Knightmare Lexicon - A Knightmare Encyclopædia

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1. Ariadne’s Lair
From TES issue 46 (July 2007)

Series 2. Level 2.

Ariadne has got to be one of Knightmare’s most famous creatures – well, who could forget a huge, hairy tarantula hogging the screen? She may only have been a camera-trick, but Ariadne could be deadly enough if the team wasn’t careful. In her original lair (featured in series 2) the Queen of the Arachnids had several memorable encounters with dungeoneers.

The room that housed Ariadne’s first lair had three stone walls with one door on each of them; it was later used as the entrance to the Dungeon Valley in series 3. Once a dungeoneer had entered her lair, Ariadne would scuttle into view from the right-hand side of the screen and come to rest on her web (a small black line that we could barely see) above the dungeoneer’s head. She would then begin to close off the exits one by one with her webs, which were created by the same animation used for the WEB spell that Chris’s team used against Cedric in this series. If the dungeoneer didn’t manage to get out before all three doors were webbed off, they were trapped and the game was over.
 [Related Image] Sometimes, the team would simply have to make a quick exit from the chamber, while Ariadne blocked off an exit or two for good measure. In this case, there was no real danger of being trapped. However, the race-against-the-clock scenario made for exciting viewing. The additional task of collecting a quest piece (as in the quests of Mark [pictured] and Neil) occasionally made the challenge slightly harder, which really added to the tension of the scene.

For dungeoneers Steven and Jamie, the challenge was made more complicated still. Steven was told by Cedric that he had to whistle or sing in order to appease Ariadne. Upon reaching the spider’s lair, all three exits very quickly became webbed up and it looked like Steven was trapped! However, whistling a tune that sounded suspiciously like the French National Anthem caused the webs to disappear and Ariadne to scuttle away – a strange but enjoyable scene.
 [Related Image] As for Jamie, he was given the additional task of rescuing Gretel from one of Ariadne’s webs. In doing so, he used up his only chance of escaping himself – a spell called FREE – and got himself trapped in Ariadne’s thrall! Apparently, the team needed another spell (called MEDAL) in order to escape, but they had been too slow in picking up its pieces in the previous chamber, so the Automatum chased them out before they had time to complete the task. (Hmm, that sounds like a mighty contrived death to me!) Of course, what the team should have done was to get Jamie to stand right next to the web that contained Gretel (the one on the left-hand door) and then cast FREE. Jamie should then have bundled Gretel through the open door before Ariadne had the chance to drop another web. Still, I suppose that doesn’t sound like a very likely scenario.

Difficulty: 7 Intimidating, tricky and deadly!
Killer Instinct: 6 Poor old Jamie paid the ultimate price for his chivalry.
Gore Factor: 3 Unfortunately, Ariadne didn’t actually eat him!
Fairness: 4 Well, Jamie’s death was one of the least fair of them all!

Provided By: Eyeshield, 2007-10-03 09:31:25
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2. Ariadne’s Lair
From TES issue 69 (May 2011)

Series 4. Level 2.

Having Ariadne as the biggest threat of level two – the threat that all the earlier events of the level have been preparing for and leading up to, and which guarantees an appearance on level three if completed successfully – is one of the many aspects of series 4 that I do enjoy quite a lot. Such a huge and scary creature as Ariadne certainly deserved such an important role in the quest, and this was a good development for her after making several very nice appearances in series 2, but then being reduced to one appearance (at the absolute most!) in series 3. And Ariadne’s series 4 appearances really did make or break the teams’ quests during the crucial closing stages of level two – her lair in Dunkley Wood would either provide the necessary fare for the boat ride to level three, as well as the portal to the Dunswater itself, or the dungeoneer would die there, between Ariadne’s giant, poisonous jaws.

I give Ariadne’s lair ten out of ten for atmosphere, although it does have a couple of technical problems. Early in the series (with Helen and Alistair) the production team continually placed the object-bearing tree stump far too close to the door, meaning that when Ariadne started crawling in from the bottom of the screen, it actually looked like a much better idea to dash for the nearby exit rather than hang around and cast a spell whilst waiting for the giant spider to crawl all the way across the web. By the end of the series (when Giles entered Ariadne’s lair) this issue had been sorted out, with the tree stump being placed in the bottom left corner of the screen, and Ariadne crawling in from the right, thus making some kind of attempt to block her potential prey’s exit.

There is also the issue of fairness. As Ariadne’s lair was the culmination of the level two challenges, magic was always required (ostensibly, anyway) to exit safely, as Nicky found out to her cost when she failed to gain a spell from Merlin. So why was Dickon handed a free ticket through, not even taking part in a quick chat with Brother Mace or Mellie in exchange for a Joker card, as Simon, Jeremy and Giles did? Obviously the production team was desperate to hurry through a winning team, but Dickon and friends could have coped with a more challenging quest, if they’d been given the chance!

Provided By: Eyeshield, 2011-05-19 09:31:41
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3. Ariadne’s Lair
From TES issue 7 (June 1997)


Without doubt, Ariadne's lair was a crucial feature of any quest in series four. Appearing at the very end of level two, conquering Ariadne would guarantee safe passage into level three.

To describe the lair, the dungeoneer first had to dodge Ariadne, and creep into the lair through a large portal cut into a tree. The lair itself was a large cavern, usually containing food and gold or silver, over which spanned Ariadnes huge web. The object was always clear enough. The dungeoneer had to swiftly enter the lair, grab whatever lay inside, and escape as Ariadne chased. However, escape was impossible without some form of magical assistance, or other distractions.

In fact, this actually defeated the excitement, as the viewer knew that, provided magic was held, the team was safe.

Despite this element of predictability, Ariadne always provided a fearsome, tense chase - succeeding only once. The unfortunate Nicki was unable to gain magic, leading to certain death as Ariadne scuttled across her web, destroying Nicki's quest.

In terms of fairness, the room was reasonable. At times, teams appeared uncertain as to whether they should attempt to collect the objects in the lair, as Pickle yelled and urged them to run away ! Furthermore, Dickon and team - the only winners of series four, were virtually handed a free ticket through the lair ! When they reached it, Gundrada was already there - looting. Ariadne chose to pursue Gundrada, leaving Dickon free to escape at his leisure !

As part of Knightmare's glorious history, this was undoubtedly Ariadne's biggest series. She appeared in several others, but never before was her presence as crucial as it was here.

Overall, the room was sometimes tense, but all too predictable - rather like series four !...

Difficulty : 6 : Magic vital, but otherwise, there was no skill needed.
Killer Instinct : 4 : One victim, but a few close shaves...
Gore Factor : 5 : Looked particularly unpleasant as Nicky was eaten !
Fairness : 6 : Clear task, but younger teams got flustered easily.

Written by and submitted with the kind permission of Paul McIntosh.

Provided By: Eyeshield, 2007-12-11 17:31:35
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