Friday, June 27, 2014

Review and Commentary on Hedge Mazes, Set I: The Heart From Skirmisher Publishing For Your Old School Campaigns

Grab It Right
Hedge Mazes a system neutral product that could be used for any rpg, for my personal taste I'd use this one as part of an old school campaign. The idea here is a reusable maze that could be used over and over again. There are a myriad of uses for this one. As a one shot encounter on a planet's surface for a science fiction game, as a horror encounter for another world, as an addition to the venerable 'Alice In Wonderland' inspired Dungeon World adventure by Gary Gygax, and even as part of a Prisoner style adventure where the laws of reality shift and change.
So does it live up too all of this? I think so! The production values are highly usable, and tiles should be printed on card stock for maximum usage. I see a lot of utility here.
 According to the Drivethrurpg blurb: 
“Hedge Mazes” is designed to give you a customizable map product that has infinite reuse value. Each set in the series adds new twists and classic features found in these staples of aristocratic and wizardly landscaping. The modular design of the tiles allows you to create new designs to keep your players guessing. And, just when they think they've figured out what they will see the next time you use the tiles, the included overlays allow you to change things up to keep them on their toes.
“Hedge Mazes Set 1: The Heart” is a collection of 25 configurable 7" x 7" tiles that let you create a garden maze replete with dead-ends and blind corners. These tiles can be used to create innumerable labyrinths for upper-class amusements or as otherworldly traps that confound the characters who are trying to find their way from one side to another. After all, are those hedges made from everyday foliage, or are they carnivorous bushes looking for their next meal?
Change the tone of your adventure on the fly as the characters pass from an idyllic walk in a garden to a harrowing or surreal journey through a hostile and deadly realm somewhere far from where the party started without needing to change the map.
Anything is possible with Hedge Mazes. Go ahead, get lost in your imagination.
Here's where I saw inspiration for using this style of product. In a Jim Henson's Labyrinth movie style encounter. The whole product sort of suggests it in spades here. 

The feel of the fey working behind the scenes to manipulate the adventurers in a world that is not their own echoes throughout this one. 

Using The Hedge Mazes, Set I: The Heart
For Your Old School Campaigns 

The product has as I've said a whole lot of utility for the price of admission. The whole thing feels like a walk through of  the deranged imagination of some DM who read Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass one to many times. That's not a bad thing at all. The theme is one that has been played upon by numerous television programs, video games, novels, etc. That means that a DM can draw upon that body of the players imagination to set this up as a hazard of and focal point for an adventure if not not a jump off point for a campaign.
A DM could focus the forces of the maze as a sort of post apocalyptic amusement park gone haywire or as a possible location for brain washing or worse. This set could also be used as part of a dimension gate experiment that went bad in a nightmarish surreal way. The hedge maze is only one part of a much more dangerous experiment that the adventurers must cross and play with the dark forces within its bounds. The maze set is a framework that you as a DM can hang a whole frame work of interesting and nightmarish creations and still have the players coming back for more. It's a well thought out, nicely produced, and interesting product for three dollars. All in all I was very pleased with it and happy with its versatility and utility as a gaming product. 

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