Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game


Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Why would someone build a maze / labyrinth?

Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

Hi all,
I'm looking for some cool original ideas why someone would build a maze. Care to share your ideas on this topic?
Greetings Crimlock

Hmm...Wealthy eccentric's a good catch-all.

The maze could be hiding a vault or holding a prisoner.

Whoever built it could have a sick sense of humor and spread rumors about a treasure deep within for the purpose of watching adventurers stumble through only to find a scrap of parchment reading "Isn't the journey the true reward?" set on a pedestal.

Could be an accidental result of trying to cultivate the perfect topiary.

They just like building models and mazes and have the Golarion equivalent of Legos stashed somewhere.

Too many architects led to the design of a building turning into a disaster and one of them took a snide remark about "didn't ask for a labyrinth" as a "challenge accepted."

Where else am I going to keep my minotaur?

7 people marked this as a favorite.

In the guest bedroom (don't tell the guests; it'll be funny).


People in the real world build corn mazes for the purpose of selling tickets to people who want to try and find their way through. Perhaps a non-corn maze could attract visitors too?

The maze is a way to restrict access to something-- people who know how to find their way through can get at whatever it is fairly easily, but people who don't end up getting lost and just give up.

I'm working right now (as in literally right now) on a maze that's made for gladiators to compete in team to reach a torch in the center of the maze; it has fake buildings, water channels, some monsters and a lot of low-tech mechanical traps. It's right in the center of an arena and made such as the assistance can see every step of their progress.

Other ideas:
-To hide or protect something.
-Because it's a complicated construct and became a maze de facto even if it has or had another function.

I think it summarizes how I see a maze. The word is used meta-gaming wise, but most of the time it's just a dungeon that happens to be a maze for some reason at the time the players get there. So you can basically take a maze and make it whatever suits your campaing, from sewer systems to a battlefield, from city blocks to natural caves.

Dark Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.

As a prison for their monstrously deformed cursed son? (Oh wait, that's not terribly original...).

A sign of religious devotion to a god(dess) of twisty labyrinthine nature, such as one of fate or riddles or even spiders... As you travel through the labyrinth, you learn valuable lessons from the divinity's canon, perhaps even following in the metaphorical footsteps that led to their divine ascension.

A deadly training ground for an order of rogues / ninjas / assassins, filled with traps and challenges and riddles that must be solved to find the correct path out.

A training ground for a brotherhood of monks, with koans inscribed on the walls, which must be deciphered through contemplative meditation, to overcome the obstacles / challenges that allow passage into the next level of the labyrinth.

A clan of dwarves, maddened by tainted metal traces in their water supply, each convinced that they alone know the true path to the rich trove of skymetal they believe to lie somewhere within these hills, each tunneling in the 'chosen' direction, following winding twisting paths that sometimes interconnect (and sometimes end abruptly, as violence ensues when they meet). Somewhere at the end of one or more of these tunnels are the taint-mutated remains of these dwarves, no longer recognizable as such. Other paths lead to the undead remains of dwarves whose greed for the mythical skymetal trove animated their flesh long after their bodies gave out.

Giant bugs, ants perhaps, burrowed out this maze of passageways, which are eerily ordered and precise. Do they have a hive mind, led by their bloated sessile sorcerer-queen? Have they been infected with some alien parasite or mold-colony that directs their movements (and makes them more dangerous than one might suspect). Has a formian come from another plane, and set these mindless vermin to work forming a vast three-dimensional mathematical sigil from these 'tunnels' within the earth itself, like some kind of arcane 'circuit' that it will use to form a permanant planar connection allowing it's kind to begin pouring into this plane and setting up a colony hear?

The thorny plants in this area of the fey wood have tasted blood, and crave more, shaping and pruning themselves into passable areas to herd living prey to the tainted vampiric treant at the enter of their hedge maze, and healing at unnatural speed any damage inflicted by those attempting to cut their way to freedom.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wizards and their ilk tend to be egotistical beings in their later years, and hide their treasures and such at the center of dungeons that reflect those inflated egos.

It's not enough that they simply lock things up behind closed doors and put a tapestry over the door, they have to build a labyrinth full of traps, stock it with monsters, and then start a "legend" in the local pubs that there is an "ancient dungeon built by a madman" nearby. It's sad, but it's what happens when you're rich and bored and you don't have to pay craftsmen, architects and stonemasons (you can just cast Stone Shape). You have to "prove" to everyone that you deserve to have that treasure by killing young adventurers.

1 person marked this as a favorite.


first thought...

A rich noble built an extencive maze as a test or compitition to test folks. best time wins the pile of gold.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

There is a history of building mazes. Romans built mazes as did other cultures, and there are several large and complex mazes built for religious purposes. In many cases the building of the maze had a religious purpose and walking the maze was analogous to navigating the moral perils of life.

Some mazes (especially Roman ones) were built as entertainment. The mazes were designed to allow people to appreciate the host's cleverness, and in many cases the maze was decorated with sculptures, paintings or even had live actors. Walking the maze was to experience a dynamic form of art. Most roman mazes, as far as I know, were "tile mazes" meaning they had a path, but no walls. You could simply walk across them if you wanted to.

While there may be actual historic examples of mazes built for military or defense purposes (the only one that comes to mind is the original Labyrinth itself, but it's true purpose is debated) I can't think of any.

There have been "turf mazes" built in some places (notably England) which are quite ancient. Many of them are in dispute about who built them or why. Most would be easy to cross the "walls" so it is assumed they were built for form, perhaps similar to the Roman mazes.

There have been some kings or emperors who have had elaborate walled and roofed mazes built for amusement.

I have only had one campaign where I included an elaborate maze. It ended up being the most contentious part of the campaign and was the only time I was ever actually yelled at by a player in the game. Of course I had complicated the maze by putting an enchantment on it that gave the group in the maze a certain percent chance of turning the OTHER WAY than the way they believed they were turning, so the maze was effectively impossible to map without dispelling the magic first.

Other than that I don't do recognizable mazes any more. When I want the effect of a maze, I tend to have encounters occur in more logical places that can be functionally identical to a maze. For example, my last such encounter happened in a large royal library which had fallen into ruin. As such the stone library shelves had somewhat decayed, some falling down, others partially destroyed, leaving piles of rubble across some aisles. The effect was exactly the same as a maze but without the overt "hey, here's a maze" approach.

I have done the same thing with large warehouses. In fact I had one such encounter occur in a large whiskey storage facility...

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Apparently, some real-life labyrinths were build and used as substitutes for religious pilgrimages. Instead of hiking to Jerusalem you walked (or more likely crawled on your knees) through the labyrinth.

Because the builder has a extremely twisted mind and it feels straight to him. (I might use this... and give them the information form Adamantine Dragon to get them confused.)

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

First what are mazes used for? Mainly they are puzzle to be solved. In Medieval times castles usually incorporated a maze as a form of defense. Those defending would know the path and those attacking wouldn't. They have to explore the paths hitting traps.

Mazes were also used to hide things. The initiated would know the path or be able to determine a path. Those who weren't initiated would be lost in the maze. As well the opposite where a something was kept in the maze like prison and the maze was used to reduce the chance of escape.

Then there are mazes for experimentation for testing purposes. Then mazes might be uses for entertainment. They could created for evil purposes too where a victim is released an hunted.

With the easy availability of flying carpets and flying spells and flying mounts, a mountain top just isn't the isolated place it used to be. The maze is a good way to discourage those seeking the quick path to enlightenment. As an added bonus, the maze serves as a metaphor for a life spent in the search for enlightenment which can be used to brush off those who do manage to navigate the maze.

The hedge maze of Calistria's temple was built more for the dead ends than for the solution. Participants pay a small fee to enter the maze and those who take 'wrong' turns are 'required to pay penalties' by engaging in sexual acts with Calistria worshipers before being allowed to continue. Beware though, for it is rumored that among the shadowy bowers of the maze some find the non-sexual attentions of Calistria's worshipers.


I was thinking that if any Golarion deity warranted a maze as a religious site, it would be Zon-Kuthon. His maze would be full of rusty spiked chains and other traps, and you had to be blindfolded before you made your pilgrimmage through it. Those who found their way out would be inducted into the fold of the Zon-Kuthon clergy. Those who don't? They let loose a few hungry dogs into the maze every so often to "clean it out".

I actually think a well designed maze with a great backstory and an unconventional use of the maze's passageways, nooks and crannies could make for a pretty interesting campaign.

Now you got me thinking....

It would also be a fantastic opportunity to use some cool 3D terrain...

Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I actually think a well designed maze with a great backstory and an unconventional use of the maze's passageways, nooks and crannies could make for a pretty interesting campaign.

Now you got me thinking....

It would also be a fantastic opportunity to use some cool 3D terrain...

Yeah I have read many times over that some advice for a GM is to never run a maze because it never ends well. I of coarse take that as a challenge on not advice. I always imagined if I had the need to run a maze I would create, and have the players run through it Minecraft. Its first, or third, person so no just looking down at a drawn image to know where to go, its in blocks so easy to measure and draw if someone WANTED to draw out a map as they went along. Not 100% how I would handle encounters in it, but Im guessing id watch over in freeform camera mode or something and pause when they hit a certain spot I had planned something.

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, the Winchester House was built that way to confuse the ghosts.

To study adventurer's behavior.
Just add some scrying devices (installed so they can't be stolen) and have a good time.

Or to guard his escape route from his lair.
If you have to flee from your keep you go through the maze to shake off people following you.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Here's an idea with a spin on the classic Minotaur tale. Say you've got a king who is a mostly good worshiper of a deity like Erastil who champions family bonds and loyalty. This king slips up, has an indiscretion and gets a girl pregnant. He doesn't want a scandal, but he refuses to have the girl killed because he fears the wrath of his family friendly god. He also can't bring himself to exile the girl because he fears that might bite him in the butt or endanger her life. Thinking it's the only way he can keep his secret and care for the girl, he orders his engineers to redesign the escape tunnels under his palace into a maze with one hidden emergency exit and gives them eight months to complete the task.

The maze is completed only several days before the child's birth and the girl is secretly lowered into a chamber at its center. A loyal servant to the king is then assigned to provide food and water to the girl by lowering a bucket to her through the small hole above her room and, when the time comes, a specially selected midwife is lowered into the chamber as well. Bars are then placed in the hole to prevent exit via the rope. The king's plan is that the girl, the midwife and the child will spend the rest of their days under his care and watchful eye in the maze beneath his castle. Now, you've got the beginnings of an adventure hook.

Sixteen years later, the king unexpectedly dies and his power falls to a petty and conniving cousin who wants the family secret dealth with so there's no challenge to the throne. He tells his most loyal and elite warriors his brother secretly kept a monstrous half-demon son under the castle out of shame and the creature needs to be destroyed to restore honor to his family and to save the former king's soul. At the same time, a priest of the king's god receives a vision that a secret that could restore justice and honor to the land lies hidden beneath the palace.

The PCs could be members of the royal guard sent to kill the young man before they realize their boss is lying or adventurers gathered by the priest to rescue the kid. To challenge the group, the specially selected midwife might really be a cleric or wizard who's used spells and supplies left by the engineers to trap the labyrinth in order to protect the child. Otherwise, you could say the boy was born a sorcerer and he's prepared to use his powers to defend his home and family (his mother and the midwife.) Hell, surprise the PCs by using both ideas. Summon Monster glyphs could be used to add creatures if you want more combat.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Maybe they're just random crisscrossing tunnels underground left behind by some gargantuan burrowing creature(s).

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Madness is almost always a cop out when an author or GM can't come up with a reasonable explanation. Even the insane have a fractured logic to their actions. Hannibal Lecter and the Joker may be madmen, but they do what they do for a purpose. "The builder is insane" is no more of an explanation than "the builder is bald."

A person might build a labyrinth as a symbol of something greater. A religious order might see moving through the labyrinth as a metaphor for moving through the stages of enlightenment, or the path to perdition, or whatever.

Or perhaps the labyrinth is actually an immense rune intended to keep a demonic entity caged. The power of the rune is periodically renewed by the passage through it of intelligent beings.

Or, take your cue from The Pattern in Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber. Perhaps your maze is really a broken reflection of the symbol that creates and sustains the multiverse and gives awesome power to those able to walk its dangerous hallways.

One last thought: The original labyrinth legend is thought to be based on the huge royal palace of the the Minoan kings at Knossos. It was a large dwelling with many rooms, most decorated with the royal sigil: a double-headed axe (labrys in Attic Greek). So maybe your "labyrinth" is really just a complicated floor plan. Check out the floor plan of the Pentagon, for instance.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not quite what you're looking for, but perhaps the PCs find a what appears to be a book of complicated maze puzzles. Come to discover that a wizard hid spell symbols or the somatic components of rare spells in the solutions.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The maze or labyrinth is actually a powerful glyph design used as a component for a powerful spell...

Well, I remember one old school adventure where the main bad guy (a lich, I think) built his dungeon/maze, "advertised" its vast treasures/wealth etc, and then used the place so that only the smartest/strongest people would survive it and reach the center. Then he planned to destroy the "cream of the crop" and transform them into worthy undead servitors. I believe he also "snacked" on a few of the strongest souls to advance his own power/progression.

I'd build a giant maze to distract from the fact that the entrance into my secret lair is actually in the lobby of the maze. The maze itself is an unsolvable horror pit filled with monsters and the traps are maintained by duergar who get first pick of any loot that finds its way in there.

Just a thought.

IRL the heiress of the winchester fortune "spoke" to ghosts and had an irrational fear that if she did not continue adding to and renovating the family home, that the ghosts would become angry, so she continued to build (and waste the family fortune) on the endless hidden rooms, staircases to no where and maze like rooms that connected to hallways that connected to another series of rooms.

Exploring a PFRPG version of that house full of haunts could be nifty.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

A hunter creates a labyrinth in which to stalk prey.

A maze is built around a castle to channel assaulting armies. The castle has long since been abandoned. The maze remains.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

a bored halfling found a staff of stone shape?

Why does one build a labyrinth?? So David Bowie can make more goblins duh!!

I'm going to throw out some good ol' philosophical reversal. If one had the means, why wouldn't they build a maze or labyrinth?

MendedWall12 wrote:
I'm going to throw out some good ol' philosophical reversal. If one had the means, why wouldn't they build a maze or labyrinth?

Aye, why wouldn't you build a maze? Those things are amazing. (Someone had to do it)

The Exchange

Religious reasons: God gives a lot of grace to those that build labrynths.

One might even say - Amazing Grace.

Puns aside, in the middle ages demons and ghosts were thought to be bound differently than humans.

So for example, piles of small bones were to be dropped - the demon was forced to count the bones before he could continue a chase.

Likewise a maze. Demons were bound to solve the maze before they could continue a persuit or possession. From thence they put them at the entrance of houses, or gateways to manors..

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

why would you build a Labyrinth? This comic might have the answer.

warning: while the comic in the link is safe, most of other comics on the site are not.

Shadow Lodge

Widow of the Pit wrote:
Well, I remember one old school adventure where the main bad guy (a lich, I think) built his dungeon/maze, "advertised" its vast treasures/wealth etc, and then used the place so that only the smartest/strongest people would survive it and reach the center. Then he planned to destroy the "cream of the crop" and transform them into worthy undead servitors. I believe he also "snacked" on a few of the strongest souls to advance his own power/progression.

That would be Acererak the Demilich and the Tomb of Horrors.

Mazes and such are often, as alluded to by other posters, constructed for religious or training purposes, or even for pure entertainment ones.
However, there's one reason why a fair number of my BBEGs will construct mazes throughout parts of their lairs.
A maze allows you to have a time to traverse it much smaller than the similar time for your adversaries. This has important implications as regards buffs and durations and raising an alarm.
You see, it's actually not 'Scry and Die' that kills you. It's not even the surprise round normally.

What kills you is being hit unbuffed by opponents that are buffed. THAT is lethal, and quickly so. Your traps, mooks, mazes, tricks are all there for the purpose of delay and inform. If they accomplish positive attrition, so much the better, but just giving you 10 minutes or so of warning makes a passing grade.

The Exchange

It's really as giant holy symbol so the planet can channel energy.

Or it's a giant scroll


I like the Narnia approach-- originally it was a giant message carved into the earth, but the eons have collapsed the serifs and kerning and nobody left alive speaks the language. Bonus points if you can incorporate the phrase "under me".

Perhaps it's the site of a battlefield in which trench warfare was employed, and one side decided that turning their side into a trench labyrinth would let them flank the enemy?

Copper dragon builds an open-topped labyrinth in the foyer of his cave. He uses various permanencied spells like gust of wind and teleport trap to keep guests from cheating. Then he simply lays back 120ft above on the reverse gravity'd ceiling laughing his tail off until he decides to come down.

Shadow Lodge

Given the wealth and resources, why would you NOT?

If I had infinite wealth and the ability to suspend the laws of nature, I would carve Rappan Athuk into the earth, and place Tegal Manor, the Black Monastery, and Spencer Mansion on top of it.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Surrounding an important temple of Nethys.

Anyone they consider important just magically flies over it, everyone else has to do it the hard way. Hopefully taking the hint and sodding off.

One of my players spent the gold to build a large tower with dungeons that were basically a complex maze of traps...

Purportedly built to keep his wealth secure...or so said the rumors he paid bards to spread.

But when you reached the central room, you were greeted by a "Kilroy was here!" style graffiti and the sound of all the traps you disarmed on the way in...resetting.

Sczarni RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

In the Legacy of Fire campaign I am playing in, I am playing a Ratfolk. I took some creative licence with my character and the GM has been running with it. In this game, the Ratfolk have an underground community that is literally underground with maze like tunnels. The maze like community is for protection, as lost attackers can often be led into traps, or just discouraged outright.

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder RPG / General Discussion / Why would someone build a maze / labyrinth? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2016 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.