At the beginning of the world, where the labyrinth starts, in the first segment of the maze, it is always night. The stars are huge as thumbnails held at arm's length, but so dim that their light makes the silver sand seems black. If you follow the trail of footprints back through the otherwise-trackless wastes, you come to two huge pillars of featureless stone reaching to heaven. The footprints lead back between them, but you can follow them no longer, not without losing yourself in the dark and getting turned around.
Each intelligent creature in the world, or their ancestor, came walking through that gateless gate with no memory of a life before. Having nothing better to do, and no other idea of the way, they followed the footprints through the waste, and walked until they came to a great sheer barrier of rolling silver fog, and, passing through, so came to the second part of the world-maze, the second segment of the unmeasured labyrinth, the second division of a total that has never been numbered.
You, too, have come through that gateless gate. You have clothes on your back, and maybe a pocketful of strange coins, or a belt with a knife or a torch. You have no memories except darkness and sand. And yet, somehow, you know a few things beyond any possibility of doubt:
- The desert is the first section of many of the Labyrinth
- The Labyrinth has only one path
- The sections of the path are separated by locked gates
- Progression is the purpose of humanity
- Who stops progressing forfeits their humanity
- Who unlocks the last gate reaches the center of the Labyrinth
- Who reaches the center of the Labyrinth wins
Of course, different people have different interpretations, and their children yet more so, and their grand-children yet more so, on and on. Many different schools of thought have arisen as to the origin and the purpose of the Labyrinth; here are just a few.
- Three-Eyed Giant
A million-billion years ago (or thereabouts) the Three-Eyed Giant made the world alone. He did this to create a test of sorts for the adventurers he knew would come. Each region of the labyrinth, therefore, has a puzzle to solve or an enemy to destroy in order to show you are worthy of reaching the center where the Giant waits.
Whoever reaches the center will be granted their truest wish.
The forty children of the Easter Mother wanted to create a world, but fought amongst themselves as to how they would do so. They appealed to their mother, who in her wisdom ruled that each child would create their own part of the world (and so the Labyrinth has forty sections, you see). The children, tired, fell asleep after all their hard work, and if they have not been waked then they sleep still.
The Easter Mother is also sleeping. The one who reaches the center can wake her, and begin the creation of the world anew.
Lindurmr; he coils. Nithogr; he bites. Fafnir; he takes. The World is a Snake and the Snake is So Hungry. It has been Oh, So Long since he has Eaten anything worth Eating. Please; take the Vow, shed your Skin, Eat as many things as will fit into your Mouth, and journey to the center of the world to throw your body down to the Mouth of The Snake. Please. Please.
Any character, from any system, is acceptable so long as they start at level 1 and can reasonably hope to level-up by adventuring. You all start from nothing, walking through the gateless gates and on through the desert.
The Labyrinth is essentially a gigadungeon (a structure which is to megadungeons as megadungeons are to the blueprint of a house). Each section is a tiny world in itself, a couple of six-mile-hexes wide, a couple more six-mile-hexes long. Each section has its own laws of physics and nature, its own rules of magic, its own ecosystem, its own day/night cycle, its own dungeons, its own civilizations. Civilizations in the Labyrinth are descended from those who voluntarily forfeited their humanity and chose to remain; adventurers who settle down in such places quickly adapt both culturally and biologically.
At the beginning and end of each section of the Labyrinth is a great sheer barrier of rolling silver fog. Plants, animals, or monsters cannot pass through these barriers, only people can. And people can only pass through these barriers after successfully "navigating" the current section. Exactly what "navigating" a section means is unique to the section. Section #1, the Trackless Waste, is navigated by simply reaching the barrier — the desert is littered with the bones of those who came through the gateless gate before the footprints were clear enough to follow. In another section, you might have to explore a huge temple complex and lay your hand-analogs on the altar at its heart. In another, you might have to help the moon fall in love with the sun before you can pass.
In the earlier sections there are people who have already navigated or heard from those who have, and they can point you in the right direction. As you continue, navigation becomes more complicated, and your fellows become more competitive and less helpful. Turning back (that is, traveling to a previously-navigated section) brings with it the risk of forfeiting your humanity, so there are pretty strict gradations of HD
Sections where city-sized chains hang from the ceiling over a burning furnace. Sections that are frozen. Sections where light cannot shine. Sections only navigable through sacrifice. Sections full of doubtful whispering voices. Sections where you are hunted. Sections where you die if you break the silence. Sections where the dirt is gold and the trees are ruby and everyone has colossal tits.
That's about all I have to say about 41 Feasts
. The setting was based on a dream I had several years ago now. I don't know what exactly I'll do with it, if anything. I just wanted to write it up so that I'll still remember it several more years from now.
Snake cultists eat each other by the way. That was really important to the dream. They can eat each others' corpses, but they're perfectly happy to eat each other alive or just murder each other to get a decent meal. Their eyes glow blue, and they can sense the presence of other cultists. I think they might burn when they touch silver? It really seems like a shitty deal, to be a snake cultist.