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December 17, 2008, 7:50 pm

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Running A Dungeon-Maze


A few ways to handle PCs navigating a maze within your games.

There are a number of ways a gamemaster can handle the PCs navigating through a maze. Others are possible, but these are the ones that immediately spring to mind.

1) The GM can print off a sufficiently complex maze, then narrate the PCs dungeon-crawling through the maze. In my opinion, this is the worst of the options I present, though there are advantages to doing things this way. Encounters and treasure can be easily marked on the map, and generating multiple mazes is trivial with the plethora of maze-generation software out there. Disadvantages include just about every complaint about long, boring dungeon-crawls, which is essentially what this is.

2) They get there no matter what. After a sufficient number of encounters with monsters and traps, the PCs get to the end of the maze. I find this to be a bit too heavy-handed, but this sort of railroading can easily be spiced up by a good GM.

3) Dice Resolution. The GM chooses the length of the maze in terms of the number of successes that need to be rolled to successfully navigate the maze. Each ‘milestone’ should be accompanied with some flavor text describing the results of the party’s efforts. Every few milestones, encounters and traps can be added to spice things up. I find this to be the best of the three options, as it abstracts away the feel of a dungeon crawl, as well as lets the PCs be the masters of their own fate.

These options aren’t just limited to presenting mazes within your games; any location where the PCs aren’t sure where exactly they are and can easily get lost can be handled this way (sewers, dungeons beneath the castle, etc.).

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