Mazes are the worst, laziest, most fun-killing part of any game

One thought on “Mazes are the worst, laziest, most fun-killing part of any game

  1. D. Walker says:

    Except the same could be said of nearly any sort of exploration.

    You come to a fork in the road, and you don’t know which way each path leads, but only one takes you where you want to go. Surely that’s making player choice meaningless, right? If you pick the wrong fork, you’ve just wasted your time! How disempowering! You might as well choose randomly!

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with a maze that isn’t equally wrong with any other form of traversing the game world. You as a DM can easily give players information about the maze as they progress through it, even if the adventure doesn’t supply such hints, and you have to improvise them yourself.

    If the PCs are at a junction of five seemingly identical paths, you can let them roll an Investigation check to look for clues – the path second from the left has subtle wear and tear on the flagstone floor, suggesting that it regular traffic from the local maze denizens, so it’s almost certainly progress, or at least not a dead end.

    Or perhaps the players can roll a Survival check, in order to smell around and find the path that leads to fresher air, or feel the stone walls for dampness which indicates a source of water ahead, or look in nooks and crannies for signs of insects, rodents, moss and mold, et cetera, which might tell the players something about what lies ahead, like a line of ants snaking down one path perhaps indicating an eventual source of food like a kitchen or larder.

    Or maybe they just can’t find any meaningful difference between them, and they DO have to guess randomly, but that’s okay because each branch has something interesting for them to discover, and they’ll have chances for meaningful choices when they come across those specific things, rather than at a blind intersection.

    Not everything has to be a meaningful choice. Sometimes it’s more realistic and immersive for players to simply not have all the necessary information, and they have to actually wander into a dead end to discover that it’s a dead end. Just don’t make it arduous and give them some sort of reward for spending their time, and it’s all fine in the end.

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