Labyrinth

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Version 0.17: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.
The Labyrinth is a vast and complex maze designed by subtle and malicious minds for reasons long lost to history. Old stories say that the labyrinth was constructed as a prison for a fearsome minotaur. More recent stories say this beast dwells there still, guarding the labyrinth's sole exit — as well as a hoard of treasure taken from the bodies of the foolish adventurers who got lost inside and starved to death. Take care inside the shifting, twisting passages of this labyrinth, or your own possessions may end up in the minotaur's treasure pile.
A gateway to an intricate maze designed by subtle and malicious minds, its exit guarded by a fearsome monster. Many a helpless adventurer has lost his way in the twisted, shifting passages, and starved to death.

Labyrinth portal.png The Labyrinth is a temporary sub-branch containing an elaborate maze that takes up an entire floor. Getting lost and starving to death is a very real possibility for characters who enter without sufficient provisions, and even if you manage to find the exit at its center, a minotaur guards it fiercely. Labyrinth entrances may occur in the Lair or on floors in the middle portions of the Dungeon, but are not guaranteed to generate in every game. If you hear the "ticking of a distant clock" or a "distant snort," your floor contains a Labyrinth portal. Only one Labyrinth may be generated per game.

Contents

Layout

Although no two Labyrinths will be identical, their layouts are all very similar; they are all made almost entirely of winding, empty, one-tile wide hallways that span a massive area. Exploration is difficult, as portions of the map you've previously explored will rapidly be forgotten once they leave your line of sight. Mentally keeping track of where you've been helps tremendously in avoiding getting lost, but the Labyrinth will occasionally shift tiles around, opening or closing random passages (you'll notice the sound of gears and machinery whenever this occurs). This makes the "left-hand" rule somewhat less reliable for finding your way out. There is only one safe exit from the Labyrinth, located at the center of the maze with a sizable treasure heap and a minotaur standing guard. You may also come across a portal to the Abyss as you explore, but using it is generally a suicidal idea for characters this early in the game.

Fortunately the maze does provide clues to let you know you're going in the right direction. The outermost portions of the Labyrinth are composed of rock walls, but as you get closer to the center, these will change to stone and eventually metal. The exit vault is sometimes made from a material that distinguishes it from the metal surroundings (such as green crystal), but this is not guaranteed. Apart from the risk of starvation, exploration is generally safe; traps can only generate in the minotaur's chambers, and there are almost no monsters to encounter apart from very rare trapdoor spiders, hungry ghosts, unseen horrors, gargoyles, minotaur zombies, basilisks and Donald. Other surprises are few and far between, and usually amount to nothing more than props to add atmosphere or tiny false exit vaults, though small secondary treasure heaps do occur on occasion.

The auto-explore feature is disabled in Labyrinths, forcing you to pick your way through manually. Also, the Labyrinth prevents teleport control, and causes all random teleports to deposit you farther from the center than you initially were. While this stops you from simply teleporting randomly until you find the core, it can give you a rough idea of the direction you should be heading.

Once you've left a Labyrinth, you can never return.

Strategy

  • Even though there are next to no sources of food in the Labyrinth, the actual risk of starvation you face is dependent on your species and the permafood you have on hand when you enter. Average species can usually complete a Labyrinth carrying two or three rations with a very wide safety margin. Ogres and especially trolls may want to steer clear of a Labyrinth unless they've got a comfortably larger food stock.
  • Certain abilities can make the Labyrinth a much less frustrating place. Ashenzari followers with high piety will have no trouble finding their way out as they can simply see through walls. Dig or a wand of digging/disintegration can carve through rock walls, speeding your approach to the center of the maze, while high spell power Lee's Rapid Deconstruction and Shatter can obliterate any obstacle (though having Shatter at low enough hunger and high enough reliability this early in the game is not particularly common).
    • While Lugonu worshipers may be tempted to simply corrupt reality and march on the exit that way, the neutral demons this spawns will very likely pose a much greater threat than the maze and minotaur.
  • The actual fight with the minotaur can vary greatly in difficulty depending on what he's wielding. An unarmed minotaur is a moderately powerful melee opponent, but one wielding an artifact executioner's axe from the loot pile will be extremely dangerous to engage up close. Be sure to examine its equipment before rushing in. See the minotaur page for further details.
  • The loot pile at the end often contains a wide variety of items, making it worthwhile for any character to explore a Labyrinth. Rods are a particularly common find here. Although much of the loot will be junk, make sure to keep a dozen or so inventory slots open before entering.

Timeout Messages

1st message: You hear the ticking of a clock.
2nd message: You hear the brisk ticking of a clock.
3rd message: You hear the frantic ticking of a clock.
4th message: You hear the last, dying ticks of the clock.

History

As of 0.14, the Labyrinth contains occasional vaults that can place a limited set of monsters.

In earlier versions of Crawl, minotaur characters were able to map the Labyrinth with much greater precision than the other species. Also, multiple Labyrinths could appear in a single game until 0.8.

In much older versions of Crawl, the Labyrinths were significantly different: they were completely static layouts in the form of a rectangular spiral, with numerous passages simply leading nowhere. The exit could be at the center or on the outside. This layout was simpler than the current one, but these older mazes could not be mapped at all: tiles were forgotten the instant they were out of view.