Mage's Maze Visitor Lobby

The Mage's Maze homepage, where Anathema would find herself deposited after warping to the coordinates she'd been given, made the commercial nature of the place abundantly evident. While the decor was fantasy (stone floors, standing torches for lights, and normal navi employees wearing wizard hats), it would be hard to miss the presence of numerous gift counters, featuring Mage's Maze souvenirs. A block-lettered title reading "MAGE'S MAZE" over a torch-lit gate scrolled by lazily in the sky of this homepage.

Navis of all sizes and shapes were there to participate, many dressed up for their roles as fantasy characters, others not. Few were dressed quite so provocatively as Anathema, whether she wore her new or old costume. Here, she would spy a fighter, there a wizard, and every now and then, something more unusual. If she was interested in staring, she would find others every bit as interested in staring back.

A rules placard near the jack-in point would fill Anathema in on a few more details:


Welcome to Mage's Maze! Lobby rules:

1) No fighting in the lobby! Anyone found rough-housing or causing harm to others here will be ejected.
2) Respect that Mage's Maze entertains players and operators of all ages! Please keep adults-only behavior to a minimum here in the lobby.
3) Please do not play Mage's Maze if you are an unoperated navi or subject to errors in jackout of any kind.
4) Please present coupons before beginning a session of Mage's Maze or offers will be voided.

Good luck on your journey!

If there were rules on actually playing the game, hopefully, they would be explained when Anathena met her host. Through the crowds, she would spot what must certainly be the navis she was looking for. One was a lady wearing a robin's egg blue rain slick, covering most of her body and along with it her shape. She had the hood down, revealing brown hair in an updo that made her look a bit more mature, compared to her face, which was pretty and blue-eyed. Her skin tone appeared to be Netopian and her height was pretty average. She looked fairly comfortable, indicating she had played a time or two.

The other navi looked as though he could be the place's mascot. The navi was large, dressed in brown armor, with a helmet adorned by two curving bull horns. He carried a giant war-hammer with the rectangular stone head against the ground and one hand on the shaft. Across both shoulders, he wore a massive cape, like a cloak with no hood, gold in color with a maze-like pattern sprawled across it in straight lines. Most of his face was hidden by the helmet, so much so that even his eyes couldn't be seen in the shadows. Frankly, he looked a little imposing for a kid's navi and it was hard to picture him playing the censored version of the maze game... or possibly even the adult version, given it still seemed to have an air of levity based on the description.

Warily, the large man watched for Anathema to appear.
In a nondescript light beam, Anathema popped into the homepage. And...hmm. Very old-timey atmosphere, though with more shops than she was expecting. The place was definitely busy, which was fine by her; more people got to see her nice new outfit. And, in fact, some people were taking the time to admire it. She smiled at them for a moment, then noticed something readable. Looked like rules...she should take a look. No fighting, check. No adult-only behavior in the lobby, fair enough. Don't play if you're unoperated or prone to errors, no issue there. Coupons didn't apply to her, so...yep, one big checkmark for that. Nothing on the game itself, though...disappointing. On the other hand, adult surprises were one thing she'd never say no to. Onward!

But first, she should try to find MazeMan. She floated a bit off the ground, to get a better look around the area...ah, that was probably them. The cute girl in the raincoat, and the big guy with the minotaur helmet...yeah, they fit what she knew about them. The witch Navi decided to land and actually walk over to them, wanting to stretch her legs a little. As she approached, however, she hovered again and waved at them, in order to draw their attention.
There was no way to watch the bull-horned man's eyes, so his reaction to Anathema's introduction couldn't be read exactly, but the way he straightened up his back and nodded, then made a "come here" motion with one hand, made it clear he got the message. Once Anathema made her way through, he would turn to Parka and gesture forward. "You see? This is the mage I was telling you about. She's new to Mage's Maze, but you can trust that she is a capable magician, well-suited for the role. If we're going to play the adult version of the game, we need an experienced wizard, to get through the increased difficulty," he explained, raising one finger. It seemed as though there was some deception going on, which might be hard to keep up in the long run...

"I see," the other woman nodded, keeping a smile on her face as she tried to keep her eyes from wandering over Anathema's wardrobe. "She's already in costume too...!"

"Y-Yes, unless she wants to wear something else," MazeMan laughed with surprising mildness. "She's free to choose, of course. That's the best part about being the mage in Mage's Maze." He stayed quiet for a moment, then seemed to jump in his armor. "That everyone gets to wear costumes, I mean! Keh heh heh..." His laugh sounded somewhat menacing, like he was playing a character. He had very nearly let slip the secret of the titular Mage's role... it would be tricky to get through a whole day keeping up the secret, for sure. Parka laughed along, though, indicating she didn't mind the eeriness of her student's laughter nor did she suspect anything was fishy. "At any rate, thank you for answering my summons. I'm MazeMan, as you know, and this is Parka," he started over.

"Good to meet you! We're both Mage's Maze 'veterans,' I guess you could say," she chuckled. "We're more used to the children's course, which I insist on because usually we're in such a large group, many of them children or operated by such. I understand the content of the adult course can be a little frightening for them... but MazeMan wants to try it out, and I'm not going to leave him alone on it!" she resolved, clutching one first with determination. "From what I understand, though, we need a party of four to play. Did you invite one more party member, MazeMan?"

"Yes, but I did it through the conventional method: party search, here at Mage's Maze. I've already collected a good number of candidates. Between the three of us, I figure we have a tank, a mage, and a priestess, so I looked at some of the other classes. They are veterans of Mage's Maze with numerous trips under their belts, plus, as a bonus, they all have very large... EXP bars," he explained, holding out the theoretical EXP bar at about chest level and then pulling them away from his chest, in a way that very much indicated something other than an EXP bar. "You've got your pick, so... have at it," he nodded, handing across a miniature view-screen with some information on it, along with places Anathema could touch to make her selection.

Quote (Matchmaking)

Scout.EXE- 12 games, preferred role: ARCHER, preferred style: Up for anything!
Valhalla.EXE- 99 games, preferred role: BERSERKER, preferred style: Likes to fight!
Hood.EXE- 5 games, preferred role: ARCHER, preferred style: Likes adult situations!

Trik.EXE- 0 games, EVIL MAGE
Callabasher- 0 games, MONSTER
Dullaharm- 18 games, MONSTER
Myrmaidon- 0 games, MONSTER

"Oh, I forgot to mention. Mage's Maze is played against an enemy team that controls the monsters and such, whenever you choose to- er, whenever they're deployed, that is," MazeMan explained. "I was sure to pick ones with good measurem- er, with good... profiles. Uh... you'll want to be a little forgiving there because when it comes to finding parties of monsters to play against, the looks are something of a mixed bag," he trailed into a whisper. "If you'll pick one of the party members, we'll get started. Oh, you can shrink that screen down into a scroll. Hang onto it because you'll need it. For your role. As a mage, that is," he insisted, perhaps winking behind the shadows of his helmet's eye-holes.

"Ehm, if you don't mind my asking, why did you not pick our mage off of standard matchmaking instead?" Parka asked tapping her friend on the shoulder.

The big man nearly jumped again, then turned around, straightening up. "Because... the mage is such an important role to our party. For the adult-level difficulty, I didn't want to leave such an important role to chance, you see?" he explained, wringing his hands together. "Anathema, I hope you're already thinking up ways to make our quest as successful as possible..."

"Oh, once you've made your pick," Parka continued, pointing at a large teleporting pad down a hallway behind them, "we can head into the maze through there and get started right away! Our last party member should meet us there immediately. I'm excited to get started."

"Me too," MazeMan nodded along.
"Yep. One skilled mage, right here!" She shot a slightly dirty look at MazeMan, though; she wasn't a wizard, she was a witch. She absolutely would not be able to rock a long white beard, and not just because it'd cover up her rack. "I might be new to this, but I vow I'll do my best!"

...Wait, 'costume'? It was new, but this was totally how she dressed normally..."I dunno if I'd...well, sure, costume. You like it?" Skimpy, yet functional. The best kind of attire. "Of course. And my name is Anathema. Pleased to meet you two in person!" She wasn't pleased, however, that the big bull Navi already almost blew the lid on the deception HE was pulling.

"Well, aren't you a good friend? Yes, a lot of things are better when you're not alone! And sometimes those things are even better when there's a group!" In the back of her mind, Anathema started to envision them performing some of those things...hmm? Oh, other people joining? Great. Veterans? Sure. ...Big EXP bars? ...Oh, 'EXP bars'. But, were they bigger than hers? She wouldn't mind finding out. But, she'd only get to pick one, alas. Let's see...uh-huh...wait, 'Opponent Challenge Accepted'? Luckily for her, she quickly got an explanation on what that meant. "Mm-hmm. Got it."

After MazeMan nearly blew his cover again, the witch Navi casually selected Scout (as Valhalla seemed too fight happy, and Parka might catch on more easily with a second Navi into adult situations), and transformed the screen into a scroll form. Fancy. "Oh, trust me, I've been thinking about ways to make our quest successful since before I jacked in! The fourth Navi should be here soon, just an FYI." Yep, she was getting excited now, too.
"It's definitely... different! I'm not sure I could pull something like that off, ha ha... Not that there is anything wrong with it," Parka answered as diplomatically as she could manage, regarding Anathema's wardrobe. Anathema rolled with the punches, settling in to her role much more easily than MazeMan seemed to be fitting into his. "I'm pleased to see you've given it so much forethought, Anathema! Quite a mage, indeed." Just seeing Anathema's outfit had ostensibly bothered her at first, but she had gotten used to it pretty quickly.

As the three entered the warp pad together, they would be whisked away to another area, ostensibly still part of the same homepage, but entirely surrounded by a dull white color. There did seem to be a floor, but it was hard to see. A few things Anathema could see quite clearly: that the viewscreen was still visible and lit up with much new information, and also, that her fourth had arrived.

The newcomer would perhaps ring a bell for Anathema, although her wardrobe was different this time. She was a lightly tanned young lady, dressed in a brown hood and tunic with a short skirt and shin-high boots in khaki color. Her eyes were bright green and her hair bright red, forming a bush of curls around her head, which spilled slightly out of the hood. Her face was freckled and bespectacled, with giant, circular glasses partially hiding her eyes. Although the rest of her appearance was a bit mousey, her proportions were as MazeMan had advertised: wide in the bust and hips. Come to think of it, pretty much everyone's had been, during Gupta's magic assembly. This time, she carried a narrow, plain bow and arrow quiver with her, instead of a map.

None of the others were doing much, so they were probably used to this part of Mage's Maze, which included them being mostly unable to see. The viewscreen had lit up with new options for Anathema, to craft her adventure:

Quote (Mage's Guide)

Welcome to Mage's Maze! TUTORIAL is on, as records indicate this is your first time in the mage's role. As a mage, your duty is to help guide the player experience through this maze! Of course, for the best gameplay experience, we recommend you keep this role a secret from your friends!

If you have questions about any part of this introduction or your instructions, click a word in all caps to receive further guidance.

First of all, your PARTY is formed of four members. By default, each member receives the ROLE they have set to their preference, as well as the WEAPON and GEAR. If you'd like to make any adjustments to role, weapon, or gear, simply describe them in loose terms in the form below, and they will be modified before the start. Note that all armor and weapons are assumed "as strong as they look" unless stated otherwise. For example, if you want to use a feather duster as an effective bludgeon, you may wish to use "Impossibly Strong Feather Duster."

Anathema: Mage, no weapon, Anathema's Armor
MazeMan: Tank, MazeMan's weapon, MazeMan's Armor
Parka: Priestess, no weapon, Parka's Armor
Scout: Archer, Wooden Bow, Hunter's Brown Gear

Once you're satisfied, the next important step is to pick your MAZE MOTIF! By default, the motif is set to Dungeon, a set that includes cold floors, dank, drippy walls, and spooky ambience! If you desire something else, use the space below to specify in as specific or vague terms as you like what the motif should be, and one of our craftsmen will pull out the nearest match from our library!

Finally, the last step: ROOMS! Each dungeon consists of four rooms. The room types are FIGHT, TRAP, SHOP, and TREASURE. You can reuse each type as many or as few times as you wish! Have an all treasure adventure if that's what you're into! Fight rooms consist of one to four monsters, where a battle will take place. You can set the terms of the battles below; anything from a brawl to a tickle fight is available! Trap rooms feature a trap to be avoided or a puzzle to be solved, which you must design yourself for each instance, using the forms below. Shops allow your players to trade currency or items for equipment or services. You'll have a hand in setting the rules there as well. Finally, the treasure room contains treasure chests which may contain currency or gear. It's first come first serve; whoever opens a chest gets what is inside, although they can choose to give it away.

Battle Room Template
Designate enemy combatants using their names. Designate type of damage: Mage's Maze HP damage, Mage's Maze realistic blood, real navi HP damage, real navi HP damage plus realistic blood, or clothing damage. Designate victory condition (example: enemy HP reaches zero, enemy HP reaches 50%, etc.). If you wish to add specific scenery or tools to use, mention them here. If you wish for enemies to drop rewards, state them here.

Trap Room Template
Designate as specifically as possible the trap or puzzle to be designed. Designate any damage or consequence that may occur on unsuccessful attempts to solve. If a reward is given upon solving, designate it here.

Shop Room Template
You may designate a shopkeeper from the enemy pool, or have shop without tender. Designate goods or services available. Designate cost of these (currency, trade, or performing a service). Designate if shopkeeper may engage shoplifters in combat.

Treasure Room Template
Designate how many boxes and treasures in each box.

Choose now if you would like to create all rooms at once, or start with one room and make the rest later!

Too much for you? At any time, you can hand the reigns over to one of our Maze staff to do the mage-ing for you! Simply toggle on AUTOBUILD by clicking here.

Happy building!
-Architect.EXE, founder of Mage's Maze

Mage's Maze is not liable for any injury, whether physical or emotional, that may result during Mage's Maze, including during AutoBuild segments. All liability is assumed by the Mage role. If the Mage turns on real damage, it is the Mage's responsibility to discretely inform the party that they could be in "real danger." Do not deactivate jack out capabilities at any time during a play session of Mage's Maze. Mage's Maze will never record your play session, however, party members are free to record footage within limitations of the local law.

Now Anathema would need to set some parameters, build her dungeon, or simply leave all the work to an auto-builder as had been offered... although, if she did that, she would probably want to keep it a secret from MazeMan, who had hired her to build a certain kind of adventure for him.
And...a white room. Well, maybe more off white. Not much to look at, aside from an endless void of white. If she couldn't tell she was floating over a floor, Anathema may well have thought she WAS in an endless void of white. It was starting to hurt her eyes, but luckily her selected fourth popped up to ease their burd-wait, she totally knew her. "Oh, hey Scout! Fancy running into you here!" It shouldn't hurt the cause if the others knew they'd met before. "Ready for some fun?"

She, herself, was ready for some reading, and quickly went over all the stuff. Everything seemed simple enough, at least in theory. Let's see...adjustments to the starting stuff? Magic users didn't need weapons, so that was fine...but one of them was sticking out like a sore thumb. She brought up the form to change that:

- Parka's Armor should be a dress and cloak in the same color as her current raincoat. The dress should extend quite a ways down, but should also be form fitting. The cloak should be difficult to fully cover herself with, but still function as a cape/hood combo.

And, OK. One thing down. Now for the motif. Luckily, she had something in mind...

- The motif should be an ancient temple, but not a run down one. More like if someone made an ancient temple yesterday. If possible, give it a darker pallete, with plenty of black and gray.

Now, she needed to think of stuff to fill this place with. damage as a type of damage was interesting. Actually, that gave her an idea...for the first room, anyway. Doing things on the fly would probably be better than taking an hour to come up with everything now.

- Rooms will be made one at a time.

= Combatants should be Callabasher (as Guardian Fiend A) and Myrmaidon (as Guardian Fiend B). They should be wearing Flimsy Armor; it should be metallic, be much easier to remove pieces of than it looks, and underneath should be nothing but a translucent bodysuit that makes them look ghostly, but lets you see everything underneath. They should also be wielding generic one handed swords for weapons.

= Damage type is clothing damage, for both sides.

= For scenery, this should be a large temple entrance area. Nothing overly disturbing, visual-wise, though maybe put some skulls here and there.

Now she just needed all that to spawn, so...waiting. Yay.
Scout seemed somewhat caught off guard, upon hearing a familiar voice address her. She couldn't seem to pinpoint the direction exactly, almost as though the white light really was blinding her. Still, out of either earnesty or just an abundance of kindness, she adjusted her glasses and made an effort to look in Anathema's direction. "Oh, h-hello, um..." she murmured, seeming bothered that she couldn't match the voice to a name. "You know, um, why don't I greet you as soon as the dungeon loads? I can't see right now," she finally admitted.

Refocusing on her work/play, Anathema began to set parameters for her "maze", such as it was. The first was to update Parka's wardrobe to something that would fit with the others. This was accomplished with great ease; no sooner were the words spoken than Parka's costume transformed to fit. It was a very close match to the original, albeit now including less parka and more dress; the cloak itself was still pretty park-like, but smaller. While the dress was still as modest as they come, the absence of loose parka made clear the curvature that probably had tempted MazeMan to invite her to an adult adventure. The swell of her bust had been pretty apparent even with the cloak on, but the bottom matched.

The next change took a moment longer, as though the system needed to think, but it still came with remarkable speed. The whiteness around each of them begin to fill, first with a floor, then walls, then ceiling. The impression the room gave was being the entrance hall of a large temple, despite Anathema's knowledge that this one room currently comprised the whole temple. A few skull-mounted candles appeared on pedestals, with strings of skulls hanging from long, braided ropes here and there. They were the kinds of decorations that would be horrifying to see in real life, but pretty unremarkable to see in a video game.

The others slowly began to get their senses about them as Anathema finished writing. She would see her pad light up with another message as well:

[Quote]If you have any questions or changes you need, just write them down![/quote]

Parka was the first to speak up after "loading in." "It does feel a little more edgy, doesn't it? All those skulls! You might worry bringing kids into something like this," Parka noted, though, if Anathema looked closely, she would notice that the girl was already clinging onto MazeMan's arm. It was possible that she was the type that got scared easily.

MazeMan had a sort of sour frown as he looked around, perhaps having expected something a little more overtly tailored to his interests here rather than a classic dungeon. Once he felt Parka on his arm, however, he put on an energized, confident smirk. "Ha ha, don't worry. The perils are going to be a little more dangerous than usual, but it's nothing we can't handle," he suggested, hoisting his hammer over his unoccupied shoulder.

Scout blinked a few more times, adjusted her glasses, and finally, turned to Anathema, now recognizing her. "Wow! That is a coincidence. I just started playing this game a little while ago... It's a fun way to relax without worrying about Clair's magic and such," she laughed, sounding pretty weary. If Anathema had heard from her operator what Clair's magic routine involved, with all of the information gathering and such, she might see how it could be exhausting. "How about you, have you played before?"

"She is an experienced magician," MazeMan answered quickly, dodging the question slightly. If one thought about it, one might begin to suspect whether the young(?) man had forgotten the cover story, as to whether Anathema was an experienced player or just a newcomer who was used to performing magic.

"Hey, I've never played with a friend before," Scout added. If it was SellSoul here, Anathema might have gotten an overly enthusiastic hug, but Scout was more of a reserved person. "That ought to be fun for a change." MazeMan frowned and looked between the two; he was perhaps trying to discern if the two of them knowing each other was going to mean anything as far as his plan went.

Speaking of surprises, the obsidian double doors at the end of the room suddenly swung open with a heavy woosh. The area behind was unlit shadow, but two figures began to emerge from the darkness, moving very differently. The first was a woman wearing gray-blue steel armor, clad from head to toe. The armor's helmet was oddly shaped, like a long spike with a pointed top. It was a little hard to tell if there was anything sexy under there, especially since the helmet completely covered the face. What was apparent: a set of six armored arms, ending in tentacle appendages covered like oddly shaped gauntlets, were extending from the torso. This must have been what MazeMan meant when he said "mixed bag" earlier.

The second was more suited to a conventional pallet: a shorter lady dressed in a black mantle with light-weight, gleaming black armor. Her fangs and, combined with the leathery wings on her back, made her look like a vampire. In addition to that, she carried a narrow sword with a needle-like point. Her eyes were fully black like shiny voids, while her hair was a contrasting light blond color that seemed odd given the edginess of the rest of her gear. The armor ended in a skirt with high boots, revealing pale but shapely thighs, a bit of a thinner figure than Parka or Scout (or Anathema) cut. "Welcome to our temple," the vampire greeted them with laughter in her voice, as she brought her blade to her lips and ran her tongue along it in a classic evildoer motion. "I can't wait to taste your blood on my blade."

"... Oh, we do characters?" the other asked in a whisper, seeming suddenly uncomfortable. It was a female voice under all that armor, at least. "I'll... strangle you," she decided upon, raising her tentacles in the air and wiggling them semi-threateningly. She stopped, then leaned over to whisper to the other. "Myrmaidon, is Trik not going to make us grow before we fight? There's a lot of them-"

Myrmaidon, keeping the savage smile on her face, spoke out the corner of her mouth. "We aren't going to win, it's the first room," she pointed out as quietly as possible. "My companion and I will drain your corpses and toss them back out... It's the best you can expect after desecrating our temple."

Parka looked like all the talk about blood and corpses was affecting her, but she stepped forward anyway, as if she was going to protect MazeMan herself. "Don't lay a tendril upon my student!" she warned the two monsters.

"We are on their turf! Keep mindful of traps," Scout warned the others, moving to the back and knocking an arrow as she spoke.

"No, I'm supposed to be in front probably," MazeMan corrected Parka, moving with surprising quickness given his heavy gear and standing in front of his teacher. "I'll engage them! You all can support!" he commanded his team, suddenly sounding more in his role as he adopted a booming voice.

"Ha ha ha! You hope to weather the two of us at once? An unenviable task!" Myrmaidon cackled while the octopoid lady remained characteristically quiet. MazeMan raised his hammer and immediately began trading blows with the tentacles of the many-armed opponent. While he was thus occupied, Myrmaidon seemed to vanish like a shadow, only to reappear alongside the three MazeMan was trying to protect. "Fools! And you shall die like fools," she sneered, brandishing her sword like a stinger, ready to thrust at her enemies.

Anathema would note at this point that she couldn't use her chips. She felt like she could use something, though, and if she tried, she would find that she was capable of conjuring a fireball. If that left her uninspired, she might note that her scroll had another message written upon it.


Hey there! I know you're a first time player, so here's a tip! In Mage's Maze, you have to earn spells to use them. You can either find them in the Maze, or, if you're a mage, feel free to just write yourself and your teammate whatever crazy spells you want! The sky's the limit!

Did you know? You can also issue instructions to the enemies! Just type them here and they'll be relayed!

Scout wasn't waiting and had already begun to fire arrows at Myrmaidon. The vampire tilted her head back with a cool smile, then faded into black, appearing first to the left, then to the right, dodging the projectiles. Parka, for her part, appeared to be watching the others with her hands clenched into fists. One might easily imagine that her experience as a priestess was telling her to wait and see who needed healing.

MazeMan might be enjoying the chance to show off, but he was probably lamenting that the enemy seemed to be fighting him back rather handily and he was also not facing the correct way to watch any of the other action.

As for Octopressure, she had stopped matching whacks with him and wrapped her arms around the hammer instead, engaging in a tug of war. The armor that had been coating her tentacles had been smashed off in several places, revealing white tendrils, slick with moisture.