Mertwig’s Maze (1988)

Tom Wham illustration from D&D of a wizard in a dungeonTom Wham did a bunch of games back in the day, but my favorite was Mertwig’s Maze, which had players choose characters, form parties, and enter various dungeons to win royal and other treasures. I added a dungeon (the Last Tower) and a bunch of new cards. I also changed the rules so the game wasn’t about the royal treasures, but just a competition to see who could get the most treasure by the time we ran out of cards. Some of the modifications were:

Players can design their own characters: Each person gets 20 points to design their character, plus 35 gp. to start. Offense & Defense cost 1 point per point. Spells cost 4 character points each. Any left over points can be converted to extra cash (1 point = 15 gold).

Movement & Doors: Each character moves 1d6. When a door is reached, the character pauses movement and rolls 1d6. On a 1-2, the door is locked and the character must stop and try to unlock the door next round, unless he has a key, in which case he can return the key to the equipment discard pile and continue his full movement. He must roll 1-3 on 1d6 each round he tries to pick the lock, and do no other movement. If he picks the lock, he can move again next turn. To find a secret door, the character must stop his turn and roll 1d6. On a 1-3 on a 1d6, he finds the secret door. He can continue to search once per turn to find the door. Once found, he then must proceed as if it was a normal door (i.e. check to see if it is locked).

Dew Drop Inn:  If it is reached you recover all spells and all lives, and can sell treasure or buy equipment. Turn over 1 ally card, 1 equipment card, and 1 magic item card. You can only turn over the next one after someone hires or buys the card that is showing.

Rooms (R): If entered, draw a monster for each character entering. Characters can join their movements to enter together. Once the monster is defeated, the room is cleared and should be marked by a glass bead or penny.

Chambers (C): aka. Chokepoints. After the monster here is defeated, roll for what is here when first entered. The effect stays in the chamber until the end of the game. Chamber effects were very much in the style of Gary Gygax’s dungeons:

  1. Teleport pad to another chokepoint. Roll randomly if used. There will be a monster waiting.
  2. Fountain of Life. Regain 1 life each turn.
  3. Mages Library. Gain 1 magic item each time you enter.
  4. Water of Changing. Take new lead character instead of the one you are using. The new character must be the opposite gender of your current one.
  5. Born Lever Puller. Turn into toad and lose 1d3 turns. Characters entering your space during that time can pick up all your stuff without battle.
  6. Teleport to Dew Drop Inn (one-way only).
  7. Teleported by force to opposite end of dungeon. Encounter player will place you.
  8. The other half of the teleport pad.
  9. Gate to hell. 2 monsters appear each round.
  10. Poppies. You sleep for 1d3 turns.
  11. Mr. Livingstone, I presume. Teleport the party of any other player into the room.
  12. Everything went fuzzy for a minute there. Everyone move one seat to the left, and leave your part for the new person to play.

The spells we used were:

Name Area of Effect Multiplier Effect
Charm 1 enemy target x2 Target joins opposing side
Fireball all enemies x2 One wound
Heal 1 target x3 Heals one wound
Lightning 1 target x4 One wound
Steal 1 item of 1 target x3 Steals item for caster
Sleep all enemies x2 Fall asleep for duration of battle
Invisibility self x3 Enemies cannot target caster
Turn Undead all undead enemies x3 Undead flee
Fear all enemies x2 Enemies run away
Sanctuary all allies & self x2 +3 Defense
Charge all allies & self x2 +3 Offense

Board Game Geek is a great place to check for more pictures, rules, and maps.

Tom Wham has his own site, with a lot of great stuff.

About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
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