Friday, 12 November 2010

The Quincunx

I had an idea many years ago for a puzzle in a text-adventure game. It never got used, but it would work well as a player-testing puzzle in a dungeon. (What's a quincunx? Five points arranged with four in a square and the fifth point being central. Look at the #5 face on a spotted d6).

The PCs hear of a level known only as the Quincunx. Descent into the level is via a vertical ingress, such as a ladder, spiral staircase or even a fireman's pole. If they hadn't previously heard of the name then perhaps it's engraved on the floor "You Are Now Lost In The Quincunx" or a Magic Mouth solemnly intones it. Entrance may even be one way - once they are in they are committed to solving the puzzle.

Quincunx Take #1

The level is vast, empty and smothered in magical darkness or magically opaque purple fog or similar. Only by heading off in a NE, SE, SW or SE direction will the party find an exit. Each exit is of the same type and the entrance and levels to the level below. If they wander off in any other direction, they get lost and face whatever hazards people lost in magical darkness in a dungeon face.

Quincunx Take #2

In this version, the ingress leads to a central chamber with eight straight passageways radiating off into the distance with the far ends of the passageways far beyond the reach of the party's light sources. The NE, SE, SW and SE passageways all lead to exits down a level with exits of the same type as the entrance (as in Take #1). The cardinal directions all lead to very nasty traps and nothing else.

Quincunx Take #3

This is a large and sprawling maze with shifting walls and magical illusions hiding passageways and implying that non-existant passageways exist. Navigation is all but impossible unless the party aim to set out in a NE, SE, SW or SE direction and try and keep on such in which case they will eventually lead to an exit, again of identical type to the entrance.

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