A-Maze-Ing

Did some gaming on the weekend.  The party, having tracked down the various materials needed to forge a key to the ancient alchemist’s tower, have found a “back door” to its location, buried under a sundered dwarven mountain kingdom.  The entry was through a maze.

Usually, mazes in D&D adventures look like this:

From The Alexandrian’s supplemental Rappan Athuk material.
I wanted something different, something that wasn’t a tough maze because the group didn’t map properly, or I messed up a description.  And, with these kinds of mazes, really it’s just a matter of killing time until you’re through.  So, I came up with something a little more my speed:
The black dots are control mechanisms that set the hidden mechanics to one of two settings: blue or red.  Giant stone blocks, as big as railway cars, are raised and lowered in the hallways between rooms.  Each block weighs thousands of pounds, but is offset by an opposet equivalent weight.  The switch moves a small weight that changes the balance slightly, raising one side while lowering the other.  The hallways are marked either red or blue – when the switches are set to red, the corresponding hallway blocks are raised permitting access, and the blue blocks are lowered, completely sealing the path.  It’s pretty simple, really.
Here’s the challenge – setting the mechanism to red opens ALL of the red hallways and closes ALL of the blue hallways, so the players need to more forward with trial and error, making sure they don’t close off an escape route as they penetrate the maze.  And, here’s the second challenge: they’re not alone.

The red cap represents the wheel mechanism

Any time the players changed the setting of the wheel mechanism, there was a low rumbling noise, and then the blocks would raise and lower to new positions over about a minute’s time.  So, after the third time they had switched the wheel to move forward, they were feeling confident — until the rumbling started a few minutes later, and they realized that others were moving towards them, and also had access to the wheel settings.  So now it became a game of cat and mouse, moving toward an unseen enemy, making sure they weren’t caught without a route back out or trapped in an area with no control wheel.
I had set up the maze to be the first part of an all day gaming session, but we ended up playing for about 6 hours and they’re not quite through the maze yet.
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