'It is a door, a stout wooden door with its frame, just standing there in the middle of the field. Why would someone put it there? And the important question, does it actually open to anything?'
Journal of Thomas Mccannon.
It is a stout freestanding door and frame. The door is a good four inches thick, the frame six (10cm and 15cm). The door and frame have a light ochre wash. The large ring handle is thick and brass. This one has no key hole on either side.
It appears randomly. There are legends, tales, and rumors about it, vague legends, tales and rumors. Nothing that explains much more than this post. It will disappear just as quickly. It seems the door moves before it becomes well known. It will stay for a while, then move on.
The Ochre door by itself is not all that amazing. (Well it is basically invunerable and unmovable, so that may make it seems amazing). What it leads to is somewhat amazing. Pulling it opens the door to a place many called The Maze.
What is The Maze? Some think it is a testing ground. Others a training ground. Other think it is a game set up for the amusement of 'Other Beings'. What ever its purpose, it provides risks and rewards to those that enter it.
The Maze is not really that Maze like. It is a seemingly infinite collection of underground hallways and rooms, filled with traps (some fiendish), hidden places, and a variety of monstrous lifeforms. Tucked in the rooms are various 'treasures plus some gold, plus special keys. If one survives the experience of the maze, one can come out quite wealthy in gold and items. However, survival is often the prime issue.
Note: If any of the items are magical, they will only function in the maze. So one might find a broadsword of flame, but it becomes a well made broadsword outside the maze. Potions found turn to wine or water outside the maze, only to return back. Gold however, is always gold.
If this door leads to a modern world, many of the items will turn into very mundane equivalents. Plate Mail might become a leather jacket. A sword becomes a bat or a necklace that looks like a sword. You get the idea.
The Maze is always challenging Perhaps not so much right by The Ochre door, but the further you get from the door, the more dangerous the threats. Of course, the more useful the rewards.
Every time someone re-enters The Maze, it is somewhat different. Consulting your map of your previous visit, will only partially guide you. You will need to explore every time you return. In areas that are 'new' to your experience, they will be fully stocked with threats and rewards. In areas you have previously explored, some threats and rewards will return, but it will be much as you left it. (Given the time, if you come back years later, it will be fully restocked).
Important safety tip. Many people will try to keep ransacking the same section of the map (since they will know their way around) or stay within the same radius of the door, to make sure the threats are not that threatening. The power of the threats will slowly increase every time one returns to The Maze, so the same old, same old, will eventually get pretty dangerous.
Finding the Keys should be one's real goal. They come in a number of colors and six basic shapes. The keys open up special doors in The Maze. The keys can be removed from the maze. In fact, it seems many of them have already been so, given their scarcity.
Most of these special doors will open up special themed sections. In these sections treasures that are near and dear to one's heart will be found. (If nothing is specifically near or deal to one's heart, it will just be a cool item or another key.)
Others will be dangerous challenges different than most found in the maze. So instead of fighting monsters, you might have to run a race on a collapsing track or fight mounted (mount to be provided) in a tournament.
The rarest door will be other doors out. It will lead you to another door much like yours. That door leads outside, to another world (or place far away in this one).
Okay, lets get meta-game here. The Maze seems to be much like a computer generate rpg dungeon. It is random, so get some tiles and just deal them out. You can populate it as you wish (though I have some suggestions, see links) and completely ignore any sense of ecology. Monsters are in stasis of some kind before people come near. Then they seem to move about. Orcs, Goblins, Skeletons, Slimes, Bats, ROUS (rodents of unusual size), and so on are the traditional maze residents. Khor would be my monsters of choice(submission 1871). Some people hate traps, so if you don't like them, don't feel required to use them. I would use the Glyph and Pylon system (submission 1373 and 1374) for traps. Keys lead to 'special mapped' areas of the dungeon where things are not random. These themed zones are specific challenges designed for the campaign. There is normally a purpose to someone's adventuring, these zones should try to fulfill those. Keys out are great ways to live up a campaign with some unique cultures or interesting play.
Side Note: At one time, The Ochre Door (or something much like it) was in Antioch.
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? Responses (11)-11
The nice part of 'The Maze' is that it can not unbalance a campaign. If it is the only 'dungeon', the magic swag and cool tchotchkes will have limited effect outside The Maze. It will give people a place to gain experience and skills that they can take out into the world.
Now this is a really good plot and someday I want to write a story based on it.
Hay, that's fun
My immediate thoughts were - this is something created by a (possibly sadistic) Trickster God
Would fit nicely, with little or modification, into almost any fantasy game-world, as well as most horror or dark fantasy settings (come to think of it, I'm almost certain I've seen something similar for CoC but I couldn't swear to it)
Great stuff, and highly usable - 4½ / 5
Actually, it would work well in an Urban Fantasy game, being the "doorway to magic" so to speak. Some "Evil Lord" has an army in the maze looking for a key or the door the players are using to get in and out of. Now they have to stop these guys on the maze side of the door, because they still have their magic and powers when they exit into our world (being innate to them, not gifted by the maze).
Horror could be applicable if you turn up the ick and esher-esk qualities of the maze, add more horror and unexplained elemenets.
The Ochre door, or something much like it, was there in Antioch for a while. They charged a toll for people who entered in. And they taxed what they could take out (as it did not dissappear there).
I would have to say that this is an idea worth doing. It smacks of player frustration. Send them in as a task to a King, or for their redemption for a crime. If they return they are set free, but they have to bring back a special key.
This is an interesting, if not simple idea turned evil and malicious. I like it.
Gauntlet, I love it!
Might be worth making a couple of these doors allowing for some interesting travel. A certain color key will open this door.
Door is useable in so many ways from simple treasure gathering to some kind of required quest get the item sort of thing.
Hmmm. Gauntlet, such fun. Actually if you combine this with Glyphs and Plyons, you get some of that feel.
Actually this harkens back to Wizardry I, II, or III.
The series stopped on IX or XII. This was back in the day when Apples (II) had better games than PCs.
Should I write up keys or scenarios dealing with keys?
keys? I like keys!
I like it! It's a way to inject videogame mechanics into DnD, which could be really fun if it was played straight. If you wanted to go for broke, you could make the front of the door a high score board (Conan got 22,000 XP in ONE run?) and give the players extra lives. And you could reskin sections of it to different themes (Greek, Aztec, Necropolis, Prehistoric).
Just the same, this is just an application of video game logic to a tabletop game, which DMs usually strive to avoid. Taking the opposite approach is kinda cool.
This resonates with me, with my recent video-gamy sub. This is about as blunt an adventure hook as you can get, though there are times when such is both useful and desirable.
This allows linkage of any idea you see fit to use.