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Monday, April 13, 2020

Blog Post of Note: The Minotaur’s Maze

Dyson Logos has a maze map: The Minotaur’s Maze, as well as a discussion on the ways mazes are run. I'm leaning away from treating mazes as skill challenges, myself, but perhaps this is worth thinking about more. Is there a different way to create a feeling of isolation? Can it be done with mapping? Is a feeling of isolation what you, the GM, really want to impart?


  1. I find exploring a maze the way you'd explore a regular dungeon to be tedious AF. All the detailed descriptions of what is nearly the same thing as last time, but with important minor variations, takes up a lot of time and doesn't build suspense.

    Using a visual method, like an online map with a fog-of-war setting to reveal bits at a time, or a set of tiles that can be laid out on the table a bit at a time, can get past the tedium by moving things along, but can also destroy some of the surprises a maze might hold. If you're wandering a maze and keep coming into a room with a fountain and a minotaur statue, you can't help but wonder if you're going in circles, but if you're looking at a map you don't get that feeling...you know you've circled back a time or two, but you also know there are multiple minotaur-fountain rooms too.

    So, yeah, I kind of like the skill check mazes. Set up properly you can keep pressure on the group by tracking their torches or rations or what-have-you, they can get to feeling like maybe they're too lost to find their way out, and it moves along without droning on about how many passages open off to the left and how many to the right, and how far they are.

  2. I have not really used mazes for the reasons that Dyson Logos explains. I would use the method of subhuman--a map slowly revealed, somehow--or, more likely, a test of skill. Most of all, though, I see a maze as a narrative challenge for the Referee. The maze need not be uniform. It can have sections that look different and have different ambiences. If the players are lost in an area, you can give them choices about which sort of tunnels they'd prefer: the moldy ones or those dry ones that smell of animal dung? Giving clues about which encounters lie ahead restore player agency in a situation in which they are actually lost.

  3. It might be more feasible using Dynamic Lighting so that as a character moves, all that a player can see is what the character can see.