Why did they build a maze?


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I want to create a backstory for a maze that I want to integrate in a campaign. I'm wondering if anybody has some original/classic suggestions about why the maze was build?


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The Winchester Mystery House was built to confuse the vengeful spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. It seems to have worked, as the Widow Winchester was not, in fact, killed by vengeful spirits.


A complex form of punishment/entertainment for a ruler with too much time and money on his hands?

It could be like a mix of blood sport and modern gameshow- American Gladiator Style...with actual gladiators.

Putting some type of scrying device which projects an image for an audience could make it a combination of 'don't break the law, or this will be you' and 'bread and circuses'

It is not beyond the realm of believably- we have actual reality shows based on bounty hunters...and those shows are competitions to catch the suspect first (yes, they are literally hunting human beings down for our entertainment... lovely)


A great classic reason for a maze is as a test of worth, valor, skill, and the like.

The king may only open courtship to his daughter to those who solve the maze.

A megalomanic may just want to be widely known for building an 'unsolvable' maze and may offer riches to anyone who can solve it during the 'beta-testing'.

The maze may just be a place to trap and subdue dangerous people / monsters. Sort of a prison where the prisoner's rule but must fight for their own existence.

Scarab Sages

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One word: Dwarves.

They really enjoy building impressive stone structures...and drinking.


What type of maze? Is there something in the middle of the maze, or is it a passageway to somewhere else? Also who built the maze? Without further information it’s difficult to give any advice.


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Riffing of quibblemuch, a paranoid tycoon/heir/aristocrat who built a trapped maze to keep out intruders.

You can use the Collyer brothers for inspiration as well.

Wikipedia wrote:
Police theorized that Langley was crawling through the tunnel to bring food to his paralyzed brother when he inadvertently tripped a booby trap he had created and was crushed by debris.

^ That should give you some good inspiration if you want to make it haunted as well.

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You can always go with the Greek myth of the Labyrinth - it was built to contain a monster.


It wasn't built intentionally. It was a series of tunnels burrowed by a precursor race of mile-long silkworms. If the adventurers break down the right walls or clear the right rubble, they'll find that the maze leads right into the core of the planet, where the worms, warmed by geothermal heat, wait in their enormous cocoons. When their time comes, they will emerge as enormous moths and leave this world for another, but not before their flapping wings coat the world in toxic dust that renders the land and sea stillborn.

Scarab Sages

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Is the maze full of traps to kill people? That is your basic serial killer such as Dr. H. H. Holmes who built a trap house in Chicago like out of a horror movie. The creator told people there is healing in the center, and some myth about teleporting away if you find it to explain the disappearances. But now he is long dead but the myths remain and the traps reset.


You can always substitute an overgrown hedge maze used originally for entertainment by wealthy nobles. Evil fey creatures and/or an evil treant may be using it for nefarious reasons. At the center is a large retaining pool used either as a portal or as a prison for aquatic captives and a wizard's tower in need of repair. The hedge and surrounding area is full of poisonous plants, monstrous vermin, and other assorted baddies.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

the maze is actually a living organism that feeds on the confusion of others. it slowly creeps out over the landscape trying to entrap more people.


It is a philosophical exercise, the walls have time worn passage that once lead you through the maze if you avoided the paths of fallacy but those have long since been lost to erosion and now anyone's guess is as good as another. Or do without the high mindedness and it was just the product of a culture that enjoyed such things, their version of a park space for citizens to wander through and enjoy themselves.


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This.


Ask David Bowie.


WoW cool ideas :-) keep them coming! Its funny to see what you come up with :-D


WHO WAS A DRUID!!!!!!!!

kinda

Scarab Sages

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I always thought a maze would be a great dungeon to dedicate for a God/Goddess of Madness. The ever changing patterns, paths that lead nowhere, etc. Populate the maze with aberations or really screwed up outsiders.


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The maze is a bunch of twisty little passages, all alike. The reason is to confuse people trying to scry on someone living in the maze -- because it's all alike, they can never be sure that they've teleported into the right place when they try. Stocking it with traps and weird monsters is just to make sure that intruders never make it out again... or at least that they won't be at full strength when they reach the center.


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You could also based it off Kowloon Walled City. Built as a tangle of unregulated dwellings and businesses, but functioning as a gigantic maze to any non-natives. Why it was abandoned is up to your creativity.

Silver Crusade

RumpinRufus wrote:
You could also based it off Kowloon Walled City. Built as a tangle of unregulated dwellings and businesses, but functioning as a gigantic maze to any non-natives. Why it was abandoned is up to your creativity.

Damnit Rufus, I saw the thread and was feeling all clever because I was going to make that suggestion. :)

I have to fall back on my far less cool (and I'm surprised nobody on thread got it yet), tool of keeping a monster /in/ as opposed to keeping adventurers out.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

It was built by an aristocrat of questionable sanity to see which of his children was worthy to inherit his kingdom.

In reality, the maze is an extension of a ritualistic circle, which is in the center of the maze. The ritual required the willing sacrifice of seven direct descendants of the ritualist and would grant the person conducting the ritual immortality/lichedom. Six of the children were killed, but the youngest made it to the center and defeated her father and his minions. She became trapped in the maze as a ghost and can grant wishes/information, but her older siblings are trapped in there, too, and are far more hostile.


How about a Haunted Labyrinth. Premise is that it used to be an Asylum, but down the line hateful spirits began to inhabit the place. The owner beseeches the Clergy of Pharasma to rid the Asylum of these spirits, but when they realize they can't, they inform the man to continue building the structure, and form a place with no real entrance or exit. When the construction was finished they trapped the place inside a massive circle against evil, so that the spirits cannot escape. And there it resides until fate brings someone to finally put those spirits to rest.

You could have a race against time! An evil force seeks to harvest the souls and the party must cleanse as many spirits as they can before the entire asylum is brought into the abyss where Zon Kuthon can forever-after capture the souls of the living for an eternal torture.


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It's a racial stronhold.

While expanding the borders of his kingdom, a human monarch ran into a tribe of kobolds who, through devious traps, guerrilla tactics and rapid breeding, managed to forestall the annexation of their traditional territory. Finally, the monarch had had enough of wasting time and resources and signed a treaty with the kobold chieftan; allocating the kobold's a modest territory reserved for them alone.

Both sides being content to leave each other alone for the time being, the human monarch continued his kingdom's expansion—conquering all the lands surrounding the kobold's reservation and beyond; effectively boxing in the kobolds. Eventually, the kingdom's settlers began settling the surrounding lands and encroaching more and more on the kobold reservation. The kobolds set out to defend their land; digging tunnels below ground and piling the quarried stone above ground into defensive walls surrounding important sites like wells, gardens, residences and hatcheries. The fortifications grew outward as additional walls were raised and joined together into confusing configurations; all of them festooned with devious traps to keep the human settlers out.

The kobold's tactic worked; human settlers grew ever more reluctant to enter the reservation lest they lose their way, stumble into a trap or fall prey to a kobold ambush. Soon social status among the kobolds became tied to the building of their fortifications and families began competing; seeing who could build higher & thicker walls, more confusing layouts, or concoct the most devious traps. The fortifications slowly transformed into a mulit-layered maze of above ground corridors and subterranean passages; all of it trapped with arrow slits, murder holes, pits, deadfalls, choke points and dead ends.

As the years passed and the kobold population grew the maze came to cover the entirety of the reservation and actually began encroaching on the humans' land. Kobold families would band together, make their plans, stockpile building materials and then suddenly erupt out of the maze under cover darkness. A farmer who's land bordered the Reservation might awaken to find his livestock gone, his crops pilfered and half his fields now enclosed by a hastily erected wall. By the time the king's guard would arrive to investigate, the entirety of the farm may lay within a network of walls festooned with deadly traps. If the walls were knocked down during the day, they would be rebuilt by a veritable army of kobold masons the following night.

In successive years, the kingsdom's army has occasionally declared war and set out on crusades to overrun the maze, rout out the kobolds and topple the walls with force. They occasionally meet with some success after suffering substantial losses; only to discover that while they labored in one part of the maze, it has spread out twice as much on its opposite side. And so it continues to this day; the maze slowly spreads outwards, climbs higher and grows deeper as the humans either retreat out of its way, loose their lives inside or beat futilely against its walls.

Maze building has grown into the kobolds' entire culture. They use the maze itself as their primary means of offense and defense. When invaders enter a part of the maze, the kobolds evacuate and let the maze itself fight the invaders. Although some key killing zone choke-points may be manned by kobold warriors, it's the kobolds' combat engineers who are the real threat. They generally keep out of sight, maneuvering around invaders along secret tunnels and corridors and using their prodigious maze-building skills to quickly move walls sections mounted upon hidden tracks or using carried bricks and alchemical quick-setting mortar to erect new walls; seeking to enclose and trap invaders.

Other races could easily be substituted for the kobolds, such as goblins, dwarves or gnomes. The maze could even have been built by multiple races who've banded together for mutual protection from humans; giving different parts of the maze a race-specific flavor. Magical qualities could have been added to the maze by the builders layering spells over a period of years; perhaps resulting in the maze growing into sentience. If it's desired that the maze be uninhabited, the builders could have been wiped out by famine, infighting, pestilence or even by their newly sentient maze having turned on them. 2¢


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What if a dwarf just had a really unusual hobby for a few hundred years.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Crimlock NL wrote:
I want to create a backstory for a maze that I want to integrate in a campaign. I'm wondering if anybody has some original/classic suggestions about why the maze was build?

Depends on the kind of maze you're talking about. Hedge mazes for instance, were pretty much a mandatory addition if you were nobility and were really going to show off how fashionable a landscaper you were.

In a world where magic IS a thing there are plenty of potential reasons to build a maze, for everything ranging from prisons, religous rites, to a way of tapping leylines to build portals of transportation.

As a DM you're looking at this backwards. First you decide what you want the maze to do, and then, think of a reason for it to be there.


Another idea. A Paranoid wizard decided to guard his wealth of knowledge using a labyrinth full of impossible geometry. Redundant doorways, passages, anything you can think of. There are, in fact still several people still surviving in this maze. You might even find a shanty town or two of would-be adventurers, lost to the touch of time, or even descendants of some of the first delvers into this cursed maze.


A magical labyrinth to entrap a revenant who seeks death of the creator of the labyrinth due to whatever reason you want.

Labyrinth was there before BBG came there and it bears an ancient mystery...


Knossos.

Gormenghast.

To the locals, the place isn't a maze at all, it's just home. That doesn't mean that even they know how all of it works, or what's in it, or how to get there. The ruler may well be mad. To make matters worse, there are monsters at the labyrinth's heart, but they're mobile, and they don't look like what people think...


Qunnessaa wrote:

Knossos.

Gormenghast.

To the locals, the place isn't a maze at all, it's just home. That doesn't mean that even they know how all of it works, or what's in it, or how to get there. The ruler may well be mad. To make matters worse, there are monsters at the labyrinth's heart, but they're mobile, and they don't look like what people think...

Oh god!! Do they look like innocent orphans?! Because I would totally suspect that.


Crimlock NL wrote:
I want to create a backstory for a maze that I want to integrate in a campaign. I'm wondering if anybody has some original/classic suggestions about why the maze was build?

A Maze is a Keep Out Sign.

My spell book... mine mine mine. Go away, and no i am not sharing my spells with you :p

My Treasure chest is off limits too.

Here, play with the Chimera that i made, take the hint.... and go away.

.....................

Now if Adventure were not so Brave... foolish/dead, it would make many rich people happy, and there would be no need for mazes.


Just though of something.... A maze.

A great way to lure.... Adventure into your trap.

Once there dead, take there magic items that remain.
And start a Magic shop.

The great Circle of Re-Usable Goods.


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Ever read Oglaf? You don't need a reason to build a maze!

(note: if you have not read Oglaf, only look it up if you are comfortable with copious amounts of naughty bits)


Starfinder Superscriber

A long time ago I read some fantasy book that had a mazed city was a trap to keep a vengeful god trapped. The maze was to keep his followers from releasing him. I always wanted to use that as a base city in a game.


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Badly programmed golem builders.


Mudfoot wrote:
Badly programmed golem builders.

Maybe they were programmed well enough...it is just that the crafters didn't stress test for time period over 100 years...

That is an actual thing in program testing- to just let the program run for hours and hours, and then see if it just breaks. I seem to remember that the From Soft game, Bloodborne, have a problem with this- if you spent your whole day just going through the game, the bosses might break because the game ran out of memory. So the bosses would forget how to do most of their attacks.

Anyway, yes, maybe the golems were only programmed for the first 100 years adn three mountains.But the wizards that made them died of a plague before programming stop conditions, and they just accidentally made a maze after they left the area where their instructions made sense.

You might end up with interesting events in the maze where you have the door making golems have a turf war with the golems that fill in the walls. It could get really interesting if you made the golems smart enough to form gangs and make long term plans...but not smart enough to think 'I should have stopped this stupid task 100 years ago'.


Many European Cathedrals included a maze (just a pattern on the floor, but you can take it from there). Walking the maze was intended to assist in prayer. Solving the maze was a form of local pilgrimage.


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If you can think of a better way to store your glowing food pellets, I'd like to hear it. Can you? Thought not...

Paku paku paku paku paku paku


Daedylus built his labyrinth at the behest of King Minos to imprison his deformed son, the Minotaur. Presumably, the Minotaur was too strong to simply contain in a cell block, so the Labyrinth was made impossibly convoluted so as to make the Minotaur lost inside it.

Labyrinths were often grown from hedges in rich people's pleasure gardens for the fun of getting lost and finding some special thing in the center of the garden, a fountain or something.

Modern churches often have labyrinth patterns drawn in the floor because walking the narrow, convoluted, well-marked path is thought to grant philosophically and spiritually meaningful experiences of prayer and worship.

Ancient peoples would sometimes put artwork far in the back of barely accessible caves in order to shape the experience of viewing the artwork, perhaps for spiritual reasons.

They would also sequester bureucrat-priests in labyrinthine office buildings for a similar purpose, to emotionally transform the clients entering before they even got to see the bureaucrat-priest.

Some cities are laid out in regular geometric grids with straight, parallel, and perpendicular lines. Some are laid out in convoluted pathways of desire established by farm animals, cow paths and such, resulting in sprawling labyrinthine metropolises infamous for making wanderers lost.


Wow! So many great ideas, the kobold one by Ambrus is my favourite.


Thanks Boomerang Nebula!


Crimlock NL wrote:
I want to create a backstory for a maze that I want to integrate in a campaign. I'm wondering if anybody has some original/classic suggestions about why the maze was build?

They needed to imprison an incorporeal being, but because they did not have the means of magically making the walls impenetrable to incorporeal creatures, they instead had to exploit the being's obsessive compulsion to only exit a structure through open exits rather than directly through a wall if possible.


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Goblins made the maze for their goblin king who seeks the power of the babe.


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Lune wrote:
Goblins made the maze for their goblin king who seeks the power of the babe.

What babe?


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Threeshades wrote:
What babe?

The babe with the power.


The maze is a construct built by some ancient race to provide experience to the chosen ones (PCs) to destroy some great coming evil?

Only it turns out that the maze was actually built by one of the PCs by traveling back in time to provide experience to the chosen ones (PCs) to defeat the great coming evil.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

i still enjoy the idea of a sentient maze creeping across the land.


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You could go for something like the origin of the cube maze in the movie Cube (the first one in the series). The maze was constructed by myriad individuals each working on a different part, but no one of the hired architects, engineers,or workers ever saw the whole thing. The project took years and years to finally complete, and when it was completed, the grand designer(s) had either died or long since abandoned the project. So why are people still being put inside? It's somebody's job. Some army faction, mercenary band, cabal of wizards are payed out of a trust or some other nearly inexhaustible fund to send or put people into the labyrinth. Another group may be payed to maintain it, and still another might still be adding on to it. These people and their predecessors never ask questions because they are not paid to ask questions, and there isn't anybody around who has the answers anymore anyway. The "real enemy" is simply the endless turning of a self-perpetuating bureaucracy whose original purpose is now inscrutable.


quibblemuch wrote:
The Winchester Mystery House was built to confuse the vengeful spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. It seems to have worked, as the Widow Winchester was not, in fact, killed by vengeful spirits.

Thank you for that. Made my day so far.


Bandw2 wrote:
i still enjoy the idea of a sentient maze creeping across the land.

Infiltrates the party's headquarters in the middle of the night and the party doesn't realize until one of them wakes up thirsty and goes for a glass of milk and wonders why he can't find the kitchen all of a sudden.

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