How long is a game usually ?
Lost in Dark Halls (Forking Paths #2)
A downloadable zine
Forking Paths is my ongoing RPG zine spanning a variety of content. The theme for this second issue: Lost in Dark Halls.
The core of this zine is Labyrinthine, a self-contained storygame inspired by Greek myth, for solo or group play. Using prompts on maze tiles, you’ll tell the story of a protagonist worthy of myth as they make choices and handle consequences. You won’t explore just one series of events from beginning to end, though: you’ll traverse many branches, returning to earlier decisions to make new choices and see how events play out from there. Labyrinthine supports one to four players, with a game length of one to three hours.
- 52 maze tiles with unique prompts, falling into 6 types based on layout: Crosses, Branches, Halls, Turns, Ends, and Shrines
- Alternate method of play using a deck of playing cards, using the keyed prompts
- Card-based oracle for quickly generating protagonists (also available in handy digital form)
- Overview of the classical myth of the Labyrinth, Minotaur, Theseus, and Ariadne (and exploration of the myth’s conflicting accounts)
- Separate download of maze tile PDF ready for DIY printing
The zine’s cover and the bundled PDF of print-at-home maze tiles are in color; all other art and illustrations are in B&W. The PDF is in single-page layout format. Need it another way? Let me know!
I've also uploaded a PDF of blank maze tiles as a free download for anyone wanting to customize the existing set of tiles, or make their own set! There's a French version of the game rules & maze tiles as well, generously translated by Emojk.
In order to download this zine you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $2 USD. You will get access to the following files:
- Error fixed for maze tiles!Nov 30, 2019
- Customizable maze tiles now available as a free downloadNov 23, 2019
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Since the game is prompt-driven, the main thing that will affect the length of a game is how much time is spent narrating & playing each scene. My experience has been that scenes tend to go longer as the number of players goes up. For a solo player, I'd say an hour or less is typical; for groups, two hours, or maybe as long as three.
Do you think 5 players is too much ?
Hm, the main tricky bit with adding a 5th player is how the 4 card suits get used for dividing up narration rights between players. A 5th player wouldn’t be able to have sole authority over a suit.
I've been thinking about a way around that, and one idea that might work would be to have the 5th player take the role of a “Spirit,” along the lines of a eudaemon from Greek mythology. Here's how I could see that working:
The Spirit can add incidental detail to any scene, and whisper advice & opinions to the Protagonist/primary player. When a new set of 3 tiles are laid out, the Spirit can pick one to save (or to swap for their saved tile) *before* the primary player makes any choices or saves any tile. The Spirit can offer their saved tile to the player just like the Fates can. If the primary player does choose the Spirit’s tile, the Spirit gets to narrate it as if they had authority over that tile’s suit.
Whoever plays the Spirit might also get first dibs on being the primary player next, if they end up having less to do while playing as the Spirit.
If you end up trying that out, let me know how it goes!
i've fallen in love with the idea of "Oracles" in games since I saw the one in Ironsworn and I love your "Oracle for protagonists".
I know mechanically they're random roll charts, but there's something about changing the name that changes the feeling.
Oh nice, will have to look into that.
I have never seen the concept of revisiting a story used quite like that in a RPG before. Excellent work, wrapped up in a very interesting treaty on the Myth of the Minotaur!
Labyrinthine really begs for hacks in different universes, someone get to it already! ;)
Thanks Emojk! I totally agree about Labyrinthine being flexible to adapt other concepts & settings. I've uploaded a (very basic) blank set of maze tiles as a free PDF, for one way to customize the game. If any other assets would be useful for folks wanting to make their own maze tiles, or other stuff for a hack, let me know!