So…how does the game work?
Library Labyrinth is a co-operative game for between one and five players. It features multiple characters and is set in a library.
The object of the game is for your team to escape from a library which has been overrun by horrors, by calling on the skills of the famous literary characters and historical figures in the books around you. Below are pictures for Enheduanna (from our “Historical Leaders” section of the library) and two horrors: a portal and a basilisk.
The game takes place over different levels, each representing a different room. In this library, literary horrors are hiding in dark spaces between the shelves. Each horror is a tile chosen from one of three difficulty levels, and placed on a choice of maps.
Players defeat the horrors with the help of famous fictional and historical characters. There will be 100 characters, mainly women, with some non-binary people. As it’s a library, everything is a book! The horrors come out of books, and the characters you have are also from books. Your characters are the books in your hands, your team, rather than you as the player, and so you may have two or three characters in your team at any one time.
Each character has a unique set of abilities which are related to who they are in fiction or in history. This might be a set of knowledge skills, such as science, coding, and logic (Ada Lovelace), or expertise skills such as water craft (Circe), or courage (Harriet Tubman). The characters can only use their abilities twice — after that, the players need to close their book and put it back on a library trolley.
The oldest character is Euhedannua, a poet and priestess who lived more than four thousand years ago in around 2300BCE. All of the fictional characters are out of copyright, and none of the historical characters are still alive. The characters will come from all around the world, and we are working with sensitivity readers and cultural consultants on specific identities. The characters fall into one of seven book categories — children’s fiction, legends, classic fiction, amazing lives, historical leaders, STEM, and poetry and drama. Not all the book categories are available at every level of the library.
The horrors can be defeated (ie, put back in their books!) by characters with the abilities written on their tiles. Some of the horrors are natural phenomena, like waterfalls or fire, others are less specific troubles, such as a portal or a shapeshifter, and some are named monsters, like Dracula, or the Martian robots from War of the Worlds. There are currently 30 horrors, but more could be added.
As a co-operative game, each “turn” involves six actions, which could be taken by any of the players. One player takes the lead, and this leadership is passed to the next player at the end of the turn. A “Library Luck” card is also taken at the end of each turn, which might do something negative such as adding another monster to the level, or might give the players something to use, like a weapon, a potion, or a musical instrument.
The players don’t need to defeat all the horrors in order to get through each level, but any horrors left undefeated will join the players for a final showdown at the end of the game.
The boards are modular, and there are multiple different layouts and paths through the shelves, which combined with drawing your team from 100 possible characters, gives great replay-ability. Here’s an early draft of one of the boards, with dark spaces where the horror titles will go.
As well as the game, we’re also looking at creating a classroom/workshop version for large groups to play. And we will be including a booklet in the game box with a few lines of information about each of the characters we feature to encourage players to seek out the stories of these incredible role models.
Can you help us?
Would you like to playtest? Or maybe you can help us spread the word? Let us know how you can help!