for those one-off, single-session games? Something suitable for absolute newcomers to the hobby, but easily expandable for campaign play should no one manage to find their way out?
THE MAZE OF MEMORY answers these, and other, questions, being the latest release from Olde House Rules available as a digital download on One Book Shelf! It's an old-school game in our usual style, but also experimental and our first to use polyhedral dice...
Here's what it's all about...
(1) Each character (called a PRISONER) has been mysteriously abducted, stripped of memories, and left to rot, along with others, in a strange cosmic dungeon created by another player, the game master or JAILER, who acts the part of enemies and other supporting characters in traditional role-playing fashion.
(2) Prisoners begin with no abilities or equipment, but as they explore their prison and try to escape, they might discover armor, useful equipment, and weaponry, much of it archaic, but others obviously alien and/or futuristic.
(3) The dungeon is inhabited by strange, and most likely alien, creatures, all dangerous (and perpetually hungry) and some highly intelligent and capable of negotiation, etc. These, along with traps and natural hazards, create an environment of dire uncertainty where death awaits behind every corner and life is cheap!
(4) When the prisoners reach certain points in the dungeon, they can recover stolen memories and the skills and abilities that go with them, so character creation happens DURING PLAY!
(5) The game is designed primarily for one-off, single-session adventures, and because there is virtually no preparation involved, it's ideal for newcomers to the hobby. Even so, it's possible to expand the game for ONGOING CAMPAIGN PLAY in this world.
We'll just let the introduction to the rules explain things...
THE MAZE OF MEMORY is unique in that it's central premise, the abduction and subsequent imprisonment of human victims, is left to the jailer to justify as they wish. Perhaps it's aliens seeking slaves and/or performing some experiment, noting that a whole world has evolved in this place, complete with colonies, trade, and/or warfare, which seems to be a universal thing!
And did we mention it uses POLYHEDRAL DICE for random outcomes and variable (and unpredictable) damage? Just watch out!
Finally, this is delivered with our trademark simplicity and emphasis on personal decision-making, exploration, and role-playing over reliance on rules and the rolling of dice. In this way it's classic old-school in its approach. However, it also turns several gaming conventions on their collective heads and ultimately comes down to the social contract that underlies the whole hobby!
THE MAZE OF MEMORY draws from several influences, whether common dungeon crawls to things like Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic At the Earth's Core and Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, both generously binged-watched by yours truly, for the underworld can be both dark and isolated and simultaneously alive, and this system tries to achieve a little bit of both. We invite you to try it out!