Mazes. You would think that, as a dungeon cartographer primarily, I would love them. But mazes as dungeons generally suck.
That maze in the top photo is, absolutely, something I would never use in an actual RPG session. Not like this.
There is no easy way to convey the sense of isolation and being lost in a maze when working with a map. The whole “take a wrong turn, end up in a hallway that feels just like the one you wanted, but isn’t” confusion.
Generally speaking when I have a real maze in a game, I ditch mapping it entirely and game play switches to what is essentially a skill challenge, and the longer it takes to succeed, the more things you run into along the way.
This maze is still larger than any I would run as a traditional mapped dungeon, but the design is more to my liking. It includes 8 chambers with statues in them breaking the whole structure into 9 segments. And I’ve pierced the walls in multiple places so there are many different routings through the maze instead of just a single right way to solve it. This fixes a lot of the problems of running a traditional maze in a game.
Further, this maze (as well as the practice one I drew that appears below) is specifically designed to prevent the “right hand rule” or “left hand rule” from working to get from the entrance to the centre. This isn’t one maze, it is two mazes nested within each other with no walls connecting the inner maze to the outer maze. If you stick to hugging one wall the whole way through, you will eventually return to your point of origin, but will never reach the centre of the maze.
This second maze was my “test maze” as I was practicing to make the final one presented above. The double maze design is a lot more obvious here and the whole thing would be a chore to play out at the table, in my opinion.
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