Friday, July 29, 2011

The Abyssal Labyrinth

I blame Dyson Logos.

I was halfway through my draft (along with several maps) for the Chronicles of the Splintered Realm: Timbervale volume, when I started working on a series of dungeon geomorphs based on Dyson’s challenge… and that got me thinking about how these would go together… and this got me thinking about the Abyssal Labyrinth… and that got me thinking about Minotaurs… and that got me thinking about the Great Reckoning, and the part they played in it… and that got me writing… and that got me a dozen pages into a draft of a chronicle for the Abyssal Labyrinth, and as of right now, 24 geomorphs into my Labyrinth starter pack.

So, you see, it’s all Dyson’s fault.

My first chronicle is going to be for the Abyssal Labyrith, and it will be out some time in the next week or two. I’ll post some of the geomorphs once I fire up my scanner in the next few days, but I’m having a great time working through this. Let me give you the elevator pitch (this elevator pitch assumes that the elevator breaks down for a while, and you have time to kill to explain the whole thing):

Before the Great Reckoning, the Fates gave Bael (god of evil, twin of Yahalla, ultimate bad guy) a vision of the splintered universe to come. He commissioned one of his key lieutenants, the Minotaur King, to create a massive labyrinth within a huge (nearly infinite) tessaract that exists outside of time and space, and which Bael could then use after the Reckoning to ultimately re-unify the various realms, building a bridge between them that he would control. However, he didn’t account for two things…

First, he ended up trapped at the far fringes of Pandemonium after the Reckoning, beyond even the reach of the Labyrinth.

Second, the Minotaur King learned that Bael planned to destroy him after the Labyrinth was completed; so, the Minotaur King launched a pre-emptive strike and stole the keys from Bael, leaving him unable to navigate his own network, and leaving it totally under the control of the Minotaur King, who still lairs at its very center, deep within a complex network of facets.

I see the Abyssal Labyrinth as a sort of Rubik’s Cube… every time you encounter it, and for everyone who encounters it, it’s different. Basically, the randomization of the geomorphs is its central design component; unless you are a Minotaur (or are being guided by one), you can only travel backward one step, and you can never be sure where your next step will be. It’s a little complicated, but it makes total sense in my head. Let’s see if I can break it down…

You enter the labyrinth through a gate in Del Anon (let’s say an opening at the bottom of a tomb), entering a facet (geomorph) from the ‘west’. As long as you are in the first facet you’ve entered (the first geomorph), you can always turn around and go back… once you move off of this facet in any direction except where you came from (to the next geomorph ‘north, ‘east’ or ‘south’), you cannot go back- the gates that once led backward have been randomized, now sending you in a new direction.

In short, there’s always a random chance that the next facet (geomorph) will be the one you want to get to, but the chances are really, really, really (really) slim. Again with the Rubik’s Cube- you might be able to solve it by turning it randomly, but odds are against you.

There’s a lot more about this, and I’ll drop tidbits in the next few days leading up to the release of the volume.