Designing a Labyrinth of Doom

How big does a classic labyrinth need to be to reliably kill those trapped within by means of exhaustion and dehydration?

The labyrinth would be fair - meaning there is an exit that one could theoretically get to. The idea is that the maze is so massive and confusing that the victims would die before they could walk out.

On the other hand, taking into account that cracks in the underground walls could seep life-saving moisture, perhaps it’s better that it also be built to kill by starvation. I think dehydration is only three to five days, but starvation is closer to a month or more. This way only those who resort to licking moldy cracks in the walls and cannibalize each other could actually win.

Multiple levels seem like a given. Along with stairways that skip entire floors and go nowhere. Points awarded for keeping the square footage under miles.


Is darkness OK?
I believe people die in the Paris Sewers because of this.

Put some fake “You are here” signs.

It’ll depend on environmental conditions, and on how far a person can walk in those conditions without needing food/water. If things are cool with decent humidity and no direct sunlight, you can probably walk more than 20 miles before you get thirsty. Therefore if your maze contains less than 20 miles of passages, a person introduced into the maze could commence a trial-and-error search of every corridor and be pretty much guaranteed to escape before dying of thirst.

Let’s quadruple that to help stymie potentially lucky victims who find the solution earlier than expected: let’s shoot for 80 miles of passages. Assume a passage is 3 feet wide, with 1-foot-thick stone walls. So the total width required for a single passage is 4 feet. 4’ x 80 miles is 1,689,600 square feet, or a square 1300 feet on a side. So build your maze as a square that’s a quarter-mile on a side, and I’d say you’ve got a good shot at killing most folks of dehydration, especially if conditions are dry and/or warm.

If you want to kill of starvation, increase total path length by a factor of ten (I’m guessing ten days of physical activity, as opposed to indolence, should be fatal in the absence of caloric intake). So increase the side of your square by a factor of ~3, to 3/4 of a mile.

Good call! Though total darkness doesn’t seem sporting, but I could see having certain floors or sections blacked out.

Love the responses so far!

I’m not up to the hardcore math, I’m afraid, but I would point out that you could squeeze more mileage into your labyrinth for any given area by reducing the width of your passages to three feet, or even two feet. This would have the extra advantages of both slowing and freaking out your captives.

If your goal is to design a maze which will dehydrate or starve visitors to death, it seems kind of pointless to worry about sportsmanship.

Well, a decent labyrinth will be stocked with wandering monsters. These can use travellers as food, so the lethality of the maze will be increased, and you can reduce the length of–

:: whisper whisper ::

What? No monsters? Hmm. Let me rethink this. I’ve heard it said that you can last three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. A dry maze would seem to be the most achievable maze here on the surface of the earth. But if you’re going to kill by exposure/exhaustion/etc, why have a maze, with branches, at all? A straightforward corridor of sufficient length would work as well. Admittedly, you can pack a maze into a smaller square…

I think you’ve got it. The corridor doesn’t have to be straight. It could be a spiral to be most compact while maximizing length. Branches have the advantage of creating backtracking, but if you want deterministic lethality, a spiral is the best bet.

1.) Throw in some large loops so your clever maze-solving victims can’t use the right wall rule to escape.

2.) Low ceilings four or five feet high will slow your victims down considerably by making them stoop or crawl, so you can get away with less horizontal and vertical real estate. This, of course, is a real dick move that may reduce your victims to hopeless shells of their former selves faster than you planned, and where’s the fun in that?

3.) Add some ominous faraway noises, and you’re set.

And in a few key places you could have moving walls, to rearrange the maze when the guests are in other areas. :slight_smile:

Well, there would be an open exit. So it’s sporting in the sense that I don’t want to take away their 2 - 3% chance of survival.

Your mention of “vertical” brings up the possibility of a multi-story maze.
With that little upgrade, a death-by-starvation maze could be three stories tall and back to to the old 1/4-mile-square footprint.

In fact, you could tip the whole maze on its side: make it a building 1/4 mile tall, 1/4-mile long and 50 feet wide; make those poor bastards do a whole lot of climbing, wear them out faster.

You sir, are no true evil genius. What would the union say about your attitude?

Well look at his username, it should be obvious! I think this could be totally doable. All you need is an unused parking garage, maybe at a mall. I work next to a mall that has a 4 floor parking garage that wraps around most of the mall that this would totally work. Wall up all the floors except the top, where the [del]victims[/del] players will be helicoptered in. They’ll get a good look at the top layer of the maze, and will think it will be easy to escape. It won’t.

Leave sections of walls with some murder holes or archer slits, to let light in (and so they can see out to freedom) but nothing a person could squeeze through. Inside you could put all manner of traps, dead ends and maybe even some spike pits. Everyone needs spike pits. If you’re concerned about harming them and killing them off too quickly, just make them cartoon-y spikes like in video games. Not lethal, just a pain in the ass. Tunnels would save a lot of space in the maze building and be demoralizing.

The exit should be a tiny tube they can barely fit in with rungs widely spaced inside. They have to climb up it to the top of the building and back down the outside to freedom. That should make any robot police deem it too expensive to continue pursuit :smiley:

And to steal an idea from Lovecraft, make the walls of the maze perfectly transparent.

And to do something he didn’t do, put fountains of water right outside the maze where the victim can see them.

Or you could just seal all but one of the exits at Mall of America and have done with it. Once you’ve passed the 37th Starbucks you’d be a shell of your former self and be completely disoriented.

This seems like game material to me, so I’m tossing it thither, from IMHO.

Huh. It seems to me it would only qualify as game material if someone actually intended to strand someone in a fatal labyrinth instead of just talking about it theoretically…

Do you know something about drastic_quench we don’t? :eek:

Wonderful in theory, quite difficult to achieve in practice.