Thursday, December 6, 2012

Strangerside Scholar: On Mousetrap Realms

Merode Mousetrap, c. 1427-32

After the dragons lost in their war against the gods, they turned to other pursuits. Partly due to spite, and partly due to boredom, some of the dragons began devising and setting traps among the spheres.  They created the Mousetrap Realms to catch and kill Spherewalkers.

The Mousetrap Realms have one way in: a Gate which opens into a new realm, beckoning a Spherewalker to come explore. But unlike normal realms among the spheres, the Mousetrap Realms have no way out. Either their Gate works in only one direction, opening only into the realm, or else once entered, the Mousetrap Realm becomes a more active and deadly trap.

Death by starvation. Death by plenitude or lack, whether Earth, Air, Fire, or Water. False epiphanies. Entombment. World-creatures. Treasure of Infinite Counting. Doppel-craft. The dragons have never lacked for imagination in devising their traps. And they were masters of misdirection.

Humans have often attributed the creation of Mousetrap Realms to capricious gods or demons. Few have seen the Dragons' Stamp: The House of KnivesThe Box of Under, the Ocean-Hole, Mother of Cankers, the Roundel, the Whorl, Pop-Up Drop Down, the Meat Grinder, the Flower That Ate Itself, and The Limbless Tree. Even the names of the Mousetrap Realms sound like curses.

There are in fact hundreds of Mousetrap Realms on record at the Library of All Worlds. As many as one realm in one hundred may be Mousetrap Realms. It is wise to consult the collection of spherepaths within the Library of All Worlds, or the Chamber Platinum's special collection (these are usually the most up-to-date) before planning a particularly long journey among the spheres.

Most Spherewalkers will encounter a Mousetrap Realm if they travel far enough.


  1. Awesome. Terrifying. However, escape must be possible if there are descriptions of them in the Library.

    I wonder, could the entrances move, so even "safe" paths occasionally lead into traps.

    In Everway-L, I mentioned "House of Stairs," by William Sleator. Good book... and great inspiration for a mousetrap realm.

  2. There's a few things going on: 1) the Chamber Platinum tends to keep track of where its agents disappear, 2) scrying can be used to see into some of these places (although the side effects of these magical intrusions can be...disorienting, 3) magic can be used to create an escape from some of these places-either Gate Magic or powerful artifacts, 4) sometimes gods or dragons find it amusing to help someone.

    You are also absolutely correct that safe paths can shift to become pathways to peril.

    1. Thank you also for the book title. That sounds very interesting.

    2. William Sleator's work usually has young adults at the center, and so usually end up in the young adult section. However, many of his books - including House of Stairs - really don't belong in Young Adult.

  3. That explains why his name seems so familiar yet I can't place any books in my minds's eye. I will look in the YA section for that book.

  4. I'm now seeing a spherewalker campaign as one where the whole of the multiverse is a dungeon to be explored, including wonders and traps, riches and monsters. Kind of the ultimate megadungeon.

  5. @Brett: "There is a grandeur in this view of life" as Darwin wrote...

  6. Also @Brett: the one time I got my friend Andy to play Everway, he created Star Prince, riffing on Borges' story "House of Asterion." From the perspective of the other heroes, he's the legendary Minotaur escaped from the labyrinth and wandering the spheres. From his perspective, it's all just more labyrinth. Kinda wish Andy had liked the Everway system...


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