how it happens in-game. If they all step in at once, they're all having their conversations simultaneously. The DM provides the first segment of dialogue for the mirrors. See the appendix at the bottom for some sample. After you deliver them:
The mirror cracks, splits, then finally shatters. Behind it is a pane of clear glass. Your reflection is staring back behind you, looking as alarmed as you are. It just met you for the first time, too. An ominous voice rings in your ears, in your native tongue:
"Welcome to the Ulaikeria, a sifting bowl of souls. Competition breeds winners. You and your reflection are certain you are the real one. But that can't be true. Both of you entered, one will leave. You'd best ensure it is you."
Reveal the tokens of the mirrors, place them on the map. Hand out the character sheets to your players.
For the remainder of the adventure, you'll be playing as two characters, one in each party: the one that you came in as, and their opposite. One of you will leave. You are, to the best of your ability, to play them both with the intention of winning out. Take 5-10 minutes familiarizing yourself with the second sheet, and we'll work out dynamics of the second party together. Then we have a temple to escape. For both parties, a door slides open on the south side of the room, revealing the path forward.
Running Ulaikeria: Each party goes through each room seperately. Sometimes the rooms are identical, and each can provide different tactics; other times, they're of the same kind (like a riddle).
Then, you as a DM decide which you feel like went "faster" in game time. The overarching narrative is that they're racing to the exit. That determines who enters the final room first.
[When running this with friends, we found the mirror party would have a slight advantage if they went second, since they'd be "warmed up" after the first party. I recommend you run it as Core/Mirror, then the next room as Mirror/Core, and so on.]
You enter a room filled — utterly filled — with hundreds of small creatures. Chipmunks, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, cats, sparrows, frogs. There's foliage and trees to match.
Ulaikeria speaks to you: "acquire the key from they who possess it."
Mechanically, this looks like a game of Battleship. Roll a d100 and another d100 for x/y coordinates of the winning animal. If they can find the animal on that coordinate (either killing it or picking it up) they will get the key.
The PCs have options here, and each party will probably use different ones:
Anyone who can speak to animals will have an advantage of splitting the search space.
You can slaughter the creatures, it'll be inside one.
Inspection of the animals (picking one up) will tell you if it has a key or not.
Murderous parties (which, lets face it, is most mirrors of heroes) will probably unload a lot of ammo and spells to clear out swaths of them.
Speaking to animals will provide at the very least a bisection of the search space ("that way", which cuts out half the room). Each animal has a riddle, if it is answered correctly, they split it even further in half.
Here are a few riddles:
It can pierce the best armor, And make swords crumble with a rub. Yet for all its power, It can’t harm a club.
What is black when you buy it, red when you use it, and white when you throw it away?
What tastes better than it smells?
Answer: A tongue.
Better old than young; the healthier it is, the smaller it will be.
Answer: A Wound.
What is not alive but grows, does not breaths but needs air.
You know three men: John, James, and William. John and James always lie, William only tells the truth, the three are identical in appearance. You see one of them on the street, and you'd like to know if it's John (he owes you money). You are allowed to ask him one question of only three words; what do you ask?
"Are you James?". John will say yes, because he lies, but James and William will say no.
I offer you one of three prizes: A (the best prize), B (the middling prize), or C (the bad prize). The rules are such: if you make a true statement, I will give you either Prize A or Prize B. If you make a false statement, I will give you Prize C.
It's easy to see how you could get Prize A or Prize B: say something like "two plus two is four." But suppose you had your heart set on Prize A: how can you assure that you'll get it?
"You will not give me Prize B." If you give me Prize C, then you gave it to me for making a false statement. If you give me B, you give me B for a false statement. Only A satisfies your constraints.
"Make a trade"
There's nothing in this room but another dais and a door. Ulaikeria communicates to you: "Make a trade"
Each party chooses one person to swap into the other for the next trials. The first person to step on the dais is sent to the other party. They're there with them without the door opening for a few minutes of RP. After some interaction, the door opens.
The way I ran this, timing-wise:
- Core Party picks someone
- Mirror Party picks someone (in both cases, a rogue party member just ran onto it without gathering consensus lol).
- Mirror Party receives the Core Party member.
- Core Party receives Mirror Party member.
From the character's perspective, this is meant to happen more-or-less at the same time.
These characters may attack each other! Our mirror character, for example, jumped onto the dais because she believed the Core Party was, on the whole, "better people." (and they were!). But her Core wasn't the one that switched!
You can explore variations of this as a DM: I didn't enforce that the core and the mirror had to be the "same." It meant that each room was missing one of the players from the action (and had nothing to do), but the other party had that player piloting both core and mirror in the same room, which led to some interesting interactions.
I also thought of doing this again further down the adventure. We were hitting our limits (time, energy) so we cut out a few things but if you have a few more "trials" it's something to consider.
Both parties straight-up fight some monsters. These are what I picked for my 6th-level parties:
Fight 1 (Mirror or Core)
Bulette ("Land Shark"):
- AC 17, 94 HP, 40ft speed.
- Bite: +7 to hit, 4d12 + 4 damage
- Leap: If jumping greater than 15ft and land on a space with characters. DC 16 Dex or Strength save for half and no prone. If fail, prone. 3d6 + 4 bludgeon + 3d6 + slashing.
Umber Hulk ("big ole' bug-eyed thing, like a giant beetle"):
- AC 18, 93 HP, 30ft speed
- Multiattack: 2 claw attacks, 1 mandible attack
- Claw: +8 to hit, 1d8 + 5
- Mandible: +8 to hit, 2d8 + 5
Fight 2 (other one)
👀 Ojo, why again? Again, D&D loves to put people in combat. Also, while we skipped it for the mirrors in my game, it's another way to familiarize your players with the truly different experience of playing the mirror.
"What's the password"
The characters enter a somewhat expansive room with a door on the other edge. There are wall hangings and juts to climb, vines along the walls, and a "canopy" layer of platforms hanging off the wall. There's a Hadozee (ape person) in a chair in the middle of the room. They wake, look around, looking confused. Ulaikeria speaks to your mind: "Exit through them."
The inspiration of this room was the image of a group of PC's torturing a helpless sentient creature; tying them to a chair, that king of thing. After the small creatures room before, some party (either the PCs or their mirrors) would look at violent, forceful, coercive means to get what they think this creature is holding back from them, and others will collaborate.
The wall hangings and canopy layer give the Hadozee a place to escape to if needed, since it's likely that someone will try to hurt or kill it.
DM-ing this scene, I'd suggest playing by ear. This is really the PC's vs. themselves and/or the mirror they traded for, more than them vs. the Ape.
[When we played it, one player's mirror straight-up attacked the Hadozee. They rolled well enough to cut an arm off and break bones in the face. The Hadozee then hid, and the non-aggressive party members and the ape solved an ad hoc puzzle together where they learned the Hadozee had to verbally forgive the first character. That required the character to apologize verbally; the Hadozee then demanded they drop all their weapons and armor.]
- they kill the ape and cast a spell like animate dead or speak with dead.
- interrogation, like the "tied to a chair" scenario.
- If they dismember the ape, they need to reassemble it a certain way.
I played the Ape as not knowing what they were doing there and/or very confused.
👀 Ojo this is a challenging scene to run with both parties and not have it feel like a distinct advantage for whoever went second. We did this in lieu of the second combat encounter, but you might want another cooperative-but-ambiguous test that requires patience, and comfort with ambiguity.
[We didn't end up running this room; I was feeling like I needed to wind it down, and the mechanics I had in place felt, frankly, underbaked. But the initial premise is cute, I think, and one could imagine mechanics that made this fun.]
The room is cramped, dark, and mildewey. There's a window at the other end showing something like a racetrack? It can be observed but not joined.
In the center of the room is an elevated platform with a saddle. Ulaikeria speaks to you: "pick your steed, pick your rider. A pair who can stop the other horse."
Each party picks a steed and a jockey. The "steed" becomes a horse, then they gotta race the other party! The idea was to have them get to some distance in feet (1000?) while the other players watched. The "steed" chosen could get buffs based on their skills or their rolls, while the "jockey" could assist their steeds and/or launch missiles or cast spells on the other steed.
The initial formulation was something like:
Each round: 60ft base speed + 1d20 + steed modifier (Animal Handling, Dexterity, Athletics, + some if they had class abilities (Monk movement speed) + 10 if the jockey was small (Halfling or Gnome) and the steed at least Medium). Each party rolls a round like this to get comparable distance from the other.
Then we do attack rolls, where the jockey can cast missiles, spells like Grease Floor, hell, even cantrips like Thaumaturgy to flare up torches for distractions. Whatever they deemed best; I'd let them get creative. This would serve as penalty for the other party on the next roll.
You want some rubber-band mechanic to make it so a lead is harder to keep.
I also wasn't sure of what the "prize" should be for winning; one silly option is to not let the other steed turn back for the next room; or just declaring that room "won" by the winning party for the score when tallying up the final room and who gets there first.
Final Room (and maybe Shatsnay and Cordonoy)
Shatsnay and Cordonoy were originally Easter eggs hidden in the dungeon, and the "true ending" of this adventure, a bit like the White Pages in MYST vs. siding with the Blue Book or Red Book brother. Each room was meant to have a hidden clue that, in the last room, can reveal the passphrase that will unlock where they've hidden. Shatsnay, a Dragonborn sorcerer, was dropped into the Ulaikeria and Cordonoy is what she's named her mirror. I didn't end up sprinkling the clues there correctly, but it's an option if you adapt this.
Most people and their mirrors would get at each other's throat at some point or another, but Shatsnay found a hack: a close look at Cordonoy shows scarring around her head. She's kept alive, but subdued, per a lobotomy.
"Been a while since we've been found out, hasn't it?" She back-slaps the dragonborn in front of her. "In that case, time to send them home, I am not going back up there."
Shatsnay sits in front of the final door. She matches the description given to you regarding dress: well-kept blue silk pants, a gaunt figure. Beside her is presumably her mirror: a large, oafish brute, who looks not of her right mind. While Shatsnay addresses her, she seemed dazed.
"Meet Cordonoy! My mirror is apparently this boar. If I'd killed her, it'd send me back, so I just keep her good and compliant. We like being compliant, don't we?" She pats Cordonoy on the head.
"Well, the last trial is for you to battle yourselves. I opted out. Have at it."
Shatsnay doesn't want to leave; if the PCs try to take her, it initiates a battle. At the DMs discretion, you can make this as hectic as possible.
[I played this very differently in my game. Trying to wind down, I determined a "winning" party for the rest of the dungeon and gave them a 1-round head start to the exit. The next round, the second party came in. There was a big open door on the other side, and had Shatsnay and Cordonoy just seated, relaxing in the middle. I wanted there to be some conflict around wanting to escape vs. engage the Dragonborn vs. engage the other party, but in practice, most were just gunning for the open exit. This was good and tense, but a suggestion from one of my players seemed a whole lot better: the door only opened if someone was standing on a switch. Then they'd have to engage, somehow, instead of racing as wildly as they did.]
This was a 6th-level adventuring party, so I made Shatsnay a level 9 sorcerer with some devastating spells, and Cordonoy a melee attacker with the battle traits of a troll.
If a PC or mirror makes it out the open door, their counterpart begins to vanish, Avengers Thanos Snap style. They're welcomed back in the Gorrolith's temple, and are offered tea and a yellow robe.
Appendix: Lore FAQs
What the hell happened with Merovech? Merovech had the secret hobby of making Flesh Golems, like when you find out that friend from the office is a secret prepper who's got a bunker with guns, ammo, and rations for years. The Merovech who enters The Chillest Basilisk is actually Merovech's mirror, who escaped The Ulaikeria and now the Gorroliths want to follow-up with him, calm him down after his trauma. He wants none of it, thinks "my time has finally come," and unleashes the Flesh Golems.
What's the deal with the Gorroliths? They're a cult founded around The Ulaikeria. There may be a bit of Stockholm Syndrome involved, but they feel like they truly earned their place in the world rather than simply inhabiting it by default, the way most people who are merely born do. And because they won over another, literally confronting their own opposites, they feel very strongly that the best version of themselves is walking through the world.
Where did the Ulaikeria come from? It's never explained precisely, but it's an invention by one of the old proto-gods, like someone from the future dropped an iPhone in the Middle Ages. It might still be monitored, it might have been forgotten, it definitely had a purpose in its design (like an apple peeler) but none of that matters, what matters is that it's been found, and the people who've come through it really think it defines their existence.
Appendix: Sample mirrors
Flek is a Goblin Barbarian with a Primal Path that allowed spellcasting. In-game, this was justified as being the result of an encounter with an artifact that wiped out his whole tribe.
Pathetic! You touched its holy energy and learned the exact wrong lessons. Imagine being given an elixir of life and using it to wash your ass: that's what you've done! A waste! Not of the lives of those rag-wearing nomads, but of a singular power, in that filty vessel.
Your anger controls you. You're carnage on the battlefield.
I have mastered it. I am an artist.
Flek's mirror is a Monk who is fast and disciplined; the most proud and articulate goblin you've ever seen. He sweeps the leg and looks good doing it.
Wilrion is a Paladin with 19 Strength with an evil brother who murdered his parents, setting Wilrion on a path to vengeance in the name of his family.
True strength is of the mind. Why lift a heavy boulder when I can get a brute like you to do it for me? Mathal was right about you: too rigid, too certain, too dumb. He's not even trying that hard to evade you and you still haven't caught him. It's obviously not worth catching him, but I will when I get out, and I'll be less of burden on the world when I do.
Wilrion's mirror is a Rogue who's very well-stacked to slip in and out of battles. He's wily, murders capriciously, and ruthless.
Maescia is a Druid who worked for a financial institution in Sestia playing boths sides of the civil war for profit. She's excellent at corporate espionage due to her ability to take an animal's form.
I don't know who should win the conflict, but I do know who should lose. You. You're despicable, and don't deserve the the heart that beats to keep you alive. Sestians and Glory: they have principles. Values. You only have yourself, or worse, your masters. Transform into a hog and stay that way; it's a nobler existence.
Maescia's mirror is a necromancer, a wizard who's eventual goal is to use the magical power from the dead of the conflict to end it. A bit like Ozymandias in Watchmen dropping the giant squid over Manhattan, who she sides with personally matters less to her than simply ending the conflict.
Opportunism and deception of all kinds repel her: why generate new resources when the dead are right there? She never lies, speaks plainly, and always wins.
Bowie is a Bard, the 7th child in a line of nobles who's known a fair bit of comfort ("an inveterate partier") while also being a shrewd, talented diplomat and courtier.
I see you're still trapped. Trapped by the rules: of law, of succession, of norms and customs. Your power is limited this way, I've found what you've been missing: chaos. Passion. A disregard for the things you hold dear are the key to unlocking your true power.
Bowie's mirror is a Barbarian who's self-interested, impulsive, impatient, but hones these characteristics to get fantastic results quickly. He's burned almost every bridge he's crossed, both literally and figuratively.
Elena is a Warlock who suffered extreme trauma at the hands of a religious cult, and got glorious, murderous revenge on all of them. Now she uses her alliance to the extraplanar entity to mercilessly rip those who'd abuse their power to shreds. Highly chaotic.
I pray for your healing, and will be happy to assist you on your journey to wholeness. It's okay to feel scared. Your vengeance will be your undoing.
It's an honor to serve Pelor. Through his generosity I've been able to heal myself and others. It will never be enough, and I will never be enough. But I can keep working at it.
Elena's mirror is a meek, generous, giving, orderly cleric who's response to trauma is to heal all those around her. She's extremely self-critical, humble, cold-as-steel and capable cleric with extreme healing potential.
Here are chamber ideas I didn't flesh out enough to have a concrete idea how to play, but you can probably adapt to something playable.
Pass the baton
Key in the center of the room, surrounded by a pit with spikes, a narrow walkway to get across. Hand the key to someone who has to dive deep into water, to hand off to someone else, who has to…
The idea was a Ninja Warrior course of abilities, seeing how each party would handle them.
A room of light, tactile or sound navigation
Bright light ("White Blindness," a la José Saramago) that makes players navigate "blind."
These are fun; have clues in the sounds of the room.
Lowest Ability Score showdown
Pick an ability score (e.g. Strength), pick the characters from the parties with the lowest values in that score, have them do a showdown together.
There's a pit in the room that you can't see the bottom of. Players can descend, "go fishing," try to illuminate, fly… another ability showcase. Maybe put some traps in there.
The first draft of this allowed the possiblity that your mirror wasn't you (name, physique, and race being the same) but some other manifestation of what you're confronting, so they could be a totally different being, a bit like the Seekers in Celeste's Mirror Temple, instead of Badeline herself. Or Glenn before he was Frog.
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